On a Return

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Greetings fellow bloggers. I’ve missed your presence both here and on your blogs. Isn’t my personal greeter adorable?

Some have noticed that me snooping around with some visits, and (of course) my posted dedicated to #9 honoring the 9th anniversary of my little corner of the world.

The family is making progress with helping an elderly aunt. The task at hand seems monumental, but that’s not unexpected. We know there are several months of work ahead, so we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel – but that will come. Hopefully the light won’t be another train.

There’s never a good time when it comes to dealing with elderly relatives. Good news is that we see progress on important milestones, plus our aunt is generally receptive to what we suggest. Unfortunately for us, our tasks were put on hold for a bit because of a long-planned vacation during August.

The Vacation

  1. A 5-hour drive to Chicago to eliminate a flight leg (each way) and for considerable financial savings
  2. Flew Chicago to Reykjavik to London Heathrow
  3. Spent 4 days in London (our first trip to the UK)
  4. Bused to Southampton to make the Caribbean Princess our home for 12 days cruising the British Isles (including a stop in France)
  5. Bused from Southampton to Heathrow for our flight to Reykjavik – instead of transferring to another flight, we stayed for 3 days
  6. Flew to Chicago, then made it to Cincinnati a few hours before the eclipse (about 90% coverage)

Our vacation was a good one, and I look forward to sharing various aspects about the trip with you. My apologies to my UK readers because I came to your wonderful region without stopping by to say hello. Our time in the ports are short, and we try to see as much as possible … and we stayed busy in London (which is easy to do).

Even though my plate remains full, I will return to posting on an irregular schedule. After all, I do have posts in the queue ready to go.

Hope all is well with everyone! … and here’s a fitting song for you.

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On a Wall Project

Corks have a story. We may associate them with a vacation or a special occasion, Wineries make choices to display images, names, saying, regions, phone numbers, websites, and more.

Wine is a decorating theme in our home. Bottles, presses, and corks are easily found. (a past post)

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In terms of corks, all wine corks are not created equal.

  • In general, there are 3 types of corks: natural, composite, and plastic
    • Natural cork is from the inner bark of an oak tree (yes, primarily the Cork Oak)
    • The plastic even come in a variety of colors
    • To me, the composites resemble pressed sawdust bound by a resin
  • Corks have different lengths and diameters
  • If corks display printing, some are printed vertically, others horizontally
  • Some are printed the same on both sides, while others may have something different on the opposite side

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This is a small cubby in our lower level. The angle on the upper left is the stairs. Some in our neighbors have a wet bar in the space, but we went with just the counter.

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This past January, my wife showed me an interesting image from Pinterest. I suggested we could do that in the lower-level cubby. After researching possible designs on Google Images, ideas were racing through my mind. The key question was original free-form/abstract or uniform? Measurements and calculations allowed me to estimated the need for 1050-1100 wine corks (if corks occupied the entire space).

After the easier-than-expected collection phase, I began designing. My initial thought was to put together a variety of designs on the mock-up to see what we liked and disliked. But, as I got going, I changed and tweaked as I progressed.

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A few weeks later we were in a new restaurant for my birthday, and we saw several cork designs – and my wife liked a particular uniform design. Because I had so many corks, I created a second mock-up (in about 40 minutes) so we could compare.

During my cork collecting phase, I got an idea that friends thought was crazy. Whereas people were shocked to learn that I was on the prowl for 1000 corks – but then I told them I changed my goal to 1000 different corks – and no plastic ones.

With two prototype designs completed, my wife and I preferred different designs. While she found the eclectic design too busy, I found it easier on the eyes. Whereas she liked the uniformity of second design, it was a blurred to my eyes. So the challenge became to create something relatively uniform to fit her taste, yet be easy on my eyes.

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As for the actual construction, first step was cutting a piece of plywood to fit the back wall. This would serve as a surface for mounting the corks (as opposed to attaching them directly to the wall).

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All the advance work led us to cover the plywood with cork shelf paper. This could help add depth to our design.

The actual construction was a slow process. After all, in most cases, we glued the corks individually – most of the 800+ one by one. We did most of the work on a table. After attaching the board to the wall, we completed the project. Voilà!

