All posts by Pearl

See the "Who's Pearl" section of my blog.

Kitchen Remodeling

One of Deborah and my goals after moving into our new home here in New Mexico was to upgrade some of the features of the home so that we might better be able to enjoy it during our retirement.

The home definitely caught our eye, as it existed, when we first saw it.  It was not a fixer upper by any stretch.  But that said, we definitely knew that there were some obvious things that could use updating, and a few others that were in the “wouldn’t that be great …” category.

  • The first project we undertook was to re-landscape our backyard. Deborah took a landscaping class and directed our contractor in major changes to our immediate back yard.
  • We then worked with a contractor to upgrade both of our bathrooms – the master and the guest.
  • We have just finished working with that same bathroom contractor to remodel our kitchen area and that is the post that you are reading.
  • My own home projects are quite a bit less ambitious but have been fun. I am currently working on building a pergola out in the middle of our “Outback” – the wild area behind our immediate back yard area.  As I complete these projects, they can be viewed by going to the fly out menus at the top of the left sidebar on my blog and selecting What’s Roger Up To.

Posts of these projects, along with pictures, will eventually be available to be viewed by going to the fly out menus at the top of the left sidebar on my blog and selecting What’s Deborah Up To.

This post deals with our kitchen remodeling, which has completed as of the beginning of this fourth week in February 2018.

Our existing kitchen was quaint and attractive when we bought the home.  It was one of the things that definitely caught our eye.  However, Deborah had some ideas of things that could definitely be improved and, as projects often do, it morphed a bit during the process of design.

One thing that was not in the initial concept was to remove the wall that separated our kitchen/dining room area from the living room.  I admit that I was not immediately on board with that idea and even Deborah was a bit conflicted, though leaning in that direction.  Now that the project is complete, removing the wall has turned out to be the single improvement that has most transformed the entire living area.

Another thing that took convincing for me was to repaint the entire kitchen/dining/living room/back hall area to an off white, as opposed to its original light, canary yellow color.  For those of you who saw our previous home – our condo in Germantown Wisconsin – you know that our condo was anything but just off white.  As with most of Deborah’s projects, she has the eye of an artist and her judgement has proven to be successful time and again.  That condo had multiple, separate, adjoining wall areas and we painted them in alternating muted colors of purple, green, yellow, blue, coral and orange along with the overall cream colored walls of the original condo.  We did what?

The following pictures are from our condo in Wisconsin.  Judge for yourself whether or not the color ideas succeeded …

Germatown Wall Painting 01

Germatown Wall Painting 02

 

 

Germatown Wall Painting 05

Back to our current kitchen remodeling project.  It began the week before Christmas 2017 when we started preparing the area to be remodeled – boxing up all dishes, etc.  Demolition work started after Christmas with the removal of the wall separating the kitchen area from the living room.  In all, the active project took about a month and a half.  However, from conception to realization took about four months.

The following four pictures show the remodeled area, from four different directions.  The top picture in each pair is quite obviously the way the house originally looked right before the demolition.

Slide1

 

Slide2

 

Slide3

 

Slide4

If you are interested in seeing more pictures, including pictures of the project in process, please use the following links to view them on the Photobucket website.

Picture Locations on the Internet – Photobucket.com

Start to Finish Progression

http://s937.photobucket.com/user/rwkoehler/slideshow/New%20Mexico/Kitchen%20Remodeling%20-%20Winter%202017/Start%20to%20Finish%20-%20Progressive%20Pictures?sort=9

Before and After Comparisons

http://s937.photobucket.com/user/rwkoehler/slideshow/New%20Mexico/Kitchen%20Remodeling%20-%20Winter%202017/Before%20and%20After%20Comparisons?sort=9

Picture Favorites

http://s937.photobucket.com/user/rwkoehler/slideshow/New%20Mexico/Kitchen%20Remodeling%20-%20Winter%202017/Picture%20Favorites?sort=9

 

