Happy Thanksgiving !!

"Crotty News" Postings for: November 2006 !

We're traveling to New England this month !!

    Yep, after two years of interrupted travel plans, we will be in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire from the 19th to the end of this month or even a few days into December! We'll be in Florida from the 4th to the 8th and then back to Myrtle Beach before heading to Malden, Massachusetts for my 45th High School Reunion. We've decided to make a mini-vacation of it. We wanted to go in the Summertime or early Fall these last two years but, what the heck, we'll be happy to see our old haunts, old friends and especially family, even if the weather will be a bit colder!

    01 Nov - I've been trying to have video session on my computer, using AOL's Instant Messenger program (IM) with Tracey in Honolulu but there seems to be some Firewall setting that has us both stumped. So, on her suggestion, I downloaded a FREE program called SKYPE (www.skype.com). It was very easy to download and set up, and the sound and video quality is unbelievably good. You right click on your screen display and you can choose (and move quickly between) a full screen display, an 8x8 inch display and/or a 6x6 inch display. It also displays a window-in-window option that lets you see yourself in a small window, as well as displaying the one you talk to in the larger screen display. This is all free. If you want to use it as a telephone service, you can pay Skype a relatively small per-call fee to hook up your Internet call to a local phone line near whomever you are calling, in whatever country you want. But you don't have to sign up for that service. You can just use Skype for Internet video/chat (like IM) etc. It's a GREAT program. Tracey and Alana came in crystal clear in the 6x6 and 8x8 displays and very good resolution in the fullscreen mode. I recommend this program to everyone. If you download it and want to give me a call, my username on SKYPE is "U812barry" (same as I use on AOL's IM).

    02-03 Nov - We're on our way to Florida and stopped overnight at the Brickyard Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, SC, to visit with our old friend Carl Klele. Carl has a new boat, so we went down to the marina to take a look. Nice, warm day too! His previous boat was beautiful and the new one (called the "See Ya II") is even nicer, as well as being much bigger! We're invited to return in warmer weather and take a cruise with him and Jerry: southward past Charleston to the Beauford area!

    04 Nov - Left Mt. Pleasant, SC, on the 3rd and had an easy drive to Bradenton. We're now at the condo! I tried to turn on my E-Machines desktop computer when we arrived and --- NOTHING! I brought it to Circuit City today and the power supply is dead. They can't fix it before we leave so I will be bringing it back to Myrtle Beach with us (it's under warranty until 2008). Luckily we have Dale's laptop and we're piggybacking on someone else's unsecured (not enciphered) Wi-Fi network signal so we can get Internet access when the Wi-Fi router's broadcast signal is strong enough to reach into our condo. Actually there are several Wi-Fi broadcasts in the area and at least half of them are unsecured, so sometimes we have our choice of two or three networks to link up to the Internet.

    07 Nov - It's Election Day here (Tuesday). I must admit that after years of supporting the Republicans and despising certain Democrats, I just cannot take Bush and his stubborness about Iraq anymore. Letting American troops get picked off one by one every day, while that bushy-bearded "al-Sadr" and his Mahdi Army enjoy the protection of his buddy, the current Iraqi prime Minister, is the last straw!!! I don't give a crap if the Sunnis and Shiites kill each other off in a civil war. It's a hell of a lot better than hamstringing our own troops, spreading them so thin that the enemy has free rein to kill civilians and our guys at will! Our troops need to be able to maneuver quickly, 24 hours a day, to overwhelm opposition wherever it pops up. Keeping our troops inside compounds at nighttime while the enemy freely runs around setting bombs and death squads having no opposition as they kill their own people is just ridiculous! It truly is just like Vietnam! If you're in a war, you fight it to win, with overwhelming force, not give them an equal chance. Kill them before they take over an area. Bush says that he wont do anything different so we dang well wanted to send him a message. We voted for the Democrats because that only gives them two years in power before the real elections are held (Presidency). I'm hoping that with Democrats controlling the House and Senate that the Administration will wake up and stop farting around. If Bush can finally act constructively to either win this flippin' war or let the Iraqi insurgent bastards kill each other, then perhaps the GOP will make enough of a comeback to win one of the Houses of Congress. It seems to me that the only time we have a real national government is when the political parties are evenly matched and have to work with each other to take middle of the road actions instead of these wild swings towards conservatisim or liberalism. Unfortunately, neither party understands the concept of balance and moderation when they win. They go to extremes, and now the Democrats will probably swing the pendulum way to the left.

