Video Games (Addendum)

I have been made aware by some of my subscribers that they were unable to view the video that was embedded in the last post.  To view that video here’s the site:  https://youtu.be/8vxWsnk0kXU

Sorry for the confusion.

 

Video Games

Pony News
I had that open question of what to do about the cost of the starter rebuild, namely should it be charged against the Cost-O-Meter, or just be considered an ongoing maintenance cost?  Well, I got my answer.  Ever since my cousin, Bill, reminded me that the quarters I welded into the Pony’s oil pan should be included in the C-O-M, I’ve kind of considered him the unofficial blog accountant.  As you can tell from his reminder, he’s a real stickler.  He weighed in on this recent matter and said that I should consider the starter rebuild cost maintenance.  Cool, so we’re still shy of $4,000 on the old C-O-M.

I did spend a few dollars on hardware, however, when I converted my side panel attachment system to “quick release.”  But I’ll tell you, it was money well spent.    The side panels are usually held on by seven screws with washers and nuts behind the panels.  There’s a lot of stuff that one needs to get at behind those panels (battery, cables, fuel shut-off, steering box), and it’s a pain in the ass to remove all those screws every time you want to get inside there.  My attachment process only involves three attachment points all accessible from the exterior of the tractor.  I put together a little YouTube video demonstrating for other Pony owners how they can make the conversion, and it’s included below.  When you play it you’ll be able to see the neat, new system.

Although my acting certainly won’t earn me any Academy nominations, credit to son, Andrew, for the seamless videography.  And from that credit you have likely deduced that Andy was her for a visit, and on that you would be correct.  We had a barrel of fun canoeing out on the local lake, trying out new beers in the local brew pubs, and grilling anything and everything out on the grill (since he does not have access to that in NYC).  And, he always enjoys taking the Pony out for a spin (or two) on the “back 40,” so following are a couple of photos taken during one of those rides.

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Man At Work, Well OK, Play Really

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Son and Pony Taking a Breather

The only mishap occurred during the second ride, which I guess is my fault; we ran out of gas.  That Pony is a gas hog!

Other Pony News
A few weeks back I got a rather cryptic note into the blog simply asking me for the length of a Pony.  I went down to the garage, put a tape to the Pony and sent the dude the measurement (105 inches).  Then a week later I got an email from the same guy, Len Sharp, and it turns out he was fixing to bid on a Pony and wanted to make sure it fit on his trailer.  Turns out his was the winning bid and he sent the photo below of his prize.

1951 Pony

1951 Pony

Man, if my Pony had looked that good when I bought it, it would have cut 3 years off the restoration time.  Anyway, congrats Len, and good luck with your restoration.

Finally, in non-Pony news my Mom (Carol) will have her 93rd birthday next week, so I’d like to take this opportunity send out love from The Princess and me and our wishes for many, many more happy birthdays.  Thanks for reading.

From “The Morning 40”

You know that “old wives tale” about being able to stand an egg on its end when there’s a full moon?  Of course it’s malarkey, but a recent incident got me to wondering.  A few weeks ago I was just a few miles from home booking it down Old Greensboro Highway on the bike.  A car passed me and set a pine cone to spinning in the middle of the road.  Before I got to it the pine cone had stopped spinning and miraculously ended-up standing on its end.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, almost like magic.  After I passed I watched in the rear view mirror as car going the other way messed it all up.  I guess I shouldn’t consider this quite so magical when I also remember a bike ride a few years back when one of those pine cones fell out of a tree and made a direct hit on my head!  Magical indeed!  I guess the moral here is, if you ride enough miles in a state with a bazillion pine trees, eventually you’ll see a pine cone do just about anything.  However, here’s the spooky thing.  I went back and checked the date of that ride.  It was July 19, and according to the Farmers Almanac, that was the date of July’s full moon.  Hmmmm.

On Tuesday’s morning 40, there was a different type of incident.  Riding north on Morrill Mill Road, a fox came rippin’ out of some tall grass, saw me, and had he not immediately done a U-turn, would have been clobbered by a pick-up truck coming the other way in the fox’s lane.  I’m taking credit for saving his life.

Pony News
Just after I got back from vacation (cycling on the San Juan Islands of Washington State), I got an email from a guy at the Central Washington Ag Museum.  How’s that for coincidence?  Seems he had recently stumbled across this blog and wanted to pass along that the museum has a Pony that it has restored.  He sent along a few photos, and I’ve included them below.

