Sunday, October 25, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #234 – A Beautiful Pacific Sunset Every Evening, Manhattan Beach, California, January 2015

This week it's a simple photo. These homes and apartments are overlooking the beach and the Pacific Ocean at Manhattan Beach, California. It's January, so the sun sets around 5:30 PM. It's about 4:00 PM when I took this photo. I've seen Pacific sunsets and I can guarantee, they are breathtaking. But, then again, so are all the other ones I've seen.

I can only imagine what it costs to live in these homes on the beach, but I'm sure everyone who lives here believes whatever it costs is worth it. My friend, Dan has a fantastic view of the Pacific from his home perched high above the Pacific near Santa Barbara, California. I saw a sunset at his home and it was glorious. But, even back east, the sunsets are glorious. My friend Barbara lives on the top floor of an eight story condo on the beach in Sarasota, Florida overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the Gulf of Mexico. Her view is nothing short of awesomely amazing.

We are blessed to live on this beautiful planet with all that nature and God laid out before us. Some people are able to afford to live in places like these. But, that doesn't mean we all can't enjoy these scenic and glorious sunsets, sunrises and all of nature's other bounties. Don't let life slip by and not do everything to you can to explore these wonders of God and nature. That's one regret I won't have and I hope you won't either.

Live free and be happy. EH

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #233 A Really Big Boat, Cozumel, Mexico, September 2003

Of course, this isn't really a boat, it's a ship. I learned a simple differentiation between a boat and a ship during my younger days when I did some boating with friends. It made it very clear. You can put a boat on a ship, but you can't put a ship on a boat. Works for me.

At any rate, this photo was taken when I took a cruise from New Orleans to Cozumel and back on a Carnival Cruise Line ship, the Holiday. Actually, the ship in the photo is the Fascination. If you look carefully, you'll see another ship right behind it. That was our ship, the Holiday.

The lovely lady who posed so nicely for this shot is my friend, Carol. She and her husband, Brian, are long time, good friends from New Zealand. They were coming to the U.S. and told me to meet them in New Orleans to join them on this cruise in September of 2003. Having never been on a cruise before, at least not on an ocean going ship, I figured – another adventure and something to cross off my life list.

So, here we are, two Kiwi's from down under, one Yank, originally from northern New Jersey, meeting in New Orleans and ending up in Cozumel, Mexico. I wasn't particularly enamored by cruising on a ship that was like a small city. For my liking, there were too many people. A lot of people love these cruises. Personally, I'd like to sail on a much smaller ship with perhaps not more than 50 to 100 people on board. I'm sure we wouldn't have all the amenities, but that's okay since I really didn't use most of the amenities on this ship.

I have to admit that I really enjoyed the snorkeling I did that day off the coast of Cozumel and the visit to the ancient Mayan ruins at Tulum. Was it a great experience? Absolutely! And, a good time was had by all. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Photos-of-the-Week #232 Blast From The Past, Gone But Never To Be Forgotten, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, August, 2008

This unassuming building with the antique Chrysler parked out front and the ExecutiveBooks.Com sign is not what one would assume from the outside. It was, in fact, the personal library of my dear, long-time friend, the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. I write this in the past tense because Charlie died October 16, 2008. I took these photos on my next to the last visit I had with my friend about two months before he passed away.

As you can see from the other interior photos, this building held a treasure in old and antique books and other memorabilia. There is nothing new in this room. There are no new or current books. There are no new or current recordings. There are no new or current paintings, photos or graphic works. Even the fliers, brochures and booklets on the tables are vintage or antique.

Yes! That is a real, working player piano with a large selection of piano rolls. You can see one threaded in the window on the piano. Over near the windows there is a wax cylinder player. I believe it was an Edison unit. There was a large selection of historic wax cylinders including some important speeches. There was also an old Victrola from the Victor Talking Machine Company with a collection of historic 78 rpm phonograph records.

There was an aura about this room. Over the years I knew Charlie, I had been in the library on several occasions. The building stood adjacent to the guest house Charlie maintained on his small farm in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. For many years during some of the tougher times and the start-up days of his publishing business and his international speaking career, this guest house was his headquarters. The building where the library was housed was the warehouse. Charlie had his personal, private office in the guest house where it remained until his death. Yes! There was a sizable library of books there, too. Some of those were more contemporary. Charlie and I spent many hours in conversation in that comfortable office.

