August 5, 2007

Last entry for this blog

This will be my last entry for Speaking My Mind. I have created a new blog called MyLife using the latest version of MovableType. The newer version of software will allow me to better manage and update my blog. It will still be the same old me but a different, and I hope better, look for the blog. Anyway, update your bookmark to here.

Posted by Michael at 1:09 PM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2007

It's been a long time

Have not posted an entry here for a month. Not that there has not been a lot to write about but I have been very busy. I travelled to Nevada and California for the 2007 LDRS and my visit to the Mojave National Preserve. It was a great trip and I have a lot of video and photos that I have been processing and putting up. I have also been very busy with my Church, including being the chair of the church interim team that is tasked with finding a way forward for our church. Coming up in August is a trip to Ft. Lauderdale for a LandWarNet conference which the Army is sending me to. After that in October I will be travelling to Gulfport, Mississippi with some members of my church to help with the reconstruction efforts down there in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Throw in some volunteer web work for the local chapter of the American Red Cross and my schedule is pretty much full.
We have been enjoying our new pool after finally figuring out how to keep the water clear. The weather forecast for the next week is for temperatures in the 90's, so I am glad we have the pool. Today we are headed to the beach at Sandbridge for the first time this summer. So I am expecting a great summer, escpecially if I can find the time to read some of the books I have that have been stacking up. I hope your summer is going well also.

Posted by Michael at 7:34 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2007

And the Living's Easy

Been busy with a lot of things lately, especially my Wordpress blog. We have been enjoying the pool and the gas grill and summer in general. It is going to be a busy summer for me. Besides all the yard work we have planned there are a number of trips coming up. This weekend I will be going to the Well, which is past Smithfield. The Well is a retreat and I am going as a part of my church to meditate and discuss the future of our church. I have never been to a religious retreat and it sounds like a relaxing, meditative time, something I really need. Last Saturday I finally took my long delayed hike to Lake Drummond in the Great Dismal Swamp. I shouldered my new pack with most of my hiking gear in it just to see how it would work on a long hike. The trek to Lake Drummond is 9 miles round trip. I managed to hike the 9 miles along with a few stops and some time to enjoy Lake Drummond in about 4 hours. I was sore the next day but I suprised myself with how well I handled the 9 miles with a pack. Coming up in July is the much anticipated vacation to Nevada and California for the LDRS. I will also be exploring the Mojave National Preserve.

I have also been selected to attend the 2007 LandWarNet Conference which is being held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida the second week of August. I will arrive Sunday night and probably leave either Thursday night or Friday morning. I am looking forward to that also. I really love Florida and I have never been to Ft. Lauderdale except the airport on my way to Key West. Teresa and I also hope to find some time for a weekend getaway to Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It has been a long time since I was last there and it should be very relaxing and lots of fun too. So I should have a lot to write about this summer and I hope I can find the time to write about it.


Posted by Michael at 8:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2007


Summer is here to stay, at least for a couple of months. The new pool is wonderful. The sand filter has done a great job cleaning the water. Right now the water is crystal clear. The pool came with a pool vacuum that works great cleaning up the bottom of the pool. The pool is so big I can actually swim a few strokes and I have been swimming on the bottom with my speedo goggles. The gas grill is also working well. We have been grilling and eating on the deck almost every evening. I took off Friday from work so we could go see the Virginia Parade of Sail that starts Harborfest this year. We got a great view from Point Comfort on Fort Monroe. There were over 50 ships in the parade with many of them sailing ships. I shot some great video which I posted to my other blog. We also had a free lunch with some ex NFL players that was hosted by Fort Monroe. After all that we went shopping in Phoebus, which is just outside the gates of Fort Monroe.
But summer is not all fun. I have been working very hard in the yard. Actually Teresa has been doing most of the work. She has planted shrubs and flowers around the pool and in the gardens in the front and side yard. I have been mowing and trimming and putting down truckloads of mulch. Today I am watching STS-117 as it gets ready to dock with the International Space Station. The shuttle flights will be ending in 2010 with the completion of the ISS. After that there will be a delay of several years before the next generation of manned space vehicle, Orion, is ready to fly. As someone who grew up watching the manned space program from Mercury to Gemini and Apollo, I am looking forward to the Orion and the eventual return to the Moon. It is about time.

Posted by Michael at 8:24 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

It has been a great Memorial Day weekend. First, the weather has been spectacular. Three perfect summer days in a row. For this area that is a rare thing and to be treasured. Additionally we now have a new three burner gas grill. The grill is the best one I have ever owned. In addition to three burners there is a side burner for heating something in a pan. I almost forgot that it also has a hanging basket inside for toasting buns, etc. We also have a brand new above ground pool. This pool is much better than our old one. It is 24 ft in diameter and 52 in. deep. It has a seriously big pump so it should be able to handle cleaning our funky well water which we had to fill it with. So now I expect to spend most of my summer on the back deck grilling and chilling. We also have a new neighbor in the area. We have been spotting a fox in the evenings and sometimes during the day. I think there may be more than one. They are red and about the size of a small dog. They are not very shy and will stop and look you in the eye. The main game for them must be the many rabbits we have around.
Later this afternoon I am going to drive out to the National Cemetery in Hampton near where I work. I want to pay my respects to those who have fallen in defense of our country. I also want to take some photographs and the light in the late afternoon should be great for that. Tuesday is what the Army calls a training day and a lot of the military willl be on leave so I expect tomorrow to be a quiet one. I am really getting excited about my upcoming trip to Primm, Nevada and Nipton, California this July. The rocket challenge is going to be awesome and my explorations of the surrounding Mohave desert promise to be exciting. It is going to be a great summer.

Posted by Michael at 3:12 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2007

100th Entry

This entry marks the 100th entry in my blog. It is hard to believe I found enough to talk about to make 100 entries. Things have been going pretty well except for my dental problems. I hope to have those resolved before the end of the year. It is a long process to have implants and I am anxious to have it over. I am really looking forward to camping out this spring and then my trip to Primm, Nevada for the amatuer rocket competition. I have been thinking about doing something else which I have wanted to do for a long time. As much as I hate driving I want to rent an SUV and drive to Texas with Teresa to take a look at some houses to buy for when we retire. I have not made a cross country trip by car since I was a child. I think it will be a great adventure to drive the back roads and see some of the small towns of America on our way to Texas. We will take our time and stay in small hotels along the way. If I plan the trip well I hope to see some historic and interesting sites along the way. I hope to see if there is any of the country and lifestyle of my childhood still remaining in the USA. I still plan on the great Alaska adventure but that is on hold until next year but I plan to stay busy this year traveling. Maybe the trips will provide me with enough material to write the next 100 entries in this blog. Stay tuned...

Posted by Michael at 9:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2007

Spring Approaching

As the vernal equinox approaches my mind turns to outdoor activities. One of the first things I plan to do is camp at Medoc Mountain State Park in North Carolina. If the weather is good I plan on going this coming weekend. Checking the NWS web site it looks like the coming weekend down there will have highs in the low 70's and nightime low's in the low 50's. I only plan on camping one night as my new camping equipment has only been used a couple of times and I am still familiarizing myself with it. I have never been to Medoc Mountain but from the description on its web site there should be a lot to see a do. I am eagerly awaiting the weekend and the trip. I really need to spend some time by myself and the ride down and back and the overnight stay should be just what I need. I plan to hike a lot and try my hand at outdoor cooking as well as take a lot of photographs. I will write up my adventures on my return.


Medoc Mountain Not to leave Teresa completely out of the picture we plan on spending a weekend in Asheville, NC later this summer. Teresa really wants to see the Biltmore Estate and I have heard from some friends of ours that Asheville is a really beautiful town with lots to see and do. The grand finale of the summer will be my trip to Primm, Nevada to see the LDRS competition that will be held on a salt flat nearby. I am really excited about that as I have always loved model rocketry and the land around the area is beautiful with lots of places to explore.

Posted by Michael at 4:58 PM | Comments (1)

March 11, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time was this weekend and the world did not come to an end. There had been a lot of coverage in the media about how DST was coming 3 weeks early and all the problems it would cause. The only problems it caused me was the loss of some sleep and having to set a few clocks in the house. All my computers handled the change without a problem. My Palm needed a patch to correctly handle the change but I am just going to manually change the time. I have not checked my Nokia 770 yet but I suspect its time may be wrong. So the biggest change is now I will be driving to work in the dark. No big deal as far as I am concerned. The day seemed very springlike with warm temperatures and sunny skies and a lot of the bulbs we planted have started to blossom. I will have to get my lawn mower repaired as I suspect I will be having to mow my lawn before too long. Teresa was out in the garden watering everything. She will be retiring in April so she will have a lot of time for her gardening. For myself, I plan on a few overnight camping trips soon and this July I will be heading to the Mohave desert in Nevada for the annual LDRS (Large Dangerous Rocket Ship) gathering. I am really looking forward to spending a week in the Mohave desert watching rocket ships blast off and exploring the beautiful scenery nearby including Death Valley and parts of California. And finally I just have to share this picture I found on the Internet. When I saw it it just made my day. I hope it will make your day as well.



Posted by Michael at 6:30 PM | Comments (1)

March 4, 2007

Hoffler Creek

Saturday I went to Hoffler Creek for a guided birdwalk. Hoffler Creek is a privately owned reserve only a few miles from my house. It is one of only a few nature areas in an urban environment. The central feature of the reserve is a large lake. The walk lasted from 8am to about 10am. There were only a few participants but the guide and one other participant were avid and very knowledgeable bird watchers. They knew every bird we encountered and provided lots of interesting information about the birds. We were in luck as there were many ducks on the lake that morning. From what I can remember there were Gadwall, bufflehead, coot, and mallard ducks. We also saw numerous other types of birds as we walked the circumference of the lake.

We saw two types of woodpeckers, many finches, cardinals, and a kingfisher. I had a great time and took some pictures. There were lots of fresh tracks in the mud including deer and racoon. It is a shame that the reserve is only open on Saturdays. I am a member of the group that maintains the reserve and I am trying to get them to open the reserve on Sundays also. I will be posting the pictures I took to my album but for now here is one I took of some racoon tracks.



Posted by Michael at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2007


I have had an account on MySpace for some time now. When I first got the account I had a lot of fun setting the site up with a custom look and adding content. Then it was great to have people ask to be added to your friends list. I have about 25 friends right now. Some people seem to make it a point to add just about anybody to their friends list but I think that is unfair unless you are prepared to socialize with everyone on your list. Personally I don't see how anyone can socialize in any meaningfull way with hundreds of friends as I see a lot of MySpace users having. I feel that I neglect some of the friends I have, in fact that is one reason why I was away from MySpace for a long time. But there were several friends who kept inquiring about me and so I finally went back to checking my page. So to make up for lost time and to repay all those who were so kind as to keep inquiring about me, I will be contacting each one of you to thank you. You know who you are Bev, Linda, Gloria, and all the others. I hope to  never neglect you again.

