Tuesday, September 27, 2016

WARNING! WARNING! Social networking changes coming!

I think that I'm beyond the point of needing to network for any kind of personal or business benefit.
I have a LinkedIn account but have only had a few business contacts that resulted in jobs for preaching or magic.
I have a business page on Facebook, but it is mostly populated with people that are also my friends on my personal page.
I have unfollowed a moderate number of Facebook friends because of the constant negativity that is on their feed. I'm not at all opposed to differing opinions; just the constant bashing and negativity that is often associated with those that have opposing views.
I expect that there are a number of friends that have also unfollowed me.

On the plus side of social networking:

I have been able to connect and reconnect with friends from the past and relatives that I haven't seen in quite some time (or ever for my Aussie cousins).
I get some good info on health and wellness from the sites I follow on Twitter.
I also get sports and news updates from my Twitter feed.

I like Twitter and Instagram for the reason that I can follow people that choose not to follow me and vice versa.

I've said all of that to say this:
I am going to change how I use my social networking sites.
Actually, Twitter and Instagram won't change much other than to say that I may not share as much info between sites and I may decide to trim my Twitter feed by cutting a number of feeds.
Facebook I will probably cut a lot (again)!

I'm thinking that relatives and a few friends that I really want to keep in contact with and Facebook seems to be the only (or at least most convenient) way.
If you are a pastor or contact through a church or church camp, I will probably drop you from my Facebook feed. Feel free to follow on Twitter or my other Facebook page.
I have a number of NATCA contacts that I've never met that I will choose to keep. There is a camaraderie between controllers that is difficult to find outside of that unique field. On the other hand, there are some that I will drop and will probably go unnoticed.

For the most part, I rarely post directly on Facebook. The majority of posts are linked from Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. I read Facebook for birthdays and to keep up with family and a relatively small amount of friends.
At one point, my friends list grew quite large because I was using Facebook as a kind of business page to keep in contact with church leaders for potential bookings. If you are one of those, I'd suggest connecting with me on LinkedIn. That also goes for those of you that are writers.

Please believe that I really don't mean to offend anyone. I am just looking to declutter my life and this seems like the easiest place to begin. I'm going to set Sunday as my declutter day. If you are dropped and really want to stay in touch via Facebook, drop me a note and I will reconsider (or you can let me know beforehand).

John <><

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bucket list

Here's something for my Bucket list.
It's more of a silly want to do thing rather than a have to do thing.
Motorcycle ride to this:

Standing on a corner...
Google maps shows it at 1100 miles and 15 hours (one way).

John <><

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Who has time for work?!

It has been a crazy week!

On Saturday we returned home from our week in Canada.
Sunday was recovery day!
Monday morning I found out that I was taking my mom to a Cubs game -- ON TUESDAY!
So I did a little laundry, packed a bag, checked the motorcycle and prepared for the next day.
Tuesday I rode just over 400 miles on the motorcycle, parked it in my parents garage, picked up my mom and drove their van (140 miles) to Chicago. We met up with Aaron and Jenny for our outing to the ballgame.

It was the first time in over 30 years that Mom had been to a Cubs game and really her first time as a real Cubs' fan. She was pretty much like a kid.

Here are a few pics from the night:

The four of us in front of Wrigley

Just the Cub fans

My ballpark Chicago dog

The Cubs won (I was happy for Mom and Jenny) and we had to hear that stupid song!
We made it to bed by midnight and then my Wednesday was the opposite of Tuesday with the drive back to my parents and the motorcycle ride home.

Thursday (tomorrow) is lake day, so that will be a nice relaxing day.
Friday night I'll be making dinner and Hannah and Daniel will be coming over to eat with us.
Saturday night is a party at a friend's house who is celebrating the end of her chemo treatments.

It is a good thing I don't have a job that I have to go to!
Makes me tired just thinking about having to go to work!

I hope your week is as fun as mine -- I know it's not, but...

John <><

Homeward bound

After a day on the road yesterday, I'll be reversing course and heading home today.
The journey has been well worth the time on the road.

I'll write more tomorrow and post some pics of our time at Wrigley. For now, it's finish my coffee and get on the road -- 150 miles in the car, 400+ miles on the motorcycle!

John <><

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Talk about your dry spell...

Just a quick Tuesdays are for trivia post this morning as I get ready to hop on the motorcycle and hit the road for a Chicago Cubs game...

