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BETTER PICTURES

APRIL 30, 2021



t10

On the April 26 post (KAYAK TRIP PICS) I included a lot of pictures from my kayak trip. I set a mental reminder to go back and make the images 'clickable' in order to provide the user with an opportunity to get a larger and better view of the shot.

In order to pull this off, I had to add a link to each picture in the post and have that link take the user directly to the image and not a scaled down version of the image that allows it to fit on the blog post.

For a typical link, one simply 'nests' some text in the link code and then the user clicks on that text to be carried to the linked item. In my case I simply 'nested' the image location in the link code so that when users click the image, they are carried directly to the 'full screen' image.

I mention 'full screen' in this case because the images are actually larger than 'full screen', but I would not want a user to have to scroll up and down and sideways to see the full image. In other words, the 'full screen' images are sized down just like they are on the blog post - just not quite as much.

The picture above is a sample of what I'm talking about if you would like to try without having to go back to the original post. I'm working under the assumption that the typical user will know to click the 'back' button after visiting the 'full screen' view of the image and in order to be taken back to the previously visited location.


RUNNING

APRIL 29, 2021



Running

I'm delighted to report that my wife and I have truly settled in on an exercise regimen and one from which we feel we can benefit over the long-term. For my part, the regimen involves running 3 miles a day at the local gym.

I've never really been a treadmill kind of guy. However, in this season of life it just seems to make the most sense.

We take a ride into town each day and hit the Anytime Fitness gym. It really checks all of the boxes for me including the climate controls, avoiding my skin problems with the sun, getting away from the warm weather biting bugs, and best of all it's free with our Silver Sneakers program offered by our AARP/United Healthcare provider.

I should also mention that we like the idea of getting out each day and the consistency with which we are able to engage this program. It's particularly nice to get to know some of the locals and, God willing, to try and put covid-19 behind us.


HOME RUN

APRIL 28, 2021



Home Run

Last night I watched Home Run, a faith-based movie that really touched me on a number of levels. I was very impressed with the vision for this film and the willingness of a community of Christians to take on such a difficult, risky, and gritty ministry topic as Recovery.

In years past, it's been my view that the failure of faith-based movies has centered around three problems. Those movies were full of naive ideas, clichés, and stereotypes.

Naive
1. Showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement.
2. Natural and unaffected; innocent.
3. Of or denoting art produced in a straightforward style
that deliberately rejects sophisticated artistic techniques
and has a bold directness resembling a child's work,
typically in bright colors with little or no perspective.

Cliché
1. A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack
of original thought.
2. A stereotype.

Stereotype
1. A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or
idea of a particular type of person or thing.

However, there's a catch! To be what we are called to be as Christians (e.g. child-like, innocent, etc.) we have to be willing to deal with these three obstacles in life as well as in a film that we might be producing or just simply watching.

Take the word naive for example. In one sense, naive suggests a person who is honestly unaware because they are, perhaps, immature. But, in a Christian sense it's quite possible that the appearance of being naive may be quite intentional and a reflection of anything but immaturity. It may be the result of an intentional, mature, and experienced-backed faith-based decision to follow Jesus Christ.

As I seek to follow Christ and remain innocent and child-like, there is always a false level of sophistication that wants to make me a cynic toward everything and everyone around me, especially toward Christ and the Christian faith!

I've seen it over and over in my own life. Will my faith lead me to give God total control when that cynic is telling me I don't need any help taking care of a problem? I've discovered that the more I listen to that cynic, the more he winds up doing all of the talking and the easier it is to follow his guidance.

Lord, help me turn a deaf ear to that cynic.

May I find the strength to always trust in your plan!


HAM RADIO TECH

APRIL 27, 2021



FT8 Tech

Back on the 22nd, I wrote about Ham Radio from a more philosophical standpoint, but today I approach it from a technical standpoint. As digital forces the shack to become more and more complex, we're forced to deal with those challenges if we choose to operate in that environment.

Today was a good example of just that!

A few months back, I downloaded a version of wsjt-x and then discovered after the fact that it was purely beta. For the last few weeks (months?) it presented a warning message that it was slated to disable access to itself after today. I'm not one to wait until the last minute, so I took on the project of loading a more valid version of the software to avoid any problems if I wanted to operate tomorrow.

Of couse there's always the usual tweaks that go with any install, but in the case of wsjt-x, I'm always impressed with how little there really is to adjust with any install. It goes in quite quickly and most often comes up working on the first try. Such was the case today and so I decided to continue with a test run, despite the less than appealing conditions!

