Sunday, October 10, 2010


Well folks, today it is the BROWNS vs the Atlanta Falcons up at Cleveland Browns Stadium.  I'll have to catch the game on satellite radio but lookin forward to a REAL BIRD ROAST today.

Wolfgang Hank’s…Pumpkin Pie Season is here.
My goodness, Pumpkin Pie season is coming up here (starts in October and goes till Christmas).  So its time to dig up those nifty pumpkin pie recipes (and buy up those pre-made pie crusts) to make pumpkin pies.
And I always use REAL whipped cream for the toppings.  
Wonder if Wolfgang has a pumpkin pie recipie I could try this year.

Wolfgang Hank’s Smoked Salmon Pizzas, a rousing success.
Well folks, I made TWO smoked salmon pizzas, one that followed Wolfgang Puck’s recipe, the other was a offshoot of a Wolfgang puck pizza recipe that turned out delicious.

First, Wolfgang Puck’s recipe for smoked salmon/ dill cream pizza.
  • 6 6 6ounces OUNCE_Pizza Dough (see separate recipe)
  • 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON Chili and Garlic Oil (see Sauces & Dressings)
  • 1/4 .25 .25cup CUP_USVolumethinly sliced red onion
  • 2 2 2tablespoons TABLESPOON Dill Cream (see Sauces & Dressings)
  • 2 1/2 2.5 2.5ounces OUNCE_thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • 1 1 1teaspoon TEASPOON_chopped fresh chives.

Now the Wolfgang Puck inspired recipe for a tomato pesto, smoked salmon pizza:
  • 6 6 6ounces OUNCE_Pizza Dough (see separate recipe)
  • 1 1 1tablespoon TABLESPOON Chili and Garlic Oil (see Sauces & Dressings)
  • 1/4 .25 .25cup CUP_USVolumethinly sliced red onion.
  • ½ cup of fresh portabello mushrooms.
  • 1 small jar Classico Tomato pesto (you can substitute your favorite pizza sauce but the pesto really makes this pizza)
  • 2 1/2 2.5 2.5ounces OUNCE_thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • 1 1 1teaspoon TEASPOON_chopped fresh chives.

Countdown, 43 Days until BROWNS vs. JAGUARS.
OK folks, the NFL game I’ll be going to on November 21st,  BROWNS vs Jaguars.   Hopefully both teams will bring a winning record to the game and make it one worth watching.   Got 8 tickets to the game (bought on NFL Ticket Exchange) and looks like we’ll have quite a group there.  Last time in 2008, I had four tickets when my mother, Kyrsten, Gigi and myself all went to the game.  This year add Mommy Tina, Laci (hopefully at age 6 ½ she’ll get something out of the game) and our neighbor Leslie with her friend Charly.
Now I had to wonder a bit about Leslie (a very beautiful 16 year old girl) sudden interest in Jaguars football.   Then it occurred to me, that game might be Military Appreciation Day.  And of course Jacksonville is a big military town and quite a few military folks from the local bases will make it to the game.

Including (and this is key) a large number of young (18-20 y/o), handsome U.S. Navy Sailors and U.S. Marines.   Which now explains Leslie’s interest.  Oh my!!!!
Well you can’t fight romance now can we?  And look at it this way, these accomplished guys, heroes of our country are the kind of young men I would want my daughter interested in.  

A lot better than say some teenage horn-dogs at their high school.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hank - 38, DirecTV- 3: Got SUNDAY TICKET

Well folks, it took a little phone wait and had to get up to Level II (note, Moohead had to get to Level III) but I did get a handsome discount, a VERY handsome discount, off my DirecTV Bill and got the NFL Sunday Ticket for the upcoming BROWNS 2010, The PAYBACK the NFL GODS OWE CLEVELAND BEGINS Season.

And since my profession (that's a career profession you do everyday for pay for those here who still live in Mommy's basement) does take me on the road for some of those NFL weekends,  I got them to throw in the NFL Sunday Ticket TO-GO in......for........

Which means I'll now be able to watch the BROWNS pound the opponent live on my nifty laptop.   Heck I might install a larger hard drive and save entire BROWNS game to my disk for later viewing.

This all started when I got a nice little card from DirecTV offering me free movie channels for being a loyal butt-kis...err....customer since 2006.   Called them and told them since I never watch those movie channels (mostly still watch the NFL Channel,  Boomerang and Fox News), it doesn't do be a sweet-goodie two-poops good.  But I might be interested in the NFL Sunday Ticket for the right price.
And so it went.

OK so one week at least (maybe a few more) I won't be using my Sunday Ticket as I'm taking a nice size group to Everbank Stadium for the BROWNS vs. Jaguars (and maybe the BROWNS vs Dolphins as well) but then again if Everbank Stadium has a decent WIFI connection, I might be able to make good use of it even at the game.

Speaking of that game my wife and the kids are all going.  Gigi is particularly thrilled as she really had a blast at the 2008 game.  This will be Laci's first NFL game.   And two of our neighbors (Leslie and Charly) want to go as well. 
I didn't know Leslie was that into NFL football and the Jags in particular.    Well JAX being a big military town, it probably doesn't have anything to do with the fact that Everbank Stadium will be chock-full of young 18-20 y/o U.S. Navy Sailors and U.S. Marines for the game......(EGADS!!!).pirate   Wouldn't be of interest to two very pretty girls now would it.  Of course not...............BULLSHEETS!!!!

A special thanks to Moohead who showed us all that with paitience, like negotiating for a new car, you can get yourself a gr8 deal.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Birthday Bash & Other Fun Stuff

1.  We just had a nice birthday party over the weekend which consisted of a pool party cookout at my mother in law's condo located on the banks of the Indian River (right across from downtown Cocoa, FL).   Of course plenty of family & friends showed up.   Great times, plenty of good cookout food (hot dogs, hamburgers, delicious baked beans, you know the works.   Oh a nice big thunderstorm did make its way thru the area which precluded some swimming but the huge rainstorm was very much welcome to a quite dry Brevard County.
Oh and in case you're wondering,  our lovely neighbor, Lisa (Leslie's older sister) turned 20.  I got her a ruby pendant from Arizona.  OK so its not quite the same ruby (corundum) that you get in the jewelry store but it is ruby (aka corundum), second hardest mineral after a diamond.

