Has this ever happened to you? You’re casually munching on Fritos in your family room, just talking about how you’d like some new mini blinds, and maybe could Mr. Austerity keep an eye out for said blinds at the local thrift store. And right after that mundane conversation you start surfing your social media account, which shall remain nameless but it starts with ‘f’ and ends with – well you can probably guess. And right there in between posts about cats terrorizing dogs and easy crock pot BBQ chicken wings, pops up an ad for a local custom mini blind shop. Yep, I kid you not. It showed up in my feed. And I pinkie swear to you that I had not been googling mini blinds or blinds or window coverings or anything remotely close to those terms. How does this happen? Rhetorical question! Because we all know, without any doubt, that every portable ‘smart’ electronic device we own is actively listening to us when we speak. The hot gift at Christmas this year was the device from a major online retail shopping site that could sit in your home and answer your questions or respond to your instructions. People were ordering it like crazy, thinking hey – how fun this will be – and then immediately after Christmas people begin to realize that it was listening to everything being said, not just conversations addressed to the device. And that led to questions about what was being done with everything that the device was hearing – basically all of whats being said in our homes. From my experience with my phone and tablet – the data it collects is being used for marketing purposes – serving up ads that it thinks match what I’m talking about. Is there a way to stop whats being done? I hope yes but I believe no – this technology is already a reality in our lives and probably too valuable to the market for anyone to make it go away.
Today is Mother’s Day 2017 – and its been a beautiful weekend here. Friday was a cloudy, chilly, unpleasant day – but then about 5 p.m. the sun broke through the clouds and it just got better and better as the weekend rolled on. Saturday was warm and sunny and we readied the garden for planting by raking back last fall’s leaves that were covering and protecting it and tilling up the soil with our electric tiller. I was glad as I began digging into the moist earth to see there were many earthworms that call the garden home. Later we pressed the earth down around the Roma and Early Girl and Super Sweet tomato plants we had purchased a few days ago and set the sprinkler in the center of them all. Mr. Austerity set it so the sprinkler will click on and off on a set schedule – to help them become established and keep them moist over the next few weeks. This spring has been especially wet, so we want to be careful that the plants don’t end up with blossom end rot – a condition that ruined much of our harvest last summer. I love tomatoes and their fresh from the garden taste in our salsas and on sandwiches. I am always so hopeful when I put the garden in – that it will yield enough fruit to make it worth the work. I’ll let you know if that turns out to be true.
Avatar – what pops into your head when you read that word? Do you think of the little photo of yourself posted in the profile of your social media accounts? Or possibly of the characters that live within online gaming? Or even the incarnation of a Hindu deity such as Vishnu – Webster’s definition of the word. Does anyone think of the 2009 sci-fi movie of the same name. The movie featured some special effects that were billed as ‘advanced for their time’. And….. OK, so I’m at a loss to think of anything else. It had limited appeal and fairly quickly fell off of the radar screen of the majority of the public. If you haven’t seen the film, don’t waste your time – you’d be underwhelmed by the effects, and assaulted by its in your face, preachy, stereotypes that pass for a story line. Civilization is evil, the military is evil, native tribal people groups are peaceful….I can’t remember the rest as it was borderline ridiculous. But this week its making its way back into the headlines as Disney prepares to open a new World of Pandora themed land inside of its Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom park. When I think of the amount of capital and resources that was invested into this new area it is frustrating – this is valuable funding that could have been allocated to build attractions based upon or linked to Disney’s own stories and characters, which have a proven track record of timeless and multi-generational appeal. Early videos are surfacing of the two attractions that will open this month. The first is a short (3 min) boat ride down a river in Pandora – with a view of the banks and trees that are grown over with the native plants and animals in this fictitious world. The other is a flight simulation ride through the landscape and countryside of the fictitious world of Pandora. Other features of this new area are footpaths that will light up at night – and plants that will appear to glow in the dark. Its so disappointing to me that Disney is serving up what amounts to a video game/virtual reality experience as their latest offering. I’m sure I’ll take time to visit Pandora when we go to WDW in February, but this new area won’t have me rushing to my travel agent to visit Orlando any sooner.
