Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Bucket List and the $2,600 Land Rover

Went to see The Bucket List last night at the Pot Belly Cinemas in St. Augustine.

First of all, I would highly recommend this flick directed by Rob Reiner, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, as two terminally ill men who set out on a road trip to see and experience a wish list of things before they die.

Suspend belief temporarily in that Morgan Freeman's newfound pal (Nicholson) has enough money to fund their round the world trip on a private jet whereas most of the new friends that most of us will ever meet have to be back to work on Monday and are lucky to be able to afford an extra round of drinks at the local pub. With that caveat you have a really thoughtful film that asks what priorities a person would set if they only had a few months to live. Not quite a chick flick and not quite a guy's weekend out flick, this movie straddles a fine line and is suitable for taking a date to yet Us Guys won't fall asleep watching the show. Make her think that you are really a sensitive dude, even if you do make her ride in the back of the pickup truck (and the huntin' dog rides up front, of course) on the way to the theater.

Secondly, if you get a chance to visit Florida seriously consider spending a day or two around St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. Founded by the Spanish in 1565 St. Augustine retains considerable Spanish influence and has grown into a quaint tourist mecca of cobblestone streets, narrow lanes, bed and breakfasts, and unique architecture. And did I mention St. Augustine's reputation for being the most haunted city in Florida? Quite a fun place.

And if you stay in St. Augustine and if you feel the urge to see a movie, I always suggest hitting Pot Belly's Cinema Plus at 36 Granada St., (904) 829-3101, a quick walk from the heart of touristy St. Augustine. At Pot Belly's the service is indifferent, the upholstery is worn and torn, and the place never has a large crowd. And they never advertise their movies. So what's the big attraction? They serve beer and decent sandwiches and always have first run flicks, so you can sit there and watch recent releases just like you are in the comfort of your own home or neighborhood pub. It's a very pleasant, laid-back atmosphere and we drive down from Jacksonville to watch movies there rather than put up with the herds at the mega-cinemas.


The steady reader of this blog will no doubt be asking "Aren't you guys supposed to be on the way to New Orleans?"

Well ... uh ... yeah. That was the plan. Or the second plan actually. We had originally planned to leave during Good Friday, which was about 2 weeks ago. We are now on our 3rd rescheduling of our vacation. Hopefully the 3rd time is the charm.

This time we actually have reservations. So we'll be heading out Thursday night, fer shure [crossing fingers]

We've had a number of delays. Both of us have had career issues that have held us captive.

And then there is the story of my Land Rover Discover II. Oy vey!

First of all, I really love Land Rovers. Once upon a time WIHM (When I Had Money) Yours Truly simultaneously owned a Porsche Carrera, an S-Class Mercedes sedan, and a Range Rover. And I don't mind saying that while they all were great vehicles that the Range Rover was the one that I'd keep if I had to get rid of the others (and, in fact, I still have the old Range Rover in storage).

But as much fun as they are to drive, Land Rovers are quirky and high maintenance, to be kind about it. They aren't for the weak of heart.

Flash forward a few years. I bought a slightly-used-by-a-soccer-mom Discovery (a/k/a Disco) mainly to carry on the trailer behind the motorhome.

Well, I had had some odd noises for almost a year that I couldn't quite track down and had assumed that I had a belt slipping somewhere.


I was driving some small tools over to a job site and just as I was getting off of a ramp on our future I-295 there was a loud BANG! and a loss of forward motion.

Diagnosis: The universal joint at the front driveshaft failed, which is evidently a very common occurrence on this model. But my truck, wanting to be special, put the flailing end of the drive shaft into the transmission case and destroyed the tranny.


So long story short, after several delays for parts and $2,600 later, the Disco wasn't ready for the previously scheduled trip either but we finally picked her up late last week. Following a road trip into deepest, darkest central Georgia on Friday towing a 3,000 lb. trailer she's quite ready to make the trip to New Orleans. Finally.


Speaking of Land Rovers, I have been lobbying with Ms. Deborah to approve purchase of one of these things. I figure that would be the perfect tool for exploring Central American jungles and parts of Alaska where the bahrs (bears) roam free. After we replace that canvas top with a proper hard top, of course.

What do you think?

Send those emails of support to .......... For some odd reason Ms. Deborah remains skeptical of our "need" for such a vehicle.

Isn't that just the way things are with wimmen?


I am sure that everyone reading this blog is familiar with the infamous Nigerian scams. Well, She Who Must Be Obey'd received a "Cashier's Check" (sic) from an overseas gentleman as a deposit on some property that she was renting.

Now, for a variety of reasons SWMBO'd was already suspicious of this guy. So when the check arrived she requested an inspection by the #1 person that she could think of who was familiar with faked documents, a certain Pirate who shall remain nameless. Said Pirate didn't even bother to put on his reading glasses before pronouncing this instrument as most likely a fraud.

The next day the local bank agreed.

Well, the guy has emailed back one time so far. She (ever see the movie "She?") did tell him that the bank wouldn't accept the instrument, but if he would send the monies to her confidentially via Western Union that's She'd see what She could do.

Those of you who are savvy about these things can already see the joke, since Western Union is the scammers' #1 favorite conduit of untraceable funds. Once you pay for something through WU pretty much anyone anywhere could be withdrawing your money.

At any rate, we haven't heard back from this clown since that exchange.

Moral of the story: if you eBay or Craigslist *ANYTHING* these days be wary of those scam artists. They are genuinely out there.

And if you get a hold of one of the inept ones, feel free to have a little fun with them at their expense.

Whereas Ol' John is generally extremely positive about the human condition, every so often one sees examples of the flotsam and jetsam of our society. Scammers like these clowns and bitter people that wouldn't know a good time if it bit them in the ass come to my mind quickly.

So does the office politician that stakes out their tiny little useless bit of office territory, to everyone else's detriment. We have all seen that type, and we all know that the Day Job isn't what is really important in life.

Retirees who were never successful nor happy when they were younger and who are now insanely jealous because they have let life slip through their fingers are another group that I am seeing more often. Perhaps I am more aware of the issues of retirees and older folks now that I have gotten older, but mental illness, depression, and downright negativity are practically at epidemic levels among older folks, which I find to be as sad as someone even desperate enough to trying to commit a Nigerian scam.

In a way, Nicholson's character in The Bucket List fits into that range. He was successful in business, but never achieved happiness. That's more than a Hollywood cliche - many of us know folks like that who could never divorce themselves from their careers and who eventually find the career to be a dead end road. Most of us aren't sure what the meaning of life is, but the proverbial gold watch (which employers don't even give away any more) at the end of a 30 year career doesn't seem very satisfying when you haven't done anything else with your life.

Some people are examples of who to be; others are examples of who NOT to be.

Don't let the riff raff get you down, nor allow the naysayers to live your life. After all, 9 times out of 10 the advice-givers messed up their own lives, didn't they? It always seems like the persons with the most "advice" and the most criticism are also those with the least interpersonal skills and the fewest number of friends.

Here's to being reflective about these things, to listening and to filtering out what is useful and what is useless, and to sticking to your guns and knowing the difference between the good and the bad.

One of our local businesses has the following motto on their billboard, and it's so true:

"If you don't have dreams, then all you have in your life are your worries."

Go get 'em friends!

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