Author: Paul L. McCord Jr.

Cancelled Flickr

Today I cancelled my Flickr account that I’ve had since June 30, 2005.  It is kind of sad but it was time.  I’ve been a Flickr Pro account holder the entire time but over time, Yahoo! seemed to neglect them and their mobile app became slow and sluggish.  About two years ago, Verizon bought Yahoo! and shortly afterward sold off Flickr separately to Smugmug.  I received an email yesterday saying that free accounts would be limited to 1,000 photos and Pro accounts would retain unlimited storage but the price would increase from $24.95 to $49.99 per year.

While fifty dollars is not that expensive per year, when you add to it that the mobile app has become so slow over time, I decided that it was time.  Most of my family and friends stopped using Flickr a long time ago so they would never see the picture that I would post anyway.

Probably my favorite feature of Flickr was the ability to blog photos while keeping them on Flickr and not use up the limited space that I have on this blog.  I recently learned how to do this on Google Photo so I can still blog my photos.  I will see how this works for now and if it doesn’t work long term, I’ll look at another method.  So now if you go to my Flickr page located https://www.flickr.com/photos/plmccordj/, there are no photos to see.

Thank again for stopping by,

Paul

Trip to New York and Boston

My wife and I decided to celebrate our 29th Anniversary by going on a long desired trip to New York City.  My wife has always wanted to go but has never been able to.  The timing was perfect to be able to go to Boston, Massachusetts for the retirement ceremony of a friend at Hanscom Air Force Base.

We decided to drive on this trip because it gave us the opportunity to see many states that we’ve never been before.  One of those states was West Virginia as shown in this picture below.

Most of my family is from the Western part of the United States so we never  had a reason to go East.  I’ve never really seen much of the Eastern United States, other than Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. We did land at JFK airport in 1991, on our way to England for the Air Force.

One of the places that we’ve never seen before but really loved was a restaurant called Bob Evans.

Apparently this is a well known restaurant around the Northeast part of the country but we had never heard of them.  I have to say, their breakfast was wonderful. We stopped at this restaurant in Cambridge, Ohio. One of the more creepy parts of our trip was when we decided to stop for the night in Springfield, Ohio.  We paid for our room and opened the door to see that someone had already been staying in this room and it had not been cleaned.  You can see how the room looked when we opened the door.

In addition to this, the bathroom was still dirty with someone else’s towels still on the floor.  After complaining at the front desk, they got us another room.  The second room had water dripping from the ceiling in the bathroom with black mold over the toilet.  The next day we drove most of the day and was excited to see this view as we entered Jersey City, NJ.

In the course of two miles, we went from wide open spaces and beautiful scenery to this.  I was a bit alarmed when we suddenly, from out of no where stopped with the bottle neck traffic.  It was New Jersey so we adapted.

We actually stayed in an Air BnB in Jersey City, NJ. People thought we were crazy because this town has such a bad reputation for being ghetto.  Well, there were parts that looked scary but the place we stayed was very nice and the people were nice as well.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the people when we got there. I’ve always heard stories about how rough people are there and not very friendly but thankfully that never really showed up in our experiences.  The next morning when we got up, we got on the PATH train from Jersey City to the World Trade Center.  You can see the crowd n this photo.

In the picture below you can see the World Trade Center station that arrived in. You can see how new everything looks after having to rebuild it after the attacks.

Of course, our first stop was the World Trade Center Memorial.

Of the many stops we made, the picture below is of Times Square.  When we arrived in NYC, our intention was to ride the subway around town. We didn’t think it through very well because what ended up being the case was this. We stopped to see one sight, and then looked at Google Earth and discovered other nearby sites, so we walked to them.  Once we got there, we looked at our map again and realized how close we were to other sites, so we walked again.  After doing this all day, we hadn’t realized just how far we walked.  By the end of the day, we had to ride the subway back because our feet were hurting so bad.  I can’t describe how much my feet hurt for days after this.  We ended up walking more than seven miles that day.