Tips when Using Photobucket

  • The previous links will take you directly to a slideshow of pictures and collages, related to the locations, which reside on the internet on the Photobucket.com website.
  • Once the slideshow begins, the display begins showing slides at a Medium speed.
    • Slow displays each slide for 10 seconds
    • Medium displays each slide for 6 seconds
    • Fast displays each slide for 3 seconds
  • To change the display speed, click on the word SlowMedium or Fast at the bottom right of the Photobucket screen.
  • To non-display the bottom toolbar, and thereby maximize the picture on your screen, click on the   Photobucket icon   icon at the bottom right of the Photobucket screen.
  • To display, or to redisplay a specific slide, you may click on the thumbnail at the bottom of the Photobucket screen.
  • To Pause the display at a specific picture, click on the   Photobucket Pause Button   icon at the lower left of the Photobucket screen.
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Creating a Travel PowerPoint

Travel PPT - Table of Contents

Some of you may be familiar with the often rather extensive PowerPoint documents that I create almost each time that I plan a trip.  Creating and continually adding to each document is something I do that personally adds a lot to my own travel experiences.  Unfortunately the trips themselves do not always live up to the personal excitement and anticipation generated by all of the research that I do beforehand.

When and why did I begin creating Travel PowerPoints?

This process began when I started traveling for work in 2005 after I began work as a national trainer for then API Inc. (now part of GE Healthcare).  Prior to that, I had not done an extensive amount of traveling within the United States.  I had not visited most major American cities.  But over the course of twelve years of traveling for API, I worked at hospitals in 44 of the 50 states, and in two foreign countries (Canada and Bermuda).

I decided to create a PowerPoint document for each trip that I would take.

Initially, the document included …

  • Airline departure and arrival information
  • Hotel addresses
  • Maps of the routes from the airport to the hospitals where I would work. I would typically rent a car to drive anywhere from a few miles to over a couple hundred miles to get from the arrival airport to the hospital location.
  • Maps of the locations and of hotels where I would stay and their location in relation to the hospitals at which I would work.

Over time, the PowerPoint came to include much additional information.

  • Maps which included the specific addresses and locations of various sites I might like to see (time permitting) while in a particular area or city.
    • Since I was often visiting cities to which I had never traveled before, I always tried to do a bit of research to identify the major attractions in the cities. I took many pictures during my early trips and I still do to this day, though not nearly as often since I have now visited so many places during my work.

My current Travel PowerPoint now includes a whole host of information that came to be added over time.  I will describe each major individual element, including some example screenshots, in this post.

Why do I use PowerPoint

I like using PowerPoint to create a separate document for each trip that we take.  PowerPoint combines a lot of features that I like to use to include a variety of things in my trip documents.  However, if you are not familiar with that tool, you could certainly create something similar using any word Processing tool.

I very typically tend to over research the areas we are visiting.  My theory is that it is better to have identified beforehand a lot of options to be able choose from, rather than to always be trying to do research on-the-fly after you arrive.

Don’t think of it as having to identify all of the things that you absolutely HAVE to do.  Think of it as providing a quick reference option when deciding upon which things that you may WISH to do after you arrive.

In particular, I like to identify any entrance fees and days/times of operation for potential sights we may wish to visit.  There is nothing more frustrating than picking something to see or do, and then finding out when you arrive that they don’t open until noon, or that they may not even be open at all on the day that you are visiting.  This is information typically included on my <Location> Activities slide(s).

Your travel document certainly does not need to contain all of the different slides that I include in mine.  However, I suggest taking a look at all of things that I do include and then judge for yourself if any of the ideas may be of interest to you. 

I have included print screens of most of the slides, many of which contain lots of information and therefore can be hard to read.  To see info more clearly, simply zoom your screen a bit.

Items I typically now include in my Master Travel PowerPoint

  • A Header Page (Table of Contents)
    • This provides a quick reference of everything that is included in the document, and on which page each piece of information appears.

Travel PPT - Header

  • Distances
    • This slide contains estimated driving distances between various locations that may be visited during the trip.
    • It also includes driving distances both on the way traveling to and from our home to the final destination of the trip.
      • I will often break that down further into the intermediate distances along the way, such as from one city to another or to changes in the main highways that may be followed.
    • I like to use Google Maps to identify the distances between locations. It not only provides the most direct driving distance but also will provide optional alternate routes as well.

