Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dog Gone

When Democrats tried to make a big deal about Mitt Romney going on vacation with the family dog in a carrier on the roof of the car, right wing talk show hosts countered with Obama’s story from his autobiography about eating dog meat.

Gross?  Maybe, but not that unusual in many places worldwide.  In fact, the Lewis and Clark expedition used dog as a staple on their journey.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tile Day

We’ll be out of the house today and tonight as our tile floors are redone. 

They patched the spots that were dug up by the house leveling crew yesterday.  Today they will stain grout and seal the the whole thing  - once they do, we can’t walk on it for 24 hours. 

Hopefully, our world will be back to what passes for normal sometime tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Election Day

The Texas primary election  - postponed by wrangling in the courts over redistricting – will finally be held today.

If it doesn't accomplish anything else, it will put Mitt Romney over the top as the Republican candidate for President. That won’t make much difference in November; Texas will go to Romney, but the election will be won or lost in the Electoral College, and in a few “battleground” states, notably Florida, Virginia and Ohio.


 Don’t even try to make sense of the electoral college.  As one American articulated the problem: "The present rule of voting for president ... is so great a departure from the Republican principle of numerical equality ... and is so pregnant also with a mischievous tendency in practice, that an amendment of the Constitution on this point is justly called for by all its considerate and best friends."
The speaker’s name was  James Madison.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I didn’t take this picture – it has been knocking around on the internet for a while – but I thought it was appropriate for today.

parade mem day

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It Probably Started In Columbus

Eagle in cemetery

Just across the state line, on either side of Alabama, are the cities of Columbus, Georgia and Columbus, Mississippi.  Both (along with several other cities) claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.

“I have a good friend from Columbus, Georgia, and we go around and around on this,” said Ken P’Pool, the deputy state historic preservation officer in Mississippi. “This goes back a long, long time.”

Columbus, Miss., was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that Columbus where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.

As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son.

A lawyer in Ithaca, N.Y., named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.

“My view is it’s really the poem that inspired the nation,” said retired district attorney, Rufus Ward.

The Georgians dispute little of this. But they argue that the procession in the other Columbus was actually inspired by the events in their Columbus.

Either town can make a strong case for its claim, and most historians agree the decoration of graves of soldiers from both sides of the conflict was started by ladies from the Old South, but somehow Lyndon Johnson designated Waterloo, New York  the official birthplace of Memorial Day by presidential proclamation in 1966.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nature’s Resilience

Our driveway here at the Boggy Thicket isn’t exactly paved. 

We started out with a layer of crushed concrete, and a year or so later added ground asphalt – the stuff those big machines chew off of the highway before repaving. 

You would think that would provide an uninviting, if not downright inhospitable, home for plant life, but out by the road the Bermuda grass has covered all but the tracks where we normally drive.


And in some seldom used turn-around areas, we have wildflowers blooming.


They are small – the bloom is about as big around as a quarter – but there are several growing out of the asphalt.

This morning, about halfway to the street, I saw this:


No idea what it is, but the beautiful, delicate lavender of the blossom made me go grab my camera.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Standing Bear Speaks


Luther Standing Bear

Chief of the Oglala, Lakota (1905-1939)

"We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, the winding streams with tangled growth, as 'wild'. Only to the white man was nature a 'wilderness' and only to him was it 'infested' with 'wild' animals and 'savage' people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery."

"If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural way of my forefathers and that of the... present way of civilization, I would, for its welfare, unhesitatingly set that child's feet in the path of my forefathers. I would raise him to be an Indian!"

"Praise, flattery, exaggerated manners and fine, high-sounding words were no part of Lakota politeness. Excessive manners were put down as insincere, and the constant talker was considered rude and thoughtless. Conversation was never begun at once, or in a hurried manner.

"No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation."

"From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things -- the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals -- and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery.

"Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them. And so close did some of the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends that in true brotherhood they spoke a common tongue.

"The animals had rights -- the right of man's protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man's indebtedness -- and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing. For the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them."

"This concept of life and its relations was humanizing and gave to the Lakota an abiding love. It filled his being with the joy and mystery of living; it gave him reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all."

"The Lakota could despise no creature, for all were of one blood, made by the same hand, and filled with the essence of the Great Mystery. In spirit, the Lakota were humble and meek. 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth' -- this was true for the Lakota, and from the earth they inherited secrets long since forgotten. Their religion was sane, natural, and human."

"The old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man's heart away from Nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon lead to a lack of respect for humans too."

"The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Close the Outhouse Door

A 65-year-old Canadian man had a trip to the outhouse that he’ll never forget.

Gord Shurvell of Winnipeg says he was doing his business when a black bear barged in and attacked him, leaving him with scratches and a head puncture wound, before his friend shot the animal.