Posted by Michael at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2007

Birds and Bird Feeders

One of the things I have enjoyed this winter is watching the birds at my bird feeders. I have one feeder hanging from a tree and the other is simply a bowl in the middle of the back yard. The feeders attract many birds during the day including cardinals, blue jays, red-wing blackbirds, morning doves, carolina chickadees, and woodpeckers. A few rabbits have also made a visit to the ground feeder. It is fun watching the birds feed from the living room through the french doors or from the windows in the kitchen. I have learned a lot about birds; their behaviors, bird feed preferences, and social order. Doves seem to be very docile and tolerant of other birds, while cardinals are constantly fighting with each other. Blue Jays are fearless and intimidate all the other birds. Red-wing blackbirds always come in large flocks. Robins do not seem interested in the feeders at all. I guess they only eat worms and insects. Anyway, it is enjoyable to watch the birds feeding and I plan on buying a spotting scope so that I can view the birds up close.
This spring I am going to try planting some small trees and bushes in the backyard in hopes of attracting more and different species of birds. I have even thought about putting up a webcam to broadcast the feeders. There is one site on the web that has a fascinating camera that covers several bird feeders. The camera is located at Coles Pond in Vermont. I have seen many blue jays and some squirrels so far. Looking at the sites archives the feeders also attract rabbits, racoons, deer, and even a black bear.

Posted by Michael at 9:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day and I did what I do every year, candy and a card. So tonight I have had about eight pieces of chocolate and tomorrow (or tonight) I will regret it. Not much going on lately except that I have installed Wordpress on my web server and have started a new blog. The new blog is titled 'The Mind of Tefft'. Sounds like not much to work with huh? But I hope that the new blog will differ from this blog in that the new blog will be less of a diary of my life and more a place for me to talk about the things that interest me. Things like current events, religion, politics, my hobbies, and whatever else may pop into my head. So it looks like I will be splitting duty between the two blogs in addition to trying to upload a few new pictures every now and then to my online photo album. It should be enough to keep me busy through the winter until spring where I can start to pursue my other hobbies like scuba diving, backpacking, and gardening.

Posted by Michael at 8:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 4, 2007

Winter is Here

February has brought with it winter-like temperatures finally. It has been below freezing every night this week and tomorrow the high will be 34 degrees with a low of 16 degrees. We even had a little snow in the middle of the week. We have yet to see any significant snow but I am hoping February or March will bring some. We had my mother over for dinner last night. The menu included fried shrimp, baked potato, salad, and garlic rolls. Today is Superbowl Sunday and my Colts have finally made it to the bowl. It is almost halftime right now and as usual the Colts are driving me crazy. I have almost given up on football and the only reason I am even watching the Superbowl is because the Colts are in it. Ok, I have to admit the commercials are pretty good, especially the Budweiser ones. (Even though I hate Budweiser beer) Not much else going on except I have been reading a lot lately as I mentioned in my last entry. Right now I am reading 'Gravities Rainbow' by Thomas Pyhchon and listening to 'Motormouth' by Janet Ivanovich on my iPod while driving to work. Pretty boring life, right?

Posted by Michael at 7:52 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2007

Birthdays, Books, and Beaches

My 58th birdthday was two days ago. I wonder if people who have 80th and 90th birthdays look back and say, wow, I never thought I would be this old. Luckily, I don't feel ancient yet although my  body is starting to complain some lately. I have been reading quite a few books recently which is something I used to do a lot more of when I was younger. When I was a kid, one of my favorite places to be was the public library. I could spend hours in a library browsing through all the books. Today I rarely go to a library. Libraries used to be a sanctuary but today they are crowded, noisy, and full of everthing but books it seems sometimes. I listen to a lot of audio books now while I am driving because radio stations are terrible and it is a good way to fill the time during commutes to work. I usually don't have a lot of time to read books but due to the weather and other reasons I have had a chance to actually read some good books. And I have to say, reading is every bit as enjoyble now as it was when I was a kid. Some of the books I have read recently are:

 We had some snow last night so winter is finally starting to act like winter around here. But I will be glad when Spring arrives so that I can go backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Forest and then my vacation this summer to Alaska. And if you are wondering what the beaches refers to in the title, I have been taking a walk on the beach at Fort Monroe where I work nearly every afternoon at lunch when the weather is good. Walking on the beach brings me much pleasure and tranquility. I really enjoy being outdoors and surrounded by the beauty of God's world.

Posted by Michael at 8:05 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2007

Another Long Weekend

I have this Friday off because I had to take my truck in to be worked on. The heat has not been working for a while and it finally came to a head yesterday morning when I had to drive to work with the outside temperature at 22 degrees. My feet were frozen by the time I got to work. So I left my truck to be worked on last night and I am expecting a call sometime this morning telling me it is ready. I asked Dana if she would take me to get my truck picked up and she agreed. I don't know what other plans I have for the long weekend so I will give that some thought. I am reading a really good book by Bill Bryson called "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid". To quote the back cover. " Bill Bryson's laugh-out-loud pilgrimage through his fifties childhood in heartland America is a national treasure. It is full of insights, wit and wicked adolescent fantasies." - Tom Brokaw.

I grew up about the same time as Bill Bryson although I was a Navy brat and travelled to Rhode Island, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. My early youth in the 50's was spent in Rhode Island. Most of what Mr. Bryson writes about those times resonates with me. As a result of reading his book I am revisiting some of the old TV shows from those days. I have bought collections of Superman, Sky King, The Phil Silvers Show, and My Favorite Martain. I have bee watching them for a few days and it is amazing the difference between TV then and now. Mr Bryson laments that a lot of what made his childhood so enjoyable is gone now and I have to agree with him. But I imagine the kids of today will have the same feeling once they grow up. 

Posted by Michael at 9:05 AM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2006

End of one year, beginning of a new one.

Well, it has been quite a year for me. I have had my ups and downs but overall I feel that it has been a good year for me. My new job, my church, Teresa, and my family have made it a good year. Although I had to give away Shakespeare, our new dog Max is working out well. I am really excited about the new year ahead. It will be one year closer to retirement, my trip to Alaska will be my best adventure yet, and I am in pretty good health both mentally and physically. Resolutions for the new year, how about being more committed to my church, joining the pool at Fort Monroe, losing weight ( I have already lost 8 pounds on my doctor ordered low cholesterol diet) and trying to make the most of what life throws at me. I think it will be important to maintain a good outlook on things and always treat each day as the gift that it really is. So with help from my family and friends, as well as God, 2007 should be a great year. I hope it will be a great year for all of you also. Happy New Year !

Posted by Michael at 6:24 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2006

Ho Ho Ho

As the song says, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." except for the weather. It has been in the 60's during the day here for the last week. I don't think there is much chance of snow but around here you never know. I am way behind on my shopping so today I hope to get a lot of that out of the way. About the only thing I have gotten so far is a really nice Lionel train set for Kirk. The set came in two boxes, one with the engine, cars, and scenery and the other with about 9 feet of track. I really can't wait to set all that up. My brothers and I had a fantastic train set when we were kids and we really loved it. Starting this coming Friday I will be off work until after the New Year, so I am really looking forward to that also. This Sunday we are having family over for a Christmas dinner and for Christmas day we will be at my brother Chris and his wife Gina's house. We have put up three (yes three) Christmas trees in the house. One is the traditional big tree (artificial) while another is a smaller green artificial tree and the other is a white artificial tree. We have also put up two wreathes outside. I think the only other decoration we wil be putting up is some lights in the front windows. Well, that is it for now. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Posted by Michael at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2006

Christmas Approaches

Thanksgiving is over and now Christmas approaches. We had a nice Thanksgiving brunch but I could not go over to my brothers house that afternoon because my truck was running poorly. I had to take it to the garage and get a tuneup. I was able to kill two birds by getting the state inspection also. I have been asked to participate in the Christmas service at church this Sunday by hanging one of the wreaths during a brief ceremony. I have participated in many church sponsored charities and events but have never been asked before to perform an actual church function. Today we are going to drive down to North Carolina and look at a house for sale. We will probably not buy the house as it is under contract but I want to take a look at the area and see if there are any other houses for sale in the area. Currently we are looking at properties in New Mexico, Texas, and North Carolina for houses to buy for when I retire. I am still holding out for New Mexico but North Carolina has a lot of great houses and areas to consider. My son Jason has a birthday on the 6th of December and I am thinking of getting him a gift certificate to Best Buy. I asked him what he would like and as usual he was no help, so I think a gift certificate is a good idea. It is hard to believe he will be 31 years old. He still seems like a kid to me and probably always will.

Posted by Michael at 9:49 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2006

Thanksgiving approaches

Thanksgiving is less than a week away and I have a lot to give thanks for. I have a good job, my health is pretty good for an old man, a have a wonderful family and I have my son Jason and my girlfriend Teresa. Retirement is just around the corner and a new and hopefully exciting phase of my life will soon begin. Our new dog Max is starting to become a part of our family and overall I am feeling pretty good about things. Teresa, Kirk, Jason and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving by having brunch at the Bay Breeze Community Center at Fort Monroe where I work. The menu sounds great and it is a beautiful location. With Christmas also just around the corner I have started some Christmas shopping. I hope that I can get into the Christmas spirit more than I did last year. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I am really looking forward to my vacation in Alaska next year and I need to start exercising more to get into shape for it. It is amazing how hard it is to maintain or lose weight at my age. But I have resolved to get into the best shape that I can for my trip. Where I am going I am going to have to be in great shape because it is a very isolated part of Alaska and if anything goes wrong with me physically, it will be the end of a great adventure.

I am also looking forward to the return of Spring so I can continue with my backpacking adventures. I was not able to do much backpacking this year but next year I plan on taking a local trip followed by a longer trip to the Great Smoky Moutains in North Carolina. I should also mention that I will be on leave for a large part of December because I have so much use or lose leave. So The rest of the year should be pretty easy for me if I can find something fun to do with my spare time.

Posted by Michael at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

November 4, 2006

Africa !

There has been a lot going on lately but not much time to write about any of it. There is one thing that I do want to write about. I recently came across a website Wavelit that hosts a live streaming web camera at a private game reserve in South Africa. This is the most amazing web camera I have ever seen. It is manned by a human operator 24 hours a day (mostly) who can pan and zoom in on the game that shows up at the watering hole that is the centerpiece of the web camera. This web camera has proved to be very addicting. I feel like I am almost actually there in South Africa. The web camera has a live microphone that picks up all the exotic sounds that go with the exotic images that are streamed to you day and night. At night the camera uses infrared so that you can see even in the dark. It is hard to describe how amazing this site is, you will have to see it for yourself.

So far I have seen Cape buffalo, impala, veervet monkeys, baboons, warthogs, giraffe, rhinoceros, and numerous other types of African game. As I said before, it is simply amazing and very addicting. And if that were not enough, I found another very similar web camera hosted by National Geographic that is located in Botswana. I have seen elephants, zebras, jackels, croccodile, kudzu, all types of exotic birds, as well as all the other animals I mentioned earlier. The only animals I have not actually seen yet are lions and leopards, although others have seen them and posted screen captures of them. The web camera is located at Pete's Pond on another private game reserve.

If you do nothing else on the web this week, check out these two amazing sites. You will not be disappointed. Below is a screen capture I took from one of the sites earlier this week. 


