Monday, March 31, 2008


Apparently I have a franchise ... at the St. Louis Zoo.


Kristie's birthday was this past weekend. She's been wanting to "Eat at Joes" for quite a while now. Ryan had a conference in St. Louis Thursday and Friday ... so Kristie and Vicki and I took the opportunity to take the train into St. Louis on Friday. Ryan would pick us up, we'd stay in a hotel overnight and go to the Zoo and the Brewery on Saturday.

The train ride was relaxing and interesting. I've never taken a train anywhere before. The longest train ride I've been on was the Georgetown loop in Colorado ... and that's really more of a long scenic ride than "taking a train" somewhere. We wondered if the conductors would have the proper hats. They did!

We got on at Jefferson City down by the riverfront about 10:50 am, and cruised off down the tracks shortly afterward.

The inside of the passenger cars was a lot like a roomy airplane with bigger windows. Luggage up top, reclining airline seats with trays down below. Bathrooms at the front of every car. And you could walk through the cars as the train was moving. You opened the doors and they automatically closed behind you about 15 seconds later.

We got lunch on the snack car ... you can eat in the snack car if you buy food on the train. It's pretty small. But it was fun to sit at a table on a train just like you see in all the old movies.

The train often hit speeds of over 70mph (I had my GPS on me), slowing down for some road crossings and through towns. It was neat to see rural Missouri from a train ... from the INSIDE of the blocked-off tracks as we went across roads.

We arrived in St. Louis around 1:30 pm where Ryan picked us up, and we headed off to St. Louis Mills Mall. Ryan and I went to Cabelas while the girls covered the rest of the mall. We spent the rest of our time over 22oz beers at Tony Romas while we waited for them to finish.

Called Joel and Dawn and they came and met us at Joe's Crab Shack in St. Peters. Joel was in rare form. We had a really good time. King Crab Legs and boat drinks. Mmmmm.

Went to the hotel and checked in and went to one of Ryan's haunts from when he lived in St. Louis right there at Westport ... The Trainwreck. We had a drink ... the girls ordered dessert, I think, and then we went to bed.

Saturday morning we ate in the hotel restaurant and headed for the NOO. Ok, if you're wondering what the NOO is, just look at the sign. Turn your head clockwise 90 degrees now. There. I think that came from sister-in-law Betty.

The St. Louis Zoo is a very nice zoo and it's free to the public, courtesy of the Citizens of St. Louis. I spent lots of time there when I lived in St. Louis during the summer of '84 with Tom and Betty and worked at the Checkerdome Hardees (which is still there! But not the Checkerdome).

It was a cool morning, but some of the animals were out. The hyenas were playing keepaway with a rawhide bone, and when they started yipping more they attracted the attention of the cheetahs across the "road" from them. Not the kind of attention you want to attract, typically, but everyone was safe. Not in the minds of the cheetahs. But in reality, safe.

Vicki got her good luck fix by kissing a large bronze cobra, the only kind of snake you'll ever catch her touching (a fake one). And we went on to look at real snakes (the kind that are on the OTHER side of the glass), and Tigers, and Lions and Bears (yeah, yeah). Penguins... butterflies, bugs, seals. And it was time for lunch.

For lunch we went to The Boathouse in Forest Park. I'd ridden my bicycle and driven by it many, many times but had never been there. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know there was a restaurant there. Just paddleboat rentals. Kevin joined us there for lunch and at least Ryan and I had the fish and chips -- which was cod (not catfish, like at "the Ranch") so it was good.

Vicki ordered bread pudding for dessert which we all shared. Tasty.

Then it was off to the Anhaueser Busch Brewery. Where I found out that Land Shark Lager is an Anhaueser Busch product. It's a good one. So, "Fins Up", and we took the tour. I'd been on it once before. This time it was a little different. About the most fascinating part was the bottling and packaging facility. Automated to the teeth.

Kevin came with us. We all had a couple of samples in the hospitality room at the end, and it was time to head home. So we said goodbye to Kevin and drove back to Jefferson City to pick up the car, and then parted ways as the R&K went home and Vicki and I headed to Columbia.

Still no grandbaby. Probably tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest.

So stay tuned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

6:49 am

Thanks to my friend "CMommy" -- a friend that goes waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back ... I find I'm a 6:49am.

Really not a terrible analysis of me.
You're 6:49 a.m.
You're the time of day right around sunrise, when the sky is still a pale bluish gray. The streets are empty, and the grass and leaves are a little bit sparkly with dew. You are the sound of a few chirpy birds outside the window. You are quiet, peaceful, and contemplative. If you move slowly, it's not because you're lazy ? it's because you know there's no reason to rush. You move like a relaxed cat, pausing for deep stretches that make your muscles feel alive. You are long sips of tea or coffee (out of a mug that's held with both hands) that slowly warm your insides just as the sun is brightening the sky.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Soup and puree .... don't get left behind!

