Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day - Traditional

Sadly, the “federally recognized” day for Memorial Day passed and I just outright forgot it what with my issues with “Life.” But, since the traditional day for Memorial Day was May 30, I will do my comments today.

Initially, Memorial Day was actually periodic recognized days of remembrance following the Civil War in the United States. Those “recognized days” tended to be all over the place as to the actual dates that they were observed and some had different names as well. Prior to an official name of Memorial Day being created in 1967, it was more commonly known as Decoration Day.

I suspect that Decoration Day may have been used because it had become a tradition to not only honor our fallen heroes of the military, but to also honor our ancestors and friends as well. In our case, we are no longer anywhere near where our ancestors have their final resting places, so instead of decorating, we have a simple remembrance of them as we knew them in life.

Having a number of family members who had served in the military, it was natural for me to really acknowledge more of the memorials to those who had served. While Mother decorated the graves of our family, our main reason for going was for the memorial conducted by veterans who were members of the American Legion.

While my participation came about strangely, I did take great pride in my part of the ceremony of the colors and the 21 gun salute. As a young lad, two things happened coincidentally to put me there as a part of the military salute. I was in scouting, thus I had a “uniform.” I had also received a toy plastic trumpet as a kid and I had learned to play “Taps” with that silly little toy.

One day, one of the vets heard me playing that and investigated to see who was playing “Taps.” After seeing that it was me, he told the other vets of his discovery. Then two or three of them approached Mother and asked her if I would consider playing “Taps” at the Decoration Day military tribute.

With all that said, for a number of years as a young boy in a scout uniform, I stood behind the honor guard and after the firing of the 21 gun salute, I did my feeble rendition of a classic military honor to the fallen. You know, no one seemed to care that the trumpet was plastic as no one ever commented on that, but I was always thanked for my participation.

Today, I am a vet and have continued a long traditional love of those that have served in our nation’s military. I no longer play a plastic trumpet because it is long gone and I’ve never really developed a talent for playing music on any other instrument. I’ve long considered myself lucky that the prairie where the cemetery for Keyes, Oklahoma is located does not have enough trees or anything else to create an echo of my playing of “Taps.” I’m not sure that anyone wanted to hear it a second time.

Now, Jo and I try to go up to military members when we meet them and offer them our hand and our thanks for their service. When possible, if we see some in a restaurant, we try to have our waitperson get the tickets of those in uniform so we can pay for their meals anonymously. It is the least we can do to honor the living.

So, on this the traditional day of Memorial Day, I offer my sincere thanks to both the living and those passed on that served our country. My thanks also go to their families for the sacrifices they made as well.

Memorial Day12

Memorial Day9

Memorial Day10

Finally, forgive me that I should intrude on someone’s grief, but this photo says so much.

Memorial Day6

God bless you all.

“Life” Had a Hiccup – And I Panicked

We returned on Sunday, May 27, from the few days in Elk City and Rolling Retreats after having the new dining table installed and the wheel recall work done. It took longer for me to get all set back up this time because I needed to re-torque the wheel nuts after driving the distance from Elk City to Oklahoma City. Each time a tire and wheel are removed for any reason, on has to re-torque the wheels after a certain number of miles.

I also had to undo and re-route our Direct TV satellite cable from the dish to the RV. When the technician came out and installed it, I had chosen what I thought was the best place for the tripod and had even gotten it leveled. The technician acted as though I didn’t know anything about it all and wanted to move the tripod and dish all around the lot to find the best spot. Guess where the best spot was located. Yep, right where I had it before.

Then, he decided to not listen to me when I asked him to route the cable in a certain way. He also wanted to bury the cable since it is one that is recommended to be buried. However, I had to remind him that eventually the cable and the coach are going to be moving and I didn’t want to have to dig up the cable. So, it took extra time to re-route the cable as we wanted.

That job was followed by “THE HICCUP and PANIC MODE.” Jo had set up the laptop with all its needed connections, including hooking up our external hard drive. When I sat down to start doing things, the laptop couldn’t find the external hard drive.

