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Blogging my Activities ... Interests
I talked with Mike in Japan yesterday morning. The connection was perfect...he sounded just like he was at home. No fading, no echo on my end, just a great connection. His flight was long as expected but he hopes to adapt to Japan time (13 hours ahead) quickly. Good luck. Oh, he is big compared to all the 'little people'. No surprise there.
Yesterday I had no energy after returning from coffee. The coffee didn't help so I decided to take a little nap around 10 am...I woke up at noon. I guess I was tired for some reason I can't explain. I was hoping the new medication would super-charge my energy level but thus far it has not. I've got to give it more time. Maybe I'm not sleeping well at night and I just don't know it? I sure hope I can find a solution.
It has turned cold again. Not as bad as last week but cold none the less. Maybe this will indeed be the last cold blast this year. I know in a few months I'll be wanting Fall to hurry and get here. Why am I always a couple, three months ahead of whatever season it is at the time?
I've found a guy who's got a lot of gems he's purchased and now wants to pear-down his extensive collection. He seems like a real nice honest guy and lives in Indiana. People from Indiana are good people...after all, that's where Wendy was hatched. I think I might buy a few things from him and to the extent I can, offer suggestions for his eBay store. He's sort of new at this and I could certainly learn from him as I try to help where I can. It would not surprise any of you if I opened an eBay store, would it? What do you think of the banner I made (image is downsized..click on it) ? See what happens when you get old with time on your hands?
My leaf blower broke. The trigger that servers as the throttle no longer is connected. This should be a very easy fix you would think. But nooooo. The manufacturer had to put it together with some type of screw-like things that do not have a 'regular' head. They are not flat-head screws, phillips screws, and an alan wrench will not work. So before I completely destroy the blower, I'm going to see how much Home Depot will charge me to fix it. It should be about $20 in my view but they probably have a minimum charge of something like $65. We shall see.
Mike left yesterday for two weeks in Japan. I'll give him a day to settle in then try to talk to him on Skype. I think there is 11 hours difference in time zones but I'm not sure they are in the same zone as Bangkok. I bet the locals will think that 6' 2" Mike is some monster. I'll be most interested in his views. He loves Sushi so he should find at least that part of Japan interesting.
My guess is he's in for a shock when he finds out how much things cost there. I stopped in Tokyo on my way to Singapore and had a beer while the plane refueled. The beer out of a vending machine was $8.50 and that was 15 years ago. God only knows what it is now!
I had fun posting this picture of Mike when he was 18 and had hair. In case you missed it, here it is again. I never through away pictures so you folks out there better beware of what I might have of you...Syp!
Glory be...the roof on the Vero Villa got pressure washed and painted. Ace has had his hands full but finished the job on Saturday. Now I really do need to replace the roof but it's the Permit Prevention Department of the City of Vero Beach that's the problem now.
We had a storm coming blowing through here last evening. It was not as bad as the weather man had predicted We needed the rain so that was a good thing but we need more. Unfortunately it's bring more unseasonably cold weather to Atlanta. Oh, well.
I give up....what is wrong with my car? It seems every time I approach a traffic light it turns red. It is like a radio signal is emitted from my car to turn the lights red. Not just one or two...all of the lights I approach. I'm important...they should all turn green as I approach. I have much more important things to do than to sit at red lights. Jeez!
I discovered that you can install Skype on more than one machine with the same username and password. I'm not necessarily surprised but didn't know for sure until I did it. I loaded Skype on my notebook. I really like this utility and it's flexibility. It is much better than MSN Messenger and probably AOL as well. I encourage you to install it and that includes you GT Jeff.
Alas, I didn't make it out to Dale Rayburn's place this week like I had hoped. I'll give it a go next week if he's in town. At least he knows I'm most interested in "Going South" so I'm pretty sure he will not sell it to someone else without letting me have the first shot. As much as I hate to say it, I'm probably going to have to reduce my collection when I move to the Vero Villa. I just will not have wall space. The question is how do I sell the art? Of course eBay is an option as I've seen Rayburn art for sale there before. Maybe Dale can help.
Wendy has needed my help with her computer in the last couple of days. She is in Ft. Lauderdale to take care of some business issues and visit her friends. Anyway, we've been using the Skype video conference utility and it works GREAT. Much better than MSN Messenger. In fact, I might just uninstall messenger using Skype exclusively. Now listen Sypster...install Skype now. Do you hear me? Now!
And speaking of Wendy.....
