My Gear – Chapter 20
Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Before I talk about my new computer I have to bring things up to date on my old computer. The computer being retired is a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 that I bought in March of 2009 but which didn’t appear as a My Gear item until October of 2012. At that time I was already bragging about its longevity and it is still functioning today although it’s hardy original and the ThinkPad 13 replaced it as my front line machine nearly half a year ago [12/12/16].

Those who follow my trip journal have been exposed to most of the T400’s story but here’s a summary. It was running fine six months after that 2012 My Gear article when I spilled a glass of water on it and toasted the mother board. That was less than a month before the Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour and I panicked. I rushed out and bought a Lenovo IdeaPad and had started installing the necessary software when I saw a disk-less T400 on eBay. I bought it, swapped in the drive from my old unit and immediately sold the IdeaPad (with the dreaded Windows 8) at a loss which I didn’t mind a bit. The eBay sourced computer hiccuped in Kearney, NE, and required some assistance from a local shop but otherwise served throughout the month long trip. The company that I’d bought it from listed a second identical machine which I bought as added insurance. It was a good move as it has taken all three carcasses to keep one T400 working. Display electronics and power supplies have faltered and my reports of preparation for the last few road trips including new duct tape to restrain the hard disk were not jokes.

Toward the end of 2016 I experienced a gust of common sense. Or maybe it was a gust of fear. Computer malfunctions had interfered with timely posting on multiple trips and the pile of spare parts was getting smaller. There was a big sale on at Lenovo and I decided to treat myself to a Christmas present. I futzed around with details too long and missed the end of the sale by hours. A telephone call revealed that the sale’s end was quite firm but there was another option. Units ordered but not shipped for one reason or another are sold at a discount. The person I spoke with found one very similar to what I had intended to order for even less money. The price difference was partially due to the discount and partially do to a couple of absent features. The biggest feature difference was a 256 GB hard drive versus 512. With the 320 GB drive in the T400 sometimes feeling cramped, that concerned me but it has not been an issue at all so far.

The new machine is a Lenovo ThinkPad 13 with 2.30 GHz i5-6200U processor. It has 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. For any who don’t know, SSD means Solid State (rather than rotating) Disk. This makes a tremendous difference in the time required to power up. Other operations are also faster and it uses less power and makes less noise. Actually, it’s silent. The 13 in the model name is the display’s diagonal dimension. The whole machine is significantly smaller and lighter than the one it replaces. Contributing to the reduced weight is the absence of a CD drive. This was not even a slight problem as I already owned an external USB CD for use with the T400 which had become unreliable in CD writing.

The OS is 64 bit Windows 7 Professional. It’s an OS that is no longer being developed but will be supported through 2020. Moving to it from Vista required little relearning and absolutely no cursing.

Acquiring the new machine triggered some other software changes as well. I really like Microsoft Outlook and Word but, with no need for compatibility with an employer’s software, I could not justify the cost. I am now using Gmail in place of MS Outlook and am adjusting a little more and whining a little less each day. Open Office Writer has been installed to do MS Word’s job. It is not a perfect replacement as using it to access existing Word documents instantly shows. It seems to be quite capable, however, and I’m hoping it will satisfy my few needs for producing new documents. It will be tested as I get serious about producing another book later this year.

All in all I am quite happy with my purchase six months in. It’s smaller, lighter, and faster than the eight year old laptop it replaces and it cost less than half as much ($595 vs. $1297). I guess it only has to make it four years to prove its value but I’m thinking it’s going to make it a lot longer.

My Gear – Chapter 19 — Lumix DMC-ZS40

Lincoln Highway Conference 2017

I’m on my way to the Lincoln Highway Association’s 25th Annual Conference which begins Tuesday in Denison, Iowa. When I first decided to attend, I envisioned a slow drive of the Lincoln Highway from Iowa’s eastern border to the western side of the state where Denison sits. Events in Cincinnati prevented me from leaving before Mondays morning so that slow drive on the LH has become a much speedier drive on the interstates. I do have the eastbound route of the LH through Iowa loaded into the GPS and hope to drive all or some of it after the conference. We shall see.

The trip journal is here. This entry is to let blog only subscribers know of the trip and provide a place for comments and questions.  

