Thursday, August 17, 2017

Finally! We Have Our Counter Back!

For the past week a contractor has been remodeling our kitchen.  This consisted of ripping out the Formica countertop and replacing it with granite, sanding down and refinishing all the cabinets, replace the sink and faucet, and adding pulls to all the cabinet doors and drawers.

It took me a couple days (off and on) to empty out all the stuff in our cabinets and drawers in preparation for the work.  It's amazing how much 'stuff' you can have in a relatively small space.

During this last week I have learned how much I use the kitchen countertop.  Making lunch in the bathroom can not be sanitary.  It definitely was not fun.

Now comes the chore of wiping out the cabinets and drawers, dusting off and moving all the 'stuff' back into said cabinets and drawers, and cleaning all the dust that has seemed to have settled everywhere in the house.  That is my Friday ... and some of the weekend I would imagine.

Oh ... and the kitchen looks awesome!

P.S.  Sadly I did not take pictures.  I'm slipping in my old age.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Photo Moving Update

As I mentioned back in July I was planning to move all my blog pictures from Flickr to Google Photos.  I'm making progress having completed two of the three phases of the move.

Phase One was downloading the pictures from Flickr.  This didn't take too long.  I had to download each album separately but it took only six days after I started to finish downloading the three hundred and twenty-one albums.  Actually it was only four days since I did not download while we entertained the Best Man and Matron Of Honor.

Phase Two consisted of the unzipping of the files, renaming of the pictures, and the uploading of pictures to Google Photos.  This took a bit longer.  Unzipping the files was a couple clicks for each album.  Some of the renaming was easy since I could rename a files in bulk but some of the albums required each picture to have a unique name.  One such album had over three hundred pictures ... each with an unique name that had to be entered one at a time.  Uploading was easy with only a few tweaks to picture dates to insure the photos were in the correct order.  In all, this phase took fifteen days with only a day or two in there when I took breaks.

Now I start Phase Three.  I now go through my thousand plus posts and relink all the pictures.  This could take awhile.

One thing I've notice as I was uploading the pictures was how fun it was to look at all the pictures I've taken and posted over the past eleven years.  As a matter of fact my eleven year blogging anniversary is next week.   It will be interesting to reread all my posts and, probably, correct some of the thousands of spelling errors.  A nice long walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Book: Kate McCahill's "Patagonia Road"

My latest read is a return to the travelogue.  Kate McCahill's "Patagonia Road" chronicles a journey following another traveller's journey - kind of meta really.  The author loosely follows Paul Theroux's "The Old Patagonian Express" which documents his travels through Central and South America by train.  McCahill forgoes the train travelling mostly by bus instead.

Her year long travels start in Guatemala where I lived for nine years.  It was fun to recognize some of the names and places she visited.

She continues on through El Salvador, Nicaragua, (after a jump by airplane) Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.  While she does visit the capital cities she spends most of her time in smaller cities, towns, and villages where it is easier to meet the real people and experience real culture of the region. She also spends time learning Spanish and teaching English along the way.  She gives herself time to steep in the local culture, something that I admire but I rarely get a chance to do.

Intertwined with the travel stories is the author's personal stories. I found these parts to be distracting.  I was more interested in what she was experiencing and learning.  Fortunately the personal stuff is a smaller portion of the book.

I enjoyed this book.  I enjoyed recognizing places in Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru that I've visited.  The book hooked into my sense of nostalgia and my interest in travel.  I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  It definitely was an interesting read.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Last Batch (???)

Back in May I posted a picture of a Dove on a nest in our backyard.  Since that picture was posted there have been three clutches of eggs on that nest.  The second and third round had two eggs each.  I suspect the first also had two but I'm not sure since I never saw the newborns out of the nest.

Yesterday the last two newborn doves left the nest and, to the consternation of Iago, decided to take a long rest on our deck. I eventually had to shoo the little devils so that Iago wouldn't blow a vein.

The last of the doves ... I think.
There was at least one other nest in our area located in our neighbor's gutter which, I think, had a couple clutches as well.

Yesterday I counted six or seven doves flying around our backyard.  I'm pretty sure there are more hidden in the trees near our house.  This is new.  We've always had a pair of doves that visit our yard but never this many.  It has been a very productive summer this year.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Found A Strange Head ...

On Monday, after sleeping in after the awesome Paul McCartney concert and eating our fill at Lisa's Radial Cafe, the Matron of Honor, Best Man, the Wife, and I headed to Walnut, Iowa.  Walnut's claim to fame is a large number of antique stores running up and down the short main street.

While a few places were closed on Monday there was enough open for everyone to find something to buy.  I bought a man head shaped rattle/noise maker that is probably haunted.  I passed it by a couple time before I grew tired of it calling to me and I went back and bought the strange little head to shut it up.

After returning from Walnut we went out to eat at the awesome Benson Brewery for a very tasty dinner.

I haven't had such a nice day for quite awhile and it was ... refreshing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Music: Sir Paul McCartney

On Sunday the Wife and I, along with the Matron of Honor and Best Man visiting from Minnesota, went to our last concert of the summer: Sir Paul McCartney.

This was an amazing concert.  The warm up was a DJ playing covers of Beatles' and Wings' songs which is a new one for me.  This definitely put me in the mood for what was to come.

