Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas (natch!)


'Twas a good Christmas at the Geohouse. Plenty of electronic stuff.

I'm nervous today. I'm cooking a rib roast for the first time. Found a good deal on rib eye roast at the local grocer, so the last few days I spent scouring the 'Net for recipes. I liked the way one site described this type of meat: tender, flavorful, and expensive.

So there's no margin of error for today's big meal. My only saving grace is that this will be cooked only for myself, Geogal, and little Geoana. They tend to be forgiving especially when I'm trying something new. Who knows, this might become a holiday meal tradition. Better than bone-dry turkey.

To all of my readers, have a happy (remainder of the) holidays!

(Funny anecdote regarding today's picture. I put on the jacket and told Geogal: "I'm going outside to write something in the snow." Thought for a split-second, then added: "With a stick, not the other way.")

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's 5:05 on this Sunday afternoon and the sun is just about to set.

Must be late December, right near the winter solstice. Yep.

That's OK, the days will start getting longer now. I've got to keep telling myself that. Yet I cannot forget a news item from our local paper which stated: "In Kansas, the coldest winter weather usually occurs in late January and early February."

Oh, great. Like what we're having now isn't the worst of it. I drove to Kearney, Nebraska yesterday to wrap up the last of my Christmas shopping (the stuff I couldn't do online) and was amazed by how quickly skin can go numb in low temps combined hard wind. It was single-digit temperatures all day (and no, I'm not talking about Celsius, either). While the roads were fine (well plowed), parking lots were hit and miss.

Perhaps that's not the best term to use for yesterday. Just kidding, although I did slide just a little around a couple of the parking areas. No contact with other vehicles.

Shout out to little Geosister--Remember that scarf you gave me for Christmas eons ago? It's being used now. And Geodad, some years back you gave me a pair of Thisulate gloves. They do come in handy whenever I venture outside now.

And we will have a white Christmas, as this stuff on the ground definitely won't melt before then.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thunderice?


That's the term I would use to describe last night's meteorological event. There's something unsettling and a bit surreal when ice fog becomes sleet. Punctuated by thunder and lightening.

But as I mused yesterday, bad weather sometimes creates good photo ops just a few hours later.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Arctic, it just continues

Several times this week some friends and acquaintances ask me how I like the cold.

My response: "A 25 below zero wind chill is a bit much."

Pause for laughter. That's also what I hear after saying my piece .

I'm still trying to get my feeble brain around the fact that I was outdoors as recently as last Saturday-- in shirtsleeves, no less.

Sunday that all changed. Very cold. Blowing snow. Frigid.

Here we are, Thursday evening and the stuff is still out there. I think we might have gotten above freezing for a few minutes yesterday. I swear, I have two deep freeze units (one in the garage, one in the basement) and I don't think the interior of either is as cold as it is outside.

But in the midst of all things frosty this splashing of white does make for some appealing-to-the-eye vistas of things I see and take for granted every day. Such as the bare trees, lonely ballfields, and wheat fields waiting to spring their crop when the balmy temps make their comeback.

I'll try to get some photos of the stuff on here in the days to come. Meanwhile, I'm learning how to drive in snow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Arctic, Part II

Got some pride goin' on, here.

Reason: Yesterday morning I drove little Geoana to school then continued on to work. On streets of ice. Ice with a thin layer of snow on top.

It rained Monday afternoon and continued into the evening. Just before going to bed I noticed light snowflakes falling. No surprise, the Weather Channel web site predicted exactly that. And a person I was talking to earlier in the evening warned me of possible frozen over thoroughfares.

I won't lie--I was nervous heading out. I've never truly driven on ice before and I didn't think this was the best time to learn how. But seeing a few vehicles head down my street with no problem eased my angst.

Plus, I silently reminded myself I have a four-wheel-drive truck, not the rear wheel sedan or pickup truck of the past.

Engaged all fours and off we went. Drove slow, drove carefully. No problems.

And now, I have more character. At least until the next bout of inclement weather.

__________________________

Actually, I meant to blog the past couple of nights, but the MacBook was commandeered by Geogal (uploading a friend's pictures to the Wal Mart web site on Monday, uploading her own pics to Kodak Photo Gallery on Tuesday). No matter, I just parked myself on a chair yesterday evening and watched the latest Netflix offering: Trainspotting.

Yeeesh. Talk about graphic. I wouldn't recommend it for everybody. Good James Bond references, though.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Arctic

Just go ahead and gloat, everyone.

It's real cold here right now. Waaay cold. Freakin' cold. Frigid.

How cold? This morning it was warmer in Anchorage, Alaska.

I bundled up, went outside to start the truck (these days I have to let it warm up--the little girl and I need some heat while we ride). Upon going out the door to start 'er up, I thought to myself, "It's chilly, but not too bad." Then I walked beyond the shelter of my spruce tree.

Wind. Blowing. Real cold.

I remembered to wear gloves in order to scrape the frost, but forgot about a wool cap. A few minutes later I complain to Geogal that I can't feel my ears.

Specifics? With the wind chill, this morning it was 2 degrees above zero.

But hey, at least these temps keep the killer bees away, right?

And my cold-weather diet seems to have hit the skids. I consume more than my share of strong black coffee throughout the morning and then munch on "made-it-myself" chili for lunch.

I wonder if that's the reason my stomach hasn't felt right the last few days?

Starting tomorrow I'm going easier on the hot bean juice and will make the food intake a little more bland. I'll just think warm thoughts.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Holiday (i)Tunes

Time to blow the (digital) dust off of my Christmas music collection and load it onto the Nano.

It's one of the things I enjoy about the holiday season, these old carols and standards, many of them being sung by the original artist.

Since I can only enjoy these from December 1 through midday December 25th, it makes this compendium even more special. The rest of the year? Not even.

There's just nothing like sitting in front of the MacBook on a summer day listening to one's iTunes library with the shuffle setting turned on, casually reading who-knows-what on the Internet. First I hear Steely Dan's "Blues Beach," followed by Terri Clark's "I Just Wanna Be Mad," Henry Mancini's "Theme from 'Mr. Lucky,'" topped off with Gene Autry crooning: "You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen..."

Aaaahh, where's the arrow to hit the next song?

For a few days, I can now shuffle away the hours.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend wrap-up

Four cold days. Four days where I could swear I was coming down with a case of cabin fever.

At least tomorrow means a return to the old grind.

Save for Friday, the days were dry which was nice. (No sliding on the streets.) Today, however, the wind has been howling and even Geogal said: "That wind just sounds cold." You have to be here to understand.

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, I have the task of composing a Christmas gift list to aid Geogal in her shopping. Since I can't seem to come up with too many different ideas, is this a sign I'm getting older? Too old?

Nah, I'm just not hankering for any significant gadgets at present. A little time going through my Mac-related magazines and some surfing of the Net will do the trick.

For now, it's time to enjoy this season. While the Phoenix area has many benefits, one has to admit it's the most un-Christmasy city in North America. But here in rural Kansas, folks now how to do the holidays right. And the Geofamily will get to enjoy every minute of the festivities.

Friday, November 28, 2008

White Friday!


This was quite a surprise! Geogal gets up, gets dressed, gets ready to leave for work, and what news does she have for me upon opening the garage door?

White stuff.

T-day pics



Just wanted to share the joy that was our meal yesterday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A holiday with food and football--Yes!!!

While stating the obvious in today's title, I also have time to put some unrelated thoughts down for the world to see.

Where to start? Yes, I've been busy. Not only does my "real job" demand much of my time and energies, but the dearth of daylight seems to sap my creative abilities as well. You know how so many musicians, writers, and artists are night people, thinking they will suffer the fate of the vampire if they see the sun rise? Not me. Always have been a morning person, always will be. It's disenheartening when I come home from work around 5 p.m. and the sun vanishes over the western horizon just a few minutes later.

What was that? Sorry. I spotted some activity in the creek bed. It was two fawns running back and forth. Speaking of wildlife, I haven't seen the wild turkeys for a few weeks now. Too cold, or do they know something's up?

For many days now I've been telling my friends and other acquaintances that I am taking Friday off, saying I need to watch Texas pummel Texas A&M. But a few days ago I found out they are actually playing this evening. Did I miss something? Whatever happened to tradition? This game should always be the day after Thanksgiving, right?

Geosister and Geobro-in-law are free to weigh in on this one.

No matter, I'm still staying home that day. There are plenty of other gridiron contests to enjoy.

Don't you like the Big 12 South's version of rock-scissors-paper? Texas beats Oklahoma, Texas Tech beats Texas, Oklahoma beats Texas Tech...

