Friday, February 25, 2011

A Great Toy!

There is a woman that I work with at AARP named Eileen. Her husband, Glenn, is an extremely talented individual who has been racing boats for many years. This may not be very interesting to the ladies who read my blog, but I think the guys will be as impressed as I am.

This is the hydroplane that Glenn (pictured) is getting ready to race next weekend in Lakeland. The finish is like a mirror and the overall craftsmanship is perfection all the way. He told me earlier that if I wanted to see the boat, it should be before the race as he could not be certain that it would still be worthy of pictures after the race.

This is the view looking back. The cockpit cover is not on and the engine cowling is sitting on the custom trailer behind to the left.

This is just a quarter view from the front.

This is obviously the engine, a special unit that runs on methanol, not gasoline. Glenn has fabricated all the fittings in the engine compartment and everywhere else. The engine uses a "dry sump" oil system, so there is no oil pan. Instead, there is a tank that sits aft of the engine, just out of sight to the left of the picture. The oil is preheated and is pumped through the engine, then a line goes back to the oil tank.

This picture shows a lot of things. You can see the oil tank behind the engine. Of course it's all covered by the engine cowling. Attached to the left sponson is a stainless steel blade that sticks well into the water. In the picture it's just to the right of the steps. When the boat is racing, the two turning points are that blade and the rudder. Without the blade, the boat wouldn't turn because only the rudder and half of the propeller are in the water. Yes, that's a fully restored '57 Chevy convertible in the background.

Here is the propeller shaft strut as constructed by Glenn. It's made of aluminum that he cut and fit, then sent out to be powder coated. The line coming from the top of the boat carries water to the strut bearing to assure lubrication. To the left is the rudder. A pipe going to the bottom of the rudder supplies all the water for cooling and lubrication.

Some years ago Glenn set a few records. Oh how I'd like to take this boat for a spin. Unfortunately, there is no way that I could squeeze into a cockpit made for a much smaller, much younger individual. I looked in , and it would be a tight fit, even for the youngster.


Monday, February 21, 2011

It's FALL in Florida.

Yes, that's correct! It's Fall in our neighborhood, but not Autumn. The trees around us are green all year so we don't have the traditional Autumn when all the leaves turn bright colors and then fall, leaving the trees bare and dismal looking. Our trees have green leaves all year, but in the late winter some leaves turn yellow and fall from the trees, but leave a lot of new green leaves behind.

You can see the yellow in the trees. They soon fall leaving the nice green leaves. Another sign of spring is the blooming whatchamacallit as seen below. Helen can give you the real name.

Helen and I are still working on our yard and, of course, I have another fire going. We have removed a lot of dead and dying trees and there is still a long way to go. The new leaf blower is working very well. It forces air into the fire and makes it burn hot and fast. How hot? I don't know, but in the picture below you can see the brown glass bottle melted into the dirt and the remains of a spray paint can.

That's all I could find of the bottle. The rest must have melted into the ground and I'll find it later. In the past, using this system, I have recovered fused dirt the size of softballs. I sort of wish I was burning in pure sand to see if I could make some kind of glass.

I've had a few problems with equipment as the project continues. The pull starter cord on my chainsaw broke so I bought a new one. On the second pull with the new cord, the engine kicked back and the new cord broke. I think it's pre ignition because I've been using regular gas. I changed to high test this morning and it seems to be working fine now. I also have a gas powered weed eater. It's a Toro with a string weed eater as well as a blade for clearing small brush. The blade works fine on the briers and such. Saturday it was working very well for a while then stopped. It does that sometimes and all I have to do is restart and continue. Not this time. I pulled on the starter cord but there was no resistance. The starter doesn't engage. Another fix-it project.

Yesterday was Helen's birthday and we celebrated #39 again! We went to see the latest Liam Neeson movie, UNKNOWN. I don't usually choose that kind of a movie, but it was really good and I'd have to give it two thumbs up. After the movie we walked next door and had dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. With Helen as my date, it couldn't have been nicer. The meal, though, was not up to par. There seems to be a misunderstanding about what is rare, medium rare, medium, etc. We do not like our beef rare, but cooked to shoe leather is not good either. The waitress had the solution, order rare and then send it back for a little more cooking. I don't think so!

