The puppies are getting older. Nala will be 14 soon, and Simba will be 13 next year. Pretty respectable ages for Labradors.
We don’t go on too many long walks now. It’s more like I’m pulling them along rather than them pulling me down the street these days. We go for short walks, or just play in the back yard.
Both dogs have slowed down in activity level over the past few years, but Simba’s starting to show more signs of old age than Nala is. He’s showing signs of some osteoarthritis and has a bit of muscle atrophy in his hind quarters as a result. He still runs around in the yard a bit but not as much as he used to, and he’s a little slower to get up these days.
They’re both still happy and content dogs, and I think they’ll be around for a few more birthdays.
Got to spend two and a half days wandering around parts of Disney World over the weekend.
Drove down to the Orlando area Saturday, stopping at IKEA in Jacksonville on the way to check out cabinets that we’re planning on putting in the laundry room at some point. Of all the IKEAs we’ve been to, the one in Jacksonville is a bit of an oddball, since it’s only a single level.
Stopped at Skycraft Parts & Surplus in Orlando to browse. Really wish there was a store like that here in Charleston. I’d probably end up spending a lot of time there.
After checking in to the hotel and getting unpacked, we headed off to Disney Springs to pick up my Epcot ticket and trade in Connie’s old 4-day Park Hopper pass with one day left from back when they didn’t expire for a new ticket. Spent most of the evening wandering around Disney Springs and had a good time.
The next day (Sunday) we went to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. We had tickets for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue later in the afternoon so they let us in to park early. We spent our time before the show resort hopping to check out and wander around some of the nearby resorts. Took a boat to the Wilderness Lodge, and then to the Contemporary Resort. From there we hopped on the monorail to the Polynesian Resort where we had lunch, and then the Grand Floridian Resort (very fancy place). Finally, we got back on the monorail to go to the Magic Kingdom where we walked around the entrance a bit (didn’t go in) and then caught the boat back to Fort Wilderness to meet up with friends.
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue show is an entertaining hour and a half or so of music, song, and dance accompanied by an all-you-can-eat dinner of fried chicken buckets, pails of ribs, bowls of baked beans, corn, and mashed potatoes, and topped off with strawberry shortcake.
We all quite enjoyed the show and the food.
The next day, Monday, was Epcot Day! Epcot is our favourite Disney park.
Epcot Day started off bright and early with us arriving at the parking lot gate at 7:30 AM, right when the parking lot opens. The parking lot Cast Member asked us how we were doing, and Connie responded with an enthusiastic “We’re awesome! We’re at Epcot!” I guess Connie’s enthusiasm was contagious, because she waved us on by and we didn’t have to pay the $25 for parking.
After parking close enough that we could walk to the entrance, we waited for the security lines to open, then hopped on the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and back. The ride offers a nice view of parts of Disney World and on the way back makes a loop through Epcot’s Future World.
About 10 or 15 minutes before the rope drops, the gathered crowd is entertained by the JAMMitors, a percussion trio playing on trash can lids and pails. Then, at 9AM the rope drops and the crowd rushes into the park.
Any way you do things, spending the day at Epcot is tiring. We took it easy, weren’t rushing anywhere, took breaks, enjoyed rides, and were still exhausted by the end of the day.
Pro tip: If you’re buying stuff at Epcot, you can have them delivered to Package Pickup (located at The Gift Stop by the park entrance) and pick up your goods on the way out. That way you don’t need to lug things around while you’re exploring the park. The cut-off time for getting purchases sent to Package Pickup is 6PM but if you’re going to do it, have your last purchase sent to Package Pickup well before that. If you’re staying at one of the Disney resorts, you can have your purchases sent to your resort which makes things even easier.