Yesterday I received a sapphire that was represented to be a "doublet". FYI, a doublet is what you get when you combine two stones together. The top part of the stone is usually a bright, colorful stone and the bottom is usually the same type of stone but of much lower quality (although it could be just glass). The bottom is often very light in color and has a much lower value. Well, this blue sapphire was alive with color and sparkle. Just looking at it, I could not tell it was a doublet. With a loop I could easily tell two stones had been put together but not with the naked eye. Here is the picture of actual stone.
It is my belief Doublets are routinely sold as a top quality stone in many jewelry stores especially if they are not known for top quality. Kay jewelers comes to mind along with all department stores or discount stores. The truth is the stone I have is beautiful and once 'finished' in a mounting most buyers would never ever know. I don't see anything wrong with stones that have been enhanced or treated in some fashion. The problem comes in if you pay for something much better than the quality you receive.
This week's weather has been lousy at best. It's been cold, overcast, rainy, and down right depressing. It's the middle of April of God's sake, where are the bright blue skies and gentle warm breezes? But then....WOW... What a difference a day makes. As I was complaining about the cold, cloudy, rainy, depressing week we've been having here in Atlanta and then bingo.., we get a nice bright sunny day with mild Spring-like temperatures. Already I'm in a better mood just because it is so damn nice here.
We've had a bit of excitement in my neighborhood. Yesterday a water main broke flooding the main (non-expressway) artery into Atlanta from the Northwest side of town.The surface streets where I live were a mess. And, some in my area had to boil there water for 24 hours because of the contamination. Fortunately I live just West of the affected area.
Virus Alert: This is the first time in months a hot, fast-moving e-mail virus is on the loose. Read about it
Mike called to chat and say he's going to Japan for two weeks on Sunday. He volunteered that he was going to load Skype on his and Laura's computer before he read about it on these pages. They then will be able to talk for free while Mike's in Japan and of course talk to me. You see, I'm on the leading edge so you need to visit regularly to keep up with the latest technological thingy. I like the word thingy...it is so descriptive don't you think? Anyway, if you do not have Skype, you should get it here . That means you Dutchies too!
I don't know what ya'll think, but I like the look of this page better than the one with a darker background. So I'm going to leave it like this unless I think of a reason to make a change. Mike says it looks 'cleaner' which is a good thing. I'm approaching the upper one half of one percent of all sites on the internet which may sound great but what it really means is 99% of all sites have very little traffic.
In the past 9 days I've not gone for a morning walk. There have been excuses like the arrival of a FedEx package I needed to sign to receive. Or a doctor's appointment. Then there was my dentist appointment. Some days I had no energy. Some days the temperature was in the mid-20's. See how easy it is to make an excuse? I think I'd better get back into the habit of walking before it becomes too easy to skip it. I sure have not felt like walking though.
Twice this week I woke up and experienced restless body syndrome. The cure is a very warm bath at 1:30 in the morning along with a half of a Lortab. I get relaxed, the tingling goes away, and I'm able to get back to sleep. I don't know what might be causing these sessions but thus far they are manageable. I think unjustified anxiety what play a part so I'm hoping the new medication I started two weeks ago will help. After two weeks I've not noticed much difference but then again it does take several weeks to work. I'm still of the opinion there is a correct drug or combination that will work for me...I just have to find it.
It is true my property goes up in value and for that I'm grateful. However, my property has increased about 400% from the time I bought it while my taxes have gone up 1400%. When I wasn't paying attention, the tax rate slowly got up to the level it's at now which is about 5% of the value every year. Do the math and you'll see I've paid in taxes more than I paid for the house! That sucks.
What can I do? Very little because everyone in my neighborhood is getting screwed, not just me. The only way to reduce the increase is to reduce the evaluation increase but I have no grounds for that argument. If you don't pay, they can put a lean on your property, sell the lean to an investor, and after a year the investor can take your property if you don't pay. That sucks!
I don't mind paying taxes for services like fire, police, water, and other city services. The trouble is 45% of the taxes go for the top-heavy bloated school dysfunctional system that's failing the students. The statistics show 40% of Atlanta High school students don't graduate. And those that do have a piss poor education because the system sucks. When Terrell graduates (if he graduates) he are a por spelor and can not reed good!
And then there is the welfare hospital that mismanages it's budget beyound my means of describing how pathetic they are. About 35% of my taxes goes to the hospital. It is a "regional" hospital so why she us folks in Atlanta pay fore all those that come here from around Atlanta?
The thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that my property values go up as well. But when I decide to move to the Vero Villa, I sure as hell won't miss the Atlanta City Government! There, I got it off my chest.
With the money I'm transferring from liquid accounts into non-liquid Tanzanite, I probably won't be getting a newer car anytime soon. That doesn't matter...my car works great. Why spend money on a newer car that will depreciate when the one I have serves my purpose? Besides, my current car has about hit it's bottom from a depreciation standpoint. Hell, if I keep it a bit longer I can get an 'antique' take for it!
