June 29, 2014

Want to Identify Scam Phone Calls?

I'm sure that many of you get the same type of phone calls that I do, where they are either telemarketing or in some cases can be harmful if you answer the call. I usually don't answer calls that are not in my contact list and show up by name on my caller ID.

So how do you know who is calling?  I hope this tip will help you from now on.

1.  Don't answer calls that are not in your contact list
2.  Let those calls with just a phone number showing on your caller ID, go to voice mail or just hang up.
3.  After the call, go to www.whitepages.com
4.  Type in the phone number of the call in the block "Reverse Phone"
5.  Scroll toward the bottom of the screen, you will usually see comments from others that will show you the number is s scam.
5.  Click your phone icon, click "recent" and then add that number to your contact list and name the new contact SCAM.

Each time a number fills the the above criteria, add them to the SAME contact. After a while you will have a list of phone numbers under that contact name.

What you will find out later is, those numbers will stop calling you. Keep them in your contacts though and keep adding new numbers.

What made me think of this information is I just changed cell phone service from AT&T to Verizon. Within an hour after activating my new phone number, I received my first SCAM call. I added that number to my previous contact. They have continued to call me every day, including just now, but now my caller ID will show SCAM when they call.

I hope this helps those that didn't know how to handle these types of calls.

Yes, I use to put my number on the lists to not receive telemarketing calls but the block never worked.

June 28, 2014

A Great RV eBook & An Experiment

Click here: for a great RV book.

I am putting that link at the top for all to see. This is NOT an affiliate link, just a link to send you to the book on Amazon. Why am I "advertising" this?  It's because I just read it tonight, it's a fast read and loaded with good RV information. I bought it, downloaded it to my Kindle, synchronized all of my devices and read it on one setting on my iPad.

For those of you that have emailed me about my blog, telling me that you are still deciding on what to do ... this book is definitely for you as well as me. It explains a lot in the different phases we have gone through ... or maybe in your case ... currently going through, in our thought process.

It also covers those mental phases for the people that have bought their rig and have hit the road, whether just in your first month, first year or many years.

Every phase is covered and is very informative.

Now for a little update on nothing in particular, no new dramatic news either in the RV or my hounds. Still some things to write about each and kind of a follow up to my last post.

For the past few weeks I had an idea for walking my two basset's, Winston and Heidi with a splitter and one leash. Maybe a possibility for future camping or traveling. They are the same height which is a plus, same speed when not on the leash but a slight error in judgement. Daily as we walk through the field in back of the house I have Sadie (bloodhound) on a 25' retractable and one of the bassets on a 20' retractable and one lucky basset on their own pace. That pace is indescribable. The meaning of Slooooowwwwww would be faster than the pace of either basset hound walking off their leash.

Of course due to the heat and humidity we try to walk after 7 or 8pm. With Winston (10yr), it's a combination of the heat, his bad lower basset back or maybe just that he is getting older but when he is off the leash he will drop pretty far behind us walking one step at a time. Picture that on basset hound length legs ... LOL. He will always cut off his walk short and head to the return path to meet us on the way back. It's all open field so I can see where he is.

When Heidi is off leash (6yr), she is off on her own and hard to control because she will ignore you just like the AKC description says about the basset hounds breed (stubborn) and will get away if I am not keeping tabs on her. At times she starts going in different directions to where I have to walk the other dogs over to her and take the leash off of Winston and attach her.

So last week I found my old leather splitter hanging inside a door with all past leashes, different sized and different kinds of dog collars that have collected over the years. I remember in 1997 when I moved to this house Harry and Maggie walked using that splitter like two dancers...almost in step. They were both bassets. I thought if they could do it, then Winston and Heidi could also. I was wrong.

In the experiment this week, the combo of Heidi and Winston never worked that way and as of tonight, June 28, the experiment has been shelved. Some of what I described earlier about each basset off of the leash, is a factor on why this experiment didn't work.

Whether Winston is on or off a leash .... his pace is the same ... slowwwwwww. When Heidi is on the leash she will do anything to stay in the lead and is always ahead of the bloodhound. Then at times with her great nose, she is off on a scent that will pull me if I let her, but the stop on the retractable leash stops her tendency to bolt.

So with one basset hound wanting to be in the lead of the pack, that is connected by a collar splitter to a basset that is on a constant laid back stroll through the country ... it was not going to work. Each night this week I stopped them soon after to unhook the splitter and only putting Heidi on the leash, otherwise Winston would be strangled with Heidi pulling him through the field.

How does this information tie into the last blog post? For the past few weeks I had thought seriously of taking the hounds and I tent camping. The plan was to head to locations with low temps and at least lower humidity. I was thinking Yellowstone, maybe Glacier or even the coast of the PNW. Yes ... all of us in a tent, a large PaHa Que with plenty of floor space and I could stand up if needed.

The concerns were:

1.  My hounds barking in a SP on the way out when they saw new people and new dogs.
2.  The hound ability to take off when they lock onto a scent and either getting lost or killed by a predator.

On the first concern, here at home when someone shows up to visit, UPS/FedEx delivery or like the installer this week ... if I don't let them outside to meet and greet the people, one hound will start their "hound howling" and the other two follow. It's loud and I could see us getting kicked out of campgrounds because of that. Also, if I were to take off to either bike or hike, I would have had to leave them in the back of the FJ Cruiser and that's never a good thing in hot weather, even with the windows cracked. Would they be barking then? They bark here at home when they can't go out when I mow the yard. I can only assume they would bark if I were to leave them in the car.

