Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ferris Wheel

klan on a wheel

I came upon this picture on the internet yesterday, and for the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been trying to define what I think/how I feel about it.

My source for the picture said it was taken in Cañon City, Colorado in the 1920s.  The owner of the amusement park was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and invited his fellow Klansmen for a day at the park. 

I have a friend who disputes that.  He claims the story is a fake, and the picture is actually a still from a scene cut from the Mel Brooks’ movie, History of the World- Part One.

Either way, I guess the main lesson I take from this photo is how insidious hatred and bigotry can be.  We think of the KKK in terms of cross burnings and hangings, when the majority of their time had to have been  spent in ordinary, everyday pursuits. 

Still, how odd to think of them having a harmless good time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Sign That I Could Do Without

red wasp

Never mind the early-blooming Azaleas, Oak trees leafing out and the Redbuds blooming in the woods, an absolutely sure sign of spring I saw this week- and one I would happily do without – is the appearance of Polistes carolina.

These are large red wasps with a vicious sting and a bad attitude.  They are extremely territorial and aggressive and they love to nest in attics and under the eaves of houses. 

They are also damn near impossible to kill.  A direct hit with any name-brand wasp and hornet spray may knock them to the ground, but more often than not, a few seconds later they are back in the air and looking for a fight. 

We have nests inside the eaves on both our house and garage, and all attempts to eradicate them have been fruitless.  Short of burning the house down, I don’t think anything will get rid of them, and I’m not even sure that would do the job.

You do not have to be physically attacking them to stir their ire.  Often your first indication a red wasp is around is a searing pain on the back of your neck or shoulder.  Unlike honey bees, this isn’t a suicide mission for the wasp – she (only the females have stingers) can and will sting you more than once if you let her.  The venom is so powerful that the tissue at the center of the sting will often necrose in a day or two.

First aid for stings is ice and/or a poultice made with baking soda and water.  Benedryl – oral, topical, or both – is also a good idea. 

Nothing helps very much; it’s still going to hurt like Hell.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not Kinky

ely parker

No, that’s not another picture of Kinky Friedman – More about who it is later.

Perhaps because of the Lincoln series on PBS, and Daniel Day Lewis winning at Sunday night’s Oscars, I got to wondering what the American Indians did about the War Between the States.  I have learned that they fought on both sides; some tribes, like some Anglo families, splitting down the middle.

On the Southern side tribes like the Choctaw and the Cherokee formed their own units, while in the Union Army, Native Americans were more likely to be  added to established “Colored” regiments.  A member of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, for example, was just about as likely to be of Iroquois ancestry as African.

Back to the picture - 

The man in the photograph is Ely Parker, a Seneca lawyer and a Union General.  He is the man who wrote the terms of surrender signed by Robert E. Lee.  At Appomattox, Lee is said to have remarked to Parker, “I am glad to see one real American here”, to which Parker replied, “We are all Americans.”

Asa-Luke Twocrow, an Oglala Sioux, was working behind the scenes as a rigger on Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln film when he was cast as Parker.  He called playing Parker a great honor, saying "As a Native American, he did a lot of things -- working as a lawyer, an engineer -- and achieved what many Native Americans were striving for, to be recognized as an intelligent human being."

Parker was one of two Native Americans who reached the rank of Brigadier General during the Civil War. 

The other was on the Confederate side.

stand watie

Stand Watie, a Cherokee chief, was considered to be the an expert at guerilla warfare, and the most successful Confederate commander West of the Mississippi. 

He achieved one of his greatest successes at Pleasant Bluff, Arkansas on June 10, 1864, capturing the Union steamboat J.R. Williams. which was loaded with supplies valued at $120,000. At the Second Battle of Cabin Creek, (Indian Territory), Watie’s cavalry brigade captured 129 supply wagons and 740 mules, took 120 prisoners, and left 200 casualties

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kinky Again?


Kinky Friedman appeared at the Lakewood Medallion Discount Liquors in Dallas this past weekend to sign bottles of his Man In Black Tequila.

While there, he confirmed to reporters that he is considering a possible run for Governor.