Let's hope the issue is settled on the football field rather then relying on the BCS computer nerds.

Little Geoana just got up, we had a pretty good conversation about Thanksgiving and traditions. In our house having a steak on turkey day is fast becoming a new religion. For the past couple of Thanksgivings, we went to Monti's La Casa Vieja in Tempe (despite its name it is a steakhouse, not a Mexican restaurant) where we were free to order off the menu even though they also served a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. No such luck this year since we no longer live in the Valley of the Sun. For today? I'm defrosting a couple of ribeyes we bought at one of the area lockers (that's the term for meat processing facility). High-quality Kansas beef.

Incidentally, we do most of the other "trimmings" with the red meat: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie.

Wait, scratch that. Geogal went to the freezer and asked about my choice of pie: pumpkin, blueberry, or cherry? I went with cherry.

Other Thanksgiving traditions? Watch the videocassette of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." Yes, VHS cassette. We've had it for a while. Watch the "King Of The Hill" episode where they try to fly to Montana for Turkey Day. It's one of those that I've seen dozens of times and I still laugh out loud. Never mind that it has a few plot holes, I can ignore those for 23 minutes. Watch the Cowboys play. I don't care that it's the Seattle Seahawks, the 'Pokes haven't had good luck over the last several Thanksgivings.

Gotta admit, it would be something if the lowly Arizona Cardinals defeat the Eagles. Not likely to happen but the Phoenix-based media are starting to use terms such as "resurgent" in describing the Birds.

That's all for now. More blabbering later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alone at last

I'm not referring to being away from my family for a couple of days. That's not good.

Rather, I'm alluding to being able to take a work-related road trip by myself. Why is that a good thing?

Faster travel (fewer stops), freedom to listen to whatever keeps me alert at the moment, I don't have to talk, and I'm not bound to bow to the wishes of others.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy my out-of-state travel last month. The traveling collegue/companion made a long drive tolerable. However since I am an introvert (those who know me are well aware of this) I derive strength and energy from the times I spend alone. Renewal!

And the freedom of making one's own decisions from speed to noshing just adds to the enjoyment.

Not only that, but I got to adjust to the Sirius satellite radio new channel lineup. Gotta switch some presets and make room for new ones!

Plus I clicked the radio over to the AM dial for some interesting listening (and distant catches). The day was clear, the time of the year features little solar interference, and good ground conductivity in Kansas adds up to one busy radio dial! Needless to say I was happier than a pig in slop. (Yes, I am a nerd who has tendencies toward catching electrical signals out of the air. More on a home-related project that stems from this interest will be the subject of a blog entry to come later this week.)

Before I go, I better put this sentence in here--I think it's against the blogger code to end a posting with a closed parenthesis.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

lazy Sunday morning

I get up as normal, but at the computer I realize that Daylight Savings Time has ended. I have an extra hour to goof around.

Pretty good way to begin a day. I think those of us in the Geohouse can be forgiven, as we are well out of the habit of changing the clocks twice yearly. Arizona just doesn't do such things.

_________________________

Congratulations to Texas Tech. It was an outstanding game, everything a football fan could want. It came down to the last second, literally. The NFL can't compete with that type of drama.

It's also gratifying to see the focus shift to West Texas. Since before fire the consensus is that the true power in the Lone Star State exists solely in the triangle anchored by Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Antonio (Austin is part the structure, it's just not one of the corner points). It's understandable that other areas of the state don't receive their due share of attention or respect. Part of it is geography (El Paso is on the other side of the world, the Permian Basin is too desolate, the South Plains are too flat, and you can only see so many pine trees in East Texas before going insane) and part of it is culture (Austin has Sixth Street, Dallas Deep Ellum, and San Antonio is rich in Texas history).

That won't change. Not in my lifetime, anyway. But for now Lubbock and Texas Tech can bask in the glory. They earned it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Halloween, and what do I say?

Gaaagh! Not "TorT." I've had enough of that this evening anyway. I'm holding down the fort while Geogal takes little Geoana out for the neighborhood candy run.

Been away for a while, and no, I'm not dead. Not even ailing.

Just real busy. Between Geogal starting her new job and the bustle of everyday life, combined with busy evenings due to external commitments, time becomes a valuable commodity.

What do I write about?

Roasting green chile in one's own oven? Because it's raining outside? Fun, that's how we spent the better part of one recent Saturday.

The University of Texas Longhorns beating Oklahoma (the same day we roasted green chile) and becoming Number One in the nation?

Or me making a business trip to North Texas, driving through Sooner Country? (When the sign said "Norman city limits," I turned to my traveling companion and confessed: "I feel dirty.")

Lute Olson suddenly retiring from the Ewe Ofay? And watching the basketball team implode? (Lute was great in his time, but his time has long passed. The Wildcats continue to get invited to the Big Dance not because they earned it over the course of a season, but because of who they once were. That's just not right. Maybe this season they will finally come crashing back to earth--translation: NIT.)

The preparations for a Barack Obama presidency? The less I say about that, the better.

The fact that it snowed here last week? (It was a wonderful feeling to go to bed and not know what awaited us when we awoke. The forecasters had everything from 1-2 inches to a blizzard warning for our area. Final result: we got about three-fourths of an inch. But hey, gotta start somewhere. I bought a snow shovel.)

Incidentally, the family members got e-mailed a picture of the Geohouse in the midst of a winter wonderland.

My ongoing TV antenna project? Still ongoing. I'm going to Nebraska tomorrow to find some stakes. I need something to anchor the tower I picked up for nothing.

How I was in the Dallas-Fort Worth area during the four worst days-in-a-row the Cowboys have ever had? (Lose to the Cardinals, Romo out, Pacman suspended, all-around cruddy crap.) But at least I got to spend some time with people who actually talk normal. (No one there makes fun of my occasional Texas accent.)

Two nights of hard freeze and my front lawn keeps growing? Go dormant, grass!

So what do I have to say? A little of everything.

But something inside me, deep down in me, needs a recharge. I don't know what, I don't know how. But if I keep at it, maybe my bone-deep weariness will subside.

Perhaps returning to regular blogging will help.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Houston's loss

I'm not referring to the Astros or Texans.

I'm talking about Ray Miller, from "The Eyes of Texas." I can still remember the staccato drumming and the letters T-E-X-A-S going individually on the screen so fast you couldn't help but pay attention.

He died a couple of weekends ago. Here is the obligatory newspaper story, but a better set of tributes can be read here.

First Ron Stone, now Ray Miller. Local TV icons of my past are departing the scene.

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Yes, I know full well the blogging is scarce these days. Blame several days of numerous visitors to Geohouse Kansas. When one is a talented cook sometimes these things happen.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blogging for the sake of it

I hit these periods occasionally.

I just have nothing to say. Nothing to add to the global community of opinion. Not even a snarky input on pop culture.

Not to mention I was busy the past several nights and weekends pursuing professional-related activities. Glad that's over for now.

So, here is what is going through my noggin right now:

The MLB season is coming to an end (at least the regular season is). I won't be involved in the postseason gaggle of games. Why? Because the Astros and Diamondbacks aren't playing. Therefore I just don't care.

At least it's not 2004.

And what is it with University of Texas football standouts? First Ricky Williams. Then Cedric Benson. And now this.

I acknowledge Young has plenty of time to redeem himself. And he just might.

I do have a problem with that writer using the word "coddled" referring to quarterbacking the Longhorns. There is nothing about being a QB for the 'Horns that could be considered soft or easy. The pressure to win at that school, just as in every major college program, is immense. I would argue the football standouts earn every accolade they get. The Big 12 is a rough conference.

So maybe Young can bounce back. No reason to believe he can't.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just so you know

Geogal's blog is now up!

Here's the link.

And summer's not even officially over yet

Yesterday morning was cool. Real cool. Nippy.

A little bit of frost on the top portion of the truck's windshield.

And so it starts....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quick hitters for Saturday

Wildlife watch: Seen in our (and then the neighbor's) backyard two mornings ago: around 15 wild turkeys.

________________________________

There's no way I'm paying $30 to watch the New Mexico State-Nebraska game on TV. Better get my ears ready for radio's play-by-play.

________________________________

I did so-so in last night's high school football picks. Hope my college choices are a little better. (I did get 7 games right last week. Got my name in the local newspaper, along with many of my co-workers. It's just a fun pigskin pick contest, no gambling involved.)

________________________________

Almost have my rooftop antenna project ready to go. I just need to figure out how I will mount and anchor the thing. No small yagi, this. The one I'm buying is 14 feet long and 9 feet wide. (But according to the reviewers, it really picks up!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A time to relax

After the last few evenings it's just nice to be idle.

