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Will post new blog address when I resume blogging.

Changing Times – A New Blog – A New Pope

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Well folks, times are a changing around here and around the world. We have a new Pope and he has chosen the name Francis. Good name, it should suit him well – I hope. Things are also changing here on my personal blog – I am shutting down this personal WordPress blog and splitting it in two – one for my food posts and one for the general blather stuff. I will post a sticky post here when they are up and running.

Why the change? Well for starters, everything else in my world has changed so why not this too? We are making a fresh start in the desert southwest, starting a new business, making new friends and more or less starting all over. I have decided that it’s once again time to start fresh online as well. I’ve done this several times in the past – perhaps this will be the last.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop sharing online, I enjoy it and will continue. But for now, I’m going to take a brief respite while setting up the two sites. I’ll leave these posts up for a while and use them as inspiration for new posts. Only one more post is anticipated for this blog and that is the one announcing the two new ones.

For my friends who read, thank you! I’ll be back, just in a different place. The new blog will allow you to register and I’ll be making a “friends list” of sorts so I can share more deeply with those I choose to share with, especially on the personal blog. see update The food blog will be all public but using the same “friends list” feature, I may add other writers to that blog. It could be cool.

Anywho – that’s what I’ve decided. Thanks for reading.

Update 3/16/13 : I was wrong about BlogEngine, it does NOT allow for limited access based on registered user accounts. This is unfortunate but life goes on. I’ll post what I feel I can share and keep the blather to a minimum. (grin)

Mac Mini Server

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I was trying to keep our new office network as simple as possible and it got complicated very quickly. In my attempt to keep start-up costs down, I’ve been buying ‘affordable’ PC computers. They only need to last for a few months until revenue from the business will allow a more permanent investment in hardware and software. I intended to use simple file sharing instead of a server but that plan evaporated due to the many different operating systems.  (Mac Os10 – Windows XP – Windows 7 – Windows 8)

I got a couple of ‘affordable’ PC’s from Wal-Mart, one for Hillary who only needs a web browser to do her job and one for Jesse to help Hillary and plan distribution. I was prepared to buy a big iMac for our new graphics person but lo and behold, they were back order for a month; so I got a nice big HP for her. It worked out because she is more familiar with Microsoft, though Windows 8 proved to cost me a day while she watched videos to learn the new OS.

It only took a few days to realize that we needed a file sharing server to accomplish our daily tasks. Since I saved more than $2,300 by going with a PC and the new Adobe CS6 deal for my graphics person, I decided to go ahead and invest in a server. I was very happy to discover the Mac Mini Server at $999.

According to the Apple website, the Mac Mini Server was the way to go. It is a full featured server and promised to install easy and be simple to manage. It came with TWO 1 tb hard drives which should be more than enough space for the next few months/years(?).

If you want to hook a brother up, click this link and I’ll get a little commission… Apple Mac Mini MD389LL/A with Lion Server (NEWEST VERSION)

From reading the manual online, the Mac Mini Server would be able to be set up from my Mac Pro. No need for another monitor or keyboard/mouse? More savings!!! I’m excited.

So after the research and made my way to the local Apple Store at La Encantada – Campbell and Skyline and picked up my new teeny tiny network in a box.

I unpacked the tiny shiny server and noticed right off the bat that there was little (none) documentation or instructions. All that comes in the box is the server, a power cord and an adaptor for the monitor. A small pamphlet for the Mac Mini was included but nothing about setting up the server. I have learned that MAC’s are easy so I proceeded. Actually, I double checked the online server manual before plugging in the server.

I made sure the network outlet was connected to the router – by plugging in one of our IP phones – and then attached the server to the network.

What was supposed to happen didn’t. The Mac Mini Server was “supposed to” miraculously appear in the finder window on my Mac Pro. I waited and waited but nothing appeared… darnit!

After several hours of waiting I did something I was very uncomfortable with, I powered the server off. Uncomfortable because I had no idea what step in the setup process the server was on because I had no screen attached. I held my breath and held the power button until the tiny light extinguished.

I hooked up a monitor, keyboard and mouse and powered the mini server back up. As advertised, it was a cinch to set up. Once I was in, the server did show up on my Mac Pro. Following the instructions I found online – on my Mac Pro – I clicked on the server in the finder window and selected “share screen.” It worked! SUPER! Now I can manage the server from my main computer.