Massey Harris 'Before' Photo

Museum Restoration Project

 

Massey Harris Parade Photo

1950 Pony After Restoration by the Museum

When I saw these photos, two things immediately came to mind.  First, boy does that “before” shot bring back some memories (not all of them good), and second, I wouldn’t want to be at that early stage of a restoration ever again.  They got the job done though didn’t they?  Nice looking Pony.

My Pony goes on vacation each summer making the big trip from Gene’s garage to mine.  So, last Saturday I called Gary Talbert (official tow truck driver to the blog), and he did the usual efficient job of getting the Pony back home.  A new problem showed up though, both before the trip and after loading.  After I shut down the engine, the starter kept on running.  I had the Pony’s generator rebuilt some time ago, but since the starter has always worked, I never had it rebuilt.  Yesterday I pulled the starter and drove it over to Burlington, NC to the same place that rebuilt the generator.  They say the work should be completed in two or three days.  But now here’s the issue.  Since the Pony has been up and running for some time, and the restoration is largely completed, should the cost of this rebuild go into the Cost-O-Meter, or be treated as post-restoration maintenance/repair?    With the C-O-M bumping up against $4000, you can probably guess how I’m leaning, but I’ll go by whatever you folks say.

I’ll call this next topic, “Crazy Photo Captions.”  They’re both from the Wall Street Journal.

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Now, there’s nothing at all funny about terror attacks, so please don’t get on me for insensitivity.  I just include this here because it says something to me that the guy they pull out of an attack on a hospital isn’t a nurse, or an orderly, or a doctor, but a LAWYER?

OK, you’re allowed to laugh at this next one.

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Either this was a very unfortunate choice of caption, or that dog’s name is Peter.

Just a couple of sentences on the vacation.
1.  The San Juan’s are beautiful.
2.  It was a full contingent of my old Philly pals (plus some), island hopping and biking.  Great company and lot’s of fun.
3.  Weather was spectacular, sunny everyday and no higher than mid-70’s.
4.  Took a half-day whale-watching trip and saw orcas and humpbacks.
5.  Bald eagles there are as common as robins.
6.  Quote of the trip.  I was at an open-air market buying trinkets for The Princess.  There was a kid in a stroller screaming his head off and simply would not stop.  I heard one of the stall-owners finally say, “Somebody throw some water on that kid!”  No, it wasn’t Donald Trump.
7.  Favorite incident.  I climbed 4.7 miles up Mt. Constitution (average grade close to 8%).  At the top I was standing at a concession stand buying ice cream (what else?) and a woman came up behind me and said, “I’m buying this guy’s ice cream.”  After I regained my composure, I managed to thank her and tell her how sweet that was.  She told me that she was a cyclist and that she had passed me as I was climbing the mountain, and that she just had to tell me how impressed she was.  I’m not kidding; I almost cried.  Thank you again, Dianna.

Don’t forget to weigh-in on the C-O-M question and as always, thanks for reading.

 

Potty Training

You may remember that in what seems like another life, at least to me, back in the 1960’s, I obtained a college degree, in English.  I realized the error of my ways a few years out of school, went back and got an MBA, and spent the rest of my life in the business world.  I did always feel, however, that my English degree helped me a lot, in getting my thoughts across to others without a lot of effort.  The downside of that degree is that when I hear English used, or perhaps I should say abused, it really grates.  Earlier this week I was trying to find out why the co-pay went up on a drug I’m taking.  I called my insurer and after getting bounced around quite a bit, I got a lady who had the answer.  “The price of your drug has went up.”  I’m not sure what made me madder, the fact that the price of an astonishingly expensive drug went up 10%, or that in telling me about it this woman sounded like a three-year-old.  How low must this company have “set the bar” so as to have allowed this person to represent it.  Holy Moly!

Pony News
The Pony has developed an annoying habit.  Much like a poorly trained dog, when I’m not looking he’ll take a leak right on Gene’s garage floor.  It’s coolant, and while the Pony does an admirable job of “holding it” both during and after a ride, sometime after I leave he just loses control.  I can return in a week and find one to two cups of coolant in a drip pan.  Those of you who’ve followed this blog from the outset will remember that I tried to do the right thing, bringing the radiator to a shop, having it flushed, pressure tested and cleaned.  It got a totally clean bill of health and a supposed new lease on life.  Ha!  That was probably three years ago, and now even with several subsequent applications of radiator stop-leak I’ve got a leaker.