Travel PPT - Distances

  • A Locations page
    • This page contains a list, along with a numeric reference key (number or letter) and an address, of all of the potential locations that may be visited in a particular area.  These could include …
      • Hotels or rental units
      • Airports
      • Sights to see
      • Restaurants
    • The same reference key is also used on other slides in my document which contain more information about each of the locations – Maps and <Location> Activities

Travel PPT - Locations

  • Maps
    • I will often include multiple slides of maps for each trip. Each map will include a reference box with locations numbered or lettered matching that same reference key used on the Locations page, and also on the <Location> Activities
    • I like to use Google Maps for my maps. It has lots of detail and can easily be zoomed in and out to get more or less detail.  I will typically use the Snipping Tool which is standard on most Windows machines.  That easily allows me to draw a box around and copy exactly the areas of the map which I want.  You can also perform a Print Screen and then crop it to the size you want.
    • I then paste the map into a slide. After that, I will identify where each of the locations are and insert a circled letter or number at that point on the map.  Again, that circled number of letter is the same as the reference key on the Locations
    • Different map slides
      • One map slide typically contains a larger area, such as one for all of Italy when we traveled there in 2014.
      • Then I will have another for a city or a metropolitan area, such as Rome, Venice or Florence.
      • Then I will include a map of just the downtown area of a specific city.
      • Then I may also include specific maps of the location of the hotel(s) or VRBO’s, or of particular locations that I may be visiting.
      • I will also include detailed maps of the areas around airports that I may use for each trip.

 Travel PPT - Map 01

Travel PPT - Map 02

  • A <Location> Activities page
    • As indicated at the beginning of this post, this page is particularly important – not because it lists all of things that must be fit into the schedule – but because it provides a list of possibilities of things to do.  It also identifies when activities are open, and sometimes the days when best to see, so that I might better fit the activity into a particular day of the trip.
    • Information listed here may include …
      • Address and phone number
      • Days and times when the site is open.
      • Best times/days to see.
      • Entrance fees
      • A general description of what the site is, or of what types of attractions are included within the site.
      • Sometimes I also include pictures
      • I also sometimes include reviews I have seen of the activity from Trip Advisor or from the activity’s website.

Travel PPT - Location Activities

  • Day by Day Activities
    • This is a slide that contains a Sun-Sat, week by week grid of the period of the trip.
    • On each day, I will include anticipated activities, such as …
      • Airline arrival and departure information
      • Hotel/VRBO check in information
      • Rental car pick-up and return times
      • Anticipated drive and arrival times so that I will know if a day is fully available for sightseeing, or will be partially or mostly needed just for travel.
    • Once again, I emphasize that I do not do this in order to preplan a fixed itinerary of things that must be done on each trip. Days should always remain flexible.  Some days you may just end up chilling and spending the entire day at your hotel or VRBO.  However, it might be nice to know that the day you choose to do chill at the hotel is not also the only day on your trip that a particular activity that you really want to see may be open.

Travel PPT - Day by Day Activities

  • Expenses
    • I don’t always include this page unless the trip is fairly major. I am not so anal that I have to keep track of every nickel and dime that is spent on each vacation.
    • But, for example, on our trip to Italy, since that certainly represented a more extensive total expenditure, I listed things like airfare, rental car fees, rental fees for each of the VRBO’s at which we stayed, admission prices for major activities that were either planned or pre-purchased, etc.

Travel PPT - Expenses

  • Airline Information
    • As mentioned earlier, I typically use Southwest Airlines because I have accumulated a lot of frequent flyer miles with them. I also like Southwest because they fly to most areas around the
    • United States. The only area of the country where they really do not have many destinations is in the northwest, particularly from eastern Washington to North Dakota.
    • Since purchasing AirTran Airways, Southwest also now includes a number of destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Those flights typically (always?) fly through Houston which is their international departure point.
    • Southwest also is promising to soon add flights from the west coast to Hawaii which we definitely plan to take advantage of.
    • I have included some tips on how to use the Southwest.com and Expedia websites in my Travel – General Tips
    • I will also include slides which show previous trip reservations that may have been changed or deleted, along with cancellation numbers, just in case there is ever a dispute.

This airline info sheet shows the two, separate round-trips we made on the Italian vacation.  We flew on Southwest from Albuquerque to Atlanta.  We flew Delta and Alitalia from Atlanta to Rome Fiumicino (via London Heathrow).