So, with that in mind……

……meet “Life.”


All of my research into the RV lifestyle and planning is on that drive. The photo book that I am writing is on that drive. Literally thousands of my photos are on that drive, and guess what. Some of that data has not been backed up.

Here I am, the husband of an IT professional and manager, and I didn’t do enough backing up of the data on the hard drive. While I have backed up a lot of my photos onto DVD discs, all the vacation pictures for 2010 and 2011 were not. Again, that is literally thousands of photos.

Jo took over and began to fiddle with the drive. It would light up and one could hear the drive trying to run, but then the light would go out and everything would stop. She tried it a number of times with the same results. She did give me just a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel by saying that she thought it was the controller board instead of the actual drive.

So, the next day “Life” went to work with us. Jo had removed the drive from the case and had one of her employees to use their “magic equipment” to check the drive to see if it looked like the drive itself was OK. I waited for almost the whole day at work for word of the outcome of the analysis by the “magic equipment” as to the status of the drive.

Jo finally called and said that it looked like I was going to be happy. Her co-worker and employee had hooked the drive up and stated that it “spun up” and he could see “directory stuff” on the display. So, we may be saved by getting a new enclosure and installing “Life” into that.

In spite of the “favorable” news that my drive may be salvageable, if it is alright with all of you, I will remain searching for that full-fledged light at the end of the tunnel to be seen. Jo has ordered the new enclosure, but it could be as late as next Wednesday before we see it arrive.

Believe me, when “Life” is installed in a new home and I am positive that all data is secure and readable, I will be doing a number of backups. Jo has already bought another new external hard drive with 3 terabytes of space and gotten it hooked up. My laptop has two 500 gigabyte hard drives. I also have numerous blank CD and DVD discs in the coach as well. The “King of Overkill” will strike again.

However, until then, all I see is that glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel.

Light at the End of the Dog Tunnel

No….not that tunnel.

Light at the end of the tunnel6

There is a light, but also a gate.  Will that gate open in the end?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rolling Retreats Vacation - What?

Yep. We pulled out of the mobile home park where we stay and are spending some time in Elk City, Oklahoma at Rolling Retreats. Alicia and Slade Tennery are the owners of Rolling Retreats, which has been an RV dealership that started as the two of them buying used DRV Suites units at auction after they had been repossessed. In fact, they are the only employees of Rolling Retreats. If you’ve ever seen a good “mom and pop” RV dealership, it would be them.

Now, a few years later, they are official DRV Suites dealers for new RV’s as well. They deal primarily with the Suites but have some other brands on occasion. If you are ever looking for a good used Suites model, check out their website at Rolling Retreats. When you look at “Inventory” you will see some very nice looking units and they are as good as they look in the photos.

After buying the used ones at auction or taking in as a trade, they go through them and check all the systems and really clean them up. Besides being very good at making sure they have a good quality product to sell, they are also super nice people to boot.

We are actually here to replace our old dining room table (if you can call a 2010 model old) with one of the new style dining tables. The old style, seen just below is a normal table with 4 chairs and the table top can be moved back and forth to allow for more room on one side or another or it can be rotated 90 degrees.


This one is a different angle of the old table showing more of the center leg.  There is a short leaf section at the outer end that can be pulled out and up and pushed into place to make a little larger table top.


Jo really liked the new style and opted to purchase one and have Slade install it for us. You can see our new table below, and as you can see, it has a cabinet attached to the slide wall with additional storage. The table will pull out about another 8 or 9 inches from what is seen in the photos below. The two chairs in the photo were a part of the old table because we didn’t want to have to buy new chairs with the right finish.


Here is another picture from a slightly different angle.


In addition, we will be getting the factory recall on the wheels done and possibly adding a socket at the front of our coach for the Honda generator to plug into for powering the coach. I’ll write more on that when we get the job done and I have a picture of the finished job to show.

