Sunday, January 30, 2011

That’ll Teach ‘Em


Tampa Florida mother, Julie Schenecker, has admitted to police that she shot and killed her two teenagers “because they were mouthy.” 

I’m sure just about every parent has been pushed almost to that point at one time or another.  After all, driving one’s parents to distraction is part of the very definition of being a teenager.

BUT, if every parent shot every smart-assed kid out there, we would lose an entire generation. 

The very existence of the Human Race would be in peril.

Maybe, like abortion prior to Roe v Wade, we could make exterminating your offspring  legal in just a couple of states.  Then truly desperate moms could haul their little monsters to - Oh, let’s say Oregon, or maybe Iowa, for example - and blow the little bastards away.

Actually, it makes more sense than abortion.  You never know how a fetus will turn out, but you already know these kids are a disaster.  If Mom has the right to kill a fetus, she ought to have just as much right to kill them a few years later when snuffing them out  is based on a better-informed decision.

It probably wouldn’t work. 

The state  law extending late-term abortion to include intractable teenagers  would undoubtedly require a waiting period to establish residency –  Mom would cool down or (less likely, but possible) the kid might actually straighten up.  Then you’ve quit your job and burned all that gas for nothing. 

Your only choice would be to go back home and hope you can get your job back, or hang around that sleazy hotel room until the kid mouths off again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011



Drug smugglers trying to get marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border apparently are trying a new – or very old approach - a catapult.

National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening.

Tucson TV station KVOA said Border Patrol agents working with the National Guard contacted Mexican authorities, who went to the location and disrupted the catapult operation.

"It looks like a medieval catapult that was used back in the day," Tucson sector Border Patrol spokesman David Jimarez told Reuters.

The smugglers left the area before they could be captured, but Mexican officials seized about 45 pounds of marijuana, an SUV and the catapult device.

"I have not seen anything like that in my time before as a Border Patrol agent ... although we are trained to handle any kind of a threat that comes over that border," Jimarez added.

Naco is about 80 miles southeast of Tucson.

Friday, January 28, 2011

And The Winner Is…

We went to the Huffman ISD livestock show last night, and got to watch next-door-neighbor Wilson Graff, and his beautiful Jolene win Grand Champion Heifer. 

Here’s a picture of them taken shortly after he got her.


Wilson has grown a bit since this photo – Jolene has grown a lot.

They were up against some pretty stiff competition, especially for a small town, small school, FFA show.  Three other exhibitors were also winners in last year’s Calf Scramble at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Their next stop is San Antonio, then they compete at this year’s Houston show.

Wilson may need suspenders to hold up his belt – even by rodeo standards, that buckle he won last night is HUGE!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Being Huck Finn is EXPENSIVE

Think you’d like to live the life of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, or even N-word Jim? Well, now you can – if you’ve got unlimited disposable income.

Here, along with an artist’s conception of the boat, is the story from the Houston Chronicle’s Prime Property blog:

Marquette on the Ohio River

Want to live on a boat? Minnesota-based River Cities is showing model homes for a newly planned floating condo community this week at the Marina Del Sol in Kemah.

The boat, which will be 600 feet long and called Marquette, will be based in Houston. Its route would spend more days in Texas than in any other state, according to the developers, who hope it will eventually dock at the Bayport cruise terminal or someplace that has "a less commercial feel."

It's planned to cruise the inland waterways along the Gulf coast in the winter, and in northern rivers within the US in the summer, getting as far north as Minnesota.

The boat will include 180 condos, restaurants, lounges, swimming pools, and a golf course.

Not surprisingly developers Bill Tout and David Nelson are self-funding the $109 million project.
"Unfortunately bankers only do what has been done before, so we are unable to get banks to participate in financing our vessel," Nelson said.

A project like River Cities has never been done on the inland waterways, said Nelson, who has worked on smaller boats. His largest boat project was $1.3 million, he said.

The condos cost from $310,000 per unit to $1.8 million for a deluxe penthouse. Or $55,000 will get you a two month shared unit. There's also a homeowners maintenance fee, which covers the shared cruising costs, of $1,200 to $2,500 per month.

So far, most sales, about 25 percent of the boat, have been full ownership, Tout said.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love On My Mind

I already knew this, but it’s nice to have opinions scientifically confirmed:

What Your Brain Looks Like After 20 Years of Marriage

By Belinda Luscombe   Time.comGetty Images

Contrary to popular opinion, people who say they are still madly in love with their spouses after more than two decades are not crazy. At least, some of them aren't. And in answer to your next question, apparently they're not lying either. This is the proposition of a new study  published in the December issue of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience that took brain scans of long-married people who claimed to still be besotted with their marital partner.

The prevailing theory on romantic love is that it more or less serves the same purpose as the booster rocket in expeditions into outer space. The initial tingly can't-think-about-anything-else swooning launches the couple into orbit, but falls away after the spacecraft reaches a certain altitude, to be replaced by "companionate love," a more regulated, less passionate affection that binds two people, bolting them together with shared history and interests.

Companionate love gets a bit of a bad rap in some corners, since it can feel to some a little too much like orbiting outer space: cold, airless and seemingly interminable.

But there are couples who claim more than this, who claim to still be knee-bucklingly in love with their partners, for whom the orbit is not dreary, but a wonderful journey with their North Star. One of the theories on these individuals is that they're kidding themselves, or fronting. Another is that they're mentally unhealthy, or generally obsessive.

Bianca Acevedo and Arthur Aron, both in the Psychology Department at Stony Brook University in New York, and their co-authors, decided to investigate. They found 17 people who claim to still be madly in love with their spouses, even after an average of 21 years of marriage. While an fMRI scanned the brain, each partner looked at a picture of his or her beloved.

They compared these brain scans with those of people who have recently fallen in love. In several key ways they looked very similar.

It's already known that newly in love individuals show activity in dopamine-rich areas when they view images of — or think about — their significant others. This means the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), which is part of the reward center, shows a lot of activity. (This is also the area that lights up on the brain scans of addicts when they take cocaine.) And sure enough, in scans of couple still moony after two decades, there it is again.