Oh and Laci figured that the dish of Brie cheese needed a little powdered sugar (intended for the strawberries) so she put it on.  Which of course made a chunk of that Brie cheese rather inedible.

2.  Gigi and Laci start back to school next Monday (August 9th).  Gigi going into 5th grade while Laci enters the first grade.   At at above mentioned party, we had Gigi's new teacher along with his family at the party.

3.  After what, 12 years of service, the old 1998 GMC van has been traded in (wholesaled due to its age) and we bought a new 2010 Nissan.   Nice thing about this vehicle, the AC really works swell.
NOTE, the Stang, which spends a lot of time in the garage (being babied) still runnin well.  I'll be replacing (whenever I get around to it) the head unit of the radio as the CD player has conked out.  Looking to get something that can play digital music (MP3s, etc).
Oh and our lovely 16 year old neighbor Leslie is nuts about the car.  Now that she has her license, she wants that "puuurty little black car" so that her and her friends can go cruisin.  Great just what I needed, our neighbors at that car-lovin age all wanting my well-preserved car.
(I have been tempted though by the new 2010 Mustang GT with its 412 HP engine).

4.  Got the girls (Gigi, Lacy and Ilyanna some really nice native Arizona magnetic jewelry (made by an 84 year old Arizona artisan).   The girls all go nuts over it, in fact they fight over who gets what piece of jewelry.  Oh the joys of parenthood.

5.  I've given some thought to some decent nicknames for the new Browns rookies.  Actually somewhat easy this year.  How about:
- Joe "Night Train" Haden (that's got a original ring to it eh?)
- TJ "The Assassin II"  Ward
-  Colt 45 McCoy  (geez, can I come up with them or what).
Yeah, I know, real original huh?   Hopefully this year's crop of rooks will live up to their draft billing.  Seem you could categorize all the "new" Browns drafts from 1999 thru 2006 complete flops.

Of coruse B-Greg has suggest some nickname for all the Browns draft picks from 1999-2006.... "bust", "flopsie", WOM (waste of money), etc.

6.  HANK'S GROOVEYARD UPDATE:  Well,  here's one from the Grooveyard which will get our feet movin, 
After Dark by Pattie Brooks: /

And a dedication to our neighbor Leslie,  a nifty song from the soundtrack of Little Darlings,
Shake It,  by Ian Matthews.

7.  FILM SCANNER UPGRADE:   OK, I'm now evaluating a new 110 film holder designed specifically to work with the FH-869G on my Nikon 9000ED scanner.  This holder is supposed to work much better with the VueScan software than the earlier FS-816 holder (Why VueScan can't seem to make its software work better with the FH-816 holder is beyond me but I do like this new 110 holder from FilmScanUSA.  Running it thru its tests this week, we'll see how well it works.

UPDATE, Well it took a couple of tries but I did get the new holder working and it seems to work as advertised.  Thought at first the scan were not as good as the scans done earlier with the FH-816 (using the same 110 frames for comparison).  But set the scan passes to 4 and it gets great 110 scans.  Plus I now can do 110 frames in batch mode, saving a lot of time.
I'd still like to see somehow if I could also get the FH-816 to work that way as well using corresponding scan parameters.  Must keep in mind though when the scanner accepts the FH-816, it thinks it is going to scan 16mm movie film.
(Now whoever at Nikon though there would be such a demand for scanning old 16mm movie frames (those horrid movies we used to have to watch back in junior high and high school)?   Hint, there is no demand.  How may regular folks have a bunch of old 16mm movie frames laying around as precious memories.  Far more old 110 film still around in people's closets and all).

8.  AN IDEA FOR PANCREATIC CANCER FUNDRAISING: We're floating the idea to Lisa Niemi (widow of Patrick Swayze) for helping to raise funds for the Pancreas Cancer Center at Stanford University.  This consists of getting the movie Skatetown USA (Swayze's first feature role film) released onto DVD and Blu-Ray with all sales proceeds going to the Pancreas Cancer Center. 
For those who are wondering, apparently music rights for release on DVD seem to be holding up any release by Sony/Columbia.  And the soundtrack to Skatetown USA has quite a few hit songs from 1979 on it which normally would make it quite expensive to obtain DVD release musical rights. Our idea is to approach the musical artists involved and see if they would donate their music rights permissions as long as all resulting proceeds go to pancreatic cancer research.   Hey, its an idea and everybody wins.

And that's it for now but I'll probably think of something nice I can put on this week's BLOG update.  It will be added later.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On the Edge of BROWNS 2010

Well folks, here it is, the edge of the 2010 Cleveland Browns NFL season. Browns Training camp has already opened for rookies. As for me, I keep on keeping on knowing that God is in control and I know where I'm eventually headed, even if the path there (to Jesus Heavenly Kingdom) looks like a mountain to climb

NEW FILM SCAN EQUIPMENT: Well after using Nikon's FH-816 holder in the 9000ED scanner for how long, I'll be trying out a new 110 film holder for the Nikon. Made by FilmScanUSA, this could be the holder that makes 110 negative scans so much easier.
Problem with the old FH-816 is that either with VueScan or the Nikon software, framing what you want to scan is a tricky process. I won't bore all you with details. Especially since VueScan's frame offset settings in the newer VueScan versions seem to have no effect (In the older 8.41 version, the offset setting adjusted the scan but now that seems to have stopped working). I've heard some good things about the new holder, let's see if they're true .