Let me tell you a little more about Alicia and Slade. Alicia used to be a nurse, but gave up that job to go into the RV business. They have some potential customers staying in their RV over in a nearby RV park who were having some issues with their microwave or convection over working. They had talked to them yesterday and the lady had been speaking with some slurred speech.

Alicia had her do some things to give her an indication as to whether the woman was perhaps having a stroke. I thing she specifically said she had the lady stick out her tongue. Today, while they were over looking at the problem with the microwave/convection oven, they told her that she (the customer lady) seemed to be feeling even worse and the slurred speech has not cleared up. So, Alicia and Slade helped them get to an emergency room, and stayed with them for some time before coming back to the dealership. Hopefully, we will find out more about the lady tomorrow as to what may be wrong with her, and we really hope it isn’t a stroke.

Slade is a great guy. He went to great lengths to make sure that he did a good job in installing our new dining table and cabinet. In the past, we have never dealt with them as customers, but they have become good friends. Now, I can say that Slade is a very conscientious man with working with his customers. We will have no problems with confidence of how well the job was done.

By the time we got the table installed, we told them to go check with the folks in the RV park with the appliance problem. Besides, it will be a lot cooler in the morning when we tackle the job of removing all four trailer wheels and doing the recall work for the factory.  I see no sense in working outside in the heat if it isn’t necessary.  Since we are off through the whole Memorial Day weekend, we have plenty of time to get things done.

They got in a new 2012 Elite Suites 38RSSB4 yesterday, and I may take some time tomorrow to take some photos of it to share with folks. We were blessed with having it here because it has the new style dining table and Slade used it as a “model” in seeing how we needed to install the one in our coach.

So, if things go well tomorrow with the recall work and the installation of the generator socket, I imagine that I can confidently say that I highly recommend Alicia and Slade if you are ever interested in a new or used DRV Suites model. I can say that if we were to ever buy a newer one, we would buy it through Alicia and Slade at Rolling Retreats.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Creating a Blog Challenge

Yesterday while reading the bloggers in my “blog roll,” I came across a posting by Betty Barnes at Phoenix Once Again about a blog challenge called “The Versatile Blogger.” Betty received her “right” to accept the challenge because a previous blogger that she had been reading just put the 15 “rights” out there for the taking. By the way, Betty’s blog home address is at Phoenix Once Again and if you want to read the specifics of Versatile Blogger challenge, that posting is at Versatility.

Betty elected to put her 15 “rights” out there as free for the taking. In her comment section, I noted that it was an interesting challenge, but I wouldn’t take one of the “rights” as I felt such things should be awarded instead. Then, I stuck my foot in my mouth.

I suggested that perhaps there ought to be a challenge of writing 7 things about 7 other bloggers instead of writing 7 things about one own self. Jerry over at Waggin Tails RV  mentioned something to the fact of perhaps taking on my “challenge.” Now, it appears that I need to set some parameters for the challenge.

Another thing I suggested in that comment was that perhaps there would be no need to do the 7 blog posts of the challenge all on consecutive days, but we don’t want to drag the thing out for too long, or it may become a totally unaccomplished challenge. So, now let me set the parameters or, rules if you will.

1. The 7 posts should be done within a 30 day period.

2. The 7 posts will each list 7 things pertinent to a different blogger in each challenge post.

3. The things should not be taken from the subject blogger’s profile. However, if a thing is also within a blog posting somewhere on that subject’s blog, that it would be permissible, but then there should also be a link to that specific blog post where the “thing” was found.

4. The things do NOT have to be factual. For instance, if the challenge writer notices that the subject blogger does something regularly on their blog, then the challenge writer could write that the subject blogger appears to like that regularly done thing.

5. While it would be permissible for the challenge writer to write about 7 blogs they currently follow, it would be more of a challenge if the challenge writer chooses 4 of the 7 subject blogs to be all new ones to them.

