"This file contains all our news for
November 2005
<--- Driven To Drink, Barry Awaited Dale's Return From Louisiana on 11 November!

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

    Just a quick note to "finish off" this November file. We left Bradenton on the 22nd. Once again it was a leisurely drive (for me; Dale doesn't enjoy long drives) of just less than ten hours, including stops. On Thanksgiving, the 24th, we went out to a Myrtle Beach restaurant with Karen & Chuck, along with his parents who came down from Tennessee. Afterwards we had a nice walk on the beach. Lots of sunshine and col breezes, but not cold!

    I finished converting all my home movies to DVDs and have now started to convert my large collection of TV tapes and movies (VHS tapes) to DVDs also.

Luv, Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale


Monday, 21 November 2005

    Well, Dale did return after bouncing around Louisiana churches and stadiums for three weeks with the Red Cross. She made a valiant effort to stay awake -- after pulling three weeks of night shift duty, followed by little to no sleep during the day (talkative day workers) -- until finally she succumbed to sleep somewhere in the mid-late PM. But she's been napping ever since, usually at all hours of the daytime (!!), and paying for it with the solitude of 3:00AM, wide-eyed awakenings! She finally resorted to Ambien (sleep pill) to try and get back to a normal lifecycle. Her local Red Cross office tried to entice her with yet another, immediate deployment to Miami, but she told them her husband was blubbering too much, so she couldn't take the assignment  

    We're now in Bradenton. We came down on Wednesday the 16th for only a week, since we want to spend Thanksgiving with Karen & Chuck (& Chuck's parents) in Myrtle Beach and this was the only "window of opportunity" for a while. I also needed to check on the boat, since Hurricane Wilma came through a few weeks ago. Sure enough, two of the lines holding the boat to our dock were almost in shreds, and part of the canvas (side windows) had been ripped off (stitching popped) by the heavy winds. We'll be going back to Maryland to visit Kathy, Tom & Jessica on 6 December. We'll both attend the NSA/A5 Reunion at Blob's Park on the 7th, and on the 9th I'll go to the NSA "T" Reunion while Dale attends the Phoenix Society Luncheon. Then it's back to Myrtle Beach for Christmas. We plan to return to Bradenton sometime around the 15th of January and stay for 3-4 months. I'll probably make at least one or two trips back to check on the Myrtle Beach house during that time.

    We have six manatees (sea cows) in our canal! They've been "frolicking" like whales (4 or 5 males after 1 or 2 females) for days, breeching and twisting and wrestling and ...... whatever. Yesterday and today they seem to be moving around much slower (probably all tuckered out)! At the same time the water levels in the canal, Palma Sola Bay and the nearby Gulf of Mexico have been very low. The water levels in the bays behind the barrier islands such as Anna Maria, Longboat Key, Siesta key, etc, are not very deep to begin with, and at low tide much of the Palma Sola Bay bottom is just a few feet deep. That's something I never realized before I got our boat. When you view the bays from the shore, the water extends for miles, and you don't realize that it is mostly shallow. At low tide the channels are bordered by mud flats that are covered with water, but the water is only a few inches to a foot or so deep! During the summer things are much better as the tides are higher and anyone with a small boat and outboard engine can zip just about anywhere they like. I still have to make sure I'm in the designated channels since my boat has a three foot draft; at least until I reach the deeper water of the Intracoastal Waterway and then out into the Gulf of Mexico.

    I was planning to take the boat out for a spin today , to charge up the batteries for an hour or two. A couple of days ago I made multiple "runs" to the local Citgo station to fill up my two five-gallon plastic gas containers and transferred the fuel to the boat. It's much cheaper to do that than buy gas at a local marina. This afternoon Dale, our friend Pat Weiler and I trecked on down to the dock. This morning was beautiful with lots of sunshine. By the time we got on the boat the southwestern sky had tunred very dark gray and the winds picked up like a tropical sotrm, pushing those omminous-looking low clouds along at a very fast clip. Then came the rain. That was three hours ago and no change expected in the weather, so it looks like the batteries will just have to "make do" until January. I did run the engine for about 30 minutes two days ago so perhaps that will help.

    It's been great to be home (Bradenton) again. Once again we have more to bring back to Myrtle Beach than we brought down with us, so tomorrow I'll be packing the PT Cruiser for a few hours! The cat's travel carrier fits perfectly behind the rear seat and the hatchback. We put a quilt over the top and leave the door open so she can move around if she wants but she usually prefers to stay inside the cage where she feels protected. Every so often she'll venture out and even sit on top of the quilt, watching the world zip by at 80 (ahem! 55-70) mph. We have a portable litterbox tray right outside the cage door, and she does use it!

    Okay! I'm going back to the boat now. I need to flush the engine with fresh water so it doesn't corrode from the salt water inside for the next two months.

Luv, Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale


Sunday, 06 November 2005

    Dale returns from her Red Cross volunteer job in Louisiana this Friday (11 Nov). The cat will be glad to see her; she's missed her so much     Our friends from Ellicott City, Maryland, Sue & Don Smith, are scheduled to arrive in Myrtle Beach today for a golf vacation. They will stay with us for a day and night, starting on 12 Nov, as well as other friends in the area. I guess I'll have to clean up the house and get rid of the trash (but what if she won't go?)  

    I've been a hermit these last weeks that Dale has been in Louisiana, mostly staying in the house and working on the computer from morning until late at night (or even into early the NEXT morning!). It's like it was in the 1970's when NSA trained me to program real-time computers and I spent so much time deeply focused on programming code that I would lose all sense of time. That's been how it's been as I convert my VHS library to DVDs. It takes a long time to do each tape. I have to play the original tape at normal speed, so an hour of video takes an hour to copy to the computer. Then it takes about 30-40 minutes or more to transcode the audio from PCM to Dolby 5.1, convert the video to MPEG-2 (8Mbps), add titles and menus, and merge it all into the DVD formats so it plays well. Of course I also get to see things I haven't seen in a long time, such as granddaughters Jessica and Alana as babies, toddlers, etc. and lots of Hawaii trips, with great musicians and scenery. Also to enjoy shots of old friends who have passed on. Only four more Sony cassette videos to go and I will have ALL my home movies converted to DVDs!