Sergeant Reckless

 Posted by at 12:07 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 112019
 

The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia has many fine exhibits on the men and women who have served our country as Marines, but one monument honors a little-known Marine hero known as Sergeant Reckless.

Who was this brave Marine sergeant and what great deeds did he do to earn such recognition? Well, first off, Sergeant Reckless wasn’t a he, but rather a she. And she wasn’t even a human being. Sergeant Reckless was a horse!

It was during the Korean War that Marine Lieutenant Eric Pedersen purchased the horse from a young Korean boy who needed the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had lost her leg stepping on a land mine. Pederson paid $250 of his own money for the animal. It would prove to be a wise investment.

Pederson was an officer with the 75mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines and he put the horse to work carrying ammunition. The Marines quickly learned that this was no ordinary nag. She had a mind of her own, coupled with an incredible appetite.

Reckless would eat anything and everything. She loved scrambled eggs and pancakes in the morning, along with a cup of strong coffee. She also enjoyed sweets, including cake, Hershey bars, and Coca Cola. And if she felt she wasn’t getting the attention she deserved, she wasn’t above devouring the occasional blanket, hat, or some other piece of a Marine’s uniform.

Reckless proved herself as a true Marine during the brutal Battle of Outpost Vegas in March, 1953. The battle raged for five long, bloody days, and Reckless was in the middle of it, carrying load after load of ammunition the fighting men desperately needed up the steep 45-degree mountain trails to their position.

And not only did she do it, when the Marines could not spare anybody to guide her after her first few trips back to the supply point and then to the battle line, the brave little horse continued on alone! In just one day she made over fifty trips carrying needed supplies uphill and wounded Marines back down, 95% of the time by herself. At one point she used her body to shield a group of trapped Marines from enemy fire. Reckless was wounded twice, but she ignored her injuries and continued to do her job.

Over and over the amazing animal went back to be loaded and then took off for the front lines. By the time the battle was over she had carried over 9,000 pounds, almost five tons, of ammunition, walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains, ignoring intense enemy fire falling all around her at the rate of 500 rounds per minute.

Reckless was promoted to Sergeant and brought back to the United States when the war ended. As author Robin Hutton told the Washington Post, “She wasn’t a horse; she was a Marine.” Sergeant Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts for the wounds she received in battle, along with a Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. She spent her last days at Camp Pendleton, California, where she died in May, 1968. but her memory lives on with the men and women of the Marine Corps, and her statue in Quantico reminds us that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper, book three in Phyllis Entis’ Damien Dickens mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Before you decide an old man is an easy target, you’d better know what kind of young man he was.

Oct 102019
 

There is an old saying that life imitates art. It implies that events in the real world are inspired by a creative work, be it a painting, a book, or a movie. I’m not sure about that, though I have been surprised a few times when something I wrote about in one of my books actually happens.

But then again, life also inspires art. I get a lot of ideas for stories for my books from reading and watching the news or true crime stories on television.

Another saying we hear a lot is that Big Brother is watching you. This comes from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and is about how people’s actions are being monitored by the government as a means of controlling the will of society. I think we are seeing at least a little bit of that these days.

Think about it. There are traffic cameras everywhere you go, security cameras in parking lots and on homes, and police have license plate scanners available that can tell them when a car has an outstanding warrant or is stolen, or things like that. Some people think that’s an infringement on their privacy, but I don’t know that I agree with that. If you have nothing to hide, what are you worried about? Just a couple of months ago a murderer was caught in one of the suburbs of Daytona Beach when a camera picked up his license plate and showed that it was a stolen car. Police quickly descended on him and got him off the street and to jail where he belonged.

And it’s not just cameras. My android phone has Google smart tracking and it can tell me everywhere I was for the last week, or month, or year. I don’t have anything to hide, so I don’t care. But it can come in very handy for keeping track of your teenagers, if you need to. You can also put tracking devices on their cars. That might have been uncomfortable back when I was a teenager, but now, what the heck? Find out if your kid really is at the library studying. Do kids even go to the library to study anymore?