Now, I think that 5 “rules” should be enough for this challenge so that it doesn’t become more difficult. However, I am going to add one more challenge to this endeavor. I don’t have a name for this Blog Challenge, so I will ask for ideas from those that choose to take this challenge to suggest a name. To keep it from getting out of hand, I will only accept the first 15 names that are suggested.

Then, with the name chosen, I will design an image with that name superimposed on one of my photos. When someone takes the challenge and completes it, I will try to find a way for them to contact me via some electronic source and give me their e-mail address so that I can send it to them.

Now, I just have to figure out how to put a contact e-mail on my blog’s homepage to be used. So far, I’ve not figured out how to do that. I would rather it be permanently on the homepage so that challenge participants don’t have to go searching for this original post about the challenge to get the address.

If anyone can give me a hint as to how I can put an e-mail contact “thingy” on the homepage, please let me know.

Now, let us now get onto the challenge. For my challenge writing, my 30 days will begin on June 1. With only 30 days in June, it will be easier for me to keep track of when I need to be done with the challenge. You get to choose your 30 day period to better fit your schedule. Whatever we do, let’s have fun with this and expand our horizons to take in some new writers.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Help With Vehicles with Dual Wheels

The question was raised on one of the RV forums I participate on that related to making things easier to deal with filling and checking the pressure in the tires of vehicles equipped with duals. I provided one answer to assist them, but I thought I would also make some notes here on the blog.

The nature of duallys is that one has to be able to check the pressure on both the outside and inside tire, and it is a lot of hassle to have to remove a tire just to check pressure. So, one needs different testers and fillers in order to be able to get the job done. Also, with some of the higher pressure tires, air equipment with higher capacities for air pressure is also needed.

When looking at your duals, first make sure that when you look through the hole in the rim of the outside tire that you can see the hole in the rim of the inside tire. If you can’t then it will be nearly impossible to fill or check the inside tire’s air pressure.

With duals, one needs filler equipment that is called a dual foot fitting. There are two different dual foot heads on the accessories. The first is called the Dual Chuck style and looks like the end on this small tire pressure tester.  This one is a Milton S 927 Dual Foot gauge.

Milton Dual Foot Truck Tire Gauge 120 psi

The other style is called a straight foot dual head and looks like the end on this fitting for filling dual tires.

Milton Dual Head Straight Foot Air Chuck

With either style of dual foot, they are designed where the end air fitting (the one pointing out) is used to fill the inner tire. The second air fitting is the one pointing backwards and is used for filling the outside tire. That has to be done that way because the valve stem for the outside tire is actually pointing towards the inner tire.

For any tire on a truck, pickup with large dual tires, or motorhomes with duals, one probably wants to have an air tester that has a high capacity. Some of the smaller tire testers are only good up to 120 lbs. psi. While the longer air testers usually have a capacity of 160 lbs. psi. Of course, the longer ones are also easier to use to reach into the inner tire’s valve stem.

The picture of the tester above would have a capacity of 120 psi. The one below is one with a capacity of 160 psi.  It is a Milton 982 Dual Head tester.

Milton 982 Dual Foot Pressure Tester

Now, with either of the above testers, one has to remove the air hose from filling and then place the tester on the valve stems for testing of the air pressure. On occasion, it seems that I can lose a fair amount of air just trying to fill and test the tires. So, to alleviate the issue of constantly inserting and removing air accessories, there is another solution, although it is a bit pricey.

The picture below is of a Milton Window Inflator Gauge model S 506. You will see that there is a handle that when depressed will allow air to flow into the tire from the compressor. It is also equipped with the dual foot fittings, but it has one more feature. The window is actually a magnified reading of the air pressure in the tire.  Obviously, this image does not show the chuck fitting that allows one to attach it to one’s air hose.

Milton Window Inflator Gauge Model S_506

After putting in air and releasing the handle (but keeping the dual foot fitting engaged to the valve stem), the air pressure will be displayed in that magnified window. This type of air fitting is helpful in ending the need to keep changing tools to fill or test the air pressure. However, there is one drawback with this tool. It only has a pressure capacity of 120 lbs. psi. So, on our Mobile Suite’s 17.5” tires, it won’t be enough capacity as the tires get filled to 125 lbs. psi.