Night at the Observatory: Over the July 4th weekend, we had a visit from Carolyn Tallman and her two kids Meg and Joe Jr. (Wish Joe could have made it, he had a operation done on his leg recently and couldn’t make the drive from St. Petersburg). After a nice dinner at Thai Thai in downtown Cocoa (along with Marti), we were invited by Carolyn to join them at the Brevard Community College Observatory for a nifty laser light show in the planetarium. Now I’ve been to a couple of the observatory events (the Mars viewing thru their big scope and a planetarium show) and this show was really nifty. Meg (age 7) really enjoyed the show. Makes for a nice educational field trip. Now we have to get Gigi, Laci and Mommy Tina there for a show. (Gigi is visiting Aunt Holly out in California until August so we'll have to wait till then).

Speaking of Gigi, she wants to play soccer this coming fall (in lieu of Pop Warner cheerleading) so we’ll have our hands full this coming fall. That and my Cleveland Browns on Sundays.

New power pack for laptop: If there’s one thing about these laptops that really drives me bananas, it is how the power packs always seem to break at the wrong times. Now I’m shopping around for a replacement power pack for the laptop. Oh mine still works but it has a intermittent break in the wire near the plug which causes it to cut out on occasion. Not fun when you discover that your laptop wasn’t charging up because the power pack wire was screwed up.

No power at the horse barn AAARGH!!!: Two weeks now and the owners of the horse barn where we keep our horses still hasn’t got the electricity going? I’m wondering what the heck is going on? I suspect they (the owners) are saving money by not having the electricity running. Never mind the horses are suffering in this Florida heat.

From Hank's Grooveyard: I'm not much of a Madonna fan but a couple of her songs I really like, including this one from my junior year in college (1987), "Who's That Girl".

A question I found myself asking quite a bit during my junior year. Now I was engaged to be married at the time but wouldn’t you know, it seemed like every young college freshman girl (and one high school cheerleader) had their sights on yours truly. Which of course left me asking on a number of occasions who’s that girl?

(Now where were they when I was 16 and in a dry spell for a time?).

Usually I include a musical link here but can't seem to find one for this song. But there's this Wiki article on the song

But the memories that year, a slave in the computer lab, my 85 Mustang GT (which my then girlfriend always seemed to be snatching away and driving home to her house, leaving me her car at my dorm) and those dreaded Calculus homework assignments (I knew I should have went the Business Admin route in Computer Science instead of the pure Math/Computer Science).

Oh and for my Birthday: Well that dreaded birthday is coming up. Dear Lord, how bout a new Canon digital SLR for my photo business? Fat chance.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Special Salute to a Korean War Veteran.

It was sixty years ago this past June that marked the beginning of the Korean War in which the United Nations, spearheaded mostly by U.S. troops defended South Korea against a Communist invasion from the north. One of the most decisive battles of this war, the Battle of Chosin Reservior in which 30,000 UN troops fought their way out of a trap in which they were surrounded by 60,000 Chinese and North Korean troops.

One of the American troops who fought his way out of that deathtrap was my step-father and husband of 30 years to my mother, Andrew Guy Hanes. On this, the 60th Anniversary of the Korean Conflict, I pay a special salute to my late step-father (he passed away in July 2006) as one U.S. Military Veteran to another U.S. Military Veteran. Not only was Guy (as we called him) a outstanding U.S. Army officer at one time, he was a loving and caring husband to my mother (they met in mid-1975 and married in the fall of 1976 if memory serves me correctly).

Here's a family picture from 1995-1996 or so. Guy Hanes is in front, second from the left. That's me there in front in the turquoise-blue shirt.

And another photo of "Grampa Guy" with my mother and his grandchildren..

Nowadays, Lt. Andrew G. Hanes is in the care of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ in Heaven. God Bless you Guy and THANK YOU so much for your service in the Korean War.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fourth Of July Special Posting.

Well folks, we had a pretty wonderful Fourth Of July though I didn't get too many pictures. Guess my shutter finger needs a short rest. But it was a nice family-centered event and we celebrated America's Birthday in Florida style.

Sweet 16 For Leslie:

Well, here’s a few pics for a little Sweet 16 party

we threw for our lovely neighbor Leslie. It was just us, Leslie and her friend Sharly but it was a nice little shindig. And she absolutely loves the aquamarine pendant (her birthstone) that I got her from Quartzsite, AZ.

NeatImage: This is some neat photo restoration software. Well I gave NeatImage a try (recommended by my friend Ted Marcus (one of his webpages) and color me impressed. I've only tried it once so far but I'm impressed with the quality improvement. I've included

Raw Scanned Negative (size-reduced for Web):

After Basic Photoshop color restoration & some brush work:

After processing with NeatImage:

OK the improvements may be a little hard to see here but on my screen, the NeatImage difference is noticeable. Gotta try this on my other 110 scans.

Otto Graham Jersey

Well after several purchases of Cleveland Browns jerseys with then-current player nam

es and numbers, only to have to retire them when that player was traded, I decided to go retro-throwback. This time I purchased a white #14, Otto Graham jersey (Otto Graham Hall Of Fame Browns quarterback from 1946 to 1955). This way the jersey will never be rendered “obsolete” due to any trade or anything.

Now to find the Brown version of this jersey which doesn’t seem to be available at this time.

COMING SOON: A Special Salute to a Korean War Veteran. I’m working on it.

Cursed Sirius…now charging for on-line listening.

When I first got Sirius satellite radio, they offered a listen-online feature to all paid subscribers. You could use your laptop or desktop computer as a Sirius receiver. I found this rather useful at times, especially during on-the-job layovers where I had WiFi access (in hotel rooms, or at restaurants).

That was all well & dandy until last year when Sirius announced it was replacing their 64 kb online service with a “CD-quality” service running at 128 kbps. And as you probably guessed, they are now charging for what was once a free service ($2.99 per month according to Sirius). But you could still use the old service free for the next year if you went ahead and did early renewal, which I did.

