Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Columbia House Syndrome

Explaining the success of the Democratic Party yesterday, Michael Berry on KTRH radio compared them to Columbia House, the company that used to offer ten music CDs for ten cents to get people to subscribe.  He made the point that it is human nature to accept a pretty lie – folks will accept a promise of something for nothing, will accept a premise they want to believe, even in the face of undeniable proof to the contrary.

I had proof overnight that I am not immune to this weakness when I got the following email.


I haven’t ordered a ticket from Delta or any other airline and have no reason to fly to Bakersfield.  Still, I couldn’t help myself, I had to open the attached zip file. 

Luckily, I have several antivirus and anti-malware programs running on my computer. One of them, AVG, kept the file from opening, but it still took over half an hour and three re-starts to get my computer back to normal.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Our Houston Texans are now 2-1 for the season, a better record than many NFL teams, even better than the New York Giants that made them look so bad yesterday.  Our guys are in the same place they were at this time last season, but we can still hope that the rest of the season won’t mirror last year.

The best play by a Texan was probably DeAndre Hopkins’ amazing catch that was nullified by a stupid penalty.  The Texans were called for an illegal formation.  How does that happen?  How could people who have eaten and breathed football for their entire lives not know where to line up? 

By the time this play occurred, my wife had already decided the game was too painful to watch, so Honey – and anybody else who missed it – this play is for you.  Just click to watch it here –wow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014



I have quite a few colorful Facebook friends - Pink or Green, or Rainbow Colored, depending on the issue.  These are good folks, and although we usually disagree, I do not doubt their sincerity. 

Lately, one of their favorite issues is genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) crops.  Somehow, these folks have become convinced that Monsanto is the AntiChrist, a corporation that will happily give us all cancer, cause strange mutations and turn us all into zombies just to add a dollar to their insatiable bottom line. 

The strident, often unsupportable  and outrageous claims, of this movement have gained some traction.  Several countries in Europe and Asia have now banned GM seeds.

These folks are on a speeding bandwagon, and unlikely to be swayed by truth, but the truth is that globally, food-producing animals consume 70% to 90% of genetically engineered crop biomass, mostly corn and soybean. In the United States alone, animal agriculture produces over 9 billion food-producing animals annually, and more than 95% of these animals consume feed containing GE ingredients. The numbers are similar in large GMO producing countries with a large agricultural sector, such as Brazil and Argentina.

Estimates of the numbers of meals consumed by feed animals since the introduction of GM crops 18 years ago would number well into the trillions. By common sense alone, if GE feed were causing unusual problems among livestock, farmers would have noticed.

If that wasn’t enough evidence, there is now a comprehensive study that debunks the myth.

Writing in the Journal of Animal Science, in the most comprehensive study of GMOs and food ever conducted, University of California-Davis Department of Animal Science geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam and research assistant Amy E. Young reviewed 29 years of livestock productivity and health data from both before and after the introduction of genetically engineered animal feed. 

The field data represented more than 100 billion animals covering a period before 1996 when animal feed was 100% non-GMO, and after its introduction when it jumped to 90% and more. The documentation included the records of animals examined pre and post mortem, as ill cattle cannot be approved for meat.

What did they find? That GM feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. There was no indication of any unusual trends in the health of animals since 1996 when GMO crops were first harvested. Considering the size of the dataset, it can reasonably be said that the debate over the impact of GE feed on animal health is closed: there is zero extraordinary impact.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid my colorful friends are not the sort to allow truth to affect their devotion to a cause.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Better Mousetrap

mouse trap

Oddly enough, even though we live out in the woods, we have never had a problem with mice in the house here at the Boggy Thicket.  In the thirty-plus years we have lived here, I can only recall one time when we thought we might have a mouse. I guess having dogs – and for a while, one cat - living in the house encouraged them to stay away.

Several months ago while our 5th wheel trailer was in for service, the repairman said he thought we might have mice, but we found no evidence to support his claim. 

