Monday, September 30, 2013

Saturday Football


All of the local area college football teams seem to be off to a great start.  In fact, they only seem to lose when they play each other:

  • University of Houston is undefeated
  • Sam Houston State has only lost to Texas A&M
  • Rice has lost to A&M and the University of Houston
  • A&M has only lost (in a close one) to #1 ranked Alabama

The one exception, Texas Southern, has yet to win a game.

Even Houston Baptist, in their first season to ever field a football team, is looking pretty good.  They got clobbered 74-0 by Sam Houston State in their first game ever, but since then they are 2 and 0 against other Baptist colleges.

Saturday, in the school’s first home game – they don’t have a stadium. “Home” is the field at Strake Jesuit High School – they beat Oklahoma Baptist 34-3.

Considering how the Texans have played so far, I may have to start getting my football on Saturdays.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Walk In The Park

grants tomb

Hear the term National Park, and we normally think of wide open spaces and places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Big Bend or the Grand Canyon, but there are actually ten National Parks within walking distance (or just a short subway ride) in New York City.

Writing in NYU Local, Catherine Addington lists and reviews her top five HERE.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Counterfeit Towels


I consider myself something of a connoisseur, an expert – some might even say snob – when it comes to paper towels, and for my money, the best on the market is Bounty Select-A-Size.

They are soft, highly absorbent, and  a single Select-A-Size sheet is just big enough for most  cleaning jobs.  If you need a larger towel, two of them form a square, while a “regular” sized paper towel does not.

There may actually be a better paper towel out there, but once I settled on Bounty, I quit looking.  I will only buy something else in an emergency.

I normally buy my towels at Wal-Mart in one of those huge packages that fill the bottom shelf of the shopping cart.  Recently, while grocery shopping at H-E-B, I saw that they had the same sized package on sale with one of their little yellow in-store coupons so I grabbed a package to save myself an extra trip.

Boy, was that a mistake!

These towels are stiff, non-absorbent, don’t tear well at the perforations – generally some of the worst paper towels I’ve ever seen.

They don’t even look the same.  As you can see in the picture above, the Real Bounty towels (on the left) have a diamond pattern while the ones I bought at H-E-B have hexagons.

We put up with them for a few days, then I went to Wal-Mart and bought another package of the good stuff.  I put the hex pattern rolls in a garbage bag and stashed them in the garage.  At this point I haven’t decided what I’ll do with them, but they are definitely not coming back into the house.

Paper towels aren’t exactly Gucci Bags, but these towels were so bad that I’m convinced that I (and probably H-E-B) was the victim of counterfeiters.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hummer Update


As I mentioned on Monday, the huge flock of Hummingbirds that we had been seeing for the past several weeks disappeared over the weekend.  Instead of the dozens of birds we had been seeing, by Sunday we were down to three or four birds.

It is impossible to give an accurate count of how many we were seeing.  The most I ever got in one picture was seventeen, but there were others just outside the frame.  When I brought the empty feeder in to clean and refill, the  bare pole would draw a swirling ball of birds, buzzing like  hornets whose nest had just been disturbed.  There were so many of them moving so fast that we could only guess at their number, but I’m sure it was somewhere between thirty and fifty.

After a few days of very few birds, the pace has picked up again.  Since Tuesday afternoon, we have had about a dozen or so Hummers and are refilling the feeder once a day.  A couple of weeks ago, we were refilling four times a day – averaging about 10 pounds of sugar a week.

The other two feeders are still being guarded by birds that have staked a claim and chase away any other bird that tries to feed there.  I think that the little male we nicknamed the Red Baron may have headed south; he is no longer guarding the feeder closest to the house.  That job has been taken over by a female who is just as aggressive in protecting “her”  feeder.

The Baron would not tolerate other birds, but he ignored humans.  The little female does not like to see me within ten feet of the feeder and chatters at me constantly whenever I’m outside and she wants to eat.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Everything Is Relative – Or Not

There is a branch of philosophy known as Relativism, and many of the most respected thinkers of the last century have embraced at least some portion of the theory some of the time. 

They have, for the most part, done so while denying Relativism’s  veracity.  To say “Everything is relative” is demonstrably self-contradictory.

Relativism holds that certain things – definitions of beauty or moral behavior, for example - are valid, but only for certain cultures at certain times in history and only within the framework of their specific language.  Relativism would deny the existence of absolutes.  To a relativist, empirical truth does not exist.

