Archive for March, 2017

Presidential Transition

As the immediate family knows but not the Blog family, I have been recently elected to the position of President of a prestigious Miata car club here on Paradise Island.  Even had a presidential parade afterward.  You can see a picture of the parade that followed the meeting below.

The family is well aware that this is not a high-paying position, and wisely I did not spend a lot of money on the campaign … as this was a situation of all the members thinking “thank God someone will do it”.

So Pat and I drove down to meet with the outgoing President (also named Bruce, and I will refer to him as XPB, for ex-president Bruce) to handle the complicated transition process.  Think of Trump and Obama meeting in November, except I really like XPB and we get along great.  But I had a lot of questions.  We are a registered incorporated Car Club with financial support from Mazda and a web site that needs to be maintained.  I was a little concerned about what I was inheriting.

Turns out that XPB is like Ronald Reagan.  Great at the standing up at the meetings and doing the glad handing, but it was his wife Wendy who was actually running the club.  She wrote every President’s message to the members, and operated the Website, and handled all the contacts to other clubs and Mazda.  Now we always suspected this but today it was confirmed.

Good news is that she will continue this role as my secretary in the new administration.  What a relief.  Granted Pat could have taken this role but she has way too much on her plate.

So now my role is to come up with the big ideas, stand up in front of the members at our meetings with jokes and leadership presence, and Wendy will take care of the details.  My skill set entirely.

Too bad Trump does not have Nancy Reagan to take care of him!


Kitchen Toys

Pat and I have purchased many devices and tools for the kitchen over the years.  Next to my workshop tools, there is nothing I like better than to find something we can use in the kitchen.

Some of them do not meet expectations, like the Star-Frit slicer that was touted to slice and dice and prepare a meal in seconds.  A failure that we used a couple of times and then stored above the cupboard in the pantry and eventually (still in original box) donated to Pat’s church bazaar where some other unfortunate bought it.  I think of the countless gadgets to sharpen knives that we eventually threw out before we found the simple device I now use.

Probably the biggest error we made was to buy a high end juicer.  We could just imagine the joy of juices from carrots, kale, cucumbers mixed with citrus fruits that would just suck the fat and evil from our bodies.  I mean it was promised in the TV ads.  But it was a bitch to clean after every use.

When I was a little kid our Uncle Ken and Aunt Grace had a few dairy cows.  He would go out to the barn and milk the cows and pour the result into this big machine in the kitchen that would separate and clean the milk.  Not like a great commercial dairy production but it had been done on the farm for 50 years.  I watched as they took apart the many layers and Aunt Grace worked forever  to clean and sterilize the screens.

That is pretty much what you need to do with a juice machine.  5 minutes to cut up the produce and produce juice, 30 minutes to clean the screens and blades.  And the juice was not that great.

Anyway I digress…

This year we were given a Soda Stream machine from the kids to make soda water.  We use it daily and sparkling water has now become a mainstay at every one of our meals.  Fortunately I have a friend that can refill the CO2 cannister for $1 which has been a godsend.

The other device I acquired was a Keurig coffee machine.  I used to love coffee and whenever I am at a restaurant or at someone’s house who offers coffee I immediately agree, but I got out of the habit once I retired because the work required to make one good cup of coffee a day was not worth the effort.  Pat does not drink coffee so this was not the special sharing time we could have.

The villa we rented in La Quinta had a Keurig machine and some leftover pods.  I realized that I could make a good single cup.  So I bought a machine when we returned and I now enjoy a good cup of coffee when I sit and read the newspaper every morning.

Not all kitchen tools and devices are useless.


The Golden Hind

I wrote that I was working on finishing a partially built kit model of the Golden Hind.  Here it is in the framing rig as I plank the hull.  Horrible wood that is so thin that you have to be careful when you sand it for fear you go through to the underlying  bass wood planks, but not looking too bad so far.  They did not provide enough outside plank material so I finished the lower hull with bass.  This will be painted white later so not an issue.


A new Model

Well after the Diana model I decided to take a break from a major project.  I made Meagan and Jorg’s Chinese Junk as a break.  I made the model of a Pirate ship The Red Dragon for Chandler many years ago (which apparently has been lost) as a break.

My buddy Harry had attempted to join the society of Model Shipwrights, but he abandoned a kit model of the Golden Hind after finishing the hull and first layer of planking.

I have visited his workshop many times over the last few years and have seen this model on the frame clamps with all the plans exhibited around and he has not done anything.  He became discouraged because, well frankly, the plans were shit for a beginner.  You needed to be able to move ahead and he did not know how to do it.

