The Cell Phone and I

I have three phones currently an IPhone 4s 8GB on Verizon for work. Cellular coverage is better than Project fi or RW and since work pays for that one the price is right. This is a pretty good phone but expensive if I had bought it and most likely I would be locked into the Verizon service contract since it seemed cheaper than their pay as you go with data. I have some dead spots near where I live but nothing like Sprint or T-Mobile in this area.

My wife has a Moto G third generation sixteen GB with a thirty two GB sim card on RW. The Sprint coverage is poor where we live but we have WiFi at the house and can get a cellular signal within a few miles of the house. Our last bill with RW (Republic Wireless) was $15.25 hard to beat that and we are pretty happy with the service when I have contacted RW support they have been great.

We also had a Moto X first generation on RW which was used at home and in Brazil to text with no problems on WiFi but we didn’t try any calls in Brazil. This was my wife’s phone and she was happy with it. While in Brazil it was lost. When she returned here she took the Moto G and I needed to get a new phone.

I started at RW with a Moto E first gen and a sim card. This just didn’t have enough built in memory and I replaced it with the Moto G that eventually became my wife’s. I left the phone in a drawer and the battery died and I then learned about the problems of letting a cell phone battery run to low and was unable to recover it without opening the phone and going through some extra steps to get it back up and running. Eventually this phone was thrown out.

When my wife took the Moto G I decided to try Project fi. It hasn’t been a full month yet but my first charge was $35.32 ($27.81 with discount), I have used less than .20 GB for the month so I should get a refund at the end of the month. I am about twenty days into the billing cycle right now.  I got a Nexus 5x 16GB and I am very happy with this phone running Waze and Audible on my daily commute it keeps up just fine. Cellular coverage is about the same as RW and call quality is as good but the speakers on this phone aren’t as good as the Moto X, Moto G or the IPhone. The thing I like most about the phone is I can switch to another carrier if I decide to and I get updates from Google not from RW or another carrier. I am happy with this so far but I would use this phone on RW as well if it were an option.

I like the service I get from RW and fi but the phones being locked to their service really puts a kink in it for me. Most places I am in during the day have WiFi and I use that for almost all my data and calling.

First full month on fi.


$27.37 for the month of May through June.

Cider or apple juice

finished product

We collected some apples today and made my first attempt at cider. It’s not exactly right since I don’t have a press but we used a juicer to get it done. We collected two five gallon buckets of apples but only did about three quarters of one pail to make three quart jars of cider. Rinse the apples off and just go to town.

Five gallon pails of apples

We diced the apples up and removed any bugs or rotten spots. I’m not sure this is really needed as when I have been to a cider mill it doesn’t look like they do any of this they just crush the apples.

Working the apples
Working the apples

We took turns cutting and juicing.


Very frothy before I pour it off into the jars and put it in the fridge.

Anybody up for a trip to Alaska?


Seventy two hours of driving using eight hour days and that’s nine days to get to Fairbanks and another nine days to get back. Roughly four thousand miles and over four hundred and fifty miles a day. Denali NP would probably be the real destination. Thats a heck of a trip.

If I could get the wife to drive maybe we could do twelve hour days and make it seven days covering about six hundred miles a day. Three hours on and three hours off for each driver. This is starting to sound like a real marathon. We’d need to be real comfortable in whatever we drive.

Here is a link to some people that actually did the trip showing their Alaska route.

Anybody else out there crazy enough to try this trip? What sort of an RV would you use large or small and keeping in mind some of the roads are not paved. Can’t take animals across the Canadian border without making special arrangements and you might not get permission for that at all. This sounds like a three week trip with two weeks dedicated to travel and little else.

I see one couple did this in a nineteen foot RoadTrek and two couples in a Minnie Winnie.

Maybe I should shoot for Key West first?

