The Gull Reef Club

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12/23/2016 · 8:43 am· lordhelmet · Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!
Merry Christmas to you and Mike as well as a Happy New Year!... | Read More

11/3/2016 · 1:30 pm· Jaime · See Something, Say Something, A First Hand Account
Sure doesn't, which in no way explains why the Cubs won! Interesting that we all woke up this... | Read More

11/3/2016 · 12:21 pm· LH · See Something, Say Something, A First Hand Account
No good deed goes unpunished. But at least the Cubs won.... | Read More

10/28/2016 · 6:42 am· lordhelmet · Official Release – Jaime 2.0
I already voted for Trump of course. He was my last choice in the primaries (I supported Kasich)... | Read More

10/27/2016 · 5:40 pm· Jaime · Official Release – Jaime 2.0
Thanks LH! Getting ready to vote for Hillary, right?!?! Hahahahaha. As you can see, I still... | Read More

6/26/2017

Time to Pay the Piper, Illinois

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:58 pm

The dire financial situation of the Illinois state government has been in the news a lot lately. Their lack of proper budgets due to politicians who can’t get their act together is at the heart of this issue. Every government funded agency is suffering up there right now, including the state-run universities, one of which is my alma matter.

The desperation is now being put on full display in the notable increase of third-party solicitations I am receiving through my alumni society. In the past, I would get one maybe every six months. I was hit with two of them today, before noon, and one over the weekend. So I guess I need to expect that my alma mater is now selling my alumni information to any third-party that will buy it. This is not going to earn them much money but it will certainly bring the animosity of those who dislike their information being sold. I’m leaning toward leaving the the alumni society over this. I’m not your band aid, and at this point Illinois, you need far more than any band aid could offer anyway. Perhaps it’s time to start selling your assets, Land of Lincoln?

Reason #6226 I am glad I left that stink state almost 16 years ago.

6/19/2017

The Maiden Voyage

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:47 pm

Yesterday, Mike and I took our new (to us) boat out for its maiden voyage. It’s nothing fancy, a wide 14’ johnboat with a 15hp engine. Just enough to get us around the Intracoastal Waterways and other local, non-ocean waters.

While we know we have a lot to learn, for our first trip, we did a really good job in preparing ourselves. I do know for next time that I won’t forget my binoculars. I didn’t realize how helpful those would have been while out there. Kayaking really put us in a good position to have quality pre-launch and load-out checklists. Maybe we’re just ‘checklist people’ but I really can’t imagine being out on the water without one. Safety first, ya know? I’m also going to have to figure out something to keep me sun-free(ish). Despite applying SPF 50 every hour I still burned. I know I have options, I just have to decide what works best for me.

The highlight of our first boat trip was a completely unexpected one. Before I get into that, a little background – last November, when Mike and I first started fishing down here, we needed to learn how to filet what we were catching. We turned to that great online educator – Youtube – and searched for instructional videos. As with most Youtube self-learning attempts, we had to sort through a lot of overly produced and under informative crap to find anything useful.

Eventually, Mike found a series of videos by an older gentleman who clearly knows everything there is to know about fishing the coastal Georgia waters and more. Not only were his videos without the usual narcissistic over production you so often see, he also shares our attitude about how to approach/handle any project – if you’re going to do it, do it right.

The name of the guy who hosts these videos – Captain Vince Russo – seemed really familiar to us and so did the accent (if you’ve ever heard an authentic Savannah-tinged Southern accent you’ll never forget it.). A couple of searches online lead us to realize that Captain Vince Russo is a member of a locally famous seafood family. They have been in the business since just after WWII. It was no wonder he seemed familiar – he was a local celebrity (as much as one can be a celebrity in wee little Savannah). In the videos, Captain Russo was using this great knife he mentioned he also sold. Because they have a local store, Mike was able to pick up one of these knives locally. It was really useful for us to make that connection last November.

Fast forward to yesterday – Mike and I are puttering around one of the smaller rivers, actually called a creek on the maps, and found ourselves near some residences with private docks. As we approach one of them, Mike asks me if the guy we see on a dock up ahead is Captain Russo. He had his head down and was cleaning fish on a very nice cleaning station set up on his own dock. The setting looked familiar (like the videos), but I wasn’t 100% sure. The quantity of fishing equipment and the like on the dock indicated this guy was really into fishing, so it could have been him. We went past, waved (everyone waves when you’re boating. It’s so friendly and wonderful), and went on for a bit. We eventually hit a point where we decided to turn around.