The next day we had tickets to the New York Yankees and Boston Redsox game and had planned on riding the subway all the way up to the Bronx.  When we got up that morning, our feet were still hurting so bad.  I just didn’t have it in me to walk the 3/4 mile back to the train station. I convinced my wife that we could just drive over there and pay for the parking.

Well the drive ended up being very expensive and a long commute, but we did it.  The George Washington Bridge cost us $15.00 toll, just to cross the Hudson river.  This doesn’t count the tolls on the freeway getting over there.  In this picture above, you can see the stadium as we arrived.

On this trip, we also went to Boston and along the way, we stopped at several places along the way.  As a 35 year Amateur (Ham) Radio operator, I’ve always heard of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).  It is in a town called Newington, Connecticut.  Since we were already right there, I wanted to stop and take a few pictures. This is the front of their building. We were sort of in a hurry so we didn’t go inside.

We also stopped at Plymouth Rock Massachusetts.  I really enjoyed this because of the history of the place.

After attending our friend’s retirement, we went downtown Boston to see a few sites and then have a nice dinner together.

We really had a good time on this trip, though it wasn’t long enough to see everything. We had an eight day trip, and we were traveling four of those.  Finally, on our way back home, we stopped at Niagara Falls.

We had not planned on going to Niagara Falls but along the way, we started seeing signs as we approached Buffalo, NY.  We both agreed to just drive a little out of our path and go see it before we went home.  It was an amazing site and I am glad we stopped.

This was not a well planned trip, as in preparation.  It was an idea that came up on short notice and we tried to save a little bit so that we could go on this trip without using credit.  Overall, the trip gave us some memories we’ll never forget. I do have to say that we are not that physically fit, and even though the much walking was good for us, it really wore us out.  By the time we got home, we just wanted to relax.  It was well worth it though because we hardly ever travel to visit places and it was a memory that we’ll never forget.

El Nino

I routinely get emails from the Climate Prediction Center about La Nina ENSO Neutral or El Nino conditions in the equatorial area of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.  The last two months, they’ve predicted a 60% chance of El Nino in the Northern Hemisphere, fall season with a 70% chance by Winter.

For Oklahoma, this could be great news since the last to El Nino years, we received more than 50 inches of rain.  We’ve been in La Nina (drought) years for the last two years and have struggled to get even normal rainfall. While none of this is guaranteed, it is certainly exciting potential news for our area, that is, if you like rain the way I do.  In 2015 we had 52 inches of rain, and 18 of those inches fell in the month of May alone.  In 2007 we had 50 inches of rain, tropical storm Erin and a major ice storm that left more than a million people without power, statewide and more than 300,000 just in the Oklahoma City area.

While I don’t wish any physical harm to people or property, I do love stormy weather, and even just rain.  I am very hopeful this is a wet year coming our way.  We need a good wet year to overcome the seemingly never ending droughts that we’ve been having.  I’ll be watching and hoping for a positive outcome.

Fireworks in Mustang, Oklahoma

This Independence Day my wife, brother in-law and I went to Wild Horse Park in Mustang to enjoy the fireworks. It is not a public show and that is why I enjoy it so much.  This park is filled with thousands of people from all over the Oklahoma City area and they bring their own fireworks to enjoy.  The city also has many places to purchase them as well so they can reap the tax money from this exercise.

I love going to this because there are so many people doing this for hours and I’ve never seen a public display that even comes close to this.  I think Mustang has tapped into a market that is desperately wanted and created a draw from miles away.  Most cities in the area make fireworks illegal and they’ll quote all their reasons, such as safety, fire risk, etc. and those are definitely concerns that need to be factored in. I am so glad though that Mustang has realized that the tax dollars and people coming into their city is worth risking those concerns.

I have the utmost respect for their leadership for having the courage to allow their citizens the freedom to make their own choices.  How refreshing it is to see a government that doesn’t feel the need to protect us from ourselves.  I realize that people are different and desire different things.  As one that likes to live peaceably with others, I try to understand this despite my frustration at this view.  Sometimes we get our way and sometimes we don’t.  Despite my disagreement with the policy of the city that I live in, I can live with it and do what I can, where I can.