That one-year service expired some time ago this year. So I did look into the $2.99 per month service. That’s where Sirius gets a little greedy, you have to pay a lump-sum payment for about two years worth of this service instead of simply buying it month-by-month. Figuring that I wouldn’t get enough use to justify this expense, I did not purchase this service.

Isn’t that typical now, online companies looking to charge for what was once a free to paid subscribers.

Dirty rotten skunks.

Those annoying changes in atmospheric pressure.

One of the more annoying aspects of land-based travel across the country is the effect of atmospheric pressure on some of your belongings. Like for example when you go up into the higher elevations (nearly 9000 feet in some cases), the change in the atmosphere does some funny things. Like the effect it had on my can of shaving gel, forcing the gel out of its container and all over the inside of my shaving bag.

UPDATE: The Lawn Mower makes a Idiot of me again.

Well folks, I thought I had the lawn-mower working quite nicely. But my wife informed me that once again she could not get the lawn mower started. So I had Steve Witt take a look.

Turns out I had a screw loose (in the mower, not where one might think). The new pickup coil worked its way loose and got damaged against the flywheel. You guess it, we had to buy another new coil and I let Steve install this one. Oh sheesh.

Well Bruce’s Small Engine Repair in Merritt Island is happy, I had to buy another part from them.

OK, I found the recip\e for Monte Cristos.

At last, after tasting those delicious Monte Cristo’s the NASA cafeteria made, I found a good recipie on-line (at for making those delicious sandwiches. I’ll give it a shot for this Fourth Of July.

UPDATE: Yes I did make those Monte Cristos for the Fourth. They turned out quite well, not bad for my first attempt at Monte Cristos.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Grooveyard Feature, First Date with Cheryl.

Well folks, occasionally while listening to the Sirius satellite radio, a song will come on that I haven’t heard in, well in this case years. And its one of those songs that takes you back to a time in your life. In this case:

You’re The Love by Seals & Crofts (music link not available)

Feels So Good by Chuck Mangione

OK, so some folks didn’t like the tune You’re The Love which was supposed to be Seals & Crofts one attempt at a disco record (it really doesn’t sound “disco” to me) but a lot more people liked it as it charted #18 on American Top 40 in mid-1978. And it was one of my most favorite songs ever. As for “Feels So Good” this has to be one of my most favorite jazz tunes ever. Enough said there. Normally I like to include links to the actual songs but I haven’t found one yet for “You’re The Love”.

UPDATE: One additional song I might mention, a more recent (2008) song by Kid Rock. All Summer Log. That song kinda took me back to those days as well, though it wasn't 1989, it was 1978 (or 1979 as well).

So how do these tie in? They were my favorite songs right about the time of my “First Date” with Cheryl (a really gorgeous blonde) in August 1978. Oh was that ever a memorable day. It was actually a double-date with Cheryl’s older sister, Connie and her then-boyfriend (and my then-best friend) Jim. Made for a very convenient chaperoning arrangement, or so Connie thought. Now how many times was it Cheryl and I would sneak in a kiss when Connie and Jim’s backs were turned.
(In the picture of Cheryl, Connie, with her back turned, is in the background).

Anyway, here’s some actual pictures from that first date. Apologies for the lousy image quality but the 110 format Kodacolor 400 film of the day had lousy image quality due to beach-ball sized film grain.

(NOTE: One image is missing from here, a picture of Cheryl and I together. I have the negative at home but for some reason, that negative scan didn’t make it onto my laptop. I’ll upload that image when I get home, may have to re-scan it). Yes folks you can see me in my first date dress up in my best Chris Noth imitation…..NOT! Can’t believe I actually got away with wearing a t-shirt and orange Cleveland Browns practice shorts on a first date.
(while Cheryl is 100% class in her dress)
And those glasses…all the rage of 1978 h
uh? (I hear uncontrolled laughter coming from my
computer). Must have done something right though, Cheryl and I dated for quite some time off and on over the next 3 years (and my dress improved dramatically over that time as well).

Now some of you younger folks on my Facebook and MySpace Friends lists may need some further information so you can relate to that time. So I’ll give you all further info on an individual basis.

Aslin Craft: Obvious Aslin you weren’t around yet. In fact you were 14 years from being born. Come to think of it, your mom (Kirsten, not the same as my Kyrsten) was all of 7 years old during this time. Oh now I feel old.

Addie Bagford:
Ditto you on not being born yet. But your mom (Sally) was about 17 at this time and she actually knew me then (obviously, she’s my step-sister and we were all living in the same house at 176 Hurd Rd in Aurora, Ohio). I don’t remember if I told Sally about this date so she may not remember.

Amanda Dellinger:
(Funny how these first 3 all have names starting with “A”). Oh yes, our next door neighbor, you were 16 years from being born. But c’mon, you think my dress and glasses were cool eh (sarcasm).

Lisa Cameron: (yes, another neighbor & friend)
This date happened 12 years before your birth. But I just noticed you and Addie Bagford are about the same age and both of you are in your early college years. Well Lisa, meet Addie. Addie, meet Lisa, our neighbor.

Leslie Cameron:
Ah yes, our recent Sweet 16 and Lisa Cameron’s younger sister. Oh how did you like that nifty Sweet 16 gift…oh that’s right we haven’t got it to you yet. We’ll get it to you near the end of this month, it is on its way to our house. I think you’ll like it. And what do you think of my first date outfit? Cool dude look huh (Leslie breaks into uncontrolled laughter)

Vanessa Smith: Now come on Vanessa, would you have dated a guy like me again wearing that kind of first date outfit? Oh come now.

Mason Chado
Well Mason, you obviously weren’t around. But these pics were taken about 18 months before I first skated at your dad’s skating rink (Roller City 2001 in Riverside, CA).

