Disney Stockholder Annual Meeting

Back in January I got my email notification about the Disney Annual Stockholders meeting with all the proposals connected with the item’s we stockholders would need to vote on. I went online and chose to vote via the online option but then I noticed that the meeting was being held in St Louis. Wow never been to a stockholder meeting before. I figured being Disney it would be interesting. I was not disappointed.
I decided to take the day off and drove downtown to the parking area for the arena and Stifel Theatre. The parking was provided for free by Disney and as I drove in the amount of people driving into the garage was a lot more than I expected and you knew they were going to the meeting as they had their print outs in hand for entry.
Entering the front of Stifel the was quite a line to get in and in Disney fashion the true line length was hidden. As I walked in, I said “Hey I thought I had a Fast Pass” prompting some chuckles from the assembled crowd. There were tons of banners are art work some talking about the entry procedures and others with Disney artwork. First was the ID check where my printout was compared to my DL information then moving on I was queried about not having any cell phones or other recording devices. I then was scanned and ascended the stairs to the theatre entry lobby.
Arriving upstairs there were character photo ops happening. I got to meet with Mickey, and they took photos Disney PhotoPass style with a card given so I can download the photo later. I also met Captain America the new Marvel character whose movie comes out tomorrow, Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story were there as well but I decided I wanted to get seated and moved towards the entrance to the theatre itself Just outside there was refreshments and I helped myself to an excellent cup of coffee and sat down to choose my seat.

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I picked out a nice aisle seat and sat down to get comfortable. On the screen was video of the character meets going on outside the theatre. This was to be a multimedia extravaganza. The house lights started to dim and a musical group D A Capella came out to perform they did 4 Disney songs centered around movies coming out or already in theatres. Hate to be critical but they were what I would say is um OK. Then Robert Iger the president of Disney came out. He did a quick up date on things and then turned it over to the lawyers for the real business meeting. Two nuns got up and gave two stockholder proposals about some social justice things and then they counted the votes. Makes you feel a tiny bit small when you hear there are over a BILLION outstanding shares of stocks. The votes were not even close with both stockholder proposals defeated.
Then the president got up and briefed on new things coming to the parks including a Star Wars addition to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. We saw backstage footage of the areas OMG it’s going to be awesome. He then presented several movies coming out starting with Captain America. The trailers were just incredible, and some were before they have been released any where else we were the first to see them. We also got a brief preview of the to come Avatar movie that is actually a Fox property that will be coming to Disney with the merger. After being blown away by all the great looking movies coming out this year the President started taking questions from the crowd.
This was kind of strange as some of the questions seemed set up. The presentation included a lot of information about Disney + the new streaming service that is about to be put in place and one of the questions was asking about how that would work and they had already pretty much told us all about it. Still others were very self-serving for Disney, but I could have gotten up and asked a question if I had desired.
We were thanked for coming and I headed for the door. As we left, they were passing out free posters for Captain America I grabbed one on impulse. Outside all the displays had been taken down and all the exits so unlike when we came in only one way there were several ways out. A very Disney thing to do.

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I was surprised when I got back to the car and turned the cell on that the whole thing had taken less than 3 hours. I headed back to head home and have some lunch. I found the whole experience just great and impressive. Though my number of shares is very modest it felt great to have some belonging to such an successful organization that is Disney and the idea that anybody who was a shareholder could come and ask and participate in the meeting. I am very glad I had the opportunity to attend.

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They Shall Not Grow Old

shall not grow old

A few years ago I discovered a channel on YouTube called “The Great War.” It was an effort to chronicle what happened each week a hundred years ago during World War I.  It took me awhile to catch up but eventually I was waiting for new episodes each week and I learned so much that I didn’t know about the war.

Due to the channel I became aware of a movie produced by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame called “They Shall Not Grow Old” a documentary about World War I. A friend from work went to see the movie and highly recommended it – so last Saturday I finally got to see the movie.  I had to travel across STL to get to the theatre and I had planned to go several times and then weather threatened so I postponed going.

Entering the theatre I was surprised on how many people were going in to see the movie I actually figured I would be one of the few. The crowd actually was fairly large and a diverse group for sure but mostly an over 30 population.

The movie opens with Peter Jackson introducing the movie and announcing that there would be a 30 minute short after the movie credits that would explain how the restoration of the film was made.

The movie opens with very grainy images and I was confused about what restoration had been done but these images were superimposed over period recruiting posters and other ephemera from the time. All the voices were from oral histories collected by the Imperial War Museum in the 1960’s (over 600 hours worth) from the veterans themselves.  The vets talked about what they were doing before the war started.  Many were working in very different jobs when suddenly the declaration of war happened and the effort to recruit the troops was brought to the forefront of society.

About this time they shifted from the very narrow shots to the full screen experience with the restored and colorized film. The change is dramatic – features blurred by time were suddenly made crisp.  The story went from how they were recruited and then trained.  Many faked their age to sign up.  Many people knew they were faking their age and even instructed them how to do it but it was common for 17 year olds to sign up when 19 was supposed to be the limit.

After training the troops were asked about skills they might have from previous jobs such as experience with horses, electronics, weapons, driving vehicles etc. At that point some were sent to these more technical fields while most became infantryman.

As with all wars it seems they thought it would be very short and they would be back home but that was not to be. The film did a good job depicting soldier life and unfortunately soldier death.  This movie is not for the faint of heart – it is brutal as hell.  There are images and ideas that many will find disturbing.

I saw a clip that depicted what happened during an actual shelling with canister rounds. The shell exploded overhead and then you see the shrapnel hit the ground below with stunning violence.  There is a clip of a Calvary unit hit by shell fire and the resulting horses just destroyed in pieces.  It is very hard to sugar coat a million dead.