Golly, it's been over a month since I helped on the Zone Alarm Forum...my new hobby has gotten my attention. That's ok, the forum has several new Guru's to help who are still anxious to help others. I'll drop in from time to time but I think it's time for me to move on. Besides, more and more users are installing the Zone Alarm Security Suite which includes an antivirus application. I've not installed it yet so there are many question I can't answer.
My interest in getting a new computer so I can use Vista has been put on the back burning for now as well. This desktop works great, is secure, and it has all my "stuff" on it. What a pain to move those files and programs to a new machine when I need not do it at least for now. Microsoft is going to support XP through 2012. I'll let the bugs get fixed in Vista first.
Wendy is back in the US to meet with her brother. Together they are closing on a house they had built as an "investment" in a retirement community somewhere. Turns out the market has turned a bit soft so they'll probably have to hold onto it for awhile before selling...they were hoping to sell when it was finished. My view is if you have staying power, you'll not lose money in real estate. You just have to hang on until the market is favorable for you. I've always known Wendy to land on her feet.
Today I decided to post another picture of the Ft. Lauderdale flash and me on an adventure in Egypt. The dude between us was the camel jockey from whom we rented a couple camels for an hour. Camels are just nasty creatures.
Of all the gems I have only the Tanzanite fall into the 'investment' grade category. I do have blue sapphires and Iolite (which is a tanzanite wannabe) but they are not top stones. Of course my collection includes many stones that are not blue but instead red, yellow, or green. Rubies, Garnets, Sapphires and Spinel are included in the mix. At this point my collection is indeed large enough to have a decent gem store on eBay if I wanted to go that route. Not now but maybe one of these days. I'd call it Bluestone Gems of course.
Remember I mentioned there were two stones in the parcel that weren't as nice as the others and had a 'window' ? I talked to Bangkok Mark and even though he does not have to, he has agreed to take those two stones back in exchange for one larger stone. Every time I talk with Mark his actions further confirm he is a honest and honorable businessman. It is my belief those qualities are rare in the gem & jewelry trade. You wouldn't believe how many ways a buyer can be deceived into believing an item is of much higher quality then it actually is.
Sometime this week I'm planning on going out to visit with Dale Rayburn. He has generously offered to hand paint an etching I've had for over 25 years to add 'life' to it. And he's going to do it as a gift to me for being one of his best collectors over the years. I still think I have the single largest collection with nearly 100 works of art...etchings and oils. While I'm there I'll of course check out "Going South". It is a one of a kind etching which has been hand painted and is called a monotype.
I've been talking a lot about Bangkok and Bangkok Mark. I've been there 3 times in the past and today decided to post a picture of Wendy and me in the Golden Buddha Temple just outside of Bangkok. I like to have ladies kneel in my presents....gosh I'm full of it, huh?
As you know by now, my favorite and most reliable Tanzanite dealer is Bangkok Mark. He suggested I install a program called Skype as a instant messaging application for typing, voice, or video conferencing. It is free and I can now tell you it works great. I was able to talk directly with Mark in Bangkok about various things including another parcel he believes he'll have next Tuesday in payment for debit.
This parcel will be too large for me but I can handle about half of it. It could represent another good opportunity to acquire top quality Tanzanite from a trusted dealer at a favorable cost per carat. I'll know more after Mark actually gets the stones on Tuesday. From our most recent transaction, he knows I'm not just leading him on a wild goose chase. More will be revealed in a few days.
At my Saturday meeting there were two new attendees that were really in a bad space. One had come from a wealthy, prominent Virginia family but has now lost everything. He's lost his job, his wife, his house, and his dignity. It is good to not forget how things used to be and even though they were a mess, it could have been a lot worse. I'm eternally grateful to President Mike for the suggestion that got me started on a new road.
The roof on my Vero Villa still has not been pressure washed and painted. Ace sent me an e-mail saying he'd try to get to it this coming week. I know he's had a lot going on especially with his new little girl but I sure would like to have this job done. We've been working on it for 4 months now. The other news is there is no more complaints about noise since the last event
I must say that I've been spoiled by the top-of-the-line stones I've already purchased from Bangkok Mark. For the most part these were a tiny bit of a step down but well worth the attractive offer made to me on a per carat bases. A couple of the stones did not have the exceptional "pop" and flash my previous stones have had but nonetheless these are certainly gem-quality, investment-quality stones. Mark has been upfront and honest with me so there were no surprises.
