Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 5.1.2017

I am a coffee drinker. A serious coffee drinker. None of the flavored foo-foo drinks, the double-pump soy chia tea latte, or the extra-espresso americano, or the ones they squirt hot milk in. I'll take mine plain, black - and sweet.

OK, the sweet part is a problem. I gave up sugar a hundred pounds ago. It's unquestionably bad for you. But that leaves artificial sweeteners, and besides tasting off, I worry that they can't be a healthy choice. Recent news stories seem to confirm that. Coffee, good. Sugar, bad. Sweetener, very bad.

The only option seems to be black, unsweetened coffee. So this week, I began drinking my coffee without anything in it. Predictably, I'm drinking a whole lot less coffee, so maybe it's for the best. Yeah, right.

This week was the Volunteer Appreciation gala at Learning Ally. I was recognized in two areas - first as an "Overachiever" which simply means that I have volunteered more than 100 hours in the last 12 months. I got what seems to be a dribble cup with Learning Ally printed on it for that honor, and then this, for passing the 15,000 volunteer hours mark.
While 1,500 hours seems like a lot, you have to know that we have some seriously dedicated volunteers at the Austin studio. We have several folks with 2,500, 3,500 and 5,000 hours, and one with a Life Time Achievement of 15,000 hours!

A while back we ordered a product that we saw advertised on Facebook. That was a first for us, but we had been for sometime looking for something to keep a small mat in place in front of the door to the bonus room. It's a heavy traffic area and the mat is there to keep the carpet clean(er) - but, with normal traffic the mat scoots all over the place.

The advertised product was a set of silicon "rug grippers" that were guaranteed not to harm the underlying carpet, but wouldn't let the mat slide. Sounded like what we needed, so I placed an order and charged the nominal $8 cost on PayPal.

The first clue that things were not what they seemed was in the free shipping. It was free, but we were offered premium shipping so as not to wait the 6 weeks (!) free shipping would take. Premium shipping was more than the cost of the pads, so we opted for time over money. The next clue was when PayPal added .75 cents for a "foreign transaction" fee.  Then there was the email that said the product had been shipped and it should be there in a few weeks, but they were not responsible for delays in customs!

And the final part of the story revealed the merchant was, as suspected, located in China, based on the customs declaration on the package.
As the rug grippers themselves? Worth about $8.75. Plus, it would have been helpful if there had been instructions on how to actually apply the grippers. They at least could have followed IKEA's lead with pictures of what to do.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 4.24.2017

Just for the fun of it.....
 
Lexophile" is a word used to describe those that have a love for words, such as "you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish", or "to write with a broken pencil is pointless." A competition to see who can come up with the best lexophiles is held every year in an undisclosed location. This year's winning submissions: 
 
... When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.   

... A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months. 
    
... When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.    

... The batteries were given out free of charge.  
   
... A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.  
   
... A will is a dead giveaway.   

... With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.   

... A boiled egg is hard to beat.   

... When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.   

... Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest. 

... Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off?   He's all right now.   

... A bicycle can't stand alone; it's just two tired.     

... When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.     

... The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.  

... He had a photographic memory which was never developed.     

... When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she'd dye.   

... Acupuncture is a jab well done. That's the point of it.    
 
And finally:
 
... Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 4.17.2017

Interesting week. Somehow several "way-back" items showed up - things in passing that triggered memories of things way back in my history. Things I had not thought about in many years, and really with little meaning except it was odd that all showed up this week....

There was an article in the paper about Brady, Texas, and the accompanying photo was of the old courthouse, and the Texas monument on the lawn.
 When I was in high school, the band packed up and made a trip to Brady every year for the Heart of Texas Band Festival - a marching and stage band competition. It was a three-day affair, and drew bands (and non-band participants) from all over the state. Think of it as sort of like spring break, but in Brady instead of at the beach.

Apart from the competitions and the big "social" at the high school, there was not much to do in Brady, Texas, so there was a lot of driving around the court house square, and sitting on the lawn, and sitting on the monument. Over the course of several years I spent a good bit of time perched on that State of Texas, waving at people driving by. Not my greatest child-hood memory, but there it was. Again.

And the same newspaper had an article about Mooney Aircraft, in Kerrville, Texas. As far as I knew, Mooney Aircraft had folded its wings years ago, so I was surprised to see the name.

Long story short: the Mooney brothers in Kerrville designed and built a pretty slick airplane back in the day and Mooney had a pretty good reputation in general aviation. They were looking for growth potential and made a deal with the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation in Japan to assemble a sweet twin turboprop called the MU-2 for the American market. Mooney needed a movie to show to dealers and prospective corporate clients and somehow, the movie company that I worked for in the 60's got the job. We had a lot of fun making that movie.