Worked a station or two, but nothing to write home about!

I also performed a bit of maintenance on the dipole but have yet to get it back to a 1:1 SWR where it performed for such a long time. My 1:3 is not bad at all, but there are just those of us who are never satisfied until we find that 1:1 on the SWR meter.

All in all, it was quite a busy day and I'm looking forward to slowing down as the evening rapidly approaches. Hope you've having a great day wherever you are and with whatever you're doing!


KAYAK TRIP PICS

APRIL 26, 2021



t1

I decided to take another trip to Shell Point today and carried along a cell phone camera for some pictures and my smart watch for some information about the length of the trip in terms of the time and distance.

I started the trip off at 10:30 AM EDT on the gulf (south) side of the house and paddled east to travel around the east end of Live Oak Island. I made a turn to the west to pass back by our house on the canal (north) side of the island.

t2

I made a turn to the right and back to the left in order to approach the bridge that provides access to the island from the mainland.

t3

With a very recent low tide, it was clear that there would be plenty of room to pass beneath the bridge. It's quite a different picture when lying on top of the kayak to clear the bridge bottom during higher tides.

t4

The oyster shells provide a clear indication of max tide and also the ease with which one can pass beneath the bridge on a kayak.

t5

The rising tide did a nice job of carrying me through the tunnel. It's not nearly as easy to pass through when fighting the tide. As warmer temperatures arrive and the bugs start hanging out in that tunnel, it starts to look like something from a horror flick in there!

t6

I really enjoy navigating the channels in the marsh grass and looking at the homes and waving and/or speaking to the neighbors. Beyond the marsh grass up ahead, there's a large bay and the homes that can been seen in the distance are past that bay and over in Shell Point where I'm headed. I have a left turn coming up ahead followed by a right turn and a continuation of my trip.

t7

Made my left turn and I'm headed south along the north border of Live Oak Island.

t8

On the left, construction of a new seawall is almost complete. There used to be a home on part of that property but it was destroyed during Hurricane Michael in October of 2019.

t9

Made my right turn and am once again traveling west along the north side of Live Oak Island. That big beautiful home up ahead sits on the west end of the island. To the right of the home and off in the distance, a few of the homes over in Shell Point can once again be seen.

t10

As can be seen in a closer view of that home, the new owners have done a great job clearing out the brush and adding a small pier with a place to relax.

t11

Having passed the large house, I'm still traveling west and headed across the bay to Shell Point. The red arrow indicates the location I'm targeting which will provide me with access to the marina. The winds are coming out of the east and will make the trip over all the easier. Of course it will be a different story on the way back!

t12

I've entered the inlet that was indicated in the previous picture and made a right turn to the north, approaching the homes that were seen from a distance in previous pictures. Up ahead and on the right is one of the newer homes we'll be taking a closer look at in the next picture.

t13

I met the owner of this home very early during construction. It's been quite interesting to watch the builders put this thing together. It's turned out to be quite a beautiful home, as are many of the homes in our area.

t14

After passing the aforementioned home, I took a westward turn to the left and approached the entry point to the marina. At this point, I'm already in the second mile of this 3.5 mile trip. And, this is the part I like most - seeing all of the beautiful sailboats in the marina and enjoying the calm and quiet ride in such a well protected area.

t15

As can be seen on the water's surface in the picture, I enjoyed a small breeze that made my trip to the marina's west end quite easy.

<t16

I never tire of seeing all the beautiful vessels and meeting some of the live-aboards as they call them. So much to see and learn on this type of trip.

t17

With a turn around at the marina's end, I'm now facing east and paddling straight into those east winds. It makes for a little more effort to retrace my path through the marina.

t18

As I pass the last sailboat and boat slip, the GPS on my smart watch tells me that the marina is almost half a mile long. I'm now facing east and looking at the nice homes in the tiny cove where I made my left turn to access the marina.

t19

A bit further and a right turn and I pass that newer house on the left and make my way back into one of the larger coves that I entered from the bay. As so often was the case on my journey, another pelican was there to greet me and seemed far too comfortable to be concerned about my presence.

