Monday, March 31, 2014

Kopi Cats

civet crap

That’s a picture of an Indonesian farmer with a handful of civet feces – the source of the most expensive coffee in the world.

I first heard of Kopi Luwak years ago – I seem to remember it being mentioned on the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but I thought it was a joke, an urban myth.  I was surprised to learn that it actually exists and is produced commercially in several Southeast Asian countries.

According to Wikipedia,

Kopi luwak (Indonesian pronunciation: [ˈkopi ˈlu.aʔ]), or civet coffee, refers to the beans of coffee berries once they have been eaten and egested by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

The name is also used for marketing brewed coffee made from the beans.

Producers of the coffee beans argue that the process may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection and digestion. Selection occurs if the civets choose to eat coffee berries containing better beans. Digestive mechanisms may improve the flavor profile of the coffee beans that have been eaten. The civet eats the berries for the beans' fleshy pulp, then in the digestive tract, fermentation occurs. The civet's proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet's intestines the beans are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected.

The traditional method of collecting feces from wild civets has given way to intensive farming methods in which civets in battery cage systems are force fed the coffee beans. This method of production has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of civets due to "horrific conditions" including isolation, poor diet, small cages and a high mortality rate. A 2013 BBC investigation of intensive civet farming in Sumatra found conditions of animal cruelty. Intensive farming is also criticized by traditional farmers because the civets do not select what they eat, so the beans are of poor quality compared to beans collected from the wild.

Although kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called the most expensive coffee in the world with retail prices reaching $700 per kilogram (just over $350 a pound).  The price of farmed (considered low-grade by connoisseurs) kopi luwak in large Indonesian supermarkets is from US$100 per kilogram  or about five times the price of a high quality local arabica coffee.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bad Towns

Just a few miles north of the Boggy Thicket on US Highway 59 lies the town of Patton Village.  It is a notorious speed trap and the source of  numerous stories of malfeasance and corruption over the years. 

We haven’t heard much out of Patton Village lately, things have been pretty quiet, but I thought of them this morning when I read this story about Hampton, Florida, a town so bad that the Florida legislature was considering pulling their city charter.  You can read their story HERE.

Similarities between the two are striking.  A year ago, the former mayor of Patton Village was sentenced to five years in prison for abuse of official capacity and misappropriation of city funds.  The current mayor of Hampton (who ran as a reformer) was arrested after only two months in office – charged with selling oxycodone to an undercover agent.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Oh, Deer

Here are a couple of pictures I wish that I had taken. 

The first , shot about sundown earlier this week, shows a doe in the wildflowers near Somerville, Texas.

deer in bluebonnets

Not sure where this other one was taken, but it shows a deer resting in a field of wild verbena.

deer in wild verbena

Friday, March 28, 2014



The mayors of Houston, Dallas and Ft. Worth held a news conference yesterday to throw their weight behind the idea of a high-speed (200 mph) bullet train between Houston and Dallas.

Putting aside environmental issues, landowners losing property via imminent domain, etc., the idea does have some appeal - but I doubt that I would ever ride it.

The train would move commuters between Houston and Dallas in about an hour and a half vs. the roughly four hour drive up I-45.  That looks good on paper, but the current flight time between IAH or Hobby and DFW or Love Field is between an hour and an hour and fifteen minutes. 

I learned long ago that by the time I drove to the airport, found parking, took the shuttle to the terminal, went through security, made the flight, reclaimed my luggage and  caught a cab, I could make it from my home to a Dallas hotel quicker if I just drove.

Driving to Dallas also meant that I had a vehicle available while I was there, and I didn’t have to worry about lost luggage.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Recipe for Dave

My friend and former coworker Dave Szostek has a birthday coming soon, and I could have saved this for that – but today’s a slow day, and when I saw this recipe, I immediately thought of him.

Dave had some cardiovascular problems a while back, but he hasn’t let that slow him down.  He is also the world’s greatest champion of the idea that everything goes better with bacon, so when I came across this recipe, I had to post it in his honor:

Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings



Start with one large onion.
I cut this into kind of thick rings.
Wrap each ring with a slice of bacon. You can even use turkey bacon if you want, but why would you?
Put them on a baking sheet and freeze for at least an hour.
Remove from freezer and dredge through this mix:
3 c. bread crumbs
3/4 c. flour
1/3 c. corn meal
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Beat 1 egg with 1 c. ranch dressing.
Dip dredged rings through this and again through the crumb mix, making sure the rings are completely covered. You can gently press flour mix to any bare spots.
Heat oil to 375'-400'. Fry rings for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove to paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
Serve with BBQ sauce or additional ranch dressing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Top 100

My sister emailed me a link to this video, the American Film Institute’s 100 years of best movie quotes.  If you can spare 11 minutes, you’re sure to enjoy it.

