Moving to Jacksonville, Florida by Harold Brown

My wife and I have been talking about moving out of Ohio ever since she first arrived here from South Africa in 2000.

To be honest it was mostly her talking about moving but for the past 3 years it has been a  mutual discussion. We talked about Texas and Florida and in the end we decided on Jacksonville, Florida. None of it was easy and how do you decide where to live in just a few days of visiting a town? I have a friend that lives in Jacksonville and he recommended Florida as a good place to live, I also have a few other friends that have lived both in Texas and Florida.  Since I am planning on retiring in 6 or 7 years I decided that Florida would be better than Texas. Jacksonville has a climate similar to South Africa and the hot summer days are just what my wife loves. It is also the right time for my wife to get the dream kitchen she has always wanted. For me I just won't have to deal with snow and cold weather that requires packing up everything in the yard and moving it to the garage or under tarp, just to redo it all over again in a few months. A lot of time, money and effort just to enjoy the outdoors for a few months. Looking forward to 9 months of good weather instead of 3. I guess I should have kept my convertible a bit longer instead of selling it in 2014.

If you are doing everything long distance you need to work with someone to help you.

We found an incredible real estate team in Jacksonville that helped us plan our two 10 day trips for house hunting. If you are looking to move to the Jacksonville area we recommend Josh Rogers Real Estate. This is his website and this is his YouTube channel. We did emails, instant messaging, phone calls and FaceTime to bring it all together. We also did a lot of research on the internet and a lot of driving around the Jacksonville area before we decided on the place to call home.

We liked the idea of a master planned community with all the amenities it brings with it, verses a housing subdivision.

Specifically we were looking for a fitness center with organized activities, pool, golf cart road, parks, nature areas, visiting food trucks, farmers market, etc. We liked the Bartram Park area but it wasn't providing the master planned community that we were looking for. Finally we narrowed our selection down to Shearwater, RiverTown and the biggest and probably best master planned community in the Jacksonville area Nocatee, in fact it is the third best selling in the United States. We were leaning toward selecting Nocatee but in the end it was a bit too big (planned full build out is 12,000 home sites) and the price to live there increased significantly in the 1 year that we started looking. We visited Shearwater but most of the homes were priced above our starting range or did not have a designed that we liked. That took us to RiverTown and several model homes that my wife really liked. We had narrowed down the selection to two homes and then selected the home based on the lot we wanted. 

As mentioned we worked with Josh Rogers Real Estate for our moving plans and made use of all the videos he has on his site. The below drone tour really peaked our interest in RiverTown. In fact watching the video again we can see the lot we selected. Great! These are the extras that Josh provides for his out-of-town clients that really help you get the feel of the neighborhoods and model homes.

The club house was what we were looking for and includes internet connecivity if you are looking to get out of the house and still get some work done.

The fitness center has everything we need

So our 1 year search to find a community in Jacksonville to live in has come to an end, but now starts the building phase and being one of the first people to live in the new neighbor of RiverTown. Watch for future posts and pictures of RiverTown.

Riverfront Park Fishing Pier

I took this picture of the RiverTown pier on St Johns River during our last visit. There is another amenities center (RiverClub) being built along the river and is scheduled to be completed later this year.



Now we just need to sell our house and get down to RiverTown.


Shiva Vishnu Temple Over The Years by Harold Brown

I have taken a lot of pictures at the Shiva Vishnu Temple located in Parma, Ohio and it has changed quite a bit over the years.

I though I would post a few of the pictures I have taken showing the changes that I have captured.

Shiva Vishnu Temple

This is a picture from October 2009

Bless Gerta's Car

April 2010, the extension has been completed but the third dome has not been added yet.

Shiva Vishnu Temple
Shiva Vishnu Temple

The above pictures of the Shiva Vishnu Temple are from January 2012 and January 2013, they show the new addition added to the temple and then later the new dome.

Canopy Entrance

Construction of the new canopy

Shiva Vishnu Temple

Canopy Entrance
Shiva Vishnu Temple

Progressive Field | Cleveland Indians by Harold Brown

I had not been to a baseball game in several years and decided to head up to Cleveland to Progressive Field to take in an Indians vs Minnesota Twins game.

I debated on taking my Nikon D7100 or Sony NEX-6 but had just gotten the new Samsung S7 phone and decide to try out the S7's camera. Our tickets were along the first base line and just three rows back from the field. The camera shots ranged from evening, twilight, sunset and night so I was able to take in a full range of lighting conditions. As a plus the Cleveland Indians won the game so how could it get any better? Enjoy the pictures below which also include panoramas that were done by stitching individual photos and not the panorama features of the camera phone.

