It was an exciting football day for me…For Tom? Not so much…Multi-tasking…

The sticky little pads on tree frogs’ feet in Marloth Park help it jump from spot to spot. This one was perched on the edge of the pool.

Besides the Minnesota Vikings, my favorite NFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs, won yesterday’s exciting game. Tom’s favorite team, besides the Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit Lions, lost. Having our teams in the Super Bowl would be fun, but it’s not to be. However, he will root for the San Francisco 49ers. So, we’ll have fun watching the game together on Sunday, February 11.

I wonder what Tom will do to entertain himself on the quiet days and nights when the football season is officially over. He’s not necessarily a fan of other sports. We shall see how that rolls out.

Every morning, we listen to a few podcasts we both enjoy. One is Garage Logic, on which Tom is mentioned on their five-day-a-week broadcast when he sends in “On This Day in Minnesota History” to Joe Soucheray, who mentions us at the end of each episode as “the Traveling Lymans,” which may be found at this link.

Also, we listen to a few “news-related” podcasts and the delightful “The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever with Chris Harrison,” which may be found at this link. As enthusiastic viewers of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” we were disappointed when Chris Harrison was booted from the show. When we heard he had a podcast, we were thrilled to begin listening to every fascinating and entertaining podcast, now with his new wife, Lauren Zima. The podcasts are about relationships of all ages, life, love, health and well-being.

Both of these podcasts are pretty entertaining. Tom plays them on his laptop, using our Bluetooth wireless speaker, often while I am working on the latest posts for the day. Tom always comments on how much of a multi-tasker I am; yes, I can write here and listen simultaneously.

It’s funny how I’ve observed, over the years, how many of my friends are equally good at multitasking, and few of his friends care to do more than one thing at a time. I believe it’s a matter of brain chemistry and the subsequent skills associated with how one’s brain works.

Often, I have three or four tasks in process at any given time and easily revert from one to another, never missing a beat. When Tom is engaged in one project, he doesn’t even want to hear about other tasks until he has completed the first task. For instance, if I am prepping food and the washer is done, I’ll stop chopping and dicing and hang the wet laundry on the portable rack.

During these two tasks, if my phone beeps that an Amazon package has been dropped off at the door, I’ll stop hanging laundry and get the package and even go as far as opening it, disposing of the packing material, and putting the item away where it belongs. In this case, one may say four tasks are occurring simultaneously.

In such cases, I don’t necessarily return to the first task of chopping and dicing. I may, on a whim, finish hanging the laundry. There’s no rhyme or reason as to the order in which I finish the prior tasks, not conscientiously, anyway. I suppose there is a method in the recesses of my brain, but I’ve yet to analyze it and see no reason to do so.

Fortunately, my memory is still excellent, so I rarely fail to return to one of the other tasks. I imagine many of our readers relate to this helter-skelter process and feel quite comfortable with it.

Often, all of the above tasks coincide with my preparation of the daily post, adding one more element to the process. Suppose there is a time-sensitive task, such as making a business-related call. In those cases, I find setting the timer on my phone is most helpful since it is set to go off even if I have the do-not-disturb on, which we always set when we go to bed to prevent being awoken by robocalls and app dings.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you have a fantastic day, evening and week to come.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today,  January 29, 2014:

We realize we’ve posted this photo many times. Still, it was indeed a fantastic experience for both of us on this date ten years ago: Yesterday morning, while writing on the veranda, I heard a “thump, thump” and alerted Tom to look up, and once again, we had the most exciting visitor, a solitary giraffe. We’d assumed he’d stopped to munch on the treetops, enabling us to take some photos. He dashed out of the yard so fast that I could not take another photo. It was the third time we’ve had giraffes in our yard. Heavenly. For more photos, please click here.

Oh, what a night!…The Minnesota Vikings big win and a date night to boot…

Tom was thrilled to be seated in the comfortable big booth in the bar with me, watching the live playoff game.

I was never much of a football enthusiast.  On the other hand, Tom was born in Minnesota, living and working there all his life up until we left in October 2012.(I lived there 42 years). His passion for football lies solely with the Minnesota Vikings.

In our old lives, he developed what I considered somewhat of an odd routine of preferring to watch the game alone without distractions. I stayed out of his way and didn’t interrupt him with such dumb questions as, “What time do you want to have dinner?”