He said he and his friend, 63-year-old Daniel Alexander, were on a camping and fishing trip near Dunbar Lake, about 37 miles north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, when the attack happened early Saturday.

He told CBC he went to use the bathroom, leaving the door open so he could enjoy the morning view, when the bear barged in.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fiscally Responsible?


Heard the other day that David Dewhurst, three-time Lieutenant Governor of Texas, has put $6 million of his own money into his Republican primary race for U.S. Senate.  It’s his money, and he has a perfect right to spend it any way he wants, and according to Wikipedia’s estimate of his net worth, he can certainly afford it. 

Still – can’t help but wonder.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Judd for President

What with limited access to news and the net, and everything else going on in our lives right now, I almost missed this story from May 9th.  Not sure how significant it is – whether funny or sad – but right now, I’m leaning toward funny:

Keith Judd, who is serving a 17 1/2-year prison sentence for extortion at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, took 41 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s Democratic primary Tuesday night — 72,000 votes to Obama’s 106,000. He would qualify for convention delegates, if anyone had signed up to be a Judd delegate. (No one did.)

How did Judd get so many votes?

It’s likely not his past careers as a superhero and religious leader. Or his passionate FEC report ramblings. Simply put, West Virginia does not like Obama
Keith Judd got 4 in 10 votes in West Virginia, despite living in a Texas prison. (Anonymous - AP)“I voted against Obama,” a 43-year-old electrician named Ronnie Brown told the AP. His daughter planned to vote for Judd too, until she found out he was in prison. “I just want to vote against Barack Obama,” she said.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state. West Virginia regularly votes in Democratic officials at the state level (its governor and all of its statewide elected officials are Democrats) and narrowly supported Bill Clinton in 1996. But the very rural state has never warmed to the current White House occupant.

“President Obama has no strong political allies in this state. A couple leading Democrats grudgingly support Obama, but say that only when they are asked,” said West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval. “Several are openly hostile to him.”

Obama, not surprisingly, rarely visits the state.

The president angered voters with new Environmental Protection Agency policies, which some see as a “war on coal” and have stalled mining permits for the state’s coal mining industry. Both Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin, both Democrats, have clashed with Obama on the issue, and neither has committed to supporting him in the fall.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On the Level

The foundation repair folks came out Friday to re-level our house.  So far, so good – the house is now level, but not quite ready to move back in.

Carpets are still rolled up in three rooms, and tile has to be replaced in two.  Furniture is moved around and piled up, often several rooms away from where it belongs.  The place looks like a wreck.

Still sleeping in the 5th wheel for the next several days, but at least we can access the kitchen and bathrooms.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Leveling Blues

Major disruption at the Boggy Thicket beginning today.  Olshan Foundation Repair begins re-leveling our house.  This requires pulling up carpets and knocking out tile in several rooms to make holes in the foundation inside the house. 

Once they are through, there is major clean-up and repair – including the repairing the damage they do fixing the foundation. 

Looks like we’ll be camping in the back yard for a while.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Home Again

spi koa

Back home after a short trip to South Padre Island.  The picture above is the view of the Laguna Madre and the Highway 100 bridge from our campsite in the KOA.

Postings may continue to be intermittent for the next week or so.  We’re having the house re-leveled later this week and may be “Camping” in the trailer in the back yard for a while.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Go Figure

There’s an old saying that goes “Figures lie and liars figure.”

Without sounding too cynical, I would have to say that this is one generalization that I can totally accept.

Whether its old wives tales, political rhetoric or what passes these days for news, we are constantly coming in contact with numbers that purport to prove an assertion.

Here’s a favorite example – Whether speaking of termites, hummingbirds or Apaches in ambush, the speaker claims “if you see one, there are (pick any large number) that you don’t see.”  Or, stated mathematically - If Xv=1, then Xt= (X+1)n where X= termites, etc., v is number seen, t is total, and n is any number pulled out of thin air.

The claim cannot be proven, but it is just as impossible to disprove. If said often enough, and with sufficient confidence, the assertion  will be accepted as fact by 99% of the population.

The discerning reader will note that I just made the same kind of statement. I have no idea what the actual percentage is, but that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wish I’d Known

ge garage

GE Garages - I wish there had been some advance P-R about this.  I didn’t learn of the event until the tents had folded and they were headed out of town.

Located right on the edge of Rice University, by the school's football stadium, GE set up shop with three main attractions. The main event? Shipping containers transformed into a manufacturing site with everything from a laser cutter to a 3D printer to a molding machine.

Originally introduced in Austin at SXSW, these garages hit the road to educate and have teamed up with major companies — Quirky, TechShop, Skillshare and Autodesk. The two-week pit-stop in Houston just ended. Up next: San Francisco.