The Milton products are made by a company that has provided air equipment for automotive service stations for years. We used this equipment way back in the ‘60’s. For that reason, I searched out Milton products to get my tire tester.

Since we also have our own air compressor capable of filling the 125 lb. psi tires, I might just purchase one of the window inflator gauges for myself.  It won’t be usable on the trailer tires, but the regular tester will function well for that capacity anyway.  Since the trailer tire stems all face outward, they are easy to fill and test.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Shortened Trip for Lens Testing

While we had originally planned a trip to Muskogee, Oklahoma on Saturday, May 12, to see the USS Batfish and its location at Memorial Park and take pictures, the weather prohibited that trip. We woke up that morning and checked the forecast for various parts of the state. While Oklahoma City would only have a 20 percent chance of rain, Muskogee was having 79 percent chances.

Rather than take a chance of having to change lenses during a rain storm, we elected to first go south to Turner Falls Park near Davis, Oklahoma. As we started that direction, continued checking of the weather on our smart phones fairly quickly let us know it was going to be completely overcast with less than good conditions for photography.

So, we elected to cancel the photography trip and went to get some things that Jo had wanted to do as well. She wanted to check for “boat shoes” in a couple of different places. She had been told that boat shoes would be good footwear for exercising on her small exercise machine. She has a small walker machine marketed by Gold’s Gym called Twist and Step.

Golds Gym Twist n Step

Because that walker gets very warm on the footpads, it is important to have some protective footwear. That and the traction of the shoes make it very helpful with using the walker. Walmart has them shown at this link:

Gold’s Gym Twist and Step at Walmart

Since we decided to go to Bass Pro to look for shoes, I thought that I might go ahead and take some pictures at the park near there where the Land Run commemorative statues are located. Going into Bass Pro first to look for shoes, we stumbled upon some folding reclining outdoor chairs. We had been looking for some time and hadn’t liked what we sat, but we tried these out and really liked them.

Normally, we never buy a product with a name brand on it, thus giving that company free advertising. Our clothes never have brand names on them. But, these chairs were so close to what we wanted that we elected to bend that rule a bit. We got them on sale that Saturday for $49.99 instead of the normal $69.99. The chair is at this website:

Bass Pro Reclining Camp Chair

We then goofed around the rest of the afternoon until about 4:00pm so that we could go to Outback restaurant for Jo’s Mother’s Day dinner. Eric, our youngest, bought the meal. After that, our day was pretty complete.

So, all that is left is to show some of my test photos. I kept the camera at the same settings and on automatic focus. With the 18-200 Nikon zoom, I set it at 70mm so that it would be similar to the lowest setting of the 70-200 mm zoom.

First, here is one taken with the 18-200mm.


Now, with nearly the same scene with the 70-200mm, one can note that the image seems to be quite a bit lighter, especially by looking at the tall grass on the small “point of land” in line with the waterfall.


To show something of some close-up photos, I chose some Magnolia blossoms. This first image is with the 18-200mm.


This next image shows somewhat lighter conditions using the 70-200mm.


As one can see, I’ve got some experimenting and learning to do in order to better acquaint myself with how to set the camera and lens. When we returned home, I was looking at the new lens and noticed that I didn’t have the switches on it set correctly. So, I see the likelihood of another excursion to take more pictures.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thoughts of Mothers

The day at church started with an acknowledgement of the mothers and mothers-to-be and giving notice that they are all appreciated.

Then the preacher went into his sermon, which was based on Proverbs 3, verses 1 through 12. He explained that it is made up of a series of couplets, with every two verses being a different one. There was more to Proverbs 3 that hit me today, as words came to mean something to me, even though the author of Proverbs likely meant otherwise.