My personal opinion – which to a relativist would be just as valid as any other – is that objective truth does exist although it may be beyond our ability to comprehend.

I do know from experience that those people who are most sure that they are right seem to be the most likely to hold opinions that are demonstrably wrong.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nobody Watches


Our home town baseball team has set a new record – not just the worst record in the majors, although with a .323 percentage and 107 losses this season they have locked up the chance to pick first in the draft for the third year in a row – now we learn that nobody is watching them play.

Nobody – not even when they could be watching at home for free!

 Here’s the story from Mark Duncan of the Associated Press:

According to television’s official scorekeeper, nobody in the 20-county Greater Houston area watched the Astros’ game Sunday at Cleveland.

The score was 9-2 in favor of the Indians on the scoreboard and 0.0 for Comcast SportsNet Houston — the regional network owned by the Astros, Rockets and NBC Sports Group — in the daily report compiled by the Nielsen Co., which measures television viewing levels.

It was the first time in Houston, where games have been broadcast on cable outlets since 1983, and perhaps the first time in the history of Major League Baseball that an MLB game had no measurable viewership in its home market.

By comparison, Nielsen reported that the Texans’ loss at Baltimore had a 23.0 rating, which equates to an average audience of 526,553 of Houston’s 2.28 million TV households, on KHOU (Channel 11).

Nielsen’s figures are, however, subject to challenge on a number of fronts. For one thing, the company’s business is based on the concept that Nielsen can measure what millions of television viewers are watching by monitoring the behavior of hundreds.

On Sunday, Nielsen had reports from 581 meters in Greater Houston. In any given quarter-hour between noon and 3 p.m. Sunday, anywhere from 47.6 to 52.6 percent of those meters (roughly 270 to 300) were in use by viewers watching television, but none of them were tuned to the Astros game.

Of course, there may have been a few watching the game at sports bars.  Then again, they may have been Cleveland fans, or if they had a craving for hot wings and beer, they may not have had a choice.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Horse Manure

horse sign

I got my first horse (a four month old Shetland pony we named Lucky) for my first birthday. 

Lucky was a thief – he poked its head through the fence and nursed off the neighbor’s milk cow – and he once broke into a storage bin where he ate so many sweet potatoes it caused him to founder.  One of my most vivid memories of my early childhood was of helping my dad give  that pony a life-saving enema with the garden hose.

It was a daily adventure getting the eggs back to the house without him knocking the basket out of my hands.  Lucky knocked me down a few times, and stepped on my foot more than once, but he could never have been called vicious.

Several years ago (2006) in Connecticut, a little boy tried to pet a horse named Scuppy at Glendale Farms in Milford.  The horse reached across the fence and took a bite out of the kid’s cheek. 

No, I don’t know if the kid had “apple” cheeks or not.  I do know that the parents sued the farm and lost.  The farm owner testified that Scuppy had never bitten anyone before. 

In a ruling that could never have happened in Texas, the appeals court reversed the earlier decision, ruling that “Horses are a naturally vicious species.”

Today, the Connecticut Supreme Court will review that decision.  If allowed to stand, it could mean horse owners in the state would not be able to purchase liability insurance.

Horse farmers and equine enthusiasts, who cite 2005 statistics saying that the horse industry contributes about $221 million a year to the state's economy in boarding, training, lessons and breeding businesses, are asking the state Supreme Court to overturn the Appellate Court's decision.

The Connecticut Farm Bureau and Connecticut Horse Council filed a friend of the court brief saying that under common law viciousness generally is judged individually according to age, breed and gender, not as an entire species.

Fred Mastele, acting president of the state's horse council, said it is encouraging horse owners to attend the hearing Tuesday and support the Glendale Farms.
"In our opinion, horses are not vicious animals," he said. "They are certainly not attack animals."

I’m not making this up.  You can read the story HERE .

Monday, September 23, 2013


A whole lot of stuff disappeared over the weekend:

  1. Summer
  2. Drought
  3. The old Foley's building
  4. The Houston Texans' Offense
  5. All those Hummingbirds that we've been feeding for the past few weeks

The Autumnal Equinox occurred, and -right on time - we had our first real cool front of the season.  That, combined with tropical moisture from the outer bands of a system that flooded eastern Mexico, gave us five inches of rain on Friday.

The next day, we awoke to 63 degrees and crystal clear blue skies, a preview of November in Southeast Texas.