    The local unsecured Wi-Fi networks around here seem to have gone underground lately, but I just fired up Dale's laptop and got a signal (hot spot) for Internet connectivity. We'll be driving back to Myrtle Beach tomorrow. I've taken apart my desktop computer here, including the large computer desk that I had it sitting on, and will bring the whole deal back to MB. The bedroom looks a lot larger now that the computer desk is gone, so maybe that will be a selling point for potential buyers. It's been real nice down here - low 80s and sunshine every day. We had about two hours of rain today but it's sunny again! I started my boat up and ran it for an hour to charge the batteries. Runs good.

    09 Nov - drove back to Myrtle Beach yesterday. Takes about ten hours with a couple of "stops"; nine hours driving time. Today and tomorrow will be "down time", getting our stuff put away and generally taking it easy after all the exertion it takes to be retired ;-)

    11 - 14 Nov - Dale continues to volunteer at the local Red Cross office and puts in quite a good number of hours even with all our traveling back and forth. She really likes the work and the people, and they sure like her too! She has been taking Red Cross courses via the Internet, using her laptop computer. One of these days she'll be the Red Cross bigwig you see on TV when a disaster strikes! The 11th was in the 60s and low 70s, nice and warm, but some really cold weather on the way, so I pulled all my hot peppers and tomatoes out of the garden, and am now freezing the peppers. I spent the 14th transplanting a lot of canna plants (roots/rhyzomes). They had really grown thick and high -- 6-7 feet tall -- along my side garden and really needed to be thinned out. Since I was already "playing in the dirt" I ended up spending the entire day doing yard work: trimming bushes, trees, roses, etc. My little red truck is now filled to the gills and I will have to make a run to the dump tomorrow. The yard looks neat now -- surprising, since I was pretty satisfied with the way it looked before, but after cleaning and trimming everything, it looks so much nicer. I hurt my back trimming a dead branch off our tall gum tree (broken during the hurricanes last year!). It still hurts, and I have no idea exactly how I hurt it or when it happened. It'll hurt for a few days and then go away. Oh well.

    I can hardly believe it but, after all this time, I was able to recover many digital pictures that I took at the NSA/A5 Reunion last December !! My 64MB CompactFlash card failed when I tried to download the pictures I took on that trip, and I thought I had lost everything. I put the card away, and ended up buying a new digital camera with a 1GB card and have not used the old camera since then. Yesterday an old NSA friend tipped me off to a freebie download for a program that recovers "lost" photos on digital cards. I just tried it tonight and it worked!!!!

    19 Nov - Departed Myrtle Beach for our trip to New England. Drove to Lake Gaston, NC, and stayed overnight with our friends Sue & Tom Peterson. Great hospitality as per usual (Thanks guys! :-) and a great way to divide a long trip into enjoyable portions! They had their driveway paved since we were there and it sure looks great! I remember when we had ours done in Woodbine and it sure made a big difference.

    20 Nov - Left the Peterson's in the morning and took some pictures of the many cotton fields that abound in that part of North Carolina. Apparently cotton isn't picked just in the heat of summer as I always thought. Made it to Mt. Airy, MD, at dinnertime so we stopped at a favorite restaurant, the Olive Leaf, before driving on to Kathy & Tom's.