Interesting that there are a few films that made the top 100 more than once.

What quote would you have listed that didn’t make the AFI’s list?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wisdom Wart

Just back from the dermatologist with some good news. 

Honey had a mole on her cheek that was causing her to worry.  Since it was asymmetrical and the area had recently begun to itch – both warning signs of melanoma – there was real cause for concern.

The doctor took one look at it and said that it was nothing to worry about - what she called a “wisdom wart” – the sort of mole we all get as we get wiser and older.  She took it off and sent it for biopsy, but she was so confident of her diagnosis that we can’t help but breathe a big sigh of relief.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Stuff

Azaleas 1

Not all of our azaleas are in full bloom yet, but some of them are.  It looks like they are going to have a good year.

Honey decided that Saturday was a good time to put out hummingbird feeders.  She heard the first bird buzzing behind her as she was hanging the first feeder out, and it was eating before she got back to the house.

So far, we haven’t seen more than two hummers at one time, and in typical hummingbird fashion, they have been chasing each other away from the feeder.  Migrating birds get more cooperative, but when the feeding pressure isn’t on they would rather  fight than eat.

Our largest saucer magnolia had about half of its blooms open when we had the ice storm  three weeks ago.  Those blooms didn’t fall off, but they turned brown.  

The buds that weren’t open on the 4th did open normally over the next week and we had a tree covered in live and dead blossoms – just about equal parts of lavender/pink and brown.  All of the pink blossoms have now faded and dropped their petals, but the brown ones are still there. 

Probably a moral in that somewhere, but I don’t know what it might be.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

An Eye for Azaleas

azelea hybrids

We love Azaleas, and here at the Boggy Thicket we have several large beds with quite a few varieties.  They won’t be in full bloom for another week or two, but quite a few plants are blooming already.

Our largest bed and our largest Azaleas are a mixed planting of Formosas and Savannahs.  Over the years, they have become increasingly hard to tell apart, and I have been feeling pretty smug about my ability to differentiate between the two – then I saw this picture on the Azalea Society website.

Believe it or not, the picture above shows Seven different varieties of hybrid Azaleas from the Newman Garden in Great Falls, VA.  They are -

Top Left to Right:
'Chloe', 'Circe', 'Concordia'
And Bottom Left to Right:
'Echo', 'Modesty', 'Temptation', 'Vision'

I’ll probably post some pictures of our Azaleas soon.  In the meantime, you can see some great pictures at

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The View from the Road


Our National Park system offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, and a lot of it can be seen without leaving your vehicle.  In the article below, Kurt Repanshek, founder and editor of National Parks Traveler magazine shares some of his favorite drives with Larry Bleiberg of USA TODAY.

We have been on several of these, and very close to others without knowing they existed.  The ones we have seen were definitely worth the drive.  Here is his top ten list:

Racetrack Road
Death Valley National Park, Calif.
Drivers would be wise to take a four-wheel- or all-wheel-drive vehicle on this long washboard road through one of the largest parks in the Lower 48 states. But the payoff is worth it, providing both solitude and a geologic mystery. The drive ends at a basin where boulders have inexplicably slid across the landscape, leaving a trail in the desert dust. "You have to want to go there. It's not on the way to anyplace," Repanshek says. 760-786-3200;

Kolob Terrace Road
Zion National Park, Utah
Repanshek recently drove this route after living in Utah for 20 years, and he wasn't disappointed. "This is a road that goes across the top of the park as opposed to in the canyon, so you get an entirely different perspective: colorful rock bands, outcrops, and spires dotting the pine and juniper forests." Trailheads lead down to the canyon. 435-772-3256;

Petrified Forest National Park
The main park road runs through a stunning accumulation of petrified wood, and offers panoramic views of the Painted Desert. Visitors can stop anywhere along the road and hike into the park, exploring washes where the fossils are embedded in the earth. "It is very cool. The colors of the petrified wood are just amazing, all hues of the rainbow," Repanshek says. 928-524-6228;