A couple of things I found interesting over and above what we were shown. To make tea in the trenches the men had to use the tiniest of fires less the smoke become visible and the Germans targeting the smoke to shell their location.  Another was the tiny locomotives they used to transport supplies very close to the front line again the trains started out with coal but that marked them for artillery fire so a change was made to petrol to eliminate the smoke.  The locomotives were no bigger than a farm tractor in size but they were perfect for the task assigned

Near the end of the movie they depict an assault against deeply dug in Germans and there was no footage of this as the cameramen would have been killed so illustrations were created to intermingle with the actual oral histories being replayed.

At the end of the movie we all sat kind of muted and stunned at what we had just witnessed. Then Peter Jackson was back showing us all that was done to make this movie.  The visual effects are stunning all by themselves film gone black from age lightened up so it can be seen and washed out film restored to be able to see all the definition that was originally present on the film.  These were silent films so the team had lip readers come in and they figured out what they were saying and voices were recreated using people from that region of the UK so the accent would be comparable.  The sound department went out and obtained actual sounds of the equipment used when possible and recreated where necessary.  It was a tad humorous as Peter Jackson is a WW I buff and had many of the uniforms used in the colorization process and also actually had old artillery pieces so the sound men captured how they sounded when they were moved by horses.  The restoration effort was incredible in size and scope and the resulting movie though brutal just outstanding.  I don’t want you to think it was all glum there were some very humorous moments.  My favorite was during the credits you could hear a bunch of men singing like they were in a pub the song Mademoiselle From Armentieres with some rather naughty lyrics ( according to Peter Jackson they cut out the really nasty ones) – but where did they get the singers in New Zealand as they all sound very British – In the 30 minute short Peter Jackson revealed that they recruited them from the British Embassy in New Zealand and they got them to sing it.  Took them several takes (over 8 hours)to get it just right and the clip they showed of them performing the song was hilarious.

After the film was over the audience was incredibly quiet and subdued and we all quietly walked out of the theatre to go our separate ways. Allied deaths are listed on Wikipedia at 6,433,692. That doesn’t include the other side at all. I have said that I highly recommend this movie and I encourage you to see it now on the big screen – I think it will lose some of its impact if you wait for video.  I am sure it is in limited distribution and even less since it has been out awhile but I think it worth the extra effort to see it on the big screen.  If World War I peaks your interest at all I also recommend going on the YouTube “The Great War” channel and viewing all those videos they are well done and tons of information is there for the picking.

Nectar Journey

When I moved, I decided not to move my king-sized bed both the mattress and bed frame were in horrible shape.  Over 15 years old.  I also decided to subsist on my existing queen mattress as I didn’t need a guest room just yet and with the smaller footprint I didn’t know if everything would fit.

After getting everything in place and working through it a few months I figured out how to get a queen bed in the front extra bedroom.  The search began for a new mattress and bed.

I didn’t feel the need for some expensive piece of furniture I was more interested in mattress comfort.  The choices are incredibly diverse.  I finally settled on a Nectar mattress and their bed frame.  The total delivered price was just over 1k which is right in the middle of the price I was prepared to pay.  When I went to finalize the deal, I was offered no interest financing and while I could pay cash for it I decided what the heck free money – I’ll take it.

Soon I had a Fed Ex tracking number and it was then I noticed that the bed foundation unit was 64 lbs and the mattress itself was a hundred.  Ok the foundation should be easy enough but the mattress I was a bit concerned about how it would go up there.  I had heard there were straps on the bed which comes compressed into like a jelly roll that would expand when released.  Strap it on your back and walk up the stairs – um ok

The packages arrived on a Friday and when I got home I dragged the box and huge roll into the living room.  Foolishly I dragged the box upstairs.  Dummy I could have opened it and taken it up piece by piece.  First thing to do was move the queen bed into the new spot.  I then set about putting the bed foundation together once that was done I went back to the mattress still in the living room.  There were no straps and no directions evident.

After a short rest I put my kilt on and grabbed the roll and put it on the stair case.  Picking it up like a caber I move the heavy roll up the stairs one step at a time.  Put my back against the stairway wall and then press it up with my legs and up I go.  I got about three steps from the top when I figured I could just topple the mattress onto the top level.  Woot woot time for a rest.

I then unzipped the huge bag to reveal another inner bag – the bag with the straps attached.  Whoops that would have made it easier for sure.  Using the straps I place the inner bag on the edge of the foundation per the instructions.  Then I unzipped the inner bag to reveal the mattress all compressed in wrapped poly film. I removed the bag and then following the directions I used the enclosed cutting tool to “RELEASE THE KRAKKEN” err the mattress. It unrolled onto the foundation just as planned.  It was then I found the two free pillows I was to have received and removed them to the side and watched it all expand.  The two pillows became huge and like 14lbs each.  You hit somebody with these pillows and you will take them out.

With that mattress all unrolled a started putting the bedding on.  Woo hoo I had a bed to sleep in.  They warned that it could take 24 hours to totally expand but it looked totally expanded and ready for use.  What ever I was using it.  I picked up the remaining tools and packing material and hit the hay  I would put the queen bed back together tomorrow.

Fast forward to a week ago.  I was laying in bed waking up around 5 AM not doing anything when suddenly KABOOM! And I noticed the head of the bed is about 8 inches lower.  I get out of the bed to find the leg of the bed on the left side broken and the foundation setting on the carpet.  I then look at the other side to find the other leg flayed out and likely broken as well.   BLARGHHHHH!!!  I wish I had a better story about how the bed broke but I literally was just laying there.

 

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Left Side

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Right Side

Went downstairs to the lap top and find that Nectar customer service doesn’t open to 6 AM Pacific time. so I would have to wait.  I took two hard sided gun cases to replace the legs and propped up the bed.  That should hold it till I get a replacement.  At the moment I called I waited for a bit till I talked to a person.  They asked for pictures which I had the foresight to take and emailed them off.  They said they would get back to me.

