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Climate change

I don’t know what caused it, but it was 27° (81° F) here yesterday afternoon

sunand this morning it snowed.


Vance Packard is alive and well

Vance Packard - Google him.

Vance Packard – Google him.

A while back, the paper towel people came up with a great idea: pick-a-size.  They started perforating their sheets at half size.  This, I felt, was a great boon to us paper towel users.  Almost always, unless the dog has made a mess on the floor, I only need half a sheet of paper towel.  Suddenly my paper towel rolls were lasting almost twice as long!

It seems that it didn’t take long for the paper towel people to notice this.  I opened a new roll yesterday and tore off “half a sheet”.  It was a good two inches wider than the old “half sheet”.

How to change a life

One of CVH’s facebook friends posts a question on a regular basis.  This week’s question was “What book has changed your life?”

I will set aside the metaphysical question of if one can change their life (for after all, you only get one).

Recently a dear old friend gave me a copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Flight to Arras, an autobiographical account of his time as a reconnaissance pilot in WW II.  At one point, he muses on the issue of what makes us who we are:

No single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us.  To live is to be slowly born.  It would be a bit too easy if we could go about borrowing ready-made souls.

It is true that a sudden illumination may now and then light up a destiny and impel a man in a new direction.  But illumination is vision, suddenly granted the spirit, at the end of a long and gradual preparation.  Bit by bit I learnt my grammar.  I was taught my syntax.  My sentiments were awakened.  And now suddenly a poem strikes me in the heart.

I told CVH “IBM System/360 Principles of Operation”.


Brown County

The mornings are getting chill, the days shorter, the trees are taking on vermillion hues, and like the swallows to Capistrano, Hoosiers in south-central Indiana make their annual trek to Brown County.

Well, we don’t live in Indiana, but Brown County is only about two hours away.  So we decided to take a day off and signed up for a bus tour to go.  Since neither of us can stand the way the other drives, a bus trip just makes the whole day go a lot smoother.

The bus left town, taking the new Lincoln bridge over the Ohio River.  The Lincoln bridge is seen below on the left.  The thousands of pesky pedestrians in the photo were cleared before we drove across.


The bus cruised north through Indiana until we reached our lunch spot, The Brown County Inn.  It’s a cute place, with a rustic barn motif.  We ate in the decidedly barn-like dining room.


Then we had our picture taken outside.


One reason to visit Brown County in the fall is to walk through the woods, admiring the hills and colors and commune with nature.  The other reason, and the path we took today, was to go shopping.  There are dozens of shops, some tourist traps, some not, and we took advantage of the beautiful weather to walk around and get an early start on Christmas shopping.

There was a mysterious buffalo in front of the town hall.  It appears to be standing there while leaves fall on it.


sealAnd I believe that is the intention.  It seems that, as part of the Indiana bicentennial this year, buffalo statues were erected and painted across the state.   (Why buffalo?  I don’t know.  Perhaps because there is a buffalo on the Indiana state seal.  But then why is there a buffalo on the state seal?)

But we were in no mood to ponder such recursive questions, we just went shopping.  And we had ice cream at Miller’s.


We found some irresistible framed artwork and a friendly cat at one studio.


A nice vacation day.  Took my mind off the first floor of our house.

Home renovations – Part 6

The new toilet finally arrived.  The ladies are pleased. And a nice thing is that it’s “chair height” – that extra inch and three-quarters is surprisingly comfortable. Especially at our age.


A big plumber showed up and took out the old commode.  He picked it up and said, “This is the heaviest one I have ever had to lift.”  My wife told him they don’t make them like that anymore.

He then brought in the new one, a tiny little thing.  I said, “You’re a big guy for a plumber.” (He stood about six-five.)  “Tell me about it,” he replied.  “I spent four hours this morning under a kitchen sink.”