For the past several weeks, we had been refilling our Hummingbird feeder three and four times a day, averaging almost ten pounds of sugar per week.  The birds took their cue from the weather and headed South. We filled the feeder late Saturday evening, and it is still about half full today.  There are a few stragglers, but the vast majority of birds are long gone.

The less said about the football game the better.  The only good thing about it was that it was much easier on my  heart rate and blood pressure than the first two games of the season.

Oh, and if you didn't see it, here's what it looked like when the Foley's building imploded:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

False “Facts”

I copied this – without edits – from an article by Melissa Breyer on the Mother Nature website,

Up until the late 16th century, everyone "knew" that the sun and planets revolved around the Earth. Up until the late 19th century, epidemic illnesses such as cholera and the plague were "known" to be caused by a poisonous mist filled with particles from rotting things. Up until the early 20th century, the most common procedure performed by surgeons for thousands of years was bloodletting, because we "knew" that blood drained from the body balanced the whacky humors responsible for poor health. Well alrighty then.

But as misinformed as all that may sound now, our predecessors believed these "facts" with the same certainty that we believe that the Earth is round and hot fudge sundaes make us fat.

Living in a time of such dazzling science and technology, we stand firmly behind our beliefs … even if so much of what we think we know to be correct is actually wrong. Here are some of the more common misconceptions, ideas that may have started as wives' tales or that came from a faulty study that was later proven wrong. Whatever the case may be, these facts are false.

1. Going out in the cold with a wet head will make you sick

"Put a hat on or you’ll catch your death of a cold," screeches every micromanaging momma as her charges march off into the winter wonderland. But in numerous studies addressing the topic, people who are chilled are no more likely to get sick than those who were not. And a wet or dry head makes no difference. (But these tips can help you stop a cold before it starts.)

2. Vikings wore horned helmets
Is there anything more "Viking warrior" than a helmet fitted with horns? Nary a portrayal shows the seafaring Norse pirates without the iconic headgear. Alas, horned hats were not worn by the warriors. Although the style did exist in the region, they were only used for early ceremonial purposes and had largely faded out by the time of the Vikings. Several major misidentifications got the myth rolling, and by the time costume designers for Wagner’s "Der Ring des Nibelungen" put horned helmets on the singers in the late 19th century, there was no going back.

3. Sugar makes kids go bonkers
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of 23 studies on the subject of kids and sugar, the conclusion: Sugar doesn’t affect behavior. And it's possible that it is the idea itself that is so ingrained as fact that it affects our perception. Case in point: In one study mothers were told that their sons had consumed a drink with a high sugar content. Although the boys had actually consumed sugar-free drinks, the mothers reported significantly higher levels of hyperactive behavior. That said, some scientists warn that sugar can make you dumb.

4. You lose most of your body heat through your head
Everyone knows that you lose somewhere around 98 percent of your body heat through your head, which is why you have to wear a hat in the cold. Except that you don’t. As reported in The New York Times and elsewhere, the amount of heat released by any part of the body depends mostly on the surface area — on a cold day you would lose more heat through an exposed leg or arm than a bare head.

5. You will get arthritis from cracking your knuckles
It seems reasonable, but it's not true either. You will not get arthritis from cracking your knuckles. There is no evidence of such an association, and in limited studies performed there was no change in occurrence of arthritis between "habitual knuckle crackers" and "non crackers." There have been several reports in medical literature that have linked knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons, but not arthritis.

6. Napoleon was short
Napoleon's height was once commonly given as 5 feet 2 inches, but many historians have now given him extra height. He was 5 feet 2 inches using French units, but when converted into Imperial units, the kind we are accustomed to, he measured almost 5 feet 7 inches inches tall — which was actually slightly taller than average for a man in France at the time.

7. You have to stretch before exercise
Stretching before exercise is the main way to improve performance and avoid injury, everyone stretches … but researchers have been finding that it actually slows you down. Experts reveal that stretching before a run can result in a 5 percent reduction of efficiency; meanwhile, Italian researchers studying cyclists confirmed that stretching is counterproductive. Furthermore, there has never been sufficient scientific evidence that pre-exercise stretching reduces injury risk.