Let me start with the couplets so that you, the reader, will have a clue as to where this post is going. I won’t comment much on each couplet and its possible meanings, as they aren’t really the focus of my thoughts. I will separate each couple with an extra line “space.” So now, from Proverbs 3:

My son, forget not my law; But let thy heart keep my commandments:

2 For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to thee.


3 Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart:

4 So shalt thou find favor and good understanding In the sight of God and man.


5 Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding:

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths.


7 Be not wise in thine own eyes; Fear Jehovah, and depart from evil:

8 It will be health to thy navel, And marrow to thy bones.


9 Honor Jehovah with thy substance, And with the first-fruits of all thine increase:

10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy vats shall overflow with new wine.


11 My son, despise not the chastening of Jehovah; Neither be weary of his reproof:

12 For whom Jehovah loveth he reproveth; Even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.


Each of the couplets are a message of sorts from or about God, each of which seems to give a message of morality, and they give an example of His love for us, His creation.

However, being the ever inquisitive person and not wanting to stop with verse 12, I read on to find words that had another meaning for me. That is what I want to share on this day. Now, from Proverbs 3: 13 through 18, which I will now likely really take it out of the true context of the author.

13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, And the man that getteth understanding.

14 For the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, And the profit thereof than fine gold.

15 She is more precious than rubies: And none of the things thou canst desire are to be compared unto her.

16 Length of days is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor.

17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace.

18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: And happy is every one that retaineth her.

The first two verses of that part (13 and 14) speak of something of great value, as wisdom and understanding are just that valuable, because who are we if we are not known as wise and understanding?

Then, beginning in verse 15, a personhood is brought into play as the pronouns “she” and “her” are brought into play, which was the sense that struck me as I read the words. Are we as children, and husbands, blessed with the finding of someone wise and understanding who is known as our mothers? Are they not a valuable resource to us, especially with the thought of their attempts and success in offering us lessons of understanding and love?

Our mother’s greatest desires might very well have been those that their children would heed the words of wisdom, understanding, and love. Have they not given us “riches and honor?” Are not their ways those of pleasantness and peace? Of course, they are the “tree” which gives us life, just as God gave life to us all.

As God bestowed the blessing of the couplets in the first 12 verses, our mothers have continued those blessings in the way they taught us and gave us an example.

So, to all of you who are mothers or mothers-to-be, you are blessed in that God is allowing you to further extend his message to your children and husbands.

God bless you all and Happy Mother’s Day. You well deserve the honor that we are so lacking in being able to express to you. May it be that your families will honor you and you receive great pleasure in their expressions of love and honor. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made and the love you bestowed upon us.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Day with Both Bad and Good

This will be a short post because I was late getting back to the house. More on that in a bit.

The bad news is that I didn’t get the promotion at work. So, no big increase in pay and a longer period to get debts paid off. I have a suspicion that an employee already at the lab is preparing to retire from the state’s law enforcement side of the retirement system, and will be hired then on the non-law enforcement side for the job. It is kind of like “double-dipping” within the same agency. It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.

A lot of times when it happens, it does so because someone has skills that are really hard to replace. We have one gentleman who used to be an investigative agent. He retired from that, but because his skills in forensic reconstruction from bare skulls are so good, he was hired back in that role.

Another was both an investigative agent and electronics whiz. He retired from the law enforcement side and was rehired as the electronics guru working with specialized equipment and with video recordings. One of his designs was to put a very small camera into a replica of a mud dauber’s nest and attach it on a suspect’s front porch.

However, even though I didn’t get the job, I am one happy camper because my new lens arrived today. I was late getting home because I had to wait at the UPS facility for the truck to come back into the terminal and get my lens to the pick-up facility.

I am now excited because Jo came up with the idea of driving over to Muskogee, Oklahoma this coming Saturday and seeing the memorial at the USS Batfish. The Batfish is an old WWII submarine that was active in the Pacific of that war. While the 70-200 lens will be useless inside the submarine, it will be good on the outside.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day, our youngest son will take us to lunch and we’ll tour the facilities there at the Batfish. I’ve wanted to get over there to see it, so I’m just a wee bit pumped tonight with the arrival of the lens and the anticipation of the weekend trip.