The new toilet flushes what seems to be a tiny amount of water, so I don’t think you’d want one if you had teenage boys in the house, but it should meet our needs fine.  Because the tank is so much smaller than the old one, the unpainted wall is now exposed.  Fortunately, the painters left me the leftover paint so that I can touch this up myself.  More problematic is the fact the the foot print of this commode is smaller, so I have a gap between the commode and the edge of the vinyl flooring.  The floorers did not leave the extra vinyl, so I don’t have anything to patch it with.  I am mulling my options.

Outside the bathroom, we’ve left a short section of the old carpet on the stairs so that our infirm dog can still get up and down.  Once she has gone on to the big kennel in the sky, I’ll tear that out and restore the hardwood stairs underneath.

Home Renovations – Part 5

I gave up looking for my screwdriver bits and just bought a set at our neighborhood Harbor Freight (our neighborhood has all the conveniences, if nothing else).

33-Kenya-flying-toiletToday I got a call from Lowe’s that my new commode had arrived and that I should speak with someone at the service desk about picking it up.  As mentioned before, I had already paid for delivery and installation.  I checked my credit card statement.  I had been charged for the replacement toilet, but there was no credit for the returned toilet.  Since I needed some parts for a window screen anyway, I drove down to Lowe’s and went to the service desk.  I told the clerk that I had received a call about my special order.  She said she would have someone from plumbing bring it up.  I told her the story about the toilet.  Her eyes darted all around while I was talking; I could tell that she was having difficulty maintaining interest.  When I got to the part where I wanted my money back for the commode that had been returned, she said “You’ll have to come into the store for that.”  At that point I could see I wasn’t going to get very far with her.  I pointed out I was in the store already.  She called for the Head Cashier.

Not our head cashier, but I'm sure just as nice

Not our head cashier, but I’m sure just as nice

The Head Cashier was very nice, but couldn’t figure out how to refund my money and still be sure the toilet would be set up for installation.  At this point in the evening, there did not appear to be anyone higher up the ladder than he still in the store, so he told me he would talk with his manager tomorrow.

I was able to get the parts for my window screen, and the guy in the window department was very cheerful and helpful.  Turns out he had just built screens for all the windows in his house, and shared some nifty tips he had learned from YouTube videos.

Aviation Heritage Festival

Aviation FestivalToday we went to the Aviation Heritage Festival at our neighborhood airport, Bowman Field.  As I have mentioned before, it’s a historic airport (hence the “Heritage” part of the title, I guess); the oldest continuously operating airport in the U.S.  It was also a huge hub of activity in the late thirties and forties.

Some of that activity was relived today when dozens of historic aircraft were on display.

There was the beautiful Flagship Detroit DC-3, which I had seen before,

Curtis Jenny

Curtis Jenny


a Curtis Jenny,

Lockheed 12A

Lockheed 12A

a stunning Lockheed 12A Electra Junior (fastest airplane in the sky when it debuted in 1936), and one of seventy built,

thirties airplane


another really cool airplane of the era which make and model I neglected to make note of,


RC airplanes

RC airplanes

a number of RC planes,

Ford Tri-Motor

Ford Tri-Motor

Ford Tri-Motor

Ford Tri-Motor

and a Ford Tri-Motor, with its corrugated skin.

I got to fly in the Tri-Motor. It was billed as the very aircraft that Neil Armstrong first flew on (at the age of five).
Here it is, coming in to the terminal.

Tri-Motor interior

Tri-Motor interior

We all get on board.

As we approached downtown Louisville, and I looked out the window past the landing strut and radial engine and saw the modern skyline, I couldn’t shake the creepy feeling that I was in a version of that Twilight Zone episode “The Odyssey of Flight 33”.

The flight had its pluses and minuses. First of all, I didn’t have to deal with the TSA, so there was no x-ray, taking shoes off, etc. The seats were incredibly comfortable (especially compared to what you get on airlines today): cushy, and with more head, leg and shoulder room than even I could use up.