8. Cholesterol in eggs is bad for the heart
The perceived association between dietary cholesterol and risk for coronary heart disease stems from dietary recommendations proposed in the 1960s that had little scientific evidence, other than the known association between saturated fat and cholesterol and animal studies where cholesterol was fed in amounts far exceeding normal intakes. Since then, study after study has found that dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol found in food) does not negatively raise your body’s cholesterol. It is the consumption of saturated fat that is the demon here. So eat eggs, don’t eat steak.

9. Dogs age at seven years per one human year
Your 3-year-old dog is 21 years old in human years, right? Not according to experts. The general consensus is that dogs mature faster than humans, reaching the equivalent of 21 years in only two, and then aging slows down to more like four human years per year. "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan’s site recommends this way to calculate your dog’s human-age equivalent: Subtract two from the age, multiply that by four and add 21.

10. George Washington had wooden teeth
Our first president starting losing his teeth in his 20s, but contrary to popular belief, his dentures were not made of wood. Although built-in toothpicks would have been handy, Washington had four sets of dentures that were made from gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were common components in the day). Also of note: The dentures had bolts to hold them together and springs to help them open, all the better to eat one of his favorite treats, Mary Washington's seriously delicious gingerbread.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

PC Problems

I mentioned  on Thursday that our office PC had crashed and it was going to be replaced.  I’m not sure yet whether we are going to keep the replacement or not, but just picking it up yesterday almost cost me my life!

Rick, the guy we got it from, is a full-time IT guy with a major corporation, and sells refurbished Dell computers – he is a licensed reseller - out of his home.  Because of the heavy rain yesterday, he was leaving for work early, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get to his house before he left.  We made arrangements for him to leave the computer on the back seat of his SUV in his driveway – I was to put the money in the car and lock it on my way out.

The rain had let up when I pulled in to the driveway, but the darned SUV was locked. 

I had just turned to head for his house when the front door blew open and a huge young man with an aluminum baseball bat ran out yelling at the top of his voice -

“What the @%#%@ do you think you’re doing? 

Get the %&@# away from my car!”

Rick lives in a nice enough, middle class, subdivision, but all the houses look pretty much alike, and I had only been there once before in daylight.  It turned out that I had stopped two houses too soon.

After several tense moments, I was able to leave unscathed, and the computer was right where Rick said it was going to be.

I am still a proponent of the 2nd amendment, but I spent the whole drive home – the whole day, in fact – thanking all the gods that the guy came out with just a baseball bat in his hands.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fond Farewell to Foley’s


A major downtown Houston landmark is scheduled for demolition this weekend. 

Local TV channels are referring to it as “the historic Macy’s building.” What a load of crap! 

For me, and anybody who was around Houston in the 50s, it is FOLEY’S – always was, and will be even after it’s a pile of rubble. 

Foley’s was the hub of downtown shopping.  A trip to downtown Houston was not complete without a trip to Foley’s basement.  Foley’s sponsored the traditional Thanksgiving Day parade that almost came to an end last year – the city managed to save the parade, but that’s another story. 

Christmas wasn’t Christmas without a visit to  see the animated display in the Foley’s Main Street window.

Sure, the signs on the building now say Macy’s.  Foley’s was acquired by a big department store chain, and after a series of mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies and lawsuits almost too complicated to follow, the name was changed to Macy’s in September of 2006.

By then, downtown Houston was no longer a destination.  The big theaters – the Majestic, the Metropolitan and Loew’s State – were all long gone.  Other downtown stores like Battlestein’s  and Sakowitz had gone out of business or fled to the suburbs.  The only thing historic about Macy’s downtown was its historically bad timing, putting the Macy’s name on the building in the middle of downtown’s demise.

Thursday, September 19, 2013



Honey’s computer ( the p-c in our office ) shut itself off in the middle of the night Sunday.  When we tried to start it on Monday morning, it would go through boot-up until it started  to open Windows and then it would shut itself off again.  Trying to open in “Safe” mode didn’t help – nothing we tried would work.

I took it to the guy we bought it from, and his original diagnosis was that we had picked up a virus.  He pulled the hard drive and ran virus cleaning software on it.  When that didn’t work, he formatted the hard drive and reloaded Windows.

That didn’t work either.

Now the diagnosis  is something fried on the mother board.

The good news is he has another similar computer that he will sell us for about the same price he was going to charge for fixing the old one.

Meanwhile, Honey has been without a computer for four days.  She can use my laptop, and has - but she says it just isn’t the same as having her own.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


patsy swayze

Patsy Swayze died yesterday. 