On the Dog's blog I mentioned a book, A Dog's Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron. It was recommended to me by a friend, but I hesitate to recommend it to anyone else. I'm a wuss when it comes to dogs. I know how Old Yeller ends, so I have never seen the movie. This book is written from a dog's position, but I don't want to give too much away. Suffice it to say that as I was reading it, my three dogs were on my bed sitting beside me. There were times when tears flowed from my eyes as I couldn't help relate some of the story to my dogs. A warning....if you start it, you MUST finish it because in the end, it's not too bad.

That's it for today. I'm through burning and cutting wood. Tomorrow and Wednesday are AARP TaxAide sessions, so I get to sit at a desk all day.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A sobering day at TaxAide.

I have been helping people with their federal taxes for four years now and today was a particularly hard day for me. One of my clients was a woman whose taxes I've done two or three times before. In the past she was in the company of her husband, but today she was alone. Her husband passed away two weeks ago due to cancer. He was treated by a local doctor and would not consider a transfer to Moffitt Cancer Center, one of the best cancer centers in the country. She told me that he wanted her to make an appointment with us to get the taxes done as he apparently knew his time was short.

This particular client is a very sweet lady who has all her paper work in order. She highlights the pertinent information in yellow so it's easy to find. There is nothing complicated about their return and they have been among the most pleasant people I deal with. I found it difficult to ask the questions I had to in order to get the return filed. All our returns are quality checked by another person, and I got Eileen to to the review because I felt she would be the most compassionate. Eileen did a thorough check of the return then took considerable time counseling the lady on the tax situation she will fall into in two years. We finished all the paper work and the lady left. Eileen went into the staff lounge, coming out a few minutes later with red eyes.

I'm grateful that the client was able to hold herself together so well, though there were times when I could see her close to tears. I'm happy to be working with people like Eileen who will go above ad beyond to help someone.

This could be the story of any of us at our age and I hope that we're all doing our best to be the best we can be while enjoying life to the fullest. Life is short.


Monday, February 7, 2011

A job completed

Today I finished pressure washing the driveway. Here is the picture of the driveway mostly done.

And here is the finished job.

I moan and groan, bitch and complain, but that's what I do. Actually, washing the driveway is a once a year project and it takes about 5 hours. It's warm out and I can do the job in shorts and a tee shirt. Now, I have to compare that with Sam in Missouri or my brother back in Massachusetts who has no place left to put the snow. He works at Logan Airport in Boston, and they're having a real problem there, too. It seems that there is a law against dumping the snow in Boston harbor due to the contaminants in the snow, fuel and oil leakage, de-icing chemicals, salt for using on walking areas, etc. The airport has a designated dumping area where these chemicals will be filtered through the ground and dissipate before getting to the harbor. This year the dumping area will hold no more snow and they are dumping directly into Boston Harbor. It's bothersome I suppose because the harbor used to be very polluted, and there has been a great effort to clean it up in recent years. It's no secret that striped bass and bluefish have returned to the harbor, proving that the water is better quality than it has been in years. Still, a winter like this has been a great burden on much of the north. Pressure washing the driveway is nothing compares to shoveling snow.

When I lived up north, I had to shovel the driveway in order to get to work. I guess it wouldn't be so bad now that I could just curl up with a good book and wait for the snow to melt, but warmer is better. It's SOOOOO much better.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Working and day dreaming

Well, now that he weather has warmed up a bit, I've been very diligent in getting to work around the house. When we have a cold snap, every fiber in my body wants to hibernate. Of course I can't hibernate, so I find the warmest place in the house and put on as much body fat as I can.

I worked two days for the AARP TaxAide. The rest of the week has been spent getting things done. Today I've had a fire going most of the day as I continue to burn the remains of downed trees and brush. With the fire going well in the back (I have a new leaf blower), I started to pressure wash the driveway. I got that about 80% done when the machine ran pout of gas. It was fortunate because I ran out of gas at the same time. Now it's time to latch onto a couple of ibuprofen to chase away the aches and pains. Pressure washing is a no brainer. Once the engine is running you just move the wand back and forth. It gives me a chance to day dream while I'm actually getting some work done.

