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, February 24, 2014

Age Discrimination

In my email today was an invitation from a computer magazine, which invited me to participate in a consumer products survey.  They said it would require only five minutes of my time. So, being retired and without much to do today I thought, “what the heck,” and clicked on the link to the survey. Their five-minute estimate turned out to be about four minutes and fifty-five seconds too long. The very first thing I was asked was my age. After I selected the 60 – 69 year age range that was it, the survey was over. I was told that I “did not qualify to complete this particular survey.” 

Why did they immediately assume I wasn’t qualified to answer their questions? They immediately thought I was some old geezer who wouldn’t know an ethernet adapter from a network bridge or proxy server. Well, maybe I don’t, but how could they know that?  They should have at least asked a couple of qualifying questions before deciding that too many of my brain cells were shriveled from old age. I know some young people who don’t have a clue when it comes to computers and electronics. And these are the people from whom the magazine is eagerly seeking opinions about electronics? 

The survey was biased and the results can’t be statistically significant when the only qualifier is a person’s age. The only assumption I can see them deriving from their data will be which age group is the dumbest. I hope it turns out to be the 20 – 29 year age group. That would serve the magazine right. I have to go now. This is Senior Citizens’ Day at the local supermarket.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Django Unchained," The Movie

Carol Ann and I watched “Django Unchained” on DVD Friday afternoon. When it was over neither of us where quite sure what to say, except, yes, it was definitely a Quinton Tarantino movie. I don’t do movie reviews but I felt it my duty to say something about this movie. It was campy, violent, funny, exaggerated, totally unbelievable, and way over the top but it was certainly entertaining.

The movie has quite a cast with Jamie Foxx as Django (who seems to be channeling both Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood); Christoph Waltz (never heard of him but he has won two Oscars!) as the bounty hunter/dentist Dr. King Schultz; Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie the owner of the Candieland plantation; Don Johnson as Gatlinburg, TN plantation owner Spencer Gordon Bennet (aka Big Daddy); Samuel L. Jackson as the sadistic old slave Stephen; and Kerry Washington (of TV’s Scandal) as Django’s wife Broomhilda, aka Hildi.

The movie begins with Django and five or six other runaway slaves being returned in chains, to their owner. Dr. Schultz, a bounty hunter/dentist, intercepts the group, kills the two cowboy escorts, and frees the slaves. Dr. Schultz was looking for Django because he can identify three slave overseers who are wanted dead or alive for murder. Django joins him with the understanding that after they find and kill the wanted men and collect the bounty they will locate and rescue Django’s German-speaking, slave wife, Broomhilda. They travel from Texas to Gatlinburg, TN, find the three overseers on Big Daddy’s plantation, and kill them. They then head out Greenville, MS to rescue Broomhilda.

When they ride through small towns on their way to Mississippi it is reminiscent of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” By the time they reach Greenville Django has learned to read, his language has improved from that of a black slave to almost perfect English. While sitting at a bar, a white man asks him in a condescending tone, "Do you know how to spell your name?" Django replies, "D-J-A-N-G-0. The D is silent."  In addition his language skills improving markedly he also goes from never having touched a gun to being the fastest gun in the South plus an expert marksman who never misses his target.

In most movies when someone is shot they immediately drop dead without so much as a whisper. However, in Tarantino movies such as “Django Unchained” and “Pulp Fiction” the camera changes to slow-motion as the shooter’s bullet “thwacks” into the shootee’s torso with a spray of blood and then explodes from the shootee’s back in a torrent of blood and body parts while the unfortunate man screams and goes through gyrations that would make an Olympic gymnast proud before dropping to the ground and giving it one final twitch.

What I didn’t expect was the “Blazing Saddles” type of humor scattered throughout the movie. Don Johnson’s “Raid” on the bounty hunters was hilarious.  In revenge for the killing of his three slave overseers he forms a 30-man posse, which rides out into night with torches and wearing cloth hoods. When the posse stops near the bounty hunters’ camp to discuss strategy, they begin bickering among themselves about the bags because they can’t see well with them over their heads. The holes are too small, too far apart, or too close together. The hoods were made by the wife of one of the men, whose feelings are hurt because his wife had spent all day sewing the hoods. Don Johnson finally shouts, “Goddamn it! This is a raid! I can't see, you can't see! So what? All that matters is can the fuckin' horse see! That's a raid!”

