Homer's Travels: March 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Kicking And Screaming Into The Twenty-First Century

Well ... we finally did it.  Today we got our first real cell phones.  After the dead landline fiasco last weekend we decided it was time to ditch the landline.

We've had at least one cell phone for nearly twenty years but they have always been pay as you go, not so smart phones.  We decided we wanted an unlimited talk/text/data plan smartphone to replace our dumb phones.

We chose middle of the road phones (LG K20) on the T-Mobile (their network works in many countries without the need to change the SIM card) 55+ plan (two lines for $70) with the unlimited everything we were looking for.

No more printing out map directions.  No more being incommunicado (though nobody ever calls me anyway).  No more wondering about anything when Google is at your fingertips.

Our landline will go away once our old number is transfered to the Wife's phone.  Her phone will be our old number.  I will have a new number.  If you need it, let me know by email and I'll pass it along.

Let the twenty-first century ... begin!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Photograph: "Vase Flower (Close-Up [HDR])"

The Wife received a vase of flowers from school.  The vase is a cool with a flower detail on the front.  I took a close-up of the flower using an HDR (High Dynamic Range) camera settings and the result is pretty cool.  It looks almost metallic.

"Vase Flower (Close-Up [HDR])"
by Bruce H.
Here is a standard photo of the vase for comparison:

The flower vase with no special processing.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Forty-eight hours. That’s how long our internet was out ... and our cable television ... and our land line. Forty-eight hours of “what am I supposed to do now?”

I always thought that being unplugged was a good thing. When I went on my Caminos I avoided the internet completely for nearly six weeks only logging on to send email updates to the Wife. These periods of disconnection were relaxing and calming to the soul. No news. No gossip. Quiet. I suppose the fourteen miles of walking and the logistics of the Camino albergue were good distractions too.

Apparently things have changed in the four and a half years since I completed my second camino. The past forty-eight hours have been hell! I had major news withdrawal. No TV. No Twitter. It’s been boring. Add in the Wife’s inability to watch March Madness basketball and we both went stir crazy.

As the hours ticked by we both got a bit miffed. We called our cable provider at least six times only to get the runaround. We even started to lie to the cable representatives explaining it was a medical emergency thing but that apparently didn’t do diddly squat to get the repairman here any sooner.

They set up an appointment for Sunday morning and put us on the standby list for Saturday. The standby list. That’s the list of people who can’t leave the house to do things because the repair guy might just arrive when they’re out. The standby list makes you a prisoner in your own house.

I tried to fill my time listening to podcasts I’d downloaded but that got old eventually. The Wife listen to her games on a fish shaped shower radio like it was 1940 or something. There were times when we both sat in our usual spots staring blankly at a dark screen in a dead quiet house, the silence interrupted only by the ticking of clocks. It was quiet ...maddeningly quiet ... too quiet.

The repairman arrived on time (!) this morning.  Turns out another cable serviceman accidentally cut our cable while working on our neighbors house.  Our cable/intertubes/land line are up again and I am sad to say it really feels good.  Too good I think.  Gives me something to ponder.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book: Omar El Akkad's "American War"

Finally!  After a couple mediocre reads I find an interesting, thought provoking book.  Omar El Akkad's "American War" describes a second civil war in the America's near future.

In a future where the coastlines of the USA have been drastically changed by climate change (Florida is now the Sea of Florida) a war stretching from 2074 to 2095 starts when the federal government outlaws the burning of fossil fuels.  The states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia,and South Carolina succeed from the union starting a twenty year guerilla war fought with drones and suicide vests.  The scariest speculation involves the use of a virus to pacify the southern uprising resulting in the quarantine of the entire state of South Carolina.

The story is told following a young southern girl and her family as they escape the front lines to a refugee camp.  We watch the six year old girl become more and more radicalized as the war drags on ending in the greatest act of revenge imaginable.

This is a dystopian novel but it feels like it could be next week.  The only fault I can find is the lack of technological advancement in the fifty years before the start of the war.  Technology, except for a few mentions of solar power, is generally ignored in the telling of the history of despair and warfare.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  I just hope it doesn't become too real anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


A sun lit Hyacinth.

I would like to wish everyone a


If you can, go out and enjoy the first day of spring.