If you live in one of these cities that bans fireworks, I would definitely encourage you to go to Mustang and give it a shot.  There are a couple other areas like Choctaw that also allow it but no place that I’ve seen can compare to the organized gathering that Mustang has to offer.  They provide a large public park where people circle the perimeter and set off their fireworks in the center of the park.  Their are police and fire that circle the park periodically on utility vehicles to patrol and make sure that people use common sense. They have a strict 11:00 PM cut off time and they start circling the park around 10:40 with megaphones telling people they have 20 minutes left.  My family and I have been doing this for about 13 years and really enjoy it .  Watch the video and see the view from my vantage point. This was shot with my iPhone 8 Plus. You can see fireworks in all 360 degrees of where I am sitting.  Thank you for stopping by.

Awesome Clouds!

Summer time in Oklahoma is not very active with weather unless you like hot dry days for weeks on end.  A few days ago we had a small disturbance that came over Texas and brought a lot of rain to them but nothing to us except some cumulus clouds that wanted to forma storm but just didn’t have all of the ingredients.

I took this picture from my backyard, looking toward the South at some pretty looking clouds. While we didn’t get anything from them except for a little shade, they were certainly pleasant to look at.  As you know, I love weather and really enjoy a good thunderstorm.  It still amazes me that God put together such a great place that can sustain itself and provide such an ideal living environment.  I apologize for the antennas blocking the view but I am after all an amateur radio operator as well. 🙂

Flickr and Smugmug

Wow!  I just discovered that Flickr was sold from Yahoo! to Smugmug.  I am not sure if this is good or bad but I am cautiously optimistic.  It was widely covered, last year, 2017 that Yahoo! was selling itself and that Verizon was the winner with $4.5 Billion.  To me, that was very sad since Yahoo! was the first search engine that made it big.  As the pioneer, I really pulled for them to succeed but due to poor management decisions, they fell by the way side and shrunk in market share.

Yahoo! acquired Flickr in March 2005 and for some reason, never really put the resources needed for them to succeed, despite having a huge member base.  I joined Flickr with a Pro account in June 2005 and have been a paid member ever since.  They’ve had free versions but I wanted the unlimited account.  When Verizon took over Yahoo!, they merged them with America Online (AOL) under a new brand name Oath.  They sold off Flickr to Smugmug, a long time competitor to Flickr.

As a paid, Pro member of Flickr for 13 years, I’ve always been a fan and though a couple times, I considered dropping them due to Yahoo!’s neglect of them.  Flickr has been a very cool sight for photographers where you can upload your non reduced, original photos and share them with the world.  Now that Flickr is under new management, I am hopeful they can revive them back to relevance again.  I am going to renew my Pro account and hopefully we’ll see some improvements soon.

Many people today think that since Facebook allows uploads and so does Instagram, there is no more need for Flickr.  That is not true because those sights are not geared toward real photographers, with full size photos.  They are not even in the same category.  One thing that Flickr does that I use extensively is post on my personal blog with embedded images that are stored on Flickr.   This is huge because it prevents me from using up all my storage on my web hosting provider with photos.  In fact, the very photo that you see at the beginning of this blog, is hosted on my Flickr account.

While Google has their Google Photos, they are not the same.  They are very nice but they don’t have a designated page where the user can make their photos public for everyone to see.  I have family and friends that do not want their pictures published publicly and with Flickr, I can make some public while others are not.  I can share them with friends only, family only, public, or only me.  Who knows if this change will make things better but I sure hope so. Keep an eye out for my page and I’ll post more on it later as things change.

Wildfires and Drought

I know it seems like I am always posting about our never ending drought but this past week it has reached a critical point with ~400,000 acres of land burning in Oklahoma.  I took this picture from my front yard, this week, April 13, 2018 of the sun before it set.  You can see how thick the smoke was not only by looking at the sun but by looking at the haze between my vantage point and the neighbor’s houses. The amazing thing was these fires that were causing this smoke were 100 miles away.