All of this is leading up to the point of telling you that I was impressed yesterday when I had a package coming from Amazon. It was being delivered by one of those new Amazon Prime vans, and once I got a notice that it was out for delivery I could actually click on a map provided and track it from one stop to another, starting three stops away from my house.

And sure enough, just as the map showed the van pulling up, I looked outside and there it was! How cool is that?

We have had a lot of rain in the last couple days, which we desperately needed. Hopefully it will clear up by the time my kids get here on Friday so we can take them out and show them around this wonderful area where we chose to live when we left the fulltime RV lifestyle.

Terry had a dentist appointment yesterday, and while she was doing that I wrote a couple more blog posts, then went out in the garage with my Go Pro camera, trying to figure out the best way to mount it on my Old Town Predator PDL kayak. There are a lot of options to do something like this, I just need to study them some more and figure out which one would be best for my needs.

And finally, here’s another chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

It’s Thursday so it’s time for another Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper, book three in Phyllis Entis’ Damien Dickens mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Guys, if you are over 40 it’s time to stop chasing those young girls and get yourself a woman who recognizes the signs of a stroke.

Oct 092019
 

A while back I read a hilarious book by Justin Halpern called Sh*t My Dad Says. The author basically wrote down all the things his father said over the years, many of them quite snarky and a lot of them downright hilarious, and put them in book form. It was a hit and made the New York Times bestseller list. If you want something that is laugh out loud funny, get yourself a copy.

With my own kids coming to visit, I’ve been thinking about my role as a father, and my own dad and the lessons he passed on to me that helped shape me into who I am today. My dad had a limited education but he was always a lover of books and could talk to you about anything from Greek mythology to American history to current events, and could hold his own in any group. He has been gone for almost half of my life, but when I think back about him I am reminded of that old saying that when I was 18, I thought my dad was the dumbest man in the world. But by the time I hit 30, I was amazed at how much he had wised up.

While I love my kids with all my being, I’m the first to admit that I was not a great father. I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, and learned too late in life that what your kids really need when they are growing up is you there at home with them, not out trying to make a buck to give them things. I was also a single dad, something I never saw coming. And while I made more than a few mistakes along the way, my kids seem to have turned out all right and are gracious enough to have forgiven me for my shortcomings. For that I am eternally grateful.

But back to my dad. He instilled a work ethic in me and a sense of right and wrong, and he taught by example as well as by giving advice. I still remember so much of what he told me over the years. Things like, “You can be anything you want to be and have anything you want to own, as long as you are willing to work hard enough and sacrifice enough to get it.” From an early age I always had some kind of job; mowing grass, shoveling snow, anything to make a few dollars. I think I may have borrowed my dad’s car once or twice when I was a teenager, and I’m not sure why, since I bought and paid for two cars myself, along with a motorcycle, before I was old enough to have a driver’s license. In fact, I still remember the time that a drunk driver T-boned my dad’s car and he had to drive mine for a week or so until he got a replacement. And yes, I told him that if I found out he was speeding, I was going to take the keys away.

Dad always favored the underdog. He told me to never put down someone less fortunate than me because I didn’t know his life and what brought him to where he was today. At the same time, never blindly admire someone just because they have a big house and a fancy car. You don’t know if he worked his butt off for those things or stepped on somebody else to get them.

My dad and mom were married for over 50 years, and while they had their rough times like any married couple, including burying five of their eight children, there was never any question in anyone’s mind about how devoted they were to each other. A lesson I learned early on from my dad and I’ve always followed is to always treat your wife the same way you did on your first date. If you would open the car door for a girl and tell her how pretty she is because she gave you the courtesy of giving you an evening out of her life, why would you do less for the woman who gave you her entire life and her future?