That is no longer true. 

I went out yesterday to check the trailer and found that mice had eaten large patches of the leather upholstery on one recliner and the matching ottoman.  We have two of each, but so far the other chair and footstool are untouched.  I found no other damage, but that was bad enough.

I went to our local hardware store and bought a bunch of traps.  I got four of the old standard Victor mousetraps, and four of the more modern sticky traps. 

I have never used the sticky traps before, but just from setting them out, I can assure you that they live up to the name.  A mouse that sets foot on one ain’t going anywhere.  The package claims they are humane, but I honestly don’t see how starvation is preferable to a broken neck.

Anyway, I set out four of each type and will let you know which works best.

Friday, September 19, 2014


There once was a fellow named Sidney

Who developed a stone in his kidney

He did outlast it

He finally passed it

But he thought he would die first, now didn’t he

Several years ago, I was at a walk-in lab to have some blood tests run.  The young lady at the waiting room counter was wearing a beautiful pendant necklace.  It had a large brownish yellow stone – I’d guess about five carats – that looked a bit like a smoky topaz.

When one of the female patients asked, she explained that it was a kidney stone that her boyfriend had passed and had mounted for her.  She said she liked it because it was truly unique, and couldn’t be more personal. And, she admitted that she really got a kick out of telling anyone who asked that it was a kidney stone.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Domestic Abuse

All the recent news about wife beaters in the NFL reminded me of something that I would rather forget.  Years ago, in the first weeks of our marriage, something happened that I have regretted ever since.

It was mid-afternoon, Honey was in class at the University of Houston and I was sitting at the kitchen table reading a book before getting ready to go to work.  When she got home, she quietly came up behind me and gave me a hug.

Startled – I hadn’t heard her come in and thought I was alone – I jumped up and spun around.  My elbow caught her square in the eye and she ended up with a huge shiner.

Of course she cried.  It must have hurt like Hell, but I probably felt worse about it than she did and I’m sure I still do.

I doubt if anybody believed our story about how it happened, and wherever she went, my poor bride carried around the “evidence of domestic abuse” for almost two weeks. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Where To Go & How To Get There


Honey and I have a 50th wedding anniversary coming up in December, and I have been exploring options, looking for someplace special to go.

Our old pals the Sheltons will also be celebrating their 50th – I was his best man on the 18th, and he was mine on the 28th – and we were talking earlier this year about going to Belize.  Then Travis had back surgery last week, and it looks like they won’t be doing any traveling for a while.

Anyway, I’ve been searching on line for a great place to go, and Honey has been trying to get me to rein in  my  budget.  She is entirely more practical than I will ever be, but I contend that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event and we deserve to splurge a little.  Besides, I don’t plan to live forever and while I love my daughter and our grandkids, I have no interest in leaving any more money behind than it takes to dispose of my carcass.

The criteria are flexible, but we would like:

  • Someplace tropical
  • Hotel on the beach
  • Preferably all-inclusive
  • A Casino would be a plus

Checking websites like Cheap Caribbean and Funjet provided a couple of possibilities, but required multi-stop flights of 18 hours or more to get from Houston to someplace we might want to go, and changing flights caused the price to skyrocket.

Why would anyone ever want to fly coach from Houston to Cozumel by way of Charlotte, North Carolina?

I located one 7-day cruise out of Houston (Bayport) that was actually cheaper than a 3-night hotel stay with airfare.  I was pretty excited about that until I realized that smoking was banned almost everywhere on the ship – including your private balcony off your stateroom.  Yeah, we probably should quit smoking, but going cold turkey for a week couldn’t possibly add to our enjoyment.

I was considering Cabo San Lucas until they got hit by a category 3 hurricane a couple days ago.

Our honeymoon – such as it was, I had to be back on the air New Years Eve – was two nights at the White Rock Motel in San Marcos.  At this point, I’d even consider going back there, but it doesn’t exist anymore.