My mind keeps going over the lunch we had last Monday and all the full timers we met there. Now why am I doing all this work around the house? I DO have a beautiful home on 2 1/2 acres with a pool, cabana, and an authentic Finnish sauna. Do we use the pool and sauna in the winter? Of course not! In fact, just as soon as the pool water gets above 85 degrees, I cover the pool, shut down the pump, and go away for the summer. When we return, it's nice for a few weeks until it cools off too much, and then the only ones who enjoy it are the dogs. Helen and I have always said that full timing is not for us, but as we get older............. Helen even mentioned the possibility of selling the house and buying a nicer RV to live in full time. That was a shock to me!

I already take care of a motorhome and a tow car. However, I also take care of another car and a house. Winters in Mexico is sounding pretty good. The information I get off the RV.NET about camping in Mexico really interests me. The pictures of the beautiful Pacific coast beaches and campgrounds are really inviting. We could pass through Florida in the spring and summer to see family. There is no reason why we should have to endure temperatures too hot or too cold when we have the RV that we can take anywhere. I'm paying more attention to the blogs of the full timers. I guess I'm still a kid at heart and I'm always looking for the next adventure.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Catching up with the blog.....again!

I know that I have been negligent in maintaining my blog. Sometimes there is simply nothing to report and other times I've been too busy ........or lazy.

Last weekend we had my son and two grandsons over for the weekend. Kyle needed to work on his pinewood racer for his Cub Scout project.

No, that's not Kyle in the picture, it's Keaton and my son, Paul Jr., or PT.

This is Kyle, working his butt off hauling trees to the burn pile. He worked harder than anyone and he kept it up for the two days.

He graduated to using the wheel barrow and really started to move the wood. Sometimes his enthusiasm overwhelmed his muscles as he'd load the barrow so high that it would tip over. It didn't slow him down too much though.

The real joy for both of the boys was keeping the fire going and adding more and more wood to the pile. My leaf blower died, so I was just using a fan until I get another. A lot of wood was burned over the weekend, but only a small fraction of what we could have burned with a leaf blower.

Here's Kyle "on the wagon", taking a well earned rest.

PT dressing the fire.

Helen with Keaton, Kyle, and PT.

Same picture with me taking Helen's place. The other picture is better.

That completed our weekend as we drove the boys home Sunday evening. Everyone got a good workout. Helen and I really enjoyed the boys for the weekend.

Monday, January 31st Helen and I joined a bunch of other campers at a lunch at Smokey Bones Bar and Fire Grill in Lakeland. I got an email from Donna (Froggi) McNichol inviting us and we went. It was a very nice group of mostly full timers who are in this general area for the winter. WE met a lot of interesting people and we hope to cross paths again sometime. I don't know where they all will go when the warm weather comes, but I expect most of them will return to the area next winter. I should have taken a bunch of pictures, but I was too busy talking. Here are a couple of places to visit should you want to see who were there. Ralph and Donna have an excellent blog, go back to January 31st to see the pictures and blog.

Tuesday February I started my tour of duty with AARP TaxAide. I put in a full day at the Floral City Library. It was a very quiet day since this is the first year that we're using that library. It is still rewarding to do a tax return for someone with a very limited income who paid a lot to have a national tax service serve them in past years.

Wednesday I worked at the Lakes Region Library and that was a different story. This library has been used for many years and people know it. We had a full slate of appointments without a single empty slot. Still, this is my favorite place to work. It's the library that I use and the people that I work with are a joy.

Today Helen and I went to Lowe's to get new faucets for the main bathroom. The old ones are in perfect shape, but Mama says the bathroom needs an upgrade. I also picked up a valve for Barbara that I will install the first chance I get, within reason.

I mentioned that We all worked very hard on the weekend. Actually, I started before the weekend, but the only effect was to make me tired. However, I woke up Monday morning with a very sore heel area on my right foot. On the internet, we finally diagnosed it as achilles tendonitis, and there's not much you can do except take ibuprofin and rest. I took the ibuprofin, but I still went to the lunch in Lakeland and worked the two days for AARP. This morning, the heel hardly hurts at all, but now my instep hurts much more than the tendon. I may have caused the problem by walking the way I did to favor the achilles tendon. Getting Old Sucks!!