Spring 2014 April 22 Tuesday

63 degrees this morning. Coolness in the air, even as it warms up today, a light cool wind.

For a variety of reasons, writing this on my iPad, so I hope I don’t make too many mistakes. (Sitting outside the Senior Center using the Wi Fi, waiting for Aliene to finish her exercise class. I had some errands to run, so I did it while she was taking her class, and I finished early.)

Getting serious about learning to speak some Chinese. (Emphasis on speak, much less understand and I know better than to even try to learn to write it. Actually, I am surprised at how easy it is to “learn”, not that I would remember to use it! There is nothing like being immersed in it. I will try to remember several phrases for when I meet people or see them (Like Good Morning, nice to meet you, excuse me etc.). We are getting some note cards with key words like gluten intolerance etc.

Aliene’s AOL account apparently got hacked and sent out some e-mails.  I really don’t understand how such low-life’s continue to exist.   AOL used to have an option that you could stop all outgoing e-mail.  Of course,  their customer service is non-existent.  Time to cut the final cord with AOL.  I just kept it because it was comfortable for Aliene to use it and I liked having my  comfortable e-mail accounts that I check occasionally.

That’s it for today.  I need to work on the AOL hack and see what I can fix.  Our apologies to anyone who got the e-mail.  Hopefully it was obvious what it was and no one clicked on the link.

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Spring 2014 April 21 Monday

61 degrees this morning.  Warm is getting here!

Interesting story about “bots” (as bots on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter etc.).  I was aware of them before and aware that a large amount of people on social media are actually “bots”, but I was surprised at how widespread the story said they are.  For example for a nominal amount you could “buy” 10,000 “friends” on Facebook, or 10,000 followers on Twitter etc.  

The story also mentioned that many “bots” are not programed to have names like people (John Doe, rather than “Doe 4y199yy98″ and “speak” like humans and also shut down for “sleep” periods etc.  I almost never “talk” with a person (or a bot) on the the internet I don’t know or for business reasons, but I expect even then I may have “talked” with a bot, which is strange feeling.  I can see where a bot could be used to increase business and fake “clicks” on ads etc.  A different world.  

Good day yesterday, we had dinner at a friends house and it was a beautiful day.  

We may finalize a purchase contract on the house today.  If we do, closing is still so far off (in late June) that it appears an unreality.  We wanted to maintain flexibility depending on where I might end up with a job etc.  In any event, we want to get out of a “no-service, ‘none city” city that Lakeland has turned into, even if we just move across the street to Memphis.  We absolutely love the house and hate to leave.

The forest in back of our house gets greener every day.  It is a wonderful sight to see.

I like to tape the “Formula One” race and watch it early in the morning.  I like the fact it isn’t a super long race, and I love the announcers!  They are so human in their announcing and throw an entire new light into the race. The race yesterday was in Shanglai, but if they hadn’t told me, I would never have known it (other than some China flags flying).

The start of a new week.  I love to monitor the stock market, and I have ever since I was in the 8th grade.  It is difficult not to have CNBC on all the time!  

I am looking forward to the Tennessee City Managers Association (TCMA) conference, they are having a session on “Leadership Lessons from Lincoln” based on President Lincoln.  I have read a lot about Lincoln, so I am looking forward to the sessions.  It will be a good review.

Approaching some major decisions in the next several months.  One of those moments in life when you make a decision for better or worse and live with it, or not.

That’s it for now.


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Spring 2014 April 20 Sunday

55 degrees this morning. However going to be a beautiful day today, at least it appears so right now.
Living in somewhat of a suspended state for the past 4 months (will, actually since September 19, but really since November 26). Not a bad state, just a sense of waiting, a sense of major changes, which isn’t always bad (or good).

Easter is a a time of renewal and new life in many aspects.

I have really been busy, but obviously my busy time has been spent on different goals than the past 25 years. Think about it, but don’t really have any major thoughts about it. Perhaps that is why it is like living in a suspended state.

Hopefully not “Waiting for Godot”, although definitely not any boredom.

Trees are greening up well. Soon I will be able to enjoy the patio on mornings again. At least until, and if, we sell the house.

I have a list of “books to read” that I don’t even want to count, plus books I have on hand, books on my computer etc. to read. However, I feel I don’t have time to read right now, since I feel my priority has to be my next stage of life, and especially, now, preparing for the China trip.

On the other hand, maybe that (reading a good book/s) is what I should be doing.

By the way, I do have my computer back, good as new. I plan on working on “iMovie”, hopefully develop some short videos as a learning experience.

That’s it for now.


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Spring 2014 April 19 Saturday

50 degrees this morning.  

