The Flugtag Comes to Louisville

 

Since the 21st century began, I have been a fan of the Red Bull Flugtag, and look forward to reading and seeing pictures about it every year.  For those not familiar with the event, Flugtag is German for “Flying Day,” and it is used to promote Red Bull, the energy drink that claims to give you wings.  Participating teams build contraptions that are supposed to fly or glide, and launch them off a pier; most of the time they fall thirty feet into the water underneath, but everyone has a good time watching.

I just learned that the next Flugtag is tomorrow, and it will be held in Louisville, where the contestants will fly or fall into the Ohio River.  Louisville is 85 miles west of where I live, and since my home town doesn’t have a body of water big enough, this is probably the closest the event will ever come to me.

Check out the teams participating in the link below.  Of course Kentucky is well represented this time.  My favorites are the Flying Colonels, who plan to fly in a giant KFC bucket, and the Cardinals (of course the University of Louisville had to get in on this!).

Red Bull Flugtag Louisville

The January 2016 Snowpocalypse

 

For the last few days, we’ve been digging ourselves out of the latest polar vortex to sweep the eastern US.  Because of it, I haven’t left the street I am living on since Thursday, January 21.

It started with an inch of snow on Wednesday.  My neighbors shoveled the snow out of their driveways , but I held off, knowing there was much more to come.  Besides, I was busy fixing a toilet in the house.  Because I’m no plumber, I got it to work eventually, but it took four days and six trips to Home Depot for parts – definitely a learning experience.

The main snowfall started around 7 AM on Friday, and lasted all day.  Here is the snow cake we got on our patio table.  When I stuck a tape measure in it, it went eleven inches, so I’m declaring that the amount of snow we got.  Elsewhere in the yard, measurements varied from 8 1/2 to 13 1/2 inches.  Notice also how the snow tapers on the railing as it piled up.

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And here is a video of how the rest of the city looked on Friday.  There wasn’t any curfew imposed; you don’t see many cars because the city government told everyone, “If you don’t have to be out, stay indoors.”  I stayed in because I remembered very well how I got stuck when I drove in snow like this last year, and apparently that happened to a lot of folks on Interstate 75.  Don’t worry, Lexington got enough snow cleared away from the downtown area for Saturday’s basketball game to go on; they know where their priorities are!

Late on Saturday I went out and shoveled the snow out of the driveway.  At noon on Sunday I called for a snowplow to come to my street, and it showed up at 5 PM, followed by three salt trucks.  Since we weren’t running out of anything yet, I stayed home one more day.  Tomorrow I have an appointment, and Leive wants me to get a few groceries, so then I will see how the rest of the town is recovering.

Grey Christmas

 

To all my friends who observe this day, Merry Christmas!  We’ve been having weird weather this month, what with temperatures about twelve degrees above normal (50s and 60s most of the time), and heavy rain this week, with even a bit of lightning thrown in.  Thus, I call the resulting combination a “grey Christmas.”

This picture was taken here in Lexington yesterday.  It shows something I never expected to see in Kentucky, or even Florida – Santa Claus in a Speedo bathing suit!  I shared it on Facebook, and was told this is just plain wrong, LOL.

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Back to Windows 7–And Glad of it!

For those who did not read my previous message, a week ago I took the big step a lot of people have been doing recently, and upgraded my computer from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  What a disaster that was!  The new software did not work, because it could not access the Internet.  While the computer ran somewhat smoother than it did on Windows 7 + umpteen clunky updates, I lost more than I gained.  Some of my favorite programs no longer worked, Windows 10 doesn’t like my default browser (Opera), and every time I loaded a Microsoft Office 2010 program, Windows tried to reinstall it.  Office 2010!  You’d think that Windows would be compatible with another program from the same company that is less than ten years old, right?

So on Wednesday I tried to roll the computer back to Windows 7, like Windows 10 said I could do during the first thirty days.  No such luck.  After more hours on the phone with technical support, we decided to use my emergency backup DVDs and re-format the hard drive.  For those of you not familiar with computer terminology, this means I erased all the files my computer has accumulated since I bought it, five years ago.  Everything.  Therefore when I got done, my computer was exactly the same as it was back in August 2010; if it could talk, it would probably be waking up now and saying, "What an awful dream!"

Of course a lot of the files cleared off were accumulated junk, so overall it is now running better.  Almost as good as when it was new, in fact.  Since Wednesday I have been re-configuring everything for my purposes, deciding what programs and files to put back on (all the documents, pictures, etc. that I considered important were saved to external hard drives).  This morning, for example, I got the scanner to work again, so the main item left to fix is the Pogoplug device, which makes one of my hard drives part of the so-called Internet “Cloud.”