The second concern is a big one. Sure, it doesn't happen often or at least you don't read about dogs being killed by predators. My friend asked at dinner the other night "are you really going to tent camp with three dogs in bear country"? I jokingly replied that my bloodhound would probably be lunch for a bear and then I would. Not a good answer I know, but it just kind of came out that way.

One the drive home I thought more about that. Around here in the country about all I hear are coyotes. Unless they are really hungry in the winter, you don't see them. You will see their tracks in the snow.

The safety of my hounds have always been a concern. Tent camping would change the safety parameters. It would be much different than sleeping inside a hard shell trailer, or staying in one during the day.

I thought of how hard it is to walk all three hounds on a leash. I thought of our trip last September 2013. I thought if they were an excuse or a justifiable concern. I don't deal in excuses nor do I make decisions feeding my brain positive thoughts over and over, never have. I make decisions based on facts, tendencies and thoughts of safety  if the hounds were traveling as well for myself. That is they way I've always been ... analysis then decision. Maybe when I was younger I made some of those "I'll do it now and figure it out on the way" but being older I don't have time to correct major mistakes in thinking, financially or otherwise.

So, long story short, I decided tent camping off the grid with three hounds was not possible. These are not dogs in the working breed that stay around, they are hounds and their noses dictate what they do in an outside environment. The stronger the scent, the more unconscious they become ... that's their DNA. It's not a training issue.

Like I stated in September 2013 post after our 586 mile trip, any full-time or majority of the time traveling will have to take place after the number of hounds I have decreases to one.

I have had bassets or bloodhounds or both, since 1987. Depending on circumstances, determined the quantity at the time. When I purchased Heidi in July 2011 from Basset Hound Rescue, RVing and retiring was not even a thought....even a passing thought. I did not see Glenn's interview with Yahoo until October 2011, then started my blog, with the subtext "finding out if I can travel with three hounds".

I'm good with the decision. We will try to get away for short trips, maybe see what happens and then go from there.

June 27, 2014

Satellite Installer Crawls Out With a Surprise

Tuesday as the Exede Satellite installer crawled out from under my house as he ran cable from the dish to the opposite corner of the house to my computer, he said "I have some bad news for you". I instantly thought about he would not be able to finish the installation and I would not be getting the service for some reason. I could only wish that is what he was about to tell me.

"You have black mold under your house on the wood and on the insulation"

What a punch in the gut that was. In the past, once a year, I would usually crawl under the house to inspect for anything like that or other issues. For 14 years I saw nothing that would lead to that or any other problems. Everything looked great under the house. It had been two summers ago since I had did that inspection. I remember that time frame because I built and painted a new wood door to get into the crawl space. For 35 years it was a framed glass window that was broken by one of the tv dish installers years ago.

For 14 years prior I saw nothing under the house that would lead to mold. I have always kept my vents in the foundation open TO PREVENT MOLD ... so how did this happen?

To interrupt the news here, I crawled under the house Wednesday morning to take a look. It's just a little mold, not black mold as the photos I have looked up on Google Images show. It should be an easy clean up but time consuming with it being something I can do.

He did say the problem is the insulation between floor beams are no longer allowed in today's house construction standards. My house was built 39 years ago by the local Amish. In between those floor beams is the pink fiberglass insulation wrapped in paper, the kind you would see inside of walls.

That will be a mess to tear out and push out through the only small crawl space, into the front yard, in hot muggy weather. It has to be done though. I'll need to buy a full body suit and a respirator instead just a facial mask, in case it is black mold.

After taking out all of the insulation, I will then spray bleach/water on all the wood to kill the mold. There is no wood rot and no termite infestation anywhere. I had one friend tell me he had the exact same problem on his older house a few years ago and was able to clean it up himself with a weed sprayer filled with bleach and a little water.

My question is why did it take 14-17 years to happen? Isn't leaving vent's open the right thing to do? I was told to leave the vents open year round by an engineer that did house inspections in his past work.

There seems to be a house issue to repair every year. There are times I wonder if it is worth staying here just because I have a low tax base and a house that is paid for. No matter what, I would have to get this mold issue fixed and any of the other minor repair issues fixed before it could be placed on the market for sale.

No plans to sell it, but with me you never know.

June 25, 2014

Change to Verizon and a New iPhone 5s

iPhone 5s
After 11 years with AT&T (Cingular) cell phone service I decided to make a change to Verizon once my AT&T contract had expired. My contract expired this past March but I had been waiting to see what the new iPhone 6 was going to be like because I was eligible for a new phone either transferring to Verizon or renewing my AT&T contract.

I may regret not waiting until September 19, 2014 for the release of iPhone 6 but based on what I do with a phone and the size of the phones, I decided to make the jump now to Verizon and the iPhone 5S. Comparing the two, I wasn't sure I would like the larger size phone and I knew I would not like the price. I will still have many of the upgraded Apple features in the fall with my iMac and this phone.

I have a lot to learn about this new phone but the few new things I have figured out are really nice since moving from an iPhone 4. One of those is the fingerprint security and unlocking process plus voice texting and emailing. I soon found out I needed to check and make a few corrections before sending the voice email but overall it recognized what I was saying very well. I have read the more you talk the more it will have to build it's database, thus less errors earlier.