Posted by Michael at 9:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2006

Personal Observation

Well, as usual I have been remiss in writing in my blog. Not that I have not had a lot to write about but the spirit has not moved me lately. Today I would like to write less about my daily life and make a personal observation. I have been thinking about this topic for some time now. What it is is the loss of the child-like qualities of life as one becomes an adult. I remember vividly how as a child (up to about 16 or so) life seemed to be so much more real, alive, and exciting than it is as a adult. I can remember the fascination that so many routine aspects of life held for me back then. Science really excited me when I was a child. I delved into everything from biology, chemistry, electronics, to model rocketry. The fascination and excitement that made looking at pond water under a microscope such a wonderful adventure is sorely missing from my life now. I used to be filled with excitement doing chemistry experiments, building crystal radios, launching model rockets, and doing magic tricks. I don't think depression, anxiety, and worry existed for me as a child. I can remember when we moved to Florida and along the way we stopped at a rest area. I walked into the woods behind the rest area, looking at the strange trees, plants, and spanish moss and feeling like I was in another new and exciting world. Getting out of school for the summer was like beginning a wonderous and endless new adventure.

Today, much of that wonder, excitement, and joy is gone. I don't mean to sound like I am depressed and nothing brings any joy any more, it is just that the degree to which I feel such emotions is much diminished from when I was a child. I no longer enjoy any of my hobbies with quite the enthusiasm, excitement, and joy that I did as a child. Even traveling to new places like my recent trips to Belize, St. Lucia, San Francisco, and Las Vegas did not bring the level of excitement, wonder, and awe that that day among the trees as a child on my way to Florida did. I miss that. I guess most people probably feel the way I do, at least to some degree. Wouldn't the world be a much better place if we could still retain the childlike qualities that made being a child such a wonderful experience. On my trip to Alaska next year, I hope to recapture some of those feelings and emotions. I really need to be able to do that. Wish me luck.  

Posted by Michael at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2006

Why so Hard

I wonder why it seems so hard sometimes to write in this blog. Actually, a lot has been happening so I should not have a problem writing about it. So first with the good news, we have a new dog. Last week Teresa, Kirk, and I spent the day going to all the animal shelters looking for a dog to adopt. In the weird way that things always seem to work out for me, the dog we finally adopted was found completely by accident. We had gone back to the first shelter we had visited to look at a puppy that had interested us. We had been unable to agree on any other dogs that we had seen. Either I loved them and Teresa hated them or vise versa. So on the verge of giving up I noticed someone open a door to the outside of the shelter. The door was not marked at all but it led to the outside kennel where all the larger dogs were housed. So by a quirk of fate there was Max. (Originally Farley but changed by us to Max). Max is a 3 year old male golden retriever. Teresa immediately fell in love with him as did Kirk. I was not originally sold on him but that has changed since he has been with us for a few days now. Max is the perfect dog for us. He is beautiful, smart, playful, and very well behaved. We have yet to find any fault with him. We had to wait until he was neutered before we could take him home and we have been taking it easy with him due to his stitches. But so far he has been a joy for all of us. I will need another blog entry to tell all about him but for now suffice it to say that I cannot wait until he is fully healed to really let him go wild. This weekend I will be able to take him hiking with me and go to the beach. I can't wait.

Posted by Michael at 8:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2006

Not much good news

It has not been a very good week for me. My adoption application for Apple Jack was not accepted. Another family got him. I guess the better family won out although the adoption agencies explanation as to why I was not accepted did not make any sense to me. I guess I will just keep on looking and applying. I really love dogs and I am incomplete without one to share my life with. I also learned today that one of my dive buddies, Dr. Fred Jordan, has passed away. Dr Fred was a really nice person and we shared some great times together. He will be sorely missed. Seems too may people that I know and admire have died recently. It has kind of depressed me and I hope I can overcome this feeling of despair that overcomes me now and again.

I went camping Friday at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. I wanted to try out some new camping gear that I had bought. I spent Friday setting up my new tent and spending time on the beach. I also tried out my new campstove, which worked very well. I was able to boil water for my dehydrated dinner quite easily. The new tent, sleeping bag, and pad also provided a fairly comfortable night. Saturday morning I woke up early, cooked breakfast, and broke camp. I had planned on staying another night, but camping alone proved to not be much fun. I wish I could get Teresa to camp with me but she is not much of an outdoors person. I hope that next time I go camping I will at least have a dog to go with me. Here is a link to some of the photos I took while camping.

First Landing State Park 

Posted by Michael at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2006


Today I went looking for a dog to adopt. There was an Adopt-A-Thon going on at all the Pet Smarts in the area so I went to both of the stores in Chesapeake. At the first PetSmart there were not may dogs available but the first two I saw I was taken with. One is a 2 month old female lab/beagle mix named Kendall. The second is a one year old male lab/retreiver mix named Apple Jack. I was especially taken with Apple Jack. He is a beautiful, friendly dog with a great personality. I filled out the online application form with PACC (the animal shelter sponsoring the dogs). They are very pickey about who adopts their pets. They do a personal visit to the home to make sure that all the dogs needs will be met as well as talk to your vet if you previously owned or currently own another dog. I don't think I will have a problem qualifying as I have a large fenced back yard and Shakespeare always went to the vet regularly and was in great health. BTW, I received an email from Shakespear's new family and they are thrilled with him as he is with them. That is great news to receive. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Apple Jack and maybe even Kendall will soon be a permanent part of my family.

Posted by Michael at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2006

This and That

I am watching CNN Pipeline coverage of the Shuttle Atlantis launch. Hopefully it will get off the pad today or they will have to reschedule until October. I wish that NASA had already developed the next generation shuttle but they do not even have a prototype yet. The shuttle is way past retirement age in my opinion. I have been unhappy with the pace NASA has maintained ever since the last landing on the moon. I cannot believe it is going to take them until 2015 or later to go back to the moon. That is over 30 years since the last manned landing on the moon.

On another topic, it is going to be a busy weekend here. I am still moving furniture to my upstairs lair. Teresa has bought a new sofa for downstairs to replace the one I am taking. Did I mention that Dana has moved back home. That is a story for another time. We are also continuing our landscaping efforts  on the side of the house. We have thirty large paving stones that we are going to put down to make a walkway to the gate to the back yard. There will also be an arbor at one end and shrubs and flowers on both sides. No rest for the weary.

Finally, there is some rest waiting for me on the horizon. I am planning to go camping in late September or early October at Skyline Drive. I have a lot of new backpacking equipment that I want to try out before I actually embark on a backpacking adventure. The trip to Alaska that I have been planning for next year is still on the books although I don't know if Teresa will go.

That's it for now. Don't forget the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Say a prayer for our country in the coming years as we struggle to keep our country free and safe. 

Posted by Michael at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

September 4, 2006

Steve Irwin Dies

I woke up this morning and the first thing I see when I get on the Internet is that the 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin has died. That news hit me unexpectedly hard. I am really depressed about his death. I really admired the man and what he did and stood for. I really enjoyed watching him on the Discovery channel. He led such a great life and was blessed with a loving wife and two children. He will be sorely missed by me. I little bit of what makes my live worth living has gone out of the world. I had hoped some day to go to Australia Zoo and maybe see Steve in person doing what he did so well. Rest in Peace Steve and God bless your family.

Steve Irwin 

Posted by Michael at 9:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2006

Getting back

I have not felt like making any entries for a while as I have been pretty depressed lately. There are a lot of things weighing on my mind. Having to give up my dog Shakespeare has been pretty tough on me. My situation with Teresa has also been on my mind a lot. I am tired of living in this area (I have been here since High School) and cannot wait to retire. I want to move to New Mexico but I don't know if I can wait for 3 more years. Every day living here is one more day I wish I was somewhere else. There is not much that brings me any joy or happiness anymore, except my family. I have a great job but I am bored with it and have nothing more to offer to my career. I want my career to be over and I want to be out of this area forever. So it is tough having to live with all this. But I need to stop being so depressed all the time. I do have a lot that I am thankful for and I need to focus on those things and not the things that depress me. With that out of the way for now I will just mention that Tropical Storm Ernesto has come and gone today. We got about 6 inches of rain but not all that much flooding, and least not at home. No damage from winds or rain that I have noticed. The drive in to work this morning was pretty wild, however. Slashing rain and wind made the trip over the Monitor/Merrimac bridge really exciting. I drive a 1996 Ford Ranger and the wind was really tossing it around. To make things more interesting, traffic was stopped on the bridge for about 25 minutes and I sat there with the truck jumping around enough to almost make me seasick. That and the spray from the waves off the James River bridge coming over the rail and onto my truck. When traffic got moving again it was not too bad until I got near Fort Monroe. Fort Monroe is surrounded by water on all sides. You have to come across one of two causeways to get to it. All the roads were completely flooded with lots of debris in the roads. Big waves were crashing over the seawall very close to the road I had to traverse. When I finally made it to the parking lot, I found out that there had been no power since 6am. So being the brave lad that I am, I said to hell with this and turned around and went home. After another harrowing journey home, I sat out the rest of the storm in relative comfort. Teresa also had trouble getting to work and once she did, they told her to go home. I called later and found out that everyone at Fort Monroe had also gone home. What an exercise in futility, but it was kind of exciting. Imagine if it had been a hurricane instead.

Posted by Michael at 4:40 PM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2006

Shakespeare Update

Well, I found out from Heritage Humane Society that Shakespeare was adopted almost immediately by a family that lives in Connecticut. The family had asked if they could contact me to ask questions about Shakespeare. So this last Saturday I received a phone call from the mother of the family who had adopted Shakespeare. It appears that they have three children and they adopted Shakespeare and immediately drove all the way back to Connecticut with him. They are all in love with him already and praised me for all the training that they see in Shakespeare. We talked for over 30 minutes about Shakespeare, with me telling them all I thought would be helpful and the mom telling me how great Shakespeare is and how well he is adapting to his new home. They have three cats with two of them having come to an accomodation with Shakespeare and the other one still holding out in the basement. But I think they will all come to accept each other before long. They also sent several pictures of Shakespeare in his new home. It is really good to know that Shakespeare has found a good home with people who will love him as much as I do. It was painful to see those photographs of Shakespeare as it brought home the fact that he is no longer a part of my life, at least not physically. He will always be a part of me emotionally. I still miss him a great deal but it does bring me some comfort to know that he will have a good life after all. Enjoy your new home and family Shakespeare but remember me from time to time as I will never forget you. Bye for now Shakespeare.

Posted by Michael at 9:37 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2006


Wow, but it has been hard getting back to writing in this blog. I took Shakespeare back to Heritage Humane Society two weekends ago. I hated doing it as I love him very much. I also feel guilty that I did not do everything to try to keep him. But I gave in to the inevitable and took him back. The good news is that he was adopted almost immediately. I had posted info about him on MySpace, emailed all my friends, and took out an ad in the local paper. But the first people who looked at him wanted him. That tells you how great a dog he was. So the good news is that he is hopefully in a good home and is happy. The bad news is that I miss him terribly and I know I will never see him again or get to pet him or hug him or love him again, except in my dreams and in my mind. Goodbye Shakespeare, I wish you a long and happy life. Who knows, in this crazy life maybe we will meet again.

