Archive: Just a little condo rental prep and Encore upkeep

Posted By on December 3, 2018

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Only one little piggy had a bad day down in Florida. It was unusual for me, but decided to wear the Sperry watershoes rather than leather boat shoes while working on Encore … basically just cleaning and getting her back to pre-hurricane prep form. Unfortunately we have not been sailing enough to justify even owning a boat — very depressing. Nevertheless, it was nice to be back onboard for a long weekend and getting her cleaned up (although my bottom cleaning guy did not make it).

Reason two and the primary for the quick trip down was to get the condo ready for our winter renters. Thankfully almost everything was in order and really just required my "Richie the homemaker" cleaning and touches. I did add a new kitchen hanging thingy (below) that Brenda wanted for the condo kitchen and made templates for the spring/summer 2019 master bathroom update … if it happens. All in all, it was an inexpensive trip (cheap frequent flyer flight and gas $2.12), and am please to have finalized the lease contract for another winter/spring rental.

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The passing of our most qualified president – George H. W. Bush

Posted By on December 2, 2018

George_H._W._Bush_1989_official_portrait_croppedPerhaps it is human nature to reflect on ones own personal shortcomings and selfish thoughts at the passing of another well remembered United States president? President George H.W. Bush (1924-2018) lived an amazing life in an amazing time to have been alive. His completed life reminded me of a verse in Ecclesiastes (see bottom of post).

I remember President George H. W. Bush for the most part fondly as do most Americans who set aside divisive politics on a death of a president, but also remember the tense times our country faced during his many decades of service to our country – true patriotism.

My reference to "most qualified" has much to do with this 41th president’s life of service to his country. From day one of World War II, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and his decision to forgo Yale to serve as a Navy aviator, Bush demonstrated his patriotism and love for country from 1942-45. He was shot down and plucked out of the ocean by a submarine. After the Navy, he returned to Yale and was offered a cushy position with his father’s firm, but chose instead to take the risk learning a new to him industry — oil. He and his new bride, the late Barbara Bush gave up all and moved to Texas. PresBush41_NavyFrom the ground up as an entrepreneur Bush grew a successful company, ran for congress and suffered both losses and victories. He gained political insight and humility that served him well in future positions. He rose in the Republican party to serve as chair and in national positions such as being the 10th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1971-73. He was then asked to be a Liaison to China before we had diplomatic relations, which he referred to as his sabbatical years (no staff, riding a bike around and meeting the Chinese people).

President Gerald Ford recognized Bush’s value and appointed him to become the 11th CIA director at the height of the cold war with the USSR. Those who are younger likely don’t remember the tense times during the 1950s through 80s as we faced the threat of nuclear annihilation and communism dominating the world; it was the big picture concern for a generation of Americans (and perhaps still exists as socialist central control dictatorial philosophy continues in 2018?)

The United States continued to seemingly decline during the late 1970s as even small adversaries such as Iran became a thorn in President Carter’s presidency. Bush was asked to serve in our nation’s second highest position, this time as President Ronald Reagan’s Vice President. Those 1980s years saw a revitalization in this country and a decline in the flawed communist system in the USSR. It was only natural that as a successful  VP, that George H.W. Bush and the Republican Party would convince the country that he could continue the rebuilding started under Reagan.

Unfortunately the contentious politics that exist in our capitalist system often rewards some more than others, making conditions ripe for divisive politics, especially as the cyclical of our economy slumped. Bush2Clinton_1993That along with policing our interests and protecting smaller nations around the world, left President Bush as a wartime president who’s focus was on Saddam Hussein and an aggressive Iraq. At the end of his 4 year term, the country grew tired of Republican leadership, a slump in the American economy and chose a new generation leader — Democrat and 42nd President Bill Clinton. As gracious as he was competitive, President Bush 41 left a polite letter on his desk for the incoming youngster. In later years, these two political adversaries became close friends and likely only after their presidency, recognized the challenges and weight of the office only known by those who sit in the Oval Office. One can only hope that this kind of bond is one that all who have the best interests of America at heart will be able to emulate.

I’m thankful our republic has had patriots like President George H. W. Bush willing to protect and defend our nation. On reflection, I recognize that it is not always the vision an administration has when elected that defines a president’s legacy, but how a leader rises to different unplanned challenges that confronts each who serves as our president – evident less than a decade later by the attack on 9/11 that faced another Bush president.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…

— Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Archive: Making templates and planning for future projects

Posted By on December 1, 2018

VesselSinkOvalMasterCondo1818ideaDuring the last trip to the condo, we enjoyed the fruits of our 2018 labor – our recent kitchen and bath updates. As is the norm for us, we discussed future projects, like updating the master bathroom too, since it looks stodgy compared to the guest bathroom.  So IF we don’t find a buyer for the condo this winter while our renters are there, I may give bathroom number two a facelift next year.