Days later I hadn’t heard anything, so I went online chat and found that no action had been taken.  I then began a rather long discussion with the rep and her team about what to do.  I reminded them that there is supposed to be a hassle-free warranty and they were currently angering a previously happy customer.  A customer that would be become very verbose on my experience on social media.  They promised prompt action.

Two days later I got a notice from Fed Ex that a shipment was coming from Nectar.  Another day later I got an actual email from Nectar that the replacement was on the way.  Grrrrrrr.

Saturday last my doorbell rang and before I could get there the guy was gone and a huge box was on the porch that I dragged inside.  This time I would open it here and take the parts upstairs a piece at a time.  This foundation was totally different in construction only thing similar was the slats that hold up the mattress.  The legs were wood not plastic and there were two support beams instead of one and each leg was reinforced with steel brackets.  The one thing concerning about the new construction was plastic parts holding the corners together.  They kind of snapped into place and held in place by plastic wedges.  The last one gave me a huge amount of problems.  Good thing I have tools and know how to use them.  With a little application of the lever principle and a plastic mallet I got the last lock in place and the foundation was done.

The mattress was lowered into place and the bedding replaced and again I had a functioning bed.  I sure hope it holds up. 

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Glock/Atlanta Trip Part II

After the Glock Advanced Armorer’s Course was over I drove back to the hotel and unloaded all my class stuff. I then went down stairs with the plan to go out exploring. As I cleared the entrance of the hotel I saw the Rhode Island guys smoking outside and decided to stop and chat with them. One of the guys was asking about what I did for a living and I talked about my job and somehow I discovered that one of the guys was actually from Kokomo and his wife was from Peru. Small world right? We talked about Miami County having the world of cities. Peru, Mexico, Chile, Denver Miami etc. The topic turned to guns and I got more information about a local store that boasted over 10,000 guns in stock. I was like yeah I need to see this place. After a while I bid adieu and climbed into the car and drove into the afternoon traffic. Blargh! Very frustrating it was taking 30 minutes to move a mile. I also wanted something different to eat tonight so I was glancing along the way for somewhere to eat. As I traveled the traffic finally lessened and I guess what was also frustrating there was no apparent reason for the back up. No accidents were seen or places where a bunch of traffic would dump onto the highway so why the traffic was built up wasn’t apparent. I looked up and saw a Mexican restaurant and it had a full parking lot so that usually is a good sign so I pulled in and found some parking.

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As I entered the building the stereotypical Mexican décor was present and some Mariachi music played in the background. I was quickly seated and perusing the menu I decided on something simple – Tacos. The chips and Salsa arrived and uncharacteristically ordered a large Margarita. After the stress of all the traffic I needed it. The 55 gallon drum of a Margarita arrived and I sipped on the ice cold nectar while I waited on my meal. I quizzed the waitress about the flan on the menu and she commented that it was all hand made so I ordered that for afters. The tacos came with beans and they were extra tasty not sure why – I am guessing it was the extra lard added – LOL. Soon I was stuffed and had the flan to go so I could eat it later in the hotel.
By the time I finished my meal the traffic mysteriously disappeared and the trip back was easy. I was pretty tired still so I decided to seek the gun stores tomorrow. Later I enjoyed the flan at the hotel and hit the hay.
I woke up on my own as I had no real schedule today. Ate a leisurely breakfast at the hotel – today they had eggs with biscuits and gravy so I had eggs with some of the gravy on top. During the handling of all the Glocks I had shredded my nails and without any clippers packed I decided a manicure was in order. I headed out towards the Atlanta Aquarium – it was promised to be the largest aquarium and they had Whale Sharks which is unusual, so I headed downtown. The traffic was pretty normal for a downtown so much less stressful and Tom Tom took me right to the garage. I did notice there were a lot of hawkers for parking but decided to use the “official” parking which was $12. I was a bit surprised how many slots were already full as it was 20 minutes to the opening but I found a nice open area and pulled into my slot and started walking to the entry.
There was a covered walkway from the parking garage to the entrance and saw a few people already in line to get in. I used the self service kiosk to purchase my ticket and joined the loosely formed line. It was threatening rain with gloomy skies and I hoped we got in before it rained. Soon the security dude came out and announced the entry procedures which included metal detectors. Of course when it became time to enter I was pulled over as I set off the detector. They wanded me and sent me on my way and the first back up. While there was several people screening through the metal detectors the actual entry to the aquarium was manned by one person so a line was building as each person had to have their ticket scanned.

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As you make your entry to see a well lit and bright and shiny display of all the areas. There were plenty of staff and volunteers there to help you with anything you needed. I headed over to the first display area noting that the Dolphin Show started at 11:30. As I walked around the displays were well lit, well described on the accompanying captioned displays.

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I came into an area where the water was drained but a ladder was sitting smack dab in the middle. Chuckled to myself it was the very rare “ladder fish”. I moved through the displays over to the Shark Tunnel where a clear tunnel cuts through the largest tank in the aquarium this is where the Whale Sharks were housed. It also contained a sea turtle and many manta and other rays in addition other sharks. The tunnel had a little people mover conveyor that you could stand on and be taken slowly through the tunnel. As I made it to the other side the feeding of the Whale Sharks had begun while a commentator described the process and all about the tank. Bless fully there was a bench in the area when I could sit and watch just about everything going on. The aquarium was on two levels and often the display would start on top and finish on the lower level a unique way to display all the fishes and I don’t think I have seen it done this way before.

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BAG Big Ass Grouper

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Whale Shark and Manta Ray

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Whale Sharks were very cool

It was getting close to Dolphin show time so I made my way there and while waiting for the crowd to enter the stadium there was an aquarium worker standing near the Dolphin display area wearing a wetsuit. She fit the mold of dolphin trainer and I asked her –“ you must be broiling in the wetsuit” She replied. “Yes right now I am sweating bullets but soon I will be glad to have it on in the cold water.” About that time they started letting people into the stadium.