Besides, he’s never cared what time we have dinner, always leaving the decision up to me, even now as we travel the world. It could be 3:00 pm or 8:00 pm and he’ll never comment one way or another.

As the years passed, those then 21 years we’d spent together (now approaching 27 years), I busied myself in cooking Sunday dinners or other tasks during the three-plus hour period the football game was on TV.

What always surprised me was his lack of yelling, cheering, and booing during the games. He never made a peep. I could only determine the outcome of the game when he walked into the kitchen after it ended with a smile on his face or not.

I was always used to the loud, explosive comments and rampant jumping around of my two sons, Richard and Greg, who both remain loud and explosive today as the games have continued over the years.

Oddly, once we left Minnesota in 2012 to travel the world, I became interested in the Vikings when Tom became a member of  NFL GamePass. There’s an annual fee was from US $99 (ARS 1,848) to US $199 (ARS 3,714) per season depending on the package he chooses.

This annual service allows out-of-the-country-only access for all NFL football games including playoff and Super Bowl games, either watching it live with commercials or waiting several hours to watch it commercial-free. 

They were ready for the first play of the game.

Since Tom likes to spend free time on Facebook, where often the progression of a game is posted, he prefers to watch the game live so he’ll be surprised by the outcome like everyone else. This, of course, depends entirely on our time zone.

The time in Minnesota is three hours earlier than Buenos Aires.  Last night’s playoff game, between the Vikings and New Orleans Saints, started here at 6:40 pm. Next week’s game will determine which teams go to the Super Bowl and will be aired here at 8:40 pm. 

Although I don’t watch every game with him, when often he watches while I do the day’s post, I’ve been paying close attention to what’s transpiring and now consider myself a fan. 

I still don’t ask him a lot of questions during the games but after being in each other’s presence 24/7 these past years, he’s changed his ways a little and will talk to me during the game. I won’t take credit for this. It’s simply due to the fact he can pause the game and readily hit “resume” at any time. But, he still doesn’t hoot and holler. Instead, I do that for both of us.

With my added interest in the outcome of last night’s playoff game, we decided to make a night of it. With the hotel almost devoid of guests again, we asked if we could watch the game at one of the big booths in the bar.  No problem. We didn’t even have to wear ear pieces with no one around.

We loaded up the balance of a bottle of red wine and a few beers for Tom and got comfortably situated at the huge table in the bar, sitting closely side by side in order to watch it on his 15.6-inch laptop monitor. 

I kept my laptop on, open to Facebook while commenting with various friends throughout the world and also son Richard as the game progressed. It couldn’t have been more fun! Tom and I chatted endlessly while he continued to educate me on the finer points of the rules and various plays, some of which I’d never taken the time to learn.

The Vikings won during the last few seconds of the game when I found myself involuntarily, loudly, and explosively expressing my enthusiasm. Nowadays, Tom will talk to me during the game, although I do keep my line of questioning football related. 

We had a blast!  Maybe if they hadn’t won I wouldn’t be saying that so freely.  Most enthusiastic fans don’t say it was fun when their team loses. Now we’re looking forward to next Sunday night’s game, albeit late for us, but we won’t be able to avoid watching it!

Here in Argentina, most are huge fans of soccer is the case in many other parts of the world.  Every country seems to have its own variation of football, soccer, and rugby fans as excited as those in the US and sometimes, even more.

It’s a happy day for our friends and readers wherever they may be celebrating the wins for the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles, (who’ll the Vikings will play next week in their final playoff game), the New England Patriots, the Jacksonville Jaguars, all competing for the position of the two final teams to participate in the 52nd Super Bowl game to be played at the new stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Note: The Minnesota Vikings will make NFL history if they reach Super Bowl LII, becoming the first team ever to play for the title in its home stadium. That’s even more exciting!

Happy day to all, wherever you may be and whatever sport you may follow!       
Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2017:

As we posted our final photos of Penguin, Tasmania we gushed over the charm of this special town and how it whimsically celebrates its fairy penguins. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s excited…He watched the first Vikings pre-season game…

Lilies blooming in a pot in the front yard.

With a good Wi-Fi signal in the house in Phuket, we’ve been able to stream a few Showtime series, we’ve enjoyed, Ray Donovan and The Affair, both gripping and entertaining which we watch in the evenings after dinner.