But, unlike those who are newly in love, the long-in-love brains show no activity among the areas that are commonly associated with anxiety and fear. "Individuals in long-term relationships may experience the excitement, sexual attraction, engagement, and intensity associated with romantic love," says Acevedo. "But they report pining, anxiety, intrusive thinking far less than individuals newly in love."

The brain scans echo this. In fact, they show not just the absence of anxiety, but its opposite. "Interestingly, we found activation of opiate-rich sites, such as the posterior globus pallidus," says Acevedo. "These sites are associated with pleasure and pain relief. They are also activated by primary rewards such as food, and substances such as morphine."

Not surprisingly the scans also show a lot more activation in brain regions that are associated with maternal love, or pairs bonding. This doesn't mean people want to mother their spouses, but just that the attachments formed are similar to those that grow between mothers and their new children.

The study then compared the resulting scans with those of people looking at pictures of good friends and little known acquaintances, to make clear what was the result of  fondness and what was the real-soul mate-deal. Pairs bonding is evident there too, but not as strongly.

What are the implications of all this? Well, some of it, warns Aron, the study's co-author, may bum people out. "This is not something long term couples want to hear," he says, about people's undimming passion for their mates. "Nobody wants to hear about couples doing better than they are. We all like to believe we're the best."

The authors recommend that marital therapists not dismiss romantic love as a possible and desirable outcome in a marriage—as opposed to just aiming for conflict -resolution and better communication skills.

Aron's other research has led him to believe the most successful couples are those in which partners help each other expand their ideas of themselves. He also notes the couples who were still in love reported having sex frequently (adjusted for age, natch) although it's not clear whether this is an expression of their undying passion or a cause of it.

Envy about others' more epic love-stories aside, the study is good news for fans of long-term marriage of any type: "Romantic love need not be replaced with companionate love," says Acevedo. "Both can co-exist."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some Days, Nothing Goes Right


An Argentinean woman jumped from the 23rd floor of the Hotel Panamericano in Buenos Aires yesterday in an obvious suicide attempt, but it just wasn’t her day.  She landed on a taxi parked at the hotel entrance, which broke her fall enough to save her life.

The 33 year old is now in a hospital intensive care unit after being operated on for multiple injuries, including internal bleeding and broken hips and ribs.

Officials said she had a lung, a kidney and her spleen removed.

Reports in Argentina quoted witnesses as saying the woman ordered a coffee in a restaurant, near the top of the hotel, before taking off her shoes to climb over a safety barrier.

The taxi driver got out of his parked vehicle and ran for safety when he saw a policeman looking up at the woman, the country's state news agency Telam said.

The driver, identified only as 39-year-old Miguel, told reporters: "If I hadn't got out, I'd be dead.

"I felt this explosion and I saw this woman's body sunken into the roof of my cab.

"The first thing I did was call my family. And then I just started to cry - it is really hard to see something like that."

Monday, January 24, 2011



The red supergiant star Betelgeuse is getting ready to go supernova, and when it does Earth will have a front-row seat. The explosion will be so bright that Earth will briefly seem to have two suns in the sky.

The star is located in the Orion constellation, about 640 light-years away from Earth. It's one of the brightest and biggest stars in our galactic neighborhood -if you dropped it in our Solar System, it would extend all the way out to Jupiter, leaving Earth completely engulfed. In stellar terms, it's predicted to explode in the very near future. Of course, the conversion from stellar to human terms is pretty extreme - Betelgeuse is predicted to explode anytime in the next million years.

But still, whether the explosion occurs in 2011 or 1002011 (give or take 640 years for the light to reach Earth), it's going to make for one of the most unforgettable light shows in our planet's history. For a few weeks, the supernova will be so bright that there will appear to be two suns in the sky, and night will be indistinguishable from day for much of that time. So don't count on getting a lot of sleep when Betelgeuse explodes, because the only sensible thing for the world to do will be to throw a weeks-long global supernova party.

Physicist Brad Carter explains what Earth (and hopefully humanity) can look forward to:

"This is the final hurrah for the star. It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up - we'll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all."

Although there'll be no missing the explosion, Carter points out that the vast majority of material shot out from the supernova will pass by Earth completely unnoticed:

"When a star goes bang, the first we will observe of it is a rain of tiny particles called neutrinos. They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky,99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever."

Indeed, just in case anyone is concerned Betelgeuse is way too far away from Earth to do us any damage. There's been some doomsday speculation of late around the eventual supernova - which might not happen for a million years, it bears repeating - but, as with pretty much all doomsday speculation, you can just ignore it.

In any event, the Betelgeuse explosion will likely be the most dramatic supernova Earth ever witnesses- well, unless our Sun eventually explodes and destroys our planet, which would probably leave Betelgeuse the runner-up.

The first supernova that history records is thought to have occurred in 185, when a star 8,200 light-years away exploded. Chinese astronomers make explicit note of the sudden appearance of a star and its subsequent disappearance several months later, and the Romans may also have made more cryptic references to it. Astronomers have since located the remnants of the exploded star, confirming the accuracy of the ancient accounts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


dig for sunny

Houston had a horse fall down a manhole yesterday.  Here’s the story from the Houston Chronicle website January 22, 2011:

Firefighters extracted a horse from a huge sewer pipe late Saturday, nearing the end of a six-hour rescue effort that began when the animal slipped into a manhole in south Houston.

Rescue crews cut through the concrete casing of the 60-inch-diameter pipe and pulled out the horse, a paint gelding named Sunny, shortly after 10 p.m. They allowed the animal to rest in a trench they had dug before bringing it out to open ground.

The horse slipped into the manhole, which may have been obscured by grass, along Scott near Airport about 4 p.m., said Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Terry Stone.

It wasn't clear how such a large animal fell into a manhole, Stone said.