A couple of the stones have a "window" which means you can see through the stone. Up until this parcel arrived , I've not had anything to compare but can now say I'd prefer stones without a window. That's just me...to others it might not make a difference and depending on the mounting, you might not even know. I'm really getting an education on the complex world of gem valuation and sales. In the end, Mark's tanzanite is like sex...there is good, better, and 'Oh my God'!
When I went to the post office to my amazement, there was no line. Murphy's Law (or somebody's law) was in play because for the first time in a couple weeks I didn't have anything to pick up neither. So, I need not stand in the non-existent line. But wait tell the next time I have a pickup, the line will be out the door.
It's cold here and dropped several degrees below freezing overnight. The same is forecasted for tomorrow..Eastern Sunday. All the little boys and girls in their Easter best will have to wear heavy coats while looking for frozen Easter eggs.
I e-mail Dale about the monotype etching...the more I look at it the more I like it. I know. I know. I've already got more pieces of his work than wall space on witch to hang it but that won't stop me. I'll just have to take down something to make room for it. Dale invited me out next week to see it so I'll go to view it in person.
Why the rooster today you ask? With the tanzanite parcel, I have something to crow about. Ha.Ha.Ha.Ha. Gosh I'm funny.
Surprise. Surprise. Surprise...my dentist does not need a new set of golf clubs just yet. I got out with no problem and just the cleaning charge. The Moon and Saturn must be in perfect alignment with Mars in regression for me not to need another crown. Worry not my dentist says, you're like a savings account...I can draw money out of you when I need it. Nice to know I'm useful to someone .
My tanzanite parcel was suppose to arrive later this morning from Bangkok Mark but was delayed in Japan so I'm not sure. I'm really excited to see just what these stones are all about. At this point I'm optimistic that I'll like what I see. However, this parcel has not stopped me from bidding on quality stones with the hope I might slip in and get one on the cheap.
It has turned Winter here again with temperature below freezing the next 3 mornings in a row. Below freezing in April might be a record low. It's been real windy too making it seem even colder. I'm sure it won't last for long but it might freeze some of the new growth on the plants and trees.
We are also getting close to my favorite time of the year for fruit. I still have some wonderful oranges & grapefruit but plums, peaches, grapes, melons are all coming into season soon. You can get all of these now but they are not as good as they will be in a couple months.
I've not treated you to a Rayburn painting in awhile so here is a new one by Dale. I like it and would buy it except I'm broke after all the recent purchases of stones. It is a one of a kind print that he then hand painted but it is not an oil as such. I love the color and details in the beard. My birthday is this month if any of you are wonder what to buy me, this is it!!
I got the DHK Laboratories certifications and they all qualified for the highest color rating of "intense" except one. But I understood that would likely be the case. The good news it is the smallest stone of the parcel weighing in at only 3.49 carats. Listen to me... only 3.49 carats. It is still a superb gemstone. Now I expect to actually receive them in a couple days; I've got the FedEx tracking number from Bangkok. I think this could be a very prudent investment but only time will tell.
Having each of my Tanzanite gems certified and rated gives confidence to me and any future purchaser. Since I've learned a good deal about methods people use to improve the "apparent" value of a stone, my view is you should never buy a valuable gem without an independent appraisal or certification. To learn more, I've been bidding on "treated" stones to see if I can detect the "treatment". Fun, huh?
You can tell it is Spring when I have to mow my lawn every 3 to 4 days and I have to empty the grass-catcher at least 4 to 5 times during the mowing. But I'm pleased to report I have to do this because I do have a very nice green yard. Not just like I want it but very acceptable all the same. Gee, I wonder if Jeff as figured out he needs to mow or did he & Amy just pave their grass area and paint it green? They both love to work in and around boats but usually that does not require a lawnmower.
Later this morning I have a semi-annual trip to my dentist. This is the time of the year he usually decides I need a crown....at least that has been the last 3 years in a row. It is true I'm losing a filling that will need to be replaced by a crown but I'm not sure it needs to be done just yet. I guess it depends on whether or not Dr. Bill needs a new set of golf clubs.
We had one heck of a storm move through Atlanta with hail, lighting, and rain. We needed the rain so that's a good thing. I lost power for about 2 hours but it was in the middle of the night so I didn't fire up the generator. I did discover Sally doesn't like storms. Now it's turning cold for a few days.
Today's image was taken in the keys..it reminds me of the colors you find in quality tanzanite.
I think it is fair to say that it's too early to determine if my new meds are helping. I'd like to think they are, but I want to see a more clearly defined change in my energy level and interest in activities. The usual time frame for seeing the change is 3 weeks and tomorrow will be just the end of week one. I'm convinced there is a workable combination for me but now the challenge is to identify it.