She was a great dancer, who taught some really great dancers – people like actor/dancer/choreographer Tommy Tune - the producer of Modern Family, Gary Menteer - and  of course her own son, Patrick.

Along the way, she also taught some pretty good dancers like my sister Karen, and she even tried to teach me. 

I took tap from Patsy when I was six and appeared in one recital before throwing in the towel.  I came back for a ballroom class about the time I entered junior high. I don’t think I was her worst student but I had to have been a challenge. 

I liked Patsy a lot, and remember her fondly today.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Veggie Festival


The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is just a couple of weeks away.  It’s scheduled for October 5-13 2013, so you still have time to attend.

One in the year’s big events in Thailand’s top tourist destination, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that the vegetarian festival and its accompanying sacred rituals bestow good fortune upon those who religiously observe this rite.

During this time, local residents of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing.

Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples. There are parades like the one pictured above,  and aesthetic displays such as walking barefooted over hot coals and ascending ladders with bladed rungs are performed by entranced devotees known as "Ma Song".


I might  be persuaded to go vegetarian for a week, or even to ride a papier mache turtle in a parade, but if asked to stick a bunch of stuff through my face like the guy above, I’d have to pass. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


nash arm

My grandson, Nash Robinson, is celebrating his thirteenth birthday today. 

Celebrating may not be the right word, but I’m sure the day will be memorable.  Doctors have decided that the arm he broke earlier this month is not healing correctly, so he will be going to surgery later today fix it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013




its over

Couldn’t decide which picture to use today - they both apply.  Read on and you’ll see why.

Did you ever do something that caused an unintended calamity?  This is one of those things.

When I was about eight years old, the little boy – he was five or six - from across the street came over and “helped” me as I lubricated my bicycle.  I put “helped” in quotation marks because he was really just getting in my way.  All he managed to do (besides slow me down) was get filthy.

When I was done, I did something I had learned from watching my dad, something I had done several times before.  I soaked a rag in gasoline and used it to clean the grease, grime and oil off of my hands. Then I soaked another rag so the kid could clean himself up.

The gasoline didn’t bother me at all, but within a few minutes the little kid was screaming, running in circles and waving his arms like he was trying to fly.

His arms were bright red and beginning to blister.  His mother grabbed him and took him to the emergency room where he was treated for second-degree burns on both arms.  She never let him play at my house again.

It was all perfectly innocent.  I had no idea that a fair-skinned blue-eyed blond would react the way he did.

Even so, over sixty years later, I’m still overcome with remorse when I think about the poor little guy.


Saturday, September 14, 2013


bryce dl

Our older grandson, Bryce Robinson, turned 16 yesterday.  He was a little late for school, because the first thing he did was go to the DPS to take his driving test.

He passed the test and got his license.

When we called to wish him a happy birthday yesterday afternoon, the first thing he said after “Hello” was “Let me pull over so we can talk.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th

Very busy day today. 

Nothing very interesting, but it is 3:30 and I’m just now writing something for today’s blog entry.

This is it.

Still have more stuff to do.

Thursday, September 12, 2013



If you know me well, or just follow my blog, you already know that I am a huge fan of Neal Stephenson.  The man is a marvel, with  encyclopedic knowledge and the ability to make you appreciate and enjoy a huge variety subjects that you may or may not completely understand.

That being said, I thought – for the first few pages – that I had finally found a Stephenson book I didn’t like.  Somewhere around page 25, that changed.  I was hooked.  I couldn’t put it down.  I finished it last night, and may start it again tomorrow.

Today would be too soon. 

All Stephenson books exercise the mind, but Anathem  is a mental marathon.  If most of his tales correspond to swimming pool exercises at the retirement home, this one is more like running through a maze in a muddy minefield with a full military pack.

I won’t go into detail about the story, but if you’ve enjoyed other Stephenson offerings, you should try it.  If not, you should run – not walk – away.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where’s That Second Monday?

There is a sort of tradition here at Boggy Thicket, a thing called Second Monday, that goes all the way back to my blog’s infancy in 2010

On a Tuesday when I don’t have much to say, I’ve posted various pictures, etc. instead of writing something.

Today would be one of those days, except I don’t have a clever pic to post, and I’m too tired to go surfing the net in search for one.

Stayed up until after one a.m. watching the Texans playing San Diego out on the west coast.  It was worth it – even having to listen to Chris Berman, who gets a reported $3 million a year to be that obnoxious – when a last second field goal gave the home town heroes the win 31 to 28.