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It is a small space with currently only a single sink in a large vanity. With a little creative ‘space-finding,’ that I can custom build a couple of corner vanities, replumb and rewire the electrical and upgrade the tile. Brenda can do some painting and come up with a mirror and lights that satisfy her. She liked the "vessel" sink in the guest bathroom well enough to want to do a couple small sinks in the master bathroom so we’ve started the sizing and searching. I’ve sketched out the idea and made a full size template in order to visualize the perceived space gain and see if it will work. It is still tight, and will likely offend those who love to spread their bathroom accessories out, but will work. Besides, I’m not fond of seeing the clutter in our home master bathroom let alone a mess in even a smaller space. We’ll see if the idea is still with me in the spring; for now, I’m just archiving ideas and thinking.

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As grandparents, what would we do without smartphones?

Posted By on November 30, 2018

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Just when I thought my granddaughter Annalyn could not get any cuter, she decides to put stickers on Katelyn’s nose and then her own. The giggling and grins were just too much not to take screenshots of and archive. We are sure anxious to see Annalyn for Christmas … and it doesn’t look like we are the only ones looking forward to Christmas!

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The snow is here, but the Pi cam still shows an autumn sky

Posted By on November 29, 2018

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The weather has turned this week with temperatures in the 20s and our second snow in Cincinnati for winter 2018-19 (here’s first). My automated Raspberry Pi cam regularly tweets out a photo with this one still looking like an autumn sky … or perhaps winter since the sun looks pretty low in the southern sky? Anyway, I still enjoyed seeing the backyard switch from green to white, even if I’m not ready for winter.

Markets rallied, and as one headline stated, Ratemania!

Posted By on November 28, 2018

The Dow closed up 618 points on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell indicated that "interest rates are just below the neutral level that neither aids or hinders economic growth." DowClose181128Investors looking for something positive as they wait hoping for some good news during the G-20 meeting between President Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.  on U.S. trade with China.

The S&P 500, a broader index, closed up 2.3% and the tech heavier and hard hit Nasdaq closed up 2.95% which was a relief to investor who have seen 2018 gains disappear in the last several weeks. As most Americans know, the US economy is good, but markets are forward looking; they perceive slower growth ahead with plenty of obstacles to deal with … most out of their control.

A struggling world economy makes the U.S. a bit safer, but we do sell and trade overseas too. One big aggressive foe, China,  has most of us concerned as tariffs and trade dominate the headlines. Another is the new Democrat controlled House of Representatives, which is seemingly bent on steering the US in an opposing direction Republicans have moved us. Hopefully these empowered DEMs will keep their frustration with President Trump in check and focus on with legislating some sort of compromises with so much unsettled business. I hope they are careful with the economy, taxes and spending in particular as we all lose if the economy slumps again.

Fees increases ends my Freedompop LTE MiFi endorsement

Posted By on November 27, 2018

This may be the end for Freedompop, the low cost wireless "backup" hotspot service I’ve been using for yearsat least it probably is for me (started with the Photon back in 2010). For the most part their hotspot service wpid-mificropped-2has been a decent value for me while traveling and giving me LTE connectivity to all my devices, but I can no longer endorse or recommend it. The free service of 500MB per month is not really enough data making their $3.99/mo rollover option a better choice. I have also encouraged a few other users to add service which increases the amount of free monthly data added to my account each month (now have a decent reserve that will expire if the rollover option is canceled).

In October, the company implemented a service charge of .98 cents on top of the $3.99 monthly (tolerable), but this month they have upped that to a $2.99 "Administrative Fee. Since most phone plans now offer a data plan addition, it is not as critical to opt for the Freedompop service and definitely not worth paying a higher monthly fee for the same rollover (Virgin Mobile is $10/mo). I inquired with Freedompop’s "weak" customer service department just to be sure before canceling my Freedompop LTE device … or at least switching to their free 500MB per month service. Will probably do that later this month. This is too bad … as I doubt I am alone an question whether Freedompop will survive?

From Freedompop Customer Service:

We understand your concerns and will work towards your satisfaction. Upon account review, I do see that the charge is for:

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Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.