"Your average manhole, you would not think that a horse would fit through that," Stone said. "But this is a full-grown horse, and it did. I can't explain it."

Wanted to graze

Sunny's owner, Donnte McCreary, 23, said he was riding on the sidewalk along Scott when the horse drifted toward the field because it wanted to graze. He felt the rear of the horse drop, McCreary said, then dismounted to discover the animal was partially lodged in the manhole.

Stone said the horse's hind legs slipped in first, and it was stuck about halfway into the hole when McCreary pulled off its saddle, after which it slipped the rest of the way in. Sunny fell about 10 feet into a sewer pipe that's about 60 inches in diameter.

Only about six people stopped to watch the drama despite the presence of about 20 firefighters, representatives of the SPCA, city public works officials and veterinarians, several ladder trucks and a backhoe.

I wasn’t really satisfied with the picture at the top of the story, since it didn’t show the horse at all.  I went looking on line and found:


Which looks OK, but it’s a different horse being helped from a different hole on a different day.

I was just about to post this, along with another (funny and political) picture, when I saw this update to last night’s story:

A few minutes later, however, veterinarians and animal welfare experts at the scene said Sunny's six-hour ordeal, which began when he fell into a manhole, had caused injuries too severe for him to recover. They put Sunny to sleep.

An SPCA veterinarian administered a lethal injection to the animal about 10:45 p.m. after consulting with the owner. The horse suffered from shock, hypothermia and possible exposure to toxins, said Meera Nandlal, an SPCA spokeswoman.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Screwing With Disney

Came across this the other day: 

Disney Princesses Get Down and Dirty

Posted by SunnyChanel

Has the thought of a Disney Princess doing the nasty ever crossed your mind? For anyone who has had kinky fantasies about the iconic Disney Princesses, an enterprising animation company exists to fulfill those carnal cartoon fantasies and then some.
Traditionally, those virginal Disney princesses are sweet, wholesome and as pure as the driven snow. The x-rated manifestations of the girls? Not so much. The content of the clips is not for the faint of heart. This is not some romantic softcore love fest. This is hardcore porn. And with very questionable situations. (Warning - if you are easily offended, you should stop reading now) Some of the scenarios are of The Beast raping a crying Belle, King Tritan doing a bored Ariel, and Jasmin pleasuring Abu, the monkey from Aladdin.  Beyond the disturbing instances of rape, bestiality, and incest there are scenarios of a three way between Belle, the Beast and Gaston, a Jasmine orgy and an S & M Snow White. And the stars featured run the gamete ( editor’s  note: Gamut intentionally misspelled, or just too much sex on the brain?) from the infamous Jessica Rabbit, to Tinkerbell and even The Incredibles’ Elastigirl gets some play. No Disney girl is left untouched.
There’s not really a question about why this exists, the audience is totally there. But what’s really surprising is that Disney is somehow letting this business operate in cyber space. Most of the cartoons have a high production value and look like they are straight out of the Disney vault, complete with smidgeons of music from the films and a Walt Disney looking Logo as the company brand. Disney is notorious for their legal defenses, like suing the Oscars for featuring a woman dressed as Snow White in a dance number. So how is Cartoon Valley, the producer of the clips, able to elude a debilitating lawsuit?

I have one possible answer to that question that goes back to the ‘60s.

Back in 1967,  there was the Disneyland Memorial Orgy.One of the original Mad Magazine illustrators, Wally Wood published poster by that name in The Realist, an underground newsletter.  I’m not going to post it here, but it is available online.

An inside source at Disney told Realist editor Paul Krassner that the company chose not to sue to avoid drawing any further attention to the picture or the magazine in what could ultimately be a losing battle. However, Disney was not so reluctant when an someone pirated the drawing and marketed it as a black light poster. Disney did sue, and the matter was eventually settled out of court. 

Somebody actually left a copy of that edition of  the Realist on my desk at Ft. Hood.  The picture was lewd, in terribly poor taste, and very funny – sorry, it just was. 

I have no idea what happened to the magazine, but I wish I did.  I’m told it sells for thousands on eBay!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Travel Day

Running up to Bertram, Texas, today to pick up the 5th Wheel from my daughter’s back yard, and to drop off her birthday presents. 

The road here at Boggy Thicket is very narrow, so it is almost impossible to back the trailer into our driveway without running the front wheels of the pickup off the road – the idea is to get it back here before the rain starts up again.  We did manage to get stuck once, and the guy who pulled us out no longer lives across the road.

Speaking of travel, I came across this cartoon on the web the other day:


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time Travel Conundrum

question clock

Shortly after I retired, I discovered something truly amazing about time and how time passes. 

It seemed so absurd that I never mentioned it. 

Then yesterday, out of the blue, my wife announced that she had noticed exactly the same thing.

Here’s what we’ve observed, and it’s a real  paradox:

When you’re working, the days often pass quickly while the weeks seem to last forever.  Once you’ve retired, it’s just the opposite; days often seem to drag on into infinity, but the weeks go by in a flash.

There are some exceptions, but as a general rule, that seems to be how we perceive the passage of time.  It is particularly noticeable when we have a string of cold, gray, drizzly days like we’ve experienced in the last couple of weeks.

Not complaining, just reporting.  After all, we’re into the latter half of our 60s – there’s no reason why we should want to live our lives at the speed of light.  Nevertheless, this reversal of time perception is a conundrum.

The idea that our perception of time varies with age is not original with Honey or me.  Google “perception of time with age” and you will get a variety of scientific articles with varying theories and an interesting, if not particularly helpful, segment from National Public Radio.  At the top of the NPR page, you can click to hear a show segment on the subject, or just to the right of that, click Transcript to read it.

I suppose the phenomenon could be explained psychologically.  I know having something specific to do, some deadline or goal to accomplish, could make the day seem to  pass more quickly, and I’d guess looking forward to the weekend could make the work week seem to drag on.  But – that still doesn’t explain why the weeks fly by when every day is pretty much like the day before and the one before that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011



Couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted to talk about today, so here are a few things I’ve dug out for your consideration.