Shannon McPartland: Ditto for Shannon, you weren’t around either this being about 16 years before you were born. But I know you’re just digging those stylish glasses I’m wearing (uncontrollable laughter from Shannon). And yes, next time I see you at the barn, I’m going to be mercilessly needled and teased about my first date outfit.

Olivia Vieiralves:
Yes, you weren’t born yet either but your mom (Tina) and I are the same age so she can relate. C’mon you think my first date dress-up was cool now, don’t you??

Be da be da beeee....That's All Folks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crusin At Quartzsite

Hank’s GrooveYard of Musical Favorites: OK so I took the name "Grooveyard" from Rush Limbaugh who had a pre-show feature on his radio show where he played some of his favorite old time music. So I decided to add this little feature to the BLOG highlighting a song and how it influenced my life.

My first one,a 1978 favorite of mine called Kiss You All Over by Exile:

Cruisin at Quartzsite.

There’s a little town in the southern Arizona desert about 17 miles from the California state line called Quartzsite. It is a favorite stopping place for RV ers during the cooler months of the year. During these cooler times, they have a pretty big flea market going on.

This town, Quartzsite, probably has over $1000 of my hard-earned money spent there over the past few years or so. This is because I end up buying lots of gifts there for my lovely wife, Kyrsten and our girls, Gigi and Laci.

At Quartzsite, you can buy all kinds of beautiful mineral rocks. I know because my house is decorated with around 200 lbs of these decorative rocks, including large chunks of rose quartz, blue quartz, chrysacolla, amethyst and other colorful rocks. One of the shops there, called T-Rocks is a veritable supermarket of rocks, minerals and even some precious stones. You can buy them pretty cheap at Quartzsite, well at least compared to the prices I’d pay if I bought them from a dealer in Florida.

On my most recent visit, I purchased three real rubies. OK so they’re not quite the same polished quality that you’d get at a jeweler but they’re also a lot less expensive. Ruby (a variant of corundum) is the second hardest substance found in nature after diamond.

UPDATE: Another visit, another $50 down the tubes, but for something worthy. Found a really nice aquamarine stone at T-Rocks which I bought and having made into a pendant for our (drop-dead gorgeous) neighbor, Leslie who recently turned Sweet 16. (Leslie's MySpace Page). Aquamarine is Leslie's birthstone).

The Lights of El Paso:

Now if there is one sight to see at night, drive thru El Paso, Texas on I-10. From a vantage point off Exit 37, you can get quite a view of the lights of El Paso. You can also head up the mountain and get a view from there too. It is one of the most awe-inspiring sights.

Dog days of Florida Summers

Well folks, its summertime in Florida. For my friends up north, this is the time of the year when us Florida denizens wish we could come on up north for a few months (like our snowbird neighbors do). Its feeling like over 100 degrees back home. Not quite like it was back in summer 1998 but getting up there.

Who Grows that Little Corn
You usually see them at any well-stocked salad bar located in an establishment that has some class. Or as a selection for the Mongolian grill in those Chinese buffet places. They look like corn-on-the-cobs but they’re about half the size of your pinky. I know there’s a name for them (I’ll look it up later) but I always wondered who grows that little corn? Because most corn-on-the-cob farmers brag about the size of their ears of corn. It’s a macho thing almost.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gigi's 11th. Victory on Land...the mower works.

Gigi's 11th Birthday,. I save the best for first. We had Gigi's 11th birthday party, this time at a campsite in Jetty Park (on the beach), Cape Canaveral, FL. And we must have done something right because Gigi proclaimed this was THE BEST birthday party she ever had. And that's saying alot considering the big bash we had last year at Shore Lanes Bowling Center. Here's a few pics, the rest are on my Facebook and Photobucket accounts.

Facebook Photos

Pics on Photobucket

OK, I BEAT the Lawnmower, 3-2 (and not with a sledgehammer). Well folks the score is now Hank 3, Lawnmower 2. I'm happy to say that I overcame my anxiety about dealing with small engine repair and successfully repaired our lawnmower. Not bad for a guy who might know his way around database system and a computer keyboard but just a little clueless when it comes to small engine repair.
Turns out the "pickup coil" went bad. If you ever tried pull-starting your mower about 20 times and it never turns over (but you smell gas), it means the pickup coil is not providing electric current to the one spark plug (I had just replaced the spark plug two weeks prior).
OK so I admit, I had a little help from Scott Witt, our local handy-man who gave me a nice lesson on lawn mower repair. A lesson which saved me somewhere between $100-$150 in repair fees.

Pool Maint time & PoolShark: Time to treat our pool with calcium chloride to raise the calcium hardness level of the water. For those who might not recall their chemistry, pure calcium reacts violently when it comes into contact with water. The calcium chloride crystals I have make a bucket of water very hot. Not quite boiling but hot enough.
And anyone who has a pool (in Florida like climes anyway) notice how expensive pool maintenance merchandise is getting nowadays. Oh chlorine is still not bad but a stupid part for our PoolShark pool cleaner ran me $32. I'm probably only going to get another year out of this PoolShark anyway before buying a new one but consider a new one cost $400 if you don't get it on-sale.
Now when it does go on-sale, it costs $250 after all is said & done. I say that because to get the sale price requires 3 steps. First is the in-store rebate of $50. Then there are TWO, count em, TWO mail in rebates, one of which of course is that rebate you have to send in to that company in Little America, Minnesota. I HATE those rebates, they usually manage to screw it up and it takes 10 weeks to get your rebate. In this age of computers, one would think they might have streamlined the process by now.
But of course not, the current red-tape laden process serves someone's interest, namely the company who manufactures and sells the PoolShark. Guess you could call this a "Pool shark" in more ways than one.

My First Batch of Jambalaya: Cooked up my first-ever batch of New Orleans style shrimp jambalaya. Came out quite nicely, even Kyrsten liked it (and she doesn't like the spicy stuff, great considering she didn't like my gumbo I made last time). Just finished off the last bowl today. I'll definitely have to do that again. OK so I used the Zatarain's recipie mix for my jambalaya but I added fresh uncooked shrimp (like you're supposed to).