Another thing he told me about relationships is to set a good example. Be the kind of husband to your wife that you want your daughter to have for a husband, and that you want your son to be to his wife.

While my dad could cuss a blue streak if you got on his wrong side, you wouldn’t know it unless you were foolish enough to really step over the line. I remember him saying. “Watch your language and what you do. Even if you think nobody is watching, always behave as if your mother is right there beside you.”

Loyalty meant a lot to my dad. It’s something that cops, firefighters, soldiers, and others who have had to trust their friends to watch their back know all too well. He always told me that you can count the number of true friends you will ever have on one hand. Always honor and respect those friendships and stay loyal to them. At the same time, if someone will betray you over something trivial, they won’t be there for you when the chips are down.

He loved people and he loved making them laugh. Another of his lessons was that it takes just a second or two out of your life to hold a door for someone, to compliment them, or to just smile and say hello. But it could make their whole day better.

Though he lived a rough-and-tumble life, my father was a sensitive man, and he didn’t hide that side of himself. I remember him telling me, “Don’t believe that bullshit that a man isn’t supposed to cry. Don’t hide your tears when you are hurting, and don’t hide them when you are happy, either.”

Whether he was talking to a janitor, a politician, or a wealthy businessman, they all got the same respect from my father. But at the same time, he had principles and he would not back down when push came to shove. He told me to show everyone respect, but don’t be a pushover. Stand up for what you think is right, and speak out when you see something wrong. Never back down from a bully. If you run from him today, you will have to run from him tomorrow, and the next day, too.

And more than anything, he always said, “To thine own self be true. Live your days so that when you look in the mirror at night you are not ashamed of the person you see looking back at you. Because you can bullshit the rest of the world, but that guy in the mirror? He knows the truth.”

I’m going to be 67 in just a few days. And when I look back on my life, at my successes and my failures, at my good times and my bad ones, I always remember that man who loved to play his guitar, tell stories, and make people laugh. And I think if I can be half the man he was, and my if kids will look back at me with half the love and admiration I have for him, I’ve done okay. I love you, Dad, and I miss you. Thank you for so many lessons well learned.

Thought For The Day – A father is neither an anchor to hold us back nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.

Let Freedom Ring

 Posted by at 12:12 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 082019
 

Besides the flag, no one item symbolizes American freedom more than the Liberty Bell. Pictured on postage stamps, coins, and posters, this icon represents all that is good about our country. But there are things you may not know about the Liberty Bell.

Hung in the State House in Philadelphia in 1753, the bell was first known as the State House Bell. It summoned the Philadelphia Assembly to debate the Stamp Act and other unfair actions by the British Parliament. Some stories claim the bell cracked when it was rung to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but no one knows exactly when the famous crack we see today first developed. However, it was sometime between 1817 and 1846, long after the American Revolution.

The 2,000-pound bell was surprisingly fragile, and like other bells cast in the same time period, it came with inherent flaws. Its unstable mix of metals made it very brittle. The bell first cracked soon after arriving in Philadelphia in 1752. Twice the Pennsylvania Assembly hired local craftsmen to recast it. When the bell cracked again in the first half of the 19th century after years of service, workers fixed it by drilling the hairline fracture to widen the crack, an accepted remedy. The repair lasted only a short time, and when the crack extended in 1846, the City of Philadelphia retired the State House Bell from active use.

Philadelphia, the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800, had long been home to a vital free African American population. The anti-slavery movement found a home in Philadelphia, especially among the Quakers, who sheltered runaway slaves. Two of George Washington’s slaves fled and found shelter among the local African American population. In the 1830s, as the anti-slavery movement grew, abolitionists adopted the old State House Bell and gave it a new name; the Liberty Bell.

With the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction period, black Americans found that the freedoms President Abraham Lincoln promised them were still denied in many ways. For them, the bell became a symbol not of liberty, but of promises broken and freedom denied.