I powered down the server – properly this time – and disconnected the monitor and keyboard and mouse. I turned the server back on and it didn’t show up in the finder window again. Dangit! I plugged all the peripherals in again and notice the error – I failed to enable auto login. I enabled it, powered down again, unplugged the monitor and stuff again and press the power button. And waited. After a few seconds, the server popped up in finder. YEA!

Now up and running properly, I went through all of the server settings. This thing is great! From the server app window, I have full control of the server. Adding users and groups was almost too simple. There is so much on this server that I don’t use but it feels good knowing it’s there if/when I want it. Everything from a DNS server to an Email server, a web server, even a VPN if I want it. All for a thousand bucks? SWEET!

I have yet to set up the “Time Machine” back up system. If I understand it correctly, it will not only backup the server files, but also the files from my Mac Pro. Great!

Another feature that has my interest is the web server and the fact I can run Parallels to run a Windows server on the Mini. Since my websites are Active Server Pages, I need a Windows web server to work correctly. According to what I’ve read, I can host my own websites should I choose to do so.

So far I’m very happy with the Mac Server program and the server app included. As my business grows, I can see how much more useful this will be too.

Critter Cam

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Carrie only wanted one thing for Christmas this year, a Critter Cam. At least that’s what we call it. Some call it a “wildlife camera” or a “game camera.” I got her a nice Bushnell from Wally World and she is happy! We’re still trying to find the right place for it but we’ve already captured a Bobcat or two. We have been checking it often. The way it works is it has a motion detector and when something moves in front of the camera, it automatically takes a picture. The one I got also has night vision and it’s pretty cool.

The other day I went out to get the Critter Cam so I could download the pictures and just as I came inside Carrie called me to look out of the window. There was a Bobcat walking right where the Critter Cam was just sitting… yeah, right where I was just walking outside in my robe. I alway check the ground for  snakes or other critters, but this large cat had to have been lurking in the trees while I was out there. Needless to say, we didn’t get a picture, but here is one that was taken prior to my close encounter with a wild cat.

SUNP0023

Yipes that was close!! It kind of reminded me of this photo found on About.com.

That photo has been debunked as a hoax but that’s exactly how I felt when I say the Bobcat standing where I had just been standing. He was out there somewhere. YEOWZA

Read about the mountain lion hoax http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/animalsinsects/ss/Mountain-Lion-Vs-Elk-Hunter.htm 

2012 Will Be a Year to Remember

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Some of you may recall that I wrote about 2012 and how I felt it was going to be a significant year:

I have some ideas as to how to make 2012 the best year ever, only time will tell if those ideas, or the simple coincidences of life will prove it to be… or not.

The simple coincidences of life? Oh my goodness. I’ll try to be as brief as possible but suffice to say, fate grabbed us by the arm and changed everything in our lives. It was a wild ride and one I could not be more grateful for.

Before I wrote that quote last year, I knew that we had already made the decision to move to Tucson to start a magazine. Our plan was to continue operations of SOKY while we built the new business. Carrie grew tired of just dreaming and planning, on December 27, 2011, she ‘demanded’ that we decide. So that night we decided that we would hire some local help and move to Tucson. It was a good plan and we were committed.

The next day changed everything.

After making the life changing decision to move on the 27th, I received an obscure email on the 28th. The email – from someone who knew I was exploring my options – asked if I was “interested in an opportunity.” While I knew who it was from, I was very sceptical and proceeded with little hope that anything would come from it. Something definitely came from my open-mindedness and willingness to explore.

Long story short; We met with the people implied in the email on January 5th, by February 1st, the business we had built for the past 5 years was sold – lock, stock and barrel. Yeah – 3 weeks that changed our lives forever.

After spending a few months – as agreed – writing the “book of SOKY” and being available during the transition we started getting antsy and ready to start the next chapter. We put our house – for sale by owner – on the market in March. We just put it on Craigslist and let our Facebook friends know, but nothing really happened.

By May we were going out of our minds, decided to hire a good Realtor and headed for Tucson in my 1995 Chevy Tahoe. It was loaded to the gills with the heavy stuff like tools, weights and so forth to reduce the moving bill. ($.53 a pound)

This is where it really got weird (good weird).

