Christmas Cards

Posted January 9, 2019 by joebowker
Categories: Christmas, Technology

Tags: , ,

I declare that the Christmas card season is about over. Yesterday, I received what I expect to be the last card for the season. So it is time to review what happened.

This year I sent out 130 Christmas letters to friends and family spread out across the country. About half are in the Los Angeles area and the other half in the Boston area. Then add a few odd letters to people in North Carolina and Florida.

In 2017, I sent out about 175 letters. This year I spent a great deal of effort trimming the list down to 130. So how many did we receive? Well as best I can count we received a little over 30 cards, letters and holiday pictures. My goal has been to reach out to the people that we have known over the many years.

 

I don’t understand why the cards received is so much lower than the number sent. We love to hear how people are doing. As you can see in the pictures above, we love to post the cards in any available space around out kitchen and dining room.

So my question for my readers. Do you send out holiday/Christmas cards/letters? If not, why not? If yes, why? Perhaps $.50 each for postage might be one answer.

End of an Era

Posted January 1, 2019 by joebowker
Categories: Family, Moving

Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, December 31 marks an end of an era for Paula and I. On this day we closed on the selling of our Condo in Plymouth, NH.

We had bought the condo back in 1997. We would spend weekends and vacations there. Our boys would snow ski in the winter and we would all go out on our boat in the summer on Newfound Lake. Or we would just sit out one the deck and watch the sun go down over Tenney Mountain. Overall, we had a great time at the condo. Every time that we headed south on rte 3, we looked forward to the time we would be coming back.

The last time that we spent any time at the condo was the summer of 2012. We lived there for a short period after we sold our house in Billerica, MA.

We would have preferred to sell the condo back in 2012 but that wasn’t possible. We were underwater on our mortgage and the market for vacation homes hadn’t recovered from the economic woes of 2008.

So instead of selling, we put the condo on the rental market. We had a great real estate agent (Diane Masessa) at Old Mill Properties in Bristol, NH.

At best, renting it was a break-even proposition. The rent would about cover our mortgage payment, but not condo assoc. fees. I had to chase the tenants for the propane usage because Dead River Propane wouldn’t give them their own accounts.

So rent it we did. First, to a pair of grad students at Plymouth State (PSU). Then, to a pair of Saudi’s doing graduate work at PSU. And finally, to another Saudi grad student from PSU.

The last renters were the ones that broke the camel’s back. They moved out 1.5 month early this past August. They left the place a mess. Needless to say they didn’t get their security deposit back. So in September, we decided to try our luck at selling the place.

So we got it cleaned up, got rid of a lot of junk and added a coat of paint here and there. Then, declared it ready for the sales market.

The sales situation had changed for the better. We had paid down our mortgage principal to about $90K and the vacation real estate market had recovered somewhat.

So we put it on the market in November with an asking price of $119,900. So we had two offers within the first few days on the market at full asking price. WOOT!!!

Selling a property from 3000 miles away can be a real challenge. We have been lucky to have a great real estate agent. We have been working with Diane over the past 6 years in managing the property. Most documents that needed to be signed (leases, purchase & sales, etc.) have been executed using an app called “DocuSign“.

The only documents that we could not use DocuSign were the closing paperwork which had to have live signatures that had been notarized. The document package had been emailed to me last Wednesday. Printed them out and called in our Notary Public, Patrick Sullivan in San Pedro. Patrick witnessed all of our signatures then we put them in an envelope and Fedex’d the package back to the closing attorney in Mass.

I expect to get the final closing doc’s back via FedEx on Jan. 2, 2019

Next steps will be to figure out how much capital gains taxes we will have to pay this Spring.

Happy New Year,

Joe

1 Second Everyday for 2018

Posted December 31, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: 1 Sec Every Day, 1SE

Tags: ,

I have been waiting for this day to publish my entire year in video. The video runs about 9 minutes covering from January 2018 up until December 31 2018. It’s a great app. You can download (for free) from Apple store or Google Play.

Enjoy,

Joe

1 Second Everyday – December

Posted December 31, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: 1 Sec Every Day, 1SE

Tags: ,

Here’s my 1 Second Everyday video for December 2018. It runs about 45 seconds. Enjoy.

Mary Poppins Returns

Posted December 29, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: Movies, Reviews

Tags: , , ,

Friday night was date night again. We arranged to have Dawn over to take care of Mary. then off we went to the movies. We went to see “Mary Poppins Returns” at the Terraces Cinema. The film stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The Terraces is about half the price of AMC theaters plus it’s a lot closer. Tickets last night were $6 a person (Senior Rate).