The pictures of the Tanzanite parcel came in yesterday and they were very similar in look to those I've already purchased. When you get a stone, they always look different than the pictures but these were good for comparison. The next step is I'm having them sent to the 'HDK Diamond Laboratories Canada' certification lab there in Bangkok. This is a very well respected independent lab out of Canada. It is a prudent thing to do given the nature of this transaction that at this point is moving forward.
I talked to Georgia Tech Jeff who by nature is cynical and he was encouraging. If I've done my homework, have access to top grade stones, and can buy them at a discount over market value, it sounded good to him. Others have been encouraging as well. Even my morning meeting buddies think I'm alert enough to not go wandering down a dead-end ally. Given my obsessive compulsive nature to study until I learn enough to move ahead, I agree.
Well it looks like Tommy got a great birthday present...his Florida Gators are national champions in college basketball. Earlier this year they also became the national champions in college football. I know he follows the games and can even name a lot of the players so this is a good week even if he is will be 58. When you are old and the body parts you still have hurt, us college grads look to the teams that represent our school and reminisce on the 'good ole days'. Don't worry you young dudes and dudettes...you to will know what I mean one day.
The last 6.10 carat flawless D-block Tanzanite arrived by FedEx from Bangkok just after 8 am yesterday. It is beautiful and will make a truly magnificent piece of jewelry for someone. For now it will just live with my others. I'm holding off on any more Tanzanite purchases until I get the pictures of the parcel Mark has offered to me. Maybe I'll get the pictures in the next 24 hours.
Mark also deals in diamonds and rings. He lives in Bangkok most of the time where he buys diamonds & tanzanite and has rings manufactured. Yes, he has rings made to suit the buyer (see ring example of 16ct.tanzanite with 2ct diamonds). Mark could also be the source to have my stones made into rings if I so choose. What he charges for the finished product is a good bit more than just the ring and center stone separately. That's what I thought.
So how do you transfer large sums of money to someone you don't know? And what guarantee does that same someone know you'll actually pay? Mark has suggested Escrow.com as the safe and cost effective method to use. I've done some research and it seems like this is a good service to use. They take my money and hold it, Mark ships the stones, I get the stones and release the money or send them back. If I don't do either, they release the money after a period of time. Sounds safe to me. BTW, I do trust Mark but as my Dad said, "Trust everyone but check everyone".
There was a near riot at the Post Office this morning. There was one person behind the counter and she was helping issue a passport for two little kids. One person...a passport. There was a long line...the longest I've ever seen it. One employee was helping a lady trying to use the automated buying system but couldn't follow the directions. The senior citizen in the front of the line was livid! I thought he might go "postal". He ran around demanding to see the manager. Good thing he was there or that might have been me!
The good news for me is that the employee trying to help the gal at the 'self-help' machine recognized me, asked me if I was picking up registered packages, and so she went to get them for me. All the employees at the counter know my name now because I've had a daily pickup for several weeks now. I still have to wait, they still need more people working, but at least I've got a slight edge....as I should of course.
Did you happen to notice Google's April Fool's joke? On their main search page they announced a new, free wireless broadband service called TiSP sanding for Toilet Internet Service Provider (TiSP). Unfortunately there are some computer users who will not know it's a joke. But I ask myself....self, is this the kind of prank a multi-billion dollar company should be doing as a April Fool's joke? In my opinion, probably not. If they were still a small closely held company well OK then. I'm thinking some of their public stockholders will not be amused.
Today I've chosen another picture of Yari and this time with his Grandmother. Many of you may not have met Syp's Mom so let me tell you she is some lady. Not only is she attractive, full of energy, loves to travel on adventures, funny, but as gentle and kind a lady as I know. Oh don't get me wrong, she's feisty when necessary. She is caring and giving so I think Yari chose his Grandmother very well. And some how she survived Syp all those years! I feel very blessed to be an adopted member of their family.
Recently I've been bidding on a few "treated" stones just to see if I can tell the difference between them and untreated ones. I particularly interested in my understanding of sapphire doublet which is described as such by the seller. I'm sure not all sellers are as honest. In case you're wondering, 'doublets' are made of joining two pieces with a colorless cement or fusion. The top part is from a full-colored rich stone put on a pale bottom. I bet you didn't know that. Stay tuned.
I don't see how you could have missed the changes I've made to BillsView. I'm working on the 'Spring' look but at the same time I've made a copy of the former BillsView. Making these changes is really very simple... I'm not sure I'm done changing just yet. Of course I like it but do you? Simple is good as Mike would say but is this too plain? Do I need a BillsView logo of some nature?