Monthly Archives: November 2006

Things Change

 I’ve only been gone about three weeks, but things can change quickly. As many of you already know, Jean has decided to sell the house in town and we’re buying a condo near Hastings Country Club. It’s the house that Jean grew up in and I didn’t expect her to ever want to move, but things change.

We ran today from Jon and Laura’s house. Everyone is kind of “in between” events, so we’re all just running to stay fit and not running all that long (if you call running 6 miles “short”). After the run we were standing out in front (it was a beautiful day for running) and I noticed Martin was missing most of a couple of his teeth. I asked him if he was getting ready to move to West Virginia, but he didn’t really see the humor in that.

Apparently he was pulling on a wrench really hard and it slipped, hitting him in the mouth and breaking off a couple of his front teeth. That’s the story he’s telling, but he may have told Jane he was going to do another Ironman next year and she took exception to his plan.

At coffee yesterday morning “Never Again Diane” said she would be interested in doing Ironman North America at Lake Placid in 2008 if others of us did also. I can still see her at The Great Floridian, her first Ironman race, coming across the finish line saying never again! I was sleeping quite a bit after Ironman Wisconsin in 2003, but people tell me she said several times after she finished, never again! Apparently “never again” has arrived.

I’ve said that I wouldn’t ever spend another winter in Michigan when I could be riding my bike and running in warm weather in Florida. I’ll be leaving to go back on December 5th and arriving there on the 6th. Jean will fly down on the 21st to spend the winter. But I’m guessing we’ll be back sometime in January to close on the condo. And, if the house on Green Street sells, we’ll have to come back to move. That coupled with the time I’ll need to be available to assist in interviewing and hiring a new CEO at Pennock, and I can see myself spending more time up North than I had planned. Things change.

But as I looked around the table at coffee yesterday morning and at the run this morning, things haven’t changed all that much after all. Life goes on and we’re all along for the ride. So if everything stayed exactly the same, life would be really dull. I guess the changes are normal and I just notice them more, either because I’ve been away and am seeing them for the first time, or because I’m about to hit the big six-oh and I’m trying to take my mind off being officially “elderly”.

Just (Still In My Fifties But Time Is Running Out) Jack

Just Chill Out

 I know it’s a problem in Florida, but each year I have to relearn to not be in a hurry to do anything. Most of the people down here don’t have much to do, so when they’re out, they take their time. A couple of days ago I had been over talking to brother Bob (aka Bobbie Butane) and, on the way back to the mobe, I decided to stop at the grocery store for some Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. I had roasted a chicken the night before and the white meat is often dry when reheated.

It was around 4:30 and the store was busy. I grabbed the sauce and looked for the shortest line. There were only three cashiers open, one of which was in the “express lane” for 10 items or less. It had about four people in line and one of the other lanes only had one in line waiting while the cashier was finishing up with a customer. I chose that line and stood there for a couple of minutes until I noticed that the customer was having trouble swiping his credit or debit card. The cashier was trying to help him, was leaned over the counter trying to swipe it upside down, and wasn’t doing very well either.

I looked down toward the express lane and there were two people in line plus one finishing up. I went down there and waited in line knowing it would be faster. Unluckily, a young guy around thirty was having trouble with his credit card too. After trying it several times and the cashier trying to help him, he said he’d go out to the ATM and get cash. The cashier couldn’t continue until he came back. After four or five minutes she realized he wasn’t coming back and went to get her supervisor to clear her register.

By that time the other lines were packed and I decided to wait it out. I had enough time to look at the cart of the guy ahead of me. He was a geezer (over 59) and had thirteen items. Here I was standing behind an express lane criminal and I didn’t do anything about it. Is that wrong? When it was his turn he slowly, very slowly, unloaded the items from his cart to the belt and was old enough to barely be able to lift the case of beer. When the cashier had run everything through and gave him the total, he slowly, very slowly, reached into his pocket for money.

He had a huge wad of cash and fumbled through it picking out two twenties, a ten, and three crumpled up coupons. The cashier was bagging his groceries, turned around and found the coupons. She had to read each one of them and look through the bags to make sure he had bought whatever the coupons were for. She started to run them through and noticed that one of them had expired three days earlier. When she told the guy he got angry and disgustedly tossed the money at her.

She completed the transaction and we all stood there while he slowly, very slowly pocketed his change and slowly, very slowly put the bagged groceries and his case of beer back in the cart. My transaction took forty seconds and I beat the geezer out the door. There were several times that I wanted to put the sauce back on the shelf and stomp out. But I, too, didn’t have anything better to do, I wasn’t in any real hurry, and, although I was aggravated, I was entertained for free.