This weekend I was staring down at the collection of green coolant in the drip pan and musing.  Gene was in the garage, and I told him that it looked like this fall when the weather cooled I was going to have to take the old boy apart enough to pull the radiator.  He said, “Or you could just put up with it,” and I had an idea.  The Pony never leaks while running, so I don’t really have a situation that impairs  normal, safe operation.  What would be wrong with just taking the coolant that collects in the drip pan and pouring it right back in the radiator?  I stuck a funnel in the top of the radiator, put an old rag in it for a strainer, and dumped in the used coolant. Voila!  Problem solved.  So I started the old boy up and took a short ride.

One more thing on the Pony.  It took me a long time, but I finally got an acceptable fourth coat of paint on that second side-panel.  Then there was the usual process:  a week’s worth of setting it out in the sun each day to bake, then wet-sanding with 2000 grit sand paper, followed by the vigorous application of rubbing compound and finished off with a carnuba wax polishing.  Periodically The Princess would come through the garage, shake her head and say, “You still rubbin’ on that thing?”  Here’s a photo of the final result.

Version 2

Left Side Panel

Now the hard part, trying to make those holes and slots line up with the corresponding holes on the tractor.  Plus, I’m going to try to figure a way to make this one kind of “quick release,” so that I can get in at things behind it easily.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

This doesn’t happen often, but I feel like I had a particularly good week.  There were some nervous days at the beginning, watching the stock market’s crazy reaction to Brexit, but by the end of the week everything was thankfully back to normal.  On this subject, I heard that the Brits who had voted to “leave” are now bemoaning the negative effect on the pound sterling and the trickle-down effects of that on prices, etc., now want a do-over?  Unbelievable!  I coined a phrase for them, “If you Brexit, you bought it!”  If you now hear or read that anywhere, remember, you read it here first.

Then, let’s see, oh yeah, The Princess always has a deck of cards out, so that in odd moments she can play a few hands of solitaire.  She’s really gotten quite good at it, and often she’ll be sitting there and call it out, “Solitaire!”  I can’t figure out how she gets it so often, but I should drag her out to Las Vegas like “Rain man,” and see how we do.  I on the other hand, never get solitaire.  So it was another part of a great week when I sat down at the table, played one hand and, yup, got solitaire.  Of course, I immediately quit on that high note.

Then there was the $100 chance at a Porsche that I bought at the North Carolina Museum of Art, and although I did not win, The Princess (our book-keeper) did not get too mad at me when she was reviewing the AMEX charges and came across that one.  Small victory, and hey, it’s a tax deductible contribution.

Then when I was rearranging the cushions on my favorite chair I found a lottery ticket that had fallen between.  No, I did not win that either, but can you imagine how awful it would have been if that had been the winner and I’d never found it?

Funny about the cushions thing, The Princess was rearranging the cushions on her rocker in the bedroom and while doing so found a quarter I’d lost months ago.  It was the “lucky quarter” I’d found in that guy’s driveway who’d sharpened the Pony’s hatchet.  I’d been so bummed when it went missing, but now, hallelujah, that prodigal quarter is back!  Can you imagine how lucky my next week is going to be?

Better wrap this up.  Of course, tomorrow is July 4th, the day set aside to set-off fireworks in honor of the our wedding anniversary on the 5th.  As the years slide by, it gets harder and harder to calculate just how many years the Princess and I have been arguing.  It doesn’t really matter though; what matters is…we’re still still counting.
Happy 4th everyone, and thanks for reading.

Tip of the Cap, Rain Cap that is

Remember that sleeve the guy at the muffler shop made for me?  I hadn’t thought of it, but in order to be able to tighten the clamp and the sleeve around the muffler pipe it needed a slit cut into it.  I found this out when I tightened the clamp and all that happened was the clamp tightened the new stack to the sleeve, but not the muffler pipe.  Of course Gene had just the tool for cutting the slit, and here’s a photo he took of me at work on the job.

