"This file contains all our newsletters from January 2006 !

Sunday, 31 January 2006

Hi !!

    I made it! I'm still here! I'm alive for yet another year! Yippee!

    Well, we had a nice New Year's Day. Dale cooked a Big turkey, all the trimmings, etc. Karen, Chuck, Tracey, Alana, Mike, Dale and me! I think that Tracey, Mike and Alana left on the 4th. We drove them to the Myrtle Beach airport and saw them off. Myrtle Beach's airport is like those on the Hawaiian islands - small and easy to enter and exit!

    On the 12th of January Dale and I drove down to the condo in Florida, where we'll stay until at least the end of March. I try to drive back up to Myrtle Beach to check on the house every 4-5 weeks, and will do so next week (3-6 Feb) since I think we have a small leak in the roof above the kitchen. Probably a gasket around a vent pipe needs to be calked.

    Unfortunately it has been quite chilly down here -- all month, so we haven't done much of the normal "Florida things" like go to the beach, or swimming pool, or take the boat out, etc. I got a bad ear infection right away when we arrived. My left ear was all swollen up, painful, etc. Doctor gave me prescriptions for penicillin (horse pill size!) and some costly eardrops (from Spain) but it still took over two weeks for everything to go away!

    Joe and Sharon King came down for a visit 14-21 January. Their son Jason was visiting a friend of his in Ft Meyers at the same time, and other mutual friends were in Tampa, so we all arranged to get together. Jason and his buddy drove up to Tampa in the buddy's truck, and were on their way back to visit us when the truck's rear end disintegrated. He got a tow truck and went back to Ft Meyers. Jason, Melissa and her mother visited with us for the afternoion and we then drove Jason back to Ft Meyers since his airplane took off from there the next morning. Jason told us that the beaches by Englewood, south of Venice (FL), were loaded with seashells, something we haven't had on our beaches for years. So, we drove on down and visited Manasota Key where, sure enough, we had a lot of fun picking up colorful shells. Apparently those beaches are also full of fossilized sharks' teeth, and we talked to one man with a metal "sand sifter" who showed us a vial full of sharks' teeth that he had found that morning. Since that day we have visited a few other beaches and islands, such as Casey Key's Nokomis Beach, which also has quite a lot of shells along its shoreline.

    We've only been able to make it to our favorite restaurant once since we've arrived. The Thai O Cha (Thai Restaurant) just has some great (tasty/hot!) food!

    The Real Estate prices around here risen to the high $400 thousands!!! We have a glazed look on our faces!! One unit two doors down is for sale at $487,500 and the other is $459,000! Soon it will be over a half million. If we wanted to sell we'd be in good shape, but all I can think about is how high our tax bill would rise if we weren't protected by a 3% (or so) yearly cap in how high it can rise.

    Received bad news from Italy. Our friend Gilda has a rare form of Cerebral Palsy and it is probable that she won't be able to work again. Her daughter Enza came back to Brindisi (the city on the heel of the boot) to stay with her for a few months, and her son Davide, a policeman in the Naples area was then able to get a temporary transfer to Brindisi, and he is caring for her right now. Enza has asked for a permanent transfer to her company's store ("Motivi") in Brindisi so that she can continue care for Gilda. She should know the answer soon.

    We brought Dale's laptop computer down (I gave it to her for Christmas) and we found that there are anywhere from two to four unsecure wireless networks active simultaneously within range of our condo (the laptop can "hear" their signals, and access them from our lanai). The signals aren't very strong but often we can connect to one of them and access the Internet at high speed, for nothing. Owners of the wireless equipment could set up their router for secure network operation (enciphered) and no one would be able to "share" (e.g. "take") their bandwidth, but most people don't know enough to do so. Anyway, I went to Circuit City, bought a USB Wireless adaptor for this desktop and hooked up my desktop computer to one of the wireless networks too. That way I don't have to use the Netzero.com (slow dial-up) if/when the wireless networks are active.

    I also bought a DVD burner/drive to add to my desktop computer and it works great! I've already burned a couple of discs for a friend.

    My friend and former Kailua neighbor in Hawaii, Joan Pacheco, stopped using Compuserve and was finally able to access my web site! Apparently Compuserve provides its own browser which didn't like my HTML code ("frames") and would freeze up her computer. Now she has YAHOO.com and everything displays just fine!

    My brother Mike and his fiance Pei were in Hawaii for a vacation. THIS TIME (he visited Oahu before) he called Tracey and from the short note I received from Tracey, they had a good time. Tracey accompanied them over to the Big Island for a day trip (Tracey). Mike said that they "did all the usual stuff": Diamond Head, Atlantis submarine, Polynesian Cultural Center, the magic show at Wakiki, Sunset Beach, island tour in a mustang convertible, Chinatown with a friend of Pei's, etc. He'll be snowmobiling in 2 weeks in Maine, if they get any snow. I haven't heard any more from any of them about the trip (HINT HINT!

    I finally bought one of those printer ink refill kits, and it works beautifully. From now on, instead of paying the ungodly-high prices the printer companies suck out of you for replacement ink cartridges, I plan to just refill my own for about $8 a refill (instead of $30 or more for a replacement cartridge)!

    The condo complex needed to replace all the shingles on our four buildings (plus a few rotten boards underneath) and the hammering, scraping and banging has been going on monday-friday - nonstop. The Mexican workforce seems to be very good at their jobs, and they are fearless as they trapse around the edges of the multiple/tiered rooflines we have. The roof repairmen started on our building last week and are almost finished. Lots of nails and debris everywhere, each day, but they pick everything up before they leave. One guy drags a huge rectangular magnet on wheels over the roof and the lawn (they also have a net covering most of the lawn). The magnet picks up all the nails that popped out as they tear up the old shingles. This guy also WALKS through the nails first while he drags the magnet behind him. His boots must be full of nails!

    Right now I'm trying to catch up on all the 35mm pictures I've taken over the past few years and stuffed into boxes! I am now going through the boxes, labeling the pictures and getting them ready to mount them in albums. It took me three days to go through my 2002 pictures, and two more to write descriptions for each picture in a computer text file. I then printed the information onto sticky labels. The tough part was remembering dates and occasions (what to write on the back of the photo). Luckily, between our copies of old Christmas letters, the news/letters we've posted on our web site (like THIS letter), and my digital pictures (which I label when I upload them to the web site!), I've been able to ascertain "what's what", but it is slow going! I still have to put the 2002 pictures INTO the album. Then I have 2003-2006 to do ;-)

    Mike Sipe and his wife and kids are going to Hawaii. I just sent them Tracey's address etc.

    Well, that's it for January!

Dad & Mom/Barry & Dale