We rented a hotel room and headed out to look at several homes we found for rent online. We “settled” on one – settled because the kitchen was sub-par and there were a few other things we just accepted – and talked to the broker about moving in immediately. According to the broker, we needed cash or a cashiers check if we wanted to take possession right away. Impossible because we used local banks and all our money was in Kentucky.

So, we decided to rent a vacation home for 9 days, pay the ransom on the rental with a check, go back to Bowling Green and move in on August 1st. This was on July 3, 2012.

We found a wonderful place at the top of Alvernon, near the Finger Rock trail-head, about as high into the foothills as you can get. As with most vacation rentals, the place came with everything from TV’s to sheets to dinnerware. Unlike most rentals, the quality of said amenities were above expectation. The furnishings were exceptional and everything seemed very high quality. With a pool, a hot tub, a spa bath in the master suite, we definitely were not settling on this place – rightfully so because it was very expensive.

So July 4th we assumed that the broker would be closed. We chose to enjoy the cool day doing some work on my truck with my son and his wife who had moved here a year before. It was a wonderful day!

On the morning of July 5th I called the broker and asked her, “Are you ready to rent a house?” To which she replied, “Yes, but not that one, we leased it yesterday.” Huh? What? That’s right, the place we settled on was gone and though we settled, we had already started thinking about the good stuff so it was disappointing to say the least.

I jumped on the Internet and quickly noticed that we had exhausted our options. Nothing really caught our eye so we piled into the Tahoe and started driving neighborhoods. That’s when I got a call from the owner of the vacation rental. Barb wanted to know if she could drop by to pick up a hair dryer she left behind. I said sure and made a beeline for the house to make sure it was cleaned up. I really wanted to be there to talk to Barb because she is a Realtor and might have some leads on a rental.

Barb arrives, gets her blow-drier and I showed her a fountain that had stopped working. While in the yard I shared our predicament and she suggested we rent her place, the vacation rental. Eh, about 3 times our budget I explained and asked if she knew of anything else. She remained fixed on renting us her vacation home to which I explained the budget shortfall.

Still trying to stay brief I assure you.

We received a call from her partner a few hours later with a deal we couldn’t refuse. If we would agree to rent the vacation home for 3 years, they would not only reduce the rent to remain in budget, but the rent would go down each year. Huh? Oh, but only on one condition… we had to keep all of the furnishings, accoutrements and supplies. Huh? They also agreed to continue to pay the pool guy, the gardener and the Culligan man. HUH / HUH? Pinch me – I must be dreaming.

Needless to say – Carrie and I had a grin on our faces so pronounced the Joker would be proud. People who saw us in public must have thought us crazy because of our smiles and good mood. I just kept saying “wow.”

As fate would have it, our Realtor/s back in KY had an open house scheduled for the upcoming weekend. I called them and told them that we would sell the house furnished for any offer at our asking price. I sent a list of what would be staying and low and behold, the house sold that weekend. We had a contract before we returned to Bowling Green.

We were allowed to leave my Tahoe and all the junk we brought in the garage of our new rental and we flew back to Bowling Green.

Another “weird” thing. We pay our mortgage through autopay at the bank – have been doing it for years – for some strange reason, our mortgage check was never received by the lender. I visited with them and explained the issue. They reversed the late charges and then it happened… I explained that the house was sold and the lender allowed us to make an interest only last payment saving us hundreds of dollars. WOW.

Our plan was to drive the Tahoe to Tucson, leave it in the house we rented – which we did – wait for the movers to pack and load our stuff and drive Carrie’s Saturn to Tucson. Since we sold all our big stuff with the house, we decided to rent a U-Haul for the remaining stuff to be moved. We also rented a car hauler trailer for Carrie’s car. All told, we saved more than $7,500.

If that weren’t enough, the coincidences just kept happening! For example; After being here (Tucson) for about two months, Carrie decided it was time to start looking for office space. We decided for starters we would just drive in the areas of town that we would want our offices. Within a few hours, we found this wonderful office/warehouse space with 8 offices, a conference room, a small kitchen and enough warehouse space for 20-30 pallets of magazines. The rent was below budget too. WOW

But wait – there’s more. The current tenants were still in the space so I let them know through the property manager that I might be interested in whatever they want to leave behind. In the end, we got 25 pieces of office furniture including desks, tables, bookcases and filing cabinets. They even sold me the network connection device that enables us to use the existing wiring with no installation for our phones or computers. Get this… it was all for less than $350. WOW

The coincidences have been profound and they are also helping us in building our team for the new magazine. Patience has been the facilitator and perhaps the hardest part of the journey. That said, being patient while sitting on my porch in the desert southwest is not so bad.