I've got plenty of time before high tide and decide to extend my trip just a bit. Up ahead, I exit the same access point I entered to get to this cove and to the marina and move southward and turn right (west) into the next inlet.

t20

This inlet leads me (with the help of those east winds) down to an area I've seen many times when Patty and I have driven over here to see what is going on. That beautiful row of homes up on the right is a major landmark in my mind and a beautiful sight.

t21

I turned around and paddled back to the inlet entrance and took a look at Live Oak Island off in the distance. I knew it would be a windy and challenging paddle to cross that bay and get back closer to home.

t22

I always enjoy passing the homes on the southern border of Live Oak Island. Shortly after I snapped this picture I saw a very large shark. I was unable to identify it except to say it was not a Hammerhead. Due to its apparent large size, I was also able rule out the bonnethead option that is so common in these waters. As usual, I saw a number of rays and a few larger than any I've seen before.

t23

Still traveling to the east and along the southern edge of Live Oak Island, I'm now facing east and the point up ahead means I'm just about home. Once I pass it, I'll swing a bit to the left and pass a few homes before reaching mine and pulling in for a much needed rest. I hope you have enjoyed riding along with me on this 3.5 mile, 2 hour trip!

t24


SHELL POINT MARINA

APRIL 25, 2021



Shell Point Marina

If I've got the time, the wind and weather are right, and I feel up to some paddling, there's nothing more fun and interesting than a kayak trip to the marina over at Shell Point. Depending upon the wind speed and direction, it's about a 30 minute trip of steady paddling from our place to get there.

I always enjoy adding a round trip of our island in the mix which means paddling around the east end of Live Oak Island, passing our house on the canal side, riding under the small bridge that leads to our island, and then paddling westward across the bay to the entry point that provides quiet and wind-free access to, and passage through, the marina.

Speaking of that bridge, and depending upon the height of high tide, it's quite a trick to lie flat on the kayak and paddle one's way beneath the bridge over to the other side.

I access Shell Point from the east side and the marina sits up on the northwest corner. After entering the area and passing some beautiful homes, I finally arrive at the point where the marina is located. The marina sits on one side of a canal that hosts many beautiful homes on the other side.

As I paddled through the canal today, it seems almost every boat slip was occupied, and most of them contained large sail boats. Several couples were enjoying the day onboard what I assume were their full-time live-aboard homes. On the other side of the canal were ladies tending their gardens and guys who were taking the opportunity to get a few odd jobs done on the house or the boat dock in the beautiful weather.

The prevailing winds were mostly from the north and the west so the ride back was quite a bit easier than the ride over. In fact, while enjoying a nice push from the wind, I saw a guy putting what looked like a nice Spanish Mackerel in a large cooler of ice and getting ready to catch another one.


WEATHER

APRIL 24, 2021



Saturday Weather

I always enjoy the prospects of an interesting weather day and today was supposed to have been just that. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately - for us anyway) most of the weather event has been north of the Florida line, up into both Georgia and Alabama.

Our day started early with high winds and somewhere into the morning we received a warning of high winds that were to extend from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM with gusts from 50 to 70 mph. While we've had some high winds that have slammed a few white caps on the seawall, I don't think we've experienced anything in line with those wind gusts forecasts.

There have been tornado warnings up in South Georgia, and plenty of lightning shows up on the map well to our north, but no evidence of that or anything else down our way. We've got some ominous looking skies, but that's about the extent of it.

High tide was at 1:40, over two hours ago. But, the winds are keeping the tide waters high and may continue to do so for a while based on the forecast for high winds. The ten day forecast shows rain next Friday (a week from yesterday) but other than that we seem to be in the clear.

I've been monitoring 2 meters in case a local weather net came active, but nothing so far on that front either.


AS THE TIDE TURNS

APRIL 23, 2021



As the Tide Turns

Unlike those who fish lakes and streams, the salty dogs who fish the ocean have to pay strict attention to the tides. It's one thing when the fish aren't biting, but quite another when attempting to find an open passage home during a low tide. Even in a kayak, this can present a problem. Add a stiff wind and you can really get in trouble!

I've seen some pretty unusual sights off of the back deck when experienced fishermen were wading or swimming with boat in tow, all in the name of making it home in a low tide. I've seen some very interesting moves as boat owners danced around in their boats while asking a sandy ocean bottom to release their boat.

Add some sporty weather and now those fishing in the lakes and streams are also at risk! My dad and I were in a canoe when a storm rolled in. The waves started pouring in over the bow as we attempted to paddle our way back to dry land and the car.

In a different storm, the family was out in the ski boat when the hair on my sister's head began to rise and float in the air. That often means a lightning strike is not far behind and it didn't take us long to decide that we had already done enough skiing for the day.

It's amazing how hard we work, and how much risk we assume, in order to have fun!