On the way back, Mike said he was going to ask the guy if he was Captain Russo. Being relatively unsocial, I told Mike I would back him up if he said something first, but I didn’t have the nerve to start the conversation. As we’re idling past, Mike asks him if he was Captain Russo and indeed – he was! We told him how much we loved his videos and how they were integral in our learning how to filet redfish. We were then honored with an invitation to tie up and come onto his dock to watch him clean a red, some trout, and some flounder. Um – our fishing guru just asked us to watch an in-person, one-on-one lesson?!? YES PLEASE.

We ended up spending almost an hour with Captain Russo. He showed us some useful techniques and methods for fileting local fish. He also gave us so much advice on where and when to fish. Not only that, he has so much experience and is an amazing story teller. What he taught was absolutely invaluable. I am still a little stunned at what an amazing coincidence meeting him was, and how kind and generous he was for inviting us up, and on Father’s Day weekend no less. We are so grateful we chanced upon him when we did. There is nothing I can think of that would have made yesterday better.

I think it’s official. We’re boat people. I’m already starting to ruminate living on a boat for our retirement years. I’m that hooked.

See you on the water!

6/12/2017

Fly’s Eyes

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:57 pm

Anyone remember this little gem, c. 1988?

Fly’s Eyes, Heywood Banks

6/8/2017

WTFH, 1st Edition – Is Your Dog An Ally of the Kaiser?

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:15 pm

For a few years now, I’ve been amassing research for my ‘WTFH’ project. I have finally found what I think is the perfect first edition for this series.

First off, I’m sure you’re wondering, what does WTFH mean? Well, I think you can figure out the WTF part. The H stands for History. I have been gathering news articles, illustrations, and advertisements that feature bizarre and unusual items from our American past. I get these mostly from the Library of Congress, but also other places that post historical newspapers. I have intentionally avoided the more controversial historic topics. I would hope that we’re all somewhat well-versed on that. My focus is the bizzare, the odd, the things that make you say WTF, History?! I’d actually prefer to use a better name for this feature, but until I (or you) come up with one, WTFH it is.

Without further ado, please let me present to you the following illustration I saw last night:

Is Your Dog An Ally of the Kaiser?

Dog Ally Kaiser (1917)

It is dated to June 1917, and I’ve seen it posted on various days in a few papers during this time period, mostly in Tennessee. Credit for this specific image goes to the Jackson County Sentinel, June 21, 1917, page 4. Direct link: LOC, Jackson County Sentinel.

Be sure that your dog is worth to you what he costs this country.

Just a slice of the odder side of American news history. Presumably, this caused you to pause and ask yourself – WTF was that I just read?

I anticipate posting more of these. I have at least 40 items in my folder at home waiting to be shared. If nothing else, I hope you to conclude, as I have, that our present is no more or less screwy than the past.

5/10/2017

Life as a Libra (perpetually seeking balance)

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:42 pm

Half of me can’t help but think that we’re living in a Roger Waters scored dystopia and the other half chortles, then reminds the 1st half that this is nothing new and to keep studying history just to be sure.

Goodbye little spy in the sky.
They say that cameras don’t lie.
Am I happy, am I sad, am I good, am I bad?

4/11/2017

Consumables

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:37 pm

Not able to get to any uke practice today like I had anticipated so lucky you – I’ll blog instead. I’ve recently consumed a few media items so time to share and review.

Gone Girl, a novel by Gillian Flynn. I read this about a month ago. I have not seen and probably never will see the movie that was made based on this book. (I really don’t watch movies, please stop asking if I’ve seen _______). The story was fantastic. It developed quickly and moved along swiftly the entire time. The one and only thing I disliked was the ending. I understand why the ending was done the way it was, but I was left feeling ‘robbed’. There was no justice served and that is not a normal ending for a western-style novel. It’s hard to get over that. All in all, I liked it, and will probably seek out some of Flynn’s other work when I remember.

Not long after that, I read the first graphic novel series I’ve read in probably decades. This was Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s Welcome to the NHK. Like Gone Girl, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. They actually both ended similarly with an Asian-style ending, which is no end – they just keep repeating cycles. People making the same mistakes and history repeating itself. It’s a rather Hindu/Buddhist style ending, which is just hard to accept, although reflect reality quite well. All in all, this was quite a compelling story. I also came away with a new perspective on some Japanese-related cultural aspects, which is cool.

For both of these novels, if you are looking for a typical Western ending (boy gets girl, hero saves the day, the bully is embarrassed/quashed, etc.) you will be disappointed. If you can handle that things just end the way they started, you’ll probably like these a lot more.

