New Watch

HeartRateMy old heart rate watch quit after 5 years and a new battery didn’t help.  I think I sweated the poor thing to death.   So I got a new fancy exercise watch and tried it out.   That heart rate plot is about 18 hours long.

Run, rest a bit, burpees (see here for a Wikipedia article if you’ve never heard of these) and moving weights.

For what it’s worth, I hate burpees.  They get me out of breath.   🙂


I mentioned to a TV station engineer that I’m retiring.  They offered me a job before I could even catch my breath.  We were running 8:14 minute miles at the time and it was over 100F degrees (almost 40C), so “before I could even catch my breath” might have been one or two minutes….but still…….

Apparently that engineer told someone else who told someone else, and so on.  I’ve received telephone calls from three other companies asking if I’d be interested in coming out of retirement to work for “them”.

Yet another engineer (he does consulting work for sewer system operators) has asked if I’d be interested in writing software for computers that control sewer systems.

My wife mentioned on her Facebook page that I’m retiring and somewhere she must also have mentioned my commercial driver license and school bus driver certificate because I’ve received telephone calls from two different friends of hers…both are school district student transportation directors and both are asking if I would like to drive a school bus.

My wife has already said how nice it will be for me to come down to her school and help mentor the high school kids in the robotics club.

I still have my government “portable hospital engineer” job and I am still a substitute school bus driver for the elementary school that our daughter attended.

Can I have a 5 minute break between retirement and un-retirement?  Please?


For what it’s worth, Coleman doesn’t know I’m writing this post.  If they find this, hopefully they won’t mind.


While we were on vacation, our Coleman stove started to act a bit “funny”;  the stove was difficult to light and the flame was yellow and inconsistent.  This is usually a “generator” problem.

The long tube that comes out of the gas tank and goes across the right hand side gas burner is the generator.

I called Coleman on the telephone, gave them the stove model number and asked if they had a generator.  It arrived in two days.

This was for a stove that had   9  76   stamped on the bottom.  Since I bought this stove used in 1980, I’m guessing this is “September 1976”.  I had the same experience last year when I was needing parts for my similarly aged Coleman lantern.

They do not appear to have given up supporting their older products.  I will keep this in mind when (hopefully when) our daughter needs her own camping stuff.



I had my mid-year performance review this past Monday (July 31). The review was the usual good one.

As usual for performance reviews, the supervisor asked, “What would you like to be doing in 5 years?”  Usually this question is expected to be answered in some vague manner, but this time, my answer was clear, specific and had a time frame,

“I want to retire in the next couple of months.”



When we left upstate New York, we drove into Canada near Ottawa and drove along the Trans-Canada Highway.

For those that would believe a highway with such a name would be a huge 4 lane, or larger, highway, you would be wrong.  Nearly all of the part my wife and I drove along was just one lane in each direction with a 90kph (55mph) speed limit.  The engineer in me believes that there is no reason to enlarge the road because outside of the towns we would encounter only one or two cars every few minutes.

The route is very beautiful and wonderfully rural.  I would recommend that people should put driving this route on their “bucket list”.   It took us 3-1/2  days of easy driving, camping each of the three nights in the very nice Provincial Parks to make it around Lake Superior and back to the USA.


One thing that makes me wonder about the climate, though, is the availability Diesel #1, Winter Blend Diesel and Diesel #2.  Diesel #1 is one of those products that I rarely encounter in the deserts of the USA. 🙂


After we drove back into the USA we camped at a county park/campground in Minnesota about 15 miles from the start of the Mississippi River.  It was a Sunday night and we were the only humans in the park.  The mosquitoes, however, were *NUMEROUS*, *HUGE* and *HUNGRY*.  The 100% strength DEET insect repellent on our clothes and 25% strength DEET on our exposed skin kept the mosquitoes mostly at bay.  After awhile we quit noticing the loud whine of the clouds of frustrated mosquitoes.

I wasn’t able to get a picture of the road sign, that I think was a joke (but I’m not sure).  It was the typical road warning sign–a yellow square set so that the points of the sign are at the noon-3-6-9 clock positions with a black symbol warning of an upcoming road hazard.  In this case, instead of an arrow or a picture of a large truck tipping over, there was an image of a mosquito flying off with a human.


We stopped at Itasca Lake State Park and waded across the Mississippi and then walked across the Mississippi River Bridge.   It’s hard to tell from looking at this picture, but the bridge is only about 30 feet (not quite 10 meters) long and the water would barely cover one’s feet.



We then drove on US Interstate Highway 94, and camped west of Bismark, ND so that we could stop at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  There were a huge number of Prairie Dogs and it was interesting watching them.  Prairie dog lookouts were stationed at various points, watching for predators and at any sign of concern, the lookout would sound an alarm “bark”, which resulted in every prairie dog scurrying for their burrows.