Overall I really like the new Samsung S7 and its camera and Progressive Field look great in the S7 pictures. The phone has really come a long way and the camera does an impressive job with lowlight photographs. I will leave all of the technical reviews of the camera to the experts, but I will say that I find the camera perfect for these types of events and capturing the fun and excitement of the game.


Progressive Field | Cleveland Indians
Progressive Field | Cleveland Indians
Progressive Field | Cleveland Indians
At the Ball Game
Sunset at Progressive Field

Loving my new iMac 27 5K Computer by Harold Brown

it has been over a month since I started using the Apple iMac computer and I have to say that while there is a bit of a learning curve related to the file system, I am enjoying my 20 second boot ups and fast response in Photoshop and Lightroom.

The Apple SSD is very fast. The 5K monitor is fantastic and my G-Tech Studio 6TB Thunderbolt drive is fast. I also purchased the Apple Trackpad 2 and use it along with the Mouse.

Just from observations I would say that the iMac software makes better use of the installed memory (24gig). I am sure there are some specific applications that use memory better than others, but I seldom saw my Windows 10 machine use more than 12 of the 32 gig available. I see the iMac using 16 and 17 quite frequently while using Lightroom and Photoshop (the same apps I used on Windows). The 5K screen really helps deliver accurate colors and reading text is very easy on the eyes.

I also purchased an iPad Pro for my wife's birthday. She has been using it to create greeting cards and wireless printing of pictures to her Canon Printer.  The iPad Pro is a much better experience than the iPad Air based on it's real estate alone, and for Valentines Day I bought her the Apple Pencil which she likes as well.

1937 Chevy Pick-Up Truck

Here is a picture of a custom 1937 Chevy Pickup truck I took in August 2007 using a Sony DSC-H5 digital camera. I used Lightroom to bring out the color of the truck and emphasize it through a vignette. When doing "extra" more heavy duty editing on a picture I do hear the fan speedup from time to time, but normally the iMac is very quiet on everyday tasks like surfing the web and reading emails.


Switching Back To Apple by Harold Brown

In 1977 I purchased my first computer which was an Apple II. It had two floppy drives and a Paper Tiger printer and for the time that was something. I eventually bought a PC computer and have been using Windows right up to my current desktop using Windows 10. Along the way I converted a Dell all-in-one to Ubuntu when the hard drive crashed and had several other makes and brands always running Windows. Most of the time when my system crashed it was almost always Windows doing flaking things and almost always related to the registry. I hate that registry and the problems it caused me. Which brings me to September 2015 when my computer started locking-up and having 100% disk utilization. It eventually started working after 2 weeks of effort then suddenly again the problems came back and now I see my system locking up when I play a video or do anything that places a small load onto the computer. I investigated the issue and read what each person said "worked for them" some of which seemed like nonsense, but I tried. I quickly realized that most of the info was not really of any value and was mostly speculation and in no way could solve the problem I was seeing. Since I do a lot of photography and some video editing I need a machine with a bit more kick to it. I was thinking about buying an Apple 3 years ago but decided to stay with Windows because of the investments I have in Windows applications. This past Monday I decided enough is enough and today I went to the Apple store and spent 4 hours researching what I should buy. I almost never trust anyone at any store to give me the proper advice or think through what I need. I make those decisions on my own based on research. The 5K iMac 27" screen is beautiful and a great deal since a 5K monitor alone would be $2,000 for something equivalent to the iMac. This makes the 5K iMac a great value for the $ spent. For video editing I decided on a 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, and for a graphics card an AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB video memory. Nothing beats speed, a faster CPU and software that takes advantage of the GPU make a big difference. Right now I am leaning towards 512GB Flash Storage since it is always faster than a HDD. Since Apple charges quite a bit more for their memory I am planning on buying after market memory, I will probably run 16mb. I have over 800GB of pictures and videos so I will need to keep those on external storage. I still need to research what external drive would be best.


27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display

  • 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
  • 8GB 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM - two 4GB
  • 512GB Flash Storage
  • AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB video memory
  • Magic Mouse 2
  • Magic Keyboard
iMac 27" with 5K Display

iMac 27" with 5K Display

I have been buying iPhones since version 3 and have 2 iPads as well, so the switch to iMac seems like the final step in bringing everything together. Now all I have to do is make the purchase and start the work of transferring and building out the machine. Man I hate reloading my computer with all the software and data. However, I started with Apple and no doubt will end with Apple.

Once I get the new machine built out I will be able to start working on my photo editing again. I want to get started editing my photos and video from my two months in India.

India Travel Tips by Harold Brown

My last post for 2015 and first post for 2016 is about travel to India. This post is more about what to look out for so the trip you plan goes better. 