Travel PPT - Airline Info

  • Hotel Information

Travel PPT - Hotel Info

  • VRBO Information

Travel PPT - VRBO Info

  • Rental Car Information

Travel PPT - Rental Car Info

  • Frequent Traveler Information
    • This is a reference page that lists …
      • Phone numbers and account numbers for travel sites to which I belong.
      • If the account number for logging into the web site is different from my main number, I list that login name.
      • I list a memory cue for the password required to log into the website (certainly NOT the actual password).
    • For example:
      • com
        • I use Southwest Airlines for the majority of my flight reservations. On this page, I include the Rapid Rewards account numbers and login names (if different) for both my wife and me.  I also list the various 800 numbers that I can call in order to make or change reservations.
      • Priority Club
        • I most often will check Priority Club when making hotel reservations since I have accumulated many hotel points with them. I include my account number and login name (if different), along with a password memory cue.
  • <Location> To Do List / To Take Along
    • I’m sure that this has never happened to you. J
      • You get in the car and leave for the airport, or you start the drive for your trip. On your way, you suddenly remember something you either should have done prior to leaving, or something that you forgot to pack.  Or even worse, you get to your destination and only then  do you remember that you forgot something.
    • That is exactly the reason why I added this particular slide to my Travel PowerPoint.
    • I also continue to add things to this slide which are then contained in the template PowerPoint with which I begin each trip. In that way, I don’t have to even rely upon my memory to determine which things should normally be on my list.
    • I typically will print out this particular slide and put it out on the kitchen table and cross off items as we do our final packing.
    • The To Do List portion of this slide is also very important because it will remind you of how much lead time you need for some items. It doesn’t do much good to remember something to do as you are leaving, only to find that it should have been done a week before!

Travel PPT - To Do -To Take Along

 

031 – Too late to run in 2018 … but not too late become active (An editorial)

Well, I have learned a few things about the electoral process here in New Mexico.

#1, there was a February 6th deadline that I missed which was when I would have had to have registered as either a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian to run for U.S. Representative in 2018.  Bummer.

I could still register as a write-in but my name would not appear on the ballot.  That would be a waste of time and effort.  Interestingly, there does not appear to be a way for an Independent’s name to appear on the ballot.

I did learn that the process for registering is fairly straight forward  here.  There is no filing fee and there is no requirement to get a certain amount of signatures in order to be eligible.  I found out that the filing fee alone in Florida is 6% of the base salary for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is currently $174,000.  That means just to register, you have to pay a fee of $10,440.  As an alternative, you would need to gather an average of more than 7,000 signatures.  Gee, you think incumbents have much of an advantage?  My guess is that when my brother ran for the Florida house back in the 1980’s, he went the signature route.

It appears that the Democratic incumbent for New Mexico District 3, Ben Lujan, is the only Democrat running in our district in 2018.  There are two other House districts in New Mexico and both have multiple Democratic candidates.  Had I acted sooner, I could also have registered as a Democrat and then would have been eligible to run in the Democratic Primary on June 5, 2018.

So, I will not be running for the U.S. Congress this year.  However, perhaps I will be able to ride the coattails of the Democratic Presidential candidate who storms into office on the continuing wave in 2020 and sends either Trump or Pence unceremoniously to the political curb!  Very unlikely, I know, but hey – one can dream.

031 - Too late to run So unfair to youIn the meantime, I have already made some contacts with the current incumbent Lujan.  I have begun by trying to clarify his positions on gun control, having already found out that he previously supported the incredibly misguided Concealed Carry Reciprocity legislation.  However, he appears to have voted against that legislation when it was once again introduced in December of 2017.  His position on gun control needs to be clarified and I would like to know why he apparently changed his position on the Reciprocity legislation.  Or more to the point, why he was EVER in favor of it?

Luhan has accepted $3,500 in donations from the NRA.  That pales in comparison to the over $3 million donated to Marco Rubio from Florida, and the over $7 million donated to John McCain of Arizona.  But why has Lujan accepted even a dime from them is beyond me?

031 - Too late to run - 1st Amendment definition

For 2018, I intend to become involved in trying to hold Ben Lujan’s feet to the fire, certainly in regard to gun legislation.  Not sure all the ways I will attempt to do that yet, but I imagine that becoming a regular contributor to the Albuquerque and Santa Fe newspaper editorial and reader comments pages will be part of this process.

More to come, I’m sure.

030 – Another Koehler for U.S. Congress?  (AN EDITORIAL and an announcement)

The following is a post that I just made on my Facebook account.