    21 Nov - Visited Dale's mother at the nursing home in Columbia, MD. She is healthy, but time is taking its toll on her appearance and she looks so much older. She hasn't recognized anyone in years but the nurses dress her and have up every day, seated in a chair in the hallway where she can see everything going on; but not much of a reaction from her. She did flash a quick smile when Dale gave her a kiss! In the afternoon we went out Christmas shopping at the Glen Burnie Mall and Marley Station with Kathy, Tom & Jessica, and had dinner at Don Pablo's in Columbia.

    22 Nov - Off to the North we go! Dale's little PT Cruiser actually does wonderfully well at highway speeds around 75-80mph! The automatic transmission must have one heck of an overdrive because it doesn't strain at high speeds at all. We arrived in the late afternoon and stayed at a motel on Route 1 in Peabody, very close to Danversport, where Barry's High School Reunion was being held, and not far from Malden and several other places we wanted to see while we were "home".

    23 Nov - Thanksgiving with Dot & Paul at their house (MUCHO Thanks)!! Mike & Pei were there, as well as Pei's son David, Grandniece Courtney and her boyfriend Oswaldo (whom we were meeting for the first time). Paul has lost LOTS of weight and looks great. I better get busy or he'll take over my spot as the good-looking one in the family ;-) Of course I decided to go on a diet AFTER I ate everything. Yum!

    24 Nov - We drove down to Bridgewater to see Janie & Ed. Janie was Maid of Honor at our wedding back in 1962. Her husband Ed is a retired doctor and they've just decided to sell their place in Florida and return to live with their daughter and son-in-law, who is building a beautiful apartment in the house for them! Their new "digs" are in a gorgeous neighborhood, with a huge swimming pool, and massive, mature trees, etc. We're so happy for them! They even have a new addition to the family - a cute little white dog (see our November photos). They took us on a grand tour of the Bridgewater area and the thing that interested me the most was all the cranberry bogs. I've seen pictures but never saw them in person and they are really colorful! The local restaurant also has the best onion rings I've eaten since I was a teenager: onions cut thinly, lightly battered and deep-fried so they're cooked, but still soft (not rock solid). Mmmmm! Mmmm! Good!

    That evening Mike & Pei took us to see a live performance of the Blue Man Group at the Charles Playhouse in Boston. It's been a very long time since I've been to any live performances and it sure was unusual, to say the least. The first several rows of the audience had to dress in plastic raincoats (provided by the theater) to protect themselves from all the bright liquid spatter being poured onto large drums while the performers, who never spoke, created drum rolls with large paddles. The music was also produced by other instruments, such as an unbelievable collection of what appeared to be white PVC pipes glued together into pipe organ-like designs and which changed pitch whenever a performer placed his hand inches above the pipe openings. Musicians playing bass and electric guitars were aperiodically visible in a room above the stage, with ultraviolet or black light spotlights highlighting the iridescent colors of their costumes. At the end of the performance the audience was almost drowned in thousands of feet of toilet paper (unused, thank God ;-) which were uncoiled from rollers at the back of the room and pulled ever-forward by successive rows of the audience themselves, until you could hardly move! A "different experience" for sure! (I think I liked it ;-)

    25 Nov - Barry's 45th Malden High School Reunion, Class of 1961. Held in the lower level of the Danversport Yacht Club, we were wondering if it would be cancelled because there had been a huge explosion just across the water only a few days before (page one news in the Boston Globe and surrounding communities' newspapers)! Luckily the only damage to the Yacht Club was a fallen chandellier. Unfortunately only a few of our close friends attended this year, and they already were at fully-packed tables. We did get to reacquaint ourselves with some nice people though. In addition, one of our friends from our Forestdale (Malden) neighborhood showed up late and we had a very good time reminiscing with him ("Freddie Alter"). A few days later, while we were in New Hampshire, we saw him on cable TV surrounded by a bevy of beauties as he advertised a sale at his jewelry store! What an unexpected surprise!