Oh – it’s not been all butterflies and rainbows – there have been some challenges. Like the booster coil going out on my truck in New Mexico. Like driving the biggest U-Haul available for 30 hours, dragging a car-hauler the whole way; which was a test of strength, endurance and will. Or the slight pack rat/mouse problem I faced – and eradicated. Or even the old guy next door who likes to clean his pool in the buff – just look the other way. There have been a fair share of challenges but we just keep plodding along in faith that it will all be alright.

Why Tucson Arizona? It’s more than the weather, more than a vibrant community, more than the larger market I’ve been longing for the business. Tucson is home! Carrie and I met here 30 years ago this month. We were married here. Both of our sons were born here on base. It’s familiar to us and we love it. Strange how when you leave your home town for 25 years; when you finally return it seems so much better. I find myself appreciating things that I took for granted while I was growing up. The smell of the rain, the beauty of the mountains, the creatures of the desert all have new and profound meaning to me now.

I will always have fond memories of southern Kentucky. It was a wonderful place to raise our children and frankly, a great place for Carrie and I to grow up too. Beit working in the basement as a salesman or web master, or building a travel agency from scratch or starting a new and popular magazine in and for the community, Bowling Green KY will always have a special place in my heart. Many people came through our lives and some remain near and dear to us.

Frankly, one of the hardest things about leaving SoKy was leaving so many people we love behind. We’ve only been gone a few months but the loss of such close friends is still painfully profound and offers the slightest of regrets. I wish I could get them to move here - I miss them so much.

We are here – we are happy! We are looking forward to new friendships and people to love. We love Tucson and we are excited to help make it an even better place through our business. I just read this to Carrie and she agrees; we’ve made the right decision. This is home and the place we will live out our days.

Call it fate, coincidence, energy or the hand of Almighty God – something has been guiding us, creating opportunities and situations for us, holding us up and keeping us strong. It just feels like we are supposed to be here, supposed to be doing what we are doing and we are inspired to keep our minds open, our hearts full of love and continue this journey.

So as you can see, 2012 was a very significant year for us both. It might also explain why there have been so few blog posts here. We have been enjoying the slow times by cooking and eating. But taking the time to photograph and chronical our culinary adventures has not been something we could do.

The coming year will be a challenge as well. We have a good foundation but still a lot of work to do. We look forward to it. The last time we started a magazine we did so from a much weaker financial position – not to mention I didn’t know the hardware or software. Last time we were on our own – this time we can have a staff in place to help from day one. Last time the formula was only loosely defined – this time we have a proven technique that we know will be successful. We are excited to say the least and look forward to a great 2013.

2,000 plus words – if you’re still reading, thank you for your interest. As I mentioned last year, there will be some changes to my blogs as I refine content and focus – that is when I start writing regularly again. Be sure and stop by from time to time for updates.

As always – Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!

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David Francis:

I have revised my blue cheese recipe

Originally posted on David & Carrie Francis:

UPDATE October 26, 2012 – I have refined this recipe greatly! I now use 2 cups (yes 16 oz) of blue cheese crumbles (by volume) and a full cup of butter milk, no sugar and a heaping 1/4 tsp of black pepper. Best ever!

My wife Carrie loves a good strong blue cheese dressing, so much so that when some friends served a particularly robust dressing on an incredible salad, Carrie got the source. As it turned out, Carrie was buying so much of the dressing from Longhorn Steakhouse that they changed their policy and stopped selling containers of the creamy goodness.

Fine!

Into the kitchen I went and started concocting a knock off of the dressing she liked and then made it better. Here is what I came up with…

Food We Like To Cook
Very Blue Blue-Cheese Dressing

Note: This is very strong blue-cheese dressing. To tone it…

View original 208 more words

Flies in the Bushes One Year Later – a Five Minute Chemical Solution

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Click for larger

Apparently, one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written is the How I Got Rid of the Flies on my Bushes post. It has been read nearly 1,000 times since I posted it this time last year. Not the billions of hits larger blogs enjoy, but that’s a lot of attention for this old man and his discombobulated blog.