That’s fine – I’m retired – I can sleep until noon, right?

Well…. I could have, but I woke up at six and couldn’t go back to sleep.

It’s gonna be a LOOOONG day.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Science Quiz


The Pew Research Center website has a short (13 question) on-line quiz that lets you compare your knowledge of science and technology with the nation-wide results of a survey they did in cooperation with Smithsonian Magazine. 

You can take the test HERE.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Lesson

It seems that a couple of churches across the street from each other had a slight difference of opinion:










Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Grand Day – And a Few More

Tomorrow is National Grandparents’ Day, a holiday that has been around since the 1970s.  Back in 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation making the first Sunday after Labor Day a national holiday to honor grandparents.  Like a lot of what Carter  said, it hasn’t had much effect.

Here at the Boggy Thicket, Grandparents’ Day is pretty much ignored, but we do celebrate Grandsons’ Day the following weekend.  That’s because our two grandsons were born in mid-September – Bryce on September 13 and Nash, three years and three days later on September 16th. 

That means that the third weekend of September will almost always include one of their birthdays, or the days in between.  I tried to come up with a formula that would predict how often that occurs, but I’m missing some factor because I get a probability of over 100% when by just moving days around the calendar I can see that the probability is more like five years out of seven, and I know that back in 2011, Nash’s birthday was a Tuesday and Bryce’s a Friday.  Still, most years there’s a weekend in there somewhere.

And that means that we always drive to Liberty Hill for their birthday party.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hummer Migration


It’s a pretty good bet that the fall migration is underway, because the Hummingbird feeder at the far end of our pool is being swarmed. 

We are often seeing a dozen or more birds around this one feeder, and we actually had to refill it twice yesterday! 

I can only count four birds in the picture I took this morning, but there were at least two more on the far side of the feeder, and a couple more just out of the frame.  They are in a constant state of flux, and move so darned fast, that I was pleased that the picture shows as many as it does.

Oddly enough, the levels in our other two feeders have hardly dropped at all.  Those two were staked out as personal territory by male Ruby Throats a few weeks ago, and they will not allow any other birds near them. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013



Heard a story on the radio yesterday about a company that rents chickens, and thought that it had to be a joke.

Rent a chicken?  That’s the stupidest idea since someone tried to sell bottled water!  Oh wait, that’s become a multimillion dollar business….

The story made me think of Lonesome Dove, and the sign posted at the Hat Creek Ranch.

hat creek sign

Considering Gus McRae’s disdain for a man who would rent a pig, I can only imagine what he might have to say about someone who would consider renting a chicken!

So I was amazed when I Googled rent a chicken  and discovered that there actually are several companies in multiple states that are in the chicken rental business. 

One of them is a group in Massachusetts called Land’s Sake.  You can find them at  If you check their website, you’ll find:

Rent A Chicken

Curious about chickens? With the Land's Sake Rent a Chicken program you can see for yourself how easy it is to raise these friendly birds, eat fresh eggs and give your kids a fun, educational experience.

The program:
Chicken rentals are typically for a two-week period. We deliver the chickens and everything you need to keep them healthy and happy including:

  • one chicken tractor (portable coop)
  • two chickens (Light Brahmas variety)
  • Organic feed
  • Bedding
  • Water and Feed trays
  • Instructions for chicken care

In exchange you receive fresh eggs daily, free lawn and garden work from our chickens and educational fun for your family and friends.

The fee is $100. We ask for a $50 security deposit that will be returned to you when we pick up our chickens and their tractor in their proper condition.

For more information or to schedule your chicken delivery, please contact Douglas Cook, Education Director at

The benefits of chickens in your yard:

  • Fresh eggs: On average, our chickens lay one egg a day.
  • A healthy lawn: A chicken is happiest when it can scratch and eat bugs or grass. Naturally chickens will aerate your lawn and mix in beneficial fertilizer.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Oh, Baby

I know it’s just another commercial, but if you haven’t seen this, you should.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

26 Foods That Can Kill Your Pets

Came across this article this morning and decided to pass it on.  Some of these warnings came as no surprise, and I can’t imagine feeding others to my animals even when I didn’t know they were harmful. 

Still, there is some good information HERE.

On a lighter note, owners of Dachshunds should enjoy this:

became a doberman

Monday, September 2, 2013

How Many Days Do We Really Need?