In the past I have thought of just going to a basic flip phone, pre-paid, to use just for emergencies. It would save some in monthly fees but with all of the features you get with a smart phone I think for me it's money well spent to stay with the smart phone. The few people that I know that have made that change either have gone back to a smart phone or plan to.

It was probably harder to cancel my AT&T service than it was to activate and set up my Verizon service along with the new phone. I find it strange that AT&T would let you sign up for auto pay and any new accounts using your debit or credit card online ... but "for security reasons" you had to call them to cancel. Of course that phone number to call to cancel my Landline and Internet service was linked on their web page for canceling service.

I knew the real reason for calling was they would up sell me with a lot of new offers to keep my account open. I practically had to beg them to close my account. Like I told the customer service rep over the weekend when I was checking out U-verse for phone and my internet, "I have an AT&T tower in plan view, two fields away and cannot get a strong signal standing inside my house, were my friend standing next to me with Verizon was getting 5 out of 5 bars on their phone." What's up with that?

Since I am not in the area to receive U-verse, I had no other plans I could use with AT&T. With the possibility of traveling out west or even moving out west, Verizon was highly recommended by those that travel full time or live in those western states.

I followed the process to erasing all personal data and all my files from my iPhone 4, closing the account. I had thought of selling it to Gazelle but after looking at their eBay store and seeing the prices they were selling the iPhone 4 for on eBay, I decided I would sell it myself on eBay and make an extra $100.

Instead of discussing all the features of the phone, I'll leave that to you to look up on Google.

I will say for those that ever thought about making the change from AT&T to Verizon, I can already tell the difference in their customer service on the phone. NO comparison between the two companies. Verizon has their act together when it comes to customer service over the phone. So far the cost of the new iPhone 5s is worth the money.

Overall I am very happy this morning with my change in cell phone service.

Change from DSL to Exede Satellite Internet Service

Based on my rural location I have just a couple of choices for internet service. For the past 8 years I've been using a local service provider that ran DSL over the AT&T phone lines. My other option was satellite internet. I saw and heard both good and bad from local friends, the local vet and online reviews. I felt comfortable enough to make the change to satellite, with a little apprehension. My DirecTv dish system has been fantastic so why not internet?

The installer arrived around noon with the weather radar showing storms either here or on the way. I thought I might have to cancel and re-schedule. It rarely rained while he was here as the storms moved over the top of us heading NE towards Indianapolis.

We looked at a few options for installing the dish. I had a couple of ideas in my head and one of those was not to install it on the roof. I don't like the looks of that (neighbor) and I didn't want to pay to have them come back in re-install if I were ever to put on a new roof.

Long story short it was installed where I wanted it without asking him. With it being the "era" of satellite dishes for tv and internet I guess they are now a normal part of the yard "decor" and I'll have to get use to it. It is higher than I thought it would be based on how low my DirecTV dish is but not that much higher. The DirectTV dish is just right of the green evergreen shown.

I had read that ViaStat had bought WildBlue and changed the name to Exede, upgraded their systems, equipment to where they have been rated #1 the past two years for delivering the internet speed they are advertising. Their system is also used in the government for field operations plus other areas. The packages were all priced about the same as DishNet and HughesNet. So based on their results for delivery internet speed as advertised which was 12Mbps for Downloads and 3Mbps for uploading.

After installing and setting up the modem and wireless router, speedtest.net showed the speed of 8.5Mbps with heavy cloud overcast. I was happy with that based on I have been living for years on internet speeds of 1.4Mbps tops and at times times .7Mbps. I checked it last night after midnight because anything I do is not added to my data count from Midnight -5am. Speeds last night at 1:38am were over 17Mbps!!!

There were no glitches setting up the modem and router.

As I write this on Wednesday morning, I am getting internet speeds over 13Mbps with sunny skies. It looks like it was a great decision to make the change in service.

The installer was under my house running coax cable from the dish to the opposite diagonal corner to my computer room. It's bigger than a crawl space and in some places you can almost stand up. After running the cable, he came out from underneath the house saying "I have some bad news for you".

It was house related nothing to do with the internet service.

I'll discuss that in a few days, maybe with some photos.

June 23, 2014

Air Quality - Good or Bad?

This is not the fist time it has happen and it also happens at times inside my house during the other seasons. I would have to ask after viewing the two photographs below, is the quality of my air inside my house a concern? Or is it just the heat?

I bought the pineapple and tomatoes on Friday night … by Sunday morning they were doing what you see pictured here. The house windows have been open most of the time, with gentle southern breezes.

Let me know what you think by making a comment below or sending me an email.

I am sitting here on Monday afternoon after having a pretty good thunderstorm, where my internet connection is intermittent again and has been since early this morning before the storm arrived. It looks like it was a good move to have new internet service installed tomorrow between 11am – 2pm. It has become so bad lately that I am logging days on my calendar where I lose connection. It still seems weird because I have gone for years with great service. AT&T installed new main phone lines across the highway a few years ago. Even now when I do a speed test, it is faster than it’s ever been but much slower than what I will be receiving after tomorrow.

I’ve decided to get three free estimates for mowing my small yard. Have I turned lazy? No, but I am thinking about going on a vacation with the hounds for more than just a couple of weeks. So I’ll see what the estimates are. I can’t believe they would be much for a .3 of an acre and what takes me 45 minutes to mow with a power push mower. With the hills and trees it may not even be optimal for their riding mowers.

It should be interesting in what I find out. I’m really curious what kind of numbers they come up with.