In the years following the Civil War, the bell toured the country, drawing huge crowds who saw it almost as a religious icon. People not only wanted to see it, they wanted to touch it, kiss it, and even sit on it! While the bell traveled the nation as a symbol of liberty, race riots, lynchings, and the Indian wars painted a very different picture for minorities.

Two national movements representing large segments of the American population; women’s suffrage and civil rights, invoked the Liberty Bell in their struggle for equality. Susan B. Anthony, an early leader of the women’s movement, used Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell as a backdrop when she spoke out for women’s rights to a cheering crowd on the 100th anniversary of American independence on July 4, 1876.

Continuing the struggle for the right to vote, one group of women, the Pennsylvania Women’s Suffrage Association, commissioned a copy of the Liberty Bell in 1915, calling it the Women’s Liberty Bell. This bell visited every county in the state and helped to win passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, giving women the right to vote.

Recognizing the Liberty Bell’s symbolic power, 20th century civil rights activists used the bell to highlight the ongoing struggle for equality and liberty for all. In 1965 the bell was the scene of civil rights demonstrations intended as a reminder that its ideals should apply to all Americans. Today the annual Let Freedom Ring Ceremony celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day begins at the Liberty Bell.

Visitors to Philadelphia can see the Liberty Bell, housed in its own specially designed building near Independence Hall and the Independence Visitor Center. There is no charge to tour the building and see the Liberty Bell, but free tickets must be obtained at the Independence Visitor Center across the street.

The crack may prevent the Liberty Bell from being rung, but its sweet song of freedom for all has inspired Americans of every race and creed for over 250 years.

Thought For The Day – In order to live in a tolerant society, we must be intolerant of intolerance.

Oct 072019
 

No, I’m not talking about my prostate. Though at my age, maybe I should be. The piddling I’m talking about are chores around the house, and we seem to be knocking them out on a daily basis in preparation for my kids getting here on Friday.

Yesterday it was screen doors. We have two of them, one on the front door and one on my office door, which opens onto the carport. The office door is an old wooden affair, and the screen was torn and hanging loose on one end. So we took it off and took it into the garage so Terry could replace the screen.

Before we became fulltime RVers a long time ago, Terry ran a commercial glass shop, doing everything from new construction to storefront, mirror and shower, and automotive glass. And screen doors, too. Me, I’m just the eye candy around here. This is the look Terry gives me whenever I offer to help. We both know I’ll make the job take longer and look worse in the end, but I still go through the motions of asking. If she ever takes me up on it, I have no idea what the hell I’ll do.

Terry has not worked on a screen door in over 20 years, but she made it look easy as she took out the plastic spline that holds the screen in place and pulled out the old screen. Next she cleaned the channel, laid the new screen over the door, reinstalled the spline, and then trimmed off the excess screen. Rehung, the door looks great.

Everything gets rusty when you live this close to the ocean, and maintenance is a regular part of life. We purchased our front screen door at Lowe’s right after we bought the house back in October of 2016, and it has a metal mesh guard on the bottom half, which was getting rusty and looking nasty.

We took the door off and into the garage and Terry removed the screen, then masked off the parts we didn’t want to paint. Then she cleaned the metal mesh with a brass brush, and put two coats of Rust-Oleum on both sides. Hopefully that will keep it looking good for a while.

That’s much better, don’t you think?

Besides piddling, I dug up some old blog posts that I think you will enjoy while the kids are here and I’ll be too busy to write much, and I also wrote a couple of new ones, too.

While I was doing that, Terry was piddling in the kitchen, making pizza for dinner. And I’m not talking about some frozen grocery store junk, I’m talking about made-from-scratch pizza with sauce and dough that she makes herself and then allows to sit in the refrigerator  for a day or two before rolling out and adding all kinds of delicious ingredients. Now that’s the best kind of piddling there is!

