Checking off another concert..

This past weekend we (DW and I) were in Scranton to see DS2 perform in his last undergraduate Marywood Wind Ensemble concert.  We arrived Saturday afternoon and grabbed DS3 from the clutches of his GF who happened to be A. In Scranton (she lives on Long Island), and B. Heading back to Long Island as we arrived. I must have missed the memo that she was in town.  The concert went well. After the concert I took some pictures of the seniors and the conductor. The Drop Box link to those pictures can be found here.

After the concert and before dinner we went to the Best Western to check into our room for the night. We have stayed at this hotel dozens of times over the last five years. It is relatively cheap, clean enough and not far from Marywood. This time when we arrive the hotel was in chaos. People everywhere, cars parked in the wrong places, just crazy busy. I got my room key and headed to the room. I opened the door to the room and was overpowered by the stench of cigarette smoke. Somehow we were given a smoking room. We don’t smoke. I called the front desk and was told that since we booked through Hotwire they could put us in any room they wanted. And, there were no other non-smoking rooms available. Sucks to be you, have a nice day. Not!

I called Hotwire and got them to cancel the room and book us into the Holiday Inn near the Wiles-Barre – Scranton airport. The hotel was a little further out of town, but it was a step up in cleanliness and customer satisfaction.  Dinner was at Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant with DS2’s GF and her mom who drove drown from upstate New York for dinner.  The food was fine and we had a table out of the way and had plenty of time to talk and visit without the hustle and bustle of the main part of the restaurant.

Sunday morning we went back to Marywood for mass. DS2 plays his trumpet during mass. After mass we went to lunch with the same crew as the night before except for DS3 who “did not know what time” to be there. He stayed in bed Sunday morning. Enjoy college life son, the real world is waiting for you!  The drive home was uneventful except for the various people that seemed blinded by the lack of bad weather and did there best to occupy our space on the highway while we were using it.  Go figure!

Thanks for reading, enjoy the pictures!
Namaste

Passing the time..

Life seems to have settled down during the last two weeks from the go – go -go last few months.  Vacation season for us is mostly over and the spring gardening season is trying it’s best to not arrive.  Last weekend it rained for three days with our northern neighbors getting snow. Maybe we can ship some of this excess water to California.  They have quite the drought going on out there.

I have been back to playing lacrosse on Monday and some Wednesday nights. Monday nights are far more competitive than Wednesday nights. The real attraction to playing on Wednesday is that DS1 also plays. Sometimes we are on the same team, some times not. Playing against him makes my game better.  This past Monday night I scored three goals in the last fifteen minutes of the game. I spent the first 45 minutes trying to catch the ball and not succeeding. Something clicked during the last fifteen minutes and I caught the ball and scored three times. The rest of the “older crowd” was excited for my success.

I have been visiting my deceased MIL’s house about once a week for the last few months.  I start her car, walk around the house making sure that the doors and windows are all intact.  So far so good.  Visiting there is like living through a post apocalyptic movie. By that I mean on December 23, the world stopped at her house. The calendars all say December. The towels in the bathroom are of the Christmas motif. The decorations, such that they are, Christmas. On her dresser is a birthday card for one of her grandsons. He would have received that card on Christmas.   Next to that card are several cards that the daughters would have received at Christmas.  The car sits in the driveway. It has not been off the street where she lived since at least December 3. The clocks are all on Eastern Standard time, Daylight Savings time never arrived.   The whole scene is just plain eerie.

This weekend we are on the road again. DS2 has his last Wind Ensemble concert as a Marywood University undergraduate.  Graduation is on Mothers Day. It is hard to believe how fast time passed since I took him to the university to audition for a spot at the school.

Pictures, I have a few.. (sung to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody)..

Namaste

 

New tech toy..

This blog can hardly be called a “Tech Blog”  Maybe I would fall into the “Travel Blog” or the “Walk a mile in my shoes” blog.  Writers are supposed to write about what they know, right?  I like my electronic toys.  I try not to follow the current trends, but when I do, I try to run to the head of that trend’s pack.

About a month ago I bought a Roku 3 for our family’s Samsung HD TV. Back when we bought the TV, money was real tight and the cost difference between the Smart and non-Smart TV was enough that we bought the “dumb” TV. Smart vs. Dumb, what does that mean? A Smart TV can go on the Internet and view content that might only be available on-line.

