Covid Self Quarantining & Selling Li’l Beast



“This is a Mask, this is not a Political Statement! This is just a Mask”, to quote CNN.

We had a difficult time getting home from Morocco in April. After a few days struggle at Casablanca’s airport with hundreds of others trying to get standby flights to Europe, Gate One Travel and Air France took us to Paris then to Los Angeles and home.

It was surreal sitting in a 747 practically alone. We had a the full attention of the two flight attendants, a wonderful meal, and Dom bubbly.  Still more surreal was landing in LA and passing through Airline staff in full hazmat suits asking where we came from and checking our temperature!  It was so strange I didn’t even consider how weird this was until later.

At home the streets were empty.  Today they are full with people zipping around doing whatever and wearing masks (well mostly).  The virus has not changed.  People’s behavior sure has.  For us, we are long term hunkering in place with the occasional outing.  Would you risk your health to drop off some Goodwill junk?   We did earlier today.  Would we go to an indoor movie theater or have a meal with friends even outdoors?  No, not quite yet.

It is mid October, 2020.  Corona virus infections and hospitalizations are on the rise throughout the U.S.  Projections are for an increase in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths through the fall and winter. Time to stock up on essentials, like toilet paper.  Think March/April all over again.

Li’l Beast


Sometime in October 2019, my wife, Ellen said, “Maybe we should get another motor home.  I like the “D” floor plan”.  “Ok”, I said and did nothing thinking she would drop the idea in a week or two.  About three months later I heard, “The new View “D” looks pretty good.  Maybe we should consider getting another motor home.” “OK”, I said, again thinking this was a passing fancy and would be soon forgotten.  This past August, Ellen again mentioned looking at new Winnebago Views with the “D” floorplan.  Three strikes, time to take this seriously? “Ok, let’s look at the new 2021 models and options”. 

We visited a near local dealer for a “look see”.  The sales guy agreed to show us the one “D” they had on the floor, just to see one.  We had no intention to buy.  That view was sold to a couple before we had a chance to even step inside.  “Sales Guy”, let’s see if the new owners would let you check it out.  They did and we both liked the “D” layout and the new features.  Cool.  However, “Sales Guy” would not let us simply walk away.  He wanted us to buy one on the spot! I discussed pricing with “Sales Guy” who seemed to focus on a ONE DOLLAR.  The difference between $xxx, xx9.00 and $xxx,x10.00! I think he was hoping to have me quibble about a single dollar and not the entire deal.  I suppose this might work for him some of the time.  Ellen saved me (us), by stating flatly, “We are not here to buy and we are not buying anything today.”  That ended the discussion, period. (Thank you Ellen!).

I had a best case dollar figure in mind that our “local dealer” came nowhere near.  I contacted LichtsinnRV in Iowa to see how their pricing compared.  The fellow, Reed, who responded quoted price that was exactly in line with my best case pricing.  “Sold,” and at a significantly lesser price than “Sales Guy” at our “local dealer”.

So after about a year of “Maybe we should consider a new motor home” and the run around from a local Winnebago dealer, we will be driving to Iowa in the dead of winter to take delivery of a brand new 2021 Winnebago View 24D.  Deja Vu all over again.  We flew to Connecticut in February 2015 to purchase our first ever motor home,Li’l Beast, a 2015 Winnebago View 24J.  We drove over 3,000 miles home in one of the coldest winters in a decade stopping often to outfit.  Plates, cups, coffee maker, blankets, sheets, we had nothing.  We learned as we went and had a blast doing it.

It looks like the propane heater, the retracting steps, and the water pump are the only carry-overs from 2015.  We’ll have another adventure learning the ins and outs of a new rig.  This time we will bring supplies with us.

This will be a whole new kind of Covid Quarantining!


Facebook & Doctored Pelosi Video

If you use Facebook, you are complicit.  By not taking down the video that appears to show Nancy Pelosi addressing the public “drunk”,  Facebook is supporting what amounts to Anti-American behavior. Since when has making a buck mean more than being truthful in presenting facts.  By remaining with Facebook, YOU are supporting that same Anti-American behavior! YOU!