Posted by Michael at 8:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 8, 2006

Not a good Weekend

We have a new care provider for our autistic son Kirk. For some reason she is terrified of our dog Shakespeare and is quitting unless we get rid of the dog. Shakespeare is a large 88 pound mixed breed brindle. Shakespeare is also a baby and completely harmless. Our previous care provider loved him as did her two children. The new provider said that Shakespeare growled at her but our boarder, Michelle, said that Skakespeare had s sneaker in his mouth and was trying to get Chevelle (yes that's her name) to play. Apparently this woman is afraid of dogs in general and not just Shakespeare. So now Teresa wants me to get rid of Shakespeare. It is not just this incident, Shakespeare does chew up a lot of things (including doors and my books and electronic gadgets) and sheds a lot. But I love him very much and do not want to have to take him back to Heritage Animal Shelter in Williamsburg where I had rescued him. So I am in a quandry as to what to do. A lot of things come to mind. I actually took Shakespeare to Heritage and was ready to surrender him when they told me they could not guarantee that he would not be euthanized. So I brought him back home with me. I can try to keep him outside all the time, I have a large fenced in back yard and a large dog house, but he is an inside dog. He will go out for a while, but he always wants to come back in. And he will litterally chew through a door to get back in. Or he can hit the door and force it open. I think in the end I will have to take him back to Heritage for surrender. They told me he has an excellent chance of being adopted as he is only two years old. But it is going to break my heart to have to do it. I have always had a dog, they are an essential part of my life and my well being. Having lost my beloved Ginger just slightly over a year ago will make it that much harder to do. Why do things have to turn out like this? More to follow tomorrow.

Posted by Michael at 6:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2006

Space Shuttle and NASA

I have spent a lot of this long 4th of July weekend watching NASA try to launch the space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-121. So far there have been two aborts due to weather. I have my fingers crossed today that they will finally get off the ground. I grew up wathcing NASA and the manned space program. I remember vividly watching first the Mercury program followed by Gemini, Apollo, and finally the landings on the moon. The space program has shaped who I am and provided me with some of the most exciting moments of my life. But ever since the last manned landing on the moon in 1972 the space program has lost a lot of its excitement. To think that for the last 34 years the only other manned space program has been the space shuttle is simply unbelievable to me. Yes there was the Space Lab and then the international space station, but it seems the pace of development and exploration via manned spacecraft has declined dramatically.

The space shuttle has only a few missions left before it is retired and yet NASA has no replacement program in the forseable future. NASA has plans for manned exploration of the Moon and Mars but the timetable for those is stretched to far for my liking. It seems to me that private industry has done more for manned space exploration in the last few years than NASA has. A lot of the problem stems from public apathy towards space exploration, political fighting, as well as budgetary constraints. I don't have 35 more years left to me in which to wait for manned exploration on the scale that I witnessed as a child and growing up. NASA needs to find a way to re-invent themselves and start developing and implementing a manned space program of the same scale and grandeur of the 60's and 70's. I just hope that I am still around when we finally get around to landing men on Mars. I only hope that it happens sooner than expected and that I will live to see other planets besides Mars explored by man.


john glenn.jpg

Posted by Michael at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

Back from Vacation

Just got back from our vacation to Chincoteague Island. It was Teresa's first visit and she fell in love with the place. In fact she is on the Internet right now looking at real estate there. We were caught in some violent thunderstorms just as we approached the island and had to stop for over an hour. It was the worst storm I have ever experienced. Upon return home today I learned that the storms were part of the worst flooding that Washington DC, Maryland and Deleware had experienced in several years. The streets of Chincoteague were flooded when we finally made it into town. But the weather on Saturday and Sunday was great and we took advantage of it to go to the beach at Assateague, see the ponies in Chincoteague Wildlife refuge, take a pontoon boat ride around the island, and enjoy our stay at the Watson House B&B. When I get a chance I will provide more details of our vacation. For now enjoy this photo of dusk settling over the island.


Posted by Michael at 8:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

Vacation Approaches

Only 2 more work days before our vacation to Chincoteague begins. I made arrangements to have Shakespeare boarded and I have a reservation for a car with Enterprise. I want to travel in style and my old Ford pickup doesn't quite do it for me. The only thing I can't plan is the weather but no matter the weather we are going to have a great time. My son Jason came over Saturday and took me out to lunch for Fathers Day. I wish I could spend more time with him but he is a grown man now. My mother is doing well, although she complains about the place she is living in now. She will not be happy on that score untils she comes and lives with one of the family. The only problem is that no one is home during the day to take care of her and she needs care. So for now where she is will have to do. We took Kirk down to his Grandparents in North Carolina where he will stay for two weeks. So it is unusually quiet here for a change. I am going to enjoy it while I can. I have been busy looking at property to buy in New Mexico for when we retire there, even thought retirement is still 3 years away. I am really looking forward to retirement and leaving this area. A new home and a new part of the country to explore and discover is just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by Michael at 5:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2006

Catch All

Just a quick post on a couple of topics. First, I have been tweaking the CSS for this blog. I am still trying to get it to look like I want it to. I probably won't ever be completely satisfied with the way it looks. I also just purchased a smart card reader for my home PC. We use a CAC card at work to log on to our computers and to access a number of Army web site. I work with the Army Knowledge Online portal a lot and it requires CAC log on for most areas. So I bought and installed a GemPlus USB smart card reader and installed the Army ActiveCard software. So now I am logging in to AKO from home with my CAC card. Pretty cool, huh? Last but not least is our upcoming vacation in Chincoteague, Virginia. Chincoteague is a beautiful National Wildlife Refuge on the eastern shore of Virginia. There are also miles and miles of beach to sun on. We will be spending 4 days there staying at the Watson House B&B. We plan on doing a lot of shopping, eating, swimming, hiking, and boat touring while we are there. There is a thunderstorm brewing outside right now so that's it for now.

Posted by Michael at 7:39 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2006

Botanical Garden

Our gardening project has started to take on epic dimensions. What started out as a project to put some shrubs around the house has expanded into competition for the local botanical gardens. Teresa and I have added about 10 more shrubs and numerous flowers to another large bed next to our driveway. We also moved all the large stones that made up our defunct pond and made a ring around our Bradford pear. We will put some ground cover inside the ring when we get a chance. Teresa also bought a lot of ivy which we plan on putting in the front yard between the garden and the street. Don't want to put a lot of expensive shrubs there because it is on the right-of-way. I will have to post a couple photos when we are done to better show what we have done. Yesterday I managed to put some weed guard and eight 40 lb. bags of pine bark mulch down but I still need about eight more bags to finish. Plus Teresa wants to add a few more flowers. In addition, we want to add some solar lights to the garden to illuminate it at night. Teresa has been caught several times out front this morning just staring at the garden. I have to admit it looks pretty good for a couple of rank amatuers.

Posted by Michael at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2006

Church work

Last Wednesday I did some volunteer work for my church. Every third Wednesday of the month my church serves breakfast at the Oasis Social Ministry kitchen in Portsmouth. The ministry is run by the Catholic church and serves breakfast and lunch during the week. I reported for work at 6 am not knowing what to expect as I had never done this kind of volunteer work before. Breakfast is provided daily for about 75 - 130 homeless people. About 8 members from my church showed up to help prepare and serve the breakfast. I was amazed by the size of the kitchen, dining room, and the stockpile of food in the pantry. There was a very large walk-in refrigerator, walls of canned and dry goods, etc., there must have been enough food in the pantry to feed 1000 people. Anyway, my job basically involved helping prepare the food, serve orange juice during the meal, and help with the cleanup.

The menu for the morning consisted of biscuits with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, doughnuts, coffee, and orange juice. Once people started coming in it was fast and furious. For the most part everyone was very nice although you could tell some of the people either didn't appreciate what was being done for them or thought they deserved to be fed by people who volunteered their time during a work day to come down at the break of dawn and prepare a meal for them. It was nice to know that either appreciated or not, our efforts at least gave 75 souls a good breakfast that morning. I plan on helping out every Wednesday when it is our turn. I try to help out in other ways for our church but this was one of the most rewarding things I have done in a long time. 

Posted by Michael at 8:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

Spending my tax return

With my federal income tax return burning a hole in my pocket, I had to spend some of it. My choices were: a shotgun, more backpacking supplies, a new computer, scuba diving equipment, or a trip somewhere. So far, I have purchased a Sony Playstation 2 and two games. That cost me about $200.00. I think it was a pretty good investment as I am having a lot of fun playing 'Ace Combat Zero, the Belkan War' and 'Brothers in Arms - Earned in Blood'. The only problem is that I am getting carpal tunnel thumb playing the games. I think I am going to spend the rest on backpacking supplies. I really want to go backpacking this Summer. I am joining the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club so that I will have someone to go backpacking with. I don't think that my age (57) will be much of a problem as I am in pretty good shape. Hell, a 70 year old Japanese man just summitted Mt. Everest. I still have many good years left in me I hope.

Posted by Michael at 9:47 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2006

What a Week !

I hope I don't have any more weeks like the last week anytime soon. Last Saturday my hosting service had a problem that affected all scripting. My main site was down for two days, my wiki another day and my blog, the one I am using now, was not restored until today. It took numerous emails to the support department before I think I finally cajoled them into fixing the problem. It probably took them all of ten minutes to actually correct the problem, but my blog was down for almost a week. I had just gone through a similar ordeal with my hosting service. My site with them was down for three days. Funny that both of them guarantee 99.9 % uptime. I guess guarantee's like those are pretty much worthless in reality. I guess that is to be expected when you only pay about $18.00 a month for service. But for now both my sites are up and running. I have also had another issue with Apple and their iTunes music store but that is a story of epic proportions, the telling of which can only be justified by a separate blog entry. I hope this weekend will be one in which I can recover from the travails of the week.

Posted by Michael at 5:19 PM | Comments (0)

May 7, 2006

Langley AFB Air Show 2006

I went to the air show at Langley Air Force Base Saturday. The Air Force always puts on a great show. For my money, the Air Force and the Thunderbirds have always been more appealing to me than the Navy and the Blue Angles. The weather was perfect for a change. I was surprised that the crowds were not as big as they usually are. I think the news media predicted 180,000 for the 3 day event. Might have to do with the price of gas and some people might be a little apprehensive attending these types of events after 9/11. Everyone had to submit to a search before being allowed entrance, including being scanned with a metal detector or being patted down. But I don't mind such precautions if it makes everyone safer. Needless to say the show was great. I didn't stay for the Thunderbirds but I did see the B2 stealth bomber fly over. It is amazing how quiet such a large plane was. It flew directly overhead and I could barely hear the engines.
There was also a demonstration of the new F22 stealth fighter. Two F22's and two F15's put on a combined air show. The new F22 was really something to see. It had a burnished finish to it and was very moulded in appearance with no sharp corners. I also so a solo stunt plane performance where the pilot did some amazing manuevers. I took 61 photographs including the flight demonstrations and static displays. Also on display was the brand new Joint Strike Fighter. Now that is another beautiful looking aircraft. There were some WWII aircraft on display; a P51 Mustang, a Curtis P-40, and a Japanese Zero. As I was leaving for the day, six what looked like Japanese Zero's put on a display. I switched to video and captured some nice video of them. This link will take you to the photo album I have put up with some of the shots I took. I just wish I had stayed longer but since I was alone I didn't stay as long as I would have if there had been someone else there to share it all with. Teresa is not much on events like that.