Friday, March 16, 2018

And The Numbers Say ...

I had my annual blood test a week or so ago and the numbers were not good.  The past year of low activity and poor eating habits gave me numbers that roughly match my worse numbers ever.  My worse were back in 2009 before I started training for my Caminos, RAGBRAI, and the Appalachian Trail.

The specific numbers giving me trouble are my high LDL Cholesterol (207 vs less than 200), high Glucose (128 vs less than 100), and pre-diabetic A1C (6.3 vs less than 56).  These have always been my trouble spots.

So it's time to hear this wake up call.  I have successfully tackled these numbers before.  I know what I need to do.  Watch my diet.  Reduce my carbs.  Get off my butt and exercise.  Lower my weight.

I'm getting older and, not having a goal to work towards like I 've had for the past five to ten years, I'm sure it won't get any easier.  I never have been very good at self control and maintaining an exercise regime.  Hopefully the twenty miles I walked this week will be a good start.  But keeping it up has always been hard for me and, frankly, is not getting any easier with time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book: Jeremy Robinson's "Infinite"

Book number five for the year is Jeremy Robinson's "Infinite".  It seems I've been reading a lot of mediocre science fiction lately.  This one just adds to that list.

"Infinite" has an interesting premise which tries very hard to be engaging but you can feel a twist coming a mile away (in my case I saw it coming three quarters of the book ahead).  Since I saw the twist coming when it arrived it was a bit underwhelming

Reading the afterward after finishing the book, you find out that the author was battling health issues while he wrote the book which may explains the rather shallow style of the book.

I gave the book three stars out of five on Goodreads.  I kept hoping that I would be surprised but in the end it was a predictable read with little depth.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Warning: Jump Ahead

Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead an hour tonight or you will be late all day ... or is it early all day?  While I try to figure that out, here is a picture of an orchid:

An Orchid ... backlit.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Another Passing

Yesterday, Marilyn, my Mother-in-Law, passed away.  She was a good woman, and good mother, and a good wife to Cecil who passed away nearly two years ago.

February 28, 1933 - March 5, 2018
I liked her and she approved of me which is all a son-in-law can ask for.  I am told, when my back was turned, she would sprinkle water at me in the hope the baptismal dishwater would save me.  Thank you for trying Marilyn.

She will be missed by everyone who knew her.  Like Cecil, every life she touched was made better.

Here is a link to her obituary.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

First Sign Of The Coming Spring

Today was a beautiful day.  I would say it was a preview of the coming Spring.  Temperatures peaked at 68℉ (20℃) and it was nice to walk outside in my t-shirt and bare feet and not feel cold.

Another sure sign that spring is in the air: the first Robin in our backyard.

First Robin of 2018 in our backyard.
Winter isn't over yet and we have a few more weeks of mixed weather on the way but this little preview was a welcome change.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Book: Jeff Vandermeer's "Annihilation"

I saw the preview for the upcoming movie adaptation so I decided to check out the book.  Jeff Vandermeer's "Annihilation" is an odd little book.

The book follows a team of scientist (all women) who are sent to 'Area X' which has mysteriously appeared.  The only defining feature of Area X is the border barrier.  Other than this the book is incredibly vague about what makes Area X weird.  Yes, every expedition into Area X except one have either died or disappeared.  This is never explained.  Yes there are hints about strange creatures but the descriptions are so thin that it's hard to tell what is wrong with them.

The characters do not have names being referred only by their professions.  The characters do not act natural which is probably done are purpose to heighten the tension and weirdness of the narrative.  The location of Area X is never mentioned.

This vagueness was kind of disappointing.  This is the first book of a series so more details may come in later books but frankly I needed more to keep my interest.  The first book of a series is supposed to suck you in but I am not sure I will even read the other two books.

As I read this book I kept thinking that the storytelling style was similar to H. P. Lovecraft.  This seems appropriate since I also considered Lovecraft's horror to be vague and a bit disappointing.

I gave this book three out of five stars on Goodreads.  This may be a a case where the movie may be better than the book.

P.S.  The hardcover version of the book is listed at $153.87 on Amazon.  This for a two-hundred-ten page book.  Crazy!

P.P.S. Happy World Book Day!!!