Damn I Am Complicated

Yesterday was about 50 degrees but it felt warmer in the sun. All of the dogs were out with me "herding" while I tore down the Jeep interior doors for painting and a remake.

As I cleaned and painted I got to thinking about the stereo I installed in my pickup last summer and decided I would check on the pricing of a sub woofer with a preamp. I remember looking when I built the system and decided against it based on price. The system sounds very good but I miss some of those thumping lows only a sub woofer can deliver.

They make sub woofers now that are speaker, case, and preamp all on one. They are about the size of a thick notebook computer.

I checked with Crutchfield online and they make what I was looking for and comparable with my now discontinued and obsolete 6 month on system. For $199 I can have basically a plug and play sub woofer and stash it under my seat.

Next time you are at an intersection and you hear some thumping and buzzing it might be who you expect. It may Wreggie in his red pickup letting out the angry young black man inside under the guise of a middle aged white redneck. Damn I am complicated.

Living In The Moment

I had a fantastic productive week. Good moods abound and I am back again to mainland Wreggie.

This week I bonded with my old summer friend Testicules the Jeep....the Jeep formerly known as Timmy the Beast. The Jeep had been parked most of the long winter season wanting to be driven.

So Monday I fired up the old cold natured beast and watched it's analog gauges move to life. Memories of new projects came to life as I commuted.

I have mentioned this before but I like that when driving a Jeep you become part of a community of Jeep owners. We wave at each other as we pass knowing that we share a brotherhood. Similar to boat owners waving or RV people being so darn friendly to each other.

We Jeep owners are held by a common bond of a love of customizable, noisy, gas guzzling, uncomfortable, off road contraptions.

I guess however in summing up the week was for the first time in a long time I was able to live and enjoy in the present moment. So often I live in regrets of the past or angst of the unknown but for a good while this past week I enjoyed the present moment.

Good to be alive.

A Thrilling Post!

Here is one you'll talk about at supper.....

Part of the fun of owning a classic Jeep Wrangler is tinkering with the darn thing. There are many aftermarket sources of parts that allow anyone to customize their ride to their own liking.

Just yesterday I received a box of stuff I ordered to remake the interior doors. I’ll pull off the old cracked handles and replace them with new ones. While the panel is off I’ll clean and re-spray the door with plastic paint to repair all of the dog toenail scratches.

Under the seats the old brackets need painting so I’ll pull the seats, then the brackets and spray those satin black.

None of this is expensive and the results are impressive.

Things I do in Winter Boredom

I had a great vacation but have really had a fit decompressing and getting back to the winter grind. Snow here? Again? Today?

Just yesterday I got back in the gym and it felt good. My pal Thomas called last night and insisted we “play golf” Friday. He said, “Dress warm, pack plenty of beer and we might as well take our clubs in case we want to hit a ball or two.”

I understand….we just need to get out but it will likely be too cold for a real game. Riding around on a lovely landscaped winter wonderland drinking beer with laughs might be the ticket.

Last week I jumped at the chance to drive round trip to Chicago to pick up an item for Gigi. I-40 is closed due to a rock slide back in October so the drive was even longer than I thought.

On the way up I drove through West Virginia, Kentucky, skirting Ohio and then Cincinnati, Indiana, Indy, Lafayette, Gary and then Chicago. I came back by way of Louisville, Knoxville then back home. I saw a lot of beautiful country. Damn this is a big place.

In three days I drove 1600 plus miles by myself and it was fun and exhausting all at the same time.

Words I Live By

"Youth" by Samuel Ullman

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a body of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being's heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what's next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.


When I was a young man…say 15, my thoughts often turned to sex. I would estimate 98.9% of my brain was devoted to the fantasy and possibility of having sex. This used to worry me until I read somewhere that this was normal.

The other small percentage of my brain was used to keep my digestive track, heart, and lungs working…..along with blinking my eyes.

By 18 that percentage had dropped significantly to 97.9%. The other 1 % was devoted to my new friend alcohol.

At age 23 I was married and yes….my thoughts were of sex but now it was down to a dismal 97% of brain capacity. I had a job now so I devoted some of my brain to work.

Now at 53 and almost 54 I would say I now think about sex frequently (more than 50%) but honestly I am almost at the point where I have to be in the mood to have sex. This kind of scares me.

I have a lot of spare brain capacity and this is new to me. Don’t get me wrong…my wife is as sexy as ever to me.

