From Rebecca: Netflix streaming

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For many years my husband and I have subscribed to the Netflix service of DVDs through the mail, which we liked very much. Last year we got high-speed internet and one of the first things we did with it was to expand our Netflix subscription to include the streaming service. We like that very much too. While we don’t do it often, I can see why so many people get into binge watching shows for hours at a time on streaming services like this. Being able to watch as much of a new season of a new show as we want in one sitting or in the same week is pretty nice.

Netflix is putting a lot of money into original programing, in many genres, and there is a lot to choose from. One of the first shows we watched on streaming was Grace & Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Two seasons were available right away by the time we came on board, and we had them watched in a few weeks. I hope they do another season at some point. Last week we finished watching the first, and so far only, season of a new original show, Santa Clarita Diet. It was a little gross in places, but we liked it. We would not have been able to watch it without this streaming service, at least not before Netflix got around to putting it on disc.

Netflix also took over production of a few network shows that got canceled, and put out new seasons for fans. One of these shows, Longmire, was one I watched when it was on TV, and missed when it was abruptly canceled. I am almost through the last season now, and I appreciate seeing these characters continue for the two new seasons so far that Netflix gave me and other fans.

They also have a wide selection of older shows and movies. Darren and I are watching The West Wing, which we both watched when it was originally broadcast on network TV 15 years ago. It is bringing back a lot of memories of the Bill Clinton presidency, from which the show got a lot of material. Two weeks ago we watched the movie Lost in Space from 1998. We saw it listed, decided to watch it, clicked it, and then we were watching it. That fast and easy. Amazingly cool. Currently I am watching the first two seasons of a show that is still running on network TV, Jane the Virgin, which I didn’t get around to watching when it first came on the air. Now I am catching up on Netflix, finding that I like it, and will continue to watch each new season.

There is something to look out for though, especially when watching older shows and movies. They can go away, sometimes without warning, and we can’t finish the series. I remember reading somewhere that it is because of how Netflix has to license the rights for streaming. Half way through me working my way, over the period of some months, through the run of shows featuring the character Inspector Morse, it was discontinued from streaming. And last week I went on to look up a certain episode of Murder, She Wrote, and found that the whole series was gone, too. Poof, vanished. I can get them on discs, but they went off the streaming part.

We still get the DVD discs in the mail, though we did drop it from two discs at a time to one. Netflix has a much better selection and library in discs than in streaming, and some of the stuff we want to watch is only available on discs. We enjoy the selection, but the one downside we have with this service is the time it takes; between having it mailed to us, then we watch it, and mail it back, we might have only one disc per week and a half. Still, this works for us for the most part.

We also have to balance all this TV watching with other activities of life. Right now I am writing this blog post while my husband is on reading. (Working from home is another advantage of high-speed internet – yay technology! Good luck on the additional writing time, Joe.) It is a strangely hot day out for February, and we should get outside to enjoy some of it later. The more we enjoy the wonders and bounty of Netflix, the more we also need to keep it in perspective. I love entertainment shows and make-believe, but real life can be compelling, too.

Until next week, as Joe would tell you, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

I was such a naïve kid

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Greetings, readers. I was just telling Rebecca a story from my early childhood and it sparked this blog entry topic. It is going to be about the rather goofy things I did when I was a boy. I took everything literally.

The story I told Rebecca was one from the mid-1970s before cable channels came in, and television reception wasn’t always that great. I was watching a Pittsburgh Steelers game with my mom and there were some difficulties with the signal. A message flashed on the screen, ‘We are experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by.’ So the naive, goofy kid that I was, I got off the floor, went to the side of the television, and stood next to it, causing my mom to laugh hysterically. I was five, I did what I was told.

Around that same age, maybe a little younger, I always wondered why people had yard sales. Didn’t they want their grass anymore? Another goody was the garage sale. Where were people going to park their car if they sold their garage? Just call me Mr. Literal.

Of course, like everybody else, I got wise and learned that not all phrases mean exactly what they sound like. For instance, lots for sale. Up until the age of eight, when we were driving on that particular road, I would turn to my mom and ask, “Lots of what?”