It has been 108 years since the Cubs have won a World Series Championship.
They have played over 17,000 games since their last Championship.
They have been to the World Series seven times since 1908, the last time was in 1945.
Since 1945, they have made the post season 7 times and have a dismal post season record of 13 wins and 27 losses.

Could this be their year?
Or just another huge disappointment for their fans?

John <><

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bucket List

Yesterday I found out that my mom has a bucket list item of going to a Chicago Cubs' game.
Unfortunately, this week is the last regular season week of games in Chicago and post season tickets are in the $250 dollar range for Standing Room Only!

After she told me that she wouldn't even know how to get tickets, I suggested that she call her grandson and let him get her tickets and I offered to pick her up and take her to the game.

So, tomorrow morning I'll be leaving early to pick her up for Tuesday night's Cincinnati Reds vs the Chicago Cubs game. To keep it a little less expensive, I'm going to ride the motorcycle to Metamora and then use my folks van for the ride to Chicago. I'd ride two up on the cycle, but Mom would eventually pass out from screaming and I'd be deaf by the time we got there. We'll meet up with the kids, enjoy a ballgame and a visit, and then get back to Metamora around midnight. There is a possibility that we'll spend the night in Chicago, but my initial preference will be to get back to Metamora. In either case, I'll make the Wednesday ride home.

Mom gets to check an item off of her bucket list.
I get to see the kids and a ballgame.
I get to see my folks for a brief visit and get a couple of days on the motorcycle.
Life is good!

Rogers Centre and the Toronto Blue Jays last week,
Wrigley Field and the Cubs this week,
Busch Stadium and the Cardinals next week!

This retirement gig is pretty rough, but it sure beats working for a living!

John <><

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Recovery Day; keeping it simple

If yesterday was travel day, today is recovery day.

After waking at 3am EDT yesterday for an early morning flight and only taking a short afternoon nap, I probably should have gone to bed earlier than midnight CDT. I opted out of setting my alarm for the morning and slept straight through to almost 9:30!
One of the downsides to sleeping so long is that I really feel the sleep inertia this morning and have a slight headache which will last into several cups of coffee.

Having said that, it is nice to be home.
Part of that long sleep has to do with being in my own bed with my own pillows.
Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a cigar sitting on my own deck.
This morning I am blogging while reclining in my own chair and sipping on a cup of my own coffee.
Later today, I'll probably take a short motorcycle ride.
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!

We didn't go out for lunch or dinner yesterday. We just made due with what we had (which wasn't much since somebody hasn't been to the store). I'll probably need to take care of that store thing later today.

The lawn is in serious need of mowing and today will be cooler than tomorrow -- but I'm thinking that recovery day shouldn't include mowing. It will probably include some laundry, but that's really not a big deal. At least I don't have to get ready to go back to work this week! And you don't really go back to being retired since you didn't really stop being retired.

This shouldn't be too bad.
Maybe I'll use recovery day to start planning our next adventure!

On to recovery...

John <><

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Travel day!

It's early on Saturday morning and I am sitting in the Toronto Pearson airport waiting to fly home.
Chris is out in search of breakfast, a diet coke and coffee.

We have had a great time visiting our northern neighbors and need to do so more often (but not in the winter). Canada is a beautiful country and I'm sure there is so much more to see. I should probably work on learning how to travel more efficiently.

I think that we have exhausted our travel budget for the year, but are already looking forward to traveling in 2017! I think that we will also look at visiting around the US next year. I hope to make a few solo trips on the motorcycle -- short rides -- one day out, one day back kind of trips. Maybe Memphis for a Cardinals AAA game, Indianapolis to see my baby sister, Arlington for a Rangers' game -- that kind of thing. I might have to think backpack, small tent and inexpensive camp ground. It's nice to be able to think with that kind of freedom. If a few short trips go well, maybe I'll work on something a little longer.

Any suggestions for something around 500 miles or less from Ozark?
It would be cool to meet some of my readers. Many of you are friends and relatives that I have not seen in quite some time, others I see often and some I have never met. Maybe a meet the readers motorcycle trip(s) summer would be cool.

Writing of riding makes me want to ride. We'll be home by mid-day so maybe I'll get out for a little ride this afternoon.

I hope that you have a great day and weekend!

John <><

Friday, September 16, 2016


I have posted on friends and friendships in the past.
I'm not sure why some people just seem to connect and others don't.