PERHAPS IT'S ME

APRIL 22, 2021



Perhaps It's Me

I must say that I'm very grateful for the digital technologies that have been added to the Ham Radio arena. It's been too many years since I've had anything but a dipole antenna and that doesn't make for a very good SSB (voice) configuration when conditions are poor, as they often are nowadays with our less than desirable location in the sunspot cycle.

I'm fully aware of the debate that rages over digital and its place in or out of the world of ham radio. While I might be tempted to side with the purists on that one, life has demaned otherwise. The combination of a dipole and the sunspot gutter has pushed many of us over to the dark side of digital if we intend to power up our rigs for any useful cause.

Add to that my disdain for headphones, the age-related struggle to hear and process correctly, the extra noise floating through the house which originates from my shack, and the benefit to earning additional awards not so likely in the purists' camp, and I'm left with a number of good reasons to prefer digital over voice and CW.

And for some odd reason, which I'm simply unable to explain, the quality of rag-chews has diminished greatly in recent years. It seems they just aren't what they used to be!

Perhaps it's me.


BEFORE & AFTER

APRIL 21, 2021



Wednesday

I'm the world's worst when it comes to remembering to take a 'before' and 'after' picture of a project. So, as I was about to finish painting the last outside wall of the house, I decided to snap the picture above for the 'before' perspective of an old paint job that had been incredibly bleached out by the Florida sunshine.

I'm not sure I understand why the old paint job looked 'patchy' but, either way, it was time to put on a new coat. There's plenty of 'after' photos on the April 14th post that reflect the incredible difference a coat of paint makes on the house.

I was able to combine the leftover paint from the gallon used for the front of the house and the gallon used for the east side of the house to provide almost 3/4ths of a gallon to be used for the west side of the house. It took almost every drop to paint that last side.

There's probably just a few ounces left for the always necessary next-day touch up job and then, at some point, I imagine I'll buy one more gallon to put a coat on the front deck, hit a few odds and ends on the middle level, and touch up a few of the deck spindles on the upper level. No rush on any of that and then it will be time to call this project completed!


PAINT WISDOM

APRIL 20, 2021



Paint Wisdom

While we were headed to the gym, I dropped by Ace Hardware to pick up some more paint and a couple of cheap brushes. While there, and while the attendant was preparing my custom paint shade, I asked her about the maximum time a paint can should be allowed to sit before it is once again shaken to keep the color consistent throughout the batch.

Her response shocked me!

I had a can that was prepared and sat only 24 hours before the tint started to separate from the base. I noticed enough of the tint on the lid of the can to actually concerned me, especially with my less that stellar track record with paint shades.

And when my Ace paint expert offered a maximum of 12 hours, it all finally made sense. From now on, I plan to have my paint tinted and shaken the day I intend to use it and not a moment sooner. That's what I did today and it worked out perfectly. I plan to do the same thing tomorrow.

It took a full five hours to paint the east side of the house and should take the same tomorrow for the west side. All that will remain are a couple of minor things on the second level and the front and back deck. I should have enough paint left to hit the middle level and the front deck (on the canal side) and will probably, at that point, consider my painting project completed. The south deck should be okay for the time being.


NORTH WINDS

APRIL 19, 2021



Flag

After several days of rain, we're looking at five days in a row of sunny skies. It's clearly time to put the new flag back up and I wondered about how secure it might be as I carried it out the door and felt the strong winds hit me in the face.

As for those winds, I think the picture of the flag says it all. The weather website puts our windspeeds at 11 MPH and I'm confident that the gusts are stronger, especially as can be seen in the picture.

I had a great call with Jonathan last night and Patty's enjoying her weekly call with Allie here at 9:23 AM as I type. I'm looking forward to our hitting the gym afterward and then seeing how much painting I can get done today. Hopefully the wind will back off just a bit to make that job more manageable.

If by chance you're here reading, I hope you're having a great day!


WHAT DO I BELIEVE?

APRIL 18, 2021



What to Believe

What do I believe? Now, I'm not talking about spiritual matters. And, despite all that is going on in the political arena these days, I'm not talking about politics either.

I'm talking about healthy eating. Ask Google and you will quickly and easily find dissenting opinions on just about anything in the arena of healthy and/or unhealthy eating. And, you have to read carefully because not all products are the same.

Here's a great example! Ask Google about powdered coffee creamers and here's what you'll get:

Coffee creamer may contain a dairy derivative and trigger allergies. ... Some non-dairy creamers can even contain trans fat, which adds to your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels; and adding a high-cholesterol chemical mix can only be bad news if you're trying to keep your cholesterol count down.