So as I needed a break I offered to take over the kit and finish it for him.  That is my current project.

The plans are crap and the finishing hull planks are wafer thin wood that is a relative of mahogany (which is the worst wood to use for models).  Anyway I have spent the last month cutting out the horrible frame extensions (made of 1/4 inch plywood) and have managed to make a pretty good hull.  Substitute good solid Pear and Holly where needed.  Might turn out to be a good model when I am finished with it.  I will have to include pictures of the basic hull when I have finished in the next few weeks.

By the way,  when I showed it to Harry last week he did not recognize the model he abandoned.  The good news is that I was able to convince him that this was a poor model kit and he has decided to start another model.  I may have gone too far by showing him how to make tree nails and use them for planking.  We shall see


A Proper Sendoff

I was reading today in the paper about a brass band in Vancouver that plays at funerals.  Think of the scene in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die when the hero was attending a funeral in New Orleans.

Now most people may have an organ playing sombre music in the church or hall during the funeral, but how about entertainment at the gravesite (or tree in my case)  Nothing like a brass band playing When the Saints Come Marching in to uplift the spirit of those in attendance.

I am thinking that for me it would be nice to have the Colonel Bogey March with my kids and grandkids in step, but to quote my late Father-in-law Fred, I will not really care because I will be dead.

Still I understand this can cost up to $1000 so maybe not.


Travel to See Military Establishments

One of the things you will note as you travel around the USA is the preponderance of huge military bases. I am not talking of those many Air Force and Marine Air bases that seem to be everywhere, I mean interesting bases that you see from the highway and just on our little holiday trip.

If you want to avoid Las Angeles you veer east from Bakersfield where you drive by the famous Edwards Air Force base just on the right.  Now this is famous for Chuck Yeager flights and all the Skunk Works development of secret aircraft and Area 51 where they keep the UFOs.  I mean it is right there as you drive by.  I am sure if you stop on the highway and use binoculars you can see the famous hangar.

Days later we are driving up to Las Vegas.  In the north end of town is the Nellis Air Force base which you can easily see from the taller resorts.  No big deal but just north of Vegas is the testing range where they hold all the air combat and bombing training.  You take highway 95 north and you see lots of planes heading in for combat training.

Again just north of Vegas is a small air base in a desert valley beside the highway called Creech base.  If you look at the runway you see small planes that look the size of Piper Cubs.  This is the Drone training and testing centre.  The Drones that they fly over bad countries and blow up bad people.  Again right there.  Granted you would not like to serve on this base as it is barren but I suspect they all live in Vegas and commute up.

Further north in Nevada as we come come across another wide desert valley we see hundreds and then thousands of tent like concrete bunkers on both side of the highway spreading out to the horizon.  These are the 3000 bunkers that hold the largest ammunition inventory in the world.  Even Pat pointed out that all that seem to separate us on the road from the bunkers was a barbed wire fence.

When you are driving through mountain ranges and vast desert expanses, these are interesting details.



How Green Is My Valley

For anyone who vacations down here in Palm Springs and Arizona, you may describe the countryside as many shades of brown and beige.  Still spectacular, but seldom in the description is the colour green.

Prior to our arrival , as we experienced on the drive down, California had record rainfall.  Since we arrived we have had great weather, but last Monday it did rain all day and believe me, for a guy coming from the wet coast, it really rained.

Unlike back home where the rain stays for days, this one was a 24 hour version.  The next day the sun was shining, although we did hear many reports about blocked roads.  Did not bother us as we spent the day doing laundry (I of course mean Pat) and reading.

Today we went for a hike through the Andreas Canyon south of Palm Springs.  It is a loop where you follow a stream up the canyon, cross over the stream and return on a ridge.  On the hike up you have overhanging outthrusts of granite and lots of ancient palm trees and a busy stream gushing along beside you.

On the ridge we had to stop many times not to look down into the coulee but at the low mountains and the ridge around us.  They were covered in green.  Beside the trail were vast stretches of the greenest, lushest, green grass you could imagine.

We have been here before, and the landscape is normally moonscape barren and brown with only scruffy weeds and cactus.  But what a green valley today.

As we talked to the locals, they commented that this was the wettest February in memory, and most of them cannot recall the last time they have seen the slopes so green.  (I of course do not mention that if they want rain and green they should come up where we live, but I digress…)

I wish I could attach a picture of the hills, but instead I took videos and I’m not sure I can attach them.  But still, if you do not believe this was a spectacular sight ask The Bride.