This year – instead of pulling off each bloom cluster by hand – I tried another remedy and it worked wonderfully and in only 5 minutes. I sprayed the bushes with an insecticide called Demon Wp. I shouldn’t have been surprised since I’ve been using this stuff since 1990 back in Birmingham Alabama.

Short answer: Mix one packet of Demon Wp with about 2/3 gallon of water in a pressure sprayer and spray on the blooms and leaves. Flies will be gone in minutes.

Note: According to the packaging, if you live in California, you should NOT use this product for outdoor fly control. If you live in New York or Connecticut, you’re out of luck there too because it cannot be shipped to those states.

Demon WP and I go WAY back to the late 80’s when I found myself in a losing battle with urban cockroaches. We tried everything short of a high dollar professional exterminator. Not that there’s anything wrong with the pro’s, but we were very poor and could not afford the service. We tried all sorts of residual sprays, powders and even those bug “bombs.” You know the ones, those aerosol cans that would spew their poison into the air resulting in us having to remain out of the house for a few hours until it settled onto every surface of our home. Nothing worked! Oh sure, we would be free of the little critters for a few days, but they would always return. It was as though they saw the cans being placed on the newspaper and went on holiday for a while until it was safe to re-infest.

Keep in mind, this is long before Google and Amazon.com. Research “back then” was done the old fashioned way; asking friends, family, co workers and even using the always reliable phone book. You remember those, don’t you? I Googled – eh, I mean looked up “pest control” in the 3 inch thick phone book and one listing just jumped out at me – almost like one of those pop up windows I dread so much now. “Do it Yourself Pest Control” was the listing that caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to get over there!

The fine people at Do It Yourself Pest Control (I don’t think they are open anymore) recommended Demon WP, told us how to use it and sold us the wonder powder. I got it home and mixed it in one of those old fashioned aluminum pressure sprayers and got busy. I sprayed everywhere I could, I even used the little tube tip to get behind and between the counters. Since it is water based, I did NOT spray into the power outlets or switches, but I was tempted. I mixed another batch and sprayed the crawl space and even the outside walls near the ground.

I didn’t see a cockroach, water bug, spider or ant for 18 months. No really! 18 months!

I have used it ever since!

Click for larger and source at Wikipedia

Our home in Bowling Green KY – out in the country in the midst of dense hardwood trees – became overrun with the fearsome brown recluse spider. My eldest son fell asleep watching TV in the family room one night and was bitten by a spider. Carrie took him to the doctor and they applied some cream and sent them home. Carrie pulled couch away from the wall and found a leggy spider that looked a lot like a brown recluse. She called the doctor back and was instructed to bring the spider and the boy back to the office. They confirmed it was indeed a brown recluse, changed the treatment of the bite and recommended that we have the home fumigated for spiders. HA, I don’t need no fumigator! I have Demon WP!!!

We mixed a batch of our wonder powder double strength – as instructed on the labeling – and took to the attic, walls, ceilings and everywhere we could spray. In the morning we found several spider corpses throughout the house. About six months later I guess there was another hatch because we saw one or two spiders in the basement so we repeated the double strength application again and they were gone. After that, we included the attic in our springtime spraying and have not had a brown recluse since.

So why didn’t I think of using Demon WP on the bushes? I don’t know, maybe it was that I didn’t want to kill the flies, I just wanted them to go away. The bushes are doing their thing and the flies are doing theirs. But this year I went terminator on those little buggers because they were everywhere! It also seemed that by pruning the blooms last year, it resulted in double the number of blooms this year. It seemed like it anyway.

This year I just decided to let modern science take care of my fly infestation. Maybe there are people who don’t agree with the method, but it worked for me and maybe it will work for you too. Whether you use the bloom pruning, non-toxic method, or the wonder powder of death method, I hope you found this post useful.

Oh, speaking of popular blog posts. In the past seven days I have had nearly 60 different search terms for looking up flies on bushes. My favorite one was, “tons of flies in my bush.” Favorite only because it made me chuckle. No matter how you found me, thanks for reading.

(Links to Amazon.com with referal compensation should you choose to buy.)

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