Cataloochee Valley
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, N.C./ Tenn.
This drive meanders through the quiet side of the busy park, running from Cove Creek Road just off I-40 on the North Carolina side through the Cataloochee Valley and connecting with Tennessee 32. On the way, it passes through a historic community, by a campground and a creek perfect for trout fishing. "It's some place you have to want to go. You don't stumble upon it," Repanshek says. 865-436-1200;

Park Loop Road
Acadia National Park, Maine
Although hardly a secret, the main route through this Atlantic coast preserve is still a jewel of the park system. "It offers the mountains as well as the coastline," Repanshek says. He suggests taking a park bus to avoid parking hassles at trailheads and at popular overlooks like Thunder Hole. 207-288-3338;

South Core Banks
Cape Lookout National Seashore, N.C.
Accessible only by ferry, the sand road running the length of this Outer Banks island sees more visitors than Cape Hatteras. "It is such a beautiful seashore. It's just sand dunes and sea oats and a maritime forest. It's a wonderful experience," Repanshek says. 252-728-2250;

Tioga Road
Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Visitors can avoid the crowded Yosemite Valley and enjoy views of granite domes, lakes and meadows on this road that runs across the top of the park. "The Olmsted Point overlook gives you a view of Half Dome off in the distance," Repanshek says. 209-372-0200;

10BEST.COM: Yosemite travel guide

Badlands Loop Road
Badlands National Park, S.D.
Drivers weave through a landscape of geologic formations and prairie dog towns. "It's surreal. The road looks like it's been swallowed up by the badlands. They're ribboned with different layers of colors," Repanshek says. 605-433-5361;

Trail Ridge Road
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo.
The highest continuous paved road in the nation tops out at 12,000 feet. "It is a breathtaking drive because it offers you such a panorama of the roof of the park. It's windswept tundra. It's scary crazy — there are no guard rails on it, and the drop-offs go down several thousand feet," Repanshek says. Visitors usually see elk and often bighorn sheep. 970-586-1206;

Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier National Park, Mont.
This popular route can get jammed during the summer, so Repanshek suggests taking the park's iconic Red Jammer bus tour. "You can't help but be impressed," he says. "You get up to Logan Pass, and not only do you see the spine of the continent, but you can see mountain sheep and mountain goats." 406-888-7800;

Friday, March 21, 2014



I guess that you could say that we are now officially former pool owners. 

There is still a lot of dirt to bring in and the area has to be smoothed out, but the pool is gone.

It was the right decision, the logical thing to do.  Aside from the hours spent maintaining the pool, and the cost of chemicals, saving the 1200 kwh or more that the pool pump added to our light bill each month is going to be significant.  All that for a pool that we were actually in less than 30 hours a year – a lot less the past few years.

Still, we are going to miss it, and right now we feel a lot like that looks.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Best Laid Plans

The guy is due to be here in a couple hours to fill in the pool.

There are several things I was supposed to have done before he got here, and only a few of them went as planned.  I got all of the furniture moved off of the deck, and I dug up and moved the saucer magnolia that would have been in his way, but…

  1. I spent an hour trying to remove the pole that held the bird feeder.  It spins, and it came up about six inches and stopped.  Additional digging, prying and lifting got me no further.  Honey told me to stop before I had a stroke.
  2. The bolts holding the diving board are so thoroughly rusted up that the nuts are impossible to turn even after soaking them several times with lubricant.  Of course, my 1/2 inch break-over bar is in the tool box in the 5th wheel, and that is 15 miles away in the shop.
  3. The submersible pump was emptying the pool slower than expected, but it was working, then  it seems to have quit almost entirely overnight.  I pulled it out and checked it – nothing wrong – I guess that the hose got clogged, but it’s moving water now.  Instead of a foot or two in the deep end, water is still a couple inches deep in the shallow.

I called the contractor before he left home to see if he wanted to wait another day, but he said not to worry about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014



Here’s a last look at our back yard pool. 

Over the years, it has been a great source of fun and exercise, the venue for numerous pool parties and quiet evenings, but for the past few years we just haven’t used it.

