Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer's here???

After quite a bit of mild temps and rainy days it seems true summer finally arrived here in our part of Kansas.  The forecast calls for temps in the upper 90s with little to no chance of precip for the next several days.  

That's fine with me.  Helps with some things and too much of anything isn't good.  

And it's fun to play the "I lived in the Arizona desert" card with locals.  

Just this morning I was at a local retail establishment and the sales guy made the obligatory comment about our temps and I answered that at least here we do endure warm temps through August/early September then the thermometer starts going way way down.  Which makes summer much more tolerable.  

And anyway, let's remember days like these come January when we're all complaining about the wind chill and covering up any exposed skin.  


I certainly want to share more here than just the weather.  Work still keeps me busy and the child is even more occupied than I.  There was the whirlwind trip to D.C., followed by a week of Discovery Days at Kansas State University (courtesy of 4-H).  Once she returned from that then she did a basketball camp/clinic which led to a weekend tournament in Kearney.  From there she immediately went to 4-H camp after being recruited to be a counselor at the last minute.  

I don't think I even know what she looks like now.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Really Wrapping Up!!

I should never make promises.  

I meant to write yesterday’s entry to be truly a wrap-up to the D.C. trip.  Just some unattached thoughts that didn’t really fit into my recounts of the journey already posted.  

And in my mind’s ear these musings justified only one entry.  

Until I sat down to write the thing late yesterday.  I then realized I had enough material still to do one more blog entry.  

So, I promise, here is the last of the cross-country sojourn.  

I did bring my DTV stick and my MacBook Air with me.  The intent was for me to check into the area’s TV stations should the opportunity arise.  

Yet I didn’t get this chance until the third night.  All of us were back in Northern Virginia (Falls Church) at the Marriott.  I grabbed the trusty radio and headed out to the parking lot.  (Gotta get away from all that wi-fi and other RF noise.)  

My hope was to listen to blowtorch heritage AM stations on the East Coast.  I can’t receive these even at my home listening post almost smack in the center of the contiguous 48 states.  

New York:  WABC.  WCBS.  And others.  

Yes!  770 WABC was well audible.  As was 880 WCBS.  

But my joy didn’t end there.  I also heard 660 WFAN (the old WNBC), 710 WOR, and 1010 WINS.  

I heard a couple of stations from Baltimore but given this market is so close and practically local I wasn’t shocked.  

However one of B-more’s AM stations was broadcasting on 680 which prevented me from hearing Boston’s WRKO.  

And given the time constraints (and my level of fatigue) I didn’t do any research on powerhouses from Philadelphia or any points west of my location.  

I didn’t have nearly as much luck or fun with the TV end of things.  Since my hotel room was pointing away from the Tenleytown area of the District my channel scan yielded nothing worthwhile.  I had to settle for the hotel’s cable-fed feed of the local stations.  With no subchannels.  

Can’t win them all.  

I could sum all of this up by stealing a phrase from our tour guide:  This trip whet our appetite for the nation’s capital.  We are encouraged to come back on our own and spend more time at the places that caught our interest.  

I just might.   

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wrapping Up

Now that the play-by-play detail of the Washington D.C. trip is posted I will share some last thoughts.  After this, it’s back to the trite accounts of the mundane life I live.  

Was it nice to recall some memories from early childhood?  Sure.  My recollections of living in Vienna, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland are overall pleasant.  

Visiting our nation’s capital as an adult versus the things I remember from decades past?  Well, when we went to the Lincoln Memorial I recall Lincoln being much bigger.  The National Mall was a bit different in years past and the war memorials didn’t exist way back when.  

I remember a lot from the young years but not everything.  After returning to the Sunflower State I had a phone conversation with Mom and Dad.  They told me I have been in the capitol itself and even watched the Senate while in session.  I also ate in the Senate cafeteria.  Sadly I don’t remember either.  I’m sure our family drove down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of a certain house whose color is white numerous times but I don’t have specific recall of those car trips.  

Then there’s the family-famous story of Dad’s attempt to get The Perfect Picture.  He kept backing up and backing up until Mom mumbled: “Your father’s going to step back just a little too far and fall right into the Reflecting Pool.”  

Dad stopped just short.  

Traveling via a luxury coach (that was well air-conditioned) was a plus.  For a few days I was willing to give up my independence and control for the convenience.  But after returning home I gladly again enjoyed getting behind the wheel.  

I ended the last entry with my going down to crash on the queen bed in guest bedroom.  When I woke some three hours later it took me well over a minute to get my bearings.  

That hasn’t happened since I-don’t-know-when.


Now, esoteric broadcast/technical stuff that no one really cares about:

Although the Geohouse family ventured across the Mississippi River into a small smidge of Wisconsin last summer this journey to D.C. and Virginia was also noteworthy for me in that I was in the territory of broadcast stations that use “W” as the first call letter.  

First time since leaving Baltimore to move to Houston.  

I enjoyed the view of the Windy City (out of the airplane window) on the first leg of the trip.  Yet just as exciting was firing up the radio once I had some breakfast in front of me.  However since airports nowadays have so much RF the reception isn’t the best.  Chicago’s powerful AM stations (670, 720, 780, and 890) came in acceptable but the lesser-endowed Ancient Modulation stations weren’t so audible.  

