This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Monday, December 23, 2013


My hearing has been on a downhill slide for quite some time. The first hearing test I remember having shouldn’t really count.  It was in January 1969 after being drafted into the Army.  During the induction physical a sergeant put me in a booth and told me to press the button every couple of seconds.  I must have passed.

I was given another hearing test about fifteen years later when I began working for Abbott Laboratories.  A technician put me in a booth with instructions to press the button when I heard a tone through the headphones.  I was listening hard, waiting for the test to begin, when the door to the booth opened and the technician asked, “Is something wrong?”

“No,” I said.  “I’m waiting for the test to begin.”

“It’s over,” she answered.

“Let’s try it again,” I said.  Then, remembering what the sergeant told me years before, I started pressing the button every couple of seconds.  I passed.

The third test was five or six years later.  My wife had been complaining that I didn’t listen to her.  This time I knew the drill when I went in the booth.  I thought I had passed, but the audiologist informed me that I did, indeed, have a hearing deficit.  The loss was in the higher frequencies, which included the frequency of the female voice.  No wonder my wife thought I wasn't listening to her!

I had a fourth hearing test about ten years ago just to make sure I still had a hearing deficit.  Unsurprisingly, I did.

There have been many times over the years when, listening to a conversation, I would nod in agreement and grunt, “uh huh,” without having a clue what was said.  There were also plenty of occasions where I was laughed at because what I thought I had heard wasn’t even close.

When my wife spoke, it sounded like she was mumbling.  I made a visit to the audiologist last week for yet another hearing test after years of enduring much grief from her.  This time the audiologist ganged up with my wife and convinced me that I did need hearing aids.  I picked them up today but am now a little upset.  My wife waited until after I spent $6,400 on hearing aids and then she stopped mumbling!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Visit Your Local Cable Company Office!

Just a quick note of advice tonight. Go down to your local cable company office, do not call them or go to their website. Take yourself down there. Then you tell them you are considering upgrading your account. You may be in for a pleasant surprise unless your account is new or you have recently upgraded.

We have had cable service since moving to Nacogdoches 14 years ago. We subscribe to the “extended basic tier” and do not subscribe to any of the premium channels, such as HBO or ShowTime. When  the Internet was added to their cable services I was one of the first customers to sign up, choosing the highest of the three speeds then offered. I was happy until a couple of years ago. That was when I discovered that my “high-speed” Internet was no longer the highest speed offered by the cable company.  My 5 mbps speed had become their slowest speed over the years. I called them and asked to be upgraded from my 5 mbps speed to the 15 mbps speed then being offered. They did so but bumped up my fee.

We have also been TiVo owners for many years.  Our first TiVo was a first generation machine.  It was 1998 or 1999. We purchased it with the lifetime subscription and have not paid another penny in fees since then. Oh, we have upgraded TiVo machines several times but each time we were able to transfer our lifetime subscription to the new machine. But we screwed up two TiVo generations ago and did not upgrade. When the generation after that came out we were ready to upgrade. Unfortunately, we could not transfer our lifetime subscription to a new machine because we had “skipped a generation.” We didn’t relish the idea of paying more fees so decided to keep what we had.

Anyway, our TiVo is now dying. It has literally been losing its memory (it randomly deletes recorded programs before we have the opportunity to watch them) and it decides which shows it will record instead of the ones we have programmed it to record. It looked like we would be forced to purchase a new TiVo and lose our lifetime subscription anyway. I had seen cable company ads for TiVo and thought I should check that out before purchasing a new TiVo machine and had to pay for another subscription.

So, getting back to the cable company, yesterday I went down there and spoke with a nice young lady face to face. She was behind a desk, not a counter. These people are on commission and eager to help, especially if you mention the “upgrade” word. That is why you must go down there in person. You won’t learn diddlysquat from the website and the people at the call center don’t work on commission and could care less about what you want and certainly don’t want to listen to you whining about the service. Anyway, I told the nice young lady behind the desk that I was interested in upgrading (the Magic word) my service to include a TiVo machine. She pecked at her keyboard, pulled up my account (I could only see the back of her monitor so must assume she was looking at my account details) and she spent a few minutes studying the screen.

