In Raton Pass, New Mexico, enjoying the cool breezes. Three days to get out of Texas and triple-digit temperatures.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
After many delays, the murder trial of Major Nadal Hasan is scheduled to get underway at Ft. Hood, with jury selection beginning today.
The jury will include a lot of brass – at least 12 officers, all of whom must outrank Hasan.
One resident of Harker Heights – home to many military families – summed up the feelings around Ft. Hood this way, "Some want to see him sentenced to death," she said. "Most of us just want it to be over with."
Monday, July 8, 2013
Here at the Boggy Thicket, we enjoy the company of a multitude of birds, including several species of Woodpecker. When most of them are pecking at a limb they make a monotonous tat-tat-tat sort of sound, but several times over the past couple of weeks, I have heard one beat out a syncopated rhythm.
When he pecks it sounds like – Ratta-tat-tat, ta-tat, ta-tat -- Ratta-ta-tat, ta-tat.
It sounds so much like the beginning of the Aggie War Hymn, I would bet that , instead of bright red, his top-knot is definitely maroon.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
When I was a kid, my mother always hung our towels out on the line to dry.
A day in the sun left the towels stiff as a 4X4 post, and rough as a wire brush. You had to get them a little bit damp first or a dry towel would peel the skin right off of your body, especially if you were a little bit sunburned.
The inquisition never invented such a sinister torture device.
Those towels sucked!
I say that not just because they were so damn uncomfortable, but also because they were super absorbent – they actually got you dry!
The towels we use today are bigger, brighter, and much more plush than those towels of my youth. Compared to the rough texture of my mother’s towels, they are as smooth as glass and soft as a lover’s touch. After a turn in the clothes dryer with a Bounce fabric-softener sheet, they even smell wonderful.
Today’s towels are almost perfect. They feel great, and they smell good – they do everything a towel should do except get you dry.
They push the water around your skin like a squeegee, but refuse to wick it up. The best you can hope for is moist.
While cooking breakfast this morning, I rinsed my hands. Then after rubbing them with a dish towel for what seemed like hours, I threw the towel on the floor, called it something I can’t repeat, and dried my hands with a paper towel.
Much as I hate to admit it, I’m afraid my mother may have been right.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Some of the most popular webcams on the internet are those set to watch bird nests. My personal favorites over the years have been Hummingbirds and Eagles.
People watching the Duke Farms Eagle Camera recently got quite a show, and like they love to warn you on the six o'clock news, it may not be suitable for all viewers.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
My forehead has been wrinkled like that of a little old man at least since I was in elementary school. The only good thing to say about that is that – now that I actually am a little old man – the wrinkles haven’t got any worse.
The story below doesn’t explain the value of forehead wrinkles, but it does point out that it is good to be groovy.
Grooved fingers make us smart. ...as do grooved brains.
When you are next in the shower, take a look at your wrinkled fingers. They aren't pretty to look at, but they help make you smart. Pruney fingers are not an accidental side effect of getting soaked as is typically believed, but are, instead, highly efficient rain treads that help us primates grip the world when it is wet (something we've recently been studying in the lab).
Without wrinkled fingers you would need to possess two categories of behavior, one for dry conditions, and one for wet. That would require more brain space than you can spare. Lucky for you, you can get by with just one set of behaviors ("all-weather-behaviors") because your fingertips and feet "know" when to change from race-tire-smooth to rain-tire-wrinkled.
You can see the rest of this article at http://www.psychologytoday.com
Those of us Houstonians who lived here through the glory days of the American space program are still somewhat rankled that Houston – home of Mission Control, and the place where all the Astronauts lived and trained – didn’t rate a real shuttle when they were decommissioned.
Now we learn that the booby prize – the fake – the mock-up - that was sent to JSC doesn’t have a name. It was known as “Explorer” for the 18 years it was on display at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but the name was removed before it was shipped to Texas.
If you care, and if you have an idea as to what you would like to call it, you can submit your suggestion Here.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
When people see our 5th wheel, or hear about one of our extended trips, we often get comments like “Must be nice.”
Well, yes. Yes it is.
We are extremely grateful that our health and our finances allow us to enjoy this little bit of luxury in our retirement. We enjoy the flexibility of having our own home on wheels, and we like the idea that, wherever we are, we will spend the night in our own bed.
What many do not understand – and we seldom mention – is that, in spite of the original investment, it is a cheap way to go. Our first big trip, a six-week tour that included eleven US states and two Canadian provinces, actually cost less than a one-week flight to Jamaica.
A recent study confirms that -
Even when fuel prices rise, RV trips remain the least expensive type of vacation, according to a new study comparing vacation costs.
PKF Consulting, an internationally recognized consulting firm with expertise in travel and tourism, found that “typical RV family vacations are on average 26 to 74 percent less expensive than other types of vacations studied.”