Either you chose to denigrate American Values and remain using Facebook “because it is convenient” or you vote with your feet.  I recommend you, all of you, move from Facebook so some other social media platform.  Perhaps you’ll even abandon all social media and live a more “natural” life?

The choice is yours, of course.  The historical ramifications will be yours as well.

Bryggen, Bergen, Norway

We arrived at our hotel in Bryggen Saturday 12/28 at 5:30, right on time.  “It was a dark and story  night”. The express bus was waiting for us right outside the airport’s main entrance. Frank, our driver,  whisked us off to the town of Bergen.  On the trip we saw a surprising number of Tesla Model S cars going past.

Connections to Norway were less than perfect. The overnight flight from SFO to Paris was dreadful.  I did “upgrade” our seats, though that only meant Ellen and I were sitting together.  I have never had so little leg room, even on a domestic flight.  What has Air France done?  Never again, I will not fly Air France. Period.  On the bright side the flight from Paris to Bergen was pleasant with enough leg room that I slept the entire two hours!

The day before Christmas, we had John, my nephew, and his 9 year old son, Gavin, over for dinner.  Gavin was sick though he assured us he was “not contagious”.  WRONG!  We came down the a heavy cold that matured on our Paris flight compounding an already poor experience.

Let’s return to Frank for a moment.  As we boarded the bus, my credit cards would not work in his machine.  Not one card.  We tried Ellen’s as well.  Everything failed. Now what do  we do?  Frank smiled and said, get on and we’ll settle up later.  Cool.  Our hotel was near the last bus stop.  At the Bryggen stop, Frank patiently reset his machine as we tried a few credit cards.  The first attempt failed,, but the second went through!  We chatted with Frank about Norway for a bit.  Norway is a rich country based primarily on oil and fishing. 

Our hotel, the Radisson Blu, was located directly at the bus stop. It could not have been more convenient.  Our room was modest but with a remarkably comfortable bed, his and her feather down comforters, and a wonderful shower.  This would have been most enjoyable, but for Gavin’s Christmas gift.  We had a meal in the bar/social club: fish soup for Ellen and fish and chips for me. I had a 7 Fjell beer that was fantastic.   Fjelll is pronounced similarly to fjord.  J becomes I.  We slept fitfully hacking and coughing through the night.

The next morning, 12/29, was a Sunday.  As in Boston in the “old days”, everything closes on Sundays in Norway.  We walked the old town of Bryggen, found a drug store to replenish some supplies, and bought a warm knit cap for me.  We took a taxi to the Hurtigruten Terminal to check our bags.  Baggage check-in starts at 1 PM, check-in at 3 PM, and staterooms are available at 6 PM.   Checking our bags we made two mistakes: Ellen failed to check “her” coat (actually the coat that Cynthia lent her) and I had taken my documents our of my backpack and now had to carry them around with me. The lockers at the terminal take three 10 KRON coins.  I had dollars. What to do. Paula, a woman from Madrid arrived at the lockers and she too didn’t have coins.  We chose to share a locker, found a cab driver who gave us change, and Ellen/Cyn’s jacket problem was solved. Our documents went in Ellen’s purse.

Paula intended to walk around from the terminal.  Having never been in Bryggen, we thought we’d take a taxi back.  Imagine our surprise as a tesla cab drove up to the terminal. Yes, I can take you to Bryggen.  We met Sion, who said a single charge overnight is sufficient to run his cab the entire day.  There are very few superchargers  in Norway, though there is one that he uses if he pulls a double shift.  Taxis are everywhere in Bergen.

Walking we happened across the most fascinating fish market I’ve ever seen.  Live king crab was everywhere, many varieties of fish fillets, shellfish, some I have not seen available elsewhere.  Inside there was not even a hint of seafood smell.  It was clean and smelled clean.  There was a bar on one side of the market and a restaurant bay-side.  “This is where we’ll have lunch”, I said.