Monday - Internet and Phone Deals

You Can Feel the Humidity
I can confirm that summer has arrived in the 'tropics" of southern Indiana. The humidity feels much higher than the percentages I see online, 70% plus. Although I remember last winter when I was shoveling snow at -9 degrees I was willing to trade for days like these. Now the hounds and I find it harder to go outside during the day.

I did get some yard work finished over the weekend and also talk to the farmer on Sunday as he raked the hay before baling it into the big rolls. My fears of damaging his equipment were not warranted. He was just going around the rope metal anchor he knew I had because he didn't wan to cut my rope, that I later cut by accident with my metal blade weed eater. I was able to cut all the hay that he didn't and he was able to pick it up and bale it. I also did a little trimming on my overgrown area where I would like to build a backyard campsite.

I have to admit, there is not a lot going on and I wonder if anyone that reads this blog and is retired ... do you ever get tired of just normal days of activity? Day after day after day? It all goes back to that question, am I in a rut and bored or this is just life and I am low keyed content?

I have accomplished things inside though. I have researched new phone and internet service. I am also in the process of uploading my photos to Google's Picasa as a backup. That is a long process.

With the hot temps outside and the hayfield that is now cut ... the hounds and I have completed two daily dog walks in two consecutive days. By the time we finish the 20 minute cruise through the field in the early evening, the hounds are more than ready to get back inside where it is so much cooler. I have also noticed they don't go to the door as much wanting outside with the higher temps now.

Maybe they are not bored but just smart and want to stay inside where it's much cooler.

First issue I needed to get fixed is my internet service. Due to my location I have had two choices. A local company that uses the AT&T phone lines for DSL or  a new provider for Satellite Internet. I have been with the local internet company now for 8 years and have had no complaints, great speed for DSL, until recently. This past January my provider told me they were raising my monthly rate $10, which is their wireless rate without giving me wireless service. Long story short is, after recent discussions with them the real story comes out, wireless is what I pay for but is not offered in my location.

I am now one of their last customers with DSL service. They are no longer the direct company that corresponds with AT&T for connection repair. They now have to call in my request for repair and then that request is passed through TWO DIFFERENT middlemen. The strange thing is and I have told them in those words, that once they raised my rates to wireless service, my DLS has had problems keeping the connection along with a longer time to download webpages or photos. Coincidence? They would never answer that until this past week, when one of the technicians on the phone told me they no longer offer DLS service, they pass it off.

Ah ha ... now I finally got my answer.

Also, due to my location and the amount of trees between their wireless antennas, I cannot get their wireless service that I am paying for. ($39.99/mo). When I discussed their future plans at the luncheon on Friday, it sounds as if I am on my last small thin thread for internet service with them due to available services. There will not be any kind of wireless system installed that can give me a good signal through the trees. They tried a system designed for that with a 50 mile range and had problems due to the barometric pressure.

That leaves me with just one option. Satellite Internet. When I did a search on company names "reviews" ... those reviews vicious! It sounds like nothing works and all the satellite providers do is take your money. Why do I see so many satellite internet dishes around this area then if they are so bad? My neighbor tells me that he has had zero problems with Hughes Net connection and service.

So after some review between Exede and Hughes Net, I have decided to go with Exede (WildBlue) Internet Service. Much faster speed and comes out to the same price as what I am currently paying for an AT&T Land Line and my providers DSL service. They have been voted #1 two years in a row for delivering speeds they advertised. They also have their systems used by the military in field ops.

After 10+ years with AT&T cell phone service I am making the change to Verizon. When cell
phones first came out, in my location AT&T (Cingular) was all that was offered. Yet when I was stuck on I-25 just north of Truth or Consequences NM with a blown VW engine, I couldn't get a signal to call anyone. The only we got a hold of a towing company is that he saw us from the other side of the freeway as he was taking a car to TOC. He came back to get us. It was over 100 degrees that day.

Anyway Verizon is the plan, 4G service in my area and a lot more coverage out west for when I travel. My contract was up with AT&T months ago and I've been going month to month with them with a phone upgrade also due. I was going to wait for the iPhone 6 to come out but after further research the iPhone 5S is all I will need right now. So I decided to change my service now instead of waiting until the fall.

I updated my costs to my financial spreadsheets to see how these two changes would affect my monthly net income before I called to make the changes. Very minimal change for the monthly fee. It's almost a 1 for 1 swap dollar wise and I'll have better service. The only additional fees are for the new phone, new wireless router and activation fees that are paid now.

In closing I will say the past couple of weeks I have felt I need to get more things accomplished each day instead of sitting around reading, internet surfing and napping. It no longer feels like I'm on vacation, like it did the first couple of months I was retired. I keep wondering if this is the life I will have day after day? Sure, it's better than the alternative and much better than having a job you don't like. I just feel at times I need to be doing more.

Can anyone retired that is reading this chime in with some comments? Thanks

Also a bit of financial news here at home ... my monthly costs for groceries have increased a lot since I have added more fruits and veggies in exchange of not buying junk food .... go figure.

Life is good.

June 22, 2014

Thoughts on a Saturday

Some of you may have witnessed my blog was changing its template and format about every 15 minutes Friday night. I went to bed with the template I thought I liked but changed it the first thing Saturday morning. It now looks just like that RV and Hounds blog that I stopped writing on. I am still undecided about the two column format on this blog but I believe this template will stay around. I like the colors and the feel it has while I'm reading it. Feel free to send any suggestions.