Congratulations Larry Merritt, winner of our drawing for a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. We had 78 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – I scream, you scream, the cops arrive, it’s awkward.

October Q&A

 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 062019
 

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share some here occasionally.

Q. You said your daughter is flying in to visit you. As I recall she had a pacemaker inserted after her heart attack. Is it safe for her to fly?
A. She actually had a defibrillator implanted, and yes, it is safe for her to fly. We checked that out in advance. She does have to contact TSA ahead of time so they can arrange for a pat down instead of going through the metal detectors, which can affect the defibrillator.

Q. We want to upgrade our motorhome’s TVs to flat screens. I seem to recall that a few years ago you did that and used a company in Tucson or Phoenix to install them, and maybe change the cabinets or something. Where was that? We will be wintering in Apache Junction and want to get it done while we’re out there.
A. RV Renovators in Mesa, Arizona did our switch-out and we were very pleased with the service and the finished product. They will also allow you to stay in your RV in their parking lot while they do the work if it takes more than one day.

Q. You have mentioned kayaking several times, Nick. Aren’t you afraid of alligators when you’re out there on the water in a kayak?
A. We have paddled past alligators in both our hard kayaks and in our Sea Eagle inflatables many times. They ignore us and we give them plenty of space and have never had a problem. Like all wildlife, they just want to be left alone, and that’s what we do.

Q. Have you heard anything about Flying J truck stops taking down the American flag so as not to offend Muslims or Canadians? Somebody mentioned it on Facebook and I don’t know if it’s true or just another Internet hoax.
A. It is a stupid hoax that’s come around two or three times now. Just yesterday I saw it four times on Facebook. Here is a link to one of many stories explaining what really happened. Just one more jerk with an attitude trying to make something out of nothing.

Q. I just finished reading your newest book, Dead Romeos, and loved it. Do you have plans for any more books in the series, or in the Big Lake series? I love them both.
A. I’m glad you enjoyed Dead Romeos. It’s my third release this year, and I plan to have one more book out sometime around December. I always try to put out four books a year, and the next will be Big Lake Quarterback. Don’t worry, I have more John Lee Quarrels and Big Lake books rolling around in my head waiting for me to write them than I have time left in this world.

Q. Nick, I know you are a dog person. Have you ever used something called an invisible fence? We’re thinking about getting one to use at our RV site instead of having our dogs on a leash or tied up all the time. Do you know if they work? And are they humane?
A. I have used an invisible fence with good results on several dogs, though I did have one that seemed to enjoy the little tingle from the collar when he got too close to the fence, and would actually walk up to it over and over again. They do not harm the animal in any way. However, most RV parks are still going to require that your dog be leashed or restrained in some way besides the fence.

Q. We want to spend the winter in Florida this year but we are finding out that most of the desirable places are already booked up. We would like to be in the Keys but found it is very expensive, and most places there are already reserved. The same in southern Florida around the beaches. That doesn’t seem to be anything available. Is this normal, to be booked up two or three months ahead of the season?
A. Yes, it’s normal and it happens all the time. In fact, many RV snowbirds make a reservation and pay a deposit on a site when they leave at the end of one winter so they can be assured of coming back next year. If you are willing to settle on smaller places further inland, there are lots of mom-and-pop RV parks around where you might be able to get a site.

Q. You wrote that you stocked up on several cans of gas before hurricane season. How long is that gas good for before it goes stale? I’m asking because we will be storing our Class C motorhome for the winter and I wonder what to do about fuel.
A. I put Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer in all of the gas cans, as well as in the Honda generators and my boat. Their literature says it is good for 24 months. I will start using that gas in the cars and my boat once we are out of hurricane season and refill the cans with fresh fuel as needed. In your case, I would be sure to fill the tank before parking the RV to cut down on any condensation before next camping season, and still use a fuel stabilizer.

Today is your last chance to  enter our free Free Drawing for a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – Another fine day ruined by responsibility.