For those of you not in the know, I work full-time at a career that has nothing to do with blogging or even writing in general. My chosen field requires that I engage in continuing education as a way of maintaining certain professional credentials. So for the past few nights I've been busy filling my noggin with new knowledge. Via home study. (A significant drawback to living in the boonies is that there are no professional workshops or conferences close by.)

But my task is nearly done and this is an evening that I can surf the net, bond with my satellite dish, or pursue several other meaningless but fulfilling activities. I also don't have to "batten down the hatches" as my kinfolk in Texas will no doubt be doing as Ike heads straight for them.

_________________________________

The Geofamily went to our first high school football game last Friday evening. It was everything I ever imagined, and more.

Before even arriving at the field, I hit the "seek" function on the FM tuner to find 92.5 airing the pre-game show for Phillipsburg High, 100.3 doing the same for Colby, 101.1, Oberlin, and 106.7, Norton High.

You almost have to pity the smaller burgs that don't have their own local station.

The game was good, the crowd was fun, and the home team won! The air also got quite crisp when the sun went down. Geogal came down with a cough, but some hot tea back at home did the trick.

Small-town life isn't nearly as dull and boring as some folks think.

Speaking of which, Saturday morning I saw a couple of four-footed animals chowing down on the vegetation behind the Geohouse (but off of my property). Thought I could capture the moment but alas, the poor light and window screen made for a shot that's not even worth posting on this blog.

Oh well. One needs to have goals in life.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

R.I.P Snowman

I'll miss him.

I will never forget one time, many years ago when I was driving a pickup truck loaded with one of my siblings personal belongings across New Mexico and Texas. Because of the load I couldn't do an overnight stay along the way. I was about three hours away from my destination of Austin and was suffering from fatigue and (probably) low blood sugar.

My remedy? Pop in my "Smokey and the Bandit" soundtrack cassette. In just a couple of minutes I was humming along with a very improved mood the words to "East Bound and Down." It was like mental adrenaline. After a few more minutes I was styling myself as a Walter Mitty-esque long-haul trucker. Much like Cledus "Snowman" Snow in the movie.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taking advantage of the long weekend

Since I won't be able to use any vacation time (yet) at my job, the Geofamily decided to hit the road this long weekend and check out a new destination.

Kansas City.

Besides adding another state to the 2008 tally this sojourn also gives us a chance to see another part of Kansas and visit a truly interesting urban area. (But as an aside, I'll be glad to return to my small-town home. I'm just not into the city stuff anymore.)

I can't say I took much surprise in the landscape. I already knew KC was somewhat hilly, despite a lot of Americans thinking this place is flat as a pancake. (Must be that MGM-set-designed-to-look-like-putative-Kansas-I'm-talking-about-"The-Wizard-Of-Oz" that fosters that myth.) Numerous big green trees gives plenty of aesthetic appeal as well.

And then there is the food

I've blogged several times before about BBQ so I don't need to explain myself.

And guess what this place has in abundance?

You will enjoy this: We arrived in the city yesterday midday and decided to do lunch at Arthur Bryant's. This one was not the downtown location but rather the one near the Kansas Speedway. It's an area populated by the latest in suburban power retailers and chain restaurants. That last point is important in this retelling. We knew the Arthur Bryant's was in the area (gotta love the Net) and were trying to pick out its location from among the numerous red-bricked eateries. A couple of minutes before spotting our target, Geogal (sarcastically) said: "Look! There's a Famous Dave's."

And my response? "I didn't drive all the way to barbecue capital, USA, to eat at a Famous Dave's."

(In all fairness, Famous Dave's is OK. But they're a national chain. It's like going to the most Italian-American area of New York City and then dining at an Olive Garden.)

The verdict on Bryant's? Deee-lish! The pulled pork beats all. We can thank the Travel Channel for cluing us in to that place.

And lunch today? Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue. As Bryant's was dry barbecue, Jack Stack is wet. And both have their merits.

And no, I don't have my cardiologist on speed dial. In fact, I don't even have a cardiologist. Supper for both evenings was salad, heavy on the green stuff. Plus I exercised this morning and plan to do so tomorrow as well.

One thing we are not able to do this trip: see a Royals game. They are in Detroit at the present time. So, Geosister the elder we will not e-mail you a picture of Geogal eating a pretzel while sitting in Kauffman Stadium.

Maybe next time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Warning: Esoteric babbling ahead

You're choosing to read anyway?

I'm following an earlier post. One that dealt with the chore of pulling in over-the-air TV. But for me it's not a chore, rather it is a delight.

This afternoon found me at the Macbook keyboard, learning which outdoor antenna might suit me best. Then I circumnavigated the house to determine the best placement. Just for fun I attached some rabbit ears to the bedroom TV. Nothing but snow.

I am becoming familiar with names such as Winegard, Terk, and Channel Master. Along with all of this is the realization that there are many Net forums out there and just as many differing opinions about which product does "x" job the best.

Again you may ask "why?"

Not only do I like the challenge, but local TV reception is important during harsh weather (something we have plenty of in these parts). Since we have DirecTV, I don't need to be connected to the local cable company, even though most of their channels from 2-13 are devoted to area channels (in fact, each of the Big Three networks plus PBS has dual representation).

However I don't care for the remainder of the fare offered on the local CATV service. And since I have all of those channels plus several dozen more, why bother paying another bill? (Geodad must be so proud.)

_________________________________

In most populated areas, the digital TV channels are almost always on the UHF band. This means most folks who want the free over-the-air DTV just need either rabbit ears or a relatively small UHF-only roof (or attic) antenna.

Not me. Not here.

First there is the issue of distance. The TV offerings come from over 70 miles away as the crow flies, save for two--KSNK and KLNE. Add into this the digital TV fact of life that you either get it all or you don't get any (no snowy picture, you see) and antenna size plus originating signal strength become big issues.

So big, in fact, that I'm willing to spend extra for a rugged outdoor antenna. A large one. Add in other accessories such as an antenna rotor and a preamp, and this becomes an interesting do-it-yourself project. Fortunately it's not brain surgery so if I don't get it right the first time I can tweak and adjust as necessary.

_________________________________

Part of the homework involves looking at the coverage maps on TV Fool and seeing what is possible for my location. Then I check out other sources to determine what the final channel assignments will be following the full-power analog shutoff this coming February.

Some interesting finds. First I read that most of the UHF digital signals will eventually be one million watts. Good! Might reach me just fine. Then I start to see the final channel assignments for my area. KHGI (one of the best for local severe weather coverage) will be on channel 36. KLNE will go to 26. Yes!

But KSNK, KGIN, and KBSH will ultimately stay on VHF (12, 11, and 7, respectively). Whaaat??

Then it dawns on me. Maybe the FCC wanted to keep these channels VHF because the signal still travels farther than a UHF frequency would. Considering many of the viewers of these stations are quite a distance from the transmitter site, this could make sense.

It's interesting to think about what I might pick up with a decent antenna on top of the Geohouse. It'll be more intriguing to learn what actually happens once everything is set up.

Of course I'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Still here, just other stuff getting in the way

I'm glad I don't write for anything that has a deadline attached to it.

I've spent the last many evenings either getting the house in order or engaging in some home-study continuing education activities. (Yes, I do work full-time in a career that has nothing to do with mass media.) And in the slight leisure time I had I chose to watch all of the "Torchwood" episodes that had accumulated on the DVR. (My temporary quarters had cable, but didn't offer BBC America.) Plus catching up on the pleasures of being around my loved ones.

Don't ever take that for granted.

_________________________________

I've also learned to enjoy small pleasures. Such as seeing the lightning bugs after dusk. Or enjoying the mild days and cool nights.

I haven't even talked about the back yard yet. It's small, but lively. Green as all get-out. Noisy with the crickets and cicadas at night. And being on the edge of town has certain advantages: Wildlife.

Since moving in, we've noticed numerous squirrels and rabbits. And just behind our property we occasionally are visited by a doe and two fawns. We've already had a few stare-out contests with mama deer. (The humans are always indoors, by the way.) One of our friends tells us come fall we can expect wild turkeys out there as well.

You can't put a price tag on tranquility.

_________________________________

The re-doing of the house in our own image has already begun. Courtesy of a trip to Home Depot in Hays a couple of weeks ago we now have new locksets on the doors, a more organized garage, and a really cool stainless steel range hood that awaits installation. Yes, the kitchen is getting a fair amount of attention. The dishwasher we now have is new, and the refrigerator should be coming any day now.