While the aircraft was nominally successful, Mooney's role was brief and when Mitsubishi pulled out, the company was hard pressed to pay bills, including ours, so our boss sent me and Kent Dial down to Kerrville with instructions to call at the business office, request payment, and don't take no for an answer. The tactic was successful. Kent and I made ourselves comfortable and intimated that we would have no problem with waiting. Today, tomorrow, however long it took. Somehow the check appeared late that afternoon, and just in time - Mooney soon declared bankruptcy and ceased operations altogether.

So I was surprised to see this week that they were still in business, and still in Kerrville. A little research turned up that Mooney has been through at least 5 bankruptcies, multiple owners, and is presently a division of a Chinese corporation. And making airplanes. Again.


And then there was this. This is a photo of an odd bird that my sister sent me in an attempt to see if I could identify it.
I didn't have a clue, so I posted the picture on Facebook and asked the community-at-large what kind of critter this was. Several people responded correctly that it was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Thing is, I posted this pic waaay back in May 2009 - and someone made a response to that post just this past week - nearly 8 years later! Proof that we never escape our digital trail.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 4.10.2017

In addition to the time I spend at the Learning Alley studios recording audio books, I also do checking from home.  I have a copy of the same software we use to record with, only in this instance I use it to play back a book that someone else has recorded. I follow along in the text and if the reader flubs a line, or adds a word, or deviates in some fashion, I select the offending passage in the waveform and write a note that stays associated with that error until it is corrected by the reader.

It looks something like this:
And yes, that is a Harry Potter book that I'm checking. Which is interesting, because I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. I've seen only one HP movie, and that because my son-in-law was using it as a discussion starter with a group of college students at WVU one weekend when we were visiting. You do remember, don't you that we see a movie on average of every 3 years? I would have a lot of catching up to do with Harry Potter.

You might think that the Harry Potter books would have already been recorded - and they have been, but Learning Ally is always upgrading its library, and the Austin Studio happens to have a real-live Brit who reads in a marvelous British accent, so they are re-recording them.

In addition to the venerable American-Statesman, Austin gets an alternative view of the news in the form of the Chronicle, a weekly free newspaper that thumbs its nose at the establishment in as many ways as possible. I usually pick up an issue for the entertainment value. Last week I glanced at the "Back Page" which features small, uh, alternate ads, like:

 TAP DANCERS WANTED - Performance group age 50+
or
KID ENTERTAINERS - Will Train
or
TAROT READINGS - Clear Answers
or
RECORD LIKE JACK WHITE - Magnacord Studios
or 
MOTORBLADE.COM - Poster dude puts fliers in 200 legal spots

Plus, there are a couple more that don't meet the family values standard of this log. You gotta love this town!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 4.3.2017

Our new video-equipped/motion-detector/super-whizbang doorbell continues to keep us entertained. About once a day, even though the motion detection range has been dialed back to its lowest setting, it notifies us that "There is motion at your front door." And when we check, it is a passing truck, or most often, nothing at all. I usually blame poltergeists for setting off the alarm.

But Thursday evening late - at 10:53pm, to be exact - the notification went off, and when I checked there was a young woman standing at our door.
The complete video shows her approach the door, cell phone in hand, look around in apparent confusion, look at her phone, utter an expletive, then turn and leave. She stopped on the sidewalk and checked her phone again, then she walked away up the street.

Our neighborhood is relatively safe, and the neighbors look out for one another (before her passing, Sally, next door. would call me when out walking her dog out late and let me know that I had left the garage door open), but 11pm is no time for a young woman to be out walking alone. I hope she quickly found the address she was looking for.

A follow-up on the comfort dog conversation that I heard in passing. Turns out that the dogs are part of a service ministry carried out by members of that congregation - at nursing homes, care facilities, etc., not that the dogs were employed during church services. Makes sense, but still.

As I was leaving the church building the other day, I met a police officer on a motorcycle coming toward me, moving slowly, but with flashing lights. I pulled over, expecting a funeral procession, but saw instead a large, open bed truck (with a half-dozen people sitting in back) pulling a trailer upon which was strapped an automobile. There was a "driver" and companion in the automobile, and all sorts of camera and lighting gear attached at various places on the truck and trailer. Not unusual to see film crews at work in ATX, but seldom this far from downtown or the University area. Maybe that footage is going to show up as a sermon illustration some Sunday.