Saturday, March 11, 2017

An Evening With Groucho

Mia and I attended "An Evening With Groucho" last night at our local theater, the Centerstage.  I remember watching Groucho and his inappropriate fast paced responses to those he interviewed on his television show "You Bet Your Life".

Discovered by Groucho's son, Arthur, Frank Ferrante writes and acts in this two act, one man play.  For two-plus hours, Mr. Ferrante portrays Groucho Marx in all of his splendor. Combined with stories about Groucho's life and times, the evening is filled with many of the one-liners and inappropriate jokes.  Mr. Ferrante sings, dances and slapsticks his way across the stage leaving the audience in stitches.

Mr. Ferrante is a wonderful actor and comedic presence.  Locally he has portrayed Caesar, the Latin Lover at our local dinner theater, Teatro ZinZanni.  During last night's show, Mr. Ferrante combined the stories and slapstick with interactions with the audience.  We were laughing so hard that I was happy to see the fifteen minute intermission.

I highly recommend this show even if you don't have a clue who Groucho Marx was.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

LED Retro Kit

After my last post, I was asked about the LED Retro Kit I used to turn my fluorescent shop lights into LED units with no ballast.  Actually, it is a relatively simple process and the difference between the two is absolutely amazing.

You start by turning off the electrical supply to the lights at the breaker box.  Just turning off the switch isn't enough because there could be something else on the system with power even with the light switch off.
Next you need to remove the fluorescent bulbs and locate the two screws at each end of the unit that holds the wiring cover on.  Remove them and set the cover aside.
The wiring and ballast are exposed in the picture above.

Next you need to cut all of the wires, close to the ballast.  Leave the black and white wires attached to the wires that come from the house electrical system and strip back the insulation about a half an inch.

Next you need to replace the holders for the bulbs with the new ones included with the retro kit.  Make a loop of a white and black wire and connect the two end pieces.  I forgot to take a picture of the wired end so I found the picture below on the internet.  It shows a loop for a four bulb system but it is the same for two.
Install the other two bulb holders at the opposite end of the fixture.  No wiring is required for these two as they are dummies who's only purpose is hold the new LED bulbs in place.

Reinstall the wiring cover and install the new bulbs and be sure that the power side (next to the label) is on the side with the wires attached.  When you are done, you'll need to dispose of the bulbs and the ballasts.  Check your local recycling regulations for disposal instructions.

All in all a very simple process.  Except now my arms feel like rubber.

Hope all is well.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


A few months back one of the fluorescent light units that light up my shop and garage decided to start smoking.  Over the years, I have seen this several times.  The ballast that pushes the fluorescent to work get really hot and over the course of time, break down and start to smoke.  I have never seen one catch fire but I don't think I want to wait around to find out.  Luckily, I was in the garage at the time and was able to shut off the power and disconnect the lamp.

I went looking for a better idea since I have five more of these units in the shop.  I found a retro kit made by Commercial Electric that removes the ballast and turns a 4' shop light into an LED fixture with no ballast.  Couldn't be simpler to install and gives off much bright and better lighting and cost less to use.  I just finished two lamps and ordered two more retro kits to do the remainder of the garage.


Two done
So I had a couple of more Root Beers.  Bedford's Root Beer was a spirited drink.  It comes in an old fashion bottle and is very tasty.  Developed and bottled just west of Seattle in Port Angeles, Washington it is more of a dessert drink with more of a licorice scent.

Next up, Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer.  Not sure where it is bottled, but this is a Root Beer that comes with an energy drink in the form of Brazilian Guarana.  I really enjoyed this drink but I did drink it late enough in the day to be left Sleepless in Seattle.

Hope all is well.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


I just learned that a previous work colleague has cancer.  Damned, I am tired of cancer.  Our previous Vice President started a campaign to eradicate this disease but it may not help my colleague.  I believe, like many, that cancer is big business thus coming up with viable treatments more difficult.  I hope and pray my colleague gets better and lives on with his beautiful wife.  They were looking forward to retirement in the very near future.  I woke up with the start of a cold this morning and I feel lucky.

Dr. Brown's draft style root beer crossed my lips and I have to say it wasn't that good.  Bottled by J R Bottling in New York.  Found in Jewish stores it is very popular in New York.  I just didn't find it to be as good as many of the others we have had.  It wasn't as bad as the one that tasted like dirt but not too far ahead of it.

Flashback is really an Olde Time Soda.  Developed in Seaside, Oregon by Robert and Boni Clark who own the Flashback Malt Shop.  I had forgotten that we visited the Malt Shop back in September of 2014.  Nice people and a great selection of old-time sodas.  Anyway, the Root Beer is great.
Mom's Root Beer maintains that it is "the better half".  I am pretty sure that reference has to do with the mass produced Dad's Root Beer as the label seems to indicate as well.  While there isn't a lot of difference between the two, Mom's has the feel of a more premium root beer and it does have a nice body and after taste.

Hope all is well with you. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Need to Get Out of the House

The Tacoma RV Show opened in the Tacoma Dome today.  We aren't looking to buy but we are always interested in what is new.  Not much has changed in the overall RV however, there have been some cosmetic changes like different flooring materials and designs.

