Getting Closer

I know I’ve been quiet here lately, but I have a good reason. I’ve been very, VERY busy. Since my last post I have:

• Completed touchup painting on the exterior of my house
• Completed painting the front door (looks nice!)
• Completed touchup painting inside (except the room I’ve been using as an office and catch all)
• Almost done re-grouting the master bath shower
• Worked through rental logistics
• New planter/plant at the door (nice touch)
• Worked through some personal legal/financial tasks (power of attorney, set up accounts for rental, so on)
• Clean out the garage (finally!!)

So, as you can see, I’ve running around like crazy.

That last item (clean garage) took a lot longer than anticipated. The previous owners left twenty (20!!!) cans of paint! Some in the attic, some behind my junk. That was a trip to the county waste disposal.

And speaking of my junk, I’ve lived in this house for two and a half years and I seemed to have accumulated more junk than I came with. Where does it all come from??? I believe junk multiplies while we sleep (junk orgies??). In any case, that was another reason cleaning the garage took longer than I first thought. At least 5 carloads of stuff to the Goodwill, full trash cans at each pickup and I STILL have more crap to deal with. In fact, I should be dealing with it right now, but I’m waiting for the rental management folks to come by and this seemed as good a time as any to update.

As to when I leave, it’s looking like I’ll be gone the last week of March to see my kids out west. I’ll fly back then leave for Baltimore to see family and friends there before I finally show up in Philadelphia on April 8. It’s looking like I’ll arrive in Namibia on or around April 11.

In prep for travel I’ve been looking at several things like what tech I’ll bring with me, and the types of clothes to pack. For the tech I’ve decided to not bring a laptop. I’m going to bring the following:
• WiFi iPad
• unlocked iPhone
• Bluetooth speaker
• 4TB USB hard drive
• travel router
• Travel camera

Those last two are interesting. The travel router along with the USB drive creates a personal travel cloud and provides internet access whenever that is available. So I can backup my devices locally. The router I picked (HooToo TripMate Titan) has its own power, can act as a host, and can even charge devices in a pinch. Pretty nice bit of tech, that.

I’m still trying to decide which camera to bring. Needs to be small, good zoom (5x optical at least), good in lowlight, and simple to use, but have manual controls. Turns out there are a lot good choices on the market, which has not made deciding easy. Leaning towards Canon, Sony, and Samsung.

That’s gonna do it for now. More to come so stay tuned.

I AM IN!!!!!

I got my legal clearance from the Peace Corps this morning! I am all but in the Corps!

I was getting a bit concerned because that part was taking longer than even the Peace Corps was used to. Apparently the FBI was taking their time, or, as I mentioned in a earlier post, I have a lot more background to check than your average Peace Corps volunteer.

Anyway, I’m in!!

Now I’ve got to kick things into high gear. Lots to do and not enough time to do it in.

BTW, if anyone knows of someone looking to rent a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with no yard work to do and is 100 feet from a very nice community pool, please send them my way.



I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated with weather. I’ve been called weird because I enjoy walking in all kinds of weather conditions. I love feeling the raw power of hurricane winds or the gentle caress of a warm summer breeze. I get a kick out walking in torrential downpours or mists so light it can hardly be call precipitation at all. I’m equally engrossed by skies filled with massive thunderheads or with only blue so brilliant it hurts to look at it. But what is really cool to be in is fog.

Fog has the ability to turn the most uninteresting, even ugly landscapes into hauntingly beautiful vistas. There was a thick fog about this morning and I was out in it. I took these with my phone. I hope you enjoy them.

This was the first shot I took.

This is the same shot in full sunlight. I prefer the first

Even a dead tree can be made beautiful in fog

This one’s my favorite

The others could be anyplace, but this one is definitely Florida

Endless Lists

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog you’ll recall that I’ve had to deal with several lists of tasks in order to get “accepted” in the Peace Corps. While all of those tasks ( at least the ones I’m aware of. I’m going to check again) are done, the list of things I need to do to prepare for my departure seems to stretch on and on.

I’m not a list maker by nature, it’s something that I’ve forced myself to do after seeing how effective it was for my friend Marcia. She has to be the Queen of Lists. The woman puts everything on bits of paper and, amazingly, addresses them and crosses them off as she completes a task. At any given moment the Queen of Lists will likely have 3-5 lists hanging around with at least 2 or 3 tucked in pocket or purse. I imagine she’s still that way.

New habits are hard for old guys like me to pick up, but this one I made the effort to acquire and, while I’m no where near the list fountain Marcia was or is (nor do I think I want to be), I’ve managed to incorporate list generation into my planning of major tasks and events.

Included on my Peace Corps House Prep list are:
• Investigate refinancing – Done ( won’t do it until I get back)
• Investigate Home insurance – In progress (I discovered I can save about $1000 a year and get better coverage if I switch.)
• Get Wind Mitigation Assessment – in progress
• Touch up painting, exterior – in progress
• Price the cost of new windows – done, may have to wait until I return
• Touch up painting, interior – in progress
• Clean out the garage – haven’t started

Sadly, the list goes on from there, and that’s just one of three lists I’m working on.

The wind mitigation assessment is needed by some insurers since my home is close to 30 years old and has a ceramic tile roof. Getting it could easily save another $100-$200 a year in insurance costs IF the roof passes inspection. If it doesn’t then I may been looking at the cost of buying a new roof, which could be pricey.

By the way, if you haven’t done so recently, I strongly suggest that you call around for insurance quotes. I know I must sound like a Geico commercial, but you could save a lot on premiums. As you may (or may not) recall, Florida experienced an insurance upheaval after Hurricane Charlie. Many insurers left the state, and the ones that didn’t or couldn’t because of legislation requiring them to stay jacked up the prices to make it uncomfortable for homeowners to keep them as insurers. That, it turns out, is why my insurance savings is so high. I had kept with State Farm for both house and car. After some investigation it turns out that State Farm is considered one of the worst insurers in Florida and had been on a campaign to get out of the state by escalating premiums.

My bad. I should have checked this when I bought my house. If you have access to USAA then I’d recommend you try them. They don’t actually insure in Florida, but they are affiliated with local companies that service USAA members, and the premiums are really good. Another good insurer to call is Liberty Mutual. Like USAA, they don’t insure in Florida, but have local affiliates who service their customers in state.

So, another day, another item on my lists to attack.