Trip Peek #57
Trip #88
Lincoln Highway Conference 2010

This picture is from my 2010 Lincoln Highway Conference trip. This was my first Lincoln Highway Association Conference and part of the reason I was able to attend was that it was my first year of retirement. Immediately prior to the conference in Dixon, IL, I attended the Route 66 Festival near Joplin, MO, and drove directly from one to the other. Among the many things I learned was the difference between a festival and a conference. There were a couple of bus tours, a couple of group dinners, and a day of presentations. The picture is from the awards banquet. Brian Cassler had recently become an Eagle Scout by preparing some Canton, OH, Lincoln Highway bricks for use in a display in Kearney, NE. Bernie Queneau traveled the Lincoln Highway as an Eagle Scout back in 1928. Brian chose Bernie to share his award with and is shown pinning the badge on the 98 year old Queneau. This “pair of Eagles” photo is one onf of my favorites. Bernie is a Lincoln Highway legend who remained active in the association until his death at 102.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Concert Review
Paul Simon
Riverbend Music Center

A couple of recent posts spoke of how “I’m not moving like I used to.” Neither am I going to concerts like I used to. I still like live music and often catch both local and big time performers in smallish venues but when it comes to large venues and super stars, I’ve become pretty selective. I don’t like the large crowds and the various hassles that go along with them. I don’t like the large ticket prices. Adjusted for inflation, the third row Beatles ticket I bought for $5.50 in 1966 would cost $41.64 today. My twenty-first row seat at Saturday’s Paul Simon concert was more than twice that ($91.50) though that might be justified. The sound system did seem much improved over three Vox amplifiers and some microphones. But most of all I don’t like the outrageous and unavoidable fees that are stacked on top. Those fees added more than 25% to the Simon ticket. How the hell did we let that happen?

So when I do attend a big crowded high-priced musical affair you can bet it’s someone I really want to see. It’s probably someone I’ve wanted to see for a long time but just never quite managed so that seeing them has become something of a bucket list item. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that the performer and I are both within kicking range. That was the case with last summer’s Steely Dan concert and is the case with a Van Morrison show I’ll be attending this fall. It was the case with Paul Simon.

Maybe Paul’s lost a little vocal range or can’t kick as high as he once did but how would I know? He delivered every thing I hoped for. The songs he played came from every part of his career and I knew almost all of them as did almost all of the audience. The eight piece band made me think of a cross between the Mothers of Invention and the E Street Band. They weren’t quite as tight as the E Street Band but the range of instruments and the levels of talent were pretty close. And they weren’t as loose as the Mothers but they did show a ton of flexibility. Everybody played multiple instruments — even the drummer played a mandolin at one point — and they were all good.

Paul played an acoustic guitar for “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and when the song ended a stage hand approached with a solid-body electric and they swapped. As Paul was strapping the new instrument in place he responded to shouts from the foot of the stage with “You want to hear it again?” The acoustic guitar came back and Paul and the band delivered another rousing verse or so. Maybe he’s done that before. Maybe he does it a lot. But it seemed spontaneous and we all loved it.

There were two encores. Paul had carried a baseball cap on stage and it hung on his mic stand through most of the show. I believe he carried it off with him at the end of the first set but might be wrong. I know he did after the first encore because it was on his head when he and the band came out for the second. He held it up and explained that the lower case ‘e’ on the hat represents the Half Earth Project which will receive all profits from the current tour. I am only slightly familiar with the project, which proposes to dedicate half the surface of the Earth to nature, but do not doubt its worthiness. In  my mind, both the project and Paul’s contribution connect with “How much is enough?” One species doesn’t need or benefit from manipulating every inch of the earth. One rock star doesn’t need or benefit in any real way from grabbing every dollar on earth. Paul and many musicians continue to perform long after banking enough money for several lifetimes because that’s simply what they do and folks like me and the road crews appreciate it. Wouldn’t it be a great thing if more people accepted that there really is such a thing as enough. The band did three songs in the first encore and four in the second. Then Paul brought them all to the front of the stage for a bow. Many shook hands with fans before walking off . Paul remained on stage alone.