Although this last example isn’t quite the same, there is a road in Maine which I travel on every time I’m there, which goes from camp into town. It says, ‘Please watch for blind child.’ That in itself is fine, but the sign has been there for over forty years. That child is now probably fifty. Unless there is some special place that I don’t know about such as a blind school in that area, it is not necessary. I have always wondered why they didn’t take it down.

Well there you have today’s blog entry. If you have any examples from your life dealing with this topic that you would like to share, please do so in the comments here or on my Facebook page. We promise not to giggle.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

When I’m writing I hate the red squiggles

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Greetings, readers. Yesterday was a slower day on my writing project than I hoped for but I was working on my character sheets. Two days ago when I was typing I made a number of typos and as usual the spell checker put red squiggles under them. Some people can ignore that; I am not one of those people.

Every time a word is misspelled I must go back and correct it. It’s just a thing with me. What I should do is press on, ignore it, and fix the mistake later. In time when my writing flow is better I am sure I will do this. To aid me as I am trying to get into my flow, I’m going to look for the option to turn the spell checker completely off. I know that option exists. Even though I am only on page 11, I still feel like I am in second gear, where I write everyday, I can see the action in my head, and the words come easily. With yesterday being a not so great writing day, today must be better. I cannot lose my momentum.

Here’s how today is going to go. Rebecca and I will work until 12:45, then it is off to the pharmacy to get a few items, after that I will meet Traci for a quick snack, and then I will begin my work. I’ll need to stop around 6pm, because I am calling bingo tonight at 7:00. I’ll probably get back from bingo about 9:00 and then I’ll read and watch TV to relax and wind down. I find that if I’ve worked hard on my book I enjoy my off time that much more.

Our area is once again in the national news. Though I will not go into that much detail, I was very angry to see that the son of Jerry Sandusky was charged with a sex crime similar to what the Penn State’s former defensive coordinator was convicted of. Here we go again. More accusations, more trials, and another black eye for Penn State. I’m just tired of it now.

Finally, as I approach my 600th blog entry, which will be posted sometime in mid-March, I wish to ask if you, my readers, have any topic you would like me to cover. If I get a good list from folks, I will choose one and blog about it for the 600th entry.

That’s all the news for today. Until next Wednesday, have a fantastic weekend, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

Top ten list of things we might remember from our childhood

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Greetings, readers. This top ten list was going to be a general list that anyone could relate to, but as the list got going, it seemed to get more specific to the time I was growing up. I’m 51 years old, so I think anyone around my age will be able to remember the same things.

#10. Mom or Dad would say, “Sorry, but we can’t do that. It’s a school night.” [There were many things I enjoyed doing, from playing ball outside to watching that 9:30 TV show, and there was always that cut-off time on school night.]

#9. Snow days. [During the cold snowy winters of the mid to late 70s, I eagerly anticipated each snow storm with the high hopes of those beloved snow days. I know we had to make up the days off from school at the end of the year, but to stay home, warm and cozy, was always fun.]

#8. Older cars and cheaper gas. [Back when American cars were big boats, with plenty of room and large gas tanks, no one thought anything of going for that long Sunday drive. Most big cars were fancy, stylish, and sounded cool. The cheapest gas I can remember was 40 or 50 cents per gallon. Yes that was more money back then, I know, but if you just look at the numbers compared to today you’d get a chuckle.]

#7. Saturday morning cartoons. [When I was a youngster, I could not wait for Saturday mornings. I would run downstairs, fill my cereal bowl, and plop in front of the TV to watch three hours of really good cartoons. The cartoons they make today are not nearly as entertaining to me and some Anime cartoons are quite violent. It is a pity that the Saturday morning cartoon is actually gone.]

#6. That disco craze. [The music of the 1970s was funk and disco. I don’t love all disco music, but some of my all-time favorite songs are from this genre.]

#5. Roller skating. [Before roller blading, there was roller skating. When I was a teenager, roller skating was just on the way out. There used to be a place called Sir Skate here in town that would do a whooping Friday and Saturday evening business. Lots of school kids could not wait to flock to the rink and skate the evening away to good music.]