More than six years after losing the race for governor, the singer, songwriter and novelist said he's considering another run.  Friedman ran as an independent in the 2006 general election, and he received more than 12 percent of the vote.  He also ran in 2009, but dropped out early in favor of former Houston mayor, Bill White.

Between signing bottles and schmoozing customers, Kinky also shared his plan to solve the state's budget problems:

"I would campaign very hard to legalize casino gambling," Friedman said. "And to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. If we can accomplish those two things, we won't be talking about any kind of taxes for 30 years."

I suspect that like many of his songs, many of his political statements are made for shock appeal, but he is fun and refreshing.  I don’t know if he could govern – or would even want to – but he does add zest to Texas politics.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

No Keyboard – Press F1

keyboard error

OK, the picture is fuzzy and blurry, but it’s the best I can do. 

I pulled it from an on-line video on how to fix the problem just to prove that

  • I actually got this screen yesterday, and
  • It’s not all that uncommon

The message I got was only slightly different.  It said




Uh, excuse me? 

Isn’t F1 on the keyboard? 

And pushing F1 on an unconnected keyboard is going to help how?????

I saw this screen when I first turned the computer on after the crash I mentioned in yesterday’s post had been corrected.  As near as I can tell, it occurred because the computer was looking for an old-style PS2 style keyboard, and our keyboard connects via a USB port.

I turned the pc off, double checked all the connections and turned it on again.  The message showed up again, but timed out after a while.  Then the computer continued its boot up sequence and after finding “new hardware” (the mouse and the keyboard) everything works fine.

Apparently, it is not always that easy.  That screen shot was from a video featuring a teenaged computer geek explaining what to do when it isn’t.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Life After Blue Death

We had a momentary power failure yesterday afternoon – just long enough to have to reset the digital clocks, and for DirecTV to have to go through an extended boot-up sequence.  I was using my laptop on line at the time, and didn’t even lose my network connection.

The Dell pc in our office wasn’t so lucky.  Even though it was “protected” by a line conditioner, it looks like that failure (or the power surge that caused it) fried our computer’s brain.

When we first turned the computer back on, we got the dreaded blue screen saying Windows was shutting down to prevent further damage and to check the BiOs.  Turning the pc off and back on resulted in a black screen with scrolling garbage.  I could not get into a DOS screen or Safe mode no matter which f-key I pounded, or how often.

In desperation, I took it back home to the guy that built it, and we got lucky.  He noticed the word MEMORY was recurring on the junk scrolling down the screen.  He opened the case and removed one DDR memory stick – picked the bad one on the first try – and the computer booted up normally.

Replaced the bad memory and added some more while we were in there anyway. Now the computer is better than ever.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Say It Wrong Long Enough, And

Fooling around on the internet can occasionally lead to some interesting information.  One of my favorite sources is which was the source of this list of words that came to be because people got them wrong:

1. Pea

Originally the word was "pease," and it was singular. ("The Scottish or tufted a good white Pease fit to be eaten.") The sound on the end was reanalyzed as a plural 's' marker, and at the end of the 17th Century people started talking about one "pea." The older form lives on in the nursery rhyme "Pease-porridge hot, pease-porridge cold…"

2. Cherry

The same thing happened to "cherise" or "cheris," which came from Old French "cherise" and was reanalyzed as a plural. So the singular "cherry" was born.

3. Apron

"Apron" also came into English from Old French and was originally "napron" ("With hir napron feir..She wypid sofft hir eyen.") But "a napron" was misheard often enough as "an apron" that by the 1600s the "n" was dropped.

4. Umpire

Umpire lost its 'n' from the same sort of confusion. It came to English from the Middle French "nonper," meaning "without peer; peerless" ("Maked I not a louedaye bytwene god and mankynde, and chese a mayde to be nompere, to put the quarel at ende?") A nompere or an ompere? The n-less form won out.

5. Newt

The confusion about which word the 'n' belonged to could end up swinging the other way too. A newt was originally an "ewt" ("The carcases of snakes, ewts, and other serpents."), but "an ewt" could easily be misheard as "a newt," and in this case, the 'n' left the "an" and stuck to the the "newt."