More Piddling

 Posted by at 12:12 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 052019
 

Before I do anything today, I want to wish my buddy Greg White a very happy birthday. Why do I think this picture of myself and Greg should be captioned, “What, me worry?” I wish we could be there to spend the day with you, buddy. We are sure looking forward to you and Jan visiting us next June!

Just as I wrote in yesterday’s blog that Thursday was a piddling day for us, staying home and taking care of some little chores around the house yesterday was more of the same. Yes, more piddling.

I started the day with over 96 emails, more than half of which I deleted without opening because they were spam, political messages, or forwards. I don’t know how many times I have to ask people not to send me forwards, but it’s apparently more than I do already, because they still come. In the past I have blocked emails from some people who will not get that message. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I really have no interest in your forwards about pretty kittens, or how much Jesus loves me, or how I should vote for this person or that person. I don’t open them, I just delete them. And if you continue to send them to me, I will delete you, too.

Once I had waded through the emails, answering the most important ones and putting some on the back burner until later, Terry and I had a breakfast of mixed berries, and then I went online to make a few changes to my new book Dead Romeos. It always amazes me that even with four of us proofreading a manuscript, little typos sneak through. Fortunately, none of them were glaring, mostly punctuation errors and things like that. I made the changes and re-uploaded the book, and hopefully that’s all for now. I was also pleased to log onto Amazon and see that the book now has 10 reviews and a five-star rating. Every author appreciates reviews, please keep them coming.

Then I worked on getting some new blogs ready for when my kids are here next week, stopping when our friend Jim Lewis came by for a visit and to have me help him install some apps on his phone that had gone missing for some reason. Jim is always up for a game of darts, so we actually played two. Terry whipped our butts very handily in the first game, and at the end of the second game we were all within one or two points of winning, but Jim pulled it out at the last minute.

My son Travis asked if we could take the pontoon boat out while he is here, and since it has not been in the water in eighteen months, due to my ongoing back issues, I thought I’d better check it out to make sure it will run. The batteries were down a bit, so I put a trickle charger on them. Hopefully, between that and the Sta-Bil fuel system stabilizer I put in it after the last time we used it, everything will be okay.

I saw something yesterday that I’d only heard of until now. During the afternoon an Amazon Prime delivery van pulled up on our street to make a delivery to our house. I know that Amazon is beginning to use their own delivery vehicles for some items. It’s one more way in which they are evolving and changing to meet the needs of the market.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – The fact that Kansas and Arkansas are pronounced differently disturbs me more than it should.

She Calls it Piddling

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 042019
 

When she doesn’t have any big project to do and is just catching up on little chores around the house, researching things on the Internet, or whatever, Miss Terry calls it piddling. I’m never sure if I should stand back and let her do her thing, or go to the drugstore and buy some Depends, because when I look up piddling in the dictionary, it means to urinate. Whatever she calls it, yesterday was a piddling day for both of us.

The other day when we were in Daytona Beach, we stopped at one of the home improvement stores and bought some Tornado wall hooks to start getting the garage a little more organized.

Yesterday we mounted two of them on one of the walls to hold our Green Giant ladder. We got this super strong, very handy ladder at an RV rally in Tucson years ago , and it was perfect for the RV lifestyle because it has three four-foot sections that fit easily into an RV storage bay, and a couple of brackets that makes it easy to configure in a dozen different ways, from a stepladder to an extension ladder. Unfortunately, it looks like the company went out of business, because I can’t find them listed online anywhere to give you a link to it.

With that out of the way, I spent some time trying to figure out a problem with Microsoft Office 365. When Terry and I both got new computers last year, they each came with a one-year subscription. When it was time to renew Terry’s last month, she set it up on a family plan with up to six computers allowed. My Office 365 subscription expired a few days ago and I was trying to get added to hers, so we don’t each have to pay a renewal. I went through all the steps three or four times, did some research online, and just could not get it to work. Eventually I went online to Microsoft’s customer support, and though it took a while to get things working correctly, one of their techs got the job done for me.