But it occurred to me this evening when I was driving from Chicago to Indy and listening to “A Prairie Home Companion” on PBS and feeling perfectly happy…that my mind was devoid of any sexual thought. Weird it was. Yet I was satisfied.

Is this the way women feel most of the time? Do I need dude counseling? Am I getting old and withered?


It is so nice having electricity again. It pairs perfectly with winter.

Duke energy finally found another break in my underground line and patched this break again. They patched this same spot a few years ago.

This time the low voltage took out some circuit breakers and seemed to have spared my electronics. So after the power company left I called an electrician and he determined a 60 amp switch was running on one leg. He replaced it and all was back to normal.

I swear you would think I never was on a relaxing tropical vacation last week. I am as cold and stressed as if it never happened. This winter goes down as the suckiest on record.

In North Carolina we always get little spells of stolen warmth during the winter. Usually we'll get days sprinkled in with highs in the 60's only to return to average cold. This helps me mentally make it until spring.

Not this year. This weekend promises to get to winter normal for a few days so we expect highs in the low 50's. Then it turns below normal cold again.

I got my new Jeep catalog yesterday and it got me to thinking about warm days and maybe some new bling for my Jeep. I want to get a new front bumper. I want some side rails. I want to get the luggage rack powder coated. Maybe I will or maybe I'll do it next year.

I am glad I bought my 89 YJ Jeep. I have enjoyed tinkering with it and this model is really getting vintage. I like being old school sometimes.

Wonderful Wednesday

Interesting few days.

Let me first say that Ali and Chris sent Gigi and me the most thoughtful gifts from Canada. Thank you guys so much.

It looks like I will take a road trip to Chicago this weekend. Yes, it is a log haul but necessary to retrieve an old gas oven from Gigi's Grandmother's old home. So big road trip.

Then I may be in New Orleans next week if plans pan out. Business related.

Last night we lost a leg of power going in the house. We has 100 volts and our service is 240. Much of our stuff didn't work so we called WAPA, ah I mean Duke Energy and they at least got the heater online. I woke up to a warm house with no water, refrigeration, or Internet or phone.

All fun stuff.

What Does It all Cost?

Lucky me I get to extend my time off one more day by today being President’s Day.

Many folks have asked and I am sure some are curious what it costs to take a nice vacation in the winter during high season to a tropical paradise like St Croix.

In the winter St Croix has days in the 80’s and night in the 70’s with constant breezes. It is US territory so the electric grid is 120 volt, the dollar is the local currency, and they are English speaking and drive on the left side of the road.

Keep in mind I am not a rich man but make a nice living and have some discretionary income to enjoy this annual ritual.

Usually we make our vacation plans well in advance to get the choice villa. We settle up on who plans to go and all commit with a deposit of 50% back in August.

In our case we rented from Vacation St Croix one of our favorite villas Sans Souci at $6,700 a week for 5 couples.

So, back in August I coughed up $670 deposit for Gigi and me to rent a luxury villa in February.

Each couple has their own bedroom and bath. The villa has a pool and maid service. It is spotless when we get there and midweek a maid comes to freshen up. Then we leave the villas as is and we do not have to clean as we leave.

The villa is well equipped with a TV and Cable, Internet, a well supplied kitchen, linens and towels, toilet paper and paper towels, soap, hair dryer, air conditioning, and fantastic views.

After I send in the deposit I start looking for deals on airfare. There is a direct US Airways flight from Charlotte to St Croix every Saturday in the winter and it takes about 3 hours and 10 minutes to get there. The flight usually runs about $575 round trip. I also use a US Airways MasterCard during the year to accumulate enough miles for one round trip.

So I book airfare for both of us at a cost of $575.

Total cost so far $1245.

We usually book at least 2 cars. This year we booked three. The one I booked was a 7 passenger Explorer for $425 a week.

Now this gets into a category of shared expenses for the common good of the group. We all during the week save receipts of purchases we make for the common good including cars, grocery items, booze, eating out as a group, etc. The receipts are marked with who spent the money and are tossed in a bowl in the kitchen. More later on this subject.

Come December it is time to pay up the other $670. Now technically my vacation is paid for and it has cost me $1915. I have had six month to pay for my air and accommodations for both Gigi and me. About $137 per person per day including air. Not bad.