First a popular item from a souvenir shop:

donut seeds

Followed by Ophiuchus, or the Snake Handler.  That’s the constellation that is screwing with your astrological life:


It's a new year, and there's a new sign in the Zodiac, which means new Zodiac signs for many people in 2011.

Why?  Well, Professor Parke Kunkle of the Minnesota Planetarium Society says the Zodiac has a date problem.

If you imagine the Earth as a spinning top, the axis changes as it wobbles.  After wobbling for 5,000 years or so, the stars are not aligned, so those with a Libra horoscope are really a Virgo, etc.

“Right now its pointing this way, the North Star, but 3000 BC it was pointing differently,” Kunkle said. “Now things have moved and the sun is in a different constellation. We're about a whole constellation off.“
And don’t forget Ophiuchus, astrology’s orphan. According to the professor,”Ophiuchus is a constellation that for years just got left out,”


January 20- to February 16

February 16 to March 11

March 11 to April 18.

April 18 to May 13

May 13 to June 21.

June 21 to July 20

July 20 to August 10

August 10 to September 16

September 16 to October 30

October 30 to November 23

November 23 to November 29

November 29 to December 17

December 17 to January 20


This next picture is not really significant of anything, I just like it:

buoy anchorsIt’s a bunch of buoy anchors  sitting on a Lake Michigan dock.

Finally, do you remember drive-in movies?  If you do, you’ll remember these guys:

There is currently a commercial on TV based on the old drive-in  jingle.  I have been concentrating on trying to understand what the dancing snacks on television are saying between “DMV” and “hundred and three” so it was only last night that I noticed the Corn Dog.  Unlike the Popcorn or the Soft Drink, the Corn Dog doesn’t have legs but he's a real Trooper.  He dances along with the rest of them on a crutch and that stick poked up his weenie.  Now, that’s amazing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Toxic Waste Removal



A Carmel, Indiana, candy company has issued a voluntary recall for its Toxic Waste Nuclear Sludge Chew Bars.

Because it turns out, they're potentially, well, toxic.

Candy Dynamics, also known as Circle Marketing and Distributing, recalled the candy after California Department of Public Health tests revealed elevated levels of lead.

Officials said that there have been no reported cases of illness linked to the candy and that they were taking more of a precautionary than alarmist tone.

"If you had one piece of this, I wouldn't be too concerned," said Mike Sicilia, a spokesman with the California health department. "If you're pregnant, I would talk to your physician."

And they won’t be foisting them off on our neighbors to the north:

OTTAWA — A voluntary recall has been issued for all Toxic Waste brand Nuclear Sludge Chew Bars, imported from Pakistan.

The recall was announced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency late Friday.

It says testing by the California Department of Public Health indicated some cherry flavoured bars might contain elevated levels of lead that could cause health problems, particularly for infants, small children, and pregnant women.

The agency says the products, imported by Indiana-based Candy Dynamics, may have been distributed nationally in Canada.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the bars.

The agency is working with the importers to have the affected products removed from the marketplace.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Predicting Your Child’s Future


I came across this on David Wong's Blog which seems to be about politics among the Chinese ethnic community in Malaysia.  I say ‘seems to be’ because about half is in Chinese and the auto-translate feature often results in something that only appears to be in English and doesn’t make any sense at all.

An old Kampong imam had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young men his age, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it.
One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects.
1. The Holy Quran.
2. A fifty ringgit note.
3. A bottle of whiskey.
4. And a Playboy magazine.
'I'll just hide behind the door, "the old imam said to himself." When he comes home from school today, I'll see which object he picks up. "
"If it's the holy book, he's going to be an Imam like me, and what a blessing that would be!"
"If he picks up the fifty ringgit note, he's going to be a business man, and that would be okay, too."
"But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken bum, and God, what a shame that would be."
"And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he's going to be a skirt-chasing womanizer."
The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's foot-steps as he entered the house whistling and heading for his room ..
The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them. Finally, he picked up the Holy Book and placed it under his arm. He picked up the fifty ringgit note and dropped into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink, while he admired the magazine's centerfold.
"God have Mercy," the Old Imam disgustedly whispered. "He's going to be a  Politician!"

I like the story.  With only minor modifications, the father could just as easily be a Texas oilman, a German shopkeeper or a Canadian rancher. 

I did find it interesting that in Wong’s version the father, a Muslim, refers to God rather than Allah.  I guess it’s his way of avoiding a charge of blasphemy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More Border Stuff

It’s remarkable what can be found on the internet.  

The internet is an amazing source of information (along with misinformation and disinformation) on a seemingly  unlimited variety of subjects.

While getting my facts straight for Thursday's Post, I came across the story of the Republic of Indian Stream, something I had never seen or heard of before. 

I would have posted this yesterday, but I was afraid that two serious (even scholarly) posts in a row might prove to be too much for my few regular readers.


Here, with some minor modifications on my part, is the story of the Republic as researched and published by Frank Jacobs:

The territorial history of the US seems pretty straightforward: 13 British colonies on the eastern seaboard secede at the end of the eighteenth century, then follow their ‘Manifest Destiny’ westward, eventually encompassing 50 states by the middle of the twentieth century.

There are, however, ‘territorial anomalies’ that serve as interesting footnotes to this consolidation of empire. One of them is the Republic of Indian Stream: a self-declared (but unrecognized) republic in a ‘grey area’ between the US and Canada, that existed from 1832 to 1835. Although very small and sparsely populated (the ‘Streamers’ never numbered more than about 300), the RoIS boasted a constitution and an elected government.

The ‘grey area’ in which the RoIS was established, resulted from an ambiguity in the Treaty of Paris(1783), which established the border between the newly independent US and the remainder of British North America. It defined the border between the US and (what was to become) Canada in the north of New Hampshire as the northwesternmost head of the Connecticut River. There are however several possibilities, as shown on the map: the heads of Hall’s, Indian and Perry Streams, and Third Lake, the origin of the Connecticut River itself.