#4. Going to a Friday evening movie or drive-in. [Many an evening was spent by me going to our local theaters and watching such hits as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the 1976 version of King Kong, Smokey and the Bandit, and of course, the original Star Wars. Ticket prices were cheap, as were the refreshments.]

#3. Baseball games on the radio. [This is more something of the 1940 and 50s craze, but I can still remember my mom listening to the Pittsburgh Pirates on the radio. In the mid 70s, one of our local TV stations starting showing the games and we began to watch instead of listen to them. My favorite radio announcer recently retired, the LA Dodgers’ Vin Scully.]

#2. Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, John Chancellor and Johnny Carson. [I always associated certain times of my life with certain celebrities. Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show was one of them. I would always watch his opening monologue on Friday nights when I could stay up later. My three favorite news anchors were Tom Brokaw, Walter Cronkite, and John Chancellor. Today the world is so depressing I no longer watch the news. Sorry current news anchors.]

#1. Holidays at home with family. [Some of my happiest memories are at Christmas time as a child. I enjoyed big Christmas trees, lots of presents, Christmas carols and a great holiday dinner. In elementary school of course my favorite part of that time was the holiday break. Three weeks of no school. Back then, yes, it was called Christmas vacation. So sorry for not being politically correct. Lol.]

There’s my list. If anyone has a question, comment or wishes to add your list, please feel free to do it here.

Until tomorrow, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Mini snow storm over and novel’s chapter two is going well

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Greetings, readers. I woke up to roughly 3 inches or so of snow on the ground. It was no surprise. Everyone knew it was coming, the question was just how much. We were in the 3 to 6 inch range, but I think we got the smaller amount of what was predicted.

Snow is pretty when it first comes down, but after the cars roll around in it and make it black, it is disgusting. Also, with my bad balance, slush and ice are not my friends.  When there is any amount of snow that is more than a dusting, I stay inside. It’s just not worth me breaking a leg over. Anything I need at the store, I can get the night before or the day after.

It is late morning as I am using my speech recognition program to dictate this entry, and the snow has already stopped. Now it is just cold and slippery. After I’m done dictating, I shall save this entry to draft and get it ready for Rebecca to edit. I expect that she will post it sometime in the mid to late afternoon.

As far as my new writing project goes, oh boy, am I off to a hot start. Today is a little slower than yesterday as far as production, but it’s still early. I plan to work until at least two or three this afternoon. With over 2,100 words so far, it is certainly my best start in years. What do you know, writing is fun again. Yay! 🙂

I am going to continue to plug away at it until the ideas don’t come anymore. Hopefully, that won’t be for a very long time. I’ve got a great idea for this novel. The more I write, the more excited I get about the project. I shall keep you all up to date in the coming weeks.

Until next week, have a great weekend, be safe if you’re in the snow, and happy reading.

Novel underway and coming along nicely

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Greetings, readers. For the first time in many years I am absolutely psyched about a project, other than the blog or one of my performances. In the last two days I have written six pages and 2,100 + words. About a month ago I had an idea for a novel and I just decided to go for it. I do understand that six pages does not usually equal a chapter, but I got to a good stopping point, and it is still a first draft. The first draft is what I call creating the skeleton. Once I have the skeleton in place, I can add the muscles and tendons, the skin, and the features. In other words, I can flesh it out, no pun intended.

Without going into too much detail and ruin anything, it is a paranormal story. I am quite intrigued by that phenomenon. Unfortunately, readers, I am going to keep details to myself for now. I shall share little tidbits as the book progresses. As some of you may know, beginnings of my projects have always been my bugaboos. If I can just pop it into second gear, I’ve got a chance. And yesterday, for the first time in years, I felt that gear click in.

Another huge thing that I did which I believe will be a major plus, was to use my computer calendar to set up what I call work shifts. Just as if I was going to work at a store or café, I set up blocks of time to put my butt in the chair and type. So far so good. Yesterday I was supposed to work until 2pm – okay, okay, I conked out at 12:45, but for me that was a good start. It is going to take a while for me to build up writing stamina but it will happen.