Today, Kyrs and I will check out, for the second time, that new little seafood place on the corner of Courtenay (SR-3) and SR-520 on Merritt Island. They're having a "Grand Opening" special this afternoon. We were downright impressed with the delicious sushi we got there last time. Compares nicely with the Thai Thai restaurant in Cocoa. This time I know, only order one sushi, they're quite big.

Fire up the Scanners: Well I haven't engaged either of the photo scanners (our new HP flatbed color scanner or the Nikon 9000 ED film scanner) since I redid the computer (wiped the disk clean, the reinstalled Windows...XP of course which I like. I HATE Vista and don't feel like giving Bill Gates bookoo dollars for Windows 7).
Anyway it took a little time to get the Nikon 9000 up & running. Seems I can't locate the driver CD (don't remember it coming with one) and the Nikon web site doesn't seem to have a driver. But VueScan (my scanning software) does have one and it works beautifully.
Also this is the first time I actually tried out the scanner that came with the "all-in-one" photo printer from HP (Photosmart 309-G) we got recently. I was rather impressed, well considering I still have active my old HP 6200 scanner (10 years old now). The 309-G is a lot faster, I must say and dpi resolution is up around 4800.
But you never use anything above 600. Any paper print has a max resolution of 300 dpi so anything higher just results in huge files and eating disk space. I did try 1200, the resulting file from a 8x10 print was almost 110 MB....eeeyoowwww!!
But I'm impressed so far with the new scanner.
As a side note, Nikon hasn't released anything superior to the 9000ED, but they raised the price from the $1900 I paid in 2007 to over $2200 today. Film scanners must be in demand.
PlusTek has a nice film scanner they came out with a year or so ago but it can only accept 35mm. My 9000ED can take 135, 126, 110, 120, 220 and a host of other film types.

A Theatre of Sexually-Charged Women: Well guess where my wife ended up taking me on Saturday night. You probably guessed by now, to the Sex & The City 2 movie. And what a experience as I was one of about maybe 5 guys in a theatre full of women dressed up to kill. Note to any single guys reading this. If you want to score a date, go see this movie. Have your sister or female cousin accompany you if you feel a little self-conscious.
Well I guess Iron Man 2 will have to wait.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oh Well, taking the Long Way Home Musings.

Back in Florida eventually headed for home but first divert over to the Tampa area where MacDill AFB is located, then to Sarasota before heading back across state to Merritt Island, via Orlando. At least that's the plan right now. Kyrsten eagerly awaits my arrival. Oh she is so amazing of a girl to be married to. As the rock group Chicago put it in one of their songs, "what one good woman can do".

OWNS vs JAGUARS again: My Cleveland Browns (now being rebuilt by REAL football geniuses Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Eric Mangini) will be making three trips here to Florida with games at the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccanners and Jacksonville Jaguars. I'm making plans to get tickets for the BROWNS vs. Jacksonville Jaguars game Nov 21st in Jacksonville. Last time in 2008, I took my wife Kyrsten, my mother Lois (who is a longtime Browns fan) and our little girl Gigi (Laci was too young for this). Gigi got to meet the Jaguars cheerleaders and all so it was a great time for her. Great time for me and mother too, the Browns won 23-16.
Note: last season up in cold Cleveland, the Browns pounded the Jaguars senseless for their fourth victory in a row. Lets see if they can make it 3 in a row over the Jaguars.
This time, I'll be looking for cheaper seats as I need more of them. This time Mommy Tina wants to come too. Gigi wants to bring a friend and Laci, now a little older, will probably be coming along as well. Sheesh, this could get expensive.

I'll see about getting to the ot
her games as well but my schedule may not allow for it.

CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH: Just had my annual physical and got a full clean bill of health. That's something I can Thank the Lord for. And at my age, that's a true blessing. Just look at how many people (just people I know) have health problems in their 30s and 40s. Heck Lindsay Lohan (the actress, no I don't know her) is 23 and already having problems. That's what a wild life of partying will do to you.
Then again, those who read my posting on Saundra knows that health problems can strike suddenly.
My mother in law, Marti has had a few problems recently. Not surprising she being in her late 60s but that "high motor" of hers keeps her going. We all pray that the Lord will keep her going for us.

MOTHER'S DAY: Yes, I remembere
d my mother, Lois. And the older I get, the more I appreciate her still being on this earth. In her 70s now and a widow (she's the lady in my picture above), we try to keep in touch. We live about 150 miles apart (Jacksonville - Merritt Island). Lord please look out for Mom and take care of her I pray.

One of the most amazing things about the Internet is how it has made possible finding old friends (from my high school days) and getting back in touch with them. Gotta be careful though, sitting at the computer can steal your whole day. So I budget my time on our system. Funny considering how much time I spent at computers during my college days, military service days and at NASA. But family is much more important.
That being said, its still great. Just found a few more people (one on Facebook) that I'd love to get in touch with.

Now time to go update my BLOG postings on The Big Apple as I recalled some other fun items that weren't included in the original posting. Also check up on Skatelog ( I have a few threads going over there).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dedication to Saundra, High School Girlfriend...Breast Cancer Survivor

A few days ago (May 15th, 2010) I was browsing online checking email (of course) and found a message from I’ve set myself up on but usually don’t check back that much. But on this day for some odd reason, I did and found about 9 new messages. Most were reunion announcements from schools that I didn’t attend (but track as some friends attended them).

And then, one message which froze me in my tracks.

It was from a girl named Saundra Felix, a girl that brought back a flood of (very nice) memories. Funny though, I had just thought of Saundra a few days before then and wondered how she was doing.

Obviously I clicked on the first message, a nice greeting and how are you. I then proceeded to formulate a reply. I also found Saundra’s MySpace page as well. But before sending my reply, I noticed a earlier message from Saundra. So I clicked that.