Two weeks ago, I was listening to the OTR show, Suspense. One of the episodes I heard was Diamond as Big as the Ritz. Wait?! What? Isn’t that just the name of a Jimmy Buffet song? Turns out the answer is no. It was actually a story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald (or probably Zelda and he just stole it from her). It is a historically dated story, but still a good and fast read. It covers the usual theme for Fitzgerald – the excessively rich and what they do with their money. Find a copy online (it’s everywhere) and read it. It’s short and worth your time.

On the TV end of things, we’re on the precipice of NHL Hockey playoffs. Huzzah! I really want to wax on how stupid the NHL is in their decision regarding the 2018 Olympics, but I will save that for another day.

My favorite new TV show is Designated Survivor, staring Keifer Sutherland. In talking to some family, we learned a lot of us are watching this. Are you also? If not, start now! It is hands-down the best new show I’ve seen on TV in a long time (last time I liked a show this much was Breaking Bad.)

OK, the clock is ticking down and my lunch hour is almost over. Go Hawks!

3/8/2017

Help A Sister Out

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:43 pm

Today is International Women’s Day. Social media is informing me that many females are participating in protests to recognize this date. The encouraged protests are apparently to wear the color red and to not go to work or shop.

So help a sister out here – I understand that a lot of my fellow citizens feel a need to protest their government. While I usually don’t agree with the reasons, I understand it. Peaceable assembly and seeking redress are inalienable rights that should be exercised and often. But that is all centered on protests of the government…so why are women protesting their employers and not the government? It seems like they are missing the forest for the trees and/or shooting themselves in the foot. Can anyone explain this?

3/7/2017

Like the Indians

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:21 pm

I have one more George L. Smith State Park story for you that I forgot in my last post. Really, it’s not GLS-specific, but something that happened there. Truly, I’m sure I could have overheard a conversation like this in a lot of places.

Here’s the scene – Mike and my friend, Kim, walk to the rental station to pick out a paddle for her to rent. I stayed in my kayak on the water and paddled around the launch area while they did this. While paddling and killing time (I was mostly circling and practicing turns), I notice a group of young men approach the boat-rental area. I think there were about 6 or 7 of them and they all appeared to be early 20s in age.

The boat rental area is not very complex, but there is no one on site to explain anything (there is construction going on there so the actual staffed rental area was up a slight hill and around a corner). Of course, there really isn’t much to explain. There is a line of worn-looking jon boats, canoes, and kayaks. After you pay the staff in the rental office, you walk to the boats, pick one out and go. Seems easy enough…unless you are one of these young men.

This is what ensued as they approached the line of available rental boats:
Six to seven Dudes gather around a jon boat and inspect it, many of them scratching their heads and looking confused. They then group-wandered to a canoe and stared at that for a minute. Then I begin overhear things like, “well, which one is the canoe?” “They’re both canoes” and so on and so forth as they tried to determine what they had just rented and which boat to take out.

Eventually, one of them decides to turn the jon boat over – because clearly – that will help them see the difference. After turning it over, the same dude then stands in the jon boat in a sort of Washington Crossing the Delaware pose. His friends seem delighted, and I hear things like “So that’s the canoe?” “Are you sure that’s it?” Washington-Wannabe responds, “Yeah, I can stand in it. Like the Indians. It must be the canoe!” So they piled into the jon boat and paddled off (with a lot of strain & effort because you know, it wasn’t a canoe. Although, I suspect that paddling wasn’t going to be easy for them regardless of the boat).

It was a perfect coda to their story when we spot them later in the day at one of the other boat launches. This time all but one of our intrepid boaters have abandoned their jon boat in lieu of a four (small) person paddle boat. Their numbers and weight was far, far exceeding what the paddle boat could handle. They nearly tipped the thing and drown themselves. Meanwhile, they left one – just one – dude to paddle the jonboat. We have video of him nearly doing the splits just to get in the boat. I will spare him and refrain from posting it. He ended up getting on and not falling in. If he fell in, you’d have seen the video already. I love laughing at fools as much as the rest of you do.

I honestly wonder if they ever made it back home. Good luck fellas, you’re going to need it. Your future does not appear to have smooth paddling ahead.

2/28/2017

George L. Smith State Park

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:00 pm

Last Friday Mike and I rode out to the George L. Smith State Park for a weekend of camping and kayaking, with my friend Kim joining us for one of the days. This was our first time to this State Park, and I was impressed with how nice it turned out to be. We booked well in advance, which was a wise decision. Apparently this is a pretty popular weekend getaway for a lot of RVers in the middle Georgia area. Even though the entire campground was booked, it was quiet and peaceful. I would have liked it if the RVs were required to ‘go dark’ after 10p or so. The light pollution from them was a bit annoying, but not enough for us to dislike our experience.