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Factoids

  • Longest dimensions: Bottom row 48 in (122 cm); Right side 40 in (101 cm)
  • 860 corks used
  • Only 2 plastic corks (because they were special to me)
  • Plain/blank corks form a border around the design
  • From the 860, subtracting the border places and the horizontal row of corks from sparkling wines – yes – no duplicates are displayed in the remaining 727

On Spring 2016 Blog Break

PauseBreakKeyWith my wife’s retirement and our wedding anniversary, last week was huge for us. Tuesday afternoon was her retirement party at work, then Tuesday night came my salute to #31. She appreciated the many comments from my blogging community, so here’s her comment late in the string.

Thanks to all of you bloggers for the kind wishes in my new retirement life. If the Frank Angle disappears from the web for a while, it will either because we’re having such a good time that he’s never home, or our constant togetherness resulted in a homicide! I’m hoping for the former.

Here’s a snapshot of our happenings

Thursday

  • Her last work day, so she was home by noon
  • Walking our typical 2-mile loop … but in the afternoon
  • Dinner at Seasons 52 to celebrate her retirement and our upcoming anniversary

Friday

  • Breakfast out (@First Watch) to celebrate her first day off
  • Walked our loop
  • I worked 3-7
  • She went to dinner with neighbors who invited her
  • We met at the dance studio where I planned a surprise retirement celebration

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Saturday
Official 39th anniversary day – but in the evening we attended a birthday gathering for a friend

As I’ve written on these pages many times, Blog breaks are good. I try to take several per year, and I know the time for one is now. For me, the break won’t be one of total avoidance because I want to spend time visiting others. After all, I’ve been very negligent recently – which is one of the signs I use to determine the need for a break.

I’m envisioning two weeks, but time will tell. Because of the positive response for featuring Pink Martini, here’s a live version of Amado Mio to send you into my blog break. Meanwhile, remember these words from a great American storyteller – Garrison Keillor – Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Easing a Return

Although I’m recovering from various aspects of life, I’m trying to ease myself back into the Land of WordPress. It’s not easy. Besides getting back into the swing of my life as a volunteer, ballroom dancer, blogger, and whatever else life brings my why, I’m suffering from jet lag and a withdraw from a travel med that is a story in itself. After all, this is where I’ve been.

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When cruising, I use the TransDerm patch (Scapalomine) for my motion sickness. It works well, but there is one possible side effect that I’m the lucky recipient … I get motion sickness 36-48 hours after coming off the drug – Woo Hoo! … and it’s very, very bad!!!!

I’ve learned to use over-the-counter meds to step-down the body, but also during this time, I must limit my computer time because the flashing screen quickly aggravates motion sickness … as does watching television, driving a car, and (or course) moving in a circle. In other words, no fun.

But hey – life will be normal soon – which means time to use this button.

Image from 123vectors.com

Image from 123vectors.com

 

On Fall Break 2015

Over the past few weeks, I have struggled with visiting other blogs and my own writing. Experience tells me that’s a sign of needing a blog break. Besides, I normally take one in the September-October time frame. So, the stars are aligning for me to take a blog break, thus I’m hitting the Pause button.

Most of my blog-break time will be Level 1 – Total Abstinence – however, I will creep a bit of Level 2 as I hope to write a little during that time. (For those needing more information about the levels of blogging breaks, click here.) To help separate myself during the break, I’m turning off my notifications. Meanwhile, my comments are On because I will be phasing myself into break oblivion.

Regular series as Monday Morning Entertainment and Satire Bits gave me a chance to share bits from my personal life, which many seemed genuinely interested. Now that those series are no more, so is my personal sharing – so going into the break is a good time for an update.

After my year off, I didn’t return to the handbell choir, but my wife still plays. They recently played this version the Led Zeppelin classic – Stairway to Heaven. (Consider playing it as your background music while reading).

My golf game started the season with a bang, but then I hit a 6-8 week spell of what I described as my worst golf in 30 years. However, I righted the ship.

For those who miss my list of monthly, weekly, and daily celebrations, I promised to provide my main sources – and here are the top 2 – this one and that one.

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Ballroom remains part of our life. You may recall that I doing a tango routine for a showcase event at a private studio. It’s not with my wife, but she approves of my partner. It’s been an interesting experience, but because of the time commitment, I’m not sure if I would do this again. Nonetheless, here’s the song – which is a tad fast, so we slowed it down.

