"" Writer's Wanderings

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Books For The Road - Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson

Sometimes you just need a book as a distraction. Something that will make you smile. Something fanciful and sweet--like wedding cake. Every Girl Gets Confused is just such a read. Each time Revell sends me a Janice Thompson book I know I'm going to get a few chuckles and come away feeling good.

Thompson, a wedding planner, has written several series of books around the wedding and bridal theme. This one takes place in a bridal salon that designs specialty gowns. There is a Doris Day theme that weaves in and out of the chapters and culminates in a bride having a designer make her a dress similar to one worn by the iconic actress in one of her movies.

The main character, Katie Fisher, comes to the big city to work at the salon and meets the salon owner's son, Brady James, a basketball player with a potential career ending injury. The two become a couple (it is a romance novel) and of course there is the ex-boyfriend, Casey, who may have decided that breaking up with her was not a good idea.

The fun begins though when Katie's grandmother, a Baptist, marries the Presbyterian minister and they have part of the reception at the Methodist church so they can have dancing. By the time you are through this wedding and reception, you will be in stitches and you'll always be checking out the punch at any reception before you drink it.

Rather you pack this in your ereader or tuck the paperback in your travel tote, you'll have a great book for the road. Happy endings and happy travels go together.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Traveling With Tech

It used to be that the most important gadget to take on a trip was an adapter for foreign outlets but now with all the tech gadgets we take along power sources become a little more challenging. We still need those adapters for international travel and they have become a little easier to handle. I remember the bag of plugs each labeled for the country or area of the world where it could be used. Add to that, an adapter if you were going to use it for a hair dryer. I have been known to fry a few because I forgot that little detail. There are some simpler answers today to those problems and with a little research you can find a one-size-fits-all adapter like the one offered by Conair on TravelSmart's website. 

Many hotels and even cruise ships lack enough outlets for all the tech charging that needs to go on especially if you are traveling with family. To solve some of that, take along a small power strip. We have been on some cruise ships that actually had a mini power strip in the room so the cruise industry is catching up.

Have you ever wondered where all the spam and junk mail comes from after you've traveled? A lot of it is because you use public WiFi which may not be entirely secure. One way around it I found was to make my iPhone a hot spot. I feel a lot more secure and I use it sparingly to save my data usage. Of course that's not always possible so just be wary of sharing your credit card number over a public WiFi that is not secure.

I remember several trips where we either took a zodiac (small inflatable boat) or a water taxi where we waded out through waist deep water to get on in order to get to our destination. I didn't have as many tech gadgets then as I do now but one way to protect them if you find yourself in that situation or traveling through a rainy period is to use a sealable plastic baggie. Pack some in your suitcase. They come in all sizes and you can protect a tablet/laptop, smart phone, e-reader, camera, etc. from damage.

Do you take lots of pictures? Uploading them to the cloud (whichever one you choose) can be a way of saving space on your laptop/tablet. Of course that's not always practical if you have a lot of pictures and a really slow internet connection. I carry a USB flash drive as a backup. I upload when possible, backup always, and keep the flash drive in a separate place from my camera and laptop so that if, horrors, one or both should be stolen, the flash drive is not with it and at least I still have my pictures.

All of this tech stuff can really make travel so much easier. Boarding passes are now stored on our smart phones and information for filling out the immigration forms is also stored there so we don't have to dig for our passports in flight. But would you believe that the one thing most people forget to take along on a trip is a pen? Just watch people scramble on an international flight as the immigration forms are handed out when they suddenly realize that even with all their technology, a simple ballpoint pen is probably the best tool to have around.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Room With A View

We just finished booking our stay at the East End in Grand Cayman for our annual dive trip with our grandson. I love The Reef Resort which has now been taken over by the Wyndam. This year we'll be renting a condo from one of the owners of a time share. The nice thing about the condos is that they all have an ocean view--a real ocean view.

