Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Other Little Details

My last post was about noticing little details in a granite countertop and in other places as we go through life. This post will be about little details that we need to pay attention to in our retirement life.

My wife and I recently made a trip to Wichita Falls, TX and stumbled upon a sign for the World's Littlest Skyscraper. Of course we had to follow the arrow and see what this was. We grew up in North Texas, about 2 hours or so from Wichita Falls, and have been there numerous times but never heard of this Skyscraper. We pulled down an alley and saw a tiny little four story building with the sign attached to it. We took a photo and thought it was a cute little building.

Once I got home, I searched the internet for the World's Littlest Skyscraper and discovered a fascinating story behind it. A man by the name of McMahon promised to build a high rise building in the city. He collected $200,000 (Over $3 million in today's value) from investors and built the building in 1919. Investors sued him because they had believed the building was going to be 480 feet tall. McMahon won the court case because the actual blueprints were in inches, not feet. McMahon disappeared with the remaining funds. This swindle is a textbook case of one needing to read the fine print. I can imagine that everyone in the room believed that the building was going to be 480 feet tall instead of 480 inches tall. I can imagine looking at the blueprint and not paying attention to something as small as the notation after 480 being a ' for feet or " for inches. A very small thing that made a huge difference in the size of the building.  

This age old lesson can be applied by everyone in life and especially in retirement. We all need to pay attention to the small print and to the fine details that may be hidden. Pay attention to the rules of any subscription you may sign up for so you are not surprised when something changes. Recently, my car wash membership monthly payment went from $10 to $12. I asked the attendant about the increase last week. He said the $10 was an introductory fee and after six months it went to $12. This is a small detail that I didn't see or pay attention to. Not that it matters much in this case as I will still get more than my money's worth at $12. At least I didn't buy into a skyscraper!

Pay attention to the small details of all of your monthly bills. Recently, I looked over my phone bill and discovered a $17 a month charge for phone insurance. I did not sign up for this when I bought a new phone last month and had it quickly deleted. I'm sure the sales clerk just punched the button for that automatically and unless you notice it on your bill you could pay for months for something you didn't sign up for. Again, at least it wasn't a skyscraper.

Have you found any small print or little details that have added costs to something without your knowledge? What other examples can you think of in other areas of the retired life that we need to take a closer look at? Mind your inches and feet and save yourself some money!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Little Details

I've read numerous articles and books that suggest paying attention to little details in life to help me appreciate things around me. I have done this often and seen the tiny details of various plants, bugs, flowers, etc. outside. Most often I do not go through my day looking for those tiny details.

About a month ago I was sitting at our kitchen island on a barstool and enjoying a bowl of cereal. Our kitchen island and countertops have a white granite surface. For the first time I noticed, really noticed, the granite. My wife and I have lived in this home for four years and this is the first time that I really looked closely at the granite. I focused on what I was looking at and noticed the different colors and flecks of material within the granite. I noticed how cool the quartz looked within the granite. There were several spots of quartz that appeared to have depth due to the clarity of the quartz. As I looked closely, I was amazed at how interesting and beautiful the granite was. I thoroughly enjoyed the moment and felt like I was finally seeing the granite for the beauty it was. When my wife woke up, I had her come look at the granite with my newly found vision for details. She wasn't as enthused as I was and I am pretty sure she thought I was finally losing it a little!

Now that I have seen the details for the countertop, I notice the small details in it every time I'm in the kitchen. It truly gave me a new appreciation for something as simple as a countertop. As I type this post, I have noticed, more closely, the wood grain on my desk top. I now notice a few knots that I haven't noticed before. The visible tree rings are beautiful and shows the wet years and dry years in the spacing. On the negative side, I also notice the glass top needs cleaning!

If you haven't looked at something recently to inspect the small details, I highly recommend you give it a try. Here is your homework for this post. If you have granite countertop, go take a look and see if you are as amazed as I am about the details. If not granite, pick something else and really examine it like you never have before. Please report back in the comment section and I will give you a grade for the assignment!

Not only did I notice the details in the granite, it made me curious about granite. I began to search the internet for how granite is formed, how different colors were made, what are the small flecks and colors within the granite, etc. So, not only did I notice something in a new way, I also learned a little bit along the way. It is the little things in life that make daily living a wonderous thing. So, get out there and pay more attention to the small stuff of life!