I continue volunteering with ballroom dance for those with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. It’s a very rewarding experience, and I try to attend most of the weekly events. Unfortunately, this year I’m going to miss their competition, the event started my interest. (Remember this post?)

I recently started serving as a volunteer in an English Second Language (ESL) program for adults. It’s off to a good start. Regardless of their individual reasons for being in the US, each of them wants to improve their proficiency in English.

However, our season of ushering at plays is underway. We recently saw The Secret Garden, and young artist (Caitlin Cohn) in the lead role impressed both of us. We are curious to see how far she climbs on the ladder to stardom.

I’m a Christian who believes in Interfaith dialogue and efforts – both within Christianity AND between different religions. The Friday’s Interfaith ceremony at the 9-11 Memorial in NYC was very moving!

My initial plan is to stay away 3-5 weeks, but time will tell. I encourage you to visit bloggers you may not know -the good people listed on my Sidebar and those on the Blogroll page – especially the New Acquaintances section. Regarding all bloggers listed today, I hope to reorganize them in the future.

To lead you into my break, here are several videos for you to enjoy. Take your pick – a singing two-year old, a singing comic, today’s comics doing their version of a classic routine, or a major hit from many years ago that still sounds great today.

Wishing you all the best and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.




On Touching the Core

Who are you? Who am I? Not only how do we identify ourselves, but also, what identifies each of us?

I’ve embedded many videos on this pages during my blogging time, but some stick with me. They touch my core. They define who I am.

The European immigrants of the late 19th Century and the early 20th Century impacted the world. My paternal grandparents were in that group while my maternal family remained in Europe.

I believe the majority of the world is good. In a global environment when language can be a barrier, other things can link people – such as smiles, kindness, and respect. Blogging is has reinforced that to me, and so has Matt.

The ending of some movies cause a tear – yep, It’s a Wonderful Life does it, and so does this one.

Human behaviors are complex and quite wide-ranging. That given, there is a lot of bad in the world, but one cannot deny the power of I’m Sorry.

I believe universal creation is spectacular, and creation is ongoing. From our tiny perspective, the wonders of the universe are just for us. Whether Earth is home to the only life in the universe doesn’t matter to me, but nobody can deny this perspective.

Any favorites here? Are their videos that define you?

On a Burger Trail

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It was about 2003 as I was working on a long-term project for an upstart company. A retired friend and I would talk about him coming down to my work area for lunch. Our target was a nearby establishment having a local reputation for good hamburgers.

He came, we went, had a good time, and even discussed the burger. He returned a month later, but we went to a different place for a burger – discussed and compared. Another time, a third place, a third burger, and then ranking the three. Little did we know about the road ahead.

My project ended, but we continued trying different places – especially ones with a positive reputation or recommendations. I’m not sure of the timeline, but a third friend joined us after he unexpectedly lost his job; thus more comparisons, rankings, and notes.

In July 2005 I decided to start a blog to post reviews of our ventures. I hustled to get local readers by commenting at various local blogs and bulletin boards … then a major (and unexpected) break … a high-profile writer at the Cincinnati Enquirer contact me, and he wanted to have lunch with us. With a photographer and his notepad, we met at the place of our choosing.

I was in Abilene, Texas the day the Enquirer published. Emails were flying into our mailbox, but I didn’t respond because the link to the article was malfunctioning. I did my morning presentation in Abilene, and I was anxious during my flight to Cincinnati. I returned home to discover a call from a local radio station whose powerful signal reaches most of the country, let alone a feature article in the paper’s Life section that extended to an inside page, and many comments on the blog. Yep – the next night we were on the radio for about an hour.

Receiving burger recommendations was one of the benefits from the publicity … thus the reviews chronicling of the adventures of Bucky, Freddie, and Wolfie continued. Eventually, we were also featured in the Enquirer’s weekly entertainment paper – CinWeekly. A local food personality also invited us to her radio show. An upstart podcast company also did a 30-minute interview.

Our journey continued for a few more years. Jobs, projects, or health issues caused us to fade away. Nonetheless, a touch of pride still remains for being one of the Cincinnati Burger Guys … so, Happy Hamburger Week.

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From the top down: Freddie, Bucky, and Wolfie