We signed up for Showtime at Amazon US $8.95, THB 311, as an adjunct to our Prime membership which we’ll cancel when we’re done with both series, most likely by the time we leave here in a few weeks.

Garden area inside the gate of the villa.

As football season approached, Tom renewed his membership for NFL GamePass, for only US $99, THB 3442 per season, which now, as opposed to in the past, includes all the team’s games, playoff games and Super Bowl games. 

To use this app one must watch the games outside the US or use a VPN showing an outside-the-US Wi-Fi connection. As a result, Tom doesn’t need to use our VPN (Hotspot Shield) while watching since our point of entry will show we’re outside the US anyway.

House in the neighborhood with gate open.

We often giggle over how we ever figured out all these things. Many of these apps are complicated to use and don’t work as readily as one expects. Even impatient Tom has learned to make it all work without any prompting from me.

As a note, using Hotspot Shield provides us with an added layer of protection against hackers as well as showing we’re entering a site from the US. Some shopping sites we may use for buying gifts for family members show different prices if we aren’t in the US. Using Hotspot Shield ensures we get the US generated web page and pricing.

Messy yard in the neighborhood.

All of the above is only relevant if one is living outside the US or their home country. It can be very confusing. Honestly, it took us a year or so to get it all figured out and working properly during which time the technology improved as it all became easier to use.

Thus, yesterday afternoon Tom plugged in the HDMI cord  from his laptop to the flat screen TV in the living room, activated NFL GamePass and within minutes was watching the Minnesota Vikings football game which had aired four hours earlier rather than watch it live which when doing so would result in pauses for commercials and halftime,.

By waiting until after the game is over, he can watch the entire game commercial and halftime free.  Instead of it taking over three hours to broadcast each game, he can watch it in its entirety in around 90 minutes. 

We pass by this house on our way to the highway.  Many motorbikes have attached carts such as shown here.

Of course, a decent signal is required to watch an uninterrupted game. When we return to Bali in a few weeks with its poor signal, there will be numerous pauses during the game as it attempts to stream the contents. 

We had to deal with these frustrating streaming delays when we attempted to stream a few shows while we were in Bali a few months ago. That’s the way it is. There’s nothing we can do about it and Tom will deal with it while watching the games in September and October.

Tall house in the neighborhood.

Otherwise, all is OK here. There have been no new bombings in the last 24 hours, even though security is reinforced everywhere in Thailand, especially in tourist areas. We’ll remain diligent and careful when heading out.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin to share photos from our sightseeing outing from a few days ago as we wind down our remaining 18 days in Thailand. 

Have a blissful Saturday or Sunday, whichever it is, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, August 14, 2015:

Nothing is more exciting for us than spotting wildlife in its natural habitat as was the case in Trinity Beach, Australia when we spotted this pelican. For more photos, please click here.

Transportation…Another long day without power…VPN tip…Five days until departure…

There are many sailboats in the islands, a choice location for avid sailors.

Three months is a long time in one location without a car. Oh, I’m not complaining. We’re thrilled with the savings. Not paying upwards of USD $1500, FJD $3239 per month (as an example in Fiji), USD $4500, FJD $9719 for three months of a rental car plus fuel as opposed to the under USD $300, FJD $648 total we’ll have spent for a driver for the full three months in Fiji provides a huge savings on an annualized basis.

This amount of savings by not renting a car in Fiji was enough to pay for our upcoming cruise in January for both of us, selecting a balcony cabin (as always). Each time we opt for a driver as opposed to a rental car the savings are generally in this range ultimately paying for most upcoming cruises. 

In 2016, we’ve scheduled five cruises; four ocean going, one river cruise. With our love of cruising and the ability to see so much at one time, choosing a driver over a rental car is a small sacrifice for us.

In other countries such as upcoming New Zealand in January, a rental car is a must with our intentions to tour the two islands. We’ve found the cost in NZ is much more affordable than in Fiji as is the case in more populated countries.

A sandy beach along the quiet road we traveled.

As we move to the next island of Fiji for 28 days again we’ll use a driver. The company that we’ve arranged to pick us up at the Suva Airport will also serve as our drivers once we arrive in Pacific Harbour, an hour’s drive from the airport. 

In the new location, we’ll have the freedom (and luxury) of walking to nearby shops and restaurants according to the owner. I can hardly wait to be able to walk when there. Although lovely overall in Savusavu, it’s been impossible to go for a walk on the steep dirt road up the mountain. 