This picture shows the same view without being zoomed up.  You can see that it was very thick and we had a air quality alert going on at the time.

In the last picture, you can see the view from the backyard with our weather station in the foreground.  Forgive the mess with the tree limbs. We cut some tree limbs and were waiting for the bulk pickup from the city.

Today is a huge blessing as we are getting our first significant rainfall in months.  As of me posting this, we have .56 inch of rain for the morning so far and I can still hear the rain falling.  We desperately needed this rain and I hope it continues for many hours to come.  It is getting old waking up to the smell of wildfires every morning.  It smells like someone is burning in their fireplace but then you realize, that it is not cold outside.

This has been a cooler than normal Spring, though we’ve had virtually no moisture to speak of. Tulsa is 100 miles from us and they’ve had more than three times the moisture that we’ve had here in Oklahoma City.  Hopefully today’s rains are a sign things are changing.  I just wanted to share a few photos of the smoke this week. Thanks for stopping by.

Just Returned from Trip

Yesterday, March 16th, we returned home from a trip to Tucson, AZ for my work.  It was busy, fun and pretty tiresome and I am glad to be home. We were gone for two weeks.

Going to Tucson is always rewarding for several reasons.  The first being that my mom loved this place and we went to visit every year when I was a kid.  The second was that when I was in the Air Force, my first base was Davis-Monthan AFB, in Tucson.  My wife and I lived there first during our Air Force career.

My mom loved going to Old Tucson Studios where many Western and cowboy movies were made.

There were several John Wayne movies made at this location and so we really love the place.  Some of my mom’s greatest memories were from here.  We lost her in 2005 but I know she really loved it.

In this picture above, you can see the many many saguaro cactus that are part of the Sonoran desert. These cactus are protected since this is the only place in the world they grow.  It takes 100 years for them to grow a single arm.  They are priceless and protected for good reason.

In this picture you can see Golden Gate Mountain, in the Tucson Mountain range. It is visible in many western movies such as the High Chaparral, Rio Bravo, etc.  It is very impressive up close as it is covered by thousands of saguaro cactus.

In this picture you can see the many species of cactus that are native to the Sonora Desert.  There are the saguaro, the cholla, and even the Palo Verde trees visible in this picture.

In the picture above, you can see a view of the city of Tucson as seen from the top of Mount Lemmon.  This mountain is 9,157 feet in elevation and is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina mountains on the North side of Tucson. It is 27 miles from the bottom to the top but takes nearly an hour to drive because it has such winding roads.  The city of Tucson goes right up to the Catalina mountains but as you can see from this view, there is a mountain in the foreground that blocks the view of most of the city.

We really had a good time but I have to say that I am glad to be home where I can rest.  This was a work trip for both me and my wife but more so for her.  Now we have a few more memories to hold onto.  Thank you for stopping by.

Switched to Verizon

Well, today we did the unthinkable.  We left T-Mobile for Verizon Wireless even though we loved T-Mobile.  My wife and I work in a place that is really hard to get a cell phone signal though AT&T and Verizon do get a signal simply because they have towers right outside the building.  Verizon even has repeaters in our office.

We’ve been a fan of T-Mobile since 2000 but finally reached a point where we could not justify paying a monthly service for something that we couldn’t get a signal at work when we are there at least 10 hours a day.  When people call us, it may or may not ring but when we would answer it, the call would not go through. We could not get text messages either.  While it will be a more expensive bill, we will at least be able to get a signal at work.  T-Mobile, if you can ever get this problem fixed, we’ll gladly return.

So far the service has been more than adequate.  The voice over LTE (VoLTE) seems to work great with not only my wife and I but when I call my dad on his AT&T phone.  I am very satisfied so far.  I have no complaints.

Still Polishing Up Shack


This year we completed a two year tower project and now we are trying to finish polishing up the connections inside. The picture above shows a Microsoft PowerPoint illustration of the current setup.  The TS-2000 is old and needs to be replaced so that will be one of our future projects.  This just shows how the cabling is setup at this moment.  If you can think of a better way of doing it, we’d love to hear from you.