McCartney and his band (only four members - guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums) came out shortly after 8:00pm and proceeded to play for three solid hours with only a short two to three minute break before the encore.  The band did have a few breaks when McCartney did solo renditions but he didn't take any breaks himself - remarkable for a seventy-five year old performer.  Near the end of the concert his voice was getting a little raspy but he still sounded great.

His sets were a nice mix of Beatles, Wings, and solo material.  In between songs he told stories to the crowd about the old days, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones.  He sang tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison.  He played my favorite Beatles' song ("Let It Be") but he left off my second favorite ("Long and Winding Road").  A wonderful set.

Back in the USSR with Paul McCartney.
This was one of the best concerts I've had the pleasure of attending.  It was right up there with the Eagles which was my favorite.  When it comes to length and number of songs performed, McCartney is at the top of the heap.  An awesome experience.

Photos can be found in my 2017-07-23 Paul McCartney Concert Google Photos album.  (This is the first post using Google Photos for all photos.  Let me know if there are any issues.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Moving Day Has Begun

Since I started Homer's Travels I have hosted my pictures on Flickr.  Flickr has changed hands a couple times since then.  First they were bought by Yahoo.  This year Yahoo was bought but Verizon.  In the twelve years I've used the service it has gone from one of the most popular photo sites to becoming a has been forgotten corner of the intertubes.  The culprit of this decline is social media.  People post pictures on Facebook and Instagram theses days.  This loss of popularity, along with the changing of corporate hands, has me a little nervous.  After some thought I have decided to copy all my photos from Flickr to Google Photos.

It's going to be a long process.  First I have to download all the Flickr photos.  This consists of downloading each album as a zip file - the format Flickr uses when downloading multiple files.  I happen to have three hundred and twenty one albums.  I spent most of the afternoon downloading and I'm not finished yet.

Next I will have to unzip and rename each file since Flickr adds a number string onto the filename of each photo.  This isn't that difficult since I have several programs for renaming files in bulk.

After that I have to upload the photos to Google Photos albums.  All eight thousand eight hundred and thirty of them.

Finally, after all the pictures have been uploaded and filed away into their proper albums, comes the hard part.  I have to go through all one thousand seven hundred and eighty six blog posts and change every link that connects to a picture, changing it from Flickr to Google Photos.  I think this will take the longest since I will have a large number of links to check.

I'm guessing it will take at least six months to finish the move.  It all depends on how gungho I am at tackling the job.  I'll let you know when I finish.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Music: Blondie With Garbage And X The Band

On Wednesday the Wife and I braved the 99℉ (37.2℃) temperatures and headed to Stir Cove for an evening of music.

We arrived a bit early to stake out a nice place on the grass in the open air venue.  It was HOT.  Fortunately water was available and it wasn't too bad if you didn't move too much.  When the first act came on stage the sun began to dip behind some horizon hugging clouds and the heat was moderated a bit.

The first act was half of X the Band.  The pair (Exene Cervenka and John Doe) did a short bluegrass set that was entertaining.

2017-07-19_Blondie & Garbage_015-WM
Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage.

Next on the stage was Garbage.  I was only familiar with a couple of their songs but I enjoyed their set.

2017-07-19_Blondie & Garbage_043-WM
Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie.

Last up was Blondie.  The band sounded great.  Lead singer Debbie Harry ... let's just say that her pipes haven't aged well. She came close at times but she just didn't have the range she had in her youth.  Having said this, for a person of seventy-two years she sounds pretty good.

So, in the end, this concert was entertaining but a bit below our expectations.

A few pictures can be found in my Blondie & Garbage 2017 Flickr album.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Another Year

Today is my birthday.  Another year has passed.  What an odd year it has been.  It has been an ongoing, low level, funk filled year of loss and disappointment that culminated in my walking off the Appalachian Trail (AT) after only a week.  Since then I've been a little lost.

Since I left the AT I have been a sedentary pile of lumpitude.  I haven't hiked since I left Blue Mountain Shelter and the idea of walking is unappealing to me now.  I've spent a lot of the past three months trying to figure out what was stopping me.  I thought it was the general crappiness of the past year that was bringing me down but this didn't ring true.  Then I figured it out.

I have been walking in earnest for the past ten years.  I started hiking in 2007 with the goal of hitting the best trails in the Ventura county area (The link in the original post probably doesn't work ... the fluidity of the internet).  2007 also happens to be the year when I first heard about the Camino de Santiago.  Since then I have hiked towards goals of one fashion or other.

First I hiked to complete the list of Ventura county hikes.  Then I hiked to prepare for my first Camino.  This transitioned to training for my second Camino, completing RAGBRAI, and hiking Rocky Mountain National Park.  All of this hiking combined together to prepare me for the AT (prepare me physically but not mentally).  For ten years I'd been working towards distant goals and now, with me walking off the AT, all my goals were finished - not meeting my last goal ended it all with a sour note.  When I got home I no longer had any hiking goals and without goals the motivation to hike withered.

So it's time to set new goals.  The first will be a simple one.  Trek Up the Tower.  I've done it before and it will give me a reasoned to get off my butt.  After that ... who knows.  I have a couple ideas of long hikes that are easier than the AT and closer to home.

I have already started training for Trek Up the Tower.  I'm riding my trainer nearly everyday.  I will start walking again some day.  Unfortunately it's been just too hot and humid to walk lately.

I am now fifty-four years old.  Let's see if I can make this a new start.

Thursday, July 13, 2017