“Big friggin’ deal – another mass shooting in Florida today. Thoughts and prayers, etc., etc., etc. … yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, guess what? Rather than just continue to be extremely, overwhelmingly, intensely angry, this has finally caused me to take an action. I am going to contact the New Mexico Secretary of State to see about running for one of our three, U.S. Congressional seats. There is currently a Democratic incumbent – Ben Ray Lujan. The city I live in has almost double the number of registered Republican voters as Democrats, so I won’t even bother starting with local office.

I have no idea if this is even feasible, but it is damn sure time to find out. I will post updates here on Facebook when I learn if this is possible or not.”

 

I have already decided that if this is going to happen, it will need to be on a shoestring. It will be interesting to see if that is even possible. A good initial sign is that there appears to be no filing fee here in New Mexico.  I have read that many states have various filing fee requirements, such as Florida which requires a fee of over $10,000.  Talk about drastically reducing the potential pool of applicants for Federal office!

At the very least, I hope to be able to force the current incumbent, Ben Lujan, to take a stated position on a number of important issues.

One issue I have discovered already is that, even though he is a Democrat, he supports the Concealed Carry Reciprocity legislation that is surprisingly close to being passed. If you are unfamiliar with that legislation, it would allow a person whose state allows concealed carry to be able to carry that concealed weapon into any other state, regardless of that state’s laws. That alone tells me something very clear about his position regarding passing any meaningful restrictive gun legislation. He has also been in public service (statewide and national) for almost 30 years. It will be interesting to dig deeper and see exactly to whom he is beholding.

My guess is that my brother Dennis may be smiling down at me as I at least make this attempt.  Dennis ran unsuccessfully for a Florida U.S. Congressional seat back in the early 1980’s.  He was pretty disillusioned by that experience and never ran for national office again, although he did serve on the county board of commissioners in West Palm Beach for a number of years, including one term as commission President.

As I find out more about this process, I will post updates here on this blog.

For those of you who may have missed my first You Tube Editorial, perhaps it may be of a bit more interest now that I have stated my intention to run for public office.

Click on the following to view that editorial …

https://pearlsnmblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/you-tube-editorial-027/

 

029 – Thank you Rand Paul … for ALMOST all of the wrong reasons.  (An editorial)

Don’t get me wrong.  Rand Paul is a total jerk.  But thank God right now he is the REPUBLICAN’s total jerk. Funny thing about it is that he is not completely wrong … but he is also being comically hypocritical.

Of course, both sides of the aisle are responsible for continued, excessive spending. But at least this is one thing that the Democrats are being generally honest about what they are idealistically trying to do with the money – help the people who need it. The Republicans, on the other hand, are blatently hypocritical with almost anything that comes out of their mouths … but none more so than with deficit spending. They rail about the Democratic abuse when Dems are in power, but then do even more when they are in power themselves – only their money goes primarily/substantially to the rich.

What Rand Paul is not saying right now is that everything he is railing against is EXACTLY what just happened when the Republicans passed that tax bill abomination … and RAND PAUL VOTED FOR THAT AS WELL. Where was his outrage then?

Rand Paul is now shouting: “How could they possibly be trying to ram through a spending bill that has not been read by anyone, and that has not been allowed to have any amendments?”

HELLO!  Does that sound at all frigging familiar?

029 - Thanks Rand Paul - Moron

Frankly, I don’t have a problem with a government shutdown. This never, ever should have been a situation where the deal was DACA being bargained in exchange for that ridiculous border wall or for the other legal immigration restrictions. But the Dem’s don’t have any power right now, so they have to take what they can get.

But this is beautiful – bring on the shutdown and let Paul and his fellow Republicans take the well-deserved blame.  They will probably still try to blame it on the Democrats, but maybe this time it will at least be a tougher sell.

* * *

P.S.  It is not worth a full, separate editorial (but maybe at least a Facebook post).  But here’s a You Go Girl to Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.  She shoved Trump’s bullshit complaint about his not receiving praise from the Democrats during the State of the Union right back in Trump’s face.  “Cadet Bone Spurs” indeed.  Said Sen. Duckworth:  “I will not be lectured about what our military needs (nor will I take being accused of treason) by a five deferment draft dodger.”

029 - Thanks Rand Paul - Tammy Duckworth