The highlight of this campground is the sites are right on the water. We were able to launch our kayaks directly from camp. The water itself was so calm. There was virtually no current, and of course, no tide to contend with. The water is a ~400+ acre pond created by a millhouse. Because the pond was created by damning up a creek, the water is in a cypress forest. Paddling through tight trees gave me a great opportunity to practice navigating my kayak without the added struggle of current/tide. We didn’t get to explore the entire pond, so we will definitely be going back.

Being out that way, you really get a taste of the Georgia countryside in all its forms. For example, we inadvertently crashed a wedding that was either getting started or had just finished at the Park. The bride and groom were being given ‘pamphlets’ to ‘read later’. I think that was something religious, but not really sure. There is also the private RV park next to the State Park that features RVs bearing full sized refrigerators under their front awning as well as washing machines under an open sided, tin-roofed structure. It was…weird. Then down camp, there was the dude with the Molan Labe (μολὼν λαβέ) and ‘Straight Outta Clito’ decals on his truck (I had to look up that last one, too. No, it’s not obscene, so feel free to look it up yourself). I also heard this gem of a conversation from our NASCAR loving RVing camp neighbors, “Hey Ashley! You want a red hot dog or a beer sausage?” So people do eat those weird neon red/pink hotdogs I’ve seen in Kroger! I truly never knew. I also wish I got a nickel for every utterance of ‘might could” that I overheard that weekend as well. Totally would have paid for the entire trip…or to utilize the parlance, “I might could pay for this trip if ya’ll keep saying ‘might could’!”

All in all, our first trip to the George L. Smith State Park was incredible, and we will certainly be going back.

2/13/2017

Saturday Afternoon Hockey, By The Numbers

Filed under: — Jaime @ 8:59 pm

Another Saturday has passed, so of course, has another Saturday afternoon Philadelphia Flyers game. Have you hockey fans noticed this, too?

It seems like every Saturday afternoon this season has a Philadelphia Flyers game. This observation irked me enough to run the numbers. Was I experiencing some sort of observational bias or was I onto something? Are the Flyers playing more Saturday afternoon games this season than any other team?

The short answer is: Yes. The longer answer is: Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers are playing a significantly higher number of Saturday afternoon games over other NHL teams*. In fact, of the 18 Saturdays that host day games, the Flyers have or will feature in 11 of them. The next closest team that appears on Saturday afternoon with any frequency is Boston with 7, followed by Buffalo at 5.

Here are is the Saturday afternoon appearance breakdown for the entire NHL:
Philly – 11
Boston – 7
Buffalo – 5
Colorado – 4
Minnesota – 4
Nashville – 4
Washington – 4
Winnipeg – 4
Columbus – 3
Dallas – 3
Florida - 3
Carolina – 2
Detroit - 2
Montreal – 2
NJ- 2
NYI – 2
NYR – 2
Ottawa – 2
St. Louis – 2
Tampa Bay – 2
Vancouver – 2
Arizona – 1
Chicago – 1
LA – 1
San Jose – 1

Interesting that some teams have no appearances – Calgary, Edmonton, Anaheim – who am I missing? Ultimately, having this knowledge is of no real significance but it did confirm my perception that the Flyers were on a lot of Saturdays this year.

Also, spreadsheets are fun. /glavin.

*Saturday afternoon games are those that are played on or before 3p EST on a Saturday during the regular season. I used this to pull my numbers: 2016-2017 NHL Season Schedule by date and time (pdf).

2/8/2017

Old People Are Awesome Reason No. 2817

Filed under: — Jaime @ 10:22 am

Just had an old lady leave me a voicemail. She was responding to a group email in which she was included. In her voicemail, she explained why she was leaving me a message rather than respond to the email, and declared, “I don’t have an email thing attached to my hip.”

Me neither, lady. Keep the voicemail coming. I love it.

2/7/2017

Where Are the Hippies?

Filed under: — Jaime @ 4:45 pm

Without getting into politics, I can admit that I wish that today’s modern SJWs (our era’s hippies, I guess) could write a song as half as good as they did in the late 60s/early 70s.

I’m not likely to listen to (most) SJW complaints, but I would listen to their music if it were any good. /she wrote while listening to Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Dirty hippies… ;)

2/1/2017

Uncle Sam Says So!

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:09 pm

I like to read old newspapers. It’s my way of time-traveling and escaping from new news. Today I ran across this notice, linked here:
Subscription notice, The Hartford Herald, October 23, 1918

I’ve never heard of any system/law/regulation where the US Government was fining newspapers if their subscribers were in arrears (maybe it was a state or local law?). I spent a small amount of time poking around online to see if I could find more info on whether this was a law of some sort. So far, no luck, but as I said, I’ve not spent a lot of time looking.