Mr. Austerity and I have fallen in love with the beautiful central Florida gulf coast, and more specifically, Treasure Island, Florida. What a glorious, fabulous, relaxed, lovely little slice of paradise. We landed there accidentally several years back when we couldn’t stand one more horrible week in the frozen Ohio landscape, and we packed our bags, booked our flights and got out of dodge. Our first visit we stayed at an upscale hotel chain in a suite with a kitchen and free breakfasts and really liked it, but what we soon discovered is that Treasure Island is very much a ‘mom and pop’ beach. There are many ‘old Florida’ style motor inns that are maintained beautifully, painted those lovely pinks and yellows and orangy colors, and they are where we wanted to be. Although there are a sprinkling of chain restaurants on the island, most restaurants are local also, with the most wonderful melding of flavors made from the freshest of ingredients. It has a lively local music scene also, playing hits from our past. Mr. Austerity LOVES the mid century modern vibe of the place, so we go back as often as we can. And that started us thinking of ways that we could spend even more time there. So we are going to extend our visit next February to two weeks, which gives us alot more time to visit our favorite places, and explore some new places that we’ve not had time for before. And to make it more economical, we are going to drive down and back and rent a small apartment with a full kitchen. It is cute and in a good location but its kind of pricey. Unfortunately, until we can stay at least one month, we will have difficulty finding less expensive lodging; most of the rentals are long term. That will have to wait until I retire in a couple of years.
By the sad state of my blog the past few years, its pretty apparent that blogging slipped down the list of ‘what to do in my free time’. Actually, the truth is, when I started the blog I was in a position with a company that allowed me more than the typical amount of free time. I passed some of that time by drafting my blog posts and previewing them with my co-worker. Although I really liked that job and the people I worked with, I eventually changed companies and responsibilities, which left me with less time for blogging during the day. And even though I tried to make time in the evenings to continue with the blog, I found I was posting less and less frequently, until it slipped entirely off of my radar and lapsed into the black hole of un-tended blogs. Sadly enough, several of my favorite blogs slipped into that same hole around the same time, so not only was I not blogging, I wasn’t being motivated to blog by reading other blogs – that creative circle of life kind of thing that happens! About 6 months ago I started searching for a new hobby and decided to try quilting. I like to sew and I had inherited two beautiful quilt tops, so I became interested in learning how to finish them. I began researching quilting information online and oddly enough, that led me to vintage Sewing machine posts. One thing that seemed to be consistent is that quilters like vintage sewing machines to piece and quilt with. The more I researched the more interest I had in the machines and eventually I began to purchase a few at thrift stores, estate sales and local sale ads. I bought them in any condition and found I had a knack for restoring them to working condition – along with the help of Mr. Austerity. Together we would rewire them, unfreeze them, clean and oil them and replace their missing or broken parts. Its been alot of fun and I finally just this week re-sold one that I had restored. The older man who purchased it has a small auto repair shop and plans to use it to repair upholstery on the cars. No new sewing machine can do that job the way the vintage 1948 Singer 201-2 I sold him will do. He was so happy to get it and I was so happy to have been apart of picking it up out of an old barn where it had been for years (LOTS of years), and then sending it back out into the world on its new adventure. Corny I know, but I did feel like it was happy as it went out the door and home with him.
Mr. Austerity collects movies and he’s got a pretty large collection. Mainly he likes to collect Disney movies on VHS format. He has over 200 Disney films in his collection and he spends a lot of time at thrift stores sorting through the bins to find movies to add to it. His collection includes classic animated films, cartoons and features, nature films, live action films, and propaganda and marketing films produced during World War 2 to sell war bonds to fund the war and generate support for the war. He also loves to find obscure Disney titles that were distributed by Anchor Bay such as Watcher In The Woods and The Legend of Lobo. Which leads us to our latest pastime; B Movie Sunday. We’ve found a nice way to cap off the weekend and ease into the workweek by kicking back on Sunday evenings and enjoying B movies. It started a few weeks ago when he’d found a title called The Running Man, a 1987 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It had a promising premise and smart storyline, but cheap special effects and lame dialog were enough to qualifiy it in the B category. All in all, it was entertaining enough to hook us on this new pastime and send Mr. Austerity in search of more films like it, which was no problem at all for him. Trust me when I tell you the thrift store bins are full of them. I won’t recount all of the titles we’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks. But one in particular is worth noting. It combines several of our favorite things, locations like Treasure Island Florida and Walt Disney World, a cast that includes Hulk Hogan and Mrs. Garrett (Edna Rae) from The Facts of Life and a stealth speed boat named Thunder. Combine all those, blend at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, and you get Thunder In Paradise! I won’t review the movie here because Mr. Austerity has published an excellent review on his social media and I’m going to steal that for my next post. All I’ll say is that the same cast and crew filmed a TV series of the same name that lasted for one season, and I cannot wait to watch it. Maybe we’ll start a new B TV series Sunday night sometime soon.
All of a sudden I’m wasting wayyyy too much time watching random Periscope’s. I stumbled on the Periscope IPhone app when a Disney blogger was broadcasting the Magic Kingdom fireworks one evening. I really enjoyed watching the fireworks that night. Like I was there in person Live. BAM!! I was hooked. I don’t know if its just me but almost all of the Persicope’s are either at Disney or church. Two of my favorite things. Meaning there’s always something I want to watch. Oh and there’s also @Adamthewoo. Look it up, you won’t be sorry.