After that, I spent some time looking at laptop desks on Amazon. I have a 17’ Dell laptop and I need something strong enough to hold it. The two I have been looking at are the AOOU (top photo) and the WorkEZ Executive Adjustable Ergonomic (bottom photo). If anyone has either of these two, or another brand/model with legs, I would appreciate any feedback. Why do I need a laptop desk? So I can sit in my recliner and live the life of a lazy gentleman writer, and because when I sit down, my stomach sits on my lap.

While I was doing all of that, Miss Terry was catching up on some paperwork, then she made a delicious dinner of shrimp scampi over pasta. The red shrimp she used was so big that she had to cut each one into thirds. Trust me, it tasted even better than it looks!

We are very excited because a week from today my daughter Tiffany is flying in from Arizona, and my son Travis and his wife Geli are driving down from Alabama. When I mentioned this before, I said it would be the first time all three of us were together in one place in over 20 years, but Travis tells me it’s closer to 30 years. I am so looking forward to it!

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – My bank account balance is a constant reminder that I’m safe from identity theft.

Oct 032019
 

Visitors to Dover, Delaware can escape the world of smart phones and tablet computers for a while and experience a bit of the “good old days” at the Johnson Victrola Museum.

Housed in a neat old red brick building, the museum showcases the work of Eldridge Reeves Johnson, who founded the Victor Talking Machine Company, the manufacturer of the Victrola. For those not familiar with these great old entertainment devices, they were the forerunners of modern day record players, tape decks, and CD players.

While there is no doubt that Eldridge Reeves Johnson was a genius in terms of both mechanical abilities and business acumen, not everybody saw him that way in his younger years. He was only 15 when he graduated from the Delaware Academy in 1882, and one of his professors made it a point of telling him he should enroll in a trade school because he was too dumb for college. Johnson followed his advice and spent the next five years as an apprentice machinist. When he finished his apprenticeship he went to work for an established company, and within just a few short years he bought it, renaming the business the Eldridge R. Johnson Manufacturing Company.

What followed was a series of inventions and products, among which were upgrades to the gramophone, a device that played recordings from a wax cylinder. The sound coming from the machines’ huge horn-type speakers was often scratchy and distorted. Johnson described it as “a partially educated parrot with a sore throat and a head cold.” By replacing the original crank used to turn the cylinder with a spring-loaded motor he invented, and improving the sound box, as well as switching from wax cylinders to records, Johnson was able to produce a much better sounding machine.

By 1900, Johnson had formed the Consolidated Talking Machine Company, which sold both gramophones and records. He registered the Victor trademark, renamed the business as the Victor Talking Machine Company and began marketing phonographs he called Victrolas. The company was an immediate success, but Johnson was not content to just make and sell phonographs. He created his own recording studio and signed many of the most popular singers of the day, including the great Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso.

In 1929 Johnson’s company was bought by RCA and renamed RCA Victor. As gifted at marketing as he was anything else, Johnson invested heavily in newspaper and magazine advertising. The company’s mascot, Nipper, the RCA Victor terrier, became famous worldwide. Recognizing yet another opportunity, Johnson began marketing Nipper products, everything from small ceramic statues to salt and pepper shakers, all looking just like Nipper.

Today the Johnson Victrola Museum displays an impressive collection of Johnson’s inventions and products dating back from the 1890’s through 1929. Here you will see all kinds of Victrolas and learn how the young man who was told he was too dumb for college changed the world of sound recording and entertainment.

The museum even has a replica 1920 record shop. And all the while you are touring the museum the sounds of early-day entertainers accompany the impressive displays. If you are anywhere near Dover, be sure to add the museum to your must see list.
The Johnson Victrola Museum is located at 375 S. New Street in Dover and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (302) 739-3262.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Another fine day ruined by responsibility.