Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Sooner or later, enough is enough.

horwitzIrwin Horwitz, a college professor with 20 years experience, apparently found his tipping point.  He just failed his entire management class at Texas A & M Galveston, and announced that he would no longer be teaching the course.

An email to the class said, in part, "I am frankly and completely disgusted. You all lack the honor and maturity to live up to the standards that Texas A&M holds, and the competence and/or desire to do the quality work necessary to pass the course just on a grade level," he wrote, "I will no longer be teaching the course, and [you] all are being awarded a failing grade."

That blanket fail probably won’t take.  University officials say that the grades will be reassessed and the department head will take over Horwitz's class for the remainder of the semester. Some students need the required course to graduate with business degrees in May.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Muscat Ramble


I have always been a fan of Dixieland Jazz, and one of the things on my bucket list for as long as I can remember is a visit to Preservation Hall in New Orleans.  We have been planning to be in that area soon, and I was thinking I could finally check that off my list. 

Then today, I saw an announcement in the Times of Oman – the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be performing tomorrow night at the Royal Opera House in Muscat.

What’s the old saying? - Man plans, God laughs.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Standing With Blue Bell

jenis661All of the local coverage has been about the problems at Blue Bell, and the outpouring of support for the beloved Little Creamery in Brenham, but there was another Listeria-connected recall last week. 

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream of Ohio pulled all its products after the Nebraska Department of Agriculture found Listeria in a sample pulled from a Whole Foods Market in Lincoln.

The Listeria bacteria is commonly found in soil and water that can be tracked into a facility or carried by animals. It can be very difficult to get rid of once it contaminates a processing facility, partly because it grows well in refrigeration. It is commonly found in processed meats, unpasteurized cheeses and unpasteurized milk.  Although ice cream from Blue Bell has been linked to illnesses in four states, Listeria generally only affects the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women and their newborn infants. It can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Blue Bell’s Brenham plant did make some ice cream this past week, but it was strictly for testing.  None of it will be sold.

To put things in perspective, there have only been three Listeria-based fatalities in Blue Bell’s entire history.  In 2011, Canteloupe from just one farm in Colorado caused thirty deaths.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Because we opted to have our swimming pool filled in last summer instead of taking a trip, it’s been two years since we’ve taken our 5th wheel trailer on the road.  I’ve been getting it ready for the past couple weeks, and it has been challenging to say the least.

So far, in addition to normal cleaning and dewinterizing, I have had to fix the water heater, the DirecTV satellite system, and a small but persistent leak at one of the slide-outs.  Yesterday, the air conditioner - which had been working fine – decided to quit. 

The compressor comes on, but the fan just hums.  I found that giving the fan a little spin would start it running, an almost sure sign of a a bad start capacitor, but replacing the capacitor didn’t help.  Now we are waiting for a new motor, which should be here Monday.

The only good news is that this happened now, and not a week into a 30 day trip.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Just a note- My blog will look different today because I had to compose it using Google Blogger. I normally use Windows Live Writer because it's a lot more convenient and has more options, but Live Writer went fubar over night and will not publish to my blog. It sees the blog and will let me access it, just refuses to publish, claiming the server can't be located.
With all the rain we’ve had this spring, we were expecting a lot of mosquitoes. What we didn’t expect were the gazillions of caterpillars that are crawling all over the place. We have a few green caterpillars, and a couple of inch worms, but the majority of the critters look more-or-less like the one above. We have a lot that look like that, and they seem to come in two distinct sizes – those just over an inch and a half long, and those that are much smaller, measuring about 3/4 of an inch. They look alike, but they all seem to be one size or the other with nothing in between, so I’m not totally sure they are the same species. An on-line search identifies them as the larvae of the Tussock Moth -
That makes sense since Tussock Moths make their home in oak trees, their coloration blends with the bark, and their primary diet is oak leaves. That doesn’t explain why we have so darn many of them this year.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

That’s Just Embarrassing


As I wrote last Sunday - DTV Woes – the DirecTV receiver in our 5th wheel had died (would not turn on) and the company had sent me a reconditioned replacement. 

I could not get the new one to work either – it would turn on, but could not find a satellite – and the set-up screen that should have been in color was a grainy black and white.  After several calls and what seemed like forever on the phone with tech support, DirecTV agreed to send out a technician.  They don’t normally make service calls on systems in RVs, but since we are parked at home, the agreed to send a tech.

I had literally spent hours trying to diagnose the problems.  Yesterday, in less than an hour, the DirecTV technician had both problems fixed, had even double-checked our system in the house and was finishing up his paperwork.

The no color problem was because I had the TV set to the wrong input!  We use the input button on the remote to switch back and forth between broadcast TV and satellite, but I had no idea the satellite receiver signal could feed more than one TV input – after all, it only plugs in to the TV in one place.

The no satellite signal problem was even worse!

We use a portable dish like this one to get our signal -

mydishOver the years, I have used it to receive DirecTV in dozens of locations all over the US (and southern Canada) and thought I had become an expert at setting it up.  You just have to find a spot with an unobstructed  view of the sky, adjust the dish to the proper elevation and point it in the right direction.  Input your current Zip code during setup and the TV screen will give you the correct azimuth and elevation.  You may be looking for something up in space, but it ain’t rocket science.

The DirecTV tech took one look, then picked up the dish, moved it about 50 feet and voila! we had a signal like gang busters.  In my own defense, when the dish didn’t work in the location we’ve always used at home, I  moved the dish to several other locations – I guess that I just never got it completely out from under the trees.  The only thing wrong was that our trees have gotten taller and thicker since the last time I set the dish up at home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dead Computer

dead-computer-20150421According to a Colorado Springs police report, Lucas Hinch’s Dell PC did him wrong one too many times, so he took it out back and shot it.

The incident report says that he fired eight times, “effectively disabling it.”

In spite of being charged with unlawfully discharging a firearm in the city limits, Hinch says he has no regrets. 

“It was glorious,” he said. “Angels sung on high.”