I remember several times when we've booked a room with a view and it's been a partial view of the ocean and sometimes only if you stepped to one end of the window and placed your cheek against the glass to be able to see it. I think enough people have complained about the misdirection in the room description that now you get "partial ocean view" in the listing.

There are lots of other views that are spectacular other than an ocean and if you can afford to splurge I can tell you that the views from the Grand Canyon El Tovar Lodge are great. Our room didn't look out on the canyon but we did sit out front often and take in the view. We also visited the Many Glacier Lodge in Glacier National Park for lunch one day and sighed as we wondered what it would have been like to have the beautiful view of the lake and mountains from a room there.

One of the most spectacular views I've seen was that from the lobby of the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park.

And lest we forget, there are always amazing views from a cruise ship (unless you get an inside cabin). The views of the ocean are generally unobstructed as long as your stateroom window isn't blocked by a lifeboat. Just be sure to check the deck plans carefully. Then there's always the Royal Caribbean ships like the Oasis and Allure and the newer ones that have views of the interior that can be very interesting.

When booking a room with a view be sure to check out several review spots online and get tips on which rooms are the best for a view. Just remember that a view comes with a price and think about how much time you are actually going to spend in that room looking at the view. If it's worth it, book it!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Essays on Life - R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Otis Redding sang about it in 1965 and Aretha Franklin in 1967. Aretha even spelled it out in the chorus. Looking back I wonder if that era was the one where we began to lose what the singers/songwriters were immortalizing in song.

Our recent visit to Greenfield Village gave me food for thought when we listened to the recording that is played when you enter the schoolhouse where Henry Ford attended classes. I wish I would have written down the exact words but it referred to school being the place where morals were taught as strongly or more so than the three Rs. That certainly wouldn't fly today. The question would be whose morals will you teach? And how would you define morality?

When I went to grade school we were still allowed to say the pledge to the flag, for a time even allowed to say the Lord's Prayer and one holiday season, we were privileged to share how we all celebrated the holidays differently. It was the first time I'd heard of Hanukkah. It taught respect for other's beliefs.

While it isn't politically correct any more to have posted the Ten Commandments in any public buildings, there is a lot that can be learned about respect in those simply laid out guidelines. Respect God. Use language respectfully. Respect yourself with a day of rest and reflection. Respect your parents. Respect life and preserve it. Respect relationships. Respect other's property. Respect truth and honesty. Respect your neighbors.

One more thing about respect--you don't receive it unless you give it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mini Road Trip - Ford Rouge Factory Tour

The Ford Rouge Factory today is where the F-150 trucks are assembled. It is an amazing place but before I tell you about our tour, I'd like to tell you a bit about the concept that Henry Ford began with. We all know about his assembly line and how it changed manufacturing but his idea for the Rouge Factory was that raw materials would come in and the plant would be able to make cars starting with those raw materials. Steel was made, parts of cars shaped and formed, and then assembled. Everything that was needed was made from scratch. Amazing.

Today I believe many of the parts now come from other factories Ford has built and those parts are all compiled and supplied to the assembly line by quite a computerized choreography. The tour begins with two movies and a warning that no pictures are allowed in the factory area. One movie centers on the life of Henry Ford and the second is quite a production involving robots and a truck that rises from the floor amid theatrical smoke. Throughout the program, the truck that is all white turns different colors and appears to be a real truck through the magic of expertly placed projected video.

From the movie level you take an elevator to the viewing level which is probably about mid-level in the huge assembly building. You peer down at the assembly line while parts of trucks and some full bodies pass overhead moving to their place in the next part of the assembly line.

We watched with amazement at rear windows being installed by robot. Moved to a place where headers were being snapped into place we marveled at the organization. Each truck cab that came down the assembly line was a different color and differ size and some had a sun roof. From a mobile set of slotted cabinets the assembler would reach the next slot in line and pull out the correct header for the truck cab.

At another spot on the line a team of two men installed the gate to the back of the truck bed. As they worked, the platform they stood on moved with the assembly line. When it reached a certain point the platform moved back to work on the next truck moving down the line. The two had only a minute or two to set in the gate and hook up the cables that held it in place.