Sounds pretty bad huh? Well, to start with I don't have any allergies that would be triggered by non-dairy creamers. I also find since the word is already out on trans fats. As a result, they make a pretty rare showing on product nutrition labels these days. They're certainly not in my coffee creamer!

Oh, and watch out for this one too!

It's not good for you!

This doesn't necessarily mean it's bad for you. All it may mean is that the product may be absent any nutrients and may not necessarily be beneficial to you.

When researching healthy eating, be careful. It's a jungle out there!


ANOTHER BUSY DAY

APRIL 17, 2021



Busy Day

Looked at the rain gauge last night and it read 2.5 inches. Add another inch over night and it was sitting on 3.5 inches this morning. Like I've said before, it's been a rainy season this spring and I'm looking forward to some sunshine so I can get on with the painting.

Other than 2 minutes worth of touch ups on the back, I'm ready to move to the front of the house next and to finish up with the two sides, which are all shingles and will take some serious time to finish up.

Beyond that I'm planning to go ahead and knock out the front and back deck with a roller and then we'll take a long and hard look at whether we want to stay through the summer and into next year or take more decisive action on selling the place. I think Patty and I are about as 50/50 as can be on a direction for the future.

We both had a good workout at the gym today on the treadmills and enjoyed the results of some tweaks on our diets. I'm so blessed to be married to such an amazing chef!

I had a great evening yesterday on the ham radio with the FT4 and FT8 digital modes and have now reached 4,900 contacts since moving to Live Oak Island. Considering the fact that I started with 4,445 contacts in 2021 and was hoping to reach 5,000 by the end of the year, I'd say I'm in excellent shape to reach, and far exceed, that 2021 goal. Of couse that's assuming digital conditions don't go to pot on me.

I'm super grateful for the opportunities that have come along with the digital modes. In pacritular, I'm thankful for the contacts in spite of poor band conditions brought about here in the cellar of the eleven year sunspot cycle. It's uttlerly amazing to me to be able to make so many DX contacts in the midst of such poor conditions. What a great treat to enjoy this technology just when conditions were tending to remove SSB from the viable list of contact making alternatives during these horrible lows.

Patty and I had a great bible study today and I also managed to watch a tiny bit of the Heritage Golf Classic up in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Beyond that, I caught some amazing documentaries on YouTube. It's incredible what you can find on the internet these days.


PHP BATTLES

APRIL 16, 2021



Code Wars

More PHP coding wars!

I say that because sometimes coding turns out to be a real war, or at least a battle anyway. And, sometimes the difference between success and failure on that battlefield can be whether I'm coding something wrong when I know better versus coding something wrong when I simply don't know any better.

I know those two sound similar, but what I'm trying to say is that in the former case I'm breaking a coding rule that I know exists and in the latter case I'm breaking a coding rule that I don't know exists.

The latter was the case today when I was trying to make another simple adjustment to update the same online weight log program that I updated yesterday. The problem that I encountered was one I definitely wasn't expecting.

To put it in the simplest terms I know how, I was putting too much complicated PHP code into single lines. It turns out, as a result, that the PHP interpreter could not resolve my code. I had to break those single lines into multiple lines so that the interpreter could better understand my intentions regarding the order in which things were to be done, also known as the order of execution.

I have to chuckle at myself for the amount of time and effort I put in for such a small (and apparently not as simple as I thought) change. All I was trying to do was tell my program not to display data without at least one decimal value. If my weight was saved as 173.1, it would display 173.1 but if my weight was 173.0 it would display 173 without the decimal and trailing zero. I wanted to make sure the result was 173.0 and not just the whole number.

So much for my simple code change!


MORE CODING FUN

APRIL 15, 2021



PHP

I decided to update my private and unpublished weight tracking program to provide me with additional stats. I already had engineered logging the data in a text file using PHP and reversing the file order so that the most current information is at the top of the list.

In this iteration of my logging program, I have it calculating and displaying the highest logged daily weight, the lowest logged daily weight, the average daily weight, and am displaying all of this, once again, at the top of the list of data.

I learned several things in the process of making this update. First and foremost, I had to figure out how to strip the daily weight value out of a long string of daily data. I also had to figure out how to convert PHP strings to numeric values and came across the floatval feature for that one.

Amidst all of this, I spent some time fighting syntax errors, mostly because I wasn't being careful with nested if statements, my semicolons, and the separation of my variables. Pretty common stuff! And using the freestyle that I tend to employ, even more common.