Sad to see it go, but since we can no longer justify the effort and expense involved in keeping it nice, we’ve hired a local contractor to fill it in.  This time next week, it will be a big patch of bare dirt.

I’ll probably have a post on Craig’s List trying to sell the pool pump and filter, the spring board, stainless steel ladders, etc.  If you’re interested, let me know.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Joe Byrd


There is a small – 22 acre – cemetery in Huntsville that may be among the most exclusive in the state.  Everyone interred there died while incarcerated in the Texas Prison system.

Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery is around the corner from the Sam Houston State University campus, and a brand-new fraternity house is so close to the grounds that it might be mistaken for a visitor center.

Inmates are buried at Joe Byrd – and the State of Texas picks up the tab for the funeral - if relatives can’t be located, or for whatever reason choose not to claim the body.  About 450 prisoners die in TDCJ custody every year, and about 100 of them end up buried at Joe Byrd. 

Most funerals are held on Thursdays, except in the case of executions.  Those interments are held the following day so any family that was present can attend while they are still in town.

The graveyard was originally known as “Peckerwood Hill,” an inmate slang term referring to its indigent occupants. It was renamed for an assistant warden at the Walls Unit who in the 1960s initiated a cleanup of the neglected grounds.

Today, neat rows of grave markers—some flat stones, some crosses made of rebar-reinforced concrete—cover the gently sloping hill. The cemetery crew makes the markers onsite in a small shed. Some headstones include the inmate’s name and dates of birth and death. During the 1980s and ’90s the concrete crosses included only prison numbers and dates of death.

If the inmate was executed, the headstone bears the letters “X” or “EX,” or a prison number beginning “999”—the designation for death row.

You can read more about the cemetery Here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Out of Quota

hi express

An old friend called yesterday and said “I’ve got something for you to put on your blog.”

I’m not sure what he thought it would accomplish – he obviously thinks I get a lot more readers than I do – but here it is:

He and his wife are both alumni of Sam Houston State, and they were in Huntsville this past weekend to attend a Vegas Night style fund raiser.  They stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on I-45, considered by locals to be the best hotel in town.

He told me that their room rate was $190, which seems outrageously high to me, but I haven’t stayed in a hotel in years so it might be just fine.

Upon checking in, he asked for their military discount.  I should point out that my friend joined the Marines out of high school, and when he got home he joined the ROTC at Sam Houston. After graduation, he flew helicopters in Viet Nam as an Army officer.  Under the terms listed on the Holiday Inn Express website, he qualified both as retired military and as a disabled vet.

The clerk at the counter took quite some time on the computer, and finally told him that the computer would not give him the discount because he was “out of quota.”

What does that mean?”

I don’t know.”

“How big is the quota? How many people can get the discount?

I don’t know.”

Is the quota for the whole chain, or just this hotel?”

I don’t know.”

He says he checked with the hotel manager the next morning and got the same response.  In fact, he said the conversation was an almost identical replay of the previous night.

The chain also offers a Senior discount that is about as good as the military discount, and my pal would have qualified for that, but I don’t think it occurred to him to ask.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Leftover Pi

As my daughter Cheryl pointed out, yesterday was the first March 14th since I began my blog that I didn’t post something about π. 

I couldn’t have posted these pictures, because they hadn’t happened yet.

Folks in the Austin area looked up to see a long string of numbers.

pi numbers

They may have been confused because the numbers stretched so far that they could not all be seen, and the first numbers were fading before the last ones appeared.

For those who didn’t recognize what they were seeing, there was an explanation:

pi in the sky

Friday, March 14, 2014



This has not been the greatest of weeks here at the Boggy Thicket

I mentioned on Tuesday that Honey got bit by a dog on Monday morning.  She is getting around much better, but there is still quite a bit of swelling and a lot of pain.  What I failed to mention was what I was doing when she called and said the doctor told her that she had to go to the emergency room.

When we first got home, we cleaned the wounds thoroughly with both antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide and coated them with Neosporin.  She was not in a lot of pain at that point, so I hooked up the 5th wheel and took it to the shop to see why we had wet spots on the carpet after the last thunderstorm.  I was just dropping it off when she called to say we had to go to the E-R.

While Honey was being treated, Terry at the RV repair place found scrape marks and several small holes like the one in the picture above in our trailer roof.  I don’t remember when or where it could have happened, but he says it is obvious that we drove under a low-hanging limb that did the damage.  We have filed an insurance claim, and it looks like the entire skin (EDP rubber) of the roof will have to be replaced – and it will have to be removed before we will know for sure whether there is any other damage.