A while back I got a notice of a swim from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park in San Francisco Bay. When Diane, Harry and I swam from Alcatraz, we swam to the Cressey Field/Marina Green area. When my son, Matt, swam from Alcatraz last year, he swam to Aquatic Park.

There are several swims from Alcatraz each year, so I looked them up on a Google search. There’s one on July 8th, one on September 2nd, and one on September 16th. On one of those swims you get out at Cressey Field and then run across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Anyone interested?

Whenever you talk about swimming from Alcatraz, most people think of them as shark infested waters. Matt keeps telling me that there has never been a shark attack inside San Francisco Bay and I believe him. In fact, he sent me an article about some of the beautiful wildlife in and around Aquatic Park. Click on the following link.

I’m on my way back to Michigan tomorrow so I’ll see many of you soon. I hope it’s warm since I’ve already become a cold weather weenie.

Just (I’m Still Cold From IM Wisconsin) Jack

Boy, Do I Feel Stupid

 I’ve always hated using the word stupid. It isn’t the type of word that rolls off your tongue unless you’re in a fight with your sibling, spouse or a guy in a bar that you know you could take. But it’s the way I feel and I can’t find a more appropriate term.

I told you all last week about taking Jean to the wrong airport. I can make all the excuses in the world, and who would think that, when you buy a ticket from Orlando, the plane wouldn’t take off from Orlando. But the receipt showed that the plane would depart from SFB and arrive in LAN. I lived in Orlando for two years during the “Big War” and I knew that the airport at that time was at McCoy Air Force Base. After all, I was in the Air Force and I should know these things. The letters for Orlando International Airport are MCO.

I took Jean back to the Sanford-Orlando Airport in Sanford, about fifteen miles on the other side of Orlando on Thursday. From door to door it was a 231 mile round trip and had to include about $8.00 in tolls. That coupled with the same trip on Monday when we missed the plane and she could have flown first class from Tampa for the same total cost as the “bargain” ticket from Sanford. Dumb!

If that wasn’t enough, Jean told me on Monday morning that we had no hot water. When I left last spring, I went through a page of instructions to close the place up for the summer. For the hot water heater, I turned the breaker off so there would be no power. The instructions for the fall (developed by people from Hastings who have been coming down here for years) said to turn the water on, but don’t turn on the breaker to the water heater until it had a chance to fill. Otherwise the heating element would burn out.

When we got here on Sunday, the first thing I did was turn the water on. We unpacked quickly and went to Mom’s for dinner. After we ate, we came back over and started opening up the mobe. It was then that I turned on the breaker to the water heater.

So when Jean said we had no hot water, I didn’t know what to do. I flipped the breaker a couple of times and waited. Still no hot water. In mobes, the water heater usually sits in a cubbyhole with an outside door cover. I took that cover off, took off the cover to the electrical panel and checked the reset button. It didn’t look like it had tripped but I pressed it anyway and waited. Still no hot water.

Brother Bob (aka Bobbie Butane) came over and we hooked up a hose to the drain and flushed out some of the water. Some sediment came out but that’s not unusual. I had turned off the breaker when we did that, so Bob and I went in and turned the breaker back on and waited. Still no hot water.

At that point I was out of options so I called CoolQuest. The guy came at around 5 PM. The first thing he did was check the wires for power and there was none. He asked if there was a switch and I told him I didn’t know of any. I took him in to the breaker box in the master bedroom. There on the wall was a switch that said “TANK”. It was in the off position so I turned it on. We walked outside and we could hear the water heater heating up. As I wrote the check for a $39.95 service call I really felt “stupid”. The story is already coursing through Central Florida and the Upper Midwest. Jay Leno ought to have a ball with that one.

I’ve been out on a couple of bike rides and it really feels good to be on the road again. I rode the Suncoast yesterday on a 21 mile loop. About five miles into the ride I saw a group of large birds ahead walking on the bike path. As I got closer I realized they were Peacocks. There were three males in some of the most brilliant blue plumage I have ever seen.

They were strutting around and fanning out trying to impress four hens. I’m not up on my field biology so I don’t know whether the best strutter would get all the females or the “bonus” one. It just doesn’t seem right that male Peacocks can win over more than one female and most men can’t handle the one woman they already have, and I use the term “handle” in the most sensitive and respectful of ways.

Just (Ran Alone This Morning And I Don’t Like It) Jack

I Hate Airports

Martin & Jim


You young people probably have only heard of outdoor toilets, but I can remember having to use them at my great grandparent’s place and at the cottage at Traverse City. Most had one spot to go but some were what they used to call two holers. I understand that “bathrooming” is natural and everyone does it, but I believe that’s one place where you should have privacy. I’ve mentioned that in earlier e-mails so you know where I stand on this issue.