Obviously, the US and Britain each interpreted the ambiguity to their maximum advantage, the US considering Hall’s Stream the border between the two states, and Britain opting for the waterway beginning at Third Lake. As a result of this, the area in between was neither here nor there, except for tax purposes. Both the US and Canada sent tax and debt collectors into the area – which annoyed the inhabitants so much that they declared their independence… but only until the Americans and the British could sort out their differences.

Things came to a head when a band of ‘Streamers’ invaded Canada to liberate one of their countrymen from custody. This particular ‘Streamer’ had been arrested by a British sheriff because of an unpaid hardware store debt. The invading posse shot up the judge’s house where their compatriot was held. This caused an international incident – although the idea of a war caused by an unpaid store debt did seem a bit ridiculous.

As the Brits and Yanks agreed to resolve this particular border dispute, the ‘Streamers’ hastily voted to be annexed by the US. The New Hampshire Militia occupied the area shortly thereafter. Britain relinquished its claim in 1836 and the border was established according to the American interpretation of the Treaty of Paris.

The dispute was definitively resolved in 1842 in theWebster-Ashburton Treaty, which mainly dealt with the establishment of the boundary between (what were to become) the US state of Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

Unlike California’s Bear Flag Republic, which with typical California concern for symbolism, only managed to create a flag, the Republic of Indian Stream actually had a constitution, and it makes interesting reading.  You can read their constitution Here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


According to the Uncyclopedia,

“Aibohphobia is a very rare psychological disorder and is characterized by the unusual reaction of fear and rage exhibited by the sufferer upon recognizing a palindrome. It was first discovered by Dr Hans Eresnahrd in 1991 who himself was a chronic sufferer of the disorder. It is now treated with Xanax.”

Typical palindromes include words like kayak or radar, names like Bob, Eve and Anna, or Yreka Bakerythe name of a real business  in Yreka, California - and sentences like     A Toyota’s a Toyota.”  


  • Aerate pet area.
  • Ah, Satan sees Natasha!
  • Evil, a sin, is alive.
  • Gate man sees name, garage man sees name tag.
  • Gnu dung.
  • God’s dog.
  • Goddamn mad dog!
  • Goldenrod-adorned log.
  • Ma is as selfless as I am.
  • Madam, in Eden I’m Adam
  • Nurse, I spy gypsies. Run!
  • Sex at noon taxes.
  • Tulsa night life: filth, gin, a slut.
  • Was it a bar or a bat I saw?
  • Wonton? Not now.

I’m sure you get the picture. 

And you can see why, even though Aibohphobia is not really a psychologically recognized disorder, fooling around with palindromes might actually drive you nuts.


What does this picture have to do with anything?       Well, that’s a Palindromedary.

Friday, January 14, 2011



Everybody recognizes the shape of the State of Texas.

I’m told that you can show that silhouette to illiterate folks as far away as  China or Africa and they can tell you what it represents.  Don’t know if that’s actually true, but it sounds damned impressive.

It is especially impressive if, like me, you attended public schools in Texas and took the required Texas history classes.  If you did, you are aware of how much the shape of Texas has changed over the years.


In 1836, the Republic of Texas looked pretty much like the map above.  Of course the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico didn’t exist yet.  Later maps  from 1841 or so showed Texas claiming much of what is now the western US.

The treaty ending the Texas war of independence had required all Mexican troops to move south of the Rio Grande.  Texas, and later the United States, took that as establishing Texas’ southern border.  Mexico, on the other hand, still claimed a large part of Texas north and east to the Nueces River.  The issue wasn’t resolved until 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo  ended the Mexican-American war and established a permanent boundary.

When Texas joined the Union in 1845, and in the compromise of 1850, the new state gave up most of its panhandle and about half of what is now New Mexico.  Partly in return for the US assuming the debts of the former Republic.  Since Texas entered the union as a slave state,  the northern border of the panhandle was set along a line at 36 degrees, 30 minutes north, because that continued the line of the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

The US originally set the Texas-Louisiana border as the west bank of the Sabine River, but it was eventually set at the center of the waterway.  That’s a small gain after a big loss;  back when Jefferson bought Louisiana from France, the Spanish capitol of Texas was east of the Sabine and Spain claimed the land all the way to the Mississippi at Baton Rouge.

Most of the Texas-Oklahoma border is the Red River.  That sounds pretty simple, but it’s been the subject of some bitter battles is court and almost led to gunfire on a couple of occasions.  Oklahoma claimed the land under the river to the southern bank, and Texas claimed the area to mid-stream.  Up near the panhandle, there are actually three forks of the Red River, and each state wanted to use  the one that gave them the most land.

Actually, nobody really cared that much until oil was discovered near Burkburnett and the property under the river became part of one of the richest oilfields in history.  The original survey was made back in 1858, and in 1919, Texas Rangers drove an Oklahoma oil well testing crew from the disputed banks of the Red River. The crew said they were in Oklahoma, the Rangers said they were in Texas, and the governors agreed to disagree.

When the matter went to the Supreme Court in 1923, the US government got involved and the upshot was that Oklahoma got the land (and mineral rights) to the center of the river, the Texas border was defined as the cut bank (permanent elevation) along the south side of the river, and the US grabbed the rest.

The entire matter wasn't settled until 2000.  In 1999, the legislatures of Texas and Oklahoma signed identical bills defining the border then Governor George Bush signed the bill and the governor of Oklahoma did too. Also agreeing to the Compact were tribal leaders of the neighboring Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Tribes, the Chickasaw Nation, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

That should have settled the matter, but Article 1, section 10 of the US Constitution requires Congress to approve any agreement between states, which they did in 2000.

Oil has played a big part in determining not only Texas’ border with Oklahoma.  It played a huge part in Texas’ claim to offshore rights in the Gulf of Mexico. 