6. Nickname

The 'n' also traveled over from the "an" to stick to "nickname," which was originally "ekename," meaning "added name."

7. Alligator

Alligator came to English from the Spanish explorers who first encountered "el lagarto" (lizard) in the New World. While the big lizards were for a time referred to as "lagartos," the "el" accompanied often enough that it became an inseparable part of the English word.

All example quotes come from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Here’s Your Sign - Again

I did not take any of these pictures – in fact, I haven’t even seen any of these in person – just stole them off the internet, but here are a few more signs worth reposting.  Each of them has something to do with water.

hot pond 


And the one I’m sure I would appreciate the most:

beckyfalls sign

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Early Spring

azaleas3  2-15-13

It’s almost unanimous; the plants here at the Boggy Thicket have voted for an early spring. 

Most of our azaleas are in full bloom – almost a month ahead of schedule.  The saucer magnolias are blooming, too.

The one hold-out is the camellias.  They are full of buds, but although they usually bloom several weeks before the azaleas, only a few blooms have opened.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blues Bird


It was 6:00 a.m. and I was just outside our back door having my first cigarette of the day.  The sky was overcast and the predawn light was just bright enough to view everything in monochrome.

Directly above me in the big oak tree a bird began to call.  I won’t say sing, because his unchanging, repetitive call was harsh, almost grating.  I first wrote monotonous, but  it was not.  His call was a multiple tone, the kind of minor-key bottle-neck blues chord that might have been played by Manse Lipscomb on a slack-string guitar.

 I couldn’t see him well enough to identify the species, but he was about the size of a blue jay, and – at least from my perspective – he was ungainly, with a head a bit too large for his body. 

He continued his cry as the skies brightened, but before I could see him as anything but a silhouette, he flew away.

As he left, I found myself thinking about the Blues.


Monday, February 18, 2013


Much of the time, I find various animal rights groups to be well-intentioned but misguided, and some of the most outspoken of them  hold positions I find ridiculous and offensive.

That being said, sometimes they are on the side of the angels. 

Take the example of Bear Baiting, a “sport” that is still legal in Pakistan and in South Carolina, and almost nowhere else.

There is a petition drive to urge South Carolina to end this practice.  You can add your voice Here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Precinct Roulette

I got a jury summons on Saturday.  It was for the Justice of the Peace Court of Don Coffey in Baytown.

That’s not right, I thought. 

Our JP has always (since 1983) been Tom Lawrence in Humble.  Honey and I have both had jury duty in his court – either in the old courtroom in downtown Humble or the new one on Will Clayton Parkway.  I’ll admit that I’ve voted a straight ticket in the last few elections, but the last time I voted for a JP, Tom is the one who got my vote. 

It turns out that although we haven’t moved our JP court has.

jp map

For purposes of justice, we are now in Harris County Precinct 3.

This bears no relation to the Commissioners’ Court precincts:

  com map

Although recently readjusted to give each Commissioner’s precinct approximately one million residents, the new lines still have us in Precinct 4.  There was a bit of politics involved in drawing these boundaries, and the shapes – especially of Precinct 1 and 2 – remind me of how the term Gerrymander came to be.

The JP map has twice as many precincts and follows the same boundary lines as the Constable Precincts:

comnstable map


Saturday, February 16, 2013


    Thursday evening, Honey and I saw a genuine UFO -

  • U(nidentified) – We think it was a meteor, but really have no idea what the Hell it was.
  • F(lying) – It was moving across the sky at a high rate of speed  about 35 degrees above the horizon.
  • O(bject) – It was something.

I posted this on Facebook

Anybody else just see a big flaming something in the sky?

Heard a boom about 6:18 p.m. Looked to the west and saw something with a flaming tail headed southbound and descending slowly. DA14 isn't due til tomorrow and not supposed to get close enough to enter the atmosphere. Don't know WHAT we saw, but we followed it for a few minutes until it went out of sight.

I got several replies, but nothing to indicate that anyone else had seen what we saw.

I even contacted our local weatherman:

    Bob Couchposted to - David Paul KHOU

  • Yesterday at 6:18 p.m. my wife and I saw what we are pretty sure was a meteor. Not the one that hit Russia - the time doesn't work - but a big flaming something in the western sky traveling on a north to south trajectory. I posted on Facebook and watched the news but haven't seen any other mentions. I wish we had been able to get a picture. Did you get any reports of this?