Most writers write an outline and know exactly where their writing project will go next. I don’t. Which is probably why I have failed so much. I’ve always been the kind of person to take a story to a certain point in my mind, write it down, and then see where the story goes next. Although it is only the first six pages in the first draft, I am getting the sense that my characters are a bit flat. When I wrote my play Kimberly, poor Lyle Detmore never did come to life, until Rebecca’s husband Darren turned the project into a novel. Now there is a writer for you. This time I have hope that the editing process down the road will help me with this problem.

The photographs from my latest show, which was on December 2, 2016, are now up on the Performance Pictures page. I proposed to Traci in between the sets, and I have included a couple of pictures with the two of us. Please feel free to check them out.

On a side note, condolences go out to the family of the Penn State student who passed away the other day at one of the fraternities. It was a horrible tragedy. No parent should have to bury their child.

Well, there is today’s blog entry. I will working on my writing project today from 2pm to 5pm. Wish me luck that the engine keeps running. I will put a new blog entry up tomorrow, I am taking a personal day to write more on my story and Rebecca will edit the blog entry from home and post it.

Until then, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

An update on my goals from this past August

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Greetings, readers. I came home from Maine last August all full of energy, expecting to have a job within weeks of my return. To my disappointment, that job offer fell through. I was so disappointed I kind of went into a shell and did not look elsewhere. That is about to change.

Although I thoroughly enjoy writing the blog with Rebecca, a writing project must get underway immediately and come to completion in an attempt to make money with it. I know money isn’t everything, but it sure helps pay the bills, and a job would give me a sense of pride and accomplishment. Next week I am going to start by going next door to the local library and ask if they are accepting volunteers. Once I get used to getting out of the apartment and keeping that regular schedule, I shall look for a job that pays. There is one draw back to this plan.

It is already February. As my regular readers know, my annual trek to Maine in August is very important to me. It is a family reunion. If I were to start a job now, I might not have enough time in to request a summer vacation. I would have to sacrifice Bear Spring Camps for the job. I’m not a child anymore and I completely understand that a paying job would take precedence.

Hopefully I can volunteer or get a part-time job until camp time, and then when I return in late August I can reaffirm my plan to get that full-time job, and also be a writer. I know it is time for a life change when I feel guilty playing video games or watching too much television. The life of no responsibilities must end. As I get older, I do not wish to hit retirement age having hardly ever worked. To me that just seems too dumb.

Fear not, I know God put me on this Earth for a reason or reasons. I shall find all of them. Among my many appointments and apartment building obligations I will find time to be a productive member of society.

Okay, I’ve vented for today. I beg your pardon if I get a little repetitive now and then. Consider this a form of therapy for me.

Until next week, possibly earlier, have a fantastic weekend, take care and as always, happy reading.

Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories part 2

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Greetings, readers. As promised, here is part 2 of a top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes that I have watched many times and studied. As all of you know, I love to figure out what goes wrong when these gigantic aircraft crash. Sometimes it is as simple as an incorrectly set lever, or in one instance, a pilot who was going to be fired committed suicide and took everyone on board with him. You will find many reasons in the following list. It has been a while seen I have seen a few of these episodes, and I was not able to watch them recently (as I wrote last week) so I used Wikipedia to compile my list. Though I’ve seen them all, I needed help with titles, dates, flight numbers, etc. I hope you appreciate this one as much as so many you did the first list.

#10. “Flying Blind” – Aeroperu Flight 603 [The year 1996 in October. Because of a maintenance blunder, the pitot tubes were left covered. When the aircraft took off, it immediately started to get false readings from the on-board instruments. After half an hour of being lost over water, the plane crashed into the sea with crew believing they were at a higher altitude than they were.]

#9. “Flying on Empty” – Air Transat Flight 2368 [2001, August. The Air Transat flight developed unusually low fuel load readings which the pilot and co-pilot thought was a computer error. As it turned out, a hose in the fuel line system gave out and the fuel leaked away. Luckily the aircraft was at a high enough altitude and the pilots were skilled enough to glide to an airport in their range and have a safe landing.]