Piece by piece, it's coming together. Of course, Geogal wants to engage in the knocking out of walls, but as we're moving slowly and with cash, she will just have to wait.

Not too long, we hope.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New to the region

Geogal and I are still trying to get our hands around it being early August and us having the windows in the house open. Air conditioner off.

Take that, you readers in sweltering Texas and Arizona!

Thunderstorm blew through early this morning. Early. 3:30-ish early. But none of us cared since it was just a few hours into the weekend. Sometimes losing a little sleep isn't the end of the world.

We're not going anywhere out of town today. That's fine for all involved. I have several chores on my to-do list, including changing out the locksets on the front and back doors of the house. Not that I'm concerned about previous owners having keys to MY house, but the knobs are just getting old and little Geoana has trouble getting the front door open. And yes, I know. Most folks in this burg don't even lock their doors. But for me, I can't break certain city habits just yet.

And I do know that I shouldn't rub in our nice weather to certain readers of this blog. My comeuppance will arrive sometime in January. Geogal said by that time we will be so desperate to see the sun that who knows what we will do?

Let's see--what's the high in Phoenix supposed to be today? Somewhere in the low 100's.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tripe that I owe the readers

Really, it's not my fault. Our Internet connection at the new Geohouse was knocked off for a few days. I think it's one of those Sir Isaac Newton laws: for every technological advance there is an equal and opposite step backward.

Just temporarily, of course. The 'Net connection is back up and running today and life is again pretty good. We had the DirecTV guy come and install the dish properly (I couldn't get it aimed right) but in the process he cut the coaxial line bringing The World to our cable modem. I tried splicing it to another live line in the house, but to no avail. (You would not believe how much RG-6 cable is in, over, around, and through this hacienda. One might swear the prior owner owned stock in Dish Network.) Another visit by a different communications professional corrected the problem.

Other than that, not much to report. We went to Grand Island, NE last Saturday for the Geofamily to load up on Sam's Club and a Real Grocery Store Not These Little Small-Town Establishments That Think Lamb and Fresh Fish Are Exotic Items. (Geogal's standpoint, not necessarily mine.) I have to get my mind around the fact that every time we leave town and hit a big-box retailer (even though the big boxes here aren't quite as large square-footage as we are used to) we will walk out with the bill totaling in the three figures. Gone are the days when I could drive 5 minutes to Lowe's and walk out 10 minutes later with two small items.

But come to think of it, that's not a bad thing. Just another part of the adjustment.

And to the Geofamily, I will post some pics of the house on our Kodak Gallery account in the coming days. Geodad, I need you to e-mail me as I cannot get through on the address I have.

More fun ahead...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stay!

It's finished.

At least the moving of the worldly goods, that is.

This evening marks a milestone: All of our stuff is officially on the property of our new house. (New, meaning the structure itself is as old as Geoguy.) No more physical relocation. Now, just the arduous task of unpacking and organizing.

And for me, the first time I have truly felt at home since I left Chandler on (I think it was) March 18, 2008. No more temporary quarters, no more renting. Yahoo! (I ain't referring to the search engine, either.)

And Geodad, I tried e-mailing you pictures of the house, but for some reason your address keeps bouncing the e-mails right back.

Anyhow, I thought I would post tonight and at least keep the world abreast of my happenings. Since Geogal and I have been so busy and stressed out with the particulars of closing on the house and then vacating our rental, I haven't had much spare time to breathe, much less post here.

Did I mention the house was old? As in my age? 40 (cough)-something? Quite a change from our 10-year-old dwelling in Chandler. Lately it seems Geogal points out many of the little and medium-sized faults with this house. Sometimes I just want to tell her, "Geogal, you're not in Kansas anymore."

Oops, I think I got that just a little backwards.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just too friggin' funny

And people wonder why the mainstream print media continue to lose market share.

I have to give Barry Young at KFYI a hat-tip for pointing out this piece on his show this morning.

Man, where do I start?

I listened to KNUV when it was still KMYL, first adult standards (didn't last), then rock oldies (nope), then a mixture of third-rate syndicated talk and local folks (don't tell me you thought that succeeded--otherwise they never would have gone Spanish). Their signal is poor, being on the AM dial is problematic to begin with, and having 45 (count them--45!) reporters means this station was probably bleeding red ink from the start.

But hey, why be the victim of a poor business plan when you can blame Sheriff Joe? And the white people? (How do you blame Arpaio for the failure of the sister station in Denver?)

And don't fall for this nonsense of the migrant worker community losing their "voice." Radio Campesina existed in Phoenix well before KNUV was ever birthed.

Just another example of how newspapers continue to forget their readership both has, and uses, their brains.

And as an aside (how's that for alliteration), who wants to place bets that 1190 goes totally brokered when and if they return to the air?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Great State Race


We in the Geofamily like to travel.

Together with the traveling, Geogal and I have a friendly competition stretching back several years. "Who has been in more states?"

I'll get to the scorecard in a moment. First, 2008 is shaping up to be a banner year for interstate travel--for all of us.

Since January 1st, yours truly has set foot in Arizona (state of origin for the year), California (courtesy of a quick jaunt across the Colorado River to Blythe), New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. Those last several were due to the big move from Chandler to northwest Kansas. For Geogal and little Geoana, the total is nearly the same, save for Geogal having traveled to Austin, Texas for a professional event. Since she took little Geoana with her, our child now has the distinction of being the family member in this household of being in the most states this year. She and I went into California back in March, and she was part of the aforementioned Texas trip. Not bad for a seven-year-old.

Add Utah to the state count. We went just through the southeastern corner, a total of less than 100 miles in the Land Of The Mormons, but state lines are state lines.

Since this is late July much of 2008 remains. Methinks I can predict we will total more states before the calendar becomes 2009. Missouri, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Iowa are easily within reach. Who knows what the remainder of the year holds, travel-wise?

OK, totals for the grownups. First, the ones where both of us lay claim: Arizona, New Mexico, California, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia (yes, I know it's not a state, but this is my blog--get your own, you nerds!), Alaska, and Hawaii.

The lady goes next. Geogal's personal notches include: Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maine. Total of 20. (Why all the New England states? She had a summer job in New Hampshire one of her college summers.) And no, I wasn't being careless, Geogal just told me she never did make it to Rhode Island.

And me? Since my family lived on the eastern seaboard at one time I can count: Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Courtesy of traveling to visit relatives and moving across the country I also set foot in: Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Those last few I really don't remember (I was little and rather out-of-it). So for me--26.

Throw down! We're not done yet.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Enjoying the quiet hour

In the Geohouse that time is early morning.

I'm the only morning person in this domicile. Geogal and little Geoana would probably sleep until noon if they could. So since it is summer vacation and Geogal no longer works, they enjoy being in the arms of Morpheus pert near every morning since they arrived in Kansas.

My temperment is of the phlegmatic type, which means I cherish peace above nearly all else. Very true. Now if I could just find a way to keep the peace throughout the course of a day.

That's impossible. I know it. But it doesn't mean I can't keep trying to decrease my stress level and reach for a more healthy (mentally and physically) way to live. Now that I think about it, I've already started.

How? I am giving myself something of a media holiday. Definition? Stay away from news. Eschew the political talk shows and blogs for the time being. (And right now makes a fair amount of sense. We are currently in what people in the news biz would call a "slow news cycle." Very common for the summer months.) I could keep up with all current events, read commentary, listen to talk radio, the list goes on.

But why? All of the above only increases my stress level and I am still in the process of learning to decrease my worrying. And isn't it to my benefit to think for myself? To know where my true priorities lie? To engage in recreational reading (i.e. fiction)? To peruse blogs that are similar in in nature to this one?

So for the next several weeks, no news. No newspapers beyond reading our local twice-weekly publication. I'm even eliminating sports talk from my listening habit. As much as I enjoy Sirius Satellite Radio and their NFL channel, I get tired of All-Brett-Favre-All-The-Time.

Will I miss out on certain news items? Yes. Will it have a negative effect on me to not be aware of those things? No.

How about if I just pay attention to my own tasks and keep my own household in order?

What a philosophy! Mind my own business.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fun times ahead


Fun for me, maybe not for anyone else.

Since I won't get any type of summer vacation this year, my enjoyment has to come from elsewhere.

If you read the profile for yours truly you know that I live in Northwest Kansas. It's a land of nice people, wide open spaces, lots of wind, and wheatfields alternating with cornfields.

And right here is a challenge perfectly suited for a nerd such as me. Although we subscribe to DirecTV and will continue to do so, I want to see which distant terrestrial TV stations I can pull in using a rooftop antenna.