Obviously April 19 will never be the same after April 19, 1995.  Trite as it sounds, I literally can remember is “almost as if it were yesterday” and I still get a chill down my back when I think of the moment (I was in the Police Department in Harrah, Oklahoma) when the helicopter came around to the side of the most damage and literally everyone was speechless.  I also remember the next month as almost a continuous sends of unreality.  News stations satellite dishes, search lights lighting the rescue attempts 24 hours per day, military troops and tanks in downtown Oklahoma City.  Calling friends who lived near to see if they were ok, hearing stories of survival and death.  On that Wednesday, there was a metro City Manager’s meeting about a mile form the site.  For some reason that day (no premonition, I think I was just busy), I didn’t go.  Although I didn’t always go, occasionally after the meeting I would go swimming at the YMCA cata-corner from the Murrah Building, which would put me turning at the corner next to the Murrah Building at around 9:01 a.m.  Little decisions can affect your life.  Of course, there were many stories of survivors who stepped out to to to restroom and everyone else in the room was killed etc.    I remember it rained for weeks after that, almost like nature was crying, until Mother’s Day on May 12 when the sun came out.

Looks like it will be a beautiful day today. I am in my “second place” (Starbucks) enjoying a cup of coffee.

We are currently trying to decide on how to proceed with our house, whether to accept a sales offer etc.  Obviously, it will be a major life decision, but it will allow flexibility as to future jobs etc.  We love the house and hate to think of leaving it.

Wonderful day today, a little cool right now, but should warm up.

Listening to the Chinese language tapes in the morning.  I am thinking of checking on YouTube for tapes in the Chinese language so I can get accustomed the the cadence and pace of the language.  Maybe even get some Chinese children’s songs or audio books so I can (maybe) understand a word here and there.  Listening to the Chinese language tapes has been interesting, not sure if I’m actually going to to speak anything understandable, but it has been enjoyable.  

I am planning on making my “ride with the summer” next year, “Ride with the Summer 2015″ has a certain ring to it.  I check on some longer multi-day rides this year to get ready and all of them I have conflicts, so I guess it was not meant to be.  Oklahoma and Kansas are on the same days (and conflict with the CMA Fest) and the Tennessee one conflicts with another meeting! 

I have decided when I get a job, i am going to reward myself with a new bike, maybe even an “electric assist” bike (although i feel like a bit of a pansy), probably a Trek, and maybe a mountain bike.  Or when my ship comes in or whatever.  Considering I paid about $800 for my current bike and have used it almost daily for 8 years, with maybe another $300 for maintenance (new chain, brakes, a new tire etc.), it has really been a bargain.  

Have VPN set up, hope it works.

That’s it for now.



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Spring 2014 April 18 Friday

55 degrees this morning.  

ATC Fitness was light this morning, probably due to Good Friday and Easter Weekend, but I have noticed that Friday is always a really slow day.  Saturday and Sunday I am frequently the only one there (at the time I go) while Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I expect there are at least 30 people there exercising.  Monday is kind of a mixed day, but Friday is always light.

Hockey and boxing are two sports I rarely watch, but I like when I do watch.  (I also like stock car racing but rarely watch it due to the time involved.  Formula one is always interesting and short enough I enjoy them.)  Started watching the “St. Louis Blues” and the “Chicago Blackhawks” last night, actually during the first overtime.  I was able to finish watching it this morning.  I think what I like about both boxing and hockey is the intensity involved, especially in the overtime.  In boxing, one mistake and that’s it, in overtime hockey, the same thing could happen.  I think that is what i like, even though Hockey is a team sport, there is an intensity it has that I don’t see in pro basketball (which i never watch) and pro football.  Anyway, that is my perception.  

I never have liked the “shoot-outs” to decide the game.  It seems rather strange (as well as unfair) to play a game based on one situation and then decide the game based on something completely different.  Of course, I have to remember it is just entertainment, not the real world (although the money is certainly real world!).  

In the game last night, I can imagine the disappointment of the Blackhawks.  I wasn’t really for either team (highly unusual for me) since I like both Chicago and St. Louis, and both the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals are my favorite baseball teams.  While I don’t watch pro basketball, I really have a lot of respect for the Memphis Grizzles, both as a team and for the players as individuals.  They have a lot of class and contribute a lot to the community.

Catching up on my “Wired” magazines.  Like a lot of magazines I get behind because I want to read them “when I can concentrate on it”.  I learned to just do it and not worry about it if I didn’t feel I was concentrating on it.  I learn a lot from reading Wired. They also have a lot of junk, but I’ve learned to skip over that, just like I do in newspapers.   Wired is where i first learned about Twitter, which allowed me to get my own name as a Twitter name etc. 