However, the three huge radial engines were loud, and some of the exhaust spewed back into the cabin. And the winds buffeted the plane around; it wasn’t bad on our short demo flight, but would bring up your lunch after a couple of hours, I think, and there is no toilet. But then, there’s no food or beverage service, either.

Home renovations – Part 4

By now, “renovations” no longer seems to be the right word to use.  “Repair” is closer to the mark.

toiletWe picked out our new toilet.  I was going to have a handyman buddy pick it up and install it with me (he works reasonable) until the Lowe’s salesman told me that they offer next day delivery and install for $185.  Somewhat pricey, but I was in a bit of a hurry to get a toilet working downstairs again, so I paid it.  That was ten days ago.  The installer showed up today and said the toilet would not fit in our bathroom (they don’t make toilets that way anymore he said), and we would have to special order another.  Would arrive in about a week.  Of course, this also means that the chances it will fit the footprint cut in the new vinyl (the wrong vinyl that was installed in there in the first place, remember) are essentially nil, and I will have to replace the flooring in the bathroom again.

I did get the big hole in the entertainment center fixed, but the new blinds aren’t up yet.  Somewhere in all the commotion I lost the bits to my electric screwdriver.

mac & cheese Magazine

mac & cheese magazine

mac & cheese magazine

For those of you who were skeptical of my claim that I sighted a copy of “mac & cheese” magazine at our local Kroger, I went ahead and purchased the latest edition on my last visit there.

Your mouth will drool.

Home renovations – Part 3

Lowe's logoI am on Lowe’s watch list.

Either they think I am becoming a great customer or I’m planning a major caper.

Two days after the flooring people finally “finished” the installation (including knocking a huge hole in our entertainment cabinet – “I don’t know how that happened, sir”), I noticed water pooling in the bathroom (next to the new vanity I talked about in “Home Renovations – Part 2”).  Figuring I had bungled the faucet installation, I spent about half an hour squeezed into that tiny space trying to figure out what I had done wrong.  Finally I noticed the water was coming from the commode instead.  Not the wall valve.  Not the connection to the wall valve.  Not the connection from the valve to the tank.  Not the washer between the tank and the bowl.  No, somehow those clowns managed to crack the tank itself and create a slow drip.

Assorted Food ColorsBy the way, I can save you a trip to Kroger and four dollars – food coloring comes in a gel now, not a liquid, which is entirely unsuitable for tracking toilet leaks.  Unless, I suppose, you bought about eighty dollars worth of the stuff.

I could call the floor covering company back and complain, and maybe they’d be willing to help install a new one, but I really didn’t want them in my house again.  What else would they tear up?  So it’s back to Lowe’s to pick out a replacement.

indexWell, we enjoyed our new floors and freshly painted walls (if not being able to use the toilet) for one week.  One week.  Fifty-five hundred dollars for one week.  We could have spent the week at The Plaza and come out ahead.  Then the sewer drain backed up while CVH was running a load of laundry.  The plumbers arrived, and proceeded to track the mess out of the laundry room all across the first floor and up the walls.  After two days, they still couldn’t find the problem (Thank God for the shower rooms down at our local YMCA), and they told me to call the city sewer department and have them check their side.  The sewer guys showed up in two hours (!) with trucks loaded with all kinds of equipment that the poor plumber did not have access to: motorized cameras, sonar, etc.  It took them only about fifteen minutes to pinpoint the location of the problem (the dogwood in the front yard had decided to seek extra nutrition in our drain pipe).  I tell you, those guys were great.  It was like having Ed Norton himself come work on your sewer.  They had me in stitches the whole time.  Who would have guessed that sewer workers enjoyed their job so much?  Everyone should be so blessed.

So now, having a green flag in my yard, I call the plumbers back and they fix the issue in half an hour.  Showers, clothes washing, dishwasher, all those things you tend to take for granted are now back on line.  But there’s still the issue of cleaning off all that grime…and I still have to replace the commode.