Today is Labor Day in the US, and Labour Day in Canada – a day to recognize the contributions of labor (and labor unions) to the country’s economy. 

It has been a federal holiday in the US since 1887.  It was intentionally put at the opposite end of the calendar to make it distinct from International Workers’ Day – May 1st - which was the day of choice for communists and anarchists, and is celebrated in over 80 countries around the world.

You might think one day – either Labor Day or May Day, depending on where you live – should be enough, but now we are seeing ads on TV promoting the third Friday of September as National Tradesmen Day.  The second annual Tradesmen Day is this September 21st.

National Tradesmen Day is the brainchild of Irwin Tools.  If you’d never heard of them before they started their current ad campaign for Tradesmen Day, that’s OK.  You are probably familiar with some of their brands, like Vice-Grip, or with their parent company, Newell Rubbermaid.

According to Irwin,  National Tradesmen Day is set aside to honor the skilled tradesmen in the country who do all the manual labor that many of us can’t do for ourselves. People like auto mechanics, plumbers, roofers, carpenters, drywall installers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and welders.

There’s a shortage of such skilled workers, and “skilled trades” is the number one category of the hardest jobs to fill in the country. Some blame the decline of vocational and technical education and the steady focus we’ve had on 4-year university education.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that over a third of skilled tradesmen today are over 50. For every three tradesmen who retire, there’s only one younger person with the skills to do their kind of work.

With a need for skilled labor, and the number of college grads who can’t find work, a day like Tradesmen Day  might be a good idea, and maybe Irwin Tools deserves some credit for promoting it.

On the other hand, there is at least a small amount of cynicism involved. In 2008 Irwin closed its plant in DeWitt, Nebraska. Vise-Grip locking pliers and other tools had been made there for 80 years, but  employees were told that the parent company had to move production to China “to keep the Vise-Grip name competitive.” About 300 people lost their jobs.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fighting Fire With Litigation


Last month, Hotshot crews on the Lolo Creek Complex fire in Montana burned out areas of green grass, brush and timber between U.S. Highway 12 and the wildfire in the hills north and south of the road – eating up the fuel under controlled conditions, so there would be nothing to turn embers into new spot fires if the wind direction blew back toward people’s homes.

In much the same way, incident commanders at the 200,000-acre Rim fire near Yosemite National Park have been using burnouts to protect 4,500 residences and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir that provides San Francisco’s drinking water.

13 years ago, firefighters battling the 17,000-acre Ryan Gulch fire set a series of burnouts in the hills near Clinton, Montana.

Some of that intentionally set fire ruined about 900 acres of timber and pasture on the Weaver family ranch. The Weavers sued the state, arguing that firefighters on the scene were “freelancing” as they used drip torches to light fires that weren’t planned for or properly located.

Last year, a Granite County District Court jury awarded the Weavers $730,000 in damages from the state of Montana. 

Montana has appealed the Granite County decision to the state Supreme Court. It argues it should be immune to such claims because of the “public duty doctrine,” which should protect it when performing public services like firefighting.

“Under Weaver’s arguments, state actors responding to an emergency would be consumed with recordkeeping, with an eye toward future litigation, rather than focusing on the crisis and public safety,” state’s attorney Robert Sheridan told the Supreme Court. “Reducing the courts to an open forum for prospective plaintiffs to second-guess every act or omission of government ... would unduly constrain the discretion critical to employ Montana’s limited resources to promote the general welfare.”

Quentin Rhoades, the Weavers’ attorney, countered that the Ryan Gulch fire trial proved firefighters acted contrary to their own rules and procedures when the Weavers’ land got burned. He added the team on the scene, which was from Florida, used tactics that might work in the flat, wet Southeast but were inappropriate for Montana’s dry mountains.

“This was a situation where local firefighters were using non-firing techniques, against Florida firefighters burning everything in sight,” Rhoades said. “The local Montana firefighters took a more cautious approach because of superior knowledge of fire behavior in western mountains.”

Did the Weaver family suffer actual damages at the hands of the Florida fire fighting crew? 

No doubt they did.

Could those damages have actually been worse if the backfires had not been set.

No way to know after the fact, but the possibility certainly did exist.

It’s hard to say what’s fair in this case, but I’m leaning toward the State.  To me, the Weavers seem like the patient with gangrene whose life is saved by amputation and then sues the surgeon over the loss of a limb.