If they are supposed to be the KKK that’s a problem because the setting of the movie is the pre-civil war south and the KKK wasn’t formed until after the war.

At the end of the movie Dr. Shultz is killed in the Candieland plantation house. A wild shoot out then ensues in which Django single handedly kills 20 men without suffering so much as a scratch himself. He and Hildi then ride off into the night as dynamite blows the plantation house to smithereens in the background. 

In addition to the violence, there was also some rather foul language. According to the IMDb website the N-word is used 116 times. There are 31 F-words, 13 S-words, GD is uttered 30 times, and there are scores of “ass,” “bitch,” “bastard,” and “hell.”

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Trust Me!"

I will probably regret writing this once the black helicopters begin hovering over my house and my communications are cut. But, all of this stuff is on the NSA’s website so I assume it’s safe to talk about.

I was searching the Internet for information about wired home networks and one of the hits provided by Google was “NSA Best Practices for Keeping Your Home Network Secure.” It sounded like the fox guarding the hen house story. I couldn’t help but take a look, what with all the recent hoopla over the NSA. The 8-page PDF document is a public information bulletin from the NSA Information Assurance Directorate (whose motto is “Confidence in Cyberspace”). It's purpose is to assist the public in securing their home networks from “cyber adversaries.” The document includes recommendations for personal computing devices, networks, home entertainment devices, and Internet behavior.  The document is current (June 2013) and does offer some good suggestions.

Seeing this document only peaked my curiosity. What other documents does the NSA make available to the public?  In addition to a multitude of cyber-system and network documents, there are thousands of documents that are 25 years or older and have been permanently declassified. These are mostly pre-WWI up into the 1960’s.

Check it out at You’ll find subjects such as European Axis Signals Intelligence in WWII, Gulf of Tonkin, Cuban Missile Crisis, UFO’s, the Kennedy Assassination, the Vietnam War, a Cold War shoot down by Soviet Migs of US reconnaissance flight 60528, and a lot more. There is a lot of history here. I’m still browsing the site. I may as well see all I can see as long as they are watching me now.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

We had Mexican Tortilla Soup for lunch today. It came in a waxed cardboard cup and all we had to do was add water, heat, and eat. It didn't seem like very much, only about 6 or 8 ounces, certainly no more than a cup. The directions called for heating in the microwave at half power, but we can’t make our microwave operate on half power (it’s the microwave’s fault, not ours). The obvious solution was to heat the soup on full power for half the time. Makes sense, right? Wrong! Precious soup was lost from both containers when it boiled over and onto the circular glass carousel in the microwave. The raised lip of the circular glass kept the spilled soup on the carousel.  We stood and peered forlornly at the soup spill in the microwave. This was a problem because there was so little to begin with and we could not afford to waste even the slightest amount. Suddenly, we knew what we had to do. Carol Ann grabbed a bowl and I carefully lifted the glass carousel out of the microwave and poured the spilled soup into the bowl as Carol Ann held it. We managed to save almost 3 ounces, which we divided equally between us. At this stage in our diet every ounce counts.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

First Week Down

Last night marked the end of our first week on the NutriSystem diet.  As I’ve already mentioned, the first week was supposed to give us a “jumpstart” on our weight loss goals.  During the week our daily caloric intake was only half of what it will be from the second week on.  It was hell.  We were each supposed to lose 5 pounds during the “jumpstart” week.  I believe the word used by Nutrisystem was “guaranteed,” but neither one of us lost the “guaranteed” 5 pounds.  We stuck to the diet all week and I lost 3.8 pounds while Carol Ann lost 4.4 pounds.  I’m afraid that if I complain to Nurtisystem about not reaching the “guaranteed” 5-pound loss that they will give me another free “jumpstart” week!

We celebrated tonight, even though we didn’t meet the week’s goal.  We went to dinner at my sister-in-law’s house and ate fried catfish, fried tater tots, fried onion rings, fried hushpuppies, baked beans, cole slaw, chocolate cake, and ice cream.  Real southern comfort food.  It was my grandniece’s twelfth birthday so we really had no choice in the matter.  We will go back on the diet tomorrow.