All of the RV's presented are showing the best of those available and it seems the numbers of units being sold is depleting the stockpiles of things like cab and chassis combos for the motorhomes.   I took down a few Vehicle Identification Numbers and found that while the RV is being touted as 2017, most of the cab and chassis units under the rigs are 2016.  The ones I checked were B and C class units.

I didn't take a lot of pictures as I have in the past and we didn't spend a whole bunch of time wandering thru every trailer or motorhome in the dome.  We have concluded that by the time you spend the money for the initial RV and equipment, look for and pay to park it, purchase insurance, fuel and pay for maintenance you could easily drive and spend time in motels.

C class motorhomes are in the $60,000 up category.  Choice Hotels average nightly charge in 2016 was around $60.00 for an economy room, to $125.00 for the upscale hotels.  Double those to include eating out and you'll spend between $120.00 and $250.00 for food and lodging.  You could spend 240 days on the road using hotels and restaurants for the initial cost of an RV.  Add in all the other things you need to own the RV along with the fuel, maintenance and parking costs you'll find you can stay on the road even longer.

On the flipside, if you intend to use the RV as a place to live and your intention is to be a nomad until your health won't let you, then by all means, look at the RV Industry.  Just be very, very careful what you buy.  You need to use an RV more than a couple of weeks a year to make it pay for itself.

Just my thoughts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Got to Stop Drinking for Awhile

I haven't even gotten half way through my large root beer order that my son made possible over the Christmas holiday but I am thinking it might be time to back down some.  One or two a day is just too much.
Grand Teton Root Beer comes to us from Victor, Idaho and the Grand Teton Brewing Company.  Kettle brewed it seems to have a blend of components that give it a very refreshing taste.

I am not sure what happened to this bottle or batch of Maine Root Beer but suffice it to say the flavor doesn't match their advertising.  There was a rooty flavor (like dirt) to this bottle and I am not sure I would like to try it again.

Ithaca Root Beer has some rather unusual components but the flavor is outstanding.  Panama Bark extract, hops, star anise, juniper berries and vanilla bean combine with water and sugar to make an outstanding root beer flavor that is creamy and just plain good.
Frostop, like A&W, started life as a Drive in Diner in 1921.  In 1926 Frostop developed and sold a very frothy root beer to their customers.  The tradition lives on today with this premium root beer gives a foamy head with great flavor.  Frostop makes several different root beers utilizing different ingredients.

Think I'll start drinking water for a while.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reflections and More Root Beer

Next month I will hit a life milestone by reaching my 70th birthday.  I suppose something could conceivably happen between now and the fourth of February to change the outcome and in the back of my head a small voice is yelling, "Wait, don't write this now".  Never was very good at listening to the small voice in my head.

Many of my friends, work mates, and others did not accomplish this milestone.  Some of them didn't make it out of their twenties because of Vietnam.  Others didn't get past their thirties or forties because of illness, accident or just plain stupidity.  There are those that didn't age well into their fifties and sixties with failing health.  But here I am, ready to turn 70 and wondering why I am here and they are not.

My mom was born March 26, 1912, and lived until May 12, 1982, just over seventy years.  While my physical and mental health are much better than hers at this age, I am not where I should be with regard to a bunch of different health issues and my procrastinating personality isn't helping me resolve any of those issues.

So here comes 70 and I start to reflect on where I have been and where and what will happen as I move forward.  First of all, I have to say that my life has been and continues to be pretty damned good when compared to other folks that I come in contact with.  My family is doing quite well and I expect nothing but great things from those I leave behind and let us face it, I'm going to leave many of those I love dearly behind and at this age, it won't be too far in the distant future.

In my twenties and thirties, I worked hard at what I thought was enjoying life only to discover that I was addicted when I woke up in my forties and finally decided to do something about it.  Funny, but as you go through life you don't think much about the possibility of it ending but I can tell you that you become a damn sight more interested in it as the scale of life swings in the other direction.
Which brings us to what happens after death?  That is the question that will likely never be answered unless someone comes back from the dead to explain it.  In some respects, I want to believe in an entity because frankly, I just can't wrap my arms around the whole scientific theory of one cell in a puddle of water created every living plant, insect and animal (including us) that surrounds our being.  But the whole entity thing is confusing.  It would appear that in either case, you must have faith in your belief and I am not so sure that I have what you would call faith.  So, here I am approaching the 4th of February and still wondering about the future.  Pretty funny when you consider I never used to concern myself with it.

On to lighter and more fun stuff.  Two more root beers have crossed my palate since my last post.
  Sea Dog Root Beer tastes a lot like the refreshing root beer I used to get in the ice cold mug at the A&W Drive Inn.  A frothy head and good taste from this one.
Iron Horse Root Beer didn't remind me of any of my previous root beers.  It has a good root beer taste but it took me awhile to discover what was different.  It almost tasted like the brewer added creme soda to the batch.  There was a slight hint of the creme and it really did make this an exceptionally good drink.

Well, that is all I have today.  Please, if you have any thoughts, don't hesitate to make them know.  Hope all is going well.