    26 - 27 Nov - Time to leave the carefree days of hotel living! We packed the car and headed even further north to Kittery, Maine, where we arrived at Uncle Bob's place just as he and his friend Dot Kraft were walking up the steps! Bob met Dot at his local church a few months ago. Dale and I liked her right away. We all went to a really great restaurant in Kittery called Cap'n Simon's, right on the waterfront with a great view of the bay and the islands, etc. Later Dot invited us all to her house, a nice place with a huge lawn and winding driveway, near the waterfront. She hopes to sell it and move to a smaller home she has found. (Since our trip she did sell the house, bought the nice little place and she, Bob and friends from the church have been moving her belongings to the new house)! The next day, the 27th we drove around Kittery Beach, on up to York Beach, the Nubble Lighthouse and further north through a lot of small picturesque towns. York Beach is where our former Woodbine neighbors, the Gallaghers, visit most summers. In the 1950's my parents used to bring Paul and I to the Horgan's summer place at York Beach (the Horgans lived on Kimball street across from my parents). The water is very cold so I didn't like swimming there but it was a really nice place to visit.

    27 Nov - 01 Dec - We got a late start on our drive from Uncle Bob's in Kittery, ME to Freedom, NH, and arrived after dark. We didn't get directions in advance to Alice & Charlie's home because we thought we'd just call them on our cell phone when we got close. Unfortunately there is no Sprint cell phone tower anywhere near them so our phones were "dead". At last I was able to convince my cell phone to acquire a faint analog signal and reach Alice to get some directions before the line went dead again. Of course, with an overcast sky, no moonlight, and no streetlights, we passed right by the landmarks she gave us, and traveled another ten miles past their road before we turned around, and slowly made our way back. For the next few days, as Alice & Charlie showed us the sights, we could exclaim as to how we had passed "that place", "that lake" or "that sign" the other night on our great arrival-adventure!

    Now, we wish to claim credit for bringing the fair weather with us to New Hampshire! Expecting temperatures in the "teens" instead we had very pleasant, 60-degree sunny days. The nights weren't bad either but I was sleeping until mid-morning so I'm not a good source for that particular weather report, but I'm told that they were above average temperatures ;-) Anyway, Alice & Charlie are just-like-us: we like to wake up whenever our internal clocks gently nudge us to conciousness; not by an alarm banshee! Lake Ossipee is very close by their house and they have a great community beach nearby too. Add the fact that they have a pontoon boat and you can see that we absolutely MUST come back in the summertime! They just retired last April and have winterized and expanded their wonderful cabin as a permanent residence. Everything is wood - big beams, beautiful floors and walls, and of course a potbellied stove in the corner.

    Alice and Charlie took us to wonderful places, many of which we we hadn't seen since we were teenagers: stopping in myriad, small New Hampshire towns, where we often meandered through the shops; a beautiful covered bridge over the Saco River; Ski resorts at Loon Mountain and Bretton Woods; Mt. Washington; and all along the Kangamangus trail with its natural, weathered rock, swimming chutes and pools (cold, mountain stream) where we had taken our english friend, Steve Graham many years ago! On the 29th we drove to Meredith, NH to see Dale's Aunt Hilda and Uncle Russ, and their son Russ. They have been coming down to stay in son Russ's condo in New Port Ritchey, Florida, for the past few years and we would drive up to visit them. Unfortunately Aunt Hilda's health this year precludes such a trip but they both are well and being looked after by "Russie", who lives across the street from them (right on Lake Winnepesauke)!! After visiting with them we drove into Meredith itself for a great late lunch at Mame's Restaurant and then ambled around Meredith stores. Meredith is situated on the shoreline of Lake Winnepesauke so the views are really beautiful. As a kid I can still remember being there in summertime and seeing the Chris Craft inboard speedboats that docked near the Weirs and would take tourists for a ride. An idyllic New England locale!

    We reluctantly packed up and started the long drive back to Myrtle Beach on 01 December (see News menu for December). Thanks for a great time guys!

Love,     &nbs;       Regards,
Dad & Mom     &nbs;       Barry & Dale