Wrapping up the evening was the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show. Last month there was an announcement that the IllumiNations show was going to be retired in 2019 and replaced with something else. It was important enough to Connie that we see the show together that we cancelled the cruise we had planned for May 2019 to make the trip to Epcot instead. The show was a fantastic spectacle of music, fireworks, lasers, video, water, and fire. Really big fire. It’s a pretty awesome show and definitely worth waiting around for.
Living in an area prone to severe weather 6 months out of the year (and the occasional blast of winter), a weather radio or two (or three, or four) good things to have around the house.
We have a few of the Midland WR120-EZ weather radios scattered around the house so that we get alerted wherever we are in the house.
They’re not too expensive, they’re easy to program, and they don’t take up much space. We’ve given a couple of ours to neighbours, and regularly give them to friends as gifts or housewarming presents. They run off AC power with 3 AA batteries providing backup power for when power goes out or for portable use. The radio has a comprehensive list of alerts, most of which can be turned on or off. It also has SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) codes and 7 NOAA weather radio station frequencies to select from. You can set the radio to get alerts for a single county, multiple counties, or all weather alerts.
The back of the radio has ports for an external antenna, power plug, and a cloning port (the manual has no information on how to use the cloning port). I find the built-in telescoping antenna sufficient to receive the two NOAA stations in my area. The antenna is also pretty easy to replace if you happen to accidentally break it. The telescoping antenna from Radio Shack is a perfect fit if you ever need to replace the original antenna.
When an alert is received, the WR120 produces a pretty loud alarm sound. In your average sized house, you should have no problem hearing the alarm regardless of where you are in the house. If you live in a big house and really want to make sure a weather alert can be heard anywhere in the house, you might want two or three radios.
It’s unboxed. Now what?
First thing you’ll want to do once you get the radio powered up is start programming it. Plug the wall wart into the wall and the other end into the radio. Add batteries.
The instructions in the manual are pretty easy to follow. Press the MENU button to get into the menu. The UP and DOWN buttons will cycle through the menu options, and the SELECT button will select that menu option. If you get lost, press the MENU button a few times until the display says SAVING, and that will get you back to normal operation. Then you can start over.
Setting the time
Easier than setting the time on a VCR.
Press the MENU button to get into the menu. You should see SET TIME on the display, but if not just hit the UP or DOWN arrow buttons until you do.
Press the SELECT button.
Set the current time by using the UP/DOWN buttons to set each digit, and the LEFT/RIGHT buttons to move between the digits.
Press the SELECT button when you’re done to store the time.
Turn the beeps off
If you’re like me you’ll find the beeps the weather radio makes with each button press annoying, so let’s turn that off.
If you’re still in the menu, press the UP/DOWN buttons until you get to BUTTON BEEPS. If not, press the MENU button and then the UP/DOWN buttons to get to BUTTON BEEPS.
Press the SELECT button, then press the UP or DOWN button until OFF is displayed.
Press the SELECT button to save the setting
Set your location(s)
You can tell the WR120 to give you alerts for just the county you’re in, multiple counties, or all alerts.
If you’re not already in the menu, press the MENU button.
Press the UP/DOWN buttons until you get to the SET LOCATION menu. Press the SELECT button.
Use the UP/DOWN buttons to select SINGLE, MULTIPLE, or ALL depending on how many places you want to get alerts from. Press the SELECT button when you get to your choice.
If you know the SAME code for the county/counties you’re interested in, press the RIGHT button (if you don’t, look them up at the NOAA Weather Radio site). Use the UP/DOWN buttons to change each digit, and the LEFT/RIGHT buttons to move between the digits to set the SAME code.
Alternatively, press the SELECT button to select your location by going through the list of locations starting with the country (USA/CANADA), state/province, and then county. Use the UP/DOWN buttons to scroll through the list, and the SELECT button to make your choice at each level.
When you’re done, press the MENU button to save the settings.