We can barely maneuver getting into Rasnesh’s vehicle, the incline is so steep. Invariably, the car door is so heavy on the incline, that in itself, it’s a challenge to close once inside, the incline creating a darned weird obstacle, dangerous and unwieldy. Level ground at this point is rather appealing.

Living in Savusavu hasn’t been easy in some ways, certainly not anyone’s fault. Mario has been the perfect host in a relatively perfect little house overlooking the sea. The support staff has been ideal; Junior, Usi and Vika, all of whom we adore. 

We highly recommend this resort if the ability to prepare one’s food and the desire to be away from the hotel environment in a more private location is on one’s radar.  In many ways, it’s been ideal for us.

As for the ants, that’s only been a result of our constant need to cook. Had we only been preparing light meals as most, shorter-term travelers do, we may not have had so many ants. It was certainly a result of the constant preparation of food that attracted them no matter how well we cleaned up after we were done. 

A canopy of trees crossed over the road creates a pretty scene.

The refrigerator handle fell prey to the ants if a smidgeon of food was on my hand when I opened the door. The next day we’d have ants on the handle and the door. In time, I learned my lesson, washing my hands every time I opened a cupboard or appliance including the microwave, portable oven, the coffee or tea pots or even the kitchen sponge which I sterilized with a minute in the microwave each day. And still, they came…just less of them for a day or two. 

I have no doubt we’ve eaten some ants regardless of how hard we’ve tried not to. Then again, there are populations throughout the world that eat ants and other insects so I guess we fit in. Not necessarily by design.

As for yesterday’s unannounced power outage, I suppose not knowing saved us a bit of anticipation, although we weren’t prepared with lots of ice on hand as we had the week earlier with advance notice. Two of out the past eight days, we’ve had no power, and a third day the refrigerator didn’t work for 24 hours. 

My biggest concern is always the food in the refrigerator. The freezer seems to stay cold for eight or nine hours without defrosting providing we don’t open the door. Yesterday’s power outage beginning at 9:17 am was a total surprise. 

Waiting 30 minutes after the power went off, I called the power company when this time the Internet still worked enabling me to look up their number online. I was told it was a result of another day’s tree trimming near the power lines as hurricane season approaches. They estimated we’d have power by 4:30 pm.

Aside from many rocky beaches, there are many sandy beaches in Fiji.

We had a decision to make; do we open the freezer, empty all four of our ice cubes trays into a container to place in the refrigerator or do we avoid opening either door?  We opted to quickly open both doors, remove the ice, fill the plastic container and our mugs with ice placing the plastic container on top of the pan of the uncooked Italian meatballs I planned to cook for dinner. 

We were concerned about meatballs made with beef and pork mince going bad in the refrigerator in seven or more hours. But our plan worked. When the power came back on at 5:30 pm, the ice was hardly melted in the fridge, the contents were cold and the meatballs were as cold as they would have been with power. 

We had a lovely dinner with the meatballs slathered in homemade red pasta sauce topped with hand-grated mozzarella cheese, a side of mushroom casserole (which stayed frozen in the freezer during the outage) and fresh steamed veggies.

The next challenge of the day was Tom’s ability to watch the Minnesota Vikings football game on his laptop.  He’s a member of NFL Game Pass, an app only available to viewers outside the US for an annual fee of USD $130, FJD $281 when Tom only watches the Vikings games. The fees are higher for full access to all games, playoff and Super Bowl games which he can add on later, if the Vikings are in the playoffs and Super Bowl. 

The games are available live with commercials or a few hours later without commercials reducing the view time to less than two hours. For some odd reason, last night, when the Internet signal was appeared strong enough to watch, Tom wasn’t able to download the game no matter how hard he tried. He’d been able to watch prior games while in Fiji. We had no idea as to the problem.

We can easily envision a life at sea, definitely not a lifestyle that would appeal to us for years.

Frustrated for him, I made what sounded like a hair-brained suggestion that he use the VPN on my computer, Hotspot Shield, to show our entry to the Internet wasn’t Fiji but another country we could select in the app. We couldn’t use the US as the selection with the Game Pass app unavailable for use while in the US.

I started the app, selected the UK as our entry point and he opened to the program for success. Immediately, the game popped up on the screen of my laptop. 