I guess for me, the fun comes from two things. Just designing the logic and writing the code that yields a solution is quite rewarding. But, the rest of the fun comes from the puzzles that must be solved during the debugging process. And like I said, using my freestyle approach to coding is bound to deliver a few exciting opportunities for debugging.


HOME MAINTENANCE

APRIL 14, 2021



We're supposed to have storms arriving tomorrow. So, I thought I would take advantage of the beautiful day today and squeeze in some more painting before the weather moves in.

Sometimes the storms and rain sneak in late afternoon the day before they're supposed to arrive. I was hoping that wouldn't be the case today. The winds are already picking up but the paint is dry enough now that any early rain won't be a problem. flag

In addition to our trip to the gym, we picked up groceries at Walmart and Patty had included in our order a new American Flag. It was great to put that up today and to enjoy the patriotic sight as part of the old homestead.

shingles

You can see in some of the pictures the (cypress) shingles I've been talking about. The new coat of paint sure does a nice job of improving their look overall.

stairs

I was particularly pleased with how well the new coat of paint cleaned up the flights of stairs leading up to the house.

panels

I love the contrast of the white semigloss I used for the trim and the flat gray used on everything else including some of the panels that are part of the architecture of our home.

repairs

I mentioned some repairs where we had some bad wood replaced. With a coat of paint, they look great and just like part of the original structure.


BRUSHES OR ROLLERS

APRIL 13, 2021



Brushes or Rollers

Well, today was supposed to be a rainy day or at least an overcast day leading into an early rain on Wednesday. However, and as usual, the forecast changed (it's Florida!) so I was able to squeeze in some more painting ahead of the projected weather.

I wondered if I would be able to use a roller on the shingles or if a paint brush might be required? After finishing the stairs yesterday, I decided to attack the raw wood from the repairs I hired out. Painting over the repairs led me to some shingle painting and the bad news and good news came quickly.

Turns out I would have to use a brush on the shingles, but the shingle work went quickly and there's not that many shingles on the front and the back (just mostly on the sides) so I should be able to knock out the over-all house painting pretty quickly. Of course the deck around the house will be another matter entirely, but we'll get to that when we get to it.

I was able to paint over all of the repairs and a section of shingles (and a gutter spout) leading up to one of the sliding glass doors. As I mentioned, it went faster than I had hoped for and was very encouraging in terms of the time left before completing the entire project.

Tomorrow the forecast calls for mostly cloudy, leading up to more rain on Thursday. So, I might be able to get some more painting done on the house before the precip arrives.

We'll see...


IN, BUT NOT OF...

APRIL 12, 2021



World

I love this quote:

The world will ask you who you are and if you do not know, the world will tell you.

When we spend all day, every day, living in a world that is constantly seeking to influence our behavior and define our culture, it's amazing that any of us are able to avoid those influences and hold fast to the knowledge and wisdom that only comes from God.

Lord, help me to keep your word close to my heart.

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.


TWEAKS

APRIL 11, 2021



Tweaks

Tweak: to improve a mechanism or system by making fine adjustments to it.

It's interesting how retirement has provided me with additional free time and the tweaks to life that have come along as a result. In fact, it seems that those tweaks have even been reflected by the changes I continue to make here on my website.

I removed the Main Categories from the menu because I didn't think that list of categories truly reflected what the title indicated. There were things absent from the list that needed to be there, and there were other things on the list that I felt probably didn't belong there.

It's nice, in this new season called retirement, to truly be able to take things a day at a time. It's nice to have more control over one's schedule and the ability to focus on the things that truly seem most important. It's also nice to have the opportunity to provide regular tweaks to all of the above as time permits and as it seems appropriate.

Lord, may your Holy Spirit empower me with wisdom to make wise tweaks.


PAINT AND RAIN

APRIL 10, 2021



Paint and Rain

Well, the good news on the painting front is that I've painted the places that I was concerned would be the most difficult to paint. In particular, that includes the outside of the deck, rails, and spindles at the top of the second flight of stairs leading up to the house.

I should be able to move to that same area on the interior portion of the stairs and paint on up to the top of the last flight of stairs. From there I will paint the shingles on the house and then tackle the front and back decks. Having finished the stilts and the diagonals was a big step, not to mention the panels on the canal side of the house. It's good to have that behind me and to be moving into a much more readily manageable area.