Configure the alerts
Once you have the time and SAME location set, the next thing you’ll want to do is set up the alerts. Midland provides a useful alert reference chart showing the default setting for each alert and what alerts can’t be changed. The ones that can’t be changed don’t show up on the list in the radio. Since I don’t need to know about most of the alerts that default to ON (pretty low probability of icebergs here I think), I set them all off, then turn on individual alerts. The alerts I’m most interested in are for tornadoes and hurricanes. Hurricane and tornado warnings are always on, so I also turn on hurricane and tornado watches. Warnings > Watches.
Press MENU. Use the UP or DOWN arrow key to scroll through the menu until you get to SET EVENTS. Press the SELECT button.
Use the UP or DOWN arrow key to scroll through the events until you get to ALL OFF. Press the SELECT button. You’ll end up back at the SELECT EVENTS menu.
Press the SELECT button again and scroll through the menu until you get to EDIT EVENTS.
Scroll through the list of events until you get to one that you want to enable. If the alert name is too long for the display, the rest of it will start scrolling across. Lights below the display indicate if the alert is an advisory, a warning, or a watch. Press the SELECT button, use the UP or DOWN arrow key to set the alert to ON, then press the SELECT button. This will take you back to the list of events. Repeat for each alert you want to enable.
When you’re finished, press the MENU button. SAVING should appear on the display to indicate that the settings are being saved.
Set the weather station
Now you’ll want to tell the weather radio which NOAA weather radio station to listen to. Make sure the antenna is fully extended. Sometimes it’s helpful to do this outside to make sure you’re getting good reception.
If you’re not already in the menu, press the MENU button.
Press the UP/DOWN buttons until you get to SET CHANNEL. Press the SELECT button.
Press the UP or DOWN buttons to cycle through the list of 7 VHF frequencies until you hear a NOAA weather radio station. There might be more than one in your area, so select the one you get the best reception for.
Press the MENU button to save the setting.
Now your WR120 radio is ready to go to work. Find a good spot on the counter or a shelf somewhere, plug it in, and wait for it to warn you about incoming severe weather. Press the big WEATHER/SNOOZE button whenever you want to listen to the NOAA weather radio broadcasts.
You’ll want to check on your radio every now and then. If it’s in weather radio mode, you’ll see a flashing NOAA on the display. If you see an icon that looks like a power plug or an RCA plug, that means the weather radio is only operating on AC power. If you put batteries into the radio, they’ll probably need to be replaced.
Today we said goodbye to Mischief. She was a sweet little kitty (although Simba might not have thought so).
Mischief would happily sit on the chairs, sofas, tables, generally wherever you wanted to sit, and swat at the dogs if they got too close. She eventually learned to tolerate Nala’s affectionate licking, but Simba always kept his distance.
When Mischief demanded attention, you’d hear the most pitiful, sad, and dramatic meows coming from her.
Many years ago, Mischief overheard the vet telling Connie that Mischief was perfect. Ever since then, Mischief always made sure that we knew she was perfect.
Rest easy, Mischief. Now you can go tell everyone else how perfect you are.
The indoor workbench (work table really) was in need of some vertical storage. The table was starting to get cluttered with projects and parts and not many places to put them. I also thought it would be nice to have some of the things I was always going into the closet for within easy reach.
I considered adding some shelves like I did for the closet but with the table being so deep (3′), I thought that would make reaching the shelves awkward. Connie suggested getting some cheap bookshelves to make a hutch type thing. Seemed like a pretty good idea (she often has good ideas like this), so I ended up buying some cheap inexpensive shelving units from Walmart: a 3-level cube shelf, and a three-shelf half-height book case.
Used some scraps of 1/4″ plywood as a back for the cube shelf (it only came with one cardboard square). Secured the shelves to the table using screws that I put in from underneath.
Now I’ve got most of the things I reach for most within easy reach, and a little more space freed up in the closet.
Not quite sure what I’m going to do with the scanner yet. I’ve got it sitting on the top of the shelves now. It’s not something I use too frequently, so maybe I’ll just bring it down and plug it in as I need it.