He picked up a guitar and stepped to the mic. “Anger is addicting,” he said, “and we are becoming a nation of addicts. Look around and see who the pushers are.” That’s what I remember and what I recorded on my phone as I left my seat at concert’s end. Another review has it slightly different and there are reports of other variations at other concerts. He then ended the show with “The Sounds of Silence” which I’d been waiting to hear live since 1965. When it was over he moved a few feet to his left and stood the guitar in front of him. He seemed to study the crowd as he allowed the crowd to study him. After a few moments he moved to the other side of the mic and did the same thing. Aloha.

Star Wars Costumes

I may have missed attending a traveling exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center in the last several years but, if I did, I don’t remember what it was. The museum brings in world class exhibits which I very much appreciate and enjoy. I was, however, rather wishy-washy about Star Wars and the Power of Costume. Still am to some degree. My initial lack of desire came from a lack of familiarity. I guess I’ve been sort of wishy-washy about the whole Star Wars movie franchise beyond the first one. I feared that not knowing all the details of the full story would make it impossible to appreciate the exhibit. That turned out not to be the case at all. My current wishy-washiness comes from the price. As a museum member, attending the exhibit on Friday cost me $17. The regular adult admission is $24 or $16 for age twelve and under.

As I purchased my ticket, a fellow who had just emerged from the display and the fellow printing my ticket, had a brief discussion about how much they had each enjoyed it. One aspect they both liked was that the organization is by “type” rather then chronological. Once inside I very much appreciated that too. Having things displayed chronologically either by story line or movie release sequence (They’re different, you know.) wouldn’t have helped me at all and would likely have confused me.

There are small clusters of similar characters such as androids, empire soldiers, and rebel fighters.

Sometimes a single pair of related costumes are displayed together. Here a couple of different Princess Leia outfits are combined and Chewbacca and Han Solo stand side by side in front of a hyperspace image.

And, of course, some characters seem to just belong alone. Darth Vader masks used for specific scenes are displayed nearby. Bits of Jedi wisdom are projected on the wall behind Yoda.

The last room in the exhibit contains many of the Star Wars toys manufactured by Kenner and tells the story of how the Cincinnati based company ended up with the contract that nobody wanted. The line was incredibly successful and revolutionized the marketing of movie based toys but did not keep the company from being merged into Hasbro in 2000.

I was honestly quite surprised that the exhibit actually made me want to see all nine Star Wars movies. I saw the first Star Wars movie and thought it was great despite feeling that George Lucas had really ripped off Dune author Frank Herbert. I also saw and enjoyed the second and possibly even the third but I don’t think so. Then the whole prequel/sequel thing made me lose interest completely. Now that the story exists in its entirety, my curiosity is coming into play. Besides the more than sixty costumes, the exhibit contains many informative panels and videos. They remind me of something I already knew which is that Lucas borrowed from and/or honored many more science fiction and adventure stories than Dune and he seems to have done a better job presenting the essence of Dune than anyone who has actually used the name. I don’t see myself doing an all day or more binge but maybe I’ll finally get around to watching what everyone’s been talking about for years.


Now I’m going to invent a additional Cincinnati connection. A panel in the Star Wars exhibit states that some of the areas costume designers studied were World War II, Vietnam, and Japanese armor. Cincinnati is home to a serious collector of Japanese armor and the Art Museum has many pieces in its collection. Dressed to Kill, an exhibit of much of this armor, ended about a month ago and I’m going to turn this into an opportunity to post a couple of pictures I took there with my phone under less than ideal lighting. And now I’m going to turn this into an opportunity to mention that all the other pictures in this post were taken with my pocket Panasonic and the lighting for most wasn’t all that good either. Here’s hoping you won’t judge them too harshly.


Traveling exhibits like Star Wars the Power of Costume, are possibly even a little more important now than normal since they and the Children’s Museum are the only public spaces that remain open during the restoration of Union Terminal. Since my last visit. a large window has been opened into the rotunda that permits a view of a portion of the murals there. Reconstruction is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2018.

I’m Not Moving Like I Used To
— Places I’ve Lived (Part 2)

The reason that I only began my sophomore year in that old apartment building that ended last week’s Part 1 post was that I got married the day after Christmas 1966 and the bride and I moved into an apartment at the rear of this building near campus. We had almost no furniture and I remember laying on the floor of the empty living room watching news of the Apollo I fire on the tiny black and white TV my wife brought from her home.