And I want a good antenna, too. Not one of these cheapies that you find at Home Depot or Wal-Mart. Suffice to say I am learning much courtesy of the Internet. Brand names like Terk and Winegard are now part of my vernacular. Choosing between analog and digital rotators is making me salivate. As soon as we formally procure this house we've chosen I'll be taking inventory of the outside, trying to determine which location would be best for antenna placement.

(Who am I kidding? I've already done that and we don't even own the place yet. Don't worry--it's empty and some of the neighbors already know I am the buyer.)

So between getting the equipment and putting it all together I should be in for a fun rest-of-the-summer. I can't wait to see what's out there on the airwaves. And since the analog broadcasts will end come February now is as good a time as ever.

And digital? Before I came out here I bought a small TV with a built-in digital tuner. Wonder if I can pick up the multiplexed signal of the nearby Nebraska Educational TV station? Or how well the VHF (channel 12) digital broadcast from KSNK will look?

Beyond those two stations, it's anyone's guess. And I'm hoping to find out.

That leads into the next question: Why am I doing this now? I've been a homeowner for 12 years. But you have to understand that in Arizona, there's not much challenge in trying to pull in nearby stations. There just aren't a whole lot. Outside of the Phoenix and Tucson markets there exists only a plethora of low-powered translators and a quagmire of equally low-wattage UHF channels that exist only for the purpose of home shopping and selling ringtones.

It's a different game out here. This area is technically in the Wichita market, although the suits in south-central Kansas couldn't care less about what happens out here. We also are on the edge of the Kearney-Grand Island-Hastings market (I made that up as said market does not exist. Ask the FCC, 'cause I sure don't understand their reasoning.) So, there are full-power VHF and a few UHF channels for the taking, and seeing the purple colored region on the coverage map available through TV Fool just makes the challenge even more interesting. And fun for me.

I promise I won't fall off the ladder. Cross my heart.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

General update

Since this blog is largely read by family, I have no qualms about sharing our latest goings-on for this post.

We finally have secured permanent housing. That is no small feat considering both Geogal and I are still acclimating to how business is done in a small town. Even finding a place to rent is challenging, and when you don't know most of the locals you can easily miss out on property opportunities.

Combine that with the fact that there are no real "comps" to be pulled from the various neighborhoods and real estate quickly becomes more of a game of chance than anything else. I know I can't be as anonymous online as I was in Arizona (more on that in a future post), but some folks in these parts want way too much for their properties. And unlike the urban areas, said individuals are willing to wait until someone gives them their asking price.

Having said all that, I actually enjoyed the process somewhat. Over the past few months I've gotten to know people I would not otherwise have met. And the learning that went along with this entire home-buying experience was valuable.

Not to mention the fact that this is the most inexpensive house Geogal and I have ever purchased. Despite the price, we think the house is sound and has great potential. We're happy and our friends are relieved.

The physical moving is still ahead but we'll handle that as it comes. (And after all, it's only a few blocks from where we live now. Plus most of our stuff is still in boxes.)

Now, is it time to make my family and friends insanely jealous? Dare I mention that yesterday morning as I prepared to mow the lawn, it was about 65 degrees with nice cloud cover and a cool breeze? And low humidity? Me likeeeee!

Never mind posting comments here. I can already hear the responses of the Arizona and Texas kinfolk: "Just wait until winter!"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Traffic jam, small-town style

The grain elevators are busy. So are trucks, railroad cars, and many of the townspeople.

It's harvest. And given the absence of hail for the past few weeks, the takings ought to be good.

But in the meantime the nonstop cadre of farm trucks making their trips to and from the grain elevators makes for some interesting gridlock. Such as the one I witnessed when I made my afternoon constitutional to the grocery store adjacent to the building in which I work.

18-wheelers, made to haul grain, about six or seven deep, waiting their turn at the elevator. The smell of diesel smoke was nearly intoxicating. Regular cars either snaking through or just avoiding the intersection altogether.

Keeps things interesting in this small town.

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Life's not all bad. Case in point--the new Thin Mint Blizzard. (Yes, real Thin Mints, courtesy of the Girl Scouts.)

Odds are good that I have one before this coming weekend is over.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Just Toying Around

Yes, I'm re-doing the look of this site. I've been thinking about it for some time, and when I found a widget I wanted to add I realized some redesign was in order.

I will add more of my personal pictures and such as time goes on but at least I have a start.

Did I mention Geogal is planning to start her own blog? I'll let her give you wonderful readers the details.

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Today is a heck of a lazy Saturday. Honestly, yesterday was the start of the weekend, what with the Independence Day holiday and all. Speaking of which, we went (along with most of the town) to the fireworks show at the lake. Awesome! A good time was had by all! (Insert additional cliche here.) It's been years since I've seen a really good explosive sky display and I wasn't disappointed by last night's outing.

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I feel almost guilty about being lazy today. Yet just a few minutes ago I realized I need this cycle of rest as I do work a full-time job that is demanding in its own way. Add to the work responsibilities the reality of house-hunting and helping Geogal adjust to life in the Sunflower State and no wonder I felt exhausted the last several days.

Don't start the violins playing, though. I do have my recreational interests plus my guilty pleasures. The latter list includes "Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D List," as well as seeing how much trivia I can learn by reading articles on Wikipedia (never mind that a fair amount of them have inaccuracies). These things will at least keep me from getting cabin fever until I have a house of my own to occupy my time.

More on that during the coming week.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back to normality?



So the real world resumes. Family is all together now. In another state. But at least we have most of our modern-world conveniences up and working now.

Made the first family-centric shopping trip to Nebraska yesterday. We also went to the Archway (why weren't museums ever that interesting when I was a child?) and had an excellent BBQ lunch.

Little Geoana has already made two friends, already been to one birthday party, and insists we take her to the swimming pool everyday. And Geogal is adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom and caucusing with others of the same ilk.

The other evening I cut the grass, then joined another family we have come to know (they live just up the street) for what I thought would be a short walk. Turned out to be a lengthy visit with another family who was in the process of shooting off fireworks (here, you can start buying them seven days before the Fourth). Just casual conversation, letting the kids have some fun outdoors while the grown-ups chatted. It was just me doing the parenting that evening as Geogal was at a scrapbooking but-really-it's-women-exchanging-gossip-and-stories-about-their-husbands party.

Grownups lighting fireworks. Kids chasing fireflies. Small town fun. But I've restrained myself up until now to keep from using the "A" word to describe this place. (Americana)

________________________________

Here are some final photos from the moving drive. Colorado is as scenic as ever.

An interesting and trivial note about the trip. The final day, driving from Frisco, Colorado to Kansas, we went on I-70 into Denver, passing through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Located at just over 11,000 feet above sea level, this is the highest point along the Interstate Highway system. As the Geofamily has also driven from Arizona to San Diego along I-8, we hit the opposite in elevation--the lowest point along the Interstate system, some 70 feet below sea level (near El Centro, California).

All in all, I'm glad the trip is over with. Traveling is fun and given the right conditions it is a real joy. But having (rather, choosing) to relocate and work out the logistics of moving a family and its possessions hundreds of miles is very taxing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This one is called: "Crossing the Desert"






Fans of The Simpsons will recognize today's title. Hint: The episode where this line appears is "Homer The Great."

Yesterday's drive was enjoyable. Enjoyable in the sense that I got to see parts of Arizona and New Mexico where I have never been. Plus the entire Geofamily got to add Utah to the list of states where we have been. And I'm not talking about just standing in the right place at the four Corners Monument, either. We drove through Monument Valley, perhaps the scenic high point of yesterday. I can't say much for the remainder of southeast Utah, but I can understand why famed director John Ford was so enamored with the orange-hued landscape with rock outcroppings that easily dwarf anything man-made.

Last night's meal was simple. I finally achieved a goal for this trek to Kansas, eat at Blake's Lotaburger. I was unable to do so on the first moving trip, with Geodad, as Raton, New Mexico did not have a Blake's. Yet I knew there would be at least one in Farmington. Not only that, but it was located literally next door to our hotel. Green chile. With bite. (I just made every member of the orignial Geofamily salivate.)

Enjoy the pictures and I hope to blog again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Putting the pieces together

The flight was fine. I landed, and this time Geogal and little Geoana were able to meet me right outside the gate area (third time's the charm!).

We headed for Anthem, which is slightly to the north of the greater Phoenix area. This will allow us to get a jump on our road trip this morning, without having to battle the rush hour traffic.