Even factoring in RV ownership and fuel costs, the study reveals that RV vacations are more economical than those taken by personal car, commercial airline or cruise ship.
PKF analyzed major costs that would be incurred by families taking nine different types of vacation to such popular travel destinations as the Grand Canyon; Orlando, Fla.; Cape Cod; Napa, Calif.; and Alaska. PKF selected three types of RVs typically used by families for vacation purposes – a folding camping trailer, conventional travel trailer and Type C motorhome.
“In all cases, RV trips were more economical than other vacations analyzed, regardless of trip duration, distance or region of the country,” says Kannan Sankaran, PKF’s lead researcher for the study.
“Even when fuels prices rise, our data show that each RV vacation would still be significantly less expensive,” Sankaran explained. “While fuel costs are a component of the overall vacation cost, fluctuations in fuel prices aren’t significant enough to affect a family’s decision of whether or not to take RV trips over other types of vacations.” According to the study, fuel prices would need to triple to make RVing more expensive for a family of four than other forms of travel.
Vacations using a personal car, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants – the least expensive of the non-RV travel options – were found to be 36 percent more costly on average than going by RV.
The study showed, for example, that a family of four traveling from Washington, D.C. to Dennis Port, Mass. for 10 days with their folding camping trailer in tow, staying in campgrounds for the local average of $25 per night, would save 54 percent, or $1,696, over the same trip taken by car, staying in hotels, averaging $120 per night and eating in restaurants. Taking the same vacation by motorhome would save $974, or 34 percent, over going by car.
On a trip from Atlanta to Orlando for a week, a family of four would save $1,658, or 53 percent, by traveling in their motorhome and staying in campgrounds averaging $27 per night, rather than flying, renting a car, staying in hotels averaging $125 per night and eating in restaurants.
Shorter getaways were also found to be more economical by RV. For example, a family taking a three-day vacation from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Lancaster, Pa. would save $271 - or 31 percent – by towing a conventional travel trailer, rather than going by car, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. The savings would be even greater - $1,049 - or 62.2 percent – for families taking the same trip by motorhome rather than flying.
According to PKF, renting an RV is the most affordable way to tour Alaska. The study shows that 14-day RV rentals were less than half the cost of Alaskan all-inclusive cruises, including roundtrip air fare and 69 percent less expensive than trips involving air fares, car rentals, hotels and restaurants.
Vacation Type Trip Duration: 7 Days
Car towing a Folding Camping/Trailer/Campgrounds $1,125
Light Duty Truck or SUV towing a Travel Trailer/Campgrounds $1,376
Information published by Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Back when we got our first hard-sided camper, we started saying we needed to get one of those maps that RVers color in to show all the states they’ve stayed in. That was years ago, and we’ve only got around to installing the map this week.
That huge delay wasn’t entirely our fault. First, by the time we were in the market for a map, the only one available had the license plate design of each state as the background, instead of a solid color. We bought one of those, but when it arrived we simply didn’t like it. We kept it in a closet for a few years and finally threw it away.
When we got the one we just installed, we realized we had another problem.
It would have gone well on the back of our old trailer (and everyone on the highway could’ve seen where we’ve been) but the 5th wheel has a big picture window that takes up most of the back – no place to put it back there. So, the new map sat while we decided where to mount it on the new trailer.
Finally, we decided to just stick it on the entrance door.
Very few people will see it on the road (We don’t pass many folks with that 37 foot trailer back there.) and in a campground, only those who are coming to our site are likely to see it. Still, it’s there, it’s installed, and it’s proudly declaring that there are only 11 states in the lower 48 we haven’t been to yet.
Monday, July 1, 2013
We all know that being a firefighter is a dangerous job. We view the people who do it as heroes; that’s one reason every little boy (at one time or another) wants to be a fireman when he grows up.
But this year the danger seems to be out of control – too many good men and women are losing their lives.
Texas has lost 13 firefighters in the line of duty so far this year, and –depending upon how you define “line of duty” that number could be 18 or more. There were seven individuals not included in that 13 who responded to the scene in West, Texas, and were also killed by the explosion. They may have been trying to contain the fire, or helping to evacuate residents when the massive explosion hit. Five of these individuals were trained volunteer firefighters, but may not meet the U.S. Fire Administration’s criteria for an “on-duty” fatality because they may not have been responding in an official capacity.
No matter how you count them, the number is way too high.
Then Sunday, 19 men from a 20-man crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots died in a fire near Yarnell, Arizona. They were an elite unit of wildfire specialists who apparently got caught when winds shifted. There will be a thorough investigation, but how it actually happened may never be known.
Most of my posts have some opinion or conclusion or attempt at humor - This time I don’t know what to say except God bless those who run toward danger, and for God’s sake, be careful out there.