Posted by Michael at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2006

Flower bed Update

Just a quick post with a couple of photo (here and here) of the completed flowerbed. I hope to get some better shots this afternoon when the lighting is better.

Posted by Michael at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2006

House Beautiful

Finished the landscaping in the front yard last weekend. We now have a flower bed that stretches from the front door all the way around the front to the back of the house. We put in 5 rhododendrons and 3 holly bushes I think. We brought the flower bed out from the house a good yard so there is plenty of room for the shrubs and trees to grow. After having laid on 13 bags of pine bark mulch, most of the bed is nicely covered. I still need about 3 more bags to finish the job. We put down weed guard and edged the whole bed with fiberglass edging. It really looks nice. Tomorrow I will take a few pictures once it is done and post it to the blog. The pear tree and the dogwood trees are also doing nicely. I hope to be able to squeeze in some time this weekend to do something else besides yard work. The weather is supposed to be nice and I hope to go to Rawlings quary finally to do some diving. So for tonight I will have a beer and watch 'The Great Raid' on our home theatre system. Almost forgot, I want to do some shopping Saturday for backpacking gear. Still have a May date with my first test hike with the new gear. Almost forgot - two, my projected retirement date has been set for 8/30/2009. A little over 3 years and 4 months until retirement. New Mexico here we come...

Posted by Michael at 8:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2006

Yard work never ends

I think I have had to mow my yard 3 times in the last 2 weeks. I have a pretty big front and back yard and it takes some time to mow. I do not have a riding mower (at least not one that works) so I have to use a self-propelled Toro mower. The mower does a good job but it takes some time to do the front and back yards. Then I have to break out my gas powered weed wacker and have a go at the edging for another hour or so. So to add to that burden I of course put in a garden. Right now my radishes, cucumbers and squash are coming up. I have also planted flowers in the back yard. So now my girlfriend Teresa wants to landscape the front and back yards. To that end we have dug up (by hand) all around the front of the house. We pulled out the old shrubs and day lilies and are putting in some holly bushes and rhododendrons. I must admit that I think that once we are done the yard will look much better than it has. Tomorrow I plan on renting a tiller to do some of the grunt work. Teresa spent $250.00 (of my money) and bought several rhododendrons and holly bushes. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, with a lot of work and a lot of mulch, we should be ready to compete for 'Better Homes and Gardens' yard of the decade...

Posted by Michael at 7:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2006

Gardening Update

Well, it looks like my garden is starting to grow. Despite a 4am temperature of 30 degrees the other day, my beets and squash are starting to sprout. I have not seen the cucumbers come up yet but I think they will. The flowers I planted in the flower bed out back are also doing well. If all goes well with the garden I will probably put another bed in so that I can grow some radishes, peppers, and beans. That should keep me busy for a while. On another topic, we are now considering New Mexico as a place to retire to in addition to Florida. I have started doing some research and New Mexico appeals to me on several levels. First the natural beauty of the state and the fact that it has 23 State parks is a big factor. The scenery goes from mountains to desert. Also, the cost of a house is much less than Florida. I was on a couple of real estate sites yesterday and I can get a much nicer house and a bigger parcel of land for my money than in Florida. Plus, as I told Teresa, there are no hurricanes or alligators. (I don't mind alligators but she does) More later.

Posted by Michael at 7:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 6, 2006

Vegas Revisited

I have just returned from the Gartner Group Portal, Content and Collaboration Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Summit was hosted at the JW Marriott Resort and Casino. As I was unable to book a room there I stayed at the Suncoast Resort and Casino. The JW Marriott was a much better resort but the Suncoast was not bad either. See the photo I took of the Suncoast pool. The summit ran for three days and it was extremely informative. The speakers were all outstanding and the tracks for the different areas of interest were great. I have to prepare a 30 minute presentation on the summit for my employer and I may try to post part of it here. But all was not work. I managed to revisit Red Rock Canyon and made a trip to the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. On my previous vacation to Vegas we stayed on the strip in the New York New York Hotel and we did not have time to go to Fremont Street. The experience was all I had heard it would be and more. I took many photos and some video footage. I will blog some more on the trip but right now I have other things to do. Oh, one other note, I received my backpacking cook stove and mess kit from REI in the mail. I have not had a chance to open them up and evaluate them, but I have most of the big ticket items I need for my backpacking trips coming up this summer. Another topic for a future blog entry.

Posted by Michael at 9:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2006

I'm Back

It has been a busy week again. I have finished the foundation for my vegetable garden. I made a single 15 ft. by 3 ft. plot with a loose soil depth of about 12 inches. I still plan on adding some more top soil and manure before I start planting. The weather is still too cold to start planting as the nighttime lows are still in the low to mid thirties. I have bought the seeds to plant tomatoes, beets, squash, and cucumbers. I will probably lay another 15 ft. by 3 ft. bed next to the existing one. I want to be able to plant some beans and maybe some lettuce. On another note, I bought a new backpack, one man tent, and a sleeping bag. I want to do some backpacking and I really didn't have any good equipment. I spent more than I would care to disclose but the gear is very good and very lightweight. At my age, I want to be carrying as little weight as possible. So between scuba diving, backpacking, and gardening, I think I will have an enjoyable and busy summer and fall. Now if the weather would just improve so I can start doing all this. One more thing I want to mention is that I will be going to Las Vegas for 4 days the first of April for a Gartner Group Summit on Portals and Collaboration. My employer, the U.S. Army is sending me. The Army rocks. I went to Las Vegas last year on vacation and I loved it, but I never thought I would be going back again. I just hope I have enough time to see Freemont Street and maybe Red Rock Canyon again.

Posted by Michael at 7:53 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2006

Spring is in the air

It has been a very busy week. Last Saturday I picked up my dive equipment and went to the local pool with my instructor to test out my equipment. I had my regulator rebuilt and it worked well. All the rest of my gear was in good working order. It felt really good to be back in my dive gear and in the water. I cannot wait for my next real dive, probably at the quarry in Rawlings. This Saturday, I was busy doing outside work. The weather was beautiful today with warm temperatures and sunny sky. I went to Home Depot and bought a new lawn mower. My old one was a piece of junk so I had to buy a new mower. The new mower is a Toro with a 6.5 horsepower motor, front wheel drive, and a recycler and grass bag. I mowed the back yard and it did a great job. I also bought some more flower seeds to plant, along with some new garden tools, top soil, and cow manure for my garden. I transplanted the flowers that I had been growing indoors to my flower bed outside and added the flower seeds I had bought.

Tomorrow I will determine the best place in the back yard to put my vegetable garden. I am planning on a single 15 ft. by 3 ft. row that will be raised and have a depth of about 18 inches. The gardening book I bought said that wide, deep rows were the best way to garden. I will have to remove the sod, add the manure, and loosen the soil to a depth of 18 inches. I will wait until next week to start the actual planting. Between gardening and scuba diving this summer, I expect to stay busy.  

Posted by Michael at 7:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2006

February ending

Looking forward to the return of Spring. I have planted wildflowers in my greenhouse and will transplant them as soon as the danger of frost passes. I took my dive gear to big Bill's Saturday to have him check the gear out for the upcoming dive season. There is going to be a dive clinic at the Portsmouth Rec center this week and I hope to take my gear there and test it out in the pool. Next I hope to go to Lake Rawlings and do a couple of dives before I attempt my first ocean dive of the season. I am quite rusty as I have not had a dive for over a year now. I am really looking forward to a busy dive season and hope to be able to go to Florida for at least a few dives this summer. While we are down there we also hope to look at a few houses for sale as we are really anxious to buy our retirement home soon. On another note, my mother has been transferred from the hospital to a nursing home until she becomes strong enough to move back to her apartment. I visited her yesterday and she still looks pretty weak but her spirits appear strong.

Posted by Michael at 7:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2006

Trip to Nauticus

This Saturday we went to Nauticus in Norfolk. Nauticus is a National Maritime Center that explores the economic, naval, and natural power of the sea. Nauticus includes the Battleship Wisconsin, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and numerous other features. I could have spent the entire day there as there are many fascinating displays, but Kirk was not up to it so we left early. Teresa and I will have to go back again some day soon. This was the first time I have ever visited the Center in all the years I have lived in the area. Don't ask me why I have never visited before as I have been to every other attraction in the Hampton Roads area many times. The best part of the Center is the Battleship Wisconsin. If you have never been up close and personal with a battleship, you have no idea of the size and power that exudes from one of those monsters of the sea. I am including one of the pictures I took of the Wisconsin, which hopefully will give you some feel for the size of these ships. Earlier we had gone to Panera's for breakfast. On my last trip to the Washington, DC area I had eaten in a Panera's for the first time and was really taken with the quality of the food and drink they offer. If there is one in your area and you have never been before, you are really missing out on a great place. The weather service had been predicting snow for Saturday, but as usual they were completely wrong. All we got was a little rain instead of the 1-3 inch wintry mix we were supposed to get. Today it is sunny but very cold. The high temperature for the day so far was 32 degrees but as of 2pm the temperature has dropped to 28 degrees. Too cold to go outside and do much, hence here I am adding a new entry to my blog. On another topic, today marks the first day in a long time that I have gone to the gym. I used to go at least three times a week, but I got sick for two weeks and have not gone for many months. After today, I hope to get back into going regularly again. I really need to get back into shape as I need to lose at least 10 pounds for the scuba diving season which is coming up soon. That, and the fact that I am now 57 years old, I really need to try to keep in better shape.


Posted by Michael at 3:13 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2006

Midweek ramblings

It is Tuesday night and I just finished listening to 'Brave Men Run' another podcast novel that I have been listening to. Between podcasts and audio books, most of my commute to and from work is devoted to listening to my iPod. I don't think I have actually turned on the radio in my truck for months. There is nothing on the radio worth listening to anyway. When I have any spare time from listening to podcasts, I have been tinkering with VMWare's free virtual machine player. I have installed the player on my computer here at home and am running Ubuntu's 'Breezy Badger' linux distro. It acutally works pretty well. I am able to access a full-blown linux distro in a window on my destop while still having XP available for use. It is really pretty cool. I am also trying to install another wiki on my unix server. This wiki is called 'TWiki' and is a perl version of a wiki. I am having some technical issues with getting it configured but I think I will be able to eventually get it running. At work I have been familiarizing myself with Microsoft's InfoPath. It uses XML to create forms and my boss has expressed an interest in some of these new technologies like blogs, wiki's and XML. As if all that was not enough to fill my waking hours, I have started a seed bed with wildflowers so that I can have them ready to plant in the spring. I am also planning on starting a vegetable garden this spring. Oh, and did I mention that I need to get my scuba gear checked out and inspected for the upcoming diving season? I missed most of last year due to several things but I really want to get back into diving again. I really miss the fun and excitement of scuba diving.