Version 2

Sparks a Flyin’

I was scared to death using that thing, but managed to get through the job without injuring myself.  I used the same metal cutter to cut a little steel off the clamp.  After using a file to neaten-up my work, I re-tightened the clamp.  This time everything snugged right up.

While I was working on this little project I started wondering after all this time whether I had the rain cap on correctly.

In the event you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a photo of the rain cap that I bought from All States Ag Parts.108631-2

Before reading further, take a guess as to which way you think this doohickey should be attached to the stack.

In the past I have always attached it with the hinge and “tail” toward the rear as shown in the photo.  I mentioned this to Gene, and he went to his computer, checked some old photos from a tractor show and said it looked like they were mounted with the hinge to the front.  When I got home I checked some photos on line, and from those there appeared to be no consensus.  As a final check I Googled “rain cap direction.”  Whoa, back in 2009 some guy was dumb enough (like me) to put the question to the Tractor Forum, and holy cow, what a barrage of responses (over 40).  After going through them all, I can report that even among “tractor nuts” there is no agreement, roughly equal numbers voting for hinge forward, backward and believe it or not, sideways!  Then too there were just as many voting to skip it altogether in favor of a can, soup, dog food, Nestle’s Quick and coffee cans were among those mentioned.

Those arguing for hinge back said it helped send the smoke a few inches higher.  Those arguing hinge forward said that that direction made it less likely the thing would get snagged in tree branches.  More importantly, in this position the cap remains closed when the tractor is being “trailored.”  Those voting for sideways claimed that this helped send smoke to the side and away from the driver.  The guys arguing for soup cans, etc seemed to be a fun-loving, contrary type.  They loved the fact that on occasion if one forgets to remove the can when starting the engine, it can get pretty exciting, blasting the can up to 40 feet into the air.  Along those lines, one guy suggested a new contest at tractor shows where a prize would be awarded to the tractor that could blow the can the highest!

Of course, there was a voice of reason in the group, “There is no right way, just whatever you prefer and makes you happy.”

But I’ll leave this subject with this colorful comment:  “Someone just told me all that diesel smoke I’ve been getting in my face over the years is going to give me cancer.  ‘Son of a gun’ I told them, ‘Then I may as well take up smoking, except I already do.’  I’m a gonner, that’s for sure.  Coal dust from the power plants when I hit them, diesel smoke in my face, Marlboro Lights in my pocket…I am in big trouble.  May as well take up drinkin’ and women too.  Oh no, I already do that too.  I am toast!”

In the “It’s hell to get old” category, I offer this little story.  In the last post I bragged about putting up a whole bunch of strawberry jam.  Turns out that even though I have been doing this for at least 25 years, the memory failed me this year and I put one cup too few of sugar in all those jars I did that first day.  Argh!  After making a couple of more batches (the right way) The Princess and I sampled the two batches.  We decided that they were both pretty darn good, the one that was short on the sugar was still sweet, it just didn’t set as hard.  I’m calling that “Jam Lite,” and recommending it for folks that would like to use it  as an ice cream topping.  Since I have a little extra of the “Lite” sitting around now, I’m offering to send a jar (free of charge) to the first person that sends an email to me “off blog” requesting one.(1)  You may send your email to:  bboehmke@nc.rr.com and, of course, include your mailing address.

Good luck!  And as always thanks for reading.

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(1)  Those who already receive jam from me (you know who you are) are not eligible.

Pony Driver’s Stop Smoking Plan

The Princess and I were up in New York City last week, and on the train up I noticed that folks were out in the strawberry fields picking.  So, as soon as we got back I headed out to the usual patch, picked three buckets of berries, and brought them home for jam.  By dinner time Friday I’d made 15 jars of jam, so I think if I just make another five-jar batch next week I’ll be good for the year.  I made a strawberry pie yesterday and hopefully still have enough berries left for a few portions of strawberry shortcake to0.  After OD-ing on all that, I’ll probably slow down a bit and just have them on my morning cereal for a while.

And staying with the “things that are red” theme, I’ve been working on a little project for the Pony.  For some time now it has annoyed me that when I drive the tractor, I’m sitting right behind the exhaust stack, engulfed in a cloud of exhaust, breathing it, and later smelling of it.  It was like smoking a pack of cigarettes, but without the pleasure of the nicotine.  My idea was to get the exhaust to pass over me by adding a “stack” to the muffler.