We also had to wait for a herd of bison to finish crossing the road, which I thought was amazing.   In the car behind us was a family and the man (father/dad, I’m guessing) was grumbling about how long it took for the bison to cross the road.  His wife and children were much more patient and they even laughed at my “The reason the bison, or chickens for that matter, cross the road is to prove to the armadillo that it can be done.” joke.

At the park is a cabin that was used by President Theodore Roosevelt and what amazed me were the examples of cookware displayed in the cabin’s “kitchen”.  It wasn’t the age of the items that amazed me, rather it was that I have similar items in my own kitchen.

From there we drove on into Montana and camped just outside of the Little Big Horn Battlefield Monument.  The interpretative park ranger was a retired history teacher and it showed.   His narration of the battle was nothing short of amazing.  I hope the US National Park Service recognizes the talent in that man!  This site is also a US National Cemetery (for US military veterans) and I saw grave markers with dates up through the mid 1970s.  For what it is worth, this is probably the most emotion producing place we visited during the 7,000 mile (11,000Km) drive.

Our route then took us through Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.  Even the smallest of parks deserves a few days of time for a visit and, like the Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons deserves many days.  We didn’t have that much time, so we didn’t even try to “drive in, get a T-shirt and say we ‘did it’.”  We will visit these places again when we have more time.

The final two places we visited were Bryce Canyon and the Glen Canyon Dam.  We camped inside the park at Bryce and spent quite a bit of time wandering around the park, watching the light of the sunset play on the rock formations.

The last place was a “I didn’t know they offered tours” so it was an even more spur of the moment thing.  My wife and I are both engineers and her dad worked at a small low head, high flow hydroelectric power plant on a river in upstate New York, so there was no way we would not stop to see a “high head, lower flow” large hydroelectric power plant.


My wife and I spent Saturday, July 8 through Thursday the 13th driving to upstate New York.  It was a 2,700 mile trip that we drove in a reasonably leisurely manner.

Along the way, we stopped in Dallas to visit the President Kennedy Assassination site and museum, the Vicksburg National Military Park, Great Smokey Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.

We tent camped at the Smokey Mountain and Shenandoah National Parks and had planned to camp one more time, but decided against it because the last campsite was covered by flash flood warnings.

We have been visiting my wife’s family and have been doing the tourist things.  My wife’s idea of a vacation is do X, Y, Z, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…..then we can have breakfast before continuing with the rest of the list and finish up around dinner time.  My idea of a vacation is a bit more relaxed.

Friday and Saturday was spent driving through the north country of New York.  Sunday we drove around to my wife’s relatives houses.  Monday was spent at Lake Placid and Tuesday was spent touring the thousand islands and Boldt Castle.  Since Monday was very cloudy we are going back to Lake Placid on Wednesday.

Thursday we will be starting the drive home.  Our plan is to drive into Canada from upstate New York and drive to Sault Ste Marie or Thunder Bay before crossing back into the USA.  From there we will drive home via Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Utah.  I’m hoping that we can tent camp most nights on the way home.




popperTonight I became a part of my memories of my grandfather.

After my mother’s death, when I was cleaning out her house, I found an old cast aluminum skillet with a glass lid.

When I saw it, I smiled.  Seeing it brought back many nearly forgotten childhood memories of my grandfather using this skillet to make popcorn on the stove.

Like I did with my grandmother when she made zimt kuchen, I watched my grandfather when he made popcorn.

I never made popcorn while I was in college.   I didn’t have a pan to make popcorn and it was nearly free at the university–I think a huge bag of popcorn was 10 cents.

Anyway, when I brought this popcorn popper home, I stopped at the store and bought some popping corn.  But I never got around to making popcorn until tonight.

My wife mentioned she was going to the store to get some ‘microwave popcorn’ and I asked her to wait while I tried an experiment.  I got the pan out and did what I remembered my grandfather doing when he made the popcorn

  • Put a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pan and heat it on medium heat.
  • When the oil gets so hot that it looks shiny, add a single kernel of popcorn.
  • Wait for the kernel to pop.  When it pops, wait about 30 more seconds.
  • Put a hand full of popcorn into the pan, put the glass lid on and rapidly move the pan around on the stove so that the kernels move within the pan.
  • When the popping slows to 1 or 2 pops per second, remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
  • Add butter and salt to the popcorn and use your hands to stir the popcorn around so that it gets coated.

My memory must have been good or popcorn is easy to make this way.  I had only a tiny number of un popped kernels and none of the popcorn was scorched.

Thank you, grandfather, for the memories.