Friday, December 28, 2012

a hard drive back to Virginia

As often happens, this will be a grand catch up entry. The second day at Disney’s Epcot was okay but the highlight was the special (18 dollars) visit to the interior of the greenhouses. That was interesting and the most practical was the system which used the fish water to fertilize the plants, with the water being constantly recycled. The main technique was hydroponics, which have been around for many years but I guess they are getting better. The guide had no specific figures. Much of the produce goes to the Disney restaurants but it is a very low figure, under 5% of what they need. The fireworks display in the evening was spectacular and my dinner at Flying Fish on the Boardwalk just outside of Epcot was terrific and I did have a piece of exceptional flounder. The animal kingdom was fun and I did get there early so I could be one of the first to go on the safari ride and that was decent but quick. It wasn’t a zoo but too close for comfort. After the ride you could walk through part of the savannah and I saw a number of animals and birds, with the highlight being a whole family of silverback gorillas. The Jungle King show was first rate as was the Bug show. I also decided to take the Kali Rapids ride and it was fun even though I did close my eyes at the 23 ft drop (at a 40 degree angle). The kids in my raft loved it but one ride was enough for me. I went back to the room for a nap and then I headed off to Downtown Disney again, and had a decent meal at Portabello, an Italian restaurant. Overall, I am glad I went—and everything was first rate if expensive--but I won’t go again. Tuesday morning found me driving toward Florida City and it was one of those days that get out of hand. After four hours of driving I finally found a place to ride my bike (by the Homestead YMCA) and changed my plans from a campground (the area looked rough) to a Best Western, which ended up being a very decent place. The next day I drove into the Everglades and stopped at Royal Palm but the Anhinga Trail was a disappointment with very few birds, a few fish and a handful of alligators. Further along I stopped to ride my bike for 40 minutes and then I headed to Flamingo to eat and take the boat tour since I wasn’t feeling at all like paddling. The tour was fine, with sightings of night herons and spoonbills, alligators and crocodiles, but I was really hot and had no energy whatsoever. After the tour I realized that things weren’t going well, so on my way to Homestead I called Dove Creek and thankfully they let me cancel both nights and I decided to drive as far as I could toward home (over 900 miles) and that turned out to be about 70 miles. The next two days and nights were awful but at least when I got to Columbia on the third night, I was able to stay at the Clarion and that was a very comfortable room. I was going to try to do something the next day but I was too sick so I simply drove home and have been slowly recovering for the past few days. The big news is that Rhonda’s house suffered extensive damage from a fire and I went out there on Christmas and gave her a nice check to help out. I have gotten back to weights and yoga, and today I also practiced for 20 minutes and that felt good. Later I walked in the New River Valley Mall for 30 minutes and was positive. Earlier in the day I found a cow out of the front pasture and called Dougie and helped him get it back in. My essay on Preppers is moving slowly but it is moving. Tracy did return my Birthday greeting e-mail and I was glad. I e-mailed her back and told her about my spot on the Ten Sleep. I am very glad she is doing very well.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

a good start to my Florida trip

My trip started out well, making it all the way to Columbia, with a stop at Birkdale to shoot a 49. I didn’t take a nap, probably because of my vegetarian diet, so when I arrived in Columbia I rode my bike along the river for 40 minutes and then went back to the Clarion for a nap, before heading to dinner at the Motor Supply Company Bistro. The beet salad was very good and the vegetarian lasagna was also very good. After dinner, I went to Starbucks and finished my grading and put my grades in. The next morning my ankle hurt pretty much so I decided I had better rest it the next couple of days. I realized that since I couldn’t do much, it would be wise to move up my trip a day or I would be stuck sitting around for over a day, and that is what I did. I would get to Disney on Saturday and go to Epcot and Animal Kingdom on Sunday and Monday, then head to the everglades and key largo. I drove steadily through the day, and of course followed the news about the shooting of the 20 children in Newton, CT. I again had no nap, and got to St. Augustine at a little past three, walked to the very rough ocean for a few minutes, then went to the Comfort Inn (not a very nice one) for a nap. After that I drove to get a ticket for the Hobbit, then had dinner at Carrabas. The movie was very good but not great (at least that is my initial impression) and though I did enjoy it, it wasn’t as compelling as the other ones. The next morning I headed off for Disney, stopping to see the manatees at Blue Spring State Park and then renting a kayak for an hour and paddling around a nearby island. No alligators, but a large one passed just after I got in. I got to Disney just after 3, checked in, took a quick nap, then headed to downtown Disney on the river shuttle, which was very pleasant. Downtown Disney was very commercial (no surprise) but it was fun and I enjoyed how the little kids enjoyed themselves. I walked around quite a bit and decided not to go to cirque or to a movie, and instead had a coke and read from Ship of Fools, then had a mediocre dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. I am a little worried about my health and I am going to have to have a colonoscopy when I return. I hope it is nothing serious but I have to find out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