After the battle of San Jacinto, Sam Houston sketched out a map on which the new Republic of  Texas claimed title to the Gulf out to three leagues, that’s 9 nautical or 10.35 statutory miles.  That claim held, and was supported by several treaties and agreements, until President Harry Truman announced that the Federal Government owned all the offshore lands and mineral rights.  The problem with that was there were no federal laws providing for a mechanism to grant and administer offshore leases so exploration came to a screeching halt.  Of course all states that stood to gain from offshore exploration screamed bloody murder and it was heatedly argued in  congress, but nothing was decided. 

Dwight Eisenhower ran on a platform (I’m so tempted to call it an Offshore Drilling Platform, but this is a serious piece.) that promised to return offshore rights to the various states, and Texas eventually got rights to offshore lands to the nine nautical mile limit. 

The UN-sponsored Law of the Sea Treaty, which went into effect in 1994, defines territorial waters of countries as 12 nautical miles  and gives them an  exclusive economic zone out to 200 nautical miles. In 1999, US agencies were empowered by presidential proclamation to enforce American law up to 24 miles offshore, doubling the previous limit.

Of course, 9 is a lot less than 200, or even 24, and even the difference between 9 and 12 means the loss of millions in state revenue, but it could have been a lot worse.  Texas and Florida are the only states who have rights out to nine miles; by law, the rest can only claim three.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

sleeping beauty

That’s real-life Sleeping Beauty Louisa Ball, and her story is no fairy tale.  In case you didn’t hear her story on NBC’s Today Show, here it is:

When 15-year-old Louisa Ball takes a nap, she doesn’t mess around. She sleeps for days on end, and no amount of shaking or prodding can fully wake her up.

The British girl has a rare condition called Sleeping Beauty Sickness, but there’s no Prince Charming on the way to rescue her. Doctors don’t know what causes it or how to cure it — only that it strikes teenagers and goes away by itself after eight to 12 years.

Until it goes away, life is groggy ever after.

Louisa’s mum, Lottie, says that the girl had flulike symptoms just over a year ago. Shortly afterward, she had her first bout of extended sleeping.

She was eventually diagnosed with Kleine-Levin Syndrome, whose victims worldwide may number no more than 1,000. The victims live normally for weeks or months at a time, with normal sleep patterns and normal energy levels. Then, with little warning, they’ll go to sleep for days or weeks at a time. So far, Louisa’s longest bout in bed has been 13 days.

Victims will wake briefly, but be disoriented and not fully alert. Louisa’s parents force her awake so she can use the bathroom and eat.

Lottie Ball recalled her daughter’s first episode. “We couldn’t wake her up,” she told NBC News for a report that aired Friday on TODAY. “It was just really constant ‘Louisa, will you get up, please. Have something to eat.’ She didn’t have the energy to just open her eyelids.”

Now, Louisa’s friends can tell when a bout is coming on. She stops talking and she may be irritable. That’s when she knows she has to get home to her bed.

Louisa has slept through family vacations, the dance recitals she loves to perform in, school tests and big chunks of her social life. When she finally snaps out of an episode, her friends fill her in on what she missed, but it becomes increasingly difficult to catch up on missed schoolwork.

When she’s out, Lottie said, it’s as if she’s not there at all.

“She doesn’t cuddle you. She doesn’t talk to you,” the distraught mother said.

No treatment
Medical science is at a loss to treat the syndrome, according to Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, who is director of the Center for Narcolepsy at Stanford University.

Mignot said it’s possible the syndrome is set off by a viral infection that for some reason affects a teenager’s sleep center and lingers for years.

“We think that some people are genetically predisposed to having an infection that then doesn’t clear up and seems to relapse regularly, and that gives the symptoms of sleeping all the time for days at a time,”

But just as doctors don’t know the cause, they also don’t know why it ends as mysteriously as it began.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What’s In A Name

When I was enrolled in first grade, my name got changed to Robbie (which I hated) because the teacher explained that her class of 30 six-year-olds already contained three kids named Bobby and two named Robert, and she just couldn’t handle any more. 

Nobody asked my opinion, but I can understand her concern.  On the other hand, her dilemma caused me to have to live with that prissy little nickname for years – I actually had to move to a town where nobody knew me before I could shed it.

I wonder what will happen in September, 2016, when a half-dozen Aidens show up to begin their education.

On this year’s annual list of top baby names, Sophia takes the No. 1 spot on the girls list, which drops Isabella to second place. Aiden maintains the top spot on the boys list for the sixth year in a row.

New to the top 10 this year are Abigail and Liam.

BabyCenter's list is based on 350,000 names of babies born in 2010 whose parents registered with the site. It also combines names that sound the same but have different spellings, such as Sophia and Sofia.

1. Sophia, 2. Isabella, 3. Olivia, 4. Emma, 5. Chloe, 6. Ava, 7. Lily, 8. Madison, 9. Addison and 10. Abigail

1. Aiden, 2. Jacob, 3. Jackson, 4. Ethan, 5. Jayden, 6. Noah, 7. Logan, 8. Caden, 9. Lucas and 10. Liam

Compare that list to the top baby names of 2009, according to Social Security Administration statistics released last May.

Girls: 1. Isabella, 2. Emma, 3. Olivia, 4. Sophia, 5. Ava, 6. Emily, 7. Madison, 8. Abigail, 9. Chloe and 10. Mia

Boys: 1. Jacob, 2. Ethan, 3. Michael, 4. Alexander, 5. William, 6. Joshua, 7. Daniel, 8. Jayden, 9. Noah and 10. Anthony

However,'s list of most-searched names for girls puts Charlotte at the top.

The other girls names researched on the site were: 2. Seraphina, 3. Olivia, 4. Elizabeth, 5. Isla, 6. Sophia, 7. Alice, 8. Violet, 9. Lucy and 10. Ava.

The most-researched boys names were: 1. Henry, 2. Finn, 3. Oliver, 4. James, 5. Asher, 6. Jack, 7. Max, 8. Quinn, 9. Jude and 10. Liam.