Not much of a football fan, plus with his preference of keeping the laptop on his lap during the game, I decided to head to bed at 9 pm to continue reading a good mystery novel instead of attempting to watch along with him.

By 10:30, I nodded off, loud game and all, managing eight hours of sleep, a first in many moons, only awakening a few times to the sound of pounding rain on the roof, a nightly occurrence of late.

The sun is shining at the moment. The ants are under control. I’m feeling especially good after a full night’s rest.  Tom’s still grinning from ear to ear over the Vikings win. Life is good.

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2014:

On our final day in Maui before heading to the Big Island for the upcoming family visit, we boarded a whale watching boat in Maalaea Bay, the harbor with some of the roughest seas in the world. (Yes, it was! rough)! We never saw a whale and once again, we were disappointed on yet another unfulfilling whale watching outing. Safari luck only seems to prevail on land.  For more details and photos of the scenery, please click here.

The advantages of early bookings…Upcoming US football season…Is Tom going to watch the Vikings games?

This view could be a tropical island anywhere in the world.

Since booking our last three cruises over these past few months, Tom has noticed those cruise fares have increased substantially: one for US $1100, AUD $1484; the second for US $900, AUD $1213; the third for US $800, AUD $1078, for a grand total of US $2800, AUD $3774. 

Throughout our travels, we’ve often been asked why we book future travels so far in advance. This is the main reason. If booking a venue at a great price, we’ve never been contacted requesting we pay a new higher price.  In other words, when booking travels the lowest price at which we can “lock-in” the price, will hold until the booking occurs.

Deadman’s Gully is an ideal habitat for crocs.

However, booking airline tickets, car rentals, or vacation homes at a higher price will seldom allow us the benefit of a price reduction which may eventually be posted online. With penalties for canceling and re-booking these types of travel accommodations, we have to face the reality that price changes will occur from time to time. 

We could hear the birds hovering over this area which also is considered a natural habitat for birds.

In booking cruises, it’s different. On several occasions, it’s been to our benefit to request a price reduction on a previously booked cruise as long as it’s before the 90-day-before-sailing window or when the final payment is due. The cruise lines and booking agencies allow one to take advantage of fare reductions. It’s up to the customer to continually check for fare reductions. The agency or cruise line will not do this for the customer.

With seven upcoming cruises booked, Tom has gotten into the habit of checking daily for price reductions. This has served us well over these past 11 cruises and hopefully will continue to benefit us going forward. Ironically, he also notices fare increases as noted above, confirming that early bookings make sense.  

The beach in this area was desolate.

The only disadvantage of booking early for any travel-related event is the usual requirement to pay well in advance, as often as two years before the event occurs. 

Often, when booking certain hotels using the links on our site we get booking perks. Each hotel night we book accumulates points toward future hotel bookings. To date, we’ve received three free nights with more pending, keeping in mind that we seldom stay in hotels for more than one night, except for a year ago when we spent two weeks each in Paris and London.

A safe walkway into the rainforest in Clifton Beach.

Once we’re situated in Fiji next month we’ll begin to work on filling the holes in our schedule when doing so requires the expenditure of more upfront cash and a better wifi connection which we’ve been assured is the case. In the past few years, Fiji has updated their wifi country-wide with a supposed good signal for all residents.

With little heavy rain in these past few weeks, this area contained little water as compared to when we visited a few months ago.

On to another timely topic…Tom’s planning to watch the Minnesota Vikings football games, beginning with the first preseason game when it’s broadcast Sunday night at 8 pm central time. 

He won’t be able to watch the game here until Monday based on the time zone in Australia. If he waits to watch it, he can avoid the commercials but bears the risk of seeing the results online. He can actually watch it live on Monday morning at 11:00 am which most likely he’ll do. Tom is one of those that really don’t like to hear the results before watching the game. 

We’d hoped to see a kangaroo pop out of these woods but no such luck.

While we’re still in Australia he can plug in the HDMI cord into the HD TV to watch the games.  n Fiji, without a TV, he’ll have to watch the games on his laptop as will be the case for all shows we chose to watch while living in Fiji. 

These grill areas are available to any who’d like to use them at no cost. It’s pleasing to see how those who’ve used them, have left them in spotless condition. One wouldn’t find this to be the case in every country.