I went to bed last night with major plans this morning. So far at 10:38am local time I have not started anything except the usual. That usual is two cups of Starbuck's coffee as I read online, maybe do a blog post and read what little email I get. I am not really happy with that start because it is becoming more and more routine. Like a daily routine. No worries, my plan of weed eating the rest of the hay around my rope anchor will get done but it will cost me because the temperature will be much higher when I am doing it ... unless I push it to Sunday morning.

One of the things I notice in retirement, I usually don't know what day of the week it is and if I do, it's very rare. It's only an observation, doesn't really matter but a change when you have lived a pretty structured life for 40+ years. At times I wonder if I am bored or am I just content with my life? After all, I have never lived anywhere as long as I have in this house. That seems very strange because I use to like to move and in the past that use to be costly not only in starting over but the funds used to get there. So for me being here in this house since 1997 is hard to believe at times.

Still, I find there is plenty to do around here but it only happens when I get out of this desk chair and get outside or down the highway. I see myself falling into a rut that I don't want to happen and at times find I don't have the motivation to make the change. That concerns me a little. It's something that I thought might happen during those days off in a 3-day weekend when I had a job.

Like last night I completely forgot it was Friday. I woke up dreaming, trying to figure out why I was at work and why I needed to work 14 hours to get caught up. I was thrilled to open my eyes and see Sadie standing next to the bed giving me a look "I need to go outside". It was nice to know I was no longer working a job.

I'm usually a late starter anyway. I am much more of a night person than a morning person but the hounds have their routine and that has not changed since I retired. They still get up around 6:30 for their first of many trips (depending on weather) outside. This morning I could not believe it was June after seeing this horizon. I had to take a photo of it.

2014 June 21
Then after waking up to a very confusing dream and glad it was only a dream, the hounds go back outside for a 2nd time. I wonder if they do this because the want to go outside or that they know once they come back inside they get their "milk bone", that I buy at Costco where they are hand packed into a 15# box. I am beginning to think they like that 2nd bone of the day.

Speaking of Costco, I usually make the 90 mile trek to the north side of Indianapolis for dog food, milk bones, some groceries and that also puts me in the vicinity of Trader Joe's. I use to buy Costco's brand of Nature Domain dog food. It is made by Diamond Foods. They also manufacture Taste of the Wild along with their dog food under the Diamond Name. The Nature Domain food at Costco has the same ingredients as the much more expensive and smaller bag Taste of the Wild. Here is my typical trip to Costco.

Dog Food & Dog Bones
That's a lot of miles to drive just for that but it's nice to wander around Costco at times as long as I keep the billfold closed. After one of my infamous spreadsheet analysis on dog food costs, including gas to travel, I decided it was best to buy at my local Bloomfield Feed Store. I buy the Diamond Natural for Large Breeds. Dog Food Review ranks that food as a 4-Star and it's $33 for a 40# bag ... Your credit or debit card is not good there, it's either cash or check.

Another thing I like to do in Indianapolis is not going to the Indy500 race but I like going to Indy500 practice. No traffic problems, usually plenty of sun, good food and a lot of loud laps. No, I am a fan of the other races at Indy, just the Indy500.

During practice you can get a little closer to the cars. I like seeing the designs that will change from year to year. A drastic change was made from standard body design for many years to this design in 2013.

This is a 2002 Model

2002 Red Bull Team - Tomas Scheckner
This is a 2012 model which was the most drastic change in decades, with the body wrapped around the rear wheel. Just for towing purposes, the nose is not attached on the car below.

Body Behind Rear Wheels

Besides racing and basketball, Indianapolis has a professional baseball team, currently the AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. A new stadium was built in the past 14 years by the same company that designed Coors Field in Denver. This stadium is easy to get in and out of located a few blocks north of I-70. Tickets are much much cheaper than the MLB prices and you can get better seats. It's a nice way to spend a night watching baseball, if you are a baseball fan.

Indianapolis Indians

One of my favorite towns of all time is Bloomington Indiana. It was one of the reasons I moved back to Indiana in 1994, besides the employment reasons. I attended college here in 1970, just after all the anti-war protests in the 60's. During my time on campus they had great concerts by big time 60's bands, have a highly ranked School of Music, Business School and of course all IU sports are in the BigTen Conference. I've attended IU Football and IU Basketball games since I was I a kid growing up. I was born my dad's senior year on campus and spent my first year of life on campus, maybe that is why I "bleed", IU.

Assembly Hall
Memorial Stadium
Even thought I am a graduate of Indiana University, I attended many games in Seattle watching the University of Washington Huskies while living on Whidbey Island. I still think the most beautiful surrounding area to watch a college football game has to be the UW stadium on Lake Washington.

University of Washington Stadium
In a rare IU appearance in Seattle, I was able to fly out in 2003 and watch the Huskies pound the Hoosiers in football. It was nice to see that the surrounding Husky fans understood and told us Indiana was a "basketball school" and not known for football, they understood who their opponent was that day. They were more interested in beating Oregon that fall, as many of the cheers during the IU - Washington game were about beating the Ducks of Oregon.

IU vs UDub 2003
I've talked about my change in diet since I retired in April 2014 and most of my meals look like this with no limit in amounts of veggies or fruits. This is a typical lunch or dinner.