Tuesday morning, I got up from the breakfast table and my lower back went out again – not as bad as last time, but bad enough.  Since I was in no shape to help Honey get around, I went out to the garage and dug out my old walking cane.  She actually threw it across the room once before she figured out how to use it, but pretty soon she was able to get around on her own.

Watching the two of us hobbling around for the last couple of days might not have been as good as a trip to the circus, but it would have been worth the price of admission.

This morning, Honey is able to walk around unaided, and my back is more-or-less back to normal.  I’m still moving gingerly - my back doesn’t hurt, but I keep expecting it to.

All things considered, we are both ready for this week to be over.

Thursday, March 13, 2014



Multitasking has become one of the buzzwords of the modern era.  Originally a term from the computer industry – most modern computers are capable of performing several processes at once – it is now applied to human behavior.

It is becoming more and more obvious that, while computers can do it successfully, humans can not. Because the brain cannot fully focus when multitasking, people take longer to complete tasks and are predisposed to error. When people attempt to complete many tasks at one time, or alternate rapidly between them, errors go way up and it takes far longer—often double the time or more—to get the jobs done than if they were being done sequentially.  This has led to the quote   

“Multitasking is the ability to screw up two or more things at once.”

Like it or not, multitasking has become a part of our daily lives.  Chances are very good that while you read this you are doing something else.  Even obviously dangerous activities such as texting while driving are commonplace.

Still, there are some activities that require our total commitment.  For example, I doubt that anyone could worry about Global Warming while passing a kidney stone.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


gdp map

I’m sure you recognize the map of the USA, but can you guess why it’s colored this way?  And what is the significance of the Country names?

This map matches the Gross Domestic Product of states with the GDP of countries around the world.

They are approximate.  Texas actually produces more than Mexico, and California with a GDP of about $2 trillion in 2012 was slightly ahead of Canada, but is close enough to be interesting.

I got this from a post on Business Insider.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dog Bite

I have mentioned several times in the past that Honey walks most mornings.  When she started out several years ago, she could barely do a half mile; now she walks four miles several mornings each week.

Well, she did until yesterday.

She was at the far end of her loop, a little over a mile from home, when she was bitten by a dog.  The animal, a blue heeler named Dakota, had barked at her from the yard, then after she passed, it ran out of the driveway and bit her on the ankle.

We spent over three hours in the ER yesterday afternoon where Honey got a tetanus shot, antibiotics and pain meds.  By the time we got back home, her ankle was so sore she could barely function.

It is better this morning, but I don’t think she will be walking around the block any time soon.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Safety Can Be A Pain


That is a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet.  I showed it in a horizontal position because that’s the way the one in the bathroom area of our 5th wheel is mounted.

GFCIs are safety devices that have been around since the 70s – first required for electrical outlets around swimming pools in 1971, national electrical codes now specify their use for any circuit in a potentially damp location such as outdoor outlets or outlets near the sink on a kitchen counter.  RV manufacturers have included at least one GFCI on all rigs built since 1978. 

The GFCI plug typically provides the power to several other plugs.  They are usually wired like this:


Our GFCI plug  controls several outlets in the kitchen, a couple of plugs on the outside of the trailer and the A-C power to the refrigerator.

The GFCIs have an internal circuit that looks for any difference of potential between the neutral and ground legs of the plug, and they are designed to trip – open the circuit – if they register any current flow (as little as five milliamps) between the two.

Circuit breakers are installed to protect appliances and to keep your house from burning down. GFCIs  are much more sensitive, and designed to save lives.

The sad truth is that  GFCIs are a pain in the ass. 

They don’t just open when they are supposed to. They are likely to pop anytime there is a power surge.  Ours will often open when we have a power failure – or when the generator takes over after a loss of electricity from the light company. 

You are supposed to test them monthly by pressing the black button, but if you do, it won’t be many months before pushing the red button will no longer cause them to reset.  The more often they open, the closer they are to total failure.  Because of that, I never test ours and don’t know anyone who does.

Our home was built before GFCIs were required and we have got along just fine without them.  I know that it only takes one incident to prove their worth, but the chances of that happening are probably somewhere near the odds of being run over by a stolen school bus.

