Tag Archives: planning


Did you ever find something you really liked, but put it aside with the intention of coming back to it later?  And of course, either later never comes, or you can never find it again.  That mainly happens to me in antiques shops.

Ahh, look at that!  Nice, but let me look around a little before I decide.  And one hour later…now where the hell was that thing!?  Oh well…I’ve learned, and had to relearn many times, grab it when you see it or else it may be gone, or lost, when you come back.

But I didn’t ever think about the same thing happening with maps!  In planning a trip I love to look at maps.  Here’s a clue as to my nerdiness – I study maps.  Own several atlases.  And I just randomly will pick a map and examine it for cities and rivers and whatever features it offers information about.  That’s just me…

A map will give you a good idea of how to get from here to there.  Which is especially important when you’re going somewhere you’ve never been.  A road trip with no destination or route in mind can be a great deal of fun.  Ah, the memories…but if you need to get somewhere its nice to have a little bit of a plan.

Occasionally I’ll see road maps in antiques stores. The folding kind that you used to get at the gas station.  For free. But that was when gas stations were more than fuel pumps and a convenience store.  They were really service stations.  The guy would come out and pump the gas, and check under the hood. Oil and water levels.  And they might even wash your windshield.  All for twenty nine cents a gallon!!!!

I still have a bunch of folding maps in my car. Some are pretty worn out.  I also have a GPS system and can look up directions on my smart phone.

But I learned that every mapping system has their own map.  Yes, the basics are the same.  The USA still has fifty states, but the routes they offer to the same destination are different.

I made this discovery when I was trying to figure out where all the antique shops were located along the route I was taking. I sat down at the computer and pulled up Google Maps.  The route it outlined didn’t look the same as the one on the printed map I’d been given. All the roads were the same, but the route was different.  I tried changing the settings, but still different.  Turns out the printed map I had was MapQuest generated.  Both showed the trip using the interstates, 85 and 95, but the route in the middle, the interesting one I wanted, was different.

I’ll take some time to study both options. They both go through small towns and certainly have antiques shops and nice scenery along the way.  And I’ve never been either way before.  My folding map will be with me, although it still shows I-85 in South Carolina as being under construction.  Oh wait, its always under construction!

The important thing is that at least on this trip I know where my destination is.  So I’ll figure out how to get there.  In my life journey, I’m not quite as sure where I’m headed so it’s a little harder to plan the trip.  So I go with the flow, controlling what I can.  It’s a great ride and I’m makin’ the most of it every day!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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Rocks…In My Head!

There was an episode of the TV show Happy Days where young Richie goes to a party and drinks some beer. And gets really toasted.  He tells his father he was drinking it in little shot glasses and doesn’t understand how he got so drunk.  Then he mentioned that he drank one hundred of these shot sized beers. It all adds up.

So silly me for thinking that rocks were light.  One little piece of #57 gravel hardly even registers on a scale.  Couple of ounces.   How hard could it be to move some gravel?  Five tons of gravel.

Just load up the wheelbarrow with a few shovelfuls and push it over to where I want it.  And dump it.  Not like I’m trying to move one five ton rock.  Slow and steady.

Turns out that five tons of gravel is more than one or two wheelbarrow loads.  I’ve lost count of how many I’ve already moved, and I’m not even a third of the way yet.  And yes, with fifteen or twenty shovels of gravel in the wheelbarrow, it isn’t very full, but its heavy.  And hard to push.

Here is the best part. Thinking myself to be very clever, I had the gravel deposited at the end of the driveway.  That’s where I would need a lot of it and it would be easy to spread around there.  The rest of it would need to be moved about a hundred yards to go to another part of the driveway.  That would be down hill.  But getting from the garage, with the wheelbarrow, to the pile of rock is all uphill.  By the time I get to the pile I’m already worn out.

You would think that pushing the wheelbarrow downhill would be easy.  But the darn thing wants to pull me down the hill, aided by gravity tugging on it.  And it wants to flip over too.  I tried putting less gravel into the barrow but when I dumped that load the resulting pile seemed tiny.  It would take thousands of loads!  Each time I looked at the driveway I tried to recalculate how many more loads were needed.

Twenty.  Dump a load and recalculate.  Thirty.  Uh oh. Probably more like fifty.  If I do just one a day…

I’m too old for this crap. And I’ll admit, not strong enough physically.  It seemed like a simple job but one thing I’ve learned through experience is that if you calculate how much time and effort a job will take, just triple it for a better estimate.  I forgot to do that this time.  So where do I get a front end loader!!!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Jitters and Calm

Not quite to day one yet and already feeling nervous. My biggest concern is the itinerary. There is so much to do along this route. And even though I’ve allowed two whole weeks to drive the 2400 miles, there is no way that I can predict in advance at what pace I must go to meet my modest daily goals.
Most days are around 200 miles. Some a little longer and others a tad shorter. Just driving that’s only about four hours. But with dozens of stops along the way the time can slip by quickly. Some of the stops are to take a picture. Or a quick look at the remains of an old building or neon sign. But other places are museums or national parks that require a significant amount of time to see correctly. The Grand Canyon for instance. Takes more than 15 minutes to take it in.
And trying to plan motel stops is also nerve wracking. I don’t want to end up somewhere with no place to stay, but don’t want to be committed to a reservation either. What to do?
You know what? I can toss the itinerary out the window any time I want. The only hard timetable destination I have is the airport in LA at the end of the road. What I do between Chicago and Santa Monica is whatever I want it to be. One visit to Route 66 may not be enough, but I’m gonna see it the best I can. In a way that makes me happy. It is after all a vacation and not a test of endurance!
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Dim Bulb

Who would have guessed? When Thomas Edison created the first commercially viable light bulb in 1879 he never would have guessed. Or maybe he would have. Back then the light bulb came in one size. One color. One shape. Today, there are so many types of light bulbs that there are entire retail stores devoted to nothing but light bulbs.

There are fixed bulbs and replaceable bulbs. Some screw in and some plug in. The base of the screw in type comes in several sizes, wide and narrow. And the glass portion of the bulb comes in an endless variety of shapes. Round, elongated, tubular.

Of course you can get blue lights, black lights, soft whites and white hot lights. And any other color you can imagine.

Even the type of light comes in varieties. Halogen, mercury vapor, fluorescent, metal halide, LED. Special purpose and application lights abound. So who could blame me for picking the wrong one when I went to replace a bulb.

Late last year I bought a solar powered motion activated security light for my daughter’s house. She had told me how one night when a friend was visiting they had to venture out into the darkness from the front door to the driveway and her friends car. I could fix that. One way or another. There was the hard wired spotlight option. Or the solar option. Not being an electrician, I went the solar route.

After I installed the solar fixture and its small power panel I noticed that way up under the eaves, tucked away and blended into the soffits, was an existing spotlight fixture. Wonderful. I had to look at it like more light is better than less.

Taking a quick glance at the fixture I knew exactly what kind of bulbs were needed to get the newly discovered light working. Several months ago I had replaced a number of outdoor lights at my own house. A real hodgepodge of fixtures and lights. So I just knew form experience what was needed. And even better, I knew I had a pair at my house. Leftovers.

I confidently climbed the stepladder with the replacement bulbs in hand. After removing the first of the charred and blackened burned out bulbs it suddenly dawned on me. The replacements were too long. Everything else matched up, just the wrong length. Might as well have been a candle.

Head in hand I descended the ladder. Muttering a few words about the complexity of the light bulb. Tomorrow I’ll head to the hardware store to get the right bulb. And climb back up the ladder. What is it carpenters say about measure twice, cut once? Dang!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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