Daily Salad
Yet in Bloomington is one the 'all-time' favorite places for IU fans and alumni that has been located here since the 1940's. They keep expanding the building by adding floors. On the wall going to the 3rd floor are autographs of the 1984 Olympic Basketball team, who trained in Bloomington that summer since Bob Knight was the Olympic Coach for that year. Just a few of the names are Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. No doubt a few drunk patrons have tried to get that piece of wall out of there and into their collection.

Just called Nick's and people from IU know nationwide what you are talking about.

Nick's English Pub
That is not what Nick's English Hut is noted for, the autographed wall. What they are noted for nationwide by any IU alumnus is what I eat about every 3-4 months just to keep my cholesterol up.  lol It is their world famous strom. I've been told by the bartenders I am one of the few that orders the 12" strom and finishes the 12" strom. I usually make it home 25 miles away just in time for an afternoon siesta after eating one of these. It is full of provolone cheese, Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and pizza sauce. It has been slightly changed by new ownership in the amount of ingredients they fill the Italian bread with, just like most restaurants in today's economy.

"The" Strom
It doesn't matter where I am in Bloomington nor what I'm doing, if it isn't the strom I buy ... I will drive out of the way to the SE corner of Bloomington to 5Guys to have one of these. The last time I visited, I decided to change up on the order and buy my normal cheese burger (standard is double) and a "Jr's Cheeseburger" which turned out to be a single cheeseburger. No fear, I ate them both and never felt full. They tasted great!!


I realize for the purist in good diets NEITHER of those are good for me ... but I like the word I see most people say ... MODERATION! I guess I'll keep eating them with possibly a longer period of time between meals.

So as you see, I don't do a lot around here but there is enough to do once I make an effort to get in the car. I think that since I have all kinds of time on my hands now, I don't feel as rushed doing different things because I am not trying to fit everything into a weekend between the work weeks. I like doing all of these things during the work day now ... less crowds, less traffic.

The thing is, these are all fun things to do, but I've been doing them for a very very long time. At times it feels like it's time to move on to other NEW things, NEW places. I want to see the stars at night where is absolutely no traffic sounds, unlike here. I want to wake up in places that have no one around for miles. I want to sit out in the early morning heating water up for a cup of coffee or tea.

So we will see what happens.

Still, as my other blog Hounds and RV's shows a 2+ year history, I have had a very strong urge to travel these past couple of years. I can't decide how to go or where to go, but the options have always changed. The hounds have played a role in those decisions or lack thereof. I believe they deserve to be considered when I am thinking of traveling and/or making major decisions.

That's about all I have for today. One good thing about retirement, if you don't get your next item on your 'to do' list finished as planned, there is always tomorrow.

BTW ... I finished what I had planned this morning. No photos but I did cut all the hay the farmer chose to leave around Sadie's rope anchor. Of course for the 3rd year in a row, I got so close with my metal blade on the weed eater that I caught her rope. It's been shortened enough from my previous two mistakes that I cannot tie it back together and have it long enough to reach the house. The length was based on two things, short enough to keep her out of the trees and long enough that it would reach the house so I can hook the rope to her collar without me going out into the yard in bad weather.  :)

June 21, 2014

Travel Thoughts Will Never Go Away

The thoughts of traveling the majority of the year did not go away when I tried pushing the ideas away between March 2013 - June 2013. I shut my blog off, moved all the bookmarks out of site and tried not to think about traveling in any form.

Those ideas never went away. I really doubt they ever go away.

As some of this blog's recent readers have seen, I stated a few days ago I was done, finished writing on this blog. I decided to do that because I wasn't traveling, I had stopped thinking of buying an RV of any kind and I didn't think it was fair to my followers to write about something they had come to expect from me .... traveling and traveling with the hounds. That was not only the title of this blog but one of the reasons I started this blog.

Instead I started a 2nd blog to cover living with the hounds, maybe touching on some retirement information or thoughts but there will be no travel stories and no RV stories. It fulfills my urge to write and 'over there' I seem to be writing daily, as in the tone of a personal journal. It will be easier to find information and photos years from now just by searching the blog, instead of searching the hard drive though a million different files. I like that blog and will keep blogging there.

Ok ... so why I am posting here on this blog, when I said this blog was finished? For various reasons I guess. Those reasons ranging from online friends, blog followers, new people sending emails  of suggestions ... photos of what rigs to buy ... photos of where I could be ... and some hoping that I will stick around here and blog on occasion when I have something to say about traveling and/or RVs. Other's telling me by email they are willing to wait for my decision to read about my future travel adventures with the hounds, even if there is a chance that may not happen. While others suggest the best thing to do is stand pat and enjoy where I am.

I really do appreciate all the suggestions, photos and the different ideas.

I can also add myself to that list of reasons. I still have thoughts of both of those topics, RVs and Traveling. So at least today I am writing a new post. I can't promise where or when the next one will be  but based on my past frequency, it will not be long.

I use to bet on horse racing out in Del Mar Calif, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park on a daily basis as they moved from track to track for different seasons. So I tend to bet on past frequencies. If I were betting on my blog, I would bet that I don't stop this one nor will the idea of traveling in some sort of RV stop. It's easy to see reading back through the history of posts here.

In March 2013 I shut everything down and pushed away the thoughts of traveling with my hounds. Two months later at the end of May 2013 I was back reactivating everything and the search continued for the last year of working a job ... because? ... The plans, the urge to travel all over the Western states would not go away. Like now. Some will say today that I haven't given it enough time to go away, but I tried that for two solid months in 2013.