Getting back to the common good expenses like groceries and rental cars. This year we rented three cars, had the villa provisioned out with food and adult beverages, more groceries, several times dined out as a group, gas for the cars, and the total came out to an additional $742 per couple for the week.

So the grand total for Gigi and me last week all inclusive was $2,657.

But there were times when it was just Gigi and I, the massages mid week, the jewelry purchases, the scuba dives that added on to that bottom line number.

Suffice it to say that you can pull off a very nice vacation at about $1.600 per person per week at high season. $3,200 a couple.

This can be done cheaper. If you shop and look around at some villas by owner like Pink House St Croix or Sun Dog House you will get better rates. Some owners are willing to negotiate price. Most individual owners will require a deposit.

I talked to a guy at the airport that was saying he loved the island but $700 a day at the Buccaneer resort, plus air and car was killing him. He gave me his email address and asked me for some suggestions. I will email this blog post to him.

It is all Coming to Me Now

Technology changes while I was gone:

Google Buzz caused quite a buzz and I didn’t know about it.

Google maps has many new features in Labs and that makes me happy.

Weather underground introduced Full Screen Weather fullscreenweather.com and this is very cool.

A Google search hack that take me back to the good old days of Napster.

A New food combination:

An old standby made better that I learned down at Polly’s at the Pier.

Mix any three cheeses, take you favorite bread and add onion, spinach, and green peppers and melt all into a fantastic cheese sandwich with crunch flavor and body. Wow this is good.

Some Video

Just little raw footage from this past week in St Croix.

Micro Blog

Yesterday I found the road to the tidal pools. It was a rough ride but fun.

A real Vacation

Okay...I know I have been a slack daddy this week.

The weather in St Croix has been beautiful off the charts. Each day it gets to the high 80's with blue skies and warm breezes. The water is clear blue and warm by winter standards.

Yesterday I scubaed with Michael twice in the salt river and then again just outside the harbor.

I have spent fun times in town and revisited with old friends I have eaten some incredible meals.

Right now I am waiting for a massage while Gigi enjoys her massage outside under the shade of a tree.

This afternoon I will drive to the tidal pools while Gigi relaxes at the beach at Sunset grill.

Tomorrow night an evening kayak in the Salt river.

Best of all I have relaxed and have slept well. 12 hours of blissful rest just last night. This is a fine vacation.

Today I Am Island Boy

Yesterdays's weather was hell in a good way. It rained in buckets instead of snow in feet. This will allow my flight to St Croix to continue as usual while other parts of the country seize up.

While I am not a fan of country music I do own the song Island Boy by Kenny Chesney where he sings about being a stone's throw from St Croix on St John while watching the news about snow storms in the US.

Island Mode

Yesterday I flipped over to vacation mode. My mind is at peace and I am for all practical purposes "on island".

I am now packing practical yet high tech. Basic clothes as usual and lots of gadgets like iPhones, GPS's, computers, high tech cameras, and all the accessories.

Gigi bought some new luggage so I'll be sporting new look at the luggage carousel.

Nightly I dream I am down on the island. I've been there so much that the dreams are quit realistic and in a way extend my vacation.

Today we dodged a bullet and are getting a 2 inch rain. 3 more degrees colder and out trip would be canceled from the snow. This flight only goes direct on Saturday. So far a go if the orginating flight can get out of Harrisburg, PA in the morning.

I think we will escort a dog back for the "Pets from Paradise" effort. These guys take stray island puppies, clean them up, give them shots and spay or nueter them, then place them in shelters around the US and eventually in a loving home. Our job will be to have a puppy in a carry on kennel.

There are lots of chores today and last minute packing to do.

PS - As you know I am a social exhibitionist so in case you want to share in my vacation stop by here, join me on Facebook, and watch this webcam link for live Facebook video coverage. I am promising lots of new pictures this year.

I Really Had To Go

Friday after lunch I was cruising back to the office when I got the sudden urge to go. Big time. Not number one.

I rounded into the parking lot and found a great space to park.

By now the need was very urgent and I abandoned my plan for the home court advantage on the 5th floor.

I decided to hobble across the parking lot as fast as possible and dive for the handicap stall on the lobby floor. No one ever goes in there.

I burst into the bathroom and literally dove into a stall that was occupied. By two fellows. Doing it. Yep. I got an eyeful.

I said "excuse me" and dove into the second stall beside them with little time to spare before I exploded.

The two fellows abruptly left.