My greatest challenge at this point is finding a window of good weather. We've had quite a bit of rain lately and when it hasn't been raining the wind has been so strong that it literally blows the paint right off of my brush.

There's a lot of rain called for on the 10-day forecast so I'll be watching closely on the daily forecast for any openings that might allow me to squeeze in some painting. It's not that I just can't wait to paint, but I am looking forward to finishing this project!


GABE SNOW

APRIL 09, 2021



Gabe Snow

Today, I want to write my blog entry about Gabe Snow. Gabe is Mr. Athletic from all I can see and will be playing in the upcoming soccer season. Not only is Gabe a skilled soccer player, but he has a real love for the game. His passion for the sport is bound to help him take his teams to the championship round!

Back at home, Gabe is Mr. Handy-Dandy in the Kitchen. Just like the trendy guys who are making amazing dishes in their kitchens, Gabe seems destined to have a similar opportunity if he decides to go in that direction. He seems to have a real passion for assisting in his mom's kitchen and seems to have already acquired the necessary skills to make a real difference with any dish.

Gabe has a great personality and loves to laugh. He also likes to tell everyone about the latest excitement in his life and loves to tell, and laugh at, a good joke! With that in mind, I just couldn't resist sharing a joke here on the Gabe Snow web page in honor of his ever-present wit and charm.

Why do elephants paint their toenails different colors?

I don't know - why do elephants paint their toenails different colors?

So they can hide in the box of crayons!

Haven't you ever seen an elephant hiding in a crayon box?

No, I haven't.

I guess they're pretty good at it!


NOAH SNOW

APRIL 08, 2021



Noah Snow

The picture above was taken about seven years ago when Patty and I lived at the townhome in Pensacola, Florida on Perdido Bay and hosted our daughter, Allie; our son-in-law, Josh; our oldest grandson, Noah; and the younger grandson, Gabe.

Noah and I decided to grab the little blue kayak and go for a ride in the bay, and Allie captured this great picture of our adventure. What a fun time that was, and what a great memory it still is!

And now, years later, Patty and I live on Live Oak Island, Florida and Noah and the rest of the Snow family are on another exciting adventure on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in Europe. They've moved to Stuttgart, Germany and are learning all about life and culture in the southern part of Germany.

Noah, is a bright guy and is quickly becoming an expert in the world of technology. He and I have swapped a lot of emails and he told me he has set a goal to learn to type fast, and that he wants to become a video game developer.

He likes different video games and is quickly becoming an expert at Minecraft. Whenever I have a question, all I have to do is ask Noah and he always takes good care of me with the right answer. Recently, he rescued me out of a Minecraft pond where I got stuck.

Noah has a cool computer lab set up in his bedroom and uses a ceiling mounted projector to project his computer screen up on the wall. Leave it up to Noah to figure out how to do something cool like that. I can't wait to see everything that he accomplishes in the world of technology and in the years to come as he gets older.

Way to go, Noah!

Tomorrow, I'm going to be blogging about our other grandson, Gabe!

See you then!


WHERE DID IT GO?

APRIL 07, 2021



Where Did It Go

Patty's attention got pulled in a different direction this morning and, as a result, I wound up running at the gym and picking up the groceries by myself. The caddy was looking pretty bad so I decided to add one more item to the list and take it by the carwash.

I had been to the gym and put in my three miles, ran the car through the carwash, and was just opening the trunk to the car, so the good folks at Walmart could load our groceries, when I noticed something strange. At some point in the morning, the red cover for the tail lights on the driver's side had gone missing.

Back tracking the morning's ride provided no help in locating the missing cover. In fact, even the car wash guys shut down the entire line long enough to look for it, but had nothing to show for all their efforts.

As such, I made a quick visit with my friends at Crawfordville Tire and Auto to check out my options. The quote was reasonable, so I placed my order for a replacement and proceeded home to unload the groceries.

As I feared, purchasing the cover requires the purchase of the entire driver's side tail light assembly. Even with the entire assembly and the installation, the quote was still quite reasonable. Plus, I didn't want the weather to get inside the assembly and cause more serious problems, which my car expert friend said would likely be the case after not much time.

I'm only a few miles away from my 161K miles oil change and will probably get that done while they're putting in the new assembly. Might as well make good use of the time and trouble for the maintenance stop.


HAVANA, FLORIDA

APRIL 06, 2021



Havanah

Patty and I took a trip over to Gadsden County Florida today to visit the city of Havana. We've passed through it at night on the way home from other trips before, but decided it might be interesting just to drive over and see what's there and what's going on during daylight hours.