Then I switched to FM.  Sadly with corporate ownership they sounded much like the stations I can hear in any city.  One exception was WFMT, still playing classical music in the commercial part of the dial.  At the time they were playing Ravel’s “Bolero,” certainly a memorable tune.  One by which I can enjoy my sustenance of corned beef hash and eggs.  Washed down with orange juice.  

I didn’t begin listening to the District’s stations until much later in the day when we were on the road to Williamsburg.  Nothing too interesting on the AM dial, then I just got plain sleepy and put the device away.  

But not before tuning in to 1500, once the home of news station WTOP, one of the heritage stations of the area.  It’s now WFED and information I read online indicates its programming is targeted to federal employees.  

Just like everything else associated with the government, this station was colossally boring.  I didn’t need to be put to sleep like that.  

More to follow….    

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Day Four! (Get 'er done!)

Last day!

By this time I have the morning routine down. Wake up early, shower, dress then get downstairs and grab a coffee. Also, packing this morning was easy because later today it's the flight home.

I travel light normally anyway, so packing and unpacking during this trip was no issue at all.  And unlike yesterday morning the bus was right on time.

On this rainy morning it's off to Mount Vernon. This is another place I remember visiting as a child—for that trip we actually caught a boat all the way to Washington's home. Fortunately since we are going against the traffic we made good time and picking up our guide didn't take long at all. Unfortunately the rain does not let up and it's unpack the rain ponchos and umbrellas before you get off the bus.

Fortunately for us we get a chance to tour the mansion. After that it was walk downhill a ways (a muddy ways) and visit the grave of George and Martha. After that our group had a choice to either return with our tour guide to the main museum or go down further to the farm area. I chose to go with a group going down to the farm. Even though we got rained on the entire walk for me it still is better than being in the museum with wall-to-wall people.

However you go back up the hill and you do wind up in the museum. How many student groups such as ourselves were there?  Answer: a whole lot.

I did look at a lot of the exhibits and before I knew it was time for group to meet up. The rain let up a little by this time but we still needed our wet weather gear. I stop keeping track of how many luxury coaches we walked by before we got to our bus.  It was well over 20.

Then shake everything out and it's off to the Air and Space Museum.  Problem was, since today was rainy there were a whole lot of people in this place. Yet I still had fun!  Not only did I get to see several historic aircraft and spacecraft but I got to spend a fair amount of time with my own child, something I hadn't done the whole trip. I tried my best to get pictures of the truly historic items but with remodeling some of those were on the ground and it was simply hard to get a good picture. Case in point: Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1 jet.

But not all of the items were difficult:

After standing in the longest line for a meal I can ever remember, Geoana and I enjoyed a meal of roasted Boston Market chicken.  Once that was over it was time for us to head out the door and hotfoot it down to meet the bus. And before we go out the door, yes rain ponchos go back on.

Fortunately the rain did let up a bit so our several-blocks walk down the National Mall wasn't as unpleasant as it could've been. We got to the bus with no problem and then it was off to Reagan National Airport.

From that point forward it's the same old routine.  Get tickets check baggage go through TSA and then wait. Since we are flying American Airlines at least the seats are assigned. Then I’m delighted to learn I have a window seat.  Then I’m crestfallen when I realize the weather won’t allow me to see anything once we climb.  

Sure enough, I get a good view of the Pentagon right before clouds envelop our aircraft.  Then I don’t see anything other than the tops of nimbus cumuli until we are over Arkansas.  

Our landing is somewhat historic/meaningful for me.  Since we are on American the airport is DFW.  

In all my years of Texas residency, Texas visits, and Texas family-and-friends connections I have never flown into or out of the largest airport in the state.  Going through this area I always was on Southwest Airlines so the airport of stops and connections was Love Field.    

Once I mentally note my arrival here it is then time to deplane and seek out sustenance.  Since this is The Lone Star State I am specific about my wants:  Tex-Mex or BBQ.  

I hit pay dirt with the latter.  The terminal houses a Dickey’s BBQ Pit.  The child and I enjoy sliced brisket with some really good sides.  

It's time to wait. And wait. And wait some more.  We were originally supposed to be here only an hour. But before we left D.C. our head teacher found out we all were bumped to a later flight tonight.

So when do we pull out of the gate?  20 minutes before midnight.

Here's another first for me. I slept on an airplane. I have flown red-eye flights before but was awake just about for all of them. I might drop off a few minutes here and there but nothing I will ever call sleep. But this flight we take off, climb, and I decide to rest my eyes.  Next thing I know a fair amount of time has passed.  I decide “hey this isn’t too bad” so I rest the eyes a little more.  

When I open them again it seems we're descending, sure enough the lights of Omaha are visible.  Nothing too exciting after that, get off the plane, get the baggage, wait for our bus to take us back to Northwest Kansas. 

I'm happy to say the bus ride back, even though it also was in the middle of the night, found this guy asleep. That's right!  Get on the freeway in Omaha and again I make the effort to rest my eyes.  By the time I open them were already on the other side of Lincoln. I do that routine of couple more times

Then the next thing I know we're a little over an hour from home. I do stay awake after that but one of the best sights I saw this trip was Geogal in the school parking lot waiting for her two beloved ones.  Arrival time back at the school?  6:05 a.m.  

After getting to the house I head downstairs to the guest bedroom bed.  (The gals decide to chat in the master bedroom.)  

And begin what would be several days of catching up on needed sleep.