An example of that would be ESPN 3. This Internet only channel broadcasts some of the second market or smaller colleges men’s lacrosse games. I can watch ESPN 3 on my phone or laptop. Neither of them have a real HDMI output. The phone has one, but the picture does not come out well when plugged into the 55 inch HD TV. And not just lacrosse, ESPN 3 covers a HUGE range of sports from all over the world.

The ROKU 3 (purchased from Amazon with free delivery) delivers HD content from the Internet. That assumes that the content is HD to start. We have also watched via Livestream other college lacrosse games.  Since we also own a VIZO  Smart TV (for the kids), we have a Netflix account.  The Roku and Netflix play well together.

Are you a tech (geek) with a HD “dumb” TV? Buy a Roku 3 with confidence. The Roku people have thousands of channels available. Some are free, some are subscription based. They even have an “adult” section that they don’t advertise but a quick Google search will show you how to find you way there (if that is your thing).  And you can play games like Angry Birds on the Roku 3!

Thanks for reading and enjoy having 1000’s of channels to watch with nothing on!

Namaste

 

Tampa trip wrap up..

I think I have covered the entire five days in various blogs. As I look back I have missed a few things that may be of interest.  Missing from the Clearwater, Florida is a video that I shot of a street performer.  Here is that video

Monday we traveled home from Tampa to Philadelphia. When we landed in Raleigh – Durham Airport we found out that our flight from RDU to PHL was cancelled. We learned this as we stood on the jet way waiting for our  gate checked luggage to arrive. We flew on one of those regional jets that have no overhead space. While we are waiting one of the passengers that had flown first class was complaining that his bag did not come up in the first group. He said, I’m flying first class!  The gate attendant was not impressed.

Seems he was traveling to PHL as well. I said my flight to PHL is cancelled, he said same here. Then a college age girl came up the jet way and asked about the flight. Cancelled I said. She said why?  I told her that I don’t know why. And really, what difference does it make? You won’t be able to convince someone to un-cancel the flight. The most important thing at that point is to find the next flight before your fellow passengers do. There are not an unlimited number of seats.

I called the Delta 1 800 number and went into a queue, call me back in 10 minutes. I looked over at the counter and saw the attendant finish up with all the customers that had been standing there. I walked over and explained my problem. She took care of my re-booking and gave both of us 20 dollars for lunch and dinner since we were going to be stuck for a while.  We went to a white table-cloth restaurant and ate good on Delta’s dime.

The flight home was uneventful as was the drive to the shore.  I hope you enjoyed the trip, we sure did!

Namaste

 

Tampa Sunday..

We went to Davis Island in Tampa to look at houses and eat breakfast. We had eaten at our hotel the previous days and wanted something “better”  We ate at an Irish Restaurant on Davis Island. We ate outside at a picnic table. My meal was slightly interrupted when the children that had been eating decided to play Frisbee in the parking lot. They could have used more adult supervision since the Frisbee hit me in the back of my head while I was eating.  I don’t think the parents even knew. Hum and smile, throw it back and keep eating.

The homes in the area start at 775 k and go up. This is a pretty exclusive area and near Tampa General Hospital. I would image that a fair number of the doctors and administrators live there.  But, we can dream, and dream we did. By the way, the most recent lottery tickets were a total bust!

We drove north after eating and touring Davis Island with our final destination being Crystal River, Florida. We were told about an excellent fish market and seafood restaurant. We did not have anything planned and we had a nice new rental car, so we went for it. The toll road had a plaza every 10 to 12 miles (60 mile drive). Maybe they could charge a little more and not make us stop so frequently.

While driving we looked on Trip Advisor (my DW, not me, I was driving) and discovered that the restaurant got bad reviews. We stopped by anyway and found the fish market closed and a line at the door to the restaurant. The top rated seafood restaurant was just up the road so we changed plans. The top rated seafood restaurant was in a mall food court. Really! We went in and walked past and kept going. They need to vet these reviews a little better. We did get some ice cream before leaving the mall.  On the way back to Tampa we purchased a Sun Pass for the car. Sun Pass is like EZ Pass in the north-east. You pre-pay the tolls and can drive through the toll plaza without stopping.

Sunday evening found us back in Tampa for outdoor yoga. Hixon Park in downtown Tampa is where they have a free yoga class on Sunday evening. The park has a terraced area that the students can lay their mats on and the instructor is at the bottom. This was really cool. Check this off as another great, free, outdoor yoga venue.

Here is a Drop Box link to all the yoga pictures.

I will post a few down below.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Namaste

 

Tampa/Sarasota Saturday afternoon..