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The show was to be a multi media extravaganza. We were warned that those in the first 10 rows were in the “splash zone” and if you didn’t want to get wet you better seek higher ground. Took some time to get rolling but the show was an excellent display of the capabilities of the Dolphins. I have seen many Dolphin shows before but the one unique thing they did in this show was ride the nose of the Dolphin lifted up as high as they could and still propel them across the tank. Never seen that done before. All too soon the show was concluded and we piled out of the stadium.

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Piranha

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Beluga Whales

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Looks like a Penguin

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Puffer

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Dragonfish

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oh da jellies

I had been at the aquarium for about 3 hours and was getting hungry and didn’t think eating at the aquarium would be a good idea nor inexpensive. Like many places you have to exit through the gift shop – didn’t see anything that compelling so I returned to the car and made my way towards the gun store that promised the 10,000 firearms.
Tom Tom kept me off the interstates for some reason and took me back a different way. I saw a Publix market and never been in one so I stopped to have a look see and maybe pick up lunch. As I looked over things I wasn’t really impressed and the food not that compelling to try. I did try to find the new Pickled Bean Clamato to try out but alas they didn’t have any but I did pick up some Clamato to try to fight my growing dehydration. Back to the car I quickly found the promised gun store.
Adventure Outdoors reminded me from the outside as very familiar to Academy Sports. Entering I could see all the firearms and the 10,000 claim was very accurate. A clerk came up and asked if he could help me – I replied if they would ship something to my FFL dealer if I found something I had to have and he asked where I was from and when I said Illinois he said no they wouldn’t deal with it. I told him I do it all the time that I didn’t live in Chicago so he called somebody and they said that if I found something they would consider it. Oh boy that wasn’t promising. I made my way through – lots of stuff but nothing I couldn’t get back home and for about the same price. Ammo was plentiful but nothing I couldn’t get back home nor worth packing it up and the hassles of transporting it. It was a very nice place though with just about anything a shooter or sportsmen would need. They even had a range on site.
I headed back towards the hotel and noted that the Mexican place was just down the way and if I had driven just a little past the Mexican restaurant I would have seen the large gun store. Back near the hotel I stopped at a Krystal a local slider chain much like White Castle. I entered and decided on 4 classics with a frozen Fanta Cherry for afters. While sitting at the counter enjoying my sliders a woman came in complaining about her drive thru order. The help decided to argue with her and the back n forth started. Finally the lady left and the help was discussing it amongst themselves. In my head I am thinking guys really was that just worth it? You could have given her what she wanted and everybody would be happy and you guys wouldn’t be so upset. Oh well I enjoyed my sliders and left headed for the other gun store.
Tom Tom helped me find it quickly but this store was much smaller and had much less stock. One unusual thing was they also sold Green Egg Smoker Grills. The staff was friendly and immediately said they would ship anything I wanted to buy no problem. They asked me why I was in town and I told them Glock training and they said “cool” Quickly I was done and moved on to find my nail salon.
There were plenty to choose from and I was quickly seated and the nail tech was trimming my nasty nails. This was the stereotypical Vietnamese nail salon. All the techs chattering away and looking at the male intruder. They did a great job on my nails and I was done in short order. 12 bucks pretty cheap really and I head back to the hotel to get ready for this evening.
Tonight I was meeting up with a friend that I have known for several years but never met in real life. Beth is in Atlanta to complete her PhD. She told me a friend from out of town was here and we would go out to eat at a Vietnamese place near her home. I used Tom Tom to navigate to the area and found a parking place out front and then texted that I was there. Beth came out with her SO and her friend we headed to the restaurant. My sister had suggested a dish to me and I chose the Clay Pot Combo of beef and shrimp. The food was awesome and I was stuffed. After supper we walked to a nearby Irish Pub and had some drinks. I had Redbreast 12 an Irish Whiskey while the rest had Guinness, Stella Artois and a Sparkling Hard Cider. Sometimes I miss beer and cider but I think the trade off has been well worth it. We talked a lot about past times but soon I was running out of steam and we broke up while the group went on to enjoy some other entertainment I headed back to the car. Soon I was headed back to the hotel.
When I arrived I was disappointed that the hotel had not made up my room or replaced the towels. I went to the front desk and obtained fresh linens and then up to bed. This was my last night so I took a little time to pack. Again I didn’t need to set an alarm as I was flying out at 5 PM. I decided to do a little exploring. I had heard about a diner on the Food Network called the Marietta Diner. It was a Greek style diner of the old school. As I drove towards the area I found Dobbins Air Reserve Base. I had hoped there would be a static display of aircraft but there wasn’t any that was apparent. I did find a B29 that just beyond the fence line but it was in pretty bad shape so I wasn’t missing much. Suddenly I saw something very interesting. I saw Hodge’s Army Surplus Store. I pulled over and entered this mecca of stuff. Place was huge with all kinds of old uniforms badges, patches, hats etc. There was camping gear and boots and stacks and stacks of ammo cans. If this was local I would come back and purchase some ammo cans but I didn’t find anything worth packing on the plane to take back.
I moved on to the Marietta Diner where the parking lot was overflowing must be good. I had to park in the back and made my way into the kind of large diner. The hostess said I would have to wait for table but if there was a counter space open I could grab it. I sat at the counter and ordered Chicken Souvlaki platter and when it came I knew immediately I couldn’t finish it. The food was all great and the gyro sauce was very tasty. Looking in the dessert case you could see fabulous desserts of all kinds and flavors, but I was stuffed.