Ok.... obscure McCartney reference. I'm here to once again catch you up. (get it? Catsup?)

We had Brian and Kristin over for Easter... had the ham, the pineapple cassarole, green beans and au gratin potatoes for dinner. It snowed a little in the morning and we had a fire in the fireplace all day.

Kristin is due Monday. If she doesn't have it by then they will induce, and we will be grandparents.

We're heading to St. Louis this weekend for Kristie's birthday -- she's always wanted to Eat at Joe's, and we plan to. We'll also probably hit Cabela's, maybe a brewery tour.... just putz around.

Last weekend, Ryan, Brian and I took a firearms training course up north of town. Wouldn't you know, Kristin had a few contractions and a little blood and went to the hospital while we were out there. But it was a false alarm, and she's still carrying little BenTrent (the name hasn't been finalized, so we're using both).

I think our heat pump is broken. A couple of weeks ago when it was in the 40's we noticed that it kept running and running and running and it really shouldn't. The last 3 electric bills have been unusually high. I'm afraid there's nothin' for it. I'll be hosting a repair person in the morning to see what our options are. But it's 23 years old.... so ....

To add insult to injury, our sump pump burned up. I just replaced it a year ago. It's little floaty "wag" switch was prone to getting caught on things.... so I went out tonight (it's raining) to get a new one... ended up spending almost twice as much on this one. It has a vertical float instead of a wag, making it much less likely to get trapped. And it's crankin'.

Brian and I went out to Sam's house last night to get a little shooting in. We knocked cans off of a log with pistols and rifles. Had a cigar, and a beer... went to Huer's for dinner afterward.

Is my life exciting, or what?

I imagine the next post will be a birth announcement.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


My cell phone's been acting up lately -- very quiet voices on the other end. I've been having trouble hearing. Volume's all the way up. Sometimes I can't hear anything at all. And sometimes it's alright.

Well I tried to call Vicki from the store today to see if she thought we needed anything else. We were connected. She could hear me. But nothing. Nada. Zippo on my end.

She even called back. The speaker that does the ringing worked fine. But still nothing in my ear.

So I took it apart when I got home. And I found something unexpected and pretty interesting. There is no direct contact between any conductors and the posts on the earpiece speaker. And this is by design.

As a matter of fact, the strip of copper contacts that goes to the speaker ends in two terminal copper squares, which are separated by a piece of rubber -- again, apparently on purpose, from their corresponding contacts on the back of the speaker. But they're in close enough proximity to them to have an effect on them, making the diaphram move and pouring voices into my ear when I'm talking on the phone.

Most of the time.

Apparently, whatever held them close to those contacts wasn't working the way it used to, and my intermittent problems were a result of this. Finally, today they were apparently far enough away that they had no effect on the speaker at all.

So I fixed it. With -- you guessed it....

Duct Tape.

a little strip to make sure the copper strip is held in place where it is supposed to be. Won't move from there.

And it works great now.

Friday, March 07, 2008

40's Movie

I was in Walgreens the other day, and the lady behind the counter (white hair, maybe early 60's) smiled and said "you look like you just stepped out of a '40's movie".

I was wearing my leather fedora, a staple in my wardrobe in the winter, and a winter coat that looks somewhat like a bomber jacket.

I looked up and said, "Yeah, intermission's about over, and I need to get back."

Thursday, March 06, 2008


As a blogger bud of mine says. "Sorry No Updates Lately".

He hates "SNUL" posts. Blogs are by nature a place where the blogger goes when he feels like he has something to say. And there really hasn't been that much exciting going on.

But I know some of you out there check in to see what Phil is up to, and it's got to get kind of old after a while checking and seeing nothing.

Went out to Sam's with Ryan last weekend to do some target practice with pistols. Need to get used to the new 9mm. I'm ok at self-defense ranges with my other guns, but the 9 makes me flinch for some reason. So I'm doing some dry firing to try to break me of the habit. I'll try it again this weekend.

It got quite warm last Sunday -- 78 for the high, with a sharp drop that night. We were around 40 Monday with sunshine, but just 60 miles south of here they got about 6-8" of snow as the sun beat down upon us. Some unusually cold air for the season is swooping down upon us tonight, but it's not supposed to last more than a day.

We went to a cool place in Fulton with the Williams' on Saturday. A restaurant called Beks. Huge selection of very good beers, and the food was excellent. Yeah. In Fulton. I had a stuffed pork chop that had a surprise of lemon rind in the stuffing. It was great. I had an Italian and a German Triple Bock, and for dessert this chocolate stout mixed with a rasberry ale -- it was like a chocolate rasberry dessert, but not as sweet.

Or chewey.

Still anticipating the arrival of the Grandson early next month.

In other exciting news, we went out to the Elks for a bit this evening and to Angelo's for dinner. Greek Pizza. Whoo-hooo! Aren't you glad you dropped by now? ;-)