The video he was referring to is This One, which was in one of the replies to  my Facebook post.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Shanna and boys

Today marks seven years since we lost our beloved daughter, Shanna Leigh Couch Robinson, to cancer. 

The pain and sadness is still there, though I find that I am able to focus more on the good times now.  There is not a day when I do not miss her, but this anniversary is always a hard day for her mother and I.

Her memory, and the sense of loss will always be with us.

Thursday, February 14, 2013



Here at the Boggy Thicket, we haven’t had much luck viewing celestial events lately.  Recent meteor showers and lunar eclipses have been obscured by heavy clouds, and now tomorrow’s big event – the near-earth passage of a huge asteroid known as DA14 – will only be visible on the other side of the earth. 

The 150-foot object will pass within 17,000 miles of the Earth. NASA scientists insist there is absolutely no chance of a collision as it passes, but commentary, real-time imagery and a telescopic view of the asteroid can all be seen by computer.

A half-hour commentary broadcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will be available online starting at 11 a.m. PST (9 a.m. here) via NASA TV and streamed live online at and

Near real-time imagery of the asteroid's flyby before and after its closest approach -- made available to NASA by astronomers in the dark skies of Australia and Europe, weather permitting -- will be streamed beginning about 9 a.m. PST (7a.m. Central) and continuing through the afternoon at this website:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Triumph Or …..


The ship on the horizon is the Carnival Cruise Line’s Triumph, being towed across the Gulf of Mexico to Mobile, Alabama.  The ship was returning to Galveston from the Yucatan when an on-board fire last weekend  left the ship - and its 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members – adrift.

Those on board have been dealing with the effects of no power – no running water, no sanitary facilities, no air conditioning, etc. – since the fire.

A search of multiple on-line sources gave no reason (other than gulf currents) for choosing Mobile rather than towing the ship back to Galveston, but the decision adds extra aggravation for passengers and a lot of expense for the cruise line. 

Carnival has booked hotel rooms for Thursday night and charter flights to Houston for all passengers.  They have announced that they will be giving full refunds and a voucher for a future cruise for each passenger.

Once the news of the Triumph’s problems hit the news, Carnival pulled the commercial below from the airwaves.  Probably because – like me – too many people would choose the bear.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Another Piece of Cake

Yesterday’s post brought back an unpleasant memory, but it also brought an insight with it.

When I turned forty, I was in a very bad position.  I was half owner of a business that was draining all my resources; stuck with an amoral  partner who was shoving all of our income up his nose. 

We were strangers who had each been given the opportunity to acquire half of the business from the previous owner on the theory that we would be good for each other. 

God, was he wrong.

Here’s where the cake comes into the story:

On my fortieth birthday, my partner threw me a surprise party at work, complete with a stripper and a cake that was an anatomically correct, if overly well endowed, female torso.  The cake featured molded chocolate body parts and shredded cocoanut pubic hair.  I thought the whole thing was immature, embarrassing, and downright offensive.

Thinking back, I realize this may have been the only truly good thing he ever did for me.   I’ve come to understand that, misguided as it was, he gave me exactly what he would have wanted for his birthday.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Piece of Cake

Want something really weird to serve at your birthday party?  How about a baby’s head?

choc baby heads

Crafted from white chocolate by British baker Annabel de Vetten, they are just one of the strange offerings at her Conjurer’s Kitchen.  Other treats include marshmallow brains


and various anatomically correct (dissected) body parts.

You can place your orders or see more of her work at Conjurer's Kitchen

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chinese RV Show

For some reason, I still think of China in terms of rickshaws, bicycles and people on foot – and, thanks to Tianamen Square, if I do think of motorized transportation, I picture tanks.

Obviously, my opinion needs to be updated. 

Airstream recently announced plans to  market their  line of RVs in China.  Airstream said its three new dealers in China, located in Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, will service a “burgeoning population of consumers that are discovering the RV lifestyle.” 