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Marietta Diner

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My Lunch platter

I left the diner and programed the Tom Tom for the airport. When I came in the rain had prevented me from seeing much but today it was all bright and I could navigate without problems. The signage directing me to the Rental Car turn in area was perfect. I turned into the garage area and the first delay of many. The turn in area was manned by one guy. I wasn’t in a hurry but jeez this company has a lot of challenges to doing business with them. After turn over I entered the Rental Car Center and took the short train ride to the airport. I was kind of early and needed to wait a bit before I could check in the luggage. I took a selfie with a Penguin statue that advertised the aquarium. I laughed because I wanted to get one at the aquarium but had forgotten to get it. The luggage check in at the kiosk was perfect and then I joined the TSA precheck line. Pretty quickly through security I got on the terminal train and popped up at C gates. As I came up I saw a candy shop and stopped off for a rather expensive pecan praline. They didn’t list the price and I am sure on purpose had I know how expensive the pralines were I would have passed.

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My gate at the airport was sparsely populated but then I was early. I chose a seat right next to my boarding position and started the wait for boarding which was delayed by weather in Florida. The plane arrived and Southwest in the normal procedure was trying to make up the time with quick boarding. I scored another exit row seat this time near the window side but no third seat in the row so I was very comfortable. Flight was a quick hour and ten minutes and was on the ground in STL. The wait for bags was a little longer than usual but soon I was on I 70 headed for home.
So ends an adventure that started with a great time with Glock learning about repairing problem pistols and shooting a full auto Glock G18 pistol and finishing with exploring parts of Atlanta including a world class aquarium. I am sure now that any further Glock Training I want to attend I definitely want to attend it in Smyrna as opposed in the field. The opportunities there are boundless. Next time maybe the Glock Operator’s Course.

 

Glock Advanced Armorer’s Course

As a Glock Armorer it is required to renew it every three years, but I also wanted to attend the Advanced course to kind of personally grow. I found a great price for airfare to Atlanta which is near Smyrna which is where Glock is located. I contacted Glock and they gave me the hotel they use and got a great price on a decent hotel very near the facility.
I was leaving after the work day so the day seemed to drag as suddenly people figured out I would be gone for a few days, but I got to the airport with plenty of time and boarded the aircraft and scored an exit row seat. Wow great leg room. This was a direct flight so I landed in the busiest airport in the United States. I walked briskly to the bag pickup and then the long wait to get my checked bag. At Atlanta the rental car facility is a short train ride away and everything was going according to plan.
Arriving at the facility there was a ton of people there. I had chosen a new company to rent from this trip – EZ. Nice name but it was far from easy. I had a really hard time finding the desk and then I found I had to go to another Companies desk – Advantage. The line was 10 people deep and there was one clerk. It was taking 15 minutes per transaction and it was already past midnight. Frustration was at an incredible, surreal level. Suddenly two other clerks appeared, and hope was raised. After getting the agreement I was directed to the pick up area. Unfortunately, the WRONG way and I had to retrace my steps and figure it out myself. Finally, I am out into traffic and it is raining cats and dogs.
Tom Tom sent me up the bypass to get to the hotel. Shortly I am at a traffic stand still because of an accident and I sat in the pouring rain for 30 minutes. I called the hotel and assured them I was on my way and they reassured me my room was waiting and gave me some hope. At that moment that re-encouragement was really needed. Finally arriving at the hotel, I picked up my key card and got to the room. I got into bed set my alarm and the phone told me I had 3 hours till wake up. Ugh!
Oooooh six hundred came and I rolled out of bed and got moving. Breakfast in the hotel was free and pretty good actually. Climbed into my big SUV and headed out and immediately screwed up. I was in the wrong lane and the traffic was wall to wall. I had lots of time, but I went on a 10-mile detour to get back to Glock. The Tom Tom took me to where the place should be but there wasn’t anything there. I stopped at the well-marked Glock factory and talked to the security guard and he set me straight. Obviously, others have made the same error. I then found the right place. The outside has no markings that would tell you this was a Glock facility. I saw two guys outside smoking and they had on Glock shirts, so I figured this was the right place. I rang the bell and entered the outside foyer and the receptionist (behind a security window) asked me if she could help me. She buzzed me in and I walked into the nicely furnished offices of Glock Training. Glock signs every where and in every way. I went into the class area – a well-furnished training area.
One thing I will mention about my trip in general. Everybody in Atlanta greets you – either a hello or a good morning. The only ones who don’t are obvious visitors and not local. I kind of like it but it is sure different than the STL area.
Soon other members of the class are arriving, and the instructor came in and started giving us the usual housekeeping information about how the class would run and where all the facilities were in the building. When talking about the bathrooms he said that there were men’s and women’s and a unisex one and we could use whatever one we identified with. Keep in mind he said that all the women working here carry guns. LOL
First thing we did was take a pretest of knowledge we should already have which was pretty much the Armorer’s exam that I remember from that class. We spent the day reviewing the armorer’s information and the new pistols of Gen 5’s and the 19X which have some very different features compared to the previous Glock Generations. The instructor then said something about trying to get a full auto G18 over for use to see and how it was different from normal Glock pistols. In my head I was like How about letting us shoot it too. During lunch break I discovered there was an indoor range inside the facility. I was like wow so cool. Lunch was a nice sub sandwich. My fellow students were a mix of Glock employees, Rhode Island National Guard members, a couple of police commanders and one gun shop employee – the only woman in the group. I was the only GSSF member. They were all a great bunch of people to be around and the NG guys were staying at my hotel and we talked at breakfast and after classes at the hotel.
Also, at lunch I bought some Glock bling from the receptionist. Lots of neat stuff but I stuck to an Advanced Armorer’s patch and some challenge coins. Looked at the hats but the last thing I need is another hat.

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Nice Training Area

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Break Room

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Glock Bling I bought

Just an outline what I received from Glock – Armorer’s tool, Bench Mat with Gen 5 diagram, Deep Parts Tray – never seen one of these, Glock Armorer’s manual with all the new pistols included, Glock pen, and various paper handouts and forms.