Saturday morning we spent in Tampa at the Flan Festival and the Ybor City Farmer’s market. You can read about that here. Saturday afternoon we drove south to Sarasota, Florida to visit the distillery at Drum Circle Distilling. This is the company that makes Siesta Key Rum. Their website can be found here.

The distillery has a tasting room and also gives tours. What could be better than free rum and a tour?  Nothing that day for sure.  While we were there they had a camera man video taping the tour to be used in a promotional video.  My DW and I are in the video which I will post below. We are in the video in seconds 20 -23, in the tasting room talking to the owners.

The rum was good. I wish it were available in New Jersey near us. The only liquor store that carries the rum is in Union, NJ which is about 80 miles from home. The best rum was the spiced rum. The aged rum needs a few more years to age.  Here is the video.

 

http://youtu.be/7d7Bgcy8nr0

 

The crazy part of the afternoon was that the rental car would not start.  The battery was dead while we were in Sarasota. I called Allstate Roadside (we have with our cars at home) and they came out and jumped the car for free. The car, which we rented from Dollar Rent A Car, was a 2012 Altima with 41,000 miles. The tires were beat and the body showed the miles. When we picked it up at the airport there were not many cars to choose from. Next time I will walk back inside and get something nicer. Really, 41,000 miles at a major US airport in your rental fleet?

When the mechanic opened the hood we discovered that the positive terminal on the battery was corroded. I have never, ever, had a battery that corroded on any of the cars that I have owned over the years.  The mechanic removed the negative terminal and cleaned that (it wasn’t too bad). He went to take the positive terminal off and the connector started to bend. Then next stop after bend is break. He stopped working on the terminal and just jumped the car. He advised that we don’t shut it off and return it ASAP! Nice, huh?

We drove the car back to Dollar after talking to them on the phone. We picked up a 2013 Impala with 7000 miles. That is the kind of mileage I would expect at a major US airport from a major car rental. Shame on you Dollar Rental!

Here is a picture of the battery terminal on that car

2014-02-22 14.58.46

Here is a link to the Drop Box containing the pictures from the distillery tour.

Here are few distillery pictures.

Enjoy and Thanks for Reading!

Namaste

More vacation stories to tell..

This vacation has taken almost three weeks to gel into a couple of blog posts. Why?  The trip to Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and Weston back in January had a pretty good running commentary. This vacation was done without a computer. I used my Droid phone to check email and really just stayed off the grid.  This was about connecting with my DW, she has had a tough few months.  As you remember her stepfather passed away a week before Christmas. Two days before Christmas her mom went into the hospital and she passed on January 3.  A rough month following a bumpy fall.

The Tampa trip was scheduled in October as a way to celebrate our 29 th. wedding anniversary . Who knew at the time that the need for a few days to connect would be so pressing as they were (and are) this winter.  The previous blog entry Small Steps covered several topics including the first day in Florida where we spent the afternoon on Clearwater Beach walking in the Gulf of Mexico (the water was cold) and experiencing the sunset.

Today we will go kayaking on the Hillsborough River. We used the same company this year as last year. Why re-invent the wheel if it works?  Canoe Escape rents kayaks and canoes for river trips.  Friday started out foggy on Tampa Bay. Our hotel was right by the bay and the fog shrouded the highway until we got about 3 or 4 miles east closer to the center of Tampa.  The drive to the canoe place took about 20 minutes or so.  When we got to the park, the sky was still overcast, but the temperatures were in the mid 70’s. And yes, a touch of humidity was in the air (more than a touch).  We were the only customers in the park during our rental and orientation.  Last year we kayaked on a sunny Saturday and the park was jam-packed.

The river was quiet. Just my DW and I in our kayaks drifting downstream. If you wanted to paddle, you paddled. If you wanted to drift, your drifted. There is enough current to keep you moving without the danger or excitement of rapids and white water. We did hear a few odd things as we kayaked down the river. Looking to either side we saw alligators, lots of bids and quite a few turtles. No people or building were visible from the water. We heard a dog barking off to one side. And later we hear the backup siren that some trucks make when backing up.  The noises were out-of-place in the dense forest.  We traveled 9 miles on the river. I took quite few pictures and some video as well.

We stopped on the way home at a farm stand where they make fresh milk shakes with local strawberries.  The shake was outstanding.  After we got back to Tampa we went to a fish market looking for dinner. We found stone crab claws, locally made smoked fish salad and Hog Fish. We ate the stone crabs Friday night and the Hog Fish Saturday night.  There is nothing like fresh seafood for dinner!

 

 

Here is a link to all the pictures from the river.

Enjoy!

 

Namaste

 

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