When I picture living where I do and no traveling or RVing is involved, I think of one word ... BOREDOM! In the past couple of months of my freedom, I will be driving down the road locally thinking "I need to get out of here" ... only to get home and soon after think "there is no reason to leave here". That's insane!!!

Thinking that way may prove that I actually need professional counseling or heavy medication.

I've sat here for another week not doing one thing out of the norm and I know that isn't what I am suppose to be doing with my new found freedom of retirement. It's doesn't feel right. I'm not a couch potato, nor a tv watcher but I am most likely a computer junkie. I always have known in the back of my mind, if I were to retire here I'd have to do some traveling of some kind, go cabin fever insane, or move.

What about the hounds? They don't care about the hot muggy weather or how deep the snow is, they do ONE THING during their daytime hours, 12 months a year. Here is their favorite positions. I don't believe they are wondering about traveling in these shots.

A lot of snow outside - Winter 2014
May 2014 - All Winston needs is sun

All Winston needs is a soft leather couch
Heidi sleeps 23 hours per day in various spots in the house.
Sadie continues to think just like her owner while she sleeps - notice the frown

The hounds are a factor though and maybe more than I want to admit when I have tried to decide about whether to travel or not. I read recently that animals adapt better to change then people. In that case, they will not care if I trade their 7 acre field for traveling to different locations with different smells in the Western states. Or will it make a difference to them if their environment changed every few weeks?

I just know today is one of those days I feel like I am going ding bat crazy when I think of staying here, doing the same things I do for enjoyment over and over and over. That gets to be dull dull dull.

I told myself in the past year, that if I was going to retire and just stay home and keep the lifestyle I had with a job ... then I might as well not retire, live the same lifestyle and make a lot more money working a job I no longer cared for. Makes sense doesn't it?

The more I think about it the more I feel my reluctance in traveling with 3 hounds is the main reason I am landlocked here in the 'tropics' of southern Indiana. I hate to think they are one of my reasons for not traveling. Yet, when I think of my past many years ago prior to hound ownership, I was on the move all the time. I think I can travel with the hounds that I have.

The mental roller coaster is back online and is slowly chugging up that first long steep hill ......

June 20, 2014

The Considerate Farmer

The field behind my house is owned by my neighbor a couple of houses north of me. He's retired, does a little farming but nothing to this property where my hounds roam. He does let a local farmer come in and bale the hay twice a summer if it's a good year and at least once if it's been too dry.

I met him the first time a couple of years ago and showed him where I had a metal livestock stake pounded into the ground where the climbing rope is attached to hook Sadie up to at the edge of my house. That way if we come out some morning or evening and their happens to be deer in the field, I can hopefully get her on that rope before she takes off. Also, I can let her outside and let her roam 80' diameter without taking a chance of her taking off after an animal and ending up on the road 100' away.

The farmer didn't find any problem with it. That was much different than the previous farmer that use to bale the field. He was mad a the world most of the time. I told him I can usually guess about the time they will be baling the hay based on how tall it is and what the weather is like. I use to roll the rope up to the metal stake and then hide both of them under a rubber trash can that I turned upside down. It was tall enough for anyone to see from their tractor seat. I did this to make sure that metal stake would not tear up one of their blades when cutting the hay and also not do any damage to their ranking machine. Of course the side benefit of saving me from paying my cash for damages but it also protected the take.

This does not get pulled out of the ground. I've tried and ended up one year pulling it out of the ground with the cable tied to my truck bumper and I backed up the truck. That is to show you have much effort goes into getting that stake out.

The previous farmer that baled the field for the 14 years of the 17 years I've lived here didn't get along with anyone but I never had a problem with him. One year I came home from work and found not only the hay field cut right up to my yard, but my trash can I had turned upside down was thrown about 20' the opposite direction. He had pulled the stake out with his tractor and I could tell the way it landed, he had thrown the stake and rope as far as he could into my driveway. It was obvious he was mad.

This is the same mad at the world farmer that got his tractor stuck in mud on the edge of my yard one year, trying to fit it around my parked VW bus when I had a total of 4 vehicles. I didn't say a word about that, but I didn't forget. I could tell he had that tractor of his buried in my soft slanted backyard on the south border.

Thankfully there was a sale of the land a few years ago. That is where this considerate farmer comes in. Below are photos from today, where the farmer starts cutting hay before I was even awake. I did not have the trash can out there to mark it, nor had I pulled up my rope. I didn't expect him today because of the forecast of rain. The photos will show how considerate he was without him saying a word.

He moved his cutting blade that was out to the side of his tractor, around the spot that had the metal anchor and up to the edge of my yard. Not tearing up anyones property in doing so.

So like prior years I will go out with my metal blade weed eater and and cut what you see standing...then rake that out into the field so he can rake it up to bale into large rolls, without having to get close the metal rope anchor.

Sorry for the long narrative, I just wanted to show how considerate this farmer was cutting the hay around the metal anchor for Sadie. These photos show a good example of someone going out of their way to be considerate of others on a very hot and very muggy day. He will be rewarded when he comes back to rake and bale the hay into the big round rolls.

This was taken just a few days ago...needs cut.

After he cut the hay today. I will cut what is standing with my metal blade weed eater

My metal anchor is down inside this hay...the blue rope is attached at the bottom

This is what I saw when I heard the rumble of the tractor as I walked outside this morning. He has started by cutting away from the metal anchor, then moved a little closer each time.

The following photos show how he came back and cut a little closer yet did not disturb the metal anchor that he knows is in that hay somewhere.