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Safety was emphasized over and over, and it was present all over the building – of course being who I am I was looking at all the bulletin boards for the safety information.
We finished the day early with confirmed news that the G18 would make appearance tomorrow. I ran back to the hotel pretty exhausted – I made my way across the street to eat supper at the IHOP then to a local liquor store to look at the whiskey where I found some different ones but nothing I would risk transporting back home. There was an interesting George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finished Bourbon but not really a fan of spicy things I just took a picture for the Society Members back home. Then I walked back to the hotel and passed out in my room.
The next morning, I was up and moving feeling a lot better because of having some sleep. Didn’t make the same navigation error and was very quickly at the training facility with plenty of coffee in me. Today we would be examining over 30 Glock pistols of all calibers and generations. Some would have a stated problem while others would be a general inspection. Then we would diagnosis the problem and give the corrective action. We were told we needed to get through at least 80% of the guns today and we were off. I went back to the box and drew my first box. It was a Gen 1 G17 the actual first Glock pistol I owned. It was General Inspection which looking back was the hardest because you needed to go through the whole firearm and do a detail strip looking for problems. We were told they would all be obvious problems, but we were all worried about missing something. I was working as fast as I could and got to a point where I couldn’t get the locking block off the receiver and went to the instructor. He smiled and said take a break and pointed to the obvious pin that I hadn’t removed. Um duh! I put the pistol back on my bench and went to get a cup of coffee. It was a great experience looking at all those pistols and versions and calibers and figuring it out. We broke for lunch.
I had my BBQ with the two Glock employees and talked about how was it working for Glock. They were very complimentary of the company and sounded like a great place to work. The BBQ was not the greatest. I asked the guys if this was considered good BBQ down here and they said no but it was free food. I laughed and told them to come to STL and I would show them good BBQ. Going back to the training room we all continued on our quest to get through the pistols. The instructor came in with a pistol case and told us to gather around.
Out of the case he pulled out the fully automatic G18 and passed it around the room. At that time, he also told us we would be allowed to shoot it. I was ecstatic. I had fired full auto rifles before but nothing like a full auto pistol like this. I really think we got to shoot this because of the presence of the National Guard guys who work with their Special Ops teams. I don’t really think this is apart of the normal course. The instructor told us to move to the range where we donned our safety gear and entered the extremely nice indoor range. Everything about the range was first class. We went down the firing line and could put our choice of targets up. I chose a ski masked thug and stepped up to be the first to shoot the pistol. He had us shoot one round semi-auto and then the rest of the mag full auto. I had loaded only 9 cartridges I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I shot the first-round dead center. Flipped the switch and brrrrrrrrrrrrp. It was awesome. We then took turns shooting until the ammo was gone. I got to shoot it two more times. Each time I did better keeping it under control and learning how to run the trigger just right. Some of the NG guys were just phenomenal at controlling the pistol. What a blast.
We then cleaned up the range with a really neat brass picker upper. Then a VIP arrived at the range. It was the lady who won the Glock at the NRA show. We all congratulated her, and she was there to shoot and get pictures taken so we were ushered out and it was back to business of going through the pistols.

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Me N Gunny

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The G18 !

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One of the RI Guys shooting the G18

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My After shooting target

I had some very challenging pistols – one in particular required a special disassembly as the normal way was impossible. Almost needed an extra hand to have everything pressed to get the slide off the rails. Another the slide wouldn’t budge at all. The rails were all buggered up, so it didn’t take long to figure out what was wrong but how to get the slide off was challenging.

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Just a little missing on the rail

Soon the instructor called time and we went through our lists of problems we found on the pistols. The class did a great job and the instructor said that none of us would have any problems finding and fixing problematic Glocks. We then took the dreaded 50 question written test. I actually missed two questions where last time I missed none. How I missed them remains a mystery but 96 is passing.
I made my goodbyes to the instructor and thanked the receptionist on my way out as she had been very helpful. I caught up the with Rhode Islanders back at the hotel and talked a lot outside while they smoked. They told me about a huge gun store nearby and I decided since I was staying in Atlanta a few days I would have to visit them and see what they had.
So, ends the first part of my story about my Glock experience. The training is top notch and I really learned a lot having the hands on so many Glock’s that had issues and diagnosing exactly what the problem was. The G18 experience was beyond words. I feel so lucky to have experienced shooting the pistol. I know it was fluke, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Adventures in Smoking

Many years ago I used to smoke whole turkeys and they were awesome but took 18 hours and required a lot of tending of the charcoal, wood chips and water pan. But the results were awesome.
For Christmas my sister gifted me an electric Char Broil Digital Smoker. It was the size and weight of a small refrigerator. After getting it home it took me some time and effort to get ready for its first use. You have to use it outside and it would have to stay outside so I needed obtain a cover for it and get some wood chips.
Last Saturday I finally made the maiden voyage with the smoker. I decided to try smoking some red potatoes, Red onions, Zuchini’s and a last minute addition some whole cashews.

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The Smoker Smoking

After getting the smoker outside and into position I plugged it in and downloaded the phone app to make it work. This smoker you could (and pretty much had to) control the smoker with your phone. After plugging it in I went through the set up so the smoker would hook up to my house’s Wi Fi. Then I was told it needed to update the firmware on the smoker – all of this taking time.
Finally all the computer stuff was sorted and I had to run a “seasoning” cycle of 2 hours to burn off any lingering factory lubrication and after that I could start my smoking. Well not quite I had to do a “Burn in” of the wood chips of 45 minutes and then I could add the food.
I was really concerned about the potatoes being cooked as usually you have to cook taters at high temp for over an hour and I didn’t think 2 hours at 250 would cook them well but anyways – The phone notified me that the burn in was complete and to push the button after I loaded the food in. I left the taters whole but the onions I quartered some and just cut in half some others. I made medallions of the Zucchini and the nuts a just spread on a foil pan at the top – the nuts didn’t really need to cook at all they just needed the smoking for flavor.