I like history mysteries though so I would like to find out more. Do you know of the history surrounding this notice? Curiosity is getting to me.

1/21/2017

It’s January 21st

Filed under: — Jaime @ 12:56 pm

So of course my neighbor is mowing, well now trimming, his lawn.

12/27/2016

I Believe!

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:25 pm

Hope everyone had a very nice Christmas. As I mentioned on the 22nd, we were going to be offline for that time, and we most certainly were.

Christmas 2016 was the most unique one I have ever had. For the first time in my life, we took a Christmas trip – to my favorite escape in the wilderness – the Okefenokee Swamp. Since we got our kayaks this summer, Mike and I have been gearing up to do an overnight camp that would require us to kayak in somewhere. We were supposed to have gone for my 2.0 birthday in October, but Hurricane Matthew had other plans for us. So it was now or never, and we chose now.

The trip was amazing. The highlight was the night of Christmas Eve. We paddled into Mixon’s Hammock, for which we had secured a permit to stay the night – just Mike and me and wildlife on a remote island in the swamp. The weather was ideal – upper 70s in the day and clear at night.

The Okefenokee has the darkest night skies on the entire eastern half of the US. The evening we were on the hammock was absolutely clear and we were able to lay out and stargaze. After we were out there for awhile and our eyes adjusted, I took out my binoculars.

Orion was overhead and clearer than I have ever seen him. It was the first time I have ever seen his full arch. I used that constellation to focus my binoculars since his belt is so easy to locate in the sky. Within a few seconds of my focusing, both Mike and I witnessed a very large meteor shoot across Orion’s belt. He saw it with his naked eye and I through the binoculars.

I immediately described what I saw to Mike, “It was red on the very tip, with a super bright yellowish-white light behind that and it had a blue/green tail.” It didn’t occur to me what I had just described until Mike gave me the classic raised eye-brow, which led me to blurt out “Santa!”

So now I know – Santa’s real. There is no way you can convince me otherwise. I saw it with my own eyes. I believe.

12/22/2016

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:13 pm

After tonight, I’m going to be very busy and it’s pretty likely I won’t be online much, if at all. So in case I don’t get a chance to say it before then – Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Island, Jimmy Buffett

12/19/2016

Christmas in Dixie

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:58 pm

This year is our 16th Southern Christmas. I’ve not been back to Illinois for a Christmas since we left in 2001. For those of you wondering, I won’t be back…not at Christmastime anyway.

I often say that the only way I like snow is 1,000 miles away and in pictures. That has not changed. Yesterday was the perfect example of why I am here and not up there. It was in the mid-70s, slight breeze, and beautiful. We had the windows open as we worked on my Christmas village and some other things around the house. Meanwhile, I was occasionally tuning into the Packers v Bears game where, in Chicago, it was a ripe 3 degrees. Ouch. That is beyond cold and into the painful territory.

Dad always included the Alabama Christmas in Dixie album (er, tape) among the ones we would listen to every Christmas when I was a kid. I haven’t listened to it in years, maybe over a decade. Some of it is a bit cheezy, but the eponymous song will forever be one of my favorites.

Christmas in Dixie, Alabama

Here’s to wishing you a very Merry Christmas from Dixie!

12/12/2016

Mahmut Bells

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:00 pm

For as obsessed as I am with finding ‘weird’ music, and for Christmas carols, I can’t believe I haven’t posted this before now. It’s almost a decade old, so we may be able to consider this a classic, now.

Mahmut Bells (Turkish Jingle Bells) by Mahmut Abi

And sing this you know what!

12/6/2016

P&G’s Holiday Party Email Ad (Possibly NSFW)

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:56 pm

A long time ago (in internet years), I signed up for the Proctor & Gamble mailing list to get free samples, coupons, etc.* I never bothered to get off the list, so I still receive their ads from time to time. I got one today and am not sure what to make of it. You tell me what they are asking. I’m just not sure. As the title says, possibly NSFW:

P&G advert

*I have since revised my philosophy on this and refuse to sign up with companies who give out coupons, etc. in exchange for my personal info. I’ve learned my personal info. has lots of value, far more than a few coupons are worth. You should consider this too. Your privacy is worth more than fifty cents off on laundry soap.

11/29/2016

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Filed under: — Jaime @ 4:08 pm

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

-Sewer problems have returned? Check.
-Unnecessary family drama? Check.
-Douchebag backs into our car and blames his rearview camera (guess he didn’t have eyeballs & mirrors?). Check.

So who has the voodoo doll of me and what do I need to do to get you to leave me alone?!?!

The Gull Reef Club