Havana was featured in a recent special on a local TV show and what they shared looked interesting. There's a lot of cute shops and plenty of old homes and points of interest to see and we took much of it in on a leisurely drive around the town.

It was just over an hour each way, and we left after lunch. Combined with the rest of the riding around that we did back closer to home, I believe we spent about four hours altogether.

What a great way to spend a day together.


TSUNAMIS

APRIL 05, 2021



Tsunamis

I've always been highly passionate about Geek Stuff. My interest in the science and the technology have always taken priority over any interest in the people involved in those arenas.

That's difficult to admit, and I've taken significant steps over the years to try and find a more appropriate balance between the two. But, I'm still forced to acknowledge the reality of my DNA and the way I'm wired.

With the additional free time that retirement has contributed to my schedule, I find myself gravitating toward the learning opportunities built into so many of the YouTube videos that focus on the technical topics of interest to me. Weather has always been high on that list, and lately I've taken a real dive into the science behind earthquakes and tsunamis.

Last night I watched an incredible YouTube video entitled The Wave that Shook the World. It has set me out on a mission to learn more about tsunamis and the four events that trigger them - in particular, earthquakes.

It doesn't stop there either. Studying the underlying causes and effects for these phenomena and gathering an understanding of the terminology and technical data in these arenas is what will better prepare and equip me to take my learning to the next level. What an incredible experience it is to ride along with the experts as they advance our understanding and discover answers to so many difficult questions.


HE IS RISEN

APRIL 04, 2021



He Is Risen

ATLAS SHRUGGED

APRIL 03, 2021



Atlas Shrugged

I suppose my Libertarian leanings have something to do with my appreciation for Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. Actually, it took three separate movies (Parts 1, 2, and 3) to reproduce the 1,168 page novel. Even her novel, The Fountainhead, which was moved to the silver screen with only one movie, was still 753 pages.

I'm not a big fan of the idea that three separate films tell the story, and I'm even less a fan of both the changes to the cast and the length of time between each. To be honest, the films had funding issues, which probably accounts for most of the problems.

Still, I enjoyed all three movies, own all three DVD's, and have watched each more than once. The catch is that if you don't at least have Libertarian leanings or concerns about our nation's trek towards socialism, or better yet are a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party, I doubt these three movies are for you.

The ultimate irony for me is that current political trends toward socialism and away from capitalism and free markets have actually made these stories (and Ayn Rand's philosophy) more relevant and popular in recent decades. I suppose Ayn Rand's time spent in Russia made these ideas relevant to her very early on, especially when you consider her exposure, in 1917 and at the age of 12, to seeing her father have his business confiscated and the family having to flee to the Crimean Peninsula.

I must admit that the similarities between the goings on in the movie and goings on in the current political environment are amazing, if not frightening.

Socialism anyone?


MOVIE AWARDS

APRIL 02, 2021



Movie Awards

I said a while back that I'm a fan of fictional movies about up-and-coming rock bands. I've already mentioned Sing Street but I need to add Rudderless and That Thing You Do to my growing list of films about fictitious rock bands that I believe are worth seeing.

Considering the very similar themes, the three movies are still about as different as three movies can be. Rudderless takes home my award for Best Story Line, while Sing Street wins my Coming of Age award and That Thing You Do takes home my award for Best Music.

My favorite? I would be hard-pressed to pick one since each has plenty of that special magic that brings me back to watch it again and again. Probably Sing Street, just because of the heartfelt music.



FinancialsSing StreetThat ThingRudderless
Box Office13.6 million34.6 million.50 million
Budget4.0 million26.0 million5.0 million
Net9.6 million8.6 million-4.5 million
DirectorJohn CarneyTom HanksWilliam H. Macy



APRIL FOOLS DAY

APRIL 01, 2021



April Fools Day

I've never been much of a Hoaxter but I thought it might still be an interesting exercise to look back at the history of April Fools Day and review some of the more recent and renown hoaxes offered on April 1 in years past.

According to history.com and most other sites I've visited, the real origin of April Fools Day remains a mystery. There have been a number of suggestions as to the origin but none sound very persuasive to me and, as a result, I thought it might be more interesting to focus on some of the recent and larger scale pranks played on that rather infamous holiday.

Taken directly from the history.com website:

In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees. In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.

In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich. Google notoriously hosts an annual April Fools’ Day prank that has included everything from “telepathic search” to the ability to play Pac Man on Google Maps.

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