Chinese government plans call for some 400 to 500 recreational vehicle campgrounds will be built in Shanghai, and other cities in the Yangtze River Delta Region by the end of 2020

beijing rv 

The 6th Beijing International RV and Camping Exhibition will be held from March 21-24 in Fangshan, representing the largest RV show in China.

The event, held in the Beijing RV Expo Center, is hosted by the Beijing Tourism Development Commission, People’s Government of Fangshan and the Beijing China RV & Camping Association. A trade day will be held on March 21 followed by three public days.

Organizers report that exhibits will include a range of motorized and towable RVs along with RV parts and accessories, outdoor/camping products and representatives from campgrounds and parks.

The Beijing International RV and Camping Exhibition launched in 2010. Last year’s show ran from Aug. 8-12, concurrent with the China RV and Camping Rally, and featured more than 100 exhibitors and 400 RVs on site while attendance totaled around 30,000.

For what it’s worth, I did a little research just to see how wrong I was, and I’m not sure that I was that far off. 

According to China Daily, the highest paid workers in China are employed in the financial sector in Shanghai.  Their salaries average just over 70,000 Yuan  ($11,200 in US dollars) per year, while the average farmer gets by on about $2,600.

Median income in China doesn’t even put it in the world’s top 35 countries, and according to a CNN report on the booming Chinese middle class,  being middle-class in China often means earning at or below what's considered the poverty line in America.

Still,  considering the much lower cost of Chinese life, living standards there aren't all that bad.  The average city resident can afford to rent a 700-square-foot apartment, spend 35% of their income on food, and still put 20% aside in savings, as is customary in China.

I could not find statistics on RVs, but statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security show that the number of registered motor vehicles in China reached 233 million by the end of June, 2012.  That  includes 114 million automobiles and 103 million motorcycles. 247 million people had a valid driver’s license. 

Over 3/4 of the automobiles,  86.13 million of them are privately owned.

Auto ownership exceeded 1 million in 17 Chinese cities. Five of them, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Tianjin, have more than 2 million auto registrations.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Missy Gets Reviewed

Missy Porter Cover1

I was notified this morning by Smashwords that my novel has been reviewed, and they have added the review to the on-line description. 

Here is what they posted:

Review by: Cheryl Ischy on Feb. 07, 2013 : star star star star
This book was very good. It was easy to read and kept your interest throughout.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Hopefully, this favorable review will sell a few more more copies.  I never planned to get rich on the book, and just having it there lets me claim to be a published author.  Still, anyone wants their babies to achieve success.

Should I feel guilty that the reviewer is my daughter? 

I wondered about that and decided it’s certainly no worse than the paperback publisher who prints a list of glowing one-phrase quotes from their entire stable of authors extolling a book they may or may not have read.  At least I know she read the book.

I may as well close this with a sales pitch.  If you haven’t read it yet, you can find my book  HERE.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Eve Was A Rat

If Creationists were offended by science saying we were “descended from monkeys,” imagine how pissed off they are going to be now. 

A news story this morning says great-grandma looked like a possum and was the size of a rat.

Scientists believe they've identified the common ancestor that links human beings with all other placental mammals: a rat-sized creature that lived on insects.

University of Florida researchers analyzed the anatomy of living and fossil primates, including lemurs, monkeys and humans, as well as their closest living relatives, flying lemurs and tree shrews. And contrary to a commonly held theory, they say, the group diversified wildly after the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

"With regards to evolution, it's critical to understand the relationships of living and fossil mammals before asking questions about 'how' and 'why,' " says Jonathan Bloch of the Florida Museum of Natural History.

"This gives us a new perspective of how major change can influence the history of life, like the extinction of the dinosaurs - this was a major event in Earth's history that potentially then results in setting the framework for the entire ordinal diversification of mammals, including our own very distant ancestors."

A visual reconstruction of the creature was made possible with the help of a  cloud-based, publicly accessible database called MorphoBank.

Researchers recorded observational traits for 86 placental mammal species, including 40 fossil species. The resulting database contains more than 12,000 images that correspond to more than 4,500 traits detailing characteristics like the presence or absence of wings, teeth and certain bones, type of hair cover and brain structures.