So what's happening? Finally, the Geofamily is a single unit again. All three of us are heading to Kansas. Together. We start the sojourn today by driving through Northern Arizona, across Monument Valley and the Navajo Nation. Tomorrow will feature the Rocky Mountains. Then we will go through the Denver area, pick up my truck from the DIA long-term parking lot, and caravan to the Sunflower State.

All this, and I get to be back at work next Monday! But who cares? I'm so excited to be back with my loved ones that the associated stressors over the past several weeks no longer matter.

And who knows? Maybe just maybe I'll share some pictures in the blog postings to come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Finally, a free moment

Again I am waiting in the Denver airport, but this time the wait is shorter than usual.

After the obligatory five-hour drive from Northwest Kansas, I opted for a sit-down meal in the nicest restaurant in the concourse containing Southwest Airlines. So, time I would normally spend sitting at the gate and reading (or being online) I used to refuel. After going through security I wondered why I felt so exhausted and out-of-it.

Think, Geoguy. It's been a long time since you've eaten, plus you're dehydrated from the drive. The low blood sugar combined with fatigue and "get everything in order before I leave town" mode does not a good combination make.

So, a prime rib sandwich (I was intending to have a steak, but not at those prices--we're talking Ruth's Chris territory with regard to the numbers), and some iced tea means I'm a little more myself now.

Just in time to sit in the plane and relax as much as that environment allows.

Why this trip? I cannot recall if I've blogged about the reason, but I will elaborate in the next post. It won't be long before the plane is ready to board.

More later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I can't be too busy to...


...stop and enjoy a sunset. A Kansas sunset.

I was washing dishes a couple of evenings ago and happened to look up. "How nice," I thought to myself.

After a couple of beats my good sense got the better of me. Get the camera, get the shot. Share it with the readers here.

The dishes could wait.


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Why, oh why, must I continue to be tempted with the iPhone?

I decided some weeks ago that when my current phone dies, I would simply have to go to the local Alltel store and pick out one of their phones. I really want the iPhone, but not as long as AT&T is the sole service provider. Besides, you can't beat Alltel's coverage out here.

Waaaah!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Saturday musings and a restaurant review

I decided to go to McCook, Nebraska today, as I needed to do a little shopping (both food and non-food items) and McCook is the largest retail center in the area. Plus, I didn't feel like driving for most of the day today. Kearney (also in Nebraska) is usually the shopping city of choice, and visited Hays, Kansas a week ago today. (Hays sure did remind me a lot of Seguin, Texas, my mother's hometown. Just why I did I do not know. Maybe some other family members will visit there and let me know if I'm correct or way off base.) But for today McCook will do. Also, I wanted to lunch at a specific eating establishment in that town, Taste of Texas BBQ.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows my affinity for slow smoked meat. I noticed Taste of Texas on a previous visit to McCook and a name like that just invites me in. I remember thinking: "Taste of Texas? Hah! I'll be the judge of that."

Today was judging day. Let me say TOT passed with flying colors. I ordered the two-meat BBQ plate. I chose beef and pork, with sides of cole slaw and fried okra. The meat is served largely dry, just a small dollop of sauce over the topmost meat portions. Which is OK with me, I prefer dry BBQ, as it's too easy to disguise poor quality cooking by drenching it in strong-flavored sauce. The pork was outstanding, with a wonderful smoky flavor and it obviously was rubbed with the right combination of spices. The beef, however, left something to be desired. First, it didn't taste smoky and second, it took a knife to cut. Call me a purist or call me a jerk with a blog, but I think BBQ beef should fall apart. Don't take this to mean the beef was of poor quality (it wasn't) or that I would tell you to avoid it should you visit. I've had better BBQ beef, but what I ate today would certainly satisfy a BBQ craving.

For the sides, the fried okra was served hot (out of the fryer hot) coated with a flavorful batter. If they use this same mixture for their chicken-fried steak, well then I just might have to forgo BBQ altogether on a return visit. The slaw also had merit--it was vinegar-based, tangy but not overpowering. Actually had a somewhat sweet flavor.

I'll be going back.

Truth be told, visiting BBQ joints has become something of a Saturday tradition for me. It started with a trip to Salina, Kansas, about two months ago. I did lunch at the Hickory Hut, which I would recommend. Seven days ago I went to Bar-Q-Cutie in Hays. I saw their ad in the local phone book. I didn't realize it was a chain till I got there. It was good, but something about the place just seemed artificial. Almost as if they are the McDonalds of BBQ in their part of the country.

Driving places, eating BBQ. Rough job, but someone has to do it.

Speaking of BBQ places, I talked to the moving van driver a couple of days ago. He lives in Overland Park, Kansas (which is part of the Kansas City metro area). I mentioned how I heard KC has a BBQ place on every corner. The driver said yes, and he hadn't been to one that was bad yet.

I've got to visit that city! Perhaps it's a good thing I don't live there. I'd balloon up like Diamond Jim Brady.
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Other things. I did watch the Belmont Stakes this afternoon (or evening, to be more accurate). My mind's ear coined a new term. I'll share it here:

"Big Brown pulled a New England Patriots."

Heavily favored, dominating all the others leading up to the Big One, but can't close the deal at the end.
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Do you think Hillary Clinton is the angriest person on the planet right now?

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Back to my activities of the day. I drove the usual way to McCook (U.S. 36 to Oberlin, then head north on U.S. 83). On the way back, however, I chose a different route. I took highways 6 and 34 (one road, dually signed) to Arapahoe, then south to Norton. Why? Because the drive between Norton and Oberlin is about the most dull, straight, and boredom-inducing stretch of road in the area. My return route was much more interesting, following the Republican River valley, tree-studded with plenty of variety in the topography.

Not only that, but I had the leftover BBQ in a container on the passenger floor. Gave a nice aroma to accompany the trip home.

The rest of the story

I didn't expect the mover to arrive that early. But, hey. It's better than sitting around the house wondering where they are and when will they get here.

Overall, the unloading wasn't too tough. The mover and a couple of local helpers did the bulk of the work (and I was guilt free, as Geogal and I were paying nicely for this service). Yet later that day, as I was back in the office, I felt unusually fatigued. Almost as if I had done the physical labor myself. I had forgotten how emotionally and mentally draining a move is, even the positive part of the move.

However there is still the therapeutic effect of having one's belongings in a new place. Still doesn't feel quite like home yet. And it may not ever feel that way. This is a rental. Once Geogal gets here, then we will start seriously considering what and where we will purchase. Then, the feeling of home should take over.

But don't take the above paragraphs as a sign that I am down, or in a melancholy mood. I enjoy the freedom of truly running my own household again. Yesterday morning I boiled water in a teakettle on the gas range, rather than stick a container of water into a microwave (gotta have the hot water for oatmeal, don't you know!). And just a few minutes ago I cooked up some scrambled eggs. Delicious!

And just wait until I get a propane cylinder for the 3-burner Char-Broil beauty that now sits outside the back door. I have missed grilling so much you just wouldn't believe it.

So this weekend will involve a lot of unpacking and organizing. Pain before pleasure!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Changes and adjustment continue

My faithful readers are no doubt fuming over the lack of a post for over a week and a half. But again, remember I have a somewhat hectic life away from this computer keyboard. And that life is even more stressful this week. Ironically, it's the week I've been waiting for for a while now. I'm moving out of my temporary quarters and into a rental house. Finally, space! The luxury of going from room to room. The use of a full kitchen. And the list goes on.

Who am I kidding? I'll be taking these things for granted within a week.

Last night I experienced the sleep of the Unfamiliar Setting. You know the one. Your first night in a new place, unsure of the quality of repose you will experience in the coming hours. Will there be noise? Or any other out-of-the-ordinary things?

Sorry, have to pause this writing. Moving van is here. I'll pick this up later.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Return trip

I'm back in Kansas now. Currently I am in a blissful state of relaxation. The trip is over. I have more time to myself when I'm not working (a mixed blessing). I'm getting my body clock readjusted to Central Time (versus Pacific).

I hear the birds outside and I have some Seattle's Best brewing in the Krups. Life is OK right now.

The plane ride back to Denver was pleasant. Not too full, just about right. The way a Sunday morning flight should be. Not like this. I got to the airport much earlier this time, got the bag checked and cleared security in under 10 minutes.

The rest of the time I spent browsing the Internet and sipping a Starbucks. (About as close to an urbanite as I will be.)

Flight is smooth, nary a bump. Get off plane, call wife, stop at Seattle's Best for another refreshing dose of hot bean juice. Walk casually over to the baggage claim, my suitcase is already on the carousel. Retrieve it, walk out to the curb, and the shuttle bus arrives almost as if on cue.

Does it get any more effortless than that?