Posted by Michael at 9:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 7, 2006


A good friend of mine, Bill Grant, has been sending me emails recently with links to Snapfish.

He has been posting photographs that he has been taking while in Florida. Bill retired from my former employer about two years ago. Bill and his wife Lena then bought a beautiful motor home, sold their main house and started traveling all over the United States. So far they have travelled to the Northeast and the Southwest and are now in Florida. They recently stopped by to visit with another friend of mine, Gloria Shields, who also recently retired from my former employer and is now living in Florida. The most recents links Bill has sent me are from the Emerald Coast and Panama City, Florida. As I am also an avid traveller, naturally I am somewhat envious of Bill's travel adventures. Bill called me last night and inquired as to where Teresa and I stayed on our last visit to Key West, Florida. I told him that we had stayed at the beautiful Casa Marina Resort for the week we were there. So now Bill and Lena are headed to Key West for a few days. Did I say I was envious??

Posted by Michael at 9:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 2, 2006

TDY Training

I have been TDY to Reston, Virginia since Sunday night. I am taking a 5 day course with Learning Tree. The course cover IIS 6.0 and Microsoft Windows Server 2003. So far the course has been very informative. I should be able to go back to work next week and implement some of what I have learned here. The weather has been beautiful. Today it is sunny and I swear it feels like it is 70 degrees. The day after the groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter. Winter like this I can deal with. Learning Tree really takes care of their students. We had cookies Tuesday afternoon and pizza and wings Wednesday evening. You can choose from 6 restaurants to deliver your selection to the classroom for you. There is also an ice skating rink right outside. I don't think I will try my luck skating this time, but maybe when I get home Friday....

Posted by Michael at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2006

Another weekend

Well, my birthday was yesterday, the 27th of January. I am now officialy 57 years old. It always surprises me a little how inexonorably time marches on. I still don't feel my age and I hope I never do. Anyway, I had a nice German chocolate cake and some nice birthday cards and a lot of best wishes from my co-workers. Tomorrow I will be heading to Reston, VA in a rental car for training until Friday. I will be learning about IIS 6.0 and Windows server 2003. I hope the training will be worthwhile. I have been fighting a cold since my last entry and I think I finally have the best of it. The cold, dry weather has not been much of a help. Teresa suggested we get a humidifier for the bedroom as she has been getting sinus headaches from the dry air. I will be heading to Target today to see if I can find a good one. This morning I have been listening to OTR on Live365. OTR stands for Old Time Radio and Live365 is a streaming audio feed that I get from my computer that is fed to my Tivo box. From there I can listen to the broadcasts over my TV and home entertainment center. I will have to talk about my Tivo in another entry. It is one of the best technology devices I have ever purchased.

Posted by Michael at 9:19 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2006

Not a good weekend

I left work 2 hours early Friday because I was not feeling well. Saturday I had a bad cold all day and stayed home all day. The weather was as miserable as I felt also. Today, Sunday, I feel somewhat better but the weather is still miserable. All in all, a pretty lousy weekend. I am watching the playoffs and so far the team I am rooting for is not doing very well. I seem to be a curse for any team I root for. I am a Colts fan but have never watched them play all season. So finally when they play the Steelers for their conference championship I watch the game and guess what, they play terribly. So I stop watching the game and they score eighteen points. They still lost but it is amazing how much bad luck I seem to bring to my teams. Today I am rooting for the Broncos to beat the Steelers and guess who is losing? Can my luck really be that bad? Maybe I will call it a day and go listen to a podcast. Right now I am listening to 'Brave Men Run'

Posted by Michael at 3:37 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2006

First Snow of Winter

We had our first snow of the winter last night. A front came through at about 7pm and brought with it high winds (35-50mph), cold temperatures and about a 1/4 inch of snow. Last winter we had our first snow the day after Christmas. Then we had a total of 8 inches of snow, so last night was not much to really speak of. The winds are still strong today so it is really uncomfortable going out. I hate being stuck inside all day, so I will probably dress up in layers and make a foray to the local park to walk Shakespeare. I don't know if Shakespeare has ever seen snow before. When I let him out last night, he started snapping at the snow as it fell and then he started biting and licking the snow on the ground. I took a couple of pictures of the snow this morning, and I will put one up later in the day.

Posted by Michael at 9:18 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2006

Pretty morning

It is a beautiful morning. We had some rain pass through last night but there is sunshine and fairly warm temperatures for January. I just returned from the front porch and saw two bluejays and a lot of other birds busily going about their morning. Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day so I have a three day weekend to fill. I hope to go to Medoc Mountain State Park in North Carolina tomorrow. I wanted to go on Monday but I have a doctors appointment. The Park is about a three hour drive from my house. I have never been before and from the web site description it sounds like a nice place to visit for a day. Thursday at work I saw a flight of what I at first thought were Canada geese fly over. I was curious because they were not honking as Canada geese do and they did not appear to be big enough for Canada geese. They landed in the ballfield next to our office so I took out my binoculars (I always have binoculars with me) and took a good look at them. I then did a Google search and found them to be Brent Goose.

They are very beautiful and I saw them again Friday in the ocean near the seawall where I walk sometimes during lunch. Did I mention that I work for the Army at Ft. Monroe, Virginia? It is a very beautiful Army post that has an historic fort on it. Sadly, it is scheduled to be shut down in 2009 as a cost-saving measure. I just hope the land is preserved and put to good use.

Posted by Michael at 8:38 AM | Comments (0)

January 8, 2006

CES and Dee

I have been following two things recently. The CES show in Las Vegas has always been fascinating to watch. I am a geek at heart and technology has always been of interest to me. I enjoy the keynote speeches and all the new technology that is shown for the first time. This year it has been especially interesting due to all the bloggers that are reporting on the event. The bloggers provide a unique perspective on CES that is not provided by the mainstream media. There are more one on one interviews via podcast and videocast than have ever been available in the past. The other thing that I have been following ...

is Dee Caffari and Aviva and her solo attempt to circumnavigate the globe going west against the prevailing winds. I have been captivated by her reports and photographs. She has a website,                                 AvivaChallenge

that provides commentary from her and her support crew as well as information on her progress and current position. I have been plotting her voyage on Google Earth  and visiting the countries that she passes by. Mostly it has been the west coast of Africa and the east coast of South America. She has rounded Cape Horn and is currently crossing the Pacific. Her voyage has not been easy as she is manning a boat that normally has a crew of thirteen. I highly recommend that you follow her progress and send her an email of encouragement.  


Posted by Michael at 8:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2006

Happy New Year

Well, another year has come and gone. All in all, 2005 was not a very good year. I am hoping that 2006 will bring some happiness and joy. The last year was a little light in those qualities. Even though there were some good times, especially the trips to Las Vegas and Key West, there were more unhappy, stressful times than not. So on the first day of 2006, do I have any New Years resolutions to keep? I have one, and that is to make 2006 the best year that I can. So today I will take Shakespeare and go for a walk at Merchants Mill Pond. It is one of my favorite parks, and walking in the great outdoors is one of the things that always makes me feel better. So Happy New Year to you all and may you have a happy and bountiful year.

Posted by Michael at 9:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2005

New Year almost upon us

Today is the last day of work for me this year. I have a three day weekend coming up like everyone else. 2005 has been a tumultuous year. Overall it would have been a good year except for the death of my beloved Ginger. She was an amazing dog and was with me for 9 wonderful years. Life without her has been depressing and trying at times. I don't think I will ever get over losing her. She was such an important part of my life. The other big event of the year was the threat of losing my job, facing the prospects of retirement, and finally finding a new job with the US Army here at Ft. Monroe. I feel that God had a lot to do with me finding this job. The stress level in my life has gone down dramatically since I have started working here. I am still faced with the prospect of retiring soon and I have mixed feelings about it. More end of year thoughts to follow. I hope your 2005 was at least as good as mine and hopefully better.

Posted by Michael at 8:42 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2005

Much to report, no will to report it.

 Where do I begin. Just got back from our trip to Italy. Not... Just got back from our trip to Key West, Florida. Long story, maybe another entry. Anyway, we had fun in Key West even though the weather was unseasonably cold for several days. I also have had time to play with my new Nokia 770 internet tablet device. So far I am loving it. Additionally, I have found that there is a much larger free wifi presence in the US than I had imagined. On our trip to Key West, I was able to connect for free in the Charlotte, NC airport and the Ft Lauderdale airport. The hotel we stayed at in Key West, the Casa Marina Resort, had wifi access but it cost ten dollars for 24 hours of access, not that unreasonable. Just before we went on our trip I took my son out to dinner for his birthday and there were several establishments in the area that had wifi. We ate at Barons pub and were able to connect while eating.

So more about the trip to Key West, and why we didn't go to Italy in the next post. I will leave with one of the photos I took that shows the Christmas spirit in Key West. 


View image

Posted by Michael at 7:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

Getting close to Italy

It is less than a week until we head for Rome and Florence in Italy. I am really excited about the trip but I am also a little nervous. I just hope that everything goes well and we have a great time. I need to stop worrying so much about the details like hotels, transportation from the airport to the city, the train from Rome to Florence, and the fact that we will be staying in three different hotels. Mostly I am worried about the language barrier. In all my other trips overseas, to Europe, St. Lucia, and Belize, I was always able to communicate effectively with the locals. In Europe I was with a tour group and an experienced guide. In St. Lucia and in Belize most people spoke English. In Italy however, I expect to encounter many situations where I need to be able to communicate with someone who speaks little or no English. I have learned some basic phrases and will have my pocket dictionary and phrase book with me. I hope these will be enough to ensure that there will be no mixups or misunderstandings that will result in any vacation spoiling incidents. But why worry, just go with the flow and enjoy the trip. Don't worry, be happy....

Posted by Michael at 8:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 5, 2005

Saddam Hussein

Ok, I usually don't post political comments on this blog but I could not stay silent on this. Saddam Hussein is on trial again and running his big mouth again as usual. There are big headlines on CNN and Foxnews that quote him as saying he is not afraid of execution. Wow, what a brave man. This coming from someone who was captured cowering in a hole in the ground, armed but unwilling to resist capture, unwilling to die before surrendering to the evil Americans. Where was his vaunted 'courage' then? If he is so brave as to be unafraid of execution, I wonder why he allowed himself to be captured? Could it be because in actuality he a a blustering, bullying, loudmouthed coward who is afraid of his own shadow? Me thinks so. That's all I have to say about that.  

Posted by Michael at 5:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 4, 2005


ancestor.gifI have been listening to a podcast from Scott Sigler called 'Earthcore'. It is the first novel released as a podcast only. I have really enjoyed the novel a lot. It is very well written and read. It is released in installments that I download via iTunes. Each installment is several chapters long. The quality of the novel is on a par with most of the audio books I download for money from From the authors web site" And here we go! EarthCore officially kicks off today with the Prologue. In the Prologue, you get just a taste of the evil buried deep beneath the Earth's surface. Get ready for 'Death from Below.' Next week we slap you upside the head with Chapters 1-4.

Warning! This is not a kid's book -- EarthCore runs the gammut of politically incorrect topics, from language to sex to raw violence.