Overall, I’d say that someday Windows 10 will work right for users, but for now it is not ready for public consumption.  And I’m not going to wait until Microsoft gets the bugs out of it; I already lost half a week of my life, dealing with it as is.

Windows 10–Don’t Make the Switch Yet

In a follow-up to last month’s news, my brother Chris found free cemetery space for both of our parents.  It turns out there is a fairly new (opened 2009) veteran’s cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida, the Jacksonville National Cemetery.  Because Dad was in the Navy during the Korean War years, it costs nothing to put Mom and Dad’s urns there.  Therefore last Friday, Chris took the urns to the cemetery, bringing the family closure on that issue.

The other reason why we settled on Jacksonville is location – both Chris and my daughter Lindy can get there in about three hours of driving.  In Kentucky there is a military cemetery about 25 miles south of us, called Camp Nelson, but most of the other burials there go back to the Civil War era, and it won’t be a convenient visit for anyone in my family, if Leive and I move out of Kentucky.

I have been looking forward to having a computer that runs Windows 10 because the PC I have now is five years old, and after all the updates it has taken for Windows 7, it is quite slow and cumbersome.  Therefore, I accepted the offer Microsoft announced a couple months ago for a free upgrade.  Last Sunday I received a message saying it was my turn to download Windows 10.  After letting my computer download and install updates for all of Sunday, it turned out the updates I got were for Windows 7, probably irrelevant.  Then the Windows 10 material came in on Monday.  So what did my computer get?

Well, so far the upgrade experience has turned out to be a waste of time. None of the new software can access the Internet, making the Store and the Edge browser useless. In addition it is incompatible with the old browser that still works (Opera), the new music player is ugly and buggy compared with Windows Media Player, the weather app insists that I am in Washington, DC, and so far I have found out that three of my programs no longer work.  One of them is the webpage editor that I have used since 1999, so to continue writing material for my websites, I’ll have to install and learn to use a new HTML editor.

The only advantage I have seen is that aside from a few required restarts, my computer no longer locks up or crashes.  Still, it may not be worth all the other trouble.  Last night I was up past 1 AM with technical support, trying to get the Internet connection problem fixed.  If I can’t solve this soon, I’m going back to Windows 7.  And if I need to buy a new computer this year, I’ll look for one that still has Windows 7 on it.

In Memory of Charles Burton Kimball

Chuck Kimball

June 3, 1933 – July 11, 2015

My father passed away around 6:20 AM Saturday.  The whole family knew it would happen soon, and we are relieved that his long time of suffering is finally ended.  Of course it still hurts, though.  May we meet again on the other side.

Mr. Kimball’s departure marks the end of an era for my family.  Except for a few uncles and aunts, the generations preceding Leive and I are now gone.  I will always be thankful for all that he did to help the rest of us (I don’t think I can list all the ways), for teaching his kids the difference between right and wrong, and directing us down the straight & narrow path.  We’ll also cherish the memories of fond times.  One comes to mind now:  when I was ten years old, he took me to Cape Canaveral so I could see the Apollo 11 rocket on the launching pad, one month before it went to the moon.

Currently we are planning to hold a memorial service here in Kentucky next Thursday, and since most of the people he knew are in central Florida, we’ll hold another service there at a later date (not yet specified).  My brother wrote the obituary that will be appearing this week in The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Orlando Sentinel.  I’ll share a draft of it here because it gives his life story in better words than I could write:

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Mr. Charles “Chuck” Kimball passed away on July 11, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky, at the age of 82 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was a resident of Winter Park, Florida, for 46 years.

Mr. Kimball was born in Fair Lawn New Jersey, in 1933. Working at both a veterinarian and gas station in his youth, he developed both a love and care for animals, and a skill at auto repair; both of which he would practice his entire life. Upon graduating high school, he joined the Navy and served during the Korean War. Afterwards, he attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, where he met his wife Linda. He graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and was also the founding President of the Central California Chapter of the American Rocket Society, and made the front page of the Los Angeles Times by launching his own rocket before Sputnik was launched. He was a pioneer in US rockets and flight simulators, and an aerospace engineer for 43 years. He worked various jobs in rocket testing and design; aircraft and helicopter maintenance and training. He worked for Igor Sikorski and was responsible for the repair and maintenance of President Johnson’s fleet of ten helicopters. He also studied law at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In 1966 he moved Winter Park, Florida, and would work the next 30 years for the Naval Training and Equipment Center, retiring in 1997. He was in charge of procurement and design for aircraft training devices and flight simulators to train Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Army pilots. He built flight training devices for the US Navy all over the world, including the “Top Gun” Naval flight school in Miramar, California. He had a number of patents including the “Air Cushion Proprioceptive Motion System” of a flight simulator on an air motion system.