As you look around the library you'll see all kinds of books. Charlie loved books, all books. There were many first editions. He would be speaking to a huge audience and he'd hold up a book and kiss it to get his point across. I don't recall a lot about Charlie's childhood or education. I know he was originally from Alabama. I don't recall if he attended college. He became an insurance salesman for one of the largest U.S. insurance companies at age 22. By age 23 he was winning major sales awards. By 30 he was one of the most successful insurance sales people in the U.S.

This room is the essence of Charlie Jones' love of books, learning and sharing the books and the knowledge gained from them. During his lifetime he published countless books for, at the time, lesser known or unknown authors, several of his own books, supplied millions of books to individuals and businesses and spoke to over 5,000 audiences around the world. To say I cherish these photos and the photos I have with Charlie, is an understatement.

This building still exists. It's now owned, along with the guest house, by one of Charlie's daughters and her husband. I haven't been in either building since the ownership changed. I do know the library, and everything it represented to Charlie, to me and the countless others who visited it, is gone. Charlie had made arrangements to donate all of its contents prior to his death. So, being in that room in the past and now looking at these photos is definitely a “blast from the past” for me. However, while the library is gone, it will never be forgotten, nor will my friend, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.   

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #231 One Instant In Time, Sparta, North Carolina, August, 2011

That's all it takes to change the course of your life. Just one Instant in time. In this particular instant, actually, a couple nights before I took this photo, I was driving this car. I finally found this particular car and bought it less than a year before in September of 2010. I had already acquired my South Dakota license plates and left as soon as I put them on the car for Rapid City, South Dakota to complete my official residence change and obtain my South Dakota drivers license. This car was destined to be the “toad” (RV slang for the car towed behind a motor home) for the motor home I was shopping for. And, in one instant all my plans changed.

Yes, you're looking at a totaled 2002 Ford Focus that had the low mileage, the exact door, seating and cargo configuration, the five-speed manual transmission, the engine and other features I specifically wanted. It even had a satellite radio receiver installed. It took me two months to find this particular car. I downsized from my 1996 Cadillac Seville STS, one of my favorite cars of all time. I had 256,000 miles on the old Caddy. I bought it with 104,000 miles on the odometer. The Focus was about 8 years old when I bought it and only had a few thousand miles over 50,000 on the odometer. Then . . . 

a kamikaze deer shot out of the darkness of the night and in that instant everything

about my future plans changed. No! I wasn't hurt, just a little stunned. I didn't even make contact with the airbag when it deployed. And, therein, lies the crux of the matter. There was no one in the passenger seat, but both airbags deployed as you can see in this photo.

When the insurance adjuster went over the car, he had to total the car. The actual damage to the front of the car, headlight, grill and windshield were all repairable at nominal expense. It was those two airbags that moved the car into the totaled category. They brought the cost of repairs well over the threshold that made sense for the insurance company.

Obviously, one doesn't plan for an accident, therefore they always happen at an inopportune time. This was no exception. The insurance company had me in a rental car virtually immediately. So, I had wheels. However, due to my schedule and upcoming events, I had absolutely no time to go shopping for a replacement for this vehicle. It took me two months to find this Ford Focus, so I fully expected it to take that much time or possibly longer to find another car matching my precise requirements as the “toad” I had planned this car to be.

Ultimately, by the middle or end of September I had changed my plans. I decided to alter my plans for a motor home and a toad. I decided to find either a Class B or Class B+ van based motor home or a high-top conversion van I could modify myself to use as both a tiny house on wheels and a daily driving vehicle. I looked at a couple vehicles, but ultimately decided on the self modified, high-top conversion van, now known as My McVansion.

The positive outcome is the change in plans saved me from paying insurance on two vehicles, double maintenance, upkeep, operating expense, repairs, depreciation and the cost to modify the “toad” vehicle for towing. The frustration is that I had sold a beautiful high-top conversion van with a slightly larger engine, nicer interior and even lower mileage only about 18 months earlier.

Such is life! Everything can change in an instant. It certainly did for that kamikaze deer. It's “lights” went out permanently in that instant. Of course, I'm very thankful I didn't lose control and roll the car or hit a tree or worse. Ultimately, perhaps, there was a message from the universe in that event. Although, I just think it was a standard dumb deer doing what dumb deer do and I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time that night.