I have four installments left before I am done and I am really addicted to this book. The author has released a new podcast called 'Ancestor'. If it is as well done as his first effort, I will be downloading it before I finish the first one. Click on the icon in this entry to get the authors latest podcast.  

Posted by Michael at 8:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 1, 2005

Why a chore?

Why does it seem so hard to write a blog entry sometimes? There is a lot going on in my life but I just don't feel compelled to write about it. Anyway, what is happening in my life lately. Work has been going well, Shakespeare has settled down and stopped tearing up the house, our new tenant Michelle is very sweet and keeps a low profile, and I have been feeling generally well health wise. I bought a PlayStation 2 and a hundred dollar gift certificate for a child named Xavier through our church. He is from a disadvantaged family. Plans are in the final stages for the trip to Italy. I have reconfirmed our hotel reservations and I just received two pocket guides to Rome and Florence as well as a really nice laminated folding map of Rome with lots of other useful information. I already had a similar map for Florence. So I should be really excited about things but for some reason I am not. Maybe it is the weather or maybe it is something I ate.. Who knows. Anyway, I hope my spirits will pickup again soon. Oh, I know now, it is the typical holiday blues I feel every year. Yeah, thats the ticket....

Posted by Michael at 7:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2005

Scary Day

Wednesday I took our upstairs renter Michelle car shopping. She has been staying with us for a while, renting the upstairs apartment. Anyway, she is 18 years old and works full time and goes to college also. I admire her for her work ethics and desire to further her education. Well, her car's transmission is bad and she cannot shift into reverse. So I volunteered to take her car shopping as I was off from work that day. We drove to a couple of dealerships before we finally arrived at Green-Gifford. First she took a nice Pontiac Sunfire out for a test ride. This was followed by test drives of a Kia Rio and a Hyundai Elantra I think. Anyway the Sunfire and Hyundai were OK but the Rio was a dog. It had a 1.5 Liter engine and had the pickup of a push mower. But the real news is how terrible a driver she is. I am suprised she is even alive. She had her cell phone going full blast sending text messages non-stop while she was driving, talking and doing anything. I really don't think she ever stopped using it the entire car shopping trip. Mix an 18 year old driving a car she is unfamiliar with on a road she is unfamiliar with while totally distracted by her cell phone and you can picture me cringing in the passenger seat and waiting to die a horrible death. Thankfully we all survived and even managed to not buy a car at the overpriced dealerships. She finally bought a car which I have not seen yet for about $2,000 cash. The ones she was looking at before were in the 6-7 thousand dollar range. I don't think she could have even qualified for a loan without a co-signer and her Mom and Dad had both told here they would not co-sign for her. So everything turned out OK. I just hope the car she bought holds up long enough for her to afford a real car some day.

Posted by Michael at 8:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2005

Back from the Mountains Photo

Another shot from the trip. 

Posted by Michael at 1:10 PM | Comments (0)

Back from the Mountains Photo

Managed to get a candid shot of a couple of deer. 

Posted by Michael at 1:05 PM | Comments (0)

Back from the Mountains

We arrived back home from our trip to Skyline drive late yesterday afternoon. All in all it was a really nice little vacation. The leaves had already fallen at the higher elevations and the colors were not as brilliant as in past years. The weather, however, was perfect. We had two days of brilliant sunshine and very few clouds. The temperatures were moderate with lows in the upper 30's and hights in the low 60's. The accomodations at Skyland Resort were very adequate and the food was much better than expected. We did a little hiking, a lot of stopping at the vistas, and made it down to Big Meadows in time to see all the deer at sunset.

We were even fortunate enough to see a black bear up a tree. I got some pretty good photographs although I was dissappointed in some of them. I still have a lot to learn about my camera. I should have tried some of the presets instead of shooting most of the shots in raw. But I managed to get quite a few good shots, one of which I will post with this entry. Teresa managed to get some shopping done in Sperryville and Fredricksburg. I even did a little shopping myself, buying two coffe mugs, a book and maps on backpacking the AT, and a book on nanotechnology and two street maps to Florence and Rome for our upcoming Italy vacation. The Borders bookstore in Fredricksburg is much better than our local Barnes and Noble, with a much wider selection of titles. More on the vacation will follow. I still have three days left in my vacation so I will be doing some more traveling soon.


Posted by Michael at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 6, 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Been very busy lately and have not had much time to do any blogging. Besides that, my Internet access has been down for several days. Cox cable came out and fixed it yesterday. It seems that my transmission level was too high. It was over 55 (db?) and needed to be below 50 at a minimum. After rerouting my coax to avoid two splitters, my Internet is back and better than ever. I have noticed a marked increase in performance. I think my speed rates at T1 according to most tests I have run on it.
Work has been very hectic also. I am trying to do several projects at the same time and am taking two online courses. One course is in SharePoint Portal technology and the other course is on knowledge management. I am also trying to squeeze in a few Italian lessons for our upcoming trip to Italy. Yesterday I worked in the back yard most of the day getting it ready for winter. Today, after church, I will finish up the back yard and start in the front yard. I plan on laying down some rye grass so our yard won't look dead over the winter. I think I have at least a half dozen other to do items on my PDA that need attending to also. Oh, and did I forget to mention that I have three web sites that need my attention? Bring on the clones.....

Posted by Michael at 9:24 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2005

Fall is really here

Well it looks like Fall is here to stay. Temperature last night dropped down into the 30's. This morning it is clear and cool, a perfect Fall day. As soon as I can get myself together, Shakespeare and I will go for a nice long walk. I just finished adding a plugin to my blog. You will notice an "I'm reading" entry at the top of the page. This plugin gets book information from and presents the Title, author, book cover, and a link to the book on Amazon. It is basically just a perl script. I am amazed that it worked the first time I tried it. I am going to have to experiment with some more plugins to see if I cannot jazz up my blog some. That's all for now..

Posted by Michael at 9:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2005

Stay at Skyline Drive

I booked a room at Skyland Resort on Skyline Drive for Veterans Day, the 11th of February. Teresa, Kirk and I will be going up to see the Fall color change. I hope to get some great photos of the area. In the meantime, work has been going along fairly well. I have got my hands full with several projects but I don't mind. I feel comfortable knowing I can retire any time that I grow tired of it. I have been wathcing Hurricane Wilma's progress towards a landfall in Florida. I had not expected another hurricane of this magnitude this late in the season. At least the projected path shows Wilma will not come too close to our area. I hope that projected path holds true. Can't think of much else to report except I helped unload 1000 pumpkins the other night for our church pumpkin patch sale. I am still a little sore from all the unacustomed exercise. I am volunteering to help sell them this weekend so I should be plenty busy this weekend.


Posted by Michael at 6:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2005

We went to the Stockley Gardens Art Festival yesterday. The weather was beautiful for a change as the weather had been terrible for the previous two weeks. Stockley Gardens Art Festival is something that I have been going to for a long time. I have a lot of pleasant memories of it. Earlier that day we went to the Daily Grind coffee shop for breakfast. I was not very impressed with the quality of the food. The panini and the bagel were very ordinary but the muffins and coffee were OK. After the festival we had lunch at one of my favorite places, Cafe Mundo. The food is always very good at Mundo. In addition, Cafe Mundo now has free wifi access. When I get my Nokia internet appliance for Christmas (I hope) Cafe Mundo will be the first place I go to try it out. Also yesterday, I was supposed to help with the unloading of pumpkins that were supposed to be delivered to our church for its annual pumpkin patch event. Unfortunatly, the pumpkins have been delayed due to Katrina and Rita. I don't know if that is the real reason as I was told the pumpkins come from Arizona or New Mexico. What does Katrina and Rita have to do with pumpkins in the Soutwest? Click the link below for a photo I took at the Festival.

View image

Posted by Michael at 9:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 8, 2005

We had a big storm today with lots of rain. The National Weather Service had flash flood warnings for NE North Carolina and all of Hampton Roads. We had flooding worse than any I have seen here. I went out after the storms passed and took several photographs of the flooding. We have a small creek that flows between our house and the B&B bank and it was way over its bank. The water was coming across our road so fast into the creek that it was making waves. Our front and back yard were under water. And if that wasn't enought, it rained hard enough that a leak has shown up in our bathroom. See the link below for a photo I took of the flooding.

View image

Posted by Michael at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

October 7, 2005

Long weekend begins

Well, I started the long Columbus Day weekend. I spent most of Friday reading, running a few errands, and working on my Mambo site. I added a new component to Mambo that allows me to create a travel journal complete with an interactive map and journal entries. I plan on using it to document our upcoming Italy vacation. The weather has been lousy but I managed to get out and buy a used book to read. Our new boarder, Michelle, had supper with us tonight. I cooked waffles and sausage and she cleaned her plate up like a good girl... Later she brought her bird ( a parakeet) downstairs. Her name is Petri and she is adorable. She can talk and is very friendly. Unfortunately, our dog Shakespeare almost ate it. Michelle had Petri on her shoulder and when she bent over to pick something up Shakespeare grabbed the bird. All I saw was flying feathers and heard a lot of squaking. Luckily, Shakespeare was only playing with the bird and did not really bite down on her. She lost a couple of feathers but other than that she is OK. I hope the rest of the day proves to be not as exciting.

Posted by Michael at 8:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2005

Columbus Day Weekend

I have a long weekend coming up this weekend. I will be taking off from work on Friday and next Tuesday. This gives me a 5 day weekend with Saturday, Sunday, and Columbus day. I will have to give it some thought as to how best utilize my time off. I will probably do a lot of work on my web sites but I also feel like I need to take some time for myself. I am thinking about going out of town somewhere and spending the night at a motel or lodge or something. I am thinking about somewhere near Skyline Drive so I can do some hiking and photography. I just hope Teresa doesn't feel slighted by my plans. After all, I am taking her to Italy this December.

Posted by Michael at 7:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 2, 2005


I have been trying to customize the look of the current skin of my blog with mixed results. I figured out how to change the background, now I just need to find one I like. The present one is not what I expected. I also want to be able to change the header, but I am not yet sure how to do that. I think I can figure it out as I am a pretty smart guy and I have a lot of years experience behind me. I haven't met a program yet that could lick me... On another matter, we had our year end picnic Friday and it was a lot of fun. The food was fantastic; I ate too much as usual, and we played horseshoes, putting, and name that tune. All in all I like most of the people I am working with now. I still miss my old workmates from PWC, but these ones will do for now...

Posted by Michael at 8:26 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

Hurricane Rita

Rita is now a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 165mph. The barometric pressure is 904 mb, just 2 mb less than Katrinia. This makes Rita the fifth most intense hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin. I used to live in Corpus Christi, Texas, which is threatened by Rita. I was in Corpus Christi in 1961 when we had to be evacuated for Hurricaned Carla. I read in the news this afternoon that my old neighborhood, Flour Bluff, was under a mandatory evacuation. I just pray that Rita will not be the disaster that Katrinia was. See the latest NOAA satellite photo of Rita below.