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When I opened the smoker it was gagging like entering a smoking area at the airport. I had to choke back and got the food on the trays and set the smoker to running and set it for 2 ½ hours. So much smoke came out of the smoker when I opened I really worried I had used up all the smoke but later that fear would be relieved. I then went about my business in the house cleaning and doing chores. I even left to do some quick shopping at Schnuck’s down the street and my phone lost contact with the smoker. When I came back the program was still running so I am guess I can leave as long as I am back when the cycle finishes. After the timer went off I checked the food.
The nuts seemed fine, The onions and zukes looked ready to eat but the taters they were hard as rocks. Blargh. I took out everything but the taters and set it to run two more hours at the highest temperature of 250 degrees and went off to munch on Cashews and finish a Tennison mini-marathon I had started on Amazon Prime.


The cashews were amazing. I will do more of these and other nuts again. The zukes and onions were tasty as well but I was worried about long term storage. After the timer went off I checked the taters they were still kind of hard. I wrapped them in foil and they finished to a level that was palatable for me but not exactly baked tater consistency.

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My Sliced Vegetables Concoction

I sliced up a portion of the all the veggies and warmed them in my cast iron skillet with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar – yum yum. So far interesting but definitely time consuming. Next time I’ll try some other veggies and some more nuts. This smoker can be set pretty low so I am thinking cheese and boiled eggs to try how those work out Stay tuned for more adventures in smoking LOL

 

Wicked Chicago!

Before Christmas my sister asked me if I would want to go to Chicago to see the musical Wicked. I said yes and we settled on dates and I went and got train tickets to go up early Saturday morning then see the show and come back the following day. My sister’s boyfriend Patrick found an Airbnb place that was right in the heart of the action of Chicago and walking distance to the theatre and the train station and really inexpensive for Chicago the only bad part was it was a 5th floor walkup flat. Ok were not hauling a ton of luggage so sounds fine.

 

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Adventure Begins!

The morning of the trip I got up at 4 AM and busied myself with getting my grooming done and then grab some coffee deciding to get breakfast at the train station. I arrived at the Metrolink station near my house just in time to see a westbound train depart the station so I stayed in the warm car until about 5 minutes before the next train and made my way to the platform in time to get on the train. It was a lot busier than I would have thought and we picked up somebody along the way at every station. I arrived at the Civic Center Station where the Amtrak/Greyhound Gateway station is located and made my way in the building. This station is rather new and still is looking pretty good. I went up to the Amtrak window and asked if the clerk needed anything from me and she looked at the my printout and then briefed me on how it worked.

I then went over to the little coffee shop and got an egg cheese bagel and it was pretty good but it was like airport in cost. Oh well. Soon they told us we could board and we all shuffled to the gate where go up an escalator and then across a land bridge that went over the train cars and then a down escalator to the 9 and ¾’s platform – Just kidding The conductor said business class to the rear and I walked down to where we had our own entry. I had made the decision to book business class just to see what it was like – it was great. I was the second person to enter the car and there were very nice first class seats with two on one side and singles on the other. I chose a single seat and got my stuff situated in the overhead and sit down in my relaxing seat for the 5 hour journey.
So all were aboard and we were moving and the steward came back to get our drink orders and served us at the seat. First drink is free but coffee is unlimited. The business class coach was directly next to the café car and the dining car had the restroom so very convenient. We seemed to be crawling out of town and I began to worry about getting to Chicago TODAY. Suddenly my text sounder goes off and it was a friend asking me for some advice. I have to admit I was oblivious to the sound when suddenly the guy in front of me looked back and sternly said. “Are we going to have to listen to that the whole way to Chicago” Sorry I will mute it. I guess I deserved the sternness but I would have used a softer hand as my first reaction in my head was less than generous. Tip to all mute your phone on the train LOL

 

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I was continuing my text conversation with my friend when suddenly we hit the zone north of St Louis near the river when you lose internet coverage and texting on the phone. I was attempting to log into the Wi-Fi on the train with the phone and it wasn’t working so I pulled out the laptop and was able to log on. I eventually figured it out by entering 1.1.1.1 on the phone browser and got connected Thanks Therese for the tip. The black hole in communications ended somewhere before we got to Sprinfield and I put the lap top away. I brought a technical book to read on the train but it took me just over an hour to finish it. Interesting but it’s the kind of book you keep on the shelf and look up some data as you would never be able to memorize all the numbers but I didn’t think there was any way I would finish it so quickly.
I would get into Chicago about lunch time so I was passing on the food on the train but this was my first train trip in business class but also another first. First time I used the restroom on a train. While the room was rather large the fixture was small and tucked into a corner. Reminded me of Dublin when we stayed at Trinity College where you had to hug the sink to use the toilet. Don’t really see how a wheel chair bound person could use it but it was setup for that just don’t understand the mechanics and right now I don’t need to know.

 

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Where a Scene from The Untouchables was filmed

Arriving in Chicago I headed off the train and walked into the craziness of the bustling station. I actually went up the stairs that were in the movie “Untouchables” when the Bookkeeper was trying to escape was shot and I do mean shot. I then headed out to Canal Street. I then hit my phone to navigate to the Airbnb and off I go. Then things got confusing as the phone was telling me to go a way that didn’t compute. Found I was going the wrong direction so I had to walk back the ½ mile back to the starting point. Always make sure when walking that Google knows you are walking and not in a car. My sister Therese texted me that they were at the Airbnb and I texted back that I was on my way. I was getting hungry so I stopped in a nearby pretzel sandwich shop and got the nicest dark forest ham sandwich I have had in a long time. I am surely glad the weather was rather nice than the possible snow we could have had for January in Chicago I was even getting a bit warm with the walking.