Jean, Becky and I stayed in the same condo we’ve always stayed in at Panama City Beach. I’ve attached a picture of their idea of “a bath and a half”. No, it’s not a reflection in a mirror. The two toilets are about a foot apart and are separated by a pocket door. Becky suggested that, when two of us were in there, we could slide the pocket door open and read the newspaper together. I declined because I read faster than some others and I didn’t really want to look at all the sale ads.

Again, I’m not prudish and my stomach can take a lot, but sitting next to someone on the “crapper” with all the extraneous sounds and odors that go along with it is not my “cup of tea”.

The airport thing started on Thursday. Jean and I said we would pick up Becky at the Panama City Beach airport. She said she wouldn’t have a checked bag since we brought hers down in the car along with Martin’s bike and wetsuit. Well, Becky thought you could take bottles in your bag with 4 ounces of fluid when the rule is 3 ounces, so she had to check her carryon.

Becky and Jim started out on the same flight, but Jim had to be there early to register for the race so he was on an earlier last leg. They both ran to catch his flight with Becky thinking she could maybe get on Jim’s flight on standby. Things worked out and she was halfway down the jetway when she told them that she had a checked bag. With the rules the way they are, you must fly with your bags, so she couldn’t get on the plane.

That was OK and we would still pick her up at the same time. Her flight was delayed, so instead of picking her up at 4:15, it would be closer to 5:00. That was OK too. She called at 4:15 and they were taxiing out to the runway, I knew they wouldn’t take off until at least 4:30 and it was an hour flight, so Jean and I went to the grocery store. We left WalMart at 5:15 and headed for the airport.

Of course it was rush hour and all the workers from the island were going home. The bridge leaving the island was a parking lot and we, naturally got in the wrong lane. It was our first time going back and we didn’t realize that the three lanes went to two, picked up another stream of traffic, and went to two again. We were in the center lane and both lanes on either side of us were moving while we stayed parked behind a semi.

We finally made it to the airport and Becky called while we were still five minutes out. That was perfect because she would get her bag, we would drive right up, and away we would go. Not so fast! She waited and waited and we drove around the airport three times before that last bag came down the chute and it wasn’t hers. She said she was going to the counter to get the bag delivered when it did come in so we went to a business right outside the gate to the airport and parked in their parking lot. Becky called to find out the address where we were staying and we didn’t know it.

She called about five minutes later and said that another plane had just landed and she would go down to baggage to see if her bag was there. It wasn’t Becky’s fault and we knew she was about “fit to be tied”, and so were we. Jean and I were frustrated and almost broke into the bottle of wine we got at the store and let Becky drive us back. Her bag finally came fifteen minutes later and away we went.

But that’s not the end of the story. Jean had a ticket on Allegiant Air to fly back yesterday from Orlando. The airport is about two hours away, so we took off at 1 so we could be there by 3 and her flight was at 4:10. We took a wrong turn and went “the long way” through Orlando, but still pulled into the airport at 3. Orlando has two terminals and we looked at the signs for each one, but Allegiant wasn’t listed. We went to the blue side and one of the baggage guys said Allegiant must be on the other side, so we went to the orange side. We still couldn’t find the sign, so Jean went in and I drove around the airport.

Inside, one of the baggage guys said Allegiant flew out of Sanford/.Orlando, not Orlando International. He said it was about fifteen miles away and he gave her directions how to get there. So I picked her up again and we headed for that airport. It wasn’t fifteen miles but was closer to 32 miles so we knew the only chance was if the flight was delayed. It wasn’t and we got there at 3:55 when they had just closed the doors to the plane. They don’t fly every day so the earliest Jean could get back is Thursday.

Sanford/Orlando is on the Northeast side of town and we come in from the West, so we didn’t know how to get back. One of the exits from the tollway was Highway 50, and that’s the one we bring from Hudson, so we took that exit. 50 goes right through downtown Orlando and it was rush hour so it took us over an hour to get to the other side of town and we still had an hour and a half to drive.

After seven dollars of tolls and six and a half hours of driving, we get to do the same thing all over again on Thursday. I hate airports!!!

Congratulations to Martin, Jim and Jim Dyke on finishing Ironman Florida. The race started out chilly and there was a fairly strong wind the first half of the bike but, by evening, the weather was perfect for the run. We watched as all three passed in front of the condo four times. They can tell you about their impressions of the race, but we were glad that they all finished in good shape and were safe.

Just (My Butt And Back Are Sore From Driving) Jack