Thursday, July 30, 2015

Je Suis - Never Mind

Political cartoonist Tom Toles recently published a cartoon in such poor taste it should have appeared in that French rag, Charlie. 

Instead it appeared in his flagship newspaper, the Washington Post, and lots of other papers including the Houston Chronicle.

tolesTo make matters worse, it was published on the day of Miss Bland’s funeral.

Nobody broke in and shot up the Post, but a small group – about a half dozen protesters - led by local black activist, Quanell X, did march in front of the Chronicle the following Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ten Day

w10Today is the first day that you can download and install the new Windows 10 operating system on your computer.  It is a free upgrade for all computers running Windows 7 or anything that came later.

I’m not sure if (or when) I’m going to do that.  In spite of glowing reviews on the PC websites, caution would advise to wait a little while and see what bugs show up in the first few weeks.

Honey’s computer came with Windows 7, and she had a little icon show up that allowed her to get in line to receive Windows 10.  My computer had Windows 7 installed after it crashed a while back, and although I do get Windows updates, I never got the little icon.

If you are like me, you can still get the free upgrade.  You can find details and instructions HERE.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mr. Weed Eater

As I was trimming around trees, sidewalks and mail boxes yesterday, I thought of the first time I ever saw a Weed Eater. 

It was the early 1970s, and I had recently gone to work for 3M Company as a copier service man.  After a service meeting at our office in far Southwest Houston, the dispatcher gave me a call in Greenway Plaza on my way back to my territory Northeast of town. 

I was in the elevator, headed back to my car for a part, when I met a man carrying a strange looking device.


It was a local dance studio owner named George Ballas, who invented the contraption, and he had brought his prototype to Greenway in search of investors. 

Although he had to know that I was in no position to help him, he happily demonstrated his invention to me on the lawn at the edge of the parking lot – maybe because I was the first person at Greenway Plaza that day to show any interest. I, for one, was sold.  I would have invested in his scheme immediately if I’d had two nickels to rub together.

He did scrape up enough money to get the company off the ground, and eventually sold it to Emerson Electric.  Emerson/Poulan took his idea and made Weed Eater a world wide household name.

FYI – in fact checking for this piece, I learned that the Ballas family kept dancing.  George’s son Corky was an international ballroom dancing champion, and his grandson Mark is a dancer/choreographer on Dancing With the Stars.

Monday, July 27, 2015


It’s 80° at 6:00 a.m. and I’ve got almost a full day’s worth of weed eating to do.

weed  Oh Boyeeeee!

Sunday, July 26, 2015



Today Craig Biggio becomes the first Houston Astro to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  There have been other Hall of Famers who spent time on an Astros roster (including fellow inductee Randy Johnson) but Craig, who spent his entire career with Houston, is the first to enter wearing an Astros jersey.

A native of Kings Park on New York's Long Island, Biggio was a football star in high school poised to make his mark as a running back in college when he decided to accept a partial baseball scholarship at Seton Hall. In three collegiate seasons, he batted .342, hit 27 homers, drove in 148 runs, stole 90 bases and led the Pirates to their first Big East title.

A first-round pick by the Astros in 1987, Biggio played just 141 minor league games over parts of two seasons before getting called up. He took over as Houston's regular catcher in 1989. He converted to 2nd base in 1992, and is the only player in history to make the all star team at both positions.

In addition to four Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger awards, Biggio received the Roberto Clemente Award (for community service) in 2007.  His work with the Sunshine Kids charity is almost legendary in Houston.

His official stats list him as 5’ 11” but that may be an exaggeration – he never looked that tall.  Yogi Berra mentioned Biggio's height in his book You Can Observe A Lot By Watching, saying, "I always identified with short catchers – they don't have to stand up as far".

Every team has its home town heroes, but I doubt that any are loved and admired  more than Craig Biggio.  Today’s entry into the Hall of Fame is well deserved.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


After a very wet May and June, it’s been bone dry at the old Boggy Thicket for the past several weeks, so I was surprised yesterday to find muddy footprints all over the top of the gas grill.


There was also mud in the dogs’ water bowl, so it didn’t take a Daniel Boone or Sherlock Holmes to recreate what had happened.  A pretty big coon – the prints were almost two inches across – had washed a meal in the dogs’ bowl then jumped up on the grill to enjoy his lunch.

Friday, July 24, 2015


This morning, I awoke to find this email (slightly edited) from my bank:




Account Ending: XXXX

Robert A Couch,
Please tell us if you, or someone you authorized, used your Chase card for:

July 24

July 24

July 24

Do you recognize each transaction listed above?

If you need to speak with us, call the number on the back of your card.

Chase Fraud Protection Services

I would never have noticed this two dollar charge, and even if I had, I probably would have assumed it was a “handling fee” for an Amazon purchase that required updating my credit card information the day before.  The lady at Chase security tells me that the charge came from an offshore hacker that is adding small charges whenever customers buy anything on line with their credit card.

My card has been cancelled, and they will be sending me a new one with a new number.  Meanwhile, if you use your credit card for on line purchases, you should probably check the charges on your account.