In the mid-1960s, the Forum was one of Cincinnati’s newest and fanciest apartment complexes with a bar and restaurant that attracted both residents and non-residents. It was definitely a rather posh address for a poor college student. My wife’s sister and her husband had been among the earliest lessees and had arranged a honey of a deal. The long term lease that was part of that deal became a big negative when the husband was offered a major promotion in New York. To avoid significant penalties, they arranged for my wife and me to take it over and we found ourselves in some pretty classy digs. The in-laws had literally gotten in on  the ground floor.

I finished my second year of college and started my third but the discovery of a pregnancy in the family made continuing unrealistic. I got a full time job and my wife started shopping for houses. I recall sort of dragging my feet and pushing for just a larger apartment but she found an offer I couldn’t refuse. A middle aged couple had just moved to their dream home and were dealing with two mortgages. We bought this three-bedroom house in Pleasant Ridge on land contract. After two years, we converted to a normal mortgage with payments of $137 a month. We spent about five years here and this was our home when both sons were born. The oldest was ready to start kindergarten when the marriage was ready to end.

I spent several weeks with friends then rented a trailer in a park near Morrow, Ohio. I figured that renting a mobile home was about as non-committal as you could get. I can’t be completely certain that this is the very trailer I lived in but I believe it is. There was no storage shed when I was there and the deck is much more substantial than the steps I climbed and it’s possible that another trailer has replaced the one I rented. That means it’s possible that a second of my homes is gone but this looks to be old enough and it seems quite likely that it’s my old home box.

A co-worker had found this place a few years back and when he moved out another moved in. When he moved it was my turn. First time visitors seemed to always have trouble finding it despite being told it was “right under the bridge”. They just didn’t believe it. The bridge passing overhead carries US-22 and OH-3. The address was on the Old 3C Highway which predated the bridge and its numbered routes. The Little Miami flows under the bridge and was our front yard and playground. The four apartments can be seen better in this view. The large one on the right is where the owner and eventually an onsite manager lived. I lived in the rightmost of two apartments on the second floor and there was another smaller apartment below. This is where I lived when my kids came to live with me and for a few weeks the four of us shared the suddenly tiny apartment. They got the bed and I got the couch and the last place in the line for the single bathroom. When we went looking for a place to move, the only thing I cared about was having my own bathroom.

This place in Loveland won me over with a bath in the master bedroom and decent rent. Like many rentals, it was adequate but nothing special. The location was close enough to my job to not be an issue. Although the bedrooms were small, everybody had one and, most importantly, I had a bathroom.

While living in the rental house, I left the corporate world and went to work for a startup. This would not ordinarily be the time to buy a house but there was Cincinnati Milacron stock in a profit sharing account that I had to do something with when I left. I decided that using it for a down payment on a house was the thing to do. After considerable shopping, we moved into this eleven year old split-level where everybody again had their own bedroom even though one was officially called a den. The boys’ early school years had been split between a number of locations and they didn’t like it. I also knew that my sister had not been overly pleased at changing schools for her last few years. That had been part of the discussion in moving to the rental but was an even bigger part of the purchase decision. I stayed here until the last kid was out of school which puts it in second place on my length of residence list. My second marriage started and ended here.

This is where I’ve lived for twenty years now. The kids and wives were gone and I was ready to stop mowing grass and raking leaves. A buyer appeared for the house and I bought the second unit in a condominium in the process of being built. Construction targets were missed and I had to negotiate with my buyer for a late departure from the house. The two week delay still wasn’t enough and I spent a couple of nights in a motel and a couple of weeks in the master bedroom with furniture stored in the garage while workmen completed the rest of the unit. There are two bedrooms and the second bedroom initially held a left over bed from the house. My daughter eventually reclaimed that and I’ve never replaced it. I do have a large airbed so guests can be accommodated but just barely. Condo fees take care of cutting the grass, raking the leaves, and clearing the snow. I have no pets to feed or plants to water so nothing dies if I’m gone for awhile. Works for me.

So, after having eight homes in twenty years, it took me nearly thirty years to add another eight and the count’s held steady since then. As things now stand my lifetime average is 4.375 years per location. I really don’t like to move so that number is pretty much guaranteed to increase. In fact, the odds are good that I’ll stay right here until I’m carted off to a nursing home or a crematorium.

I’m Not Moving Like I Used To — Part 1