As many viewers chose, adapting to watching movies and other media on tablets and other small screens is easy. During most of our travels, we haven’t had access to an HD TV (or any TV for that matter) and have easily adapted to watching the small screen.

As for another matter, this morning, when I prepared to shower grabbing a towel off the stack of fresh towels on the floor in the bathroom (we’d filled the intended towel drawer with toilet paper and other toiletries leaving no room for the stack of towels) there sat the largest spider I’d seen since we were in Africa. 

Clifton Beach is a beautiful sandy beach with few visitors.

Sure, I could have gone to grab the camera for a photo, but I feared that it would get away before we got back.  Although I didn’t scream, squeal, or otherwise, I did ask Tom to put on his shoes and help dispose of them.  From reading online it could easily have been the relatively harmless large Huntsman Spider is known to eat household insects. 

The mailman stopped his bike to chat with us!

However, we couldn’t be certain as to the type with literally hundreds of species in Queensland. Tom grabbed the towel with the spider still on it outdoors to the wild area in the yard, shaking the towel to release it. 

We both been surprised by how few insects we’ve spotted indoors in Australia. The biggest annoyance has been  the flies that somehow find their way indoors even though the doors and windows without screens are always kept closed. 

We weren’t sure why these boulders had been placed at this spot on the beach.

This morning, we were awakened once again at 4:51 am from the screaming birds, the Curlews, living in the bush in the yard. It’s like no noise we’ve ever heard in the past.  One would think their legs are being torn off when in fact they’re happily living their lives, most active at night.

Life is unique wherever we may be. Adapting to the differences has become easy and familiar to us. Once we arrive in Fiji, we’ll experience an entirely new range of differences to which we’ll hopefully adapt in no time at all.  We’ll keep our readers apprised of these differences.

Happy weekend to all!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2014:

We didn’t post any other photos than the above on this date one year ago. We were out the door early to head to the Louvre. With such a busy day, we didn’t post until the next day. See the post here.

Tom’s online football experience…

The haze in the hills continues day after day with the high humidity.
After signing up at in order to watch the Minnesota Vikings games, which we wrote posted on August 8th.  At that time, he had yet to watch his first game.
Last Saturday, after the game had occurred the previous night, he watched the first preseason game.
In his words, “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  I’m not happy that I paid (US) $169 to watch the Vikings games.  Every time there’s a commercial, which has been removed, there’s a black screen. Either I sit there and watch the black screen for the length of the commercial or I can click ahead in either slow-moving, 10-second increments or by using the scroll bar to try to find the spot when the commercial ended.”
With the lack of rain, few flowers remain.

We all know how long those commercials can be. This task is annoying and cumbersome for three-plus hours, definitely taking away from the enjoyment of watching the game. Tom’s expectation in purchasing a prepaid package from the NFL, was that it would be similar to watching an on-demand program minus any intrusion by commercials. 

When originally booking the house in Boveglio online comments seemed to indicate that this old hotel’s bar was still open. Unfortunately, the bar and the hotel both closed a while back.
This room at the end of the hotel was once used as a ballroom.

One would assume that in this day and age with advanced technology, that this type of issue would have been resolved prior to offering such a package for sale to the public. Will he cancel?  No. 

He’ll continue to watch the game the morning after they’ve occurred with the ongoing frustration associated with this poor system. Isn’t it frustrating enough that the Vikings have yet proven to be the team that loyal fans have fantasized about for many years?

The local residents frequently place flower pot at this neighborhood shrine.

Although not a football fan, I certainly empathize with him over this issue when encountering poor technology by major corporations.

It’s no wonder that we can hear lively Italian conversations and toilets flushing in the tight little neighbor.  All the plumbing pipes are on the outside of the buildings.

Most recently, one of our credit card companies was sold out to a larger credit card company, resulting in the necessity of the customer set up an online account at the new company. Should be easy, right? Oh, no. 

Each day there appears to be a new stack of prayer candles at this shrine across the street from our house.

After trying to create an online account for this card over a period of the past 5 days, only to have the screen require me to enter the same information over and over, I’m left with no alternative but to call. Yes, I can use a toll-free number on Skype without having to pay for the call.  But the issue is the time difference and the loss of my time in making this call. 

Regardless of the drought-like conditions, homeowners continue to regularly water their outdoor plants. With no lawns to tend to, plants fulfill their desire to connect to nature.  Community gardens are within walking distance in which some neighbors participate.