The engines were installed in another part of the factory that wasn't within view of the observation area that was a large walkway making a square around the assembly area available for viewing.

The orchestration of the whole operation was unfathomable. I wondered what Henry Ford would have thought of his assembly line today.

One last stop on the tour was the observation deck. From there you could look out on the rooftops of the factory building that have been planted with a special mix of succulent plants to contribute to a better environment. Then the guide stationed there pointed out a green line in the employee parking lot. Everyone with a car that was not a Ford had to park to the left of the line. Certainly would make me think twice about what kind of car I drove to work.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mini Road Trip - Henry Ford Museum

The shift in our plans worked well for this trip as evidenced by the gray and much colder weather we awoke to. Our previous day at Greenfield Village had been quite sunny and warm. This day definitely looked like autumn was arriving--maybe even early winter. So off we went to The Henry Ford Museum where we would be nice and warm and out of any foul weather that might happen.

We were there as the doors opened at 9:30 AM and entered with a large group of high school kids. I thought at first it was an outing for them but actually there is a school that is within the museum--the Henry Ford Academy. My legs were a little sore as we started out. We had logged over 4 miles walking around the village the day before.

The museum has changed a lot from what we remembered. All for the good of course. There is a lot more emphasis on educational information and not just on industry and cars. Sections of the museum included the Civil War (with the chair Lincoln sat in the night he was shot) and the Civil Rights struggle with the actual bus Rosa Parks sat in when she refused to move to the back.

There is a lot of memorabilia from different eras and you are invited to figure out which era you belong in. With our age, we kind of passed through a lot of them. One of the displays that brought big smiles though was the Oscar Meyer Wiener car. Of course, like It's A Small World, it took a while to get the Oscar Meyer song out of my head.

The most intriguing exhibit was the Dymaxion House designed by Buckminster Fuller back in the 1920s. It wasn't actually built though until around 1945. It was the answer to the need for mass produced, affordable, easily transportable and environmentally efficient housing. The structure, made of lightweight steel, aluminum and plastic, is supported by a central column and is built around it in a circle. Supposedly it maximizes space. Lots of perks inside included an enclosed closet full of shelves that rotated to display your clothes. It was said to withstand a tornado that passed close by where it stood in Wichita, Kansas. There's a good post about it at Yesterland. com. 

Wandering through the Heroes of the Sky area, we came upon the Ford Tri Motor. It has a special place in my heart. When I was young, we spent many weekends at Put In Bay, Ohio, in the winter and the only way to the island was to fly in the Ford Tri Motor from Port Clinton. I wonder now though what my mother must have felt every time we went taking her children on a plane built between 1925 and 1933. I guess back then the plane was only 25-30 years old and lovingly cared for although it shook so much on take off I wonder how it stayed together. There is some talk that the plane will be making a comeback to the island in the summertime.

Among the cars on exhibit is a progressive representation of presidential limousines including the one JFK rode in Dallas. Somehow they don't seem as large in real life.

We wandered through the progression of all kinds of cars and trucks--not just Fords, and then headed for the train section. Bob remembered a huge engine there the last time and he wasn't disappointed, It still sits there. The steam engine was built in 1941 and used for hauling coal in the Allegheny Mountains. It weighs 600 tons and towers above you as you walk past it. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to see it working.

For lunch we enjoyed sandwiched in the Michigan Cafe. There is a hot dog dining area by the Oscar Meyer Wiener car but we didn't want to walk all the way back to it. There is also a diner where we had some great coffee and a couple of glazed donuts recommended by our waitress. She was right. As good as Krispy Kreme.

 As we enjoyed our donuts and coffee, we discussed the possibility of getting in the tour of the Ford Rouge Factory. If we did it this afternoon, we could leave first thing in the morning and get home a little earlier. Besides, we really couldn't think of anything else we wanted to do and the factory tour was said to take about two hours. It was another plan shift. We were getting good at those. Never say we aren't spontaneous.

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