None of the top ten names – Boys or Girls – were even in the top 20 the year I was born. 

The most popular baby names in the US in 1942 were:

1 James   1 Mary  
2 Robert   2 Barbara  
3 John   3 Patricia  
4 William   4 Linda  
5 Richard   5 Carol  
6 David   6 Sandra  
7 Charles   7 Judith  
8 Thomas   8 Nancy  
9 Ronald   9 Betty  
10 Donald   10 Carolyn  
11 Joseph   11 Sharon  
12 Larry   12 Shirley  
13 Michael   13 Joyce  
14 George   14 Margaret  
15 Kenneth   15 Judy  
16 Jerry   16 Karen  
17 Edward   17 Dorothy  
18 Gary   18 Joan  
19 Paul   19 Janet  
20 Dennis   20 Donna  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Texas Blue

I spend a lot (Honey would say too much) of time on, a forum dedicated to recreational vehicles.

A couple days ago, a member from Indiana posted a query asking for the best times and places to see Texas Bluebells.  He was immediately inundated with replies about Bluebonnets.

across the road

I even posted a few of the pictures I took last year.

It took a member from New Mexico to point out that there really is a flower known as the Texas Bluebell, so just maybe the guy who asked the question really did know what he was asking. 


He posted a link describing Bluebells from the Texas Gardener, and another link to a discussion of Bluebells on  the Wildlower Haven Forum.

He pointed out that the creamery in Brenham OurIceCream_Box_01 doesn’t make Bluebonnet Ice Cream.

bluebells horses



The original poster has not chimed in again, so I’m still clinging to the idea that he was asking about Bluebonnets.

Otherwise – Oops, my bad.

Monday, January 10, 2011


They repainted the stripes on the road in front of the Boggy Thicket last month.  I found that confusing, since the road needed repaving a lot worse than it needed repainting, but I’m not complaining.  It’s nice to see the county hasn’t forgotten we exist.

Painting highway stripes is a thankless and occasionally dangerous job.  I had a friend in college who took a summer job running a striping machine like this one

striping machine 2

He got slapped in the face by the mirror on a passing truck, and spent most of the summer in the hospital.

Now, most highway striping is done with rigs like this:

striping  machine 

That’s undoubtedly safer, but the guys in the trucks are much more likely to do this:

road stripe 

or this:


Or one of these:

road stripe armadilloroad-stripe-possum

Maybe it would be better to just do this:


This is part of the Knitted Mile, a work by artist Robyn Love.

The Knitted Mile was commissioned as part of an exhibition titled Gestures of Resistance: Craft and The Politics of Slowness (curated by Shannon Stratton and Judith Leeman) that happened in conjunction with the College Art Association 2008 conference in Dallas, TX.

Ninety knitters from around North America contributed pieces of TKM. Photographs of each knitter working on their section were included as part of the piece when it was removed from the road and installed in the gallery, Grey Matter.

TKM also was exhibited at PS.122 as part of the exhibition Yarn Theory, curated by Martha Lewis.

Yarn for TKM was generously donated by Lion Brand Yarn.


 The same artist is also responsible for the Water Tower Cozy.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fish Art

Fish Art Texas do


From the Cleveland (Texas) Advocate:

Texas fish art contest seeks entries

Friday, January 7, 2011

Student artists across Texas take notice: It’s time to start preparing your entries for the 2011 Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest.

The contest is open to all students in public, private or home schools and requires submission of a one-page essay and a drawing of an officially recognized state fish. Entry deadline is March 31 each year.

Contest rules, guidelines and entry information can be found at

Support for the Texas division of the contest is provided by the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, which makes it possible for the top three Texas entries in each grade level to win cash prizes. First place in grades 10—12 wins $1,000; second place $750; third place $500. Prizes in the 4—6 and 7—9 grade levels are $100 for first; $75 for second; $50 for third.

Additional support for the contest is provided by Strike King Lures, the William E. Armentrout Foundation and Friends of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.

One outstanding piece of artwork each year is selected for the Art of Conservation Award, and a commemorative stamp featuring the artwork is produced for sale. Proceeds from sales of the stamp are used to fund conservation projects. In 2010 a drawing of a steelhead trout by Liberty High School senior Anh Thu Do was selected as the Art of Conservation winner. The 2011 winner will be unveiled at the national expo to be held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center June 25, 2011.

Winning isn’t a piece of cake;  the competition is fierce.  In addition to the 2010 Texas winner at the top of this story, here are a few others:

Fish art Texas King

This picture of Red Drum by Brady King was the 2010 Texas winner in the 7th to 9th grade division .

Fish art Yi Washington

Last year’s best from the State of Washington, painted by Sharon Yi.

fish art Backus

This large-mouth bass was the work of Allison Backus of Arkansas.  It garnered the prize for the best from her state.

Even in the 4th to 6th grade division the competition is tough.  Just take a look at this entry from Indiana fourth-grader Nathaniel Rowe:


Saturday, January 8, 2011



The term orthorexia derives from the Greek ορθο- (ortho, “right" or "correct”), and όρεξις (orexis, "appetite"), literally meaning a correct diet.

It is a term coined by Steven Bratman, M.D. to describe people who have developed a fixation with healthy eating, and has been described as a mental disorder.  Although it is not yet a medically recognized term, Dr. Bratman claims that in rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death. Even in less severe cases, the attempt to follow a diet that cannot provide adequate nourishment is said to demonstrate low self-esteem as the orthorexic blames themselves rather than their diet for their constant hunger and the resulting cravings for forbidden foods

Here, with some editing, is a post on orthorexia written by dietician Laurie Beebe:

The newest recognized eating disorder is actually not yet medically classified as diagnosable in the classic psychological diagnostic manual (The DSM). Then again, bulimia wasn't officially classified until the 1980's. Orthorexia is a disordered type of eating where the person focuses on avoiding foods and ingredients they believe are bad for them.