We passed an Italian restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a taqueria, a very eclectic group of mostly closed restaurants.  Ellen wanted soup for lunch.  The Italian place featured “zuppa”.  No seafood for me.  I had a pizza that was barely ok.  Ellen’s soup was good, but not nearly as tasty as at the Radisson Blu.

To get back to the cruise terminal, I suggested we go back to the taxi spot where Sion dropped us off.  We should have not problem having one stop.  Ellen was not convinced and hid from the rain in a doorway.  Within five minutes we had our ride back to the terminal.   Checking went smoothly, we were aboard and in our diminutive cabin shortly after 6pm.

It really truly sucks to be sick while travelling.  It sucks so much more if you travel in the dead of winter to a cold climate.  Norway certainly qualifies.  Even so, the Norwegians and Norway have surprised my with their warmth and beauty.

What? No Photos?  You have Apple’s HIEC, coupled with Microsoft’s fee for the codec, coupled with international internet connectivity.

OMG an addictive multiplayer game



I am not a “gamer”.  I enjoy the challenge of mastering a first person shooter game.  That can take days or months. Often I’d be at it practically all day and night for a while.  Eventually I’ll feel proficient and put the game down for a while: months or more typically years.  That’s me, work hard to “master” something then move on.  I’ve always played against a friend or family member one-on-one or played with a number of bots.

Battlefield V feels different.  It has the draw of the first person shooter game (FPS), but much more.  I’ve started playing battlefield games with 16-32 other players and “graduated” to 64 other players.  No two games are similar. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this “game” is the teamwork the framework encourages, perhaps even requires.  To be effective a squad of 4 players must work together.  All players can resuscitate  a downed comrade before he/she bleeds out.  A medic does this much faster.  To keep the squad functional, the medic needs to stay close to the group.  Resuscitation is extremely well done.  There is some significant interaction between the avatars of the two players.  The first time I recovered, I felt a bond with my savior.  It was palpable.

Then too the avatars cover racial and gender. Without knowing it, the first time I selected the medic class I spawned as a woman.  What a surprise when my avatar spoke.  This game can help break down boundaries between races and sex as people work together toward a common goal.

The goal is not to shoot anything that moves.  The goal is to capture and keep objectives.  This does necessitate extreme mayhem.  However the game is goal oriented and focused on team play (even team building).  Playing with headphones and a mic makes squad communication so much easier.

I played one game where the squad leader was on top of things and gave orders as to what objective we should go after.  Each battlefield (map) has a varying number of objective sites.  It is up to the squad or squads to chose what to attack and how to advance against the opposing force.  It is not simply a game of shoot ‘em up; but rather a game of strategy and reflexes.

As game play continues over time, players level up and acquire new weaponry and rank.   The game includes vehicles, air planes, and I think naval vessels.  Driving a tank is pretty straight forward, though anti tank weapons abound.  The life of a tanker is short, the machine gunner’s life is still shorter.

With more than a passing familiarity with flight simulators and knowing how to fly a plane, I thought I’d give flight a try. That will take much more practice.  I think I’ll need to reverse the standard up/down controls.  I pull up on the stick and head toward the ground.  For now I’ll focus on the infantry with the occasional tank.

This game is unadulterated fun and extremely addictive. It is huge in scope with the promise of significant expansion over time.  I read that the game is “half done”.  Great, well maybe. I’m retired and have lots of time to burn, though my wife will have something to say about it.  At least with headphones she doesn’t hear the sound of battle: no explosions or rattle of small arms fire.


All player statistics are stored on a website.  The stats are public and extremely thorough.  You can check out where you stand relative to your friends and the best of the best.  I’m close to the bottom for now.  When playing I often hear “Too Slow!” as I get shot up.

The game plays in 4K making the terrain and avatars quite life-like.  The game is well done.  I’ve read some griping from players who are upset that women avatars are available, or that the game is focused more on team play.  There’s always someone not happy with change.