Farm Daze

On vacation this week and doing a few things around the house as well as watching all the activity going on in the nearby fields. I can hear hay being cut about a mile away and I see people up at the Tillapaugh farm feeding heifers. This always reminds me of when I worked on farms from the time I was twelve or so.
I worked on the Case farm up in Gilboa and this was my favorite, I just liked the land and the creek there. The old house had a second floor porch all the way across the front. A very stately place in decline for years. The work was mostly easy stuff painting and cleaning up. Glenn Case took me up there to work and the farm belonged to his father who had to be in his seventies. Rolling green fields with rocks sticking up everyplace and only a dozen or so cows. They had a small tractor, maybe a Farmall with a front end loader on it and narrow row crop front end. I could be wrong about the make and model but it always reminded me of this H.
That tractor always looked evil and didn’t have shiny paint like the one in the picture. These were good times spent working there.
For about two summers I worked on Glennis and Terry Blanchard’s farm over near Ephratah. This was another small farm, maybe twenty cows or less milking. Glennis was a mechanic for a bus garage and this was his second job. You can never have to much work you know. They had a couple of cute daughters Becky and Roxanne. The barn had a vacuum line for milking and the milk went into a five gallon stainless steel pail and then you would walk it over and dump it in the bulk tank. This farm had a John Deere with a narrow front end and a hand clutch. This tractor kept you busy all the time hand throttle, hand clutch, and a shifter. It had some gearing in it that would go about twenty miles an hour on the road and with that narrow front end it was twitchy at road speeds.
I enjoyed this place as well and have some good memories from this farm. I still see Terry every now and then and I have seen Glennis’s name in the paper mentioning the garage where he is the manager now.
The farm I worked on the longest was Howard Crosby’s place. I live on the back of that farm now in a small plot that my parents bought from Howard about twenty years ago.
Howard had Allis Chalmers tractors and I usually drove one of the older smaller tractors for him. Hauling things like hay wagons around and raking hay in the fields. These were very good summers. Howard was always patient with me and I think I broke a few things that never should have broken I was just trying to go faster.
I broke a manure spreader one day when I got to the field and the gate wouldn’t lift and I tried to put the gate back down with something stuck under it. Howard welded that one back together and fixed it up.
Another time I broke one of the old hay wagons coming down a hill and I didn’t slow down for an old broken culvert. I think I nearly killed Timmy that day as he and Tom were riding on the wagon when it bounced up in the air as we crossed the culvert.
Another time I had a full manure spreader hooked up and we were over by Herman Rd came down the hill there and a tie rod popped off the old tractor and the front wheels went in different directions. I came to a stop all in one piece and not crushed by a load of manure at the base of the hill. But it was touch and go there for a while.
I think I was about twelve when my father hooked up two hay wagons and a rake to the back of the tractor and had me drive all of that from the main farm down to Howard’s mothers place where there was another field we were going to bale that day. This had to be about fifty feet long with all this in tow. Nothing bad happened and I survived but I was nervous that day.
One summer I raked all summer long with a wheel rake and didn’t have any tines break. Then Howard took it out one day and broke about three tines in the first hour. Things must have been just ready to break at any second and I was happy that wasn’t me when things did break.
I remember picking stones in the fields here and discing fields for hours as well as cutting firewood back in amongst the trees on a crisp fall day. I worked on this farm for several years.

Best Vacation Ever

As a kid there were five kids in our family and Mom and Dad, we went on vacation once. Mom said we were going to Florida and Dad said Louisville, Kentucky. We ended up in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.

We spent a couple of days at the battlefield and visited all sorts of neat historical locations. We learned about Little Roundtop and Devils Den as well as Pickett’s Charge. We listened to readings of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and visited a panoramic painting of the battle

We visited the Hershey plant and stayed in a town with a huge Musselman smoke stack and a five and dime that we visited several times.

We watched Buck Rogers on TV, the old black and white version and ate in the hotel room. The hotel room had a small kitchen and two rooms one for mom and Dad and the other for the four kids that came on this trip. My older sister Sandy was in College and she claims this was the best trip she ever missed.

On the way home we stopped someplace in the Catskill’s and rode the zoom flume.

Worst vacation ever.

These posts are a tribute to vacation stories written by my nephews.

Worst Vacation Ever

As a kid there were five kids in our family and Mom and Dad, we went on vacation once. Mom said we were going to Florida and Dad said Louisville, Kentucky. We ended up in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.

The transmission was dropping out of the car and that sort of limited the distance that we covered. Then there was the small matter of money, we didn’t seem to have enough to get as far as Gettysburg much less any other destination. Some place in Pennsylvania Dad found a Beneficial Finance office and borrowed a few hundred dollars so we could complete the trip and get back home. Very spontaneous and off the cuff that was Dad.

It was just enough to spend a few nights in a hotel and visit a few local attractions. We drove up to Hershey Park and checked the price on going in then took the free factory tour and skipped the amusement park side of things.

In Gettysburg I wanted to visit the Wax Museum but that just wasn’t in the budget. We all crammed into a tiny efficiency hotel room and watched black and white TV shows.

For lunch one day we had bologna sandwiches on Wonder bread while sitting in the car. It rained cats and dogs, and the A/C didn’t work. The Wonder bread was so damp your fingers went right through it. The baloney was was warm and the mustard warmer. Andrew Smith was all of about two years old and cranky, not a pretty sight at all.

Best vacation ever.

These posts are a tribute to similar vacation stories written by my nephews.

We grow spoons in the garden

My elder sister related to me a story about our dad, that she heard from our grandmother. It seems my grandmother was running out of spoons very mysteriously. All winter long the spoon supply dwindled down lower and lower. Spring came and the garden was tilled and as the soil was worked spoons began to show up in the fresh earth.

Come to find out my dad was grabbing a spoonful of peanut butter every morning as he headed out to the barn to do chores. Where would you put the spoon once the peanut butter was gone? To dad it seemed good to just toss it over in the garden.

That my friends was an excellent year for the spoon harvest.