I am usually underwhelmed at movie remakes, but I was pleasantly surprised at the “new” Mary Poppins. Emily Blunt does a great job doing Mary Poppins. As in the past she arrives floating down from the sky under an umbrella.

Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Jack, the lamplighter. So, who knows what a lamplighter does for a living?

We ran into a couple of friends who came to see “Mary Poppins Returns”. In fact, there were only the four of us in the theater. Our friend Frank had never heard of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Who hasn’t heard of Hamilton. One of these days we will save up enough money to see “Hamilton” when it comes out this way again.

The sound track was completely revamped. Alas, there was no “supercalifrasticexpialidiocius”. Not to worry, there were plenty of tunes that get your toes tapping. I will probably download the sheet music to some of the tunes to play at our next lodge or OES meeting.

Okay, SPOILER ALERT.

If you haven’t seen the film and are planning on seeing it. Stop reading here.

One of the joys of the film was cameo appearances late in the film of Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury. Folks of a certain age, might remember that Dick Van Dyke appeared in the original “Mary Poppins” back in 1964. I don’t quite get the appearance of Angela Lansbury. She didn’t appear in the original Poppins. So what’s the hook? Also, Julie Andrews did not appear in the sequel. Dick Van Dyke still has that twinkle in his eyes.

After the movie we got Chinese take out from the Lucky Star Chinese restaurant. I do love their Hot and Sour soup. All in all, it was a fun night.

Christmas Letters

Posted December 10, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: Christmas

Tags: ,

2018-12-10 10.57.10Every year at this time I write a Christmas letter. I have  been doing it now for about 20 years. I have most of the old letters saved in a directory on my computer going back to 1999.

I got the idea of writing the letters from Paula’s mother who did a Christmas letter every year. I felt that just doing cards was boring. I felt like writing to folks about what has happened in our lives, but doing it on each card was too much work. So I started our Christmas letter.

This year it will be going to about 125 of our nearest and dearest friends all over the world. One year I emailed the letter to most of our friends, but felt that was  boring.

Last year it went out to about 180 people. This year, I decided to pare the list down a bit. Getting a bit pricey at 50 cents per stamp.

So here’s my process. First, I save pictures over the course of the year and put in a Christmas 20xx file. I select pictures that might be good for the letter.

In mid November, I start reviewing the mailing list. I check for addresses. I check for deaths in the families. I don’t want to commit the faux pas of sending a letter to John and Jane Doe when Jane died during the year.

Beginning in early December, I start writing. Add pictures, then print and submit to editor in chief (Paula) who makes suggestions and corrections to my spelling and grammar.

Then log in to Amazon and shop for paper and envelopes. This year I have way more than I need. Extra paper and envelopes go into a bin for next year.

Next, print labels. I found an app on iTunes App Store that does a great job of printing labels. Click here for a pointer to the app.

Next, start the print run. Invariably, I run out of ink. This year is no different. Ran out of color cartridge. Ordered from HP. Should be here today. Once I have the ink installed, continue printing. HP offers free overnight shipping for ink cartridges. Good deal.

At this point, I hand off a handful of letters to Paula for people that she wants to add a personal note, maybe 20-25 out of 125.

Finally fold and stuff into envelopes and put on address and return address stickers. Finally add postage and drop into the mailbox.

If you don’t want to wait for the mailman, click here for your own copy.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Posted December 2, 2018 by joebowker
Categories: Movies, Reviews

Tags: , , ,

Saturday night was another “Date Night” for us. Paula and I were wanting to see “Bohemian Rhapsody” for a while now. We thought it might be getting to the end of its run in theaters by now. But we got tickets on the AMC app for the 6:40 pm show.

What a great movie. Paula says four stars all the way. It brings the story of Freddie Mercury and the rock band Queen to the big screen. You don’t want to watch this on your DVD player. You want to watch this on a big screen with the full theater Dolby sound system.

Freddie had an amazing voice. He could cover 4 octaves. (I can only cover 4 notes, let alone one octave.) I was impressed that a four piece band (drums, bass guitar, lead guitar and singer) could make such loud, beautiful sound. (Click here for the full Wikipedia article on Freddie Mercury.)

Freddie was born of Parsi parents on the island of Zanzibar and later in India. He later moved to England with his parents.

The finale of the movie is the performance at the Live Aid concert in 1986. Freddie Mercury died in 1991 of Pneumonia related to the disease AIDS at the age of 45.

So last night I downloaded the soundtrack album from iTunes and listened to it on the way to and from church. Nothing like the tune “Bohemian Rhapsody” rattling around your head during church. Maybe, I’ll play it at our OES meeting tomorrow.

Click here for the trailer on YouTube.