#8. “Out of Control” – Japan Airlines Flight 123 [1985, August. After suffering an explosive decompression in the massive 747 tail section, the flight was doomed. The crew fought valiantly for close to 40 minutes before crashing into a mountain range, killing all on board. A faulty repair was to blame. The man who okayed the repair committed suicide afterward.]

#7. “Mistaken Identity” – Iran Air Flight 655 [1988, July. Due to a horrible misunderstanding during the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, the United States warship, USS Vincennes, thought they were firing a missile at a F16 fighter which was not answering hails. Instead, it was an Air Iran passenger jet incapable of receiving that hailing frequency. All 290 on board were killed.]

#6. “Kid in the Cockpit” – Aeroflot Flight 593 [1994, March. A proud pilot’s 15 year-old son was invited into the cockpit. Mistake #1. He was allowed to sit in the captain’s seat and pretend to steer the aircraft. Mistake #2. When the autopilot disengaged while the child was turning the yoke, the craft banked hard right and stalled. The g-forces prevented the pilot from getting back into his seat. Any child at the yoke of a commercial aircraft is a big mistake.]

#5. “Falling from the Sky” – British Airways Flight 9 [1982, June. Flight 9 took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on route to Perth, Australia. The 747, during a night-time flight, flew through volcanic ash that they could not see which caused all four engines to fail. After several attempts to restart the engines, they finally came back to life, and the jumbo jet landed at a nearby airport.]

#4. “Panic over the Pacific” – China Airlines Flight 006 [1985, February. The number 4 engine developed a temporary malfunction and stopped working. Due to pilot error, the plane went into a terrible tailspin. After many attempts to restart the engine, and what seemed like forever to regain control, the China Airlines flight made a successful emergency landing at San Francisco International. There was structural damage to the aircraft from the descent. It was later determined that any more structural failure would have brought down the jet.]

#3. “Gimli Glider” – Air Canada Flight 143 [1983, July. I followed this story from a TV movie they made about it some years back, and as in many cases the incident was completely avoidable. The brand new Boeing 767 was metric and at Montreal Airport the fuel crew failed to convert gallons into liters and only filled the plane half full of the fuel load required. If it were not for the brilliant flying of Bob Pearson and crew, landing at an abandoned air force base, the plane would have been doomed. He was able to glide it in over a long distance.]

#2. “Fatal Distraction” – Eastern Airlines Flight 401 [1972, December. Eastern Airlines Flight 401 was on its way into Miami International when it developed what appeared to be a mal-functioning landing gear light bulb. The crew fiddled with it but could not get it to light up. While they were distracted by pulling the bulb out, the captain bumped the altitude hold knob and the plane descended in the dark of night. The realized what was happening about 100 feet off the ground, way too late. The plane crashed into the Everglades. 101 people died and 75 people survived. On an eerie note, certain parts of the aircraft that could be salvaged and were in working order were installed in other Eastern Airlines planes of the same type. Crew members reported ghostly figures of the dead crew … if you believe in that sort of thing.]

#1. “Frozen in Flight” – American Eagle Flight 4184 [1994, October. While in a holding pattern waiting to land in rough weather, a commuter plane suddenly banked hard right and spun out of control. Though the pilots fought valiantly, the aircraft did not have enough altitude and it slammed into the ground, killing all 68 on board. The reason was a design flaw that made the de-icing system ineffective on a certain area of the wing. Too much freezing rain built up while flying in the holding pattern and the plane could not stay airborne anymore. The ATR-72’s wing was redesigned and the problem was fixed.]

There is our second top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes. I’m reluctant to say enjoy it with so much disaster and grief associated with so many of the stories, but if you are a fan of the show and have not seen these episodes, check them out.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

Every time I see a writer

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Greetings, readers. Many times when I go to Panera café I see a gentleman who is a hard-core writer. His name is Steve, last name unknown. He has a ritual kind of like mine. He selects his favorite table, purchases his food, gets out his paper and pen, and starts to write. Whether he is taking notes, working on a story, or just doing a writing exercise, I have no idea. My point is that he writes. That’s the difference between Steve and I.