I measured the muffler exhaust pipe and found that the O.D. was 1  5/16 inches.  I then went to my trusty AGCO parts book to see what I could find that would fit.(1)  The closest I could find was an exhaust stack with a 1  1/2 inch I.D.  I decided on a two-foot stack and to add some class, got it in chrome.  I also got a chrome clamp and a new rain cap, not available in chrome.  All in, about $50.

The parts arrived while we were out of town last week, so I was able to get right to work when we got home.  The first job was finding a sleeve to “step-down” the I.D. of the stack to as closely as possible match the O.D. of the muffler’s current exhaust pipe.  I had luck at the third place I stopped, an auto shop that did muffler work.(2)  The guys at the desk flagged a guy down as he passed through the office from the lot, and I explained what I needed.  He didn’t say one word, just turned around and headed back into the shop.  About ten minutes went by, before he popped back out holding the exact thing I had described.  I was so happy I almost forgot to ask if he could also cut four inches off the the top.(3)  Again, not a word, he simply retreated to the shop, came back in five minutes, and this time with just a hint of a smile, held out the finished product saying, “You’re going to have to file that burr on the inside.  I didn’t have a file.”  I said, “Man, that’s just perfect, what do I owe you?”  No quotation marks necessary here, he just shook his head and turned to head back into the shop.  I said, “Wait a minute,” and slid a tenner across the counter.  He reached back, snagged it and again with something just approaching a smile went through the door into the shop.

This little experience so struck me that I just have to preach a bit about how this guy exemplified the perfect employee:
*  Most important, he was a good listener.  I didn’t have to repeat myself.  He got it right the first time, including the dimensions I had mentioned.
*  He didn’t waste time.  Nothing unnecessary was said; the dude just turned and went to work.
*  Of course, he had the expertise.  He knew what to do and how to do it.
*  He had pride in a job well done, but wasn’t a show off.
*  Finally,  he’s not stupid…he took the ten bucks!

This is a direct contrast to the desk employee and for that matter most of the other employees (not Sammy, the doorman; he was great) at our New York hotel.  I explained to the employee that because the maid had left a window open in the room, it stank of McDonald’s hamburgers (shop just below).  I explained that they should strip the beds, deodorize the room and in general do whatever was necessary to get rid of the stink.  We really didn’t want to change rooms at that point.  That room stank when we returned to it later in the day and continued to stink for four straight days.  When the hotel’s email survey arrived a couple of days after we got home…oooooo, did they hear about it!

To get back on message, here’s a photo of the little sleeve he made, shown sliding up into the bottom of the stack.

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Step-down Sleeve

Photo, courtesy of Gene.  Here’s what the finished project looks like.

 

Version 2

New Driver-friendly Stack

I tell you what, that thing looks sharp, and after a test drive, I can say it works pretty well too.  The Pony may still be smokin’, but at least I’m not inhaling it anymore!

Hey, happy Mayday.  The tradition here is to put the hummer feeder out on May 1.  So this morning I cooked-up a batch of hummer juice and after it cooled, filled and hung the feeder, which in keeping with this post’s theme, is of course red.  The females usually get here a week or so before the males (not going to touch that), so we’re ready for them.
Have a super month and thanks for reading.

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(1)  You know, that dang book weighs two and a half pounds!  It cut-off the circulation in my legs as I sat paging through it and calling in my order.
(2)  The shop is Chapel Hill Tire, University Mall location; sorry, I didn’t get the employee’s name.
(3)  I Have to step back for a second to say that in doing a trial fit on the Pony, Gene and I found that at two feet, the stack was a bit to tall to get in and out of the garage.  Thus, the lopping of four inches.

 

Next Chapter

Hey, a couple of weekends ago I went out to Gene’s to get the Pony “out of mothballs,” and take him out for a run.  The Pony started right up, and I think I used up every piece of road out in Gene’s neighborhood before I put him back in the garage.  Here are a couple of photos.