That will be my first opportunity for using the lens, so maybe I can show something off in the future in the form of photographs.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hoping for a New Job

First, I’d like to furnish a warning to those reading my blog. I’d like to offer thanks to a blog called “The Good Luck Duck.” They posted of a warning and provided a link warning about the use of Google’s AdSense as being a source of malware. I’ll provide the links for both The Good Luck Duck and for the site that they provided.

The Good Luck Duck blog.

Google AdSense Malware Issues

With all that I discovered at that last link, it is doubtful that I will ever put AdSense on “Ignoring the Barking Dogs.”


Now, to the topic related to the title of this post. Jo and I work for the state of Oklahoma and for the last 13 years, I’ve been working in a pretty menial job. I’ve been a supervisor and manager in several jobs over the years, but it was a financial benefit for us to work for the same agency and in the same building. We’ve saved a lot of gas money in the last 13 years.

I’ve tried several times to get better, more challenging jobs with our agency, but have never had good luck. The state has a tendency to use what is called a “structured interview” process. Basically, that is a situation where all candidates for a position are asked the exact same questions. There are some real issues with that kind of an interview.

First of all, if a question is asked of a candidate and in their answer they bring up a related topic, the interviewers cannot follow up with a question or ask for additional comments on that related topic. Thus, the structured interview is almost designed to miss getting really good candidates hired for the jobs. I’ve told people at our agency that the structured interviews are almost guaranteed to result in mediocre employees.

In the process, it is usually three individuals asking the pre-selected questions in turn. Then, during the answers given, they are taking notes as to what the candidate says in their answer.  Another problem with this process is that the interviewer’s have their heads down to watch what they are writing and very little eye-contact is had with the applicant being questioned.

After the interview process is done with all candidates, they go through and rate the answer to each question on a basis of 1 to 10 as to the value of the answer. Then, those scores are totaled for each candidate, using all three interviewer’s scores for them.

Such a process leaves the possibility for one interviewer to skew the whole process. For instance, if an interviewer has a preference for one particular candidate because of association or friendship, that interviewer can lower their score for the other candidates and raise the score on their preferred candidate. With only three interviewers, you can see an almost immediate effect on the outcome of the interviews.

So, in addition to hiring mediocre employees, one can also see a situation where one is hired not on the basis of their abilities, but on who is a friend of whom. I have even been skipped over, even though I have more experience in management.

A couple of years ago, the agency was hiring 3 people for APO I (Administrative Program Officer 1) positions. Six of us interviewed for those three positions.  When all was said and done, three others were chosen who had less experience.

Not long after those positions were filled, an APO II position (Administrative Program Officer 2) came available. I applied and the state’s Office of Personnel Management deemed my level of experience to be enough to qualify for that position. The designation of OPM in regards to my experience surprised some of the original interviewers. Well, at least one of them was surprised.

Just about a week ago, we saw a posting of the APO II position again. The individual that was hired for that position has decided to resign from it. This position is at a new facility and that individual had been the project manager for the building of that facility, so it was natural that he should be the one hired for the position.

So, I applied for it again, and my interview was this morning. In most structured interviews, there were not a lot of questions that were not related to the job being interviewed for, nor were they related in any way to finding out good information about the applicant’s abilities for those positions.

Today’s interview was different, based on my observations. All the questions were pertinent and relevant. Also, prior to the actual questioning, I was asked to tell a bit about myself and my experiences. Two of the interviewers have never really met me nor worked with me in any way to have knowledge about me, nor what kind of experience I have.

Overall, I felt that in 13 years and several interview situations, this was the best one I had experienced. Even though it was still a structured interview, it just felt better than all the previous ones I had. Even though there are no guarantees, I feel that I did well in the interview.

Should I get this job, Jo and I will be working in different buildings, so our fuel costs will go up to some extent, but the job will almost double my current salary. That would go a long way towards getting us completely debt free, including the Mobile Suites.