Here’s what I do. I select my favorite table, get my food, open my computer, check my emails, listen to music, chat on the phone, you get the idea. I do anything but write. At 51 years old, I’m almost ashamed to call myself a writer. Yes, I’ve written three books and a play, so I suppose that qualifies me as an author. I so desperately want more. The problem is at the current moment my body and brain are not quite cooperating. I’m going to look into computer software that allows me to speak into a microphone and the program will type what I say. My laptop has a speech recognition program but it has many flaws. I have difficulty getting into any flow. A trip to Best Buy will be forthcoming.

On today’s schedule is this: After the blog entry is done, Rebecca and I will fill out paperwork for an upcoming foot doctor’s visit, then it is monthly office cleaning day. After Rebecca leaves, I might even run the vacuum, ha ha. This afternoon I have a bank run to make and I must stop at the pharmacy. This has the potential to be an expensive day; I must begin to pay off my deductible for the new insurance year. Finally, tonight I will call bingo. I missed my last turn so I promised the gang that I will call the next two Thursday evenings. We all have to do our share.

What I am going to do this weekend is concentrate – perhaps even writing it down – on making a daily schedule that always includes writing, even if that means taking out such things as flight simulation, Facebook chatting, or YouTube watching. I’ve said it before but every day the feeling gets worse. I must either be a serious writer soon, or pull the plug and get a full-time job somewhere.

On a sad note, a very special RIP to the legendary actress and dancer Mary Tyler Moore, 1936-2017, who passed away yesterday. She will be greatly missed.

Next week Rebecca and I will be back with you with two more exciting blog entries. So take care, have a great weekend, and as always, happy reading.

Feeling better after a rough weekend

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Greetings, readers. Friday, late afternoon, I was bitten by the flu bug. It wasn’t the worst case I’ve ever had, but still it was very unpleasant. Most of the weekend was spent on my recliner chair sleeping. I had absolutely no appetite or motivation to do anything. When I was awake, I did think of Air Crash Investigation (ACI) episodes to find on YouTube for research. Here’s what happened.

The episodes I know I wanted to include in a new top ten list are gone, probably due to copyright infringement. That is the big issue when people post material that is not their own. Sure, old TV shows and classic sporting events are wonderful to watch again, but I am almost positive that the posters did not get permission from the networks. Usually such videos will stay on YouTube a few months until they are flagged by someone and then the site will remove the video and give that person a warning. This is how I watch ACI.

One of my favorite episodes, the story about the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team crash has been removed. Other episodes have been reposted by folks who for some reason didn’t do it correctly and the audio is either too fast or too slow. Not everyone has great equipment or knows what they are doing.

Let me tell you about one episode that I’ve watched over and over again, “The Crash of the Century”. It was a special two-hour episode. Two 747s, a Pan Am and a KLM, were bound for one of the Canary Islands. After a terrorist bomb went off in the terminal, the airport was closed and all aircraft were diverted to the tiny island of Tenerife. They landed and waited a number of hours for permission to return to their original destination. A terrible fog rolled in and blanketed the airport just as the pilots were given that permission. It was a race against time to fuel up, start-up, taxi, and take off before the fog made it too dangerous to do so. Here was the mixture for failure. There was an air traffic controller whose English could have been better. The crew of the Pan Am was looking for their turn off but missed it in the fog. The Dutch KLM aircraft which had taxied first, was ready for take-off, and the captain would wait no longer. Disregarding every rule in the book that pilots follow, he started his take-off run without permission and plowed right into the Pan Am jet, killing 583 people.

In a future blog entry I’d like to do the promised top ten list, and will do so if and when I can find ten episodes that I haven’t already blogged about, in a reliable medium.

That’s it for today. I’m going to enjoy a walk in the sunshine later on. I’ll grab a cup of coffee and meet Traci, and this evening I think I will watch a movie. Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.