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Pony Hibernating

Version 2

Pony Wide Awake

 

Moving on.  Kind of a bitter sweet deal unfolded over the last couple of weeks.  I got a call from my friend, Martha, over at the EPA lab saying she could use me for a study where all I had to do was hawk up loogies for some pharmaceutical company.  For this I would walk out with a check for $85, so I said, “sign me up”!  Better yet, if it turned-out that I was an acceptable participant, I’d get a call-back for another “loogie session.”  In order to be acceptable for this particular study, one had to score at a particular level on a test where the amount of air one exhales in a second is compared to the total amount inhaled before the exhale.  This will mean nothing to you, hell it doesn’t mean anything to me, but on this test I needed to score .70 or higher, and try as I might, the best I could do was .68.  A call was placed to the company about my slight under-performance, but after a bit of a wait Martha said, “Well, you know, you’re gettin’ older and while your performance is just fine, it looks like we’re not going to be able to use you.”  She cut me a check, but I felt a bit deflated that I hadn’t “made the cut,” and that perhaps my guinea pig days were over.

But later that day Martha sent an email saying that the company would let me come in in a week and try again.  Once again I blew like the big bad wolf in The Three Little Pigs, but the result was exactly the same, .68.  I had thought that if I really tried, I could get a better result, but by golly, there was no fooling that infernal machine.  There were hugs and good-byes t0 Carol and Heather and Martha, who I’ve gotten to know over the years, and  it was just a bit sad both knowing that I likely would not be coming back and that, well let’s face it, my body had let me down.  And it was on the ride home with another $85 check in my wallet, that it occurred to me that Martha knew all along that I likely wouldn’t pass that test.  What she was allowing me was a little retirement bonus and a chance to come in one last time and say some good-byes.

I sent Martha an email later that day and thanked her, and she admitted that she hadn’t held out much hope that I’d pass.  She maintains that they could still call again for something else, but I’m pretty sure that that was the end of a chapter.

But until the book (or in this case, the blog) ends, there’s always another chapter, and for me that next chapter began at about the same time the EPA chapter was winding down.  Actually, that’s not true, it’s first pages were written over a year ago, but let me back up and explain.  Our power company is a cooperative, and an overarching organization made up of all North Carolina co-ops publishes a monthly magazine for it’s customers; it’s called Carolina Country.  They bill it as “North Carolina’s largest and most trusted magazine.”  As I said, about a year ago I was perusing it and noticed that each month they ran a first person human interest article under the general subject of “Where Life Takes Us.”  It struck me that perhaps the Pony’s story might be a fit for this category, and there was some incentive; the magazine indicated that it paid $100 for articles that are accepted for print in the magazine.

It was a challenge condensing the five-year-long Pony story down to the magazine’s 400 word limit.  Hell, each of these blog posts is around 1000 words.  But I massaged that thing for a few days until I had something I thought worth submitting, added a couple of appropriate photos and emailed everything in.  Like many things that I send away, my submission then seemed plunge into a black hole.  It was similar to the several times I’ve written to the president of our local hospital always with truly helpful suggestions (no, honestly), but never a peep out of the guy.  Anyway, months went by with no word about the story.  Maybe six months ago some guy at the magazine sent an email saying they might be interested in running my story.  But, apparently not…back into the black hole.

But several weeks ago another email, this time from a woman at the magazine saying that if I was still game, barring any “hiccups” they were going to included my story in the April issue.   I should just send “high resolution” photos and some personal details.  I’m not sure what hiccups are in the publishing business, but with my track record believe me, I was waiting for the hiccup.  Then this week, well, I’ll just show you.

Carolina Country Letter 2
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Carolina Country letter-1 __________________________________________________________________

So, what are the impacts of this.  First, as Andy said, “Oh man, Dad’s going to be pretty hard to live with now that he’s a published author.”  Second, the Guinea Pig-O-Meter gets a $100 boost.  Third, I’m going to be looking for a way to monetize the blog.  Now that I’ve been paid for my writing, you don’t expect me to keep doing this for free do you?  And finally, now I am challenged to find other ways to see my words in print.  I guess that’s what next chapters are all about.

Here’s a link to the Carolina Country Magazine website, so that if you are so inclined you can view my little story about the Pony, my friends Gene and Lynne and me.  When you get to the site, just scroll down a bit and you’ll see the article.
carolinacountry.com

I’d be remiss here not to mention my poor Mom, who fell last week and broke her hip and wrist.  She’s in rehab now, and I’ll be going down to spend a week with her next week.  We all wish you a speedy rehabilitation, Mom.  See you soon.

Happy Easter everyone and thanks for reading.