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Walking through the Denver airport I begin thinking about one of the many transitions taking place currently. For the past nine years, Sky Harbor has been our jumping-off point and arrival destination for numerous trips (even more for Geogal since she does travel occasionally for her work). Sojourns to Texas, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, Illinois, Georgia, Louisiana, and yes, Colorado.

Time to say goodbye to PHX. I have a feeling that Denver International will be the airport of choice for the most part, unless we are flying east. Then we might opt for Kansas City.

Now we will have to be concerned with snow and ice. It's easy to forget just how spoiled one can be after living in the Arizona desert for so long.

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I tend to have a stiff neck once I get off a plane.

I can't help it. I have such an interest in geography that it's nearly impossible for me to fly and not look out the window constantly to orient myself. Of course, if it's nighttime, if there are heavy clouds, or if we are over water than that's a different story. But for the most part my air travel happens in the southwest. Just yesterday I could pick out the San Francisco Peaks, Winslow, Shiprock, Farmington, Durango, and the distant skyscrapers of downtown Denver
--then I knew we were getting close. Until we turn due north and stay in that direction for some time. (At one point I thought we would be landing in Cheyenne--then the plane turned 180 degrees and I knew we were approaching DIA from the north.)

That is one thing I always will enjoy about air travel. Seeing God's creation from 38,000 feet is sometimes a vista of true beauty. Particularly when one flies over the Rockies and the snow-covered terrain looks so unspoiled.

Sometimes it's almost a shame to be back on the ground and in freeway traffic.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Closure

Took the keys off my keychain.

Packing, getting ready to catch the plane in the morning.

One last opportunity to catch some Arizona rays with Geogal. Sit by pool, sit in spa. Return home feeling slightly warm.

This morning, Geogal is quiet, moody. I ask what is wrong. Her answer: "I just want this house empty and the check in my hand."

Ah, moving.

I'm headed back to Kansas. But Geogal and little Geoana don't come with me. Not this time.

But soon....

Already getting the new owner's mail in the box. That's a good sign things are moving forward, according to our agent.

I'll be heading back to my lonely (when I'm not at work) state, but this time I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

June 17. Got a countdown going.

But for tonight I spend my last night in this house. Tomorrow I leave it forever.

Goodbye, land of the Sonoran Desert, hello High Plains.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Happy Wait

Here I am at DIA, killing some time before the flight.

Scratch that, I'm not killing time, I'm just making some 21st Century use of it.

The last time I was here I had difficulty getting onto the airport's free wifi. (Difficulty? I couldn't get on at all!)

No problem this time. I wonder if they were just having some technical problems some weeks ago. Anyhoo, being able to be online and listen to my iTunes makes the wait go smooth. Plus, I have a book at the ready for when I board the jet. (I don't listen to the iPod in the air anymore. Not until I invest in some noise-cancelling headphones.)

My five-hour-300-mile drive this morning wasn't bad. Sure beats the last time where I was battling gale-force wind and frigid temps, all while trying not to stare at the snowdrifts on the side of the interstate. And trying to put the sight of an 18-wheeler on its side near Goodland out of my mind.

I started early. Really early. Dark early. Didn't encounter any other vehicles for the first hour or so (save for one big rig). In that part of Kansas I learned that if one drives at an early hour, beware of deer. I saw several, fortunately none of them decided to run out in front of me.

I also learned other things on this venture. Colby is a good place to eat breakfast. A few weeks can make a real difference in the weather (see two paragraphs above). Coffee is still my best friend in the morning. And it's easy to dissociate on the stretch of I-70 between Burlington and Limon. Link

No kidding. I was rather out of it. Maybe my lack of sleep catching up with me. Nappy time! No! No! Not behind the wheel! Save it for later, Geoguy, when you're buckled into your Southwest Airlines seat. Maybe the drone of the engines will put me out.

Obviously I kept my state of alertness at the normal level. However that truck stop coffee, courtesy of the Flying J in Limon helped restore my mood and energy.

That's all for now. Time to wrap this up and surf some other sites. Next post will be from sunny Arizona.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Verdant









I'm eating in a local restaurant this evening. I look out the window, and holy moley!

I see green. Lots of it.

(Not that kind of green.)

This is the part of town close to Prairie Dog Creek. Last time I was over here the trees were bare and gray. Not now. Spring is doing its thing.

As a former desert dweller the greenery is still a novelty to me. Never mind, I'm getting the camera. Now I'll stop the narrative and just let the pictures do the telling.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Igniting an ancient desire


I won't make any argument about the effect of environment and culture on a person.

Take me, for example. For years I joked about how I could never hunt. Not that I had any "sissy-man" objection to killing animals. Rather, it was me making fun of my inherited tremors which result in my hands shaking almost constantly. Made exponentially worse by my caffeine intake at any given time. Taking the humor to its logical conclusion I always would comment about my clumsy nature combined with being unable to hold anything steady meant I should never even get near a firearm.

But wait. Now I'm in northwest Kansas, noted for its abundance of pheasant.

And Geodad already has said I am welcome to have his shotgun.

Do I see myself decked out in camouflage this fall?

Most likely yes.

What's fueling this desire to aim birdshot in the direction of fowl is not only the effect of encountering numerous guys (and no doubt some women, too) who hunt the birds but also having no family life at present. This leaves me no real social options during the evenings, so I've been watching the idiot box. Although I cannot stand just about all of the major network programming I do have some cable channels from which to choose. The Outdoor Channel offers a huge selection of hunting programs.

Jeff Foxworthy has a routine about watching fishing shows. Hunting shows are almost as mesmerizing.

Of course, one thing I learn from these shows is that to be a hunter one must have a lot of patience. Given my restless and borderline-hyperactive nature I'll have a tough time waiting, but I think the outdoors experience might just make up for the lengthy inaction.

We'll see. Come fall I might just have a post about bagging a pheasant. I hear they are good eatin'.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Over the Sunday morning coffee



For the past few weeks I've been jotting down different things regarding my transition to small-town life.

And it's small-town life in a small town that a colleague of mine described as "five hours from anywhere."

Since I arrived here in late March, the most-often question I am asked by the folks from Arizona way is: "How is life in that little town?" Often followed by: "How's the weather?" (Answer--right now it is at the freezing mark, with a wind chill of 24 degrees. But the sky is beautiful clear, and it's supposed to hit the mid-70s today.)

I decided now is as good a time as any to provide the answer. I got up early this a.m., did some laundry, and am now enjoying a cup of coffee while a turkey hunting show is on the Versus channel. (I'll blog more about this subject in a different entry.)

My adjustment to this way of life continues to develop. From area-wide power outages that are caused by raccoons (according to the local paper) to church bells that toll hymns at a certain time of day, going from an urban area to a town of 3,000 is, in a word, interesting.

There is a lot of check-writing here. Geogal and I moved away from using the checkbook save for mailing off bill payments several years ago. Folks around here even write checks at restaurants. As for us, we will stick to cash and the debit card.

TV weather forecasters in Kansas use the term "east (or west) of the turnpike." Regarding severe weather so far I've drawn the long straw, as the eastern part of the state seems to have more alerts, warnings, and get-to-shelter admonishments. Some of the locals also tell me that the eastern half of Kansas tends to have more tornadoes then these parts. However the possibility of twisters still is evident. Just about all houses have basements and I already have been through my first tornado watch. (Turns out the thing hit about 35 miles south of here.)

Relaxing and reading the newspaper? Forget it. Remember when I wondered about which papers may circulate out here? Turns out none of those do. The daily periodical most available is the Salina Journal, which is not anywhere close to a thick or loaded paper. The only big-city one around here is the Omaha World-Herald, which varies in its availability (sometimes those vending machines are stocked, sometimes they're not). Speaking of which, these two only come in the racks that require change, so if all you have is the green currency you won't have newsprint on your fingers.

There are no "Ron Paul for President" signs around here. They were friggin' near ubiquitous in the Phoenix area.

You wave at people when you drive. Doesn't matter if you know them or not. And since I drive a pickup, if I encounter a truck with a male behind the wheel, that's an automatic two or three-finger wave.

On the highways, Kansas drivers tend to wave back more than the folks in Nebraska or Colorado.

That's all for now. To sum it up, I want to buy the Little Big Town song "Boondocks" from iTunes. Once you hear the lyrics, you'll understand the culture here just a little better.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Freezing and sweating

Question: When you are looking at your local area radar map on The Weather Channel site, how do you react when you see a large area in blue, and blue is not on their color key?