View image

Posted by Michael at 6:54 PM | Comments (0)

Winter Vacation

Had I mentioned earlier in my blog that Teresa and I will be vacationing in Italy this December? If not, here are the latest details. We will leave for Rome the 18th of December, arriving in the morning on the 19th. (Long flight plus add 5 hours for time zone) We plan on staying three nights in Rome and do all the usual sightseeing stuff. Then we will take a train from Rome to Florence where we will spend two nights. I think I am more excited about the train ride and Florence than I am about Rome. Finally we will take the train back to Rome where we will spend one more night before flying home on Christmas day. We are both really excited about the trip. I have already booked the hotels for Rome and Florence. In Florence we will be staying in a 15th century convent that is still run by nuns. It is very quaint and beautiful, in addition to being inexpensive and centrally located. Much more on our plans in future postings. Check the link for the website of the convent we will be staying in in Florence.

Posted by Michael at 5:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2005

Storm Report

Just got in from being on the front porch watching a big thunderstorm pass through our area. Kirk, Shakespeare, and I were really enjoying Mother Nature's show. But I am sure it is nothing compared to what the Florida Keys are going through with Hurricane Rita. I watched some footage on CNN of the flooding in Islamorada. It looked like the ocean had gone completely across the island. Highway 1 was covered in water, seaweed, and debris. Teresa and I had vacationed there two summers ago so I can imagine what it must be like there now. The photo is one I captured from of the storm on the Doppler radar.

View image

Posted by Michael at 9:08 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2005

Upgrade of Blog Software

I have just finished upgrading my MovableType publishing software from V 3.17 to the supposedly new and improved version 3.2. The upgrade went smoothly so I am posting this entry to see how it works. I will be TDY from Ft. Monroe for the next three days. I will be attending a COR school at Ft. Eustis. For anyone who is interested, the COR school is for contracting officers who manage contracts for the Army. Seems I fall into that category now along with all my other new duties. Today I had to utilize the DoD secure network (SIPRNet) to access AKO-S, the secure version of AKO. So I am staying busy at work and at home. Well lets see if this posts OK on my new blog.

Posted by Michael at 9:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2005

Weekend is Here

Another week finished. It is Friday evening and I have just finished watching an Outer Limits that on my TiVO. Hurricane Ophelia has come and gone with not a drop of rain and very little wind. Much ado about nothing.. I finally had to go back to the Doctor for my cough. It had been getting worse and worse. Seems I still have a touch of Bronchitis and my usual allergies. So I am on another antibiotic and some more Flonaze for my allergies. It seems to be helping quite a bit. I may be able to get some sleep finally. This weekend I will be moving my operations from the upstairs apartment to a downstairs bedroom. We are taking in a boarder and she will be staying upstairs in my former digs. She is a friend of Dana's and is not wanted by her Dad anymore so she will be staying with us for a while. I hope it works out OK for all of us.

Posted by Michael at 6:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 5, 2005

What a weekend

Well, it has been quite a Memorial day weekend. Saturday I felt well enough to go to the nature walk at Hoffler Creek. The weather was pleasant and we saw a lot of birds. Unfortunately, I came away with a million chiggers on me. So now I am scratching away the remainder of the holiday weekend. We ate out last night at a new restaurant in Chesapeake. It is close to us and is called Spahgetti Eddie's. The food was very good and reasonably priced. One of Dana's friends works there as a waitress. We also ran across Heather and her family as they were leaving. Today I worked in the yard for a while and am now scratching myself as I update my web sites. Teresa is out shopping and I am waiting for her to return so I can go for a walk with Shakespeare. I have also been looking at how to get around while in Rome and Florence. The options range from an expensive private car all day tour of Rome to renting a scooter and risking life and limb to see the city. I kind of like the scooter idea as it is inexpensive and sounds like fun but I don't know if I can talk Teresa into that. The other options are train, bus, trolley, or the underground. Still cogitating on it..

Posted by Michael at 1:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2005

First day of September

Well, it seems like summer is slowly fading away. It is still hot outside (86 degrees) but the humidity is decreasing. I finally went to the doctor today after fighting this cold for 4 days. Seems I have a sinus infection AND bronchitis. So I am on antibiotics and decongestants. So I guess I will watch tv and read the rest of the day. I hope to be feeling much better by the weekend. I have a lot of shopping to do and there is a migratory bird nature walk on Saturday that Teresa, Kirk and I will be going to. So I am looking forward to feeling my old crappy self soon.

Posted by Michael at 1:22 PM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2005

Not so crappy day?

In response to a recent comment, I will try to make this entry not so crappy. But that may be hard to do. I have had a nasty cold the last two days and the disaster in the Gulf states has got me depressed. Oh, I am looking forward to $3.00 a gallon gas and my mother has to go to the hospital tomorrow. But on the bright side, I love my new job, we are going to Italy in December, and I have the best son a Dad could ever hope for. How is that..

Posted by Michael at 7:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

What a crappy day

Well, what started out as a pretty good day ended up in the toilet. I felt like hell yesterday but today when I got up I felt pretty good. Work went well and I left early as I had an appointment with Cox Cable about problems with my Internet access. When I got home I found that my wonderful dog Shakespeare had torn the house up again. He had shredded my good bible (the second one) all over the house as well as a pair of Teresa's shoes. On top of that, I can't get the Hoover to vaccum any more so I tossed it into the yard. Then the phone would not work so I could not answer when Cox called to make sure I was home. Oh, and the broom broke when I was trying to sweep up the mess my dog had made. So I am still waiting for the Cox man to show up, it is raining like hell and my blood pressure is probably through the roof. All in all a pretty swell day. I am afraid what might happen next. Stay tuned.....

Posted by Michael at 5:35 PM | Comments (1)

August 18, 2005

Back from TDY

I got back from my trip to Ft. Leonard Wood today. The trip was everything I thought it would be.

The post at Ft. Leonard Wood was impressive. It was much better than any Navy base I have ever seen. The Manuever Support Center that we visited was like a major college campus. The main building housed the Engineers, Military Police, and Chemical Corps schools. The facility was state of the art and the interior was beautiful. The halls had many display cases highlighting each schools history. It reminded me of a museum in many ways. The staff was very friendly and extremely talented and professional. We were able to visit each school and see some of the classes in action. As I said before, I was very impressed. I will write more about the trip soon. On the last night, we drove back to St. Louis and stayed in a hotel near the airport. We drove into downtown St. Louis and walked around the river district and visited the arch. There is a beautiful museum below the arch that chronicles the Lewis and Clarke expedition and the expansion west. The trip to the top of the 630 ft. arch was exciting and the view was spectacular. More on that later also.

Posted by Michael at 7:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2005

Hampton Power Boat Regatta

This is what the hydroplanes looked like that competed in the 11th Annual Hampton Power Boat Regatta.

Posted by Michael at 6:46 PM | Comments (0)

Sunday Evening

Been a really hot and humid weekend. Stayed in most of the weekend. I did get out Saturday morning and evening to mow the yard. My riding mower is broken so I have been using my gas-powered push mower. Hot, sweaty work, maybe I will lose a pound or two if I don't have a heat stroke. Teresa and I went to Driver saturday to buy an iron fence gate for the rental house. I took a few pictures of this classic Ford coupe that was parked there. I sure wish they made cars like that again. Check out my photo gallery (Regatta Album) and see for yourself. The Friday before the weekend I took a zillion photos of the 11th Annual Hampton Power Boat Regatta running at Ft. Monroe. I know the event director so I was able to get a pit pass to get up close and personal with the boats. Again, check out the photo gallery. One last note, I will be TDY to Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri for 4 days next week, so I won't be posting anything until Friday. I am looking forward to going on the trip and seeing the Army in action. It has been 33 years since I was in the Army and things sure have changed since then.

Posted by Michael at 6:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 7, 2005

Portal upgrades

I have been busy this weekend updating my DotNetNuke portal. I have added three new applications/modules. The first module was a core discussion module. I hope to use this module for the Tefft family to keep in touch online. The second module was another core module, the who's online module. This module is primarily for me to see who is online at any given moment. The third, an application, is a COT chat program. I am running the 30 day trial of Zbit's Chat application. It runs on a MS Acces database and is a pretty sophisticated chat program. All in all, I am happy with the progress on my portal. Now I just need to get people to start using it. I also need to do more work on my Mambo portal.

Posted by Michael at 6:08 PM | Comments (0)

August 3, 2005

Short note

I found out that my trip to Fort Leonard Wood will be from Monday - Thursday 15-18th of August. I am looking forward to going with Major O'brien. It is a very large Fort in the middle of the Ozarks so the scenery should be beautiful. Plus, I hope to learn about how the Army does things and the software they use for their Learning Centers. BTW, the Fort is nicknamed Fort Lost in the Woods due to its remote nature.

Posted by Michael at 7:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2005

Weekend Update

Not a bad weekend all things considered. The weather was cloudy and rainy but it did not keep me from doing what I wanted to do. Saturday I took a ride to Hampton and Ft. Monroe and took some photos. I took about 11 photos and all of them came out well. On Sunday at church they had a string quartet perform. The quartet consisted of 4 teenage girls who played 2 violins, 1 cello, and a viola. They were very entertaining and talented. We also had a former drug addict, ex con who was saved by accepting Jesus Christ as his savior. He gave a talk about how he turned his life around and how he is currently helping homeless and street people make their lives better. He brought along about six of the people he had helped save. It was a very inspirational testimonial.

Posted by Michael at 9:25 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2005

Another Day

Busy day at work. I attended a 2 hour meeting about the migration of the TRADOC EA SharePoint forest to the new CONUS forest. Sounds like a lot of work but it should be challenging. I am also tasked to put together a presentation comparing the two knowledge centers that TRADOC is using. The first is the TKN (TRADOC Knowledge Network), built using SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and the second is the Army Knowledge Online portal, which was contractor built using numerous technologies. They both have a lot of similarities although the TKN is mostly for internal TRADOC use while the AKO has a worldwide audience. I find both of them to be state of the art and very powerful. The links are: and

Posted by Michael at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2005

This is a photo I took of one of the old houses at
Ft. Monroe where I work.

Posted by Michael at 7:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2005

Good Day

I finally have my DotNetNuke CMS running on my other web site. I think I like it more than my Mambo installation. Of course it cost me some bucks for the SQL database whereas Mambo uses open source MySQL. But as my office is all Microsoft all the time I feel I had better learn all I can about the Microsoft world of software. I also managed to take some pictures of the beautiful old housing on Ft. Monroe today. As soon as I process them in Photoshop I will post one of them.

Posted by Michael at 8:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2005

Buying a home in Florida

Teresa and I have been talking about buying a home in Florida. Right now we are looking in the Clearwater area. (Near Tampa). I am looking into driving or flying down to Florida for a week in August and look at the area and some houses for sale. Hopefully we can get in some sightseeing too. I am just a little worried about taking leave this early in my new job but with 25 years of service I don't think anyone can complain.

Posted by Michael at 3:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2005

Back to work

I am back to work after attending the AKO workshop in Springfield, Virginia. I learned about the Army Knowledge Online portal which will be my main task as a new employee with the Army TRADOC CIO department. I am really excited about my new job and working on AKO. More to follow.

Posted by Michael at 9:40 AM | Comments (0)