It is 2:20 in the morning and Chris and I have only been back at our hotel for a short time. We spent the evening and the early morning hours visiting with people that we barely know, but are most definitely our friends.
Back in June of 2011, Chris and I were on vacation in Mazatlan Mexico and ran across a crazy group of Canadians that were staying at the same hotel. Two of the women (Alyssa and Monika) didn't travel as a part of the rest of the group; they were traveling together and joined their fellow countrymen at the pool each day. Those two young women and one woman (Jo) from the main group (by main group I mean the loudest craziest ones) have kept in contact with us over the years. We have become better acquainted with each other through contact on Facebook.

Last fall we made plans to meet Jo and her husband Gord in Cancun. (Gord was not on the 2011 trip.)
We met at the end of January and had a really great vacation. Chris and I had never been to Canada and talked about coming here to visit their country and to see our friends.
It has been a grand time.
We managed to see Alyssa for a day in the Niagara area and Monika for a day in Toronto. We had a couple of great meals out, but the best ones were the ones sitting at Jo and Gord's dining room table.
They invited a couple of their friends to join us for dinner last night -- Leah and Andy. Andy is from Cuba and has just recently completed the necessary documentation to move to Canada. The six of us at the dinner table were from three different countries!
Jo's oldest son, Ryan, joined us for dessert.

Andy has to get up early for work, but stayed much later than he intended to stay. After he and Leah left, Gord and I went out to the deck to enjoy a cigar and more conversation. Chris and Jo came out and we just enjoyed visiting and laughing with our friends.

I'm sure that Jo and Gord will eventually make it to Southwest Missouri, but first we are working on another winter trip to Mexico and I think that Alyssa and Monika are planning to join us.

As I said at the beginning, I'm not sure what it is that brought us together more than others we have met. It's a real kinship kind of feeling, though -- more like family than friends.
As much as I have enjoyed seeing Niagara Falls, going to a MLB game, seeing the beautiful Lake Ontario and dining on great foods -- all of that would have been just another trip without being able to visit with our friends.

Sometimes I say, "God loves you, but I'm His favorite!"
Tonight I really feel that way, for I am truly a well blessed man.

It is close to 3 AM now; way past time to call it a day.

John <><

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Canada -- Days 4 & 5

Yeah, so I missed posting yesterday.
Tuesday was a fairly relaxing day. After our morning drive from Niagara back to Barrie, Gord went to work while Chris and I chilled at the hotel. We met up with Jo and Gord in the evening to watch Gord's slow pitch softball team play the semi-final and then finals of their league tournament.

Unfortunately, one of their players was injured late in the game and they ended up losing a pretty close game. So they took second place in the league and second place in the tournament. All-in-all, I think they had a fun season.

Yesterday was a fun day!
We took the drive back into Toronto for a Jays game. The Blue Jays are in the hunt for a post-season spot so the fans are pretty excited about their team. The visit to the Rogers Centre was my 13th major league ballpark and apparently bad luck for the Jays. (It was also bad luck for the Cards who took another beating at the hands of the Cubs.)

But I had my ballpark dog with kraut and mustard so I was a happy boy!

We had dinner on the waterfront after the game and walked to view the lake. We took a few pics and entertained a couple (or just interrupted their peaceful view of Lake Ontario) in the process.
Our friend Monika joined us for the game and dinner and then we moved to the rooftop lounge of her downtown condo for a nice visit with some spectacular views.

Moon rise over Lake Ontario

From the rooftop lounge

And later in the evening, looking towards the city...

At some point I suppose I should mention that hotel room in Barrie is on the top floor (4th) and at the very end of the hall. When Jo made our online reservation, she added a note in the comments section, "We would like a room away from others because we like to have loud sex."

We got an odd look when we checked in, but apparently they aim to please and our room is away from other guests!
Chris is already plotting her get-even event!

Have a grand day!

John <><

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Canada -- Day 3

Yesterday another of our Canadian friends (Alyssa) joined us for the day as we headed out to the areas around Niagara falls. The new member to our group is a chef and planned lunch for us at one of the many Niagara region wineries.

Lunch was an epicurean delight!
Appetizers, soup, salad, entree and dessert!
Oh my!

 The scenery was beautiful and the service was grand (I suppose it helped that our server was friends with Alyssa). I'm not a wine drinker and didn't purchase any to bring back to the States, but I did find a bottle of ghost pepper ketchup in their little store and that, I did buy!

The afternoon also included stops at a couple of the local breweries. This one is in an old church building and it is beautifully covered with vines and hops!