Chuck earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Rollins College, which led him to be a founding partner in Micrad Electronics in Orlando in 1970, where he sold and repaired microwave ovens; one of the first to do so in the country at the time.

During many years, Chuck and his wife Linda volunteered at church and for numerous charitable organizations, and were loved and admired by many. Chuck was an officer for Wycliffe Associates’ Orlando Chapter, and a volunteer for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Chuck and Linda were last active at Community United Methodist Church in Casselberry through many of the community projects that the church did. Chuck’s declining health required much attention, so in 2012, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, to be under the care of his son and daughter-in-law. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, a grand-daughter, and great-grand-daughter.

Chuck was fair and honest to all, and always kind. He would like to be remembered as a born-again spirit-filled Christian, who loved the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; a fine husband, father, & grandfather.

 

Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration

I know, I have been away from this blog for nearly two months.  A lot has happened here in the real world:  two days when the snowfall exceeded ten inches, the coldest day in my lifetime (-18 on February 20!), doing my taxes, another post-season where the University of Kentucky Wildcats made it to the Final Four in the basketball playoffs (the fourth time this has happened in the past five years), and three guests staying in my house over the past week.

Also, I have been composing a new history paper since the rewrite of Japan and Korea was finished, exactly two months ago.  This time it is Chapter 1 of my new South Pacific history series.  You remember how I once said it is my job to fill in the gaps other historians leave in our knowledge of the past?  Well, now I am filling in one of my own gaps; I gave you Chapter 2 last December, without giving you Chapter 1.  Since then I have remembered a funny bit Bill Murray did on Saturday Night Live many years ago.  He was supposed to review the movie “Chapter Two” and he said, “What happened to Chapter One?  I think anyone who sees Chapter Two without first seeing Chapter One has to be a jerk.”  Which naturally led to the next movie he was going to talk about, “The Jerk.”

Now I have corrected that omission by finishing Chapter 1.  Called “Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration,” it covers the history, or should I say pre-history, of the South Pacific, from whenever the ancestors of the Australian Aborigines showed up, until 1500 A.D.  The topics covered are named as follows:

Chapter 1: Of Lands and Seas, A Prehistoric Age of Exploration

Pacific Geography

From Sunda-Land to Sahul-Land

The Melanesians

Early Austronesian Migrations

The Polynesian Expeditions

Polynesian Cultures

The Micronesians

The Tu’i Tongan "Empire"

Nan Madol

The Easter Island Mystery — Solved

Aotearoa

Epilogue

 

Or if you missed Chapter 2 and want another chance to read it, click on the link below:

Chapter 2:  Terra Australis Incognita (1500 to 1780)

As with my other history papers, I hope you enjoy reading my latest one as much as I enjoyed composing it!

Holiday Recap

Since this is my first blog message for 2015, Happy New Year to everyone!

I’ve been off work since December 24; the office is closed from then until January 5, so I’m three-fourths of the way through an eleven-day vacation.  The office I worked at in Connecticut three years ago ran on the same schedule, but this time it’s a paid vacation, thank goodness, and I don’t have to drive more than 800 miles to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my family.

From 12/23 to 12/30 my sister and her husband were in town visiting.  The main event was Christmas dinner; Leive outdid herself again by cooking a bunch of dishes (Philippine as well as traditional American), and we brought it all to the retirement home where my Dad is staying so he could participate.  Besides the five of us, our in-laws Gene and Rezia also showed up, and we had enough left over for Leive to give plates to three or four nurses who otherwise wouldn’t have enjoyed Christmas, because they were working that evening.  So overall the party was a success.

After that I came down with a mild cold; probably picked up from the retirement home, inasmuch as many of the residents had colds or flu.  It stayed with me for nearly a week; today is the first day I didn’t feel congested, so I should be all right when I go back to work.

Not that we went out much anyway, because it has been so cold.  For the last week of the year, the weather has been below freezing almost every night.  Still no snow yet for this winter, aside from short-lived flurries, but the temperature has gotten as low as 16 degrees.  When the New Year began, scarcely a sound was heard outside here in Kentucky; obviously it was too cold for anyone to play with fireworks.  How different it was from the 4th of July, or from New Year’s Eve when we lived in Florida!