Still a little bit more trimming around my rope anchor. I will cut all that is standing tomorrow. To the left of the cut is my property that I normally cut in July.

I was on my way back from the internet provider outdoor lunch today as the skies turned black and the winds increased speeds that were curling huge trees. By the time I arrived at my local feed store to buy 40 more pounds of dog food for the hounds ... the skies opened up. The last photo shows he got every cut before the rains came. A few days to let it dry out, then the raked hay will turn into huge round rolls. 

The best things about this ... the farmer gets his much needed hay and the hounds get "their" field back to do their daily walks. I in the meantime will have new territory right outside my back door to ride the mountain bike I bought a few weeks ago. 

Life is good.

Blog Plan & Internet Addiction

Blogging is such an interesting thing. I stopped one of my blogs this week after two years of posting, getting followers, having comments and a long blog role that was full of information and photos. I decided, instead of changing the blog title and writing about other topics entirely, I would leave that blog 'actively' closed to be used as a reference when people found it on internet searches. Instead I would start this new blog.

In the past month I've seen two people announce they were giving up blogging after a few years of daily writing. I've seen many others recently, myself included, that talked about giving up blogging all together, yet continue. One of those bloggers did what I did, left his older blog open as a reference and went to a new blog with different topics ... such as everyday living, similar to a journal. The other is on the side bar of this blog where he announced today that his blogging will definitely slow down and unsure of any future plans after his trip this summer.

Blogging can be addicting, whether you are writing one or reading a lot of them every day.

Even after a few short days I have caught myself thinking of what to write for my readers, where I may not have that many readers if any at all on this blog. I have a few from the comments I've received and a couple of people added my blog to follow. That is a common problem with people that blog. Most start one to record their own journal, or keep their family and friends updated with what they are doing. Others do it for business, by building a following and making income with affiliate links or advertising. This one is more of a journal for me.

This blog is not going to be about building an audience and I stated that in the very first post. This is more of a personal journal that I can look back on, instead of doing this in Microsoft Word or iMac Keynote.

So, the blog is pretty plain and simple and I think after a starting it this week, it is serving its purpose ... a place for me to write. If someone finds it enjoyable enough to read, then I'm fine with that and enjoy the following. I'm not a big fan of Google+, so I deleted the 2nd account I ad for this blog. Of course by doing that, it also doesn't give people an option to follow this blog using their Google+ accounts.

For those readers that want to follow this blog, you can follow by email (upper right corner), join with your old blogger profile (Google Follower) or use the free program that will give you notice when I update this blog and that program is called Feedly, at http://feedly.com.

It's going to be another hot day here in the 'tropics' of southern Indiana. I woke up later than normal this morning after getting up early to let the hounds out. I heard a familiar "rumble" sound outside and was happy to hear it. The field behind my house is owned by my neighbor a couple of houses down, but he leases it out to another farmer to bale hay. The "rumbling" I heard was their tractor cutting the hay. That's a big deal because now the daily dog walks can start again. The hay gets 4'-5' tall and thick enough in most places where the bassets are not interested in doing any recon missions, Sadie could care less as she will walk anytime, anywhere, in any temps.

I will show photos tomorrow of a "considerate farmer", in comparison to the last man that baled it who seemed to be angry at the world every time I talked to him.

I decided to start doing some different backups for my computer. That might include a trip to Best Buy in Bloomington to pick up a new external hard drive. The one I have currently I bought when I bought a new iMac, 4 years ago this October, and that is almost filled up. I use that hard drive for Apple's Time Machine, which will backup your files every hour and it has done that without a hitch. What that does not do is back up your hard drive system files and updates. That is what the other hard drive will be for, like a startup drive when needed.

I could buy a larger external drive, then partition it off where I can do both, Time Machine and backing up the HD system files. Since I already have the one external drive now, I'll reformat that and use it for the system backup and use the new external for the Time Machine.

I must say after a little less than 4 years of using my first Mac, I've had zero problems. (knock on wood). Whereas the ~15 years of a PC, I had more issues than I wanted to contend with. Due to needing the ability of linking a cell to another spreadsheet, I ended up buying Microsoft Office for Mac so I could use Excel, for that purpose. Open Systems and Mac's "Numbers"  in 2010 did not do that feature in their software. That was 4 years ago so maybe they have changed and if they have, I still will not convert all of my spreadsheets to those two programs, simply because I don't want to mess up the format of those spreadsheets that have the linked cells. Those Excel spreadsheets go back a lot of years and I don't want to take the chance of messing them up.

Well I need to get off of here and do something. I've noticed recently that I am falling more and more into a rut of not really getting anything done, nor doing anything. The days go by extremely fast but too much computer time. I am a true computer/internet addict. I do a lot of reading on the internet, some research, check on blogs and forums ... but really too much seat time in front of the computer. My internet provider is having a little customer appreciation day that will be from 11-1 today. They have a drawing that I hope to win, 6 free months of internet service. That would be a $240 savings for service that recently has been intermittent more than it has in the 6 years of service. They are still a good local company, family owned and will do anything to get your issued repaired as soon as possible. They have a number you can call and get a response 24/7.

The hounds will be staying home on this trip.  It's way to hot for them to stay in the FJ while I mingle at the luncheon and they would prefer to lay next to the floor vents where the A/C comes from and sleep all day. After all, dinner isn't served until 3:30-4:00pm every day, that gives them plenty of time for an all day siesta.