To cut to the chase, the nice young lady told me that I could have a four-tuner TiVo (I believe they also had six-tuner machines but for a little more money), AND two TiVo-Minis (allows me to use one TiVo machine with three televisions sets), AND I could increase my internet speed from my current 15 mbps to 30 mbps, AND the monthly fee would be LESS THAN I AM CURRENTLY PAYING!

But that isn’t all. She told me if I could wait and come back tomorrow (which was actually today) that I would save $55 because today was “Free Installation Day.” So, once again, I strongly advise you to carry your butt down to the cable company office and talk to someone sitting behind a desk (not at the counter). The cable company is not going to call and ask if you would mind if they increased your service and decreased your monthly fees. You have to go down there and ask for it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Just Finished (well, almost) a Twenty-Five Year Project!

I haven't written anything in my blog for some time because I have been spending much of my free time in an all out effort to complete a memoir of my experiences in the US Army.  Most of that time was spent in Vietnam where I served with the 101st Airborne Division.  I wanted to write about my experiences primarily for my son and daughter.  I thought that it may give them a little more insight into why I am who I am.

Beginning this project almost 25 years ago, I would write a bit but tire of it quickly and put it aside.  I would get it out every couple of  years or so, write furiously for a short while, loose interest, and set it aside until I pulled it out again after another couple of years.  This cycle repeated itself many times until about a year ago when I realized I wasn't getting any younger and really needed to get it completed.

Fortunately, I had made a lot of notes at the start of the project or I wouldn't have been able to write very much at all.  How the memory fades over the years.  However, as I reviewed my notes, letters, news reports, unclassified Army documents, and photos with descriptions written on the back I began to remember more and more.

It was an excellent mind exercise, especially for someone of my age.  Everyone should try it.  Pick an important part of your life, a couple of years or so, and write everything that you can remember about it.  The secret to successfully completing such a project is not to rush it.  It can't be forced and you can't sit down and write everything you remember about a transitional part of your life over a weekend.  I don't know how many total hours I have spent over the past 25 years writing my memoir.  Hundreds for certain.

Other than the fading memory, what has made this project so difficult is my ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  ADD makes it very difficult to stick with a long project (or even a not so long one sometimes) and is probably why it took me 25 years.  ADD makes you want to finish what you are doing RIGHT NOW and move on to something else.  You tend to jump from project to project instead of finishing one prior to moving on to the next.  Because of that, I found studying very difficult when I was a student.  I would spend ten or fifteen minutes on one subject and then move on to another for ten or fifteen minutes and so on, and on.  This was reflected in my average (and some below average) grades when at the university.

I didn't discover this inability to study while in high school because our school was small school and each class tended to move at the speed of the slowest learner.  I never HAD to study in high school. I could be an A student with only ten or fifteen minute reviews.  What a shock it was when I went off to the university!  I did manage to graduate with a five year pharmacy degree in five years, but I had to attend summer school each year to keep up.  After my stint in the Army I went back to school on two separate occasions, maintained excellent grade point averages, and earned my MBA and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.  I just had to work extra hard, plus - even though I hate to admit it - I believe the Army may have taught me some good work habits.

Although ADD is a disorder that I have had since birth, I was only diagnosed with it and prescribed medication for it a few years ago. The medication has been a tremendous help.  I can get interested in something and not want to stop working on it.  This is not necessarily a good thing because it tends to alienate your spouse.  Now, instead of trying very hard to concentrate on one topic I have to try very hard not to get fixated on one topic.  But it's better than not being able to finish anything because of a short attention span. I only wish medical and pharmaceutical science had known about ADD and its treatment when I was a student.

It was a long and fairly difficult road but my memoir is all but finished now.  The story is written and I am rather satisfied with it.  It's not a great piece of literature and certainly won't win any awards (especially if it isn't published) but it says what I wanted to say.  It needs proofing and editing and rereading a dozen times or so to make sure it flows properly. It's a lot longer than I would have ever thought it would be.  It adds up to a little over 78,800 words, which is 230 letter sized pages of 12 point font, one inch margins, and spacing at one and a half lines. If I had formatted it the size of a paperback book it would have run 350 to 400 pages. I broke it up into chapters, one for each event, topic, or remembrance.  Most of the chapters are very short.  Many are only one page.  The longest is six pages or so. It came out to ninety-nine (99) chapters.  Now I have to decide what to do with it.