The team reconstructed the anatomy of the common ancestor by mapping the traits most strongly supported by the data. These suggest a two-horned uterus, a brain with a convoluted cerebral cortex and a placenta in which maternal blood came in close contact with membranes surrounding the fetus, as in humans.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Coffee-Cup Theory

full cup

I have learned over the years that if I fill my coffee cup too full – literally to the brim – that I can make it from the counter to the table without spilling any if I just pick it up and walk.  If I look at it, the coffee will start swirling and sloshing, and I’m guaranteed to spill some before I’ve gone two steps.

It seems that life is a lot like that. 

As I grow older, I have become much more aware of how I feel, and consequently I feel a lot of aches and pains that I never noticed before. 

Senior Citizen status, coupled with several common conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. have forced me to become more aware of my body.  That, in itself, is probably a good thing, but when added to the extra time retirement brings, it can easily lead to obsessive behavior or at least over reaction.

I am sure that the little aches that cause me to decide I don’t feel like doing some thing or another are nothing new.  I was just too busy living to notice before, so they never slowed me down.

So – I’ve decided that I will continue to take my pills,  cooperate with Honey on  diet and exercise regimens, but – as much as possible – I’m going to quit looking at the cup.

Of course, it is sometimes wise to take a sip or two before walking with your coffee.  Not sure how that fits into my little metaphor, but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tied Up


Sure, it’s true that you can’t please everybody all of the time, but sometimes a little more thought might be in order.

Enterprise Florida, a public-private joint venture that promotes business development in the state, spent $380,000 to come up with its first branding logo. What they got was a major controversy.

The problem? That bright orange men's necktie in place of the letter "i" in "Florida."

Florida news sites and Facebook lit up after the logo was unveiled last week.

"I don't think a man's necktie represents all that Florida's business community has to offer," Katherine Yanes, president of the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers, told The Tampa Tribune.

Susan Stackhouse, chief executive of Stellar Partners of Tampa, which runs retail concessions at airports, told the Tampa Bay Business Journal: "Isn't that special? It's clearly a strong visual that business and men go together."

Even those who are not die-hard feminists point out that neckties are not all that common in Florida where most business have dropped ties from their dress codes.  The most common business attire in the state is “business casual.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


lillibild71-2 bild lilli

She looks like Barbie, the all-American doll, but it isn’t.  That’s Bild Lilli, a German cutie who preceded Barbie by several years.

Lilli was originally a cartoon character created by German cartoonist Reinhard Beuthien for a "filler" on June 24, 1952 for the newspaper Bild-Zeitung in Hamburg, Germany.  She became very popular as a curvy gal who knew what she wanted and went about her business to get it.  If not actually a prostitute,  Lilli was a gold-digger.  She liked expensive jewelry and fancy clothes, and she did have a knack for attracting wealthy men.

A short time later Reinhard decided to produce a doll based on his character and it was the Hausser/Elastolin company that created and produced the Bild Lilli doll.

Lilli was first sold in Germany on  August 12, 1955. At first, she was usually found in smoke shops and marketed to men, with outfits including the see-through negligee above .  Later, she got some more respectable clothing and was marketed through toy stores to little girls.

barbie1 lilli_face1

If Barbie wasn’t an outright copy, you’ll have to admit that the resemblance is still remarkable.  That’s the original Barbie from 1959 on the left, and Lilli (circa 1955) on the right.


Monday, February 4, 2013

And Now A Word From….

The Super Bowl has become the place to display not only the best football teams the NFL has to offer, but also the best efforts of America’s top ad agencies. 

With commercials going for upwards of $4 million each, your spot had better be good – or so bad that it’s memorable.

It may not have been this year’s best, but maybe the funniest (and certainly the most prophetic considering the outcome of the game) was this from Tide laundry detergent:

The Budweiser Clydesdales have a long-standing tradition of being the best of the best.  This year’s ad lived up to the tradition:

The late Paul Harvey’s tribute to the American Farmer, sponsored by Ram trucks, was a real show stopper.  A full two minutes, it was not even mentioned in the Washington Post's list of the best commercials (or, for that matter, in their list of the worst) but early this morning it was running neck-and-neck with the Budweiser ad as the fan favorite on Twitter.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Big Thicket Mystery

I’ve mentioned before that my home is located at the Northeast corner of Harris County, where Harris, Montgomery and Liberty Counties meet.  It is at the Southwest edge of an area know as the Big Thicket; an area of dense woods and swamps that is almost impenetrable in places.