Code P3131, Nissan Leaf

Last April I had my leaf’s TCU updated to 3G for $199.  A bit much for what should be a standard feature in the leaf.  Nissan discontinued support for the 2g band.  The upgrade restored smart phone connectivity to the car.  Great.

Last month the 12 volt battery died and I had AAA give me a jump start.  I drove around for a while putting some charge back into the battery.  The next day the battery was dead.  Another AAA fellow came by and noticed that I had a AAA battery I had installed last September!  I had entirely forgotten.  So TCU went in in April, battery failed and was replaced in September, and that battery failed in November!

The AAA guy asked if I had paperwork for the battery.  It was under warranty and I’d get a new battery free of charge with the paperwork.  Normally I file away everything car and house related. I couldn’t find the paperwork.  I looked and looked.  Finally the AAA guy said he couldn’t in good conscience sell me another battery.  He created paperwork to cover the purchase in September, then installed a new battery under warranty.  (He clearly didn’t have to do this.  I doubt most service people would.)  He suggested I have the car’s parasitic current draw checked out.  Something was killing the battery.

Yesterday I dropped the car off at the dealer.  They would charge $175 to diagnose the problem and take it from there. Later in the day I got a call saying there was a service bulletin out on this problem TSBNTB18-045B.  The solution was to reprogram the TCU.  Apparently a shutoff timeout had not been set correctly. 

The best news: there was no charge. 

A Star Is Born


Looking to get out for a bit, Chanda suggested we see “A Star Is Born” in a local theater.

It is a remake of the original film staring Barbara Streisand.  Streisand gave the film her blessing

“No problem, let’s go”, I said knowing nothing about the film.  I wasn’t particularly happy with “American Sniper” and  Bradley Cooper’s statements about it.  More jingoistic BS IMO.  So it was with some misgivings that we headed off to see this film.  Aside from knowing Cooper performed in it, I knew nothing.

My first reaction once the film began, aside from getting teary-eyed with the music, was, “WOW, who did they get to play Lady GaGa.  She looks so much like her and she can sing.”  It slowly dawned on me that it was, in fact, Lady GaGa who was in the film.  She was fantastic.  The film was a tour de force and left me emotionally drained and wondering how much of the film is autobiographical for Gaga  It also affirmed my respect for Lady Gaga as a musician and performer.  Wow can she act.  Bradley Cooper was great as well.  I very highly recommend this film.


I also thought about how difficult it must be for couples who grow in different ways to keep it together. For instance, how does a country/blues player deal with an avant garde  performer.  The differences must surely swamp the similarities.

We also saw “Widows” the day before.  That too was a powerful movie with one twist I had not even considered.  If you like dark shoot ‘em up films, this one’s for you.  It is a slow burn that develops characters slowly, though you wouldn’t know it from the opening scene.  That was unexpected and perhaps more realistic than most.

We had planned to go to Joshua Tree this weekend.  Planning beyond our control messed that up.  We’re enjoying a slow weekend in San Diego and returning home soon(ish).

back in the saddle

2.5 months away from stationary cycling, it’s time to get back into shape (or getting into getting into shape).  That’s a long while to be away from anything.  Have I forgotten how?

This morning was day four on the Peloton, a 60 minute heart rate endurance ride.  Boy do my hamstrings feel it.   My power output has dropped by 10% to 20% depending on the ride.  I had hoped to take the power zone endurance ride at 9:30.  I’m not feeling it just now.

What fun it was holding my spot on the leader board and moving past the next ahead of me now and then.  This is great cardio exercise and good for leg muscle tone as well.  Christine’s song list was the perfect motivation in the moment.  As usual, once the class was over, I couldn’t remember a single song that went by.  I remember my effort and the people on the leaderboard ahead and behind.  For any song, I’d match my cadence with the song’s beat and focus on maintaining a relaxed even pedal stroke and even breaths; very much like meditation.  Clear the mind, be in the moment.

It is a remarkable way to start the day.