I had a good day today

I got a call last night for a fan going bad in a site two hours from my house, replacement could wait until Saturday morning as it was one of three.

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I’m sinking down
And I’m all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Saturday morning I set out after breakfast and headed down to the office to get a spare. After some digging around in piles of junk I came up with what I needed and headed out to the site.

Over and over
Everybody met my prediction
So if I get stoned I’m just carryin’
On an old family tradition

After an annoying drive up the Northway and through Lake George through traffic consisting of vacationers with with big slow RV’s each plastered with signs saying vacation here we come and other stupid things. I finally arrive go in and replace the fan and everything works.

On the way home I came back on 29 and 67 with music playing off my smart phone. For the first time ever it is actually smart. People like Warren Zevon, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hank Williams Jr, and Rory Block made the ride enjoyable. A smattering of Buddy Guy and BB King didn’t hurt either.

Then tonight the neighbor has a very nice fireworks show and I go out in the yard to watch it in my bare feet. Not to shabby.

A Back Seat full of Bank Bags (Early Father’s Day Post)

Happy Fathers Day Dad

Mom tells me of a time when dad came home with Art and the back seat of the car was covered with empty cloth bank bags. Now why would a couple of guys leave in the morning and return with a car that had a half dozen empty bank bags in the back seat?


Some times dad’s friends were shady, maybe on the edge of society and what was acceptable.

There was Henry, dad told me stories of going down to see the judge and handing him an envelope of cash to clear up problems with an accident that happened while Henry was driving drunk. All I remember was a wrecked Corvette sitting in Henry’s side yard with a tarp over it also wrecked while driving drunk.

One night when my parents lived on Route 10 Henry’s brother showed up in the middle of the night and slept up against the side of the house. His car had broke down and he didn’t want to wake anyone up in the middle of the night so he just slept outside. Mom woke up and saw a man out there and screamed, Dad called the cops. then they realized who it was and had to straighten all that out.

One day dad showed up at one of my uncles homes with a revolver he wanted to sell. At the time dad had Hodgkin’s disease and looked like death warmed over from the treatments. My uncle gave him twenty bucks for that revolver and told me the story of it about forty years later.


One of dads favorite TV characters was Jim Rockford, he was always on the shady side picking door locks and printing his own business cards. I think dad admired that.

One day with mom in the car and all of us kids a trooper stopped us on 5s and started asking questions about all the wire in the back of the station wagon. Just picture mom and dad in the front seat three kids in the middle and a bunch of copper wire with the insulation burned off in the back. The trooper asked a few questions, mom looked panicked and probably a few of us kids started crying. Eventually that trooper just took his info and sent dad on his way, telling him he better not hear about any stolen wire in the area.

I learned how to open a locked door with a credit card from dad. How to tow a car and how to be towed in a car. Always safety first Dad would put a pipe on the chain to keep the two vehicles from getting to close and banging into each other or use an old tire to cushion the blow. I learned how to use a slim piece of metal to open the locked car door, and how to throw a couple tires on the ground roll the car up on the passenger side (no mirror) on top of the tires and then remove a transmission.

People speak of bonding we did that father son style. When I was about ten he had me turning valves in a Volkswagen head using a hand cranked valve grinder.


We heated the heads up in the oven and he put new inserts in then I sat at the kitchen table and cranked the handle. We bonded.

I think my brother Chris replaced and engine with Dad in one of the hippie vans. There were a couple of those vans, the most memorable had A-team stripes, no bumper and no grill. The back seats came from a wrecked van in a junkyard and smelled of wasp and hornet spray because you had to evict the wasp and hornets before you could get them out of the wreck.

We used to go down to the end of Macarthur Ave and get hair cuts from Joe. Dad would get us crew cuts and mom would go please don’t have all their hair cut off. Always an argument over that.

I’d call these things a pretty good time, but I don’t think everyone understands Indian rope burns and wrestling in the living room, or why the TV set was out on the porch and not connected to anything.


We have three wireless phones in the house I placed one in the kitchen and one in the living room the other one floats around to wherever it is needed. Lately all three keep ending up in the living room, I move them and they come back.

I asked Mom about these and she told me about Uncle Bob and my Grandmother Estes. It seems Grandma would rush from wherever she was to the kitchen phone to get her calls. Her kids didn’t want her running around the house for fear she would fall and be hurt. Uncle Bob thinks about this and decides to have the phone company put in a phone in the bedroom and another in the living room. He schedules the appointment and the phone guy comes out. Grandma sends him away as she doesn’t need more than one phone and it is always in the kitchen.

Uncle Bob talks to her and reschedules for the phone guy to come out and try a second time to get this done.Finally the phones get installed and Uncle Bob is happy he got this work done, he comes over to see his mother and sets in the living room talking to her. The phone rings and she springs to her feet running to the kitchen to get the phone, all the while the new phone is right there beside her in the living room. I’m not sure she ever used any phone other than the one in the kitchen. He tried.