We ended the day with a nice walk to Doc Magilligan's Restaurant and Irish Pub.
The pub was designed and built in Ireland, then packed into shipping containers and shipped here to be reassembled.
Awesome Scotch eggs, soda bread with some kind of bacon onion jelly, and again -- delicious entrees.
I had a Fisherman's pie (think shepherds pie with sea food) that was delicious!
No dessert. We were all stuffed!

The walk back to the hotel was welcomed by all.

We're going back to Barrie today (something about Gord having to work this afternoon) and I think that today will be another easy day of relaxing and visiting.

Life is good!
I am truly blessed.

John <><

Monday, September 12, 2016

Niagara Falls -- Canada, Day 2

Oh my!

One of God's great naturals wonders!

Yesterday, we rode with our friends to Niagara, Ontario. It was a couple of hours but the trip was comfortable and the visit with our friends was great. Jo grew up in the area around the falls and it is still a place that they like to visit.

After checking into our hotel, we made our way to the falls.

There really aren't words to describe it and pictures cannot do the falls justice. I guess that's why when people talk about them, they simply say, "You have to go see them."

Here are a few pics.
The Horseshoe falls.

Our friends Jo and Gord

Me and Chris (fighting the bright sun)

The pot of gold is deep beneath the falls!

A beautiful bow, looking from above the falls

We stopped at an outdoor karaoke bar and had a few snacks while listening to Jo taking her turn at singing. She has a beautiful voice but threatened me with severe beatings that could result in permanent disability or death if I shared what I recorded. (And since I think she meant it and I am afraid of her, you miss out!)
We walked Clifton Hill (the touristy street), ate at Kelsey's and really enjoyed our time together.

We were getting in some good people watching while dining in the outdoor section near the street.
Everyone you see has a story...
...and since we could, we told their stories as we made them up.
The couple at the table near us was breaking up. It was clear that they were not there for fun. Perhaps the return to the falls was a vain attempt to recapture their earlier love, but it was plain to see that it was over. She was tired of it. He had checked out. There was nothing left.
There was a well dressed man that stopped on the street as he walked by. He looked a little lost. Perhaps the sound of the music stopped him. He had just come from the casino where he lost everything.
The balding man that walked quickly and looked nervously over his shoulders as he walked. No doubt had tons on child porn on the computer in his pack.

You get the idea. We were having a good time and feeling pretty good about ourselves!

In the middle of it all, Chris jumped up from the table as if she saw somebody she knew only to move in to photo-bomb an unsuspecting tourist. You should have seen Jo! She was so proud of her student.

We drove back past the falls to see them lit up at night and then back to the hotel to relax in the hot tub before calling it a night.

John <><

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Canada -- Day 1

Yesterday was our first day in Canada. We slept in late since we didn't make it to the hotel until 1 AM.
We drove from Toronto to Barrie to pick up our friend Jo for lunch. After meeting her son Ryan and getting the house tour, we went to lunch at an Irish pub. I had the shepherd's pie and it was very good.

We drove around the lake and then scoped out the area for a hotel room. Something is going on in the area and many of the hotels were completely booked. We ended up at a Holiday Inn Express (I don't feel any smarter) that said they didn't have any rooms left but we booked one through Expedia in the parking lot and went back into the lobby. The clerk looked a little confused and wondered where the magic opening came from, but we ended up in a nice little suite with plenty of room.
After stopping at the store to pick up a few evening necessities, we headed back to the house to meet up with Gord (the other half of Jo and Gord).

It was a wonderful evening!
Jo prepared a great meal for us. We later moved the conversation out to the deck where Gord and I enjoyed a couple of fine cigars and we all enjoyed the visit.

When we made it back to the hotel, I was checking to see the results of the UFC 203 fights and (because of the 1 hour time difference) I got to see the last few fights. Bonus!

We check out of this hotel in a bit and then the four of us will be going to Niagara Falls for a couple of days.

Life is good!

John <><

Saturday, September 10, 2016

North of the Border

This is our first trip to visit our northern neighbors!
At this time last year, we were in Ixtapa, Mexico. This September finds us in Toronto, Canada.
Tomorrow we will meet up with a couple of friends that we met vacationing in Mexico. Later in the week we will meet up with a couple of other vacation friends that we haven't seen in quite some time.

The week will include a trip to Niagara Falls and a Toronto Jays baseball game. I'm sure that we will find plenty of other things to do and see and a few places to eat.
I was just thinking -- you never hear about Canadian food in the US. I've never seen a Canadian restaurant. There are plenty of Mexican restaurants as well as other ethnic eateries.

I'll get back to you on that.