I arrived and texted my sister that I was there so she could come down and let me in. I realized later that she could have buzzed me in but that’s water under the bridge. While I was waiting a guy came out of the door and looked suspiciously at me and quickly closed the door so I couldn’t get in. In my head I laughed – Good job hope you are always that vigilant. I took a moment to take in the area. It was not happening yet but you could see signs that the area would be happening later in the night.
My sister opened the door and we began out ascent of 5 floors to the top floor to the Artist’s loft Apartment. Art was everywhere and the decorations were eclectic and bohemian to the extreme. My sister told me that her BF was sick and was trying to rest. I peeled off my stuff and sat down to enjoy my sandwich and took in the digs. The restroom was bizarre. Ok normal toilet and sink but the shower was like a whole room. No curtain you are just out there with a shower head coming out of the ceiling. Using it on Sunday morning was strange. Got the job done but got a little chilly. There is also a rooftop that you can go out on – this time a year not so much and its not done yet but a work in progress. I also figure the owner lets the other tenants come up there so this Airbnb you don’t want to disrobe and run around in your skivvies as you could have unexpected visitors.

 

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View at Airbnb

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Some of the Art

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Plinko?

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Cray Shower

We began thinking about supper and Patrick was up and awake but still not feeling well. We called a place near the apartment for Mexican food with Rick Bayless as supervising chef but they said they were out the door on wait times. We decided to enjoy some hot broth and noodles at the “Slurping Turtle” across the street a promised Ramen noodle joint and Japanese food. It wasn’t too busy when we got in but it got a lot busier so we lucked out on getting a table. The waitress came over to explain stuff to us and mentioned they were famous for their Duck Fried Chicken. We decided to try that and all of us got noodles. With me having Pork belly, Patrick having a Miso soup with soft boiled eggs that are dropped into the broth – they called them lava eggs as the white would be cooked and you would cut into the yolks and the yolks would be hot. (ya not so much) Therese got a veggie broth but had chicken added to it. My pork belly broth was awesome. The noodles were like boiling hot but delicious. The Duck Fried Chicken was kind of disappointing but maybe we are not hipster enough to enjoy it.

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Patrick went back to the room to grab some meds and soon we were walking toward the Oriental Theatre. But before the theatre my sister wanted some Barret’s Carmel Corn. It actually was right next to the theatre. There were signs with the NO SYMBOL across the popcorn and the words Theater on the sign. I thought that meant no you cant take it in but my sister said you just can’t eat it in there. Um Ok. We then heard the clerks say they were out of the most popular Carmel Corn I was like bummer. My sister ended up not exactly what she wanted. Really how do you run out at 7 in the evening.
Moving to the theatre we were allowed to step in the outer lobby which I am not used to that, so we were poised to get in very quickly when they opened up. I looked at Patrick and he looked deathly ill. Soon the security guards came out and got lined up to do bag checks and they put a trash can on the table. My sister was predicting the Carmel Corn would end up in there but she put it under her coat. The guards were horse-playing around and came close to hurting each other. How unprofessional and dangerous. Ya nobody would call the theatre and complain about that would they? Took me a while but I got it done on Monday at lunch. Well the guards were interested in people’s bags not what was under the coat so we got in and the Carmel Corn survived the evening.
The tickets were scanned we were given paper printouts with the seats on it and we proceeded to the second line up at the doors. Per our usual procedure we chatted up the usher and asked her if she was a drama student and she was actually a video production student. Guy behind me mentioned St Louis and we talked a bit about St Louis – he was there for some HVAC trade show which my company provided tubing for as well. Small world!

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The World of OZ

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Really Cool Dragon

Got to our seats and started taking in the theatre –Very ornate with lots of carvings and plaster work. The stage had a HUGE dragon at the top and I predicted it would do something doing the show and I wasn’t disappointed. The show was fantastic with all the special effects the end of the first act was just spectacular when Elphaba flew above the stage. At this point Patrick decided to head back to the Airbnb as he was just too ill to continue. We stayed for the last half and enjoyed it thoroughly. This was a small company really but they all did such a good job performing. I was entertained by some of the people in the crowd when some things were revealed that they didn’t figure out along the way and the look on their faces was precious. Not letting out any spoilers but it is a great show and if you have a chance to see it you should.
After leaving the theatre we got a little separated but I knew if I stepped out of the crowd I would find my sister and we walked back to the apartment. Along the way we noticed the night life at various places was starting to get rolling. Back at the apartment we decided bed was needed and my sister went back to her bedroom and I climbed into the loft. Nice comfortable king bed but the sounds from downstairs at all the clubs was deafening. I went back down to my pack and got out some earplugs and put them in and crawled into bed. I got up once to use the bathroom and then back till my alarm woke me. I got up and used the crazy shower that was like taking a shower in a huge room. It worked ok but I did get a little cold mid shower but I finished up and then got dressed and packed. I waited as long as I could and then ordered an Uber taxi to take me to the train station. My first Uber ride it was basically flawless. I entered the station and tried to find my special lounge for business class riders. They had temporarily moved it so that took a little longer. The lounge was really nice with free food and drinks and very comfortable surroundings. They came in and announced our train was ready and led us to the train. Climbing aboard the train I sat in the same seat location I rode up on and the steward came over and got my coffee order.

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Very Nice Business Class Lounge

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Plenty of free drinks and snacks

Very shortly I was southbound in my very comfortable seat surfing on the train’s Wi-Fi and we zoomed home to St Louis getting back 30 minutes ahead of schedule. The transit via Metrolink was quick and easy and my car was in fine shape at the Belleville station and shortly I was home.
It was a quick trip and while the time it takes is the same you end up in Chicago not fatigued from the drive and you are downtown in all the action of Chicago. Next time I bring my bicycle and do some riding on the Lakeshore Drive trail. I would do the Airbnb but can’t forget the earplugs