That actually happened yesterday afternoon. It wasn't far from quitting time and unpleasant meteorological conditions abounded outside. I checked the Weather Channel's site to glance at the local conditions. Let's see, according to the color key shades of green indicate rain, pink to red is any mixture of rain, sleet, and snow (translation: ice), and snow is represented by gray scales.

Just to our west, and headed in the direction of Norton, was a large area of...blue!

Did this signify the Apocalypse?

Turns out no, it in fact was snow. Apparently the nerds manning TWC's Net deal neglected to update that particular map. This was confirmed by a later check of the radar, with blue clearly explained.

Oh well. Still makes for a humorous blog entry. Not too much else was funny about last night. I saw plenty of the white stuff falling from the sky yesterday evening, but it was a wet and quick-moving weather system, so there was no snow accumulation. No snow-covered truck picture this time. However, the weather service still felt it necessary to issue a snow and blowing snow advisory. And the wind WAS wicked. I think the wind chill temp was down in the 20s. (I can still hear my colleagues saying: "Welcome to Kansas, Geoguy!" while they grin.)

At least I wasn't driving to the Denver airport.

_______________________________________

I'm taking care of myself. I just joined a (pause), a......hmmmm.

How do you describe it? It's not a full-fledged gym, not really a health club. Just a small business where I can utilize their exercise machines, free weights, etc.

The small-town version of a fitness club.

And don't misunderstand me. I'm glad it's here. Both Geogal and I were aware of the lack of a YMCA in a town this size. But at least there's someplace to work out.

And since I returned to a regular exercise regimen, my mind and body are thanking me.

Slowly, I am creeping back to normality after a major life upheaval.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

More wandering


I didn't post about my sojourn to Salina, Kansas, mainly because there's just not much to say. I enjoyed the drive! And the topography of central Kansas reminds me a lot of the area of Texas from where my family hails (San Antonio-Austin).

Come to think of it, those places are about the same longitude.

Yesterday I took another lengthy drive, this time into the Only State In The Nation With A Unicameral Legislature. I chose to take the long way to Grand Island, taking U.S. 36 all the way past Smith Center before turning north. Why this route? Two reasons.

One, this was the only direction out of Norton to which I had not yet driven. The highways that approach town from the west, south, and north are now familiar to me. Two, there was something along this route I wanted to visit.

What was it? Click here for the answer.

After I crossed into the Cornhusker State, I noticed an increase in the vegetation and wildlife. Case in point: I was driving along at a reasonable speed and noticed something a little unusual on the right side of the highway.

A wild turkey. He (or she) didn't seem to mind me much.

Immediately afterward, I cross the Republican River and see two deer just right of the highway bridge. Unlike the gobbler, they saw me and made a run for it further down the riverbank.

No wonder so many folks around here enjoy hunting. Hope I get my chance this fall.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Filling in the gaps

Yes, I know it's been over a week since I last posted.

Update: My trip to Chandler was wonderful, albeit a bit short. Sunday morning found Geogal driving me back to the airport. Ever since Southwest Airlines developed their "board by number" regimen I have not felt the urgency to get to the airport way early in order to stake out my place in the "A" line. So I had my two favorite gals accompany me to Sky Harbor.

Pull up to the airport. No problem. After all, it's Sunday morning! Slow time for the airport.

Guess again.

I got suspicious when there seemed to be a whole lot of vehicles at the drop-off area. We finally make our way to the area where I will need to exit. I say my goodbyes, grab my bags, and ignore the long line of folks at the skycap check-in. After all, I'm handling my own bag, it's just one suitcase, no need to do this at the curb.

I head inside the terminal to the baggage check area.

And I nearly defecate a building material.

People everywhere. Southwest's baggage check line is one of the longest I've seen. While it moves along at a good pace I still end up checking my baggage after the 45 minute window before boarding has passed. I see my suitcase get tagged with a yellow "Late Check In" tag, almost as if its a modern-day scarlet letter.

OK, that's done. Wait, I still have to go through security.

I run, yes run, to my gate area, see the long line of people awaiting the indignity to fight terrorism. Heart sinks. Time is passing, and this line ain't moving too fast.

Trudge along. Where did all these people come from? Am I in some weird time warp worthy of the Sci Fi Channel, where it is now actually Monday morning?

No. I strike up a conversation with the fellow in front of me. Turns out there was a NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway the day before and now everyone is trying to get home, back East.

The line still isn't moving at a good clip. I am nearly in panic mode. I've never missed a plane before. Haven't even come close. Today might make up for all that. I think of the serenity prayer used by those in 12-Step groups. While I am not a recovering alcoholic or drug addict, the short discourse can be useful in almost any troublesome situation.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I ask God for serenity, because I sure can't control or change this predicament.

Then He shows His mercy. A Southwest agent begins heading up the edge of the velvet rope, shouting my flight number. I show him my boarding pass, he lets me out of the line and points me to a different security checkpoint.

I get through in less than three minutes.

Then I run for the gate. (All of this airport running reminds me of those old Hertz commercials featuring O.J. Simpson.)

Wait, something's odd here. The gate number written on my ticket looks nearly deserted. I check the TV screen. It's not gate C18, it's C19!!

And they are already boarding.

Thanks to my "A" pass, I get into line in front of the B's and C's. (Hey, checking in early online has its advantages.) But before I head into the jetway I have to confirm this plane is heading to Denver. It is.

I snag a window seat. Cool. My heart rate and respiration are returning to normal. And before we leave the gate, I see another load of luggage ready for loading. I spot my suitcase, replete with that danged yellow tag.

It's on the plane. Now I really rest easy.

The remainder of my day is not noteworthy for anything. I rejoice upon seeing my truck in the long-term parking lot of DIA. It starts right up.

I really breathe easy. Call Geogal to tell her everything's OK.

I'm going back to my old habit of arriving at airports WAAY early for my flight. I can always read or listen to the iPod.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Home, feeling like a visitor



Yesterday morning started out cold, windy, wet, gray, with some snow.

This morning, temps in the 60's, forecast high will be upper 80's, maybe near 90.

That's what driving 300 miles and flying for two hours will get you.

I'm back home, sort of, in Chandler today. I won't go into detail here, but feeling like a guest in one's own home is incredibly surreal. Especially when you barely recognize the place.

One thought I will share: During the slow descent into Sky Harbor yesterday evening, I looked out the window and noticed a ribbon of highway, heavily traveled (headlights are easily visible, even at an altitude of over 20,000 feet).

I immediately identify it: The Beeline Highway. State Route 87, from Mesa to Payson.

That was the first leg of a journey to Kansas. The start of that trip seemed long, long ago. In actuality, it was a little over three weeks ago.

I must be really tired. Today will be a full day, but I have hope it will be restful as well.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Basketball-crazed

Driving around this northwest Kansas town, I notice many folks choose to proclaim their allegiance to their alma mater by some matter of front yard decoration. KU, Kansas State, and Nebraska all have their following here with a numerical edge to the KSU Wildcats.

But this weekend it seems everyone here is a Jayhawk.

Go Kansas!

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I posted a new photo-enhanced blog entry on my sister site. Click on "Breaking In The Truck."

I will do one more Arizona-themed posting with pics, then the blog will focus on Kansas living.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Time to make the changes

Yes, I changed the title (it's hard to comment on things Arizona when you've left the state).

Depending on when the urge hits me, I also will change the overall look of the blog. Evidently there are ways to make the thing more visually appealing. (For example, look at this one I found when I did a Web search to ensure no one else was using the Bucolic Blogger moniker.)

Everyone is asking me about adjusting to a small town, since I moved here from an urban area of over 3 million inhabitants.

The short answer is: "Mostly OK."

I'm not a sophisticated urbanite, not one who quaffs Starbucks products daily, not one who regularly attends symphonies or ballets, not one who is the first to try the latest bistro.

In other words, I am definitely not a male version of the "Sex and the City" characters.

So in that sense my arriving in this area is not jarring. In fact it seems even more fitting to listen to channel 62 on my Sirius radio (The Roadhouse). Classic country. This is one of my favorite presets on the Sirius tuner, but driving in Scottsdale and listening to Hank Williams always seemed an odd combination.

In fact, I didn't think this was possible, but I appear to be adjusting to the cold temps! I just have to remember to dress in layers and warm up my vehicle before heading out for the day. (Having a non-ending supply of coffee at work doesn't hurt either.)

One last thing of note: I have tried two different churches in the two weeks I have been here. Over this past week I had two colleagues point out they saw me at church last Sunday. Not only that, but two others recommended I try another church this coming Sunday. (Know this-- that previous sentence does not have a negative connotation despite how it's written.)

How cool is that?

I have to admit I do miss some things. I'll save that for another post. Time for chips and salsa!!