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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Newspapers are the walking dead of communication


Here's an example of how newspaper editorial writers delude themselves into thinking they help shape public opinion and influence events.
I spent my adult life in newspapers, but their day is past and they become more irrelevant every day.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Taxed

The Congressional Black Caucus wants to tax white people for being white.

I just wrote a $2,500 check to the IRS. I'm already being taxed for being white and having an earned income.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Godspeed, Mike


This guy changed my life and gave me the skills to save my own life and the lives of hundreds of other motorcyclists. He will be missed. Here is his obit from the Brown County (Ind.) Democrat:

Michael Williams Farabaugh, 68, of Morgantown, died Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in his home.

He was born May 7, 1948 in Norwalk, Connecticut, to David Farabaugh and Dorothy Williams Farabaugh. He was a freelance photographer and director of the Lucas Oil Motorcycle Division.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Debby Crotty Farabaugh; a son, Ryan Farabaugh (wife, Holly) of Morgantown; a sister, Nano Farabaugh of Elkhart; a brother, David Farabaugh (wife, Sherri) of Thornton, Colorado; and a granddaughter, Phebe Lynn Farabaugh.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

His friends knew him for his honesty, integrity and loyalty. Family and friendship were the most important things in his life. Michael was a founding member of ABATE of Indiana and the Motorcycle Rights Foundation; he was instrumental in starting the motorcycle safety program in Indiana. Michael was inducted into three different motorcycle halls of fame. He was a board member of American Motorcyclist Association for 30 years. He started Miracle Ride, a huge fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children; and he started MDA motorcycle events. He was a lobbyist for motorcyclist rights. His last endeavor was to author a book “Freewheelin’,” documenting his photographic inspirations of traveling on two wheels throughout North America. His life could be summed up by saying he was the most avid motorcyclist in the world.

A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 25 in Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home, 1682 State Road 135 North, with a gathering of family and friends at 9 a.m. prior to the service.

A pitch-in celebration will follow the service at the Farabaugh residence.

If friends so desire, memorial contributions may be made to Riley Hospital for Children, 705 Riley Hospital Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Online condolences may be left at BondMitchellFuneralHome.com.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Got my Lexus back with a new dashboard

I met a guy from Lexus of Memphis about 11:30 a.m. today at a Jonesboro gas station and swapped the fancy loaner Lexus for mine.

The new dashboard, replaced under a warranty recall, is a perfect fit and I am more than pleased with the level of service.

My only complaint, and this is barely worth mentioning, is that the guy who drove my car up from Memphis is a smoker. I'm pretty sure he didn't smoke in the car, but it was on his clothes and my sensitive nose picked it up immediately.

No problem, though. I stopped at an auto parts store on the way home and bought a new Febreze air freshener.

The only cost of the project was the gas to and from Memphis. I would have bought the air freshener anyway.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Waiting in style


The service writer at Lexus of Memphis figured my car's dashboard replacement probably won't be done today, so he advised me to take the loaner - a 2017 NX200t worth about $50,000 - home and they would drive the 80+ miles to my house tomorrow to deliver my car and retrieve the loaner.

That is so far above and beyond my expectations that I'm still having trouble wrapping my brain around it.

The NX200t drives like a dream. It has radar assisted cruise control that automatically slows the car when it overtakes another vehicle, then resumes the programmed cruise speed when you move to the passing lane. I has Bluetooth to pair with my iPhone for communication or music, and also SiriusXM satellite radio. The list goes on, but without an owner's manual, I can only guess at how to make some of it work.

Stuck in Memphis with the Mobile Blues again


I'm hanging out at Lexus of Memphis today while I wait for the technicians to install a new dashboard (under warranty) in my 2004 RX330.

The service writer said they may not get the work done today since they have only 3 guys doing 5 dashboards, meaning I'll have to come back tomorrow to claim my car.

The good news is that they gave me a loaner - a like-new crossover model that has an amazing array of electronic gizmos. I was sufficiently intimidated by it that I just drove the car from the service department to the nearest parking space where I swat for a half-hour puzzling out some of the essential stuff. It had a half tank of gas and I think I know where the gas filler door control is, if I have to refuel.

The on-board GPS is sufficiently complex that I'll use my Garmin in its place if I need to do any fancy navigating.

Fortunately, they have a splendid customer lounge with lots of amenities,including free snacks and beverages and a couple of quiet little cubicles for wifi use. Which is how I'm posting this blog entry.

Friday, March 17, 2017

WCP attaboy


I covered the Indiana State Fair for The News for 10 years. WCP seemed to like my work.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Artwork inherited from my parents

My two favorite Carroll County paintings.


Jeanie Taylor's painting of the fountain on the southwest corner of the Carroll County Courthouse square. I lived next door to Jeanie on East Franklin Street when we were little kids. This is a print on canvas.


"Sycamore Row," an original painting by Mary Swisher of the sycamores that grew from a stretch of corduroy road on the old Michigan Road south of Deer Creek.

Monday, March 13, 2017

My fortunate son


That's my son Steve on Sousaphone (often improperly referred to as a tuba) backing up John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival) at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

I played Sousaphone in the Delphi High School marching band. I never could have imagined that I would have a son playing the same instrument with a headliner in Vegas.

Ruh-roh!

I wore my Michael Kors smartwatch to the fitness center this morning to see how accurately it measures steps.

It didn't do very well.

The treadmill said I covered 1.13 miles and burned 100 calories.


But the smartwatch, which had been counting my steps since I got up a few hours earlier, said I only covered .4 miles and burned just 31.4 calories so far today.


That's a pretty significant discrepancy.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A smartwatch for grownups

I'm evaluating the new $295 Michael Kors Access Hybrid Brown Gage Smartwatch for the Amazon Vine Program this week and I think I like it.


When I think of smartwatches, the first thing that comes to mind is the Apple Watch, which is actually a wearable little computer. This is NOT an Apple Watch. It looks like an ordinary analog watch with an easy-to-read silver-on-black face and a couple of function buttons.

There is no way to change the face and have all of the tricky features that come with the Apple Watch, but therein lies the feature that makes me prefer the MK watch - those features come at a heavy energy price. The Apple Watch has to be recharged every 18 hours or less, depending on how much you do with it. The MK watch has a battery (CR2430) that is expected to last about 40 days - maybe more, depending on usage.

After nearly 20 years with a self-winding Breitling, the idea of charging my watch every night tells me the Apple Watch is a toy that is not to be taken seriously as a daily wear timepiece. The MK watch makes a lot more sense to me in terms of energy requirements.

The MK watch uses a proprietary MK Access app that you download free from wherever your smartphone gets its apps. It walks you through the initial setup process, which synchs your phone and watch via Bluetooth.


The MK watch is also an activity tracker of modest abilities - it calculates how many steps you take each day and estimates what that means in terms of calories burned.


It also monitors your sleep pattern. In both cases, you get to set your step and sleep goals and you can tell at any time where you are in your pursuit of the goals.


The top button swivels the hands around to indicate the day of the week (hour hand) and day of the month (minute hand).

You can program the bottom button to ring your phone, control the music on your smartphone, trip the shutter on your phone's camera or track your goal progress.

It can buzz when someone you deem important calls you (a handy feature if you're in a place where you have to mute the ringtone on your phone).

The MK watch may be short on entertainment, but it has lots of features that are actually useful. In short, it's a smartwatch for grownups.

Liberating


There's something supremely liberating about having a trailer hitch on your car.