You can find a lot of travel tips about India on the internet, make sure that you take a look at a few of them. There are so many things to watch for that no one can really describe them all. If you know someone in India they may be able to help you have a better experience. If you don't know Hindi you won't hear the dealing or things said about you and it  may appear as normal conversation. If you can find a good tour guide that is paid well you will have better success.

Lets get on with the tips, comments and observations.

  1. Begging - The children knocking on your car window holding a baby are most likely not poor and/or will not see any of the money you hand them. Begging is a chosen profession and you will see the beggars in tourist areas. They will be any place where there is a higher chance of a foreigner feeling sorry for them or wanting to save the world one person at a time. Begging is a good paying job and doesn't require hard work, just perseverance and some dirty clothes. 
  2. Government Shops - You will hear this a lot, basically a fixed price market where there is no need for dealing. Everyone pays the same price. The Taxi driver may tell you this is the place to go. He may also use the words wholesale, don't believe that. Our experience was that we saw items that the asking price was higher than the asking price at a non government shop. The word "saw" implies a written price, but you will seldom see a written price, it is always verbal. How these workers manage to remember the prices of hundreds and hundreds of items is beyond me and most likely changed based on who walks in the door. The taxi driver will make sure he walks with you into the shop, that means he gets money if you buy. This isn't to say that you cannot get a fair deal there, it just seems very suspicious to me. If you are good at bargaining you might do better elsewhere, we certainly did.
  3. Taxi Drivers - Make sure you arrange a taxi through the hotel or a responsible/safe source and that will solve the bigger problems you could run into. That won't stop the trickery, lies or foolishness, for that you have to take control. Don't talk much to the driver other than specific things you need from him like what is that building, take me to a specific address, take me back to the hotel. It is good to have pictures and written addresses. Anyplace the taxi driver suggests outside of main tourist attractions is somewhere he has the chance to make commission and it does not matter to him whether the place is good or bad. Most likely it is varying degrees of bad. Don't let the driver do any dealing for you to get you a better price, a guide, etc. They have contacts at all of the tourist sites that they can work with to get some of your cash. Many of the taxi drivers will tell you the traffic is too bad to go someplace, but they have an alternate place to go. Don't listen to that stuff. Stick to your plan.
  4. Take medicine with you on your trip. If you eat anywhere outside your hotel the chances of your getting diarrhea or food poisoning are very high. You need to be careful, and by the way see my rule about never going anyplace the taxi driver recommends, especially a restaurant. Go to your doctor and get a couple of doses of an antibiotic for each person traveling. The doctor will be able to recommend something for you. You will be thankful you did. Also important are antacids, aspirin, NyQuil, DayQuil (tablets), etc.
  5. You are not at home - Be aware of your environment and don't do foolish things like flashing money, talking openly in front of the taxi driver about money, politics or other personal matters. I really have a thing about the taxi drivers don't I. If you are female be careful about traveling extremely late by yourself.
  6. Public Toilets - Not even an option unless you are in a more upscale shop, hotel, office building
  7. Water - Never ever, ever drink anything other than bottled or canned drinks and no ice. Regardless of what hotel you stay in. Always be sure the water bottle has not been opened and refilled. A friend traveling to Mexico a few years back saw the water bottles being filled when he took a walk that landed him in the back of the hotel. Waiters that present the bottle with their hands covering the cap are up to no good.

India has a tremendous history, great places to see and I really like visiting and taking pictures (I have over 7,000 pictures of India), but it is is also surrounded in poverty. The very poor living in tents live outside the houses of the very rich. I have never seen the poorest of the poor on the streets begging, they are poor but still manage to survive on the smallest amounts of money. Don't litter which was started in the US over 40 years ago basically doesn't exist in India. There is an effort and plan in place and some people really care and many do not. As in the US it will take time but it certainly isn't going to happen anytime soon. In some areas of India it can be described as somewhere between "The Best Marigold Hotel" and "Slumdog Millionaire". A great experience surround with some harsh doses of reality. There is a lot more than can be said but I prefer to show India more than talk about it. 

Feel free to leave a comment and share your experiences or travel tips. Get out and see the world and how about starting with a stay in one of the palaces in Jaipur. We enjoyed our stay in the Raj Palace.

India has a problem with excessive amounts of litter everywhere you go

Woman with a piece of wood

Jaipur is a very popular tourist location


Hawa Mahal, is a palace in Jaipur, India, it was essentially a high screen wall built so the women of the royal household could observe street festivals while unseen from the outside.

Marine Drive Mumbai

Mumbai Taxi - Make sure your taxi has a working meter and remember the taxi plate number