However, there is one drawback. The state’s retirement system calculates the last three years one’s employment in determining what that individual’s retirement benefits will be. So, if I get the job, I will likely work for another three years.

That is a bummer, but an extra advantage to that is that I could then afford to get yet another really nice camera lens. Every cloud has the potential of a silver lining.

Nikon 24_70mm lens

Wish me luck.

I hope…I hope.

I Get "a Bone" for My Birthday

From the events of today, one wouldn’t necessarily agree that I was having an awesome month. We had planned a family get-together with three family members coming over from Tulsa; our oldest son’ family consisting of Kevin and Amy and their four kids, Nate, Liam, Moira, and Jenni; and our youngest son, Eric.

Since we have recently been joking about “inside” jobs and “outside” jobs, it was decided that grilling food on an outdoor grill was definitely an “outside” job. Keep in mind that the normal person for the “outside” work is me and I can’t cook!

However, I think word got around that I was actually going to attempt to do some outside cooking. One of the Tulsa family members became ill and then Liam ran a low-grade fever and Kevin began to feel bad as well. So, our only remaining family member arrived, that being Eric, and we had a great lunch.

However, Jo refused to allow me to cook the shish-ka-bobs. For some reason, she claims that she wants to be able to eat the food that was prepared.

I am SO crushed!!

No, wait. How could I be? Let me explain.

Sitting around the other evening, Jo asked a question that has been asked before with absolutely nothing coming of it, so when it came that evening, I thought nothing of it. After all, it had been asked before.

The evening went on with me at the computer, and as we started towards bed for the night, she made a confession.

She had ordered a camera lens that I have been wanting for a long time, but because she was unable to have it shipped to another address, she had to tell me that she had ordered my birthday present, since it would arrive at our residence instead of somewhere else.

Obviously, my first words were, “The lens?” because that had been the question that I had paid little attention to when she asked it.

However, I have since found out that Jo just “threw me a bone.” It turns out that she wanted another computer laptop. After having bought a small one a while back and a Toshiba netbook (or whatever), she evidently found it was time to buy me something so I wouldn’t get jealous.

I found out about the laptop after she got a call from Hewlett Packard to verify the order. For a couple of days, she tracked the shipment of her laptop and sometime during the day last Friday, she found out it was in Oklahoma City. Checking again after we got off (and not finding a package or attempted delivery notice on the door), she found out that it had already been delivered and a “N. Hall” had signed it.

Well, we had no idea who “N. Hall” might be, so she called FedEx. They informed her that the laptop had been delivered to a business, not our residence. Needless to say, she was really upset that her expensive laptop was missing. (Being that Jo is in the Information Technology field, she needs to get up-to-date equipment with some of the latest technology so she can learn it.)

I asked whether she thought that the “business” that it was delivered to might happen to be the Twin Fountains RV Park, which is right across the fence from the mobile home park within which we are parked. She said that first thing in the morning, she would walk over to their office and see.

The next morning, while I was drinking my coffee, she walked over and came back with her hot little hands holding her laptop. Evidently, FedEx has a tendency to change drivers a lot and the driver for Friday may have thought the mobile home park was actually a part of the RV park. After all, we aren’t the only RV’s in the park.

So, Jo is now happy with her laptop, and to be truthful, I am happy with the “bone” that she threw me. The only question I will now have is will I have to wait until my birthday on the 23rd, or will she let me use it sooner?

Hopefully, sooner will be the case.

Oh, perhaps you should know more about “the bone.” It is a Nikon 70-200mm, f/2.8 zoom lens. The “f/2.8” is important in that it gives very clear photos over the entire range of the 70 to 200 millimeters. It is what is called a “fast” lens in that the aperture is open enough to allow more light, thus clearer photos and faster automatic focusing. That can be important with taking pictures of wildlife.

Anyway, a picture of “the bone.”

Nikon 70_200mm lens

Happy birthday to me. May is going to be an awesome month.