What I read stunned me, and this time not in a good way.

Lovely Saundra, a girl I remember as one of the cutest high school freshmen I’d ever met had contracted breast cancer and was going thru a breast cancer operation. Oh my God I thought to myself.

Then I noticed that Saundra hadn’t logged into her MySpace page since late 2009. Another “Oh My God”, was Saundra even still alive?

Of course I thought back to my high school days and Saundra.

We first met when I was a senior and she a freshman as a mutual friend, Jane Weimer (wonder how she’s doing) introduced me to Saundra in the Central Cambria High School library. Before I go on though I must say that Saundra actually had caught my eye about 5 months before that meeting (early April 1976) at the nearby Cicero’s Roller Skating Rink. At the time I was attending high school at Bedford High School in Bedford, Ohio and was back in Pennsylvania visiting over the Easter holidays.

OK I admit, I was at Cicero’s with another girl at the time but then I noticed this really cute girl skating around with some friends. So cute, she pretty much stuck in my brain the whole week of my visit to Colver, PA (and Ebensburg) and over the next couple months back home in Bedford Heights, Ohio. Oh if I wasn’t already with a girl, I’d be heading over to her and her group begging for a couples skate.

Fast forward to late August of 1976 and my friend Jane introduces me to this girl…and its that beautiful girl I’d noticed at Cicero’s earlier. Her hair was now shorter and it a feathered 70s hairstyle but it was her. And so I first met Saundra.

We talked for as long as we could before hustling off to our next classes but I was sure hoping I left a good impression with Saundra. My “prayers” were answered at home when Jane called me and told me what Saundra said about me “oh that Brad is soooo cute!!). Needless to say I was smitten. So what if she was still a freshman.

Saundra and I started “going together” just a few days later. Saundra may have found this hard to believe but she is the first girl I ever walked hand in hand with thru the halls of Central Cambria High and walking her to her next class. Even today, I might still “moon” a little about that.

That and meeting her at Cicero’s, skating together all night and even slipping out of Cicero’s a little early so we could slip in goodnight kisses (Mrs. Cicero would throw you out of the rink if you dared kiss your girlfriend inside her rink).

Of course as just about all high school romances go, it didn’t last. It might have had I been more mature in those days but Lordy what a idiot I was in those day.



Now back to the present and after three days of wondering (with some sadness mixed in that a precious memory may no longer be alive on this earth, I got a new note from Saundra.

This one has a happy ending. The operations were successful and she’s now free of cancer. Thank You Lord.

Amazing how time flies and that sweet cute girl who caught my eye and imagination back in 1976 is now in her forties and a breast cancer survivor. But I Thank God that Saundra is still here and that we’re back in touch after 34 years.

So today, a special dedication from my wife (Kyrsten), my girls and I to my good friend and high school flame Saundra with a song special to my heart. OK so the song came out 12 years after I dated Saundra but it is one that still makes me cry whenever I hear it.

To You Saundra

(Link to video “We Said Hello Goodbye” by Phil Collins).

Link to Saundra's page

Link to Saundra's MySpace page

Friday, May 14, 2010

First Post 2010, Take 2: The Big Apple Disco Days

Back in late 2009 on the website, I had noted their listing of disco clubs of the 1970s and early 1980. Missing though was my old disco hangout, a Cleveland area disco known as The Big Apple” (nothing to do with NYC other than the obvious reference). So I joined the site and listed The Big Apple on the chance that other folks who used to frequent the place might comment as well.
Well now I’m stunned (in a happy way) with the responses, including the former club owner (Les Bortel, now known as Lee Bortel) and the drummer (Billy Smith) who used to drum to the music (which really added something to the experience).

Link to DiscoMusic.Com listing for "The Big Apple".

This of course takes me back to my days when I frequented The Big Apple (1977-1979) as a fresh-faced 18 year old (you had to be 18 to get into the club which dovetailed with the then State of Ohio drinking age (18 for products containing 3.2 percent alcohol or less). Oh the memories from those days. From my first visit shortly after turning 18 with a group of friends (first Night Out with The Guys) to my 1979 visit right after graduating from USMC Boot Camp (which was my last visit), that disco holds special memories. During the Fall of 1977 and Spring of 1978, The Big Apple would become a near-weekly ritual for our group. We’d go to socialize, drink a little…OK…more than a little in some cases and, of course, to meet girls.
And that's where sometimes things got a little tricky. OK so there were plenty of lovely young ladies there. But being only 18 and a new 18 at that meant that most of the ladies were a few years your senior and probably not that interested in a guy fresh out of high school. They were mostly either there with their friends or looking for a guy a few years older, and old enough to buy highball drinks. But I did manage to hold my own there, meet some nice girls and overall had a great time. But us 18 year olds found ourselves a little overmatched at first.
(I will admit I did much better back in the "minor leagues" at Skateland (more on this concept later) with the girls, most of whom were younger than me. Unfortunately none of those younger girls were allowed in The Big Apple, except on the occasional teen night (where a young guy like me had a better chance), but I never got there for teen nights (I didn't know they existed at first)).

Also at The Big Apple, the owner (Lee Bortel) wanted patrons who showed class. So you had to dress up which meant no blue jeans, t-shirts or football jerseys (there went my old high school wardrobe). Most guys wore the silk shirts & nice pants of the day (polyester pants of course). A few dressed up in suit & tie (in retrospect I wish I had). So you had to look decent, well-groomed and all. Of course a lot of the guys got roaring drunk, thereby losing that well-groomed look late into the night.
(UPDATE, 14 May 2010: Twenty years later in 1999 during my Single Again days, I briefly frequented the clubs over at Universal Citywalk in Orlando, FL, in suit & tie of course. At first as a single, then later with my then-girlfriend (now wife) Kyrsten.
Of coruse I drew some comparisons with my days at The Big Apple, especially how the ladies outfits had changed over the years. Oh boy had they changed, some leaving little to the imagination (backless outfits, tight black pants, etc). I did wonder though what if some of these "scantily dressed" ladies traveled back thru time and tried to get into The Big Apple with these outfits on. I'm imagining that the bouncers at the door probably would deny them entrance as their outfits were too revealing. I could be wrong though, Lee Bortel could probably better address this).
Presumably, they would easily get into at Nite Moves, another Cleveland disco. I have more info on this a little later on.
I also compared the clubs at Citywalk with The Big Apple, notably thegroove. OK so thegroove benefited from a 20 year technology gap in club special effects but still in my mind The Big Apple compared quite favorably. But I'm quite biased on this.