That’s the way it is as 2015 begins here; now let’s see what 2015 will bring.

Joy in Town

A lot has been going on here since I last wrote, a couple of weeks ago.  Since then I have been doing the HTML coding for the final chapter of my Latin American history project, and I estimate I am just past the halfway mark on that, so it should be up on The Xenophile Historian by mid-November.  Nevertheless, I figured I should take a break from that to bring readers up to date on other events.

For Halloween, there were quite a few kids trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.  However, plenty of rain and two cold fronts made it so cold and wet, that they wore raincoats or carried umbrellas over their costumes.  When our parrot Brin-Brin heard them, he started growling, so Leive turned off the lights and pretended nobody was home.

Next, the first freeze of the season came a bit early.  The temperature dropped to 32 degrees Saturday morning, and 27 this morning.  Yesterday there were a few snowflakes, too.  And the amount of leaves in the road is incredible; on our street it looks like the rainstorm knocked at least half the leaves off the surrounding trees.

The biggest news is that Leive’s half-brother, Joy Bendoy, came to visit (hence the title).  Leive hasn’t seen him in at least thirty years; he wasn’t at our wedding, for instance.  Like most of Leive’s family, he is a pastor in the Philippines, and was touring the United States on a fund-raising trip for his ministry, when Leive’s niece Rezia invited him here.  He was here from October 22 to 26, and stayed with Gene and Rezia most of the time, but we had dinner with him in Leive’s favorite Chinese place on the 23rd, spoke for an hour at our church on the 25th, and finally spent the afternoon at our house on the 26th.  Here’s a picture Rezia took of him, at the Lexington Convention Center.

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And here is Joy with Leive in our basement:

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Finally, last week my brother solved a mystery in the family that is almost 60 years old.  While I knew my mother’s parents well, I never met my paternal grandparents.  My father’s father died of tuberculosis back in 1940, while his mother remarried and disappeared in 1955; both events happened long before I was born.  None of us ever heard from our grandmother again; I don’t think she even attended my parents’ wedding.  Well, my brother has gotten good at finding genealogical records, and he obtained our grandmother’s (re)marriage certificate; it turns out they moved to Gulfport, Mississippi.  There’s another surprise; I didn’t know I had any relatives in that state!  Then following the assumption that they spent the rest of their lives there, he tracked down their obituaries and death certificates.  It turns out the grandmother I never knew succumbed to lung cancer in 1968, and her husband passed away shortly after that, in 1969.  Finally, to end the story, they are buried in unmarked graves, in a country cemetery just north of Biloxi.  Well, you never know what you’ll find when you uncover your roots.

17 Reasons to NOT Become a Technical Writer

Yesterday marked twenty-five years since I started working at Ticketmaster as a senior phone agent.  At a little over eight years (September 1989-December 1997), it is the longest-lasting job I have had so far.  Still, I am hoping to beat that at the place where I am working now.  I have now been at my current technical writer job for five months, and as I put more experience under my belt, I am having a better time in the office.  Yesterday, for instance, I was asked to help train a new technical writer who started this month – definitely a good sign.  And this project is expected to need folks like me until 2023, so if it runs late, I could be here until I am old enough to retire.  Job security is welcome, inasmuch as I have seen terribly little of it for the past four years.

Anyway, I just read an article on the downsides of this kind of work.  For some reason I cannot copy and paste even an excerpt from the text (is the whole article one big graphic?), so you’ll have to follow this link to read it:

http://kingoranges.com/our-17-reasons-to-not-become-a-technical-writer/

I’m wondering about the reference to interpersonal skills in #13.  I became a technical writer because my people skills were never very good.  Are they referring to the mania of meetings you are expected to attend?  Some of the places I have worked in seemed to consider meetings more important than work.

Now if I had written the article I would add an eighteenth point:  This is a feast & famine profession.  The jobs pay great when you can get them (I couldn’t pay the bills on what I made as a teacher), but they are only common in areas with high-tech centers, like Silicon Valley or Oak Ridge.  Although one of those jobs persuaded me to move from Florida to Kentucky in 2006, Kentucky is not a high-tech center; hence my long period out of work until last April, and the job I had in Connecticut during 2011 and 2012.

But even with the points mentioned in the article, it’s good to be back at it again.  Now I’m telling my co-workers this is the most complicated job I will ever love!