After trying various numbers, I’ve been informed I must call during regular business hours, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Pacific time.  With this time difference, I must call after 6:00 pm here, a time when we’re busy getting dinner ready with the expectation of enjoying a stress-free evening. Being on hold for 10 to 15 minutes only adds to the frustration.

The vantage point from the road heading southwest.
This is across the street from our main entrance, looking up from the road. In most neighborhoods, homes across the road aren’t located so high up!

Wherever we may be, we aren’t free of the time-consuming tasks of managing our daily lives. There’s literally no way that one can choose to be “off the grid” if they require any type of insurance, banking, handling of their assets, managing their credit cards, and paying taxes.

The road as I returned home from my walk.  We’re located a few doors down on the right.

To my left in the lower level as I entered the house.  The laundry room is located behind the curtain.

Years ago, I heard a motivational speaker say, “Everywhere you go, there you are.” So true. So true.

Walking gingerly is a must on these step stone steps to the basement.  The Homeaway listing for this house clearly stated that this property is not intended for the older population due to the many steps required to get from one end to another down the long hallway and the tricky access to the patio on the right of this stairwell.

Giving up favorite pastimes…For Tom, not the Minnesota Vikings…

Several months ago, Tom canceled his subscription to the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper due to its inability to be downloaded several days each week. 

The newspaper was available either from the StarTribune’s own website for almost $1 a day, after an initial $8 for eight weeks offer, or through Barnes and Noble for $10 a month. Of course, he chose the lower-cost subscription. Well, you get what you pay for. Downloading was a frustrating daily task, taking the fun out of reading the paper when it did arrive.

He’s been reading the StarTribune in the late 50s when only a kid when the sports section was a peach/pinkish colored paper. Do any Minnesotans out there remember that?

Thus, as an avid reader of the daily paper, this was a big change for him. I always joked that he read and memorized every word in the daily paper, even the page numbers, able to quote dates, times, and most minute details months, if not years, later.

Easily bored reading the newspaper, I’d ask Tom to tell me the news if a topic caught my attention, to which he did so verbatim, perhaps with a bit of “spin” of which I didn’t object.

Newspaper reading days are long over for him, although the upcoming Minnesota Vikings football season had frequently come to mind as he contemplated the options available for viewing the games quickly after airing on US TV.

Looking online, for apps that may be options was fruitless. Many sites offering “free” viewing of games were a hoax, many of them pirating the games through various means. 

Viewing live TV on a computer has yet to become readily available to the average viewer, although the technology will be available soon. There are various companies such as Slingbox, as recommended by son Greg, that for a fee allow a subscriber to watch live shows.  Unfortunately, such an option isn’t unavailable to viewers when outside the US. 

With our use of Graboid we’re able to download and watch primetime commercial-free shows the day after airing.  But this doesn’t include sporting events, concerts, and special events.

After considerable research, Tom discovered that the easiest, most cost-effective option available to football fans, outside the US, was to subscribe to the NFL’s online viewing program GamePass.

For US $169, he will be able to watch the Vikings all preseason and regular-season games. If by a miracle, the Vikings make it to the playoff, he will purchase an add-on to view those as well. 

Yesterday, he subscribed to the GamePass plan to begin watching the first preseason game which airs live tomorrow (Friday, the 9th).  However, this game will air online at 2:00 am here in Italy, which he won’t be interested in doing. However, he’ll be able to watch the recorded game on Saturday at his leisure. Son TJ made a good point: don’t look at Facebook or the news during the game, if he prefers the outcome to be a surprise.  Good point, TJ!

This particular subscription service is only available to viewers outside the US or US territories. Other options are available online for those who don’t have access to TV or prefer to watch the game on their computers at a later time.

Need I say this Vikings fan is rather pleased to know he won’t miss a game. Not a football fan myself, he’ll be watching on his own, which he prefers rather than be interrupted by my idle chatter. 

In any case, I’m thrilled for him and will provide a quiet, comment, and question free environment during his game viewing.

With modern technology, traveling the world doesn’t have to leave a traveler’s favorite pastime, totally beyond reach, as we see here with Tom’s Minnesota Viking viewing options. 

Go Vikings! I guess.

Settled into Scottsdale…two new Windows 8 touchscreen laptops…

We purchased two Acer laptops with Windows 8 touchscreen.  What a time to learn a new operating system!