Since I was 18, I was in-between two worlds when it came to night life. The “minor leagues” represented by my time at Skateland in Johnstown PA (I commuted a lot between Cleveland and Ebensburg, PA in those days) and the “major leagues” represented by The Big Apple. Obviously the crowds were quite different, the younger crowd at Skateland (Skateland Story on this link) and the adult crowd at The Big Apple.
Now we did see some wild times at The Big Apple, including the inevitable make-out sessions in a dark corner. But that was pretty much limited to kissing your girlfriend. Nothing at all like the "wild times" witnessd at another Cleveland area club known as Nite Moves where outright sexual behavior went on. Lee kept that from happening at The Big Apple for the most part. I never knew of any outright sex or cocaine use going on, though I'm sure some addle-headed patrons gave it a try.
For further info on the long-defunct Nite Moves, check these information links by Erin O'Brien:.

Erin O'Brien's Blog on Nite Moves

Goodbye Sister Disco, Nite Moves article by Erin O'Brien

One note, I was the only one of our group who took the additional step of learning how to dance disco. It made it a lot easier to get a girl out on the dance floor if you knew your steps as well.
From here on in, I’ll just list some of my most vivid Big Apple memories instead of a long boring history of my days at the club. And I’ll keep it as factual as I can remember and not embellish them with BS. Like for example “I walked into The Big Apple one Friday night and came out with a girl on each arm, and 3 or 4 to spare (as a Cleveland area musician put it in one of his songs).

First Night And Beginner’s Luck: My first night at The Big Apple with my friends..and guess who is the only one to score a date with a girl there. None other than yours truly. OK so it was only that night, I never saw the girl again and all that but still. And I found out how irritating it was to have drunk friends of yours constantly saying, “c’mon Brad, friends share & share alike”

The Billards Room and winning those drinks: Now for the 18-20 y/o girls it was relatively easy for them to get a “highball” drink. All they had to do was charm some older guy out of it. This was before there were stiff penalties for such.
My tactic, win a drink at a game of pool from a older patron. At home I practiced a lot on our pool table so I became a pretty decent shot. Decent enough to win a lot of pool contests in the Big Apple’s billards room and win my fair share of drinks.

NY, You Got Me Dancing by Andrea True Connection: This song was a favorite at The Big Apple for obvious reasons. What I didn’t know at the time was who sang the song, I was surprised to find out it was Andrea True as I remembered her 1976 smash hit “More More More”. Come to find out later (on Sirius radio 70s channel) that “NY, You Got Me Dancing” itself charted in late 1976 (#23 I believe), but I never heard it played on the Cleveland or Pittsburgh pop radio station.
I remember how the DJ's would hit the strobe lights when a certain instrumental refrain of the song played. Made for quite the dancing experience.
Update note: In 2003, my wife Kyrsten and I took a young couple, Carri-Anne and her boyfriend Robert, both 18, (I'd known Carri-Anne since she was 9, the daughter of a military buddy) to Universal Citywalk. On the way over, I said to the couple, "hey give this a listen, this is what I used to rock out too when I was your age". I popped in the Andrea True Connection CD and played NY, You Got Me Dancing for them. Their reaction, "you really partied to that?".

Dance Practice: Some nights I went to The Big Apple to simply practice my dance steps and routines. Now I didn’t want to look like a dork out there by dancing by myself so if I didn’t have a partner at the time, I’d sort of “blend it” with some group of girls who were out there on the floor dancing, pretending I was with them. This worked quite well and I actually met a few ladies this way.

The Visitor From Out Of Town: That was the role I played on one Big Apple visit in late 1978 when I commuted back to Ohio from PA. Met a whole new set of people outside in line. They then invited me to their table (in exchange for what I called the price of admission, one pitcher of beer). This turned into one of the best nights I ever had at The Big Apple.

That Waitress, Who Was She: During that "Visitor from Out Of Town" visit, I distinctly remember this waitress with short blonde hair, who waited on our table. Especially because she kept giving my arm a squeeze every time she waited on us. Now I'm really not sure if she was interested in me, or just doing the flirtatious gesture as a way of getting the dollars to flow but anyway she was quite nice. I never did find out who she was. (Note to Lee Bortel, if you remember her by chance, I'll say she deserved a big raise and big tip).

My last visit after USMC Boot Camp, July 1979: Right after I graduated from USMC Boot Camp, I paid what turned out to be my final visit to The Big Apple. I had wanted to bring my new girlfriend Cheryl but she, being under 18 could not get in. And her parents at the time weren't too keen on her, age 15 dating a 19 year old (yes, I know kinda young but Cheryl was a blonde knockout. They would be far more accepting of us later when Cheryl turned 16).
So I ended up going just for old times sake. Got some nice compliments and thank yous about my being in the service from other folks there and it was nice to see the place again after the hell of USMC Boot Camp. But it just wasn’t as much fun without Cheryl being there with me. Of course I spent the rest of my 10-day leave glued to Cheryl whenever possible.

The Big Apple is long since gone (though the building may still exist) as it went thru several transformations, last I knew it was a country-western place called the Boot-Scootin Saloon but the memories remain of a very special and fun place during the days of youth (late teens, 20s) for my age group.