nearing the very end of the semester

I haven’t heard from Chris about the waivers but I assume he just didn’t have time to bring them over. I will have to call him because I do want them signed. I am in my office finishing me last office hour for the semester, and then I have about an hour of grading left which I will do by the weekend. The semester seemed to go well and I will be interested in the students’ evaluations. The hollow is in good shape and I should be able to leave tomorrow pretty early for my trip to Florida. I have the garbage done, the compost bucket emptied, the mouse problem in the crawl space addressed by Dodson, and all the clothes washed. It is pretty cold right now so heading south sounds like a good idea. I hope to do some exercise tomorrow after resting my strained ankle tendon the past two days. I have covered the strawberries and the rest of the greenhouse plants with 2 inches of hay and I hope that works, at least with the strawberries. I helped out Emily with some cash so she can register for the spring semester and I felt good about that.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

almost finished and on my way to florida

I have changed my Christmas plans around quite a bit. Now I am leaving on Thursday, going down to Disney World, to see Epcot and the Animal Kingdom, then to the Everglades, then to Key Largo and back. I will be going down to Wild Dunes on Jan 13th, which makes a lot more sense since it will break up the winter more and it should be colder up here then. I have almost everything on my home fix it list done, with my tasks today being to clean the truck seat, fix the CD holder, adjust the netting behind the seats (which really does work well in clearing away the clutter in the boxes). I have been hiking in the morning and the weather has been fabulous (today it was in the 60s and Rob and I had a fine walk at Tom’s Creek). I invited Gloria to come down to Florida but she is too busy right now but she really appreciated the invitation. I think Susan’s very reasonable e-mail has put an end to my argument with Herb. I am sorry Herb wrote such negative stuff but I can’t worry about it. Let it go and move on. My grading is coming along and I should be done by Thursday although the grades aren’t due until Monday. I have finished with all my gifts, and I will see Jeff, Rachel and Benjamin tomorrow and give them their gift. On Wednesday I played golf and shot a 51 with some of the worst putting I have ever done (I think I had 2 four putts). I think I was too concerned the with Herb situation to concentrate on golf, but on Friday I went out with a much clearer head and shot a 47, and my putting wasn’t half bad. I got the waiver done and left several copies for Chris and the other people who are hunting there. Having them signed will make me feel better.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

last week of classes

It is Thursday, December 6th and my teaching is over for the fall semester. I am in great shape and I have two more 454 papers to deal with and 4 of the 611 portfolios. I have given the first part of the 200 final, the movie question, and I have part two to give next week. The visit from Ken and Sandy on Monday went very well although Sandy can’t seem to stop herself in trying to help me with what I should do, this time with text messaging. Fortunately, I just cut her off when she goes too far, and certainly Ken and I had a good time. I fixed the leaking toilet by tightening the tank bolts and the gas popping pilot went away (last time it was some bad gas). Maddie Gallo is better from her bronchitis but Claire seems stressed right now. I will visit them before I leave for my trip on next Sunday. The situation with Herb is calm right now and I sent Susan a response to her e-mail that seemed very reasonable to me. I will see what she thinks. I talked to Chris about the waiver to hunt on the property and he’s fine with that. The greenhouse is still okay although nothing seems to be growing much. I have almost finished with my gifts, so that will make things a little easier next week. My paper for CEA has been accepted so I will be going down to Savannah in early April. I hope Gloria can come. Things with Rob remain the same and Fay continues her typical behavior. I do feel sorry for him and I should see him tonight for a walk.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

one more week of classes left

I had a nice time watching the Alabama/Georgia game at Jeff and Rachel’s. Benjamin was a lot of fun and we played hide and seek for almost a half hour. They though my vegetarian diet might be causing my digestive problems and my tiredness. They suggested a few different foods and thought things will be fine. Earlier in the day Mark Burnette came out and cleaned the gutters. He helped me cut the supporting piece for the couch, cut away all the plants around the solar panels, dug the culvert out. It was a big help and now I don’t have much to do. I also charged the batteries for the first time in a while. I met Chris and his son Brantley and I gave him the Dick’s gift card and he and his son left a thank you message later in the evening. My week was very busy but I am getting close to finishing with my classes and that feels pretty good. Ken and Sandy are going to visit on Monday evening so I have to clean the house on Monday morning. My finances are okay but I am overspending by a few hundred and I want to stay within my equity line goals even though I am ten thousand two hundred ahead in my 403 B and my Tiaa-Cref accounts.