In a balanced life, people enjoy foods they like to eat and limit foods that aren't good for them.  Some people, of course, eat what they like regardless of whether it's good for them or not. People with orthorexia do not see food as something enjoyable. They eat because they want to be nourished. They avoid certain fats or additives or food components because they want to be healthy. Ironically this condition leads to poor health in many ways.

Some foods are excluded to the extent that the person may suffer a deficiency of fat, protein, vitamins, or minerals. Usually too much weight is lost and the person suffers some degree of malnutrition. Emotionally, much of the person's time is spent figuring out what to eat, reading labels, reading about the latest "bad" food and feeling near phobic about ingesting something they view as toxic.

Their social life is affected because they can't eat in restaurants and they can't eat what other people might be serving. They become obsessed with healthy eating to the point that it's not healthy anymore.

Signs that someone is orthorexic include focusing hours a day on purchasing and planning meals, staunch avoidance of certain classes of foods (eg, no fat, or no dairy, or no processed food, or no additives), obsessively reading labels, and often having the same food every day for each meal. 

For example, if you should hear someone say, "I have whole grain cooked hot cereal for breakfast with rice milk, organic yogurt and carrot sticks for lunch, grain-fed chicken with brown rice for dinner, and an apple or rice cake if I want a snack". At first glance this may sound healthy, but the diet is actually quite low in calories (less than 800), low in protein (less than 45 grams) and almost devoid of fat and vitamin C.

The majority of orthorexics are women, and unfortunately, it is their determination to eat healthy that has led them into a self-destructive lifestyle.


LAURIE BEEBE has been a registered dietitian for over 25 years. She is Certified in Adult Weight Management through the CDR.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Overweight? Maybe It’s Dad’s Fault


Fighting the Battle of the Bulge?  Could be because your father was a child of the depression era.

A new study shows that if your father (or grandfather) didn’t get enough to eat in his early teens, you may have inherited a modified gene that causes you to store more  FAT

Of course YOU should try to follow a healthy diet (within reason- more on that tomorrow) or you really have no one to blame but yourself.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mr. Air

blowing duck

The letters on his shirt could be his name or they could describe his function.  Either way, a guy who could blow up that many rubber ducks deserves to be known as


In fact, the photo was from a Blog written in Czech or Romanian or some such, so the letters across his back may not represent an English word at all.

The blog’s author is the principal of an elementary school in Eastern Europe. I would mention her name, but I can’t remember the name of her site, and can’t find her URL in my internet browsing history.  Still, I thought the picture was worth sharing.

I’m also amazed that anyone (even in a former Eastern Bloc country with a history of totalitarian rule) could keep that many little kids standing quietly in a straight line.  You try it sometime – keeping a bunch of six-year-olds even figuratively in line is just one step above herding cats.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This Little Light Of Mine

Mr. Edison’s marvelous invention, the incandescent light bulb, is on the way out – heralding the beginning of a new dark age?  Maybe, but probably not.

New federal laws go into effect for the rest of us next year, but as of January 1, are now the law of the land in California:

By Tracy Seipel
Californians can start saying goodbye to traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulbs now that the state has
become the first in the country to require a new standard for the screw-base bulbs.
Experts say the new rules, which took effect New Year's Day, will save residents money and energy. California is
already the nation's leader in energy-efficiency standards.
As of Saturday, what used to be a 100-watt light bulb manufactured and sold in California will have to use 72 watts or less. The 72-watt replacement bulb, also called an energy-saving halogen light, will provide the same amount of light, called lumens, for lower energy cost.
Similar new standards for traditional 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will go into effect in California
over the next few years, with wattages reduced to 53, 43 and 29 respectively.
The new rule does not ban incandescent light bulbs; it just requires those bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more
efficient. And it only affects incandescent light bulbs manufactured in 2011 or later, not those already in use or on store shelves.
The new lights are comparably priced to the regular incandescent lights. A two-bulb package of 100-watt
incandescent bulbs is about $4.32 at Lowe's, while a four-bulb package of new 72-watt halogen bulbs is $8.66, or
$4.33 for two. By contrast, a two-bulb package of energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) is $11.28.
"The 72-watt bulb is improving
Edison's original idea,'' said Adam Gottlieb, a
spokesman for the California Energy Commission.
"Consumers will still have the amount of light they
need for the task at hand,'' said Gottlieb. "But they'll
see lower electricity bills.''
Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the new
regulation "a great thing for consumers." He played
a key role in the development and passage of the
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007,
upon which the new regulation is based.
"The 125-year-old incandescent light bulb is far and
away the least efficient product in our homes, because 90 percent of the electricity is wasted as heat,'' Horowitz said.
The new standard, passed in 2007 by Congress
and signed by President George W. Bush, becomes
effective nationwide on Jan. 1, 2012. But California
and Nevada, which already had energy-efficiency
standards in place for lighting products, were able
to adopt the law earlier. Gottlieb said Nevada legislators could have voted to do so before Dec. 31, 2008, but they let the deadline expire.
California's energy commission said the state's move will avoid the sale of 10.5 million inefficient 100-watt bulbs this year and save consumers $35.6 million in higher electricity bills.
By reducing energy consumption, Gottlieb said, the standard also will reduce air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels in power plants. California's move follows similar laws that have gone into effect recently in Europe and Australia.
Consumers can already purchase the new incandescent bulbs. The Home Depot, the country's largest lighting
retailer, has spent the past few months training sales associates in the lighting departments of its California stores to help customers looking for guidance on the new law, said spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher.
The chain, including its 40 Bay Area locations, also is placing special signs in the lighting aisles that explain the
energy efficiency of different kinds of bulbs, including CFLs. The California Energy Commission says a 23- to 27-watt compact fluorescent bulb provides the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt incandescent bulb while consuming about 75 percent less energy

My personal belief is that the regulations will actually cost consumers more money – when has a regulation ever resulted in cost savings? 

And I doubt if it will save energy – like folks who double-flush the 1.5 gallon toilets, people will just buy and burn more lights.