It's past 2am local time so I'm going to get a little sleep.
Enjoy your week.

John <><

Monday, September 05, 2016

Not Laboring this Labor Day

Yes, it is a pitfall of retirement -- no more holidays!

My cousin warned me that once I retired, there would be no more days off.
No more days off.
No sick days.
No paid holidays.
Just retirement.

I guess I'll have to deal with it!

This Labor Day finds me not laboring at a Starbucks in Springfield.
I'm out of coffee so I'm here for my standard 5-shot Americano and added a breakfast sandwich. I'll grab a bag of beans to take with me and will be set for a little while.

Back to the not laboring thing...
As one of those people that worked at a 24/7 kind of job, I did work many holidays throughout my career as an air traffic controller. Chris is working today -- no holiday for those that need surgery, either.

I suppose that I need to mention that I am able to enjoy the retirement that I have because of a good pension and benefits that were largely due to a strong union and the work that was done by many others of the distant past.
Without the sacrifices of many laborers, we would not have so many of the work place benefits that we now take for granted -- most have become legal reforms in labor conditions.
It's sad that I live in such and anti-union area. So many workers have believed the lies of their employers that under pay them and exploit their need for a job in so many ways.

I do need to do some laboring at home today. Plenty of household things to be done today, laundry, mowing, fixing dinner -- it's all good though. At least I don't have to go to work -- ever!
And I'm sure that I'll manage to sit and read for a bit and maybe enjoy a good cigar.
Ahhh ... the perks of being in control of your schedule!

Happy Labor Day!
John <><

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Oh! I'm going for a ride!

I'm getting ready to meet a friend this morning. We're going for a ride!
I've never traveled with anybody when riding my motorcycle and don't really know what to expect.
I am looking forward to it. It's been a little while since I've had time to talk with this friend and so I'm looking forward to the stops and conversations as much as I'm looking forward to the ride (Well, maybe not quite as much, but you get the idea).

I'm not exactly sure where our ride will take us and plan to be a follower on this one.

Short post today so I'll leave you with this kids' song that I remember from the distant past. There is no motorcycle in the song. Maybe I'll have to come up with my own words for that!

Enjoy the weekend!

John <><

Friday, September 02, 2016

Thursday (in a retired guy's life)

So yesterday was another easy day (aren't they all?).
I had a few things on my phone's "to do" list, but nothing that was a large task of any kind.
I'm a little low on coffee and decided to go out for coffee yesterday. (Actually, picking up coffee for home is still on my list.)

I slept in since I had been up late watching something completely meaningless on TV. By the time I decided to skip making coffee, showered, grabbed my Chromebook and hit the road it was almost 11.
I was trying to pick a coffee shop and thought I'd pick something in downtown Springfield. I was planning on doing a little sermon prep while I drank my coffee.

I was looking for parking when I found a place at Walnut & South for motorcycle parking.
Park the bike, grab my Chromebook, library book and Bible and find a place on foot.

Since it was now 11:30 (lunchtime) and I hadn't had anything to eat yet, I decided that lunch was in order first! I was parked right by Black Sheep burgers and shakes which I had heard plenty about. I ducked in, ordered a Cuban burger (1/4 angus burger topped with ham, pulled pork, cheese and dill pickles) and cracked open my library book while waiting on my order. I skipped the shake (I still hadn't had my coffee) and passed on the fries. Reputation told me that the burger would be enough.

Oh. My!
Yes, the ham and pork that fell off the bun would have made a decent sandwich by itself! I'm glad I skipped the fries and shake (adult or otherwise). I did order a cup of coffee to go with my meal but was still planning on hitting a coffee shop to do a little studying and writing. This will go on my list of places to frequent. There are many more burgers to try!

I left there and walked up the block to the Urban Cup. I ordered a 16oz Americano and grabbed a stuffed cookie, as well. I thought about an extra shot but didn't order it. Then the barista making my drink turns and says, "We usually make the 16oz with three shots but there'll be an extra one. Do you want me to just throw it in?"

I stayed long enough to get some work done then headed out to knock a few things off the list.
Grilled Italian sausage along with a cucumber, onion, tomato salad for dinner, more time reading, a short evening ride and a little late night TV with Chris rounded out the day nicely.

Listen, this retired life isn't for everyone.
Many people tell me they'd be bored doing nothing.
It takes some real discipline to live each day without getting anything major accomplished.
It's like I always say, "Retirement isn't all fun and games. Sometimes it's just fun!"

John <><