We’ve moved into the vacation home in Scottsdale on Saturday afternoon.  The property, exactly as shown in photos is not only clean but, in very good condition, equipped well beyond our expectations. 

Overlooking the clear blue water of a well maintained swimming pool, this older condo is located in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, navigable by a trolley we can catch only a short block away. 

We unloaded the car of the six orange Antler bags, the two carry on bags, clothes for here, clothes for cooler Las Vegas, two laptops and various household items, all in tact after my obsessive security precautions as described in previous posts.

It all worked:  the stickers on the windows warning of a upgraded security system, the indestructible Kryptonite bike locks securing 350 pounds of luggage together, the over-sized black tablecloth that covered it all. 

We never used “The Club” to lock the steering wheel.  We never felt it was necessary.  Still unopened, I’ll either return it to Amazon or sell it on eBay

Opening the orange Antler bags now is intimidating.  In essence, we could avoid opening them at all until after we leave the US in less than 60 days.  But, my goal is to repack everything resulting in one or two bags each with items exclusively to be used while cruising.  This will avoid us rifling through so many bags while in the tiny cabin. 

We plan to do the repacking mid December before we leave for our eight days in Henderson, Nevada over Christmas, returning here to Scottsdale on the 28th, heading to San Diego on January 1st or 2nd, to spend a night or two with niece Kely (yes, spelled correctly) and her husband. Dennis.

After unloading the car, a wave of exhaustion washed over me.  We had no food for dinner, had eaten little all day and I had absolutely no energy to go grocery shopping to cook dinner. 

Searching online for a nearby restaurant, we discovered the highly reviewed Citizen Public House, a charming gastro-pub offering a wide array of local brews with a somewhat small menu of uniquely seasoned and presented foods.

Not much in the way of beer drinkers, we each tried unusual ales.  Tom and I swapped our beer after the first taste.  Moments later, the ambitious and attentive server willingly traded in mine for a more moderate and traditional light beer. 

The food, cooked to perfection, couldn’t have been more perfect, mine buttermilk baked chicken breast with roasted Brussels sprouts and Tom’s, a liqueur seasoned meat loaf with mashed parsnips and smashed red potatoes. The service?  Impeccable!

And this condo, after two days, what do we think?  Although not considered upscale, it’s decorated with well maintained comfortable furnishings, acceptable towels, pots, pans and dishes, outdated TV’s (we brought a 32″Toshiba flat screen with us for this leg of the trip.  Good thing!).  With no Vikings games on TV here, we downloaded the NFL app to Tom’s phone.  We’ll plug the phone into the TV to watch it as it becomes available after the broadcast.

Also, the view overlooking the pool is scrumptious. But, the bed is hard.  It hurts my shoulder. Lots of tradeoffs.  We knew this going in.

The temperature was 91 yesterday and should be 93 today.  Yum!  Maybe we’ll grab a lawn chair by the pool one day. Ha!  Not so quick.  Yesterday, we purchased our two new Acer 15.6 Windows 8 laptops with touch screen. The learning curve for an entirely new operating system is cumbersome although both of us are grasping is fairly quickly. 

Tom is not quite a digital kind of guy. His determination to learn to use technology always surprises me.  

Here, I am writing my first blog on my new lightweight laptop while noticing a few features are missing and need to be discovered, i.e., accidentally delete a sentence and then normally left clicking for “undo” to put it back in place. 

Anyone out there know how to do this in Windows 8?  If not, I’ll find the answer somewhere online.  Where are the days of a tidy manual that provides all the answers?  Ugh!

Yesterday, when we purchased the two identical laptops at Costco for only $799 each, a steal with new Windows 8 touchscreens, we dismissed our original plans of purchasing more sturdy industrial type laptops. But, we decided lightweight laptops were more important than durability, especially now that we’ve had the experience of hauling the bags this past week. 

Today is a busy day.  We already visited Starbuck’s for coffee, had the oil changed in the SUV, arranged with the maintenance guy to repair the  problematic wireless connection (done!) in the condo, picked up the five boxes we shipped to the UPS store a few miles away and now, my task is to empty them putting everything in its place. 

Next task, go sign up at a health club and work out, doing my usual HIIT (high intensity interval training).  Perhaps after all of this, there will be time to begin the process of “chilling out” in this 93 degree weather.