GE's aim is to bring technology enthusiasts together and excite the local community to learn about the latest, cutting-edge equipment that's shaping the future of manufacturing and design. The company also wants to promote and celebrate inventors, entrepreneurs or any aspiring builder who wants to dive into innovation.


I would have been particularly excited to see the Makerbot 3D printer. Primarily used for rapid prototyping and the creation of plastic objects from CAD (computer-aided design) files.

"You just insert an SD card on the side of the printer and the downloaded file will blow up from the ground up with ABS plastic," according to tour guide Cassandra Castaneda. In the picture, you can see a Pokemon Pikachu  in the process of coming to life.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sometimes It’s Right to Write Wrong

I started yesterday’s post with “A pair of grandfathers are…”

I knew it was wrong when I did it, but I couldn’t help myself. It all comes down to proximity, and how the sentence sounds when read/spoken aloud.

I know that the subject of the sentence was pair which, even though it indicates more than one, is a singular noun. Grandfathers, as used in this sentence, is the object of a preposition and the verb should match the subject.

In a sentence like “A flock of sheep is…” it’s easy enough to do, since sheep could be singular or plural, but “A flock of blackbirds” screams for a plural verb - it’s almost impossible to write is instead of are.

I know all this because of my fifth grade teacher,  Winnie Simpson. I was in her first elementary school class after her years as a college English professor. I couldn’t tell you what else I learned that year but By God, we learned English. She had us diagramming compound and complex sentences, and we all knew the difference between objective, subjective and subjunctive.

I still write “I was” and “If I were” because of her influence, and I know which verb is correct in cases like those mentioned above. I just can’t force myself to write something that sounds so wrong.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reward with Swings Attached


A pair of grandfathers in Arizona are offering a $100 reward for the return of their grandson’s swing.  A bug bull elk got his antlers caught in the swing and took off with it, seat, chains and all.


Here’s the story from AZ

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- There is a wanted poster making the rounds in Flagstaff that has many people doing a double-take.

The poster features a picture of an elk with a child's swing tangled in his antlers. The people who made it are offering a $100 reward for the return of their grandson's swing, but it must be attached and knotted to the antlers as shown in the picture.

Perhaps the swing has sentimental value, or they just want it back with the antlers because it would be a good conversation piece.

In any case, it's quite possible the swing could end up back where it came from. But don't worry; the elk will not have to be harmed for that to happen.

According to Shelly Shepherd with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, "We suspect he probably dropped his antlers like all elk do during the spring and he's probably a happy camper now that he doesn't have that extra baggage."

Shepherd said it is legal to go out into the forest and pick up antlers that have been dropped by elk and deer naturally during the springtime.

There is a market for antler sales not only in Arizona but across the United States, according to Shepherd, who offered this advice for antler hunters, "You are going to find more antlers if you get off your ATV or out of your vehicle and actually go hiking to look for antlers."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Help Wildflowers – Take A Leek

Heritage Auctions in Dallas will host an auction on May 12 featuring a variety of items that belonged to Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.  All proceeds will go to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center.

Items range from very impressive to remarkably tacky, like this Limoges box in the form of a leek:

limoges leekItems can be viewed, and on line bids will be accepted HERE .

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pawn Star

cool story

Since we retired, Honey and I enjoy watching an hour or two of television in the afternoon. 

If you stay home, or you’ve ever been off sick, you probably know that there really isn’t much worth watching in the afternoon, even if you have satellite or cable.  You may have 200 channels to choose from, but most of the options are junk.

One solution we’ve found is a show called Pawn Stars on the History Channel.  I can’t explain the appeal, but it is there.  It is the highest rated show on the channel, and one of the highest rated on cable TV.  It has spawned at least one spin-off and several imitators have popped up on other channels, but none of them are nearly as much fun to watch.

Honey sets the DVD to record the shows at night, and we watch them at our convenience, usually about 3:00 p.m.

The picture above is only funny if you’ve seen the show.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Elvis Was Wrong


A friend posted something on Facebook this morning about peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I suppose they are okay – Elvis supposedly loved them – but I could never bring myself to eat one.

It all goes back to seventh grade at Hamilton Jr. High. My hall locker was immediately above the one assigned to a kid whose mother made him peanut butter and banana sandwiches almost every day. After three or four hours in a ninety degree locker, the oils in the sandwich would combine to form an aromatic ester (Isopentylacetate and/or something else) that smelled like a combination of airplane glue and lacquer.  The stuff was undoubtedly flammable, possibly psychedelic, and would knock a buzzard off a gut wagon.

The fumes literally made me sick every time I went to my locker and I finally had to get my locker assignment changed. My new locker was on the bottom row, and not even on the same floor as my home room, but it was worth it.