Have you noticed any small details recently? Were you as happy as I was when really looking closely at something and rediscovering it all over again? 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Unique Gifts

Christmas, Birthday and Father's Day are all gift receiving days for me. It seems like in this stage of life, I have about everything I need. When asked for gift ideas, it is very hard to come up with a wish list. 

This Christmas I received several unique gifts that I really enjoyed opening. I received a grill cleaning tool from my daughter that is very unique. She explained that the cleaning head was made of the same material firefighter clothing is made of and is supposed to last for years. You soak the end in water and use it to steam scrub your grill grates. I can't wait to give it a try! Another unique gift was from my wife. She gave me a two piece set of tube squeezers. They are simple little devices to put on the end of a tube of toothpaste or medicine and roll up the tube as you use it. Very cool! She also gifted me a set of silver dice that have dining options on each face of the dice. We often want to eat out but can't make up our mind where to go. Now, I can roll the dice and land on a decision of Mexican, Pasta, Subs, Chinese, Chicken, Pizza and many more. None of these gifts would have crossed my mind to add to a wish list, nor did I even know they existed as a gift option.

I gave a unique gift to my son. It was a pen made from bullet casings. It is a very nice and heavy pen and writes very good. I hinted that I might need one for Father's Day! My wife loves to chew on nugget type ice and always refills her drink cup at certain restaurants with ice to take home and munch on throughout the day. For Christmas, I got her a countertop nugget ice machine. She loves having a constant supply of her favorite nugget ice. I just need to get a set of noise cancelling headphones for the crunching!

Did you receive any unique gifts at Christmas or over the past year? Did you give any unique gifts? How many of you got the old standby of socks and underwear? I got those too!

Monday, January 1, 2024

ABQ Balloon Fiesta



During my recent three month blogging break my wife and I added a few trips for 2023. In October we went to Albuquerque and attended the International Balloon Fiesta. This event has been on my bucket list for several years and we finally made the trip out. During my career I had oversight of an office in Albuquerque and made a couple of visits during the Fiesta but never made it out to the actual event.

We attended two night sessions which included a Special Shapes Glow and a general glow. Both of those nights were spectacular. During the glow, the announcer would count down and the balloons would all light their flames for an incredible sight. During the glow they would also do several flickers in which the flames were turned on and off rapidly which made the balloons twinkle across the field. The Fiesta is unique in the fact that you can walk among the balloon field while balloons are being inflated and during the glow sessions. It was just an incredible experience! We stayed one night for a drone show and fireworks show. Both shows were very good.

We attended one morning session for a mass ascension. What a sight to behold! We were there early and saw the balloons being inflated and then ascending in mass. It was an absolutely incredible scene to walk among the balloons and gaze skyward as all the colorful balloons floated just above you and on into the sky! If you can tell from my writing, I was very excited about this event. Everyone needs to attend it at least once. I can only describe the night glow and mass ascension as "magical". I was in awe of the whole thing and liken it to a "grand canyon" moment when you first see the grand canyon from the edge and see how fantastic it is. 

A ride in a hot air balloon is also on my list. You can do one during the Fiesta but it is extremely expensive compared to booking a ride throughout the year. The expense is probably worth it during the Fiesta because once there, it appeared that some rides could be done during the mass ascension. That would be one great ride!

I will warn you of one thing...there are a lot of people at this event! But, it was well worth navigating through a crowd to see this. We chose the park and ride option and parked at a local mall and were shuttled in and out on school buses. It was definitely the way to go. I heard someone on our bus say they would never drive a car to it again because they waited in traffic for hours. The shuttle buses have a dedicated route that makes the bus ride an easy ride to the event. The buses were also interesting as the drivers had decorated the inside. One of ours was decorated with all things balloon related and the other was decorated for Halloween. 

We got a bonus during this trip that I didn't realize when I booked it. The full solar eclipse happened while we were there at the Fiesta! 

Any of you been to the Fiesta? If so, did you enjoy it as much as I did? Have any of you rode in a hot air balloon? This trip will be hard to beat and I highly recommend you put it on your list!

Happy New Year!