Historically, the Big Thicket has claimed its share of hunters, explorers, etc.  I used to think that was a thing of the past, but in the past year three men have vanished in the area without a trace.  These men were practically neighbors – one lived just north of me in Plum Grove, another just south in Crosby, and the third just east of here off Hwy 321.

For three families waiting for answers, the forbidding woods and bogs of north Liberty County seem to have swallowed their fathers up.

"How can people be swallowed whole and never seen again like this? This is crazy," said Kimberly Rogers, whose father, Dennis, was the last of the three men to disappear nearly 10 months ago.

When she tried to put out fliers for him, she was rebuffed by store clerks who thought she had already been there. The clerks were confused by fliers posted earlier for the other two missing men.

"It's more than weird. It's unbelievable," said Amanda Rhineburger, whose father, Mark, was reported missing four weeks before Kimberly's.

David Rogers, whose father, Edwin, was the first to be reported missing more than a year ago on Jan. 6, can't believe someone hasn't come forward with a single clue leading to their whereabouts.

All three men vanished over a 10-week span within a 20-mile radius of one another. They were not only fathers but also grandfathers who kept in regular contact with family, not the types to wander far from home.

Two of the missing - Edwin Rogers and Mark Rhineburger - mysteriously vanished after abandoning their vehicles along roadways with the keys still in them. The third, Dennis Rogers, disappeared while on his daily walk with his last cell phone call giving a "pinged" location in the middle of a remote swampy area.

Although two of the missing were named Rogers, none of the men are related. Their bank accounts and credit cards have remained untouched since they disappeared.

Anyone with information about the three missing men should contact the Liberty County Sheriff's Department at 936-336-4500. The missing are:

 Edwin Clark Rogers: Reported missing Jan. 6, 2012

 Mark Rhineburger: Reported missing Feb. 15, 2012

 Dennis Rogers: Reported missing March 8, 2012

Saturday, February 2, 2013

One of the Boys


It looks like a typical male lion, but he’s a she.

Though uncommon, maned lionesses have been regularly sighted in the Mombo area of Botswana‘s Okavango Delta (including the individual pictured here), where the lion population may carry a genetic disposition toward the phenomenon, according to Luke Hunter, president of the big-cat conservation group Panthera.

Scientists don’t know for sure, but theorize that if a lion mother had abnormally high androgens during pregnancy, her female offspring might end up “masculinized”—a situation that occurs occasionally in people but which is rarely observed in wild animals.  They doubt if such females are fertile.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Once Upon A Mattress

spa sensations

It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but ten years ago we invested in some very expensive mattresses.  They were top of the line pillow-top models from a major manufacturer that cost over a thousand dollars each.  A big selling point was that they had extra support in the center so they would never sag. 

They were fine for a while, but old age – theirs and ours – had taken its toll.  Like me, they had begun to sag in the middle and no longer offered a good night’s sleep.

We had been considering several possibilities for replacement, and dreading the expense, when I came across a post on the forum that led me to investigate the Spa Sensations brand memory foam mattress from Wal-Mart. 

This mattress features three separate layers of foam – each with its own specific purpose – ranging from very firm to very soft. Even more important, the price was in hundreds - not thousands - of dollars.

When they arrived, we wondered if there had been a mistake.  It was a little hard to believe we had received what we ordered.  A 12 inch, full bed mattress weighs 67 lbs, but it comes in a box that is about 20 inches square by about 3 1/2 feet long.  It is amazing to watch, but once out of the box, and the bag inside of the box, it grows to its full dimensions within a couple of hours. 

Hauling the old mattresses out and getting the new ones installed yesterday left us both a bit tired and sore, so I wasn’t sure that last night would be a fair test.  But, this morning we compared notes, and Honey and I both agree that we had the best night’s sleep in years.