We should know if we have a contract on the house by today, or being Good Friday, it might be Monday.  We still don’t know where we would move, will depend on a number of factors.  We just don’t know yet.  

Looks like it will be a great day, high of 70 degrees or so, sunny.

That’s it for now.


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Spring 2014 April 17 Thursday

37 degrees this morning.  

Learned more about iMovie yesterday at the Apple Store.  It is a fascinating program and can really do a lot.  I learned aspects of it I didn’t have any idea even existed.  Of course, I don’t take video that often, (except by accident), but I do have fun with it and it will be entertaining.  Probably use it more for work.  

The special effects, the music, maps etc. you can put with it is relatively easy, just a matter of time and learning.  My problem is I get stuck on something minor and there I am.  The Apple Store has a good answer for this with their “Open Session” where you work on a project and ask for help when needed.  (The 1 to 1 is literally a single teacher instructing you in the subject, which is wonderful.)

Probably will accept a contract on our  house today (or at least a counter-offer).  We love the house and hate to think of leaving it.  It is a wonderful house in a wonderful location.   On the other hand, we’ve only had it on the market for two weeks, so we may wait.  We are in no hurry to move, unless I get a job somewhere outside of this area.

Picked up my beloved MacBook Air yesterday.  It is nice to have it back. I got along fairly good without it, but I am glad to have it back.  It is so much more convenient, and actually a lot faster than other computers.  (Something to do with the flash drive, I think.)  I worked on iMovie on it and it is  very fast. I think the problem with my iMac is that iPhoto ran amok with “faces”  (I ended up with almost 60,000 pictures and got rid of 20,000, but I still have 40,000 pictures) and I think it is using up all of the processing power.

Evernote sounds like such a good idea, I just can’t seem to get used to using it.  I used to to keep my car mileage and things like that on it, and the books I wanted to read, but that is hardly using it at it’ll highest capacity.  Kind of like using a computer as a glorified typewriter, although I don’t even know if they make typewriters anymore.

By the way, I need to praise Staples Office Supply.  After becoming throughly frustrated at FedEx Office trying to make up a business card with two sides (one English, one Chinese) and being stymied by FedEx bureaucratic requirements to use their templets, colors etc. and the inability to insert the Chinese Language, and wasting several hours on this, I went to the Staples web site and ordered a double-sided business card in exactly what I wanted in a matter of minutes!  A wonderful representative (I wish I had gotten her name) helped me when I realized my order wouldn’t get to me before a meeting, she even redirected my order so I would get it prior to the meeting!  THAT is customer service!  

We’re still thinking about the contract on the house. It is for less than we really want for the house, but there is some other factors which would increase the value of the offer to us.  A hard decision to make.

That’s it for now.

That’s it 

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Spring 2014 April 16 Wednesday

35 degrees this morning….. all time low is 30 degrees in 1950!  I went ahead and did my exercises routine, not too bad.  Sunny day this morning.

Working on “iMovie” on the Mac, have another instruction period at the Apple Store today.  While I  rarely watch videos, I think I need to learn how to compose smoother and better quality videos. It is amazing what you  can do with just the basic “iMovie” structure.  (Notice, I said “you” not “I”, at least yet.  I actually got pretty good with Keynote (Apple’s PowerPoint) and enjoyed doing it, but there wasn’t a lot of demand for slide presentations!  I do use it for business and sometimes just for fun for myself.  It is like a lot of things, the more you learn the more you know you don’t know.

I have probably mentioned this before, but the app “WeChat” is truly amazing. The main restriction (like Apple messaging and FaceTime) is the other person needs the program, but the app is available for any cellphone platform.  You can message, call, walkie talkie, video etc.  I am still learning it.  So many apps promise a lot more than they deliver (or there is really no purpose to the app, or other apps or programs simply do it better), it is always fun to find an app that delivers and actually has a purpose.

Tax day is past.  Computer programs have really saved time on taxes . Plus the fact that Aliene is so will organized, I spend very little time on fling taxes.  I always enjoyed preparing tax returns, and the computer takes away a lot of the paid.(still don’t help on the pain of paying the taxes!)

The Tennessee City Managers Association (TCMA) is having a session on “Lincoln’s Leadership Lessons” at its Spring Conference.  I am looking forward to these sessions.  The Conferences have become a lot more informative and valuable since the current Executive Director (a retired City Manager) took over.

It is so nice to look out my back window and see the “forest” greening up again.  It seems like forever since they were last green.  This has truly been the “Winter of our Discontent” and a long, hard winter, both in actuality and in spirit.  Spring is coming!

That’s it for now.


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