The GFCI in the trailer went out again for the umpteenth time, and the replacement was either bad out of the box or failed as soon as power was turned on. Now it won’t reset, either.

I’ve just about decided that there is such a thing as being too safe, so, at least for the time being, I am  replacing it with a standard outlet.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

About (daylight savings) Time


You might say that I have too much time on my hands – and not enough time to do anything about it.

After dutifully making the rounds resetting clocks last night, I slept in this morning – didn’t get up until 8:12 daylight savings time.  My personal diurnal clock still said 7:12 (it takes a bit longer to reset) but by either standard it was still later than usual.

I awoke to realize that I was only about halfway  through with the annual Spring ritual. 

While I did “Spring Forward” on my wristwatch, the alarm clocks in the bedrooms, the clocks on the kitchen range and the microwave, and the grandfather clock in the hall, I did not reset the thermostat for the central heat/air conditioner to daylight savings mode.  Neither did I reset the timer on the pool pump, or the generator.

Our Generac automatic generator “exercises” once a week – a sort of self-test that keeps everything lubricated and working properly.  It has been  set to do this each Sunday morning around eleven, but unless I quit writing and go do something about it, it won’t come on today until noon.

Of course, there are other “clocks” that I never bother to reset – never have bothered to set at all – things like my blood sugar monitor, or the pedometer Honey wears on her morning walks.

At least the “clocks”  on my cell phone and laptop computer reset themselves.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Daylight Savings Time

sleepy03 Tonight is the night to “spring forward” and set your clocks ahead an hour.  Daylight Savings Time officially begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. 

My wife has said for years that we ought to just move the clocks ahead and leave them there – quit this biannual practice of screwing around with time.  When asked why change it at all, she says that she likes daylight savings time better than standard time, just likes the idea of later sunsets, which I guess is reason enough.

Messing around with time is actually dangerous.  Don’t take my word for it, just read this excerpt from article by Dyanne Weiss:

As shown in numerous studies, the change to daylight savings time can be bad for people’s heart health and performance (whether in school, at the wheel or at work).

The physical problems associated with daylight savings time do not take place on the Sunday when the change occurs. They usually show up on the first Monday, when people have to get up earlier for work or school and really notice the difference in sleep and light outside.

The risk of having a heart attack is 10 percent greater on the Monday and Tuesday after the clock is moved forward than other days, according to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The converse is true in the fall; when clocks move back an hour, the risk of having a heart attack decreases by 10 percent. A study by scientists at the Karolinska Institutet medical university in Stockholm, Sweden, also reported a difference in the likelihood of having a heart attack at the start and the end of daylight savings. However, they only showed a 5 percent difference in the risk at either time of year. That may seem like a small amount. However, as one Swedish researcher noted in Science Daily, approximately 1.5 billion people reside in areas that make daylight savings clock changes every year, so even a 5 percent increase can be bad for a lot of people’s health.

The reason for the impact on hearts is unknown. One theory is that body cells have their own internal “clock” that gets thrown off by the change but adjusts in a few days. The effect is similar to jet lag.

Friday, March 7, 2014



The 2014 Paralympic Winter Games get underway today with opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia, the site of this year’s Winter Olympics. 

This is despite the political unrest in the region caused, or at least exacerbated, by Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Peninsula.  The US and Great Britain have decided to boycott the games (sort of) by not sending political delegations, although both are allowing their athletes to compete, and it was announced this morning that the Ukraine has decided to participate in spite of a large portion of their country being under siege by Russian troops.

Over the next week, athletes from 45 countries will compete in 72 events.  Snowboarding has been added to the list of events this year.  Unlike other skiing competitions which have standing, sitting and visually impaired divisions, the new event only includes standing snowboarders.

Even without the current geopolitical considerations, Russia seems an unlikely place for paralympic games.  Back in 2007,  when this  year’s venue was chosen, the International Paralympic Committee stated that Russia had “a zero track record” on accessibility.  And Russia declined to hold the 1980 Summer Paralympics, stating that “no disabled people live in Russia.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Oh, Oh, Oreo

I really didn’t have much to say today, then I came across this picture on the internet…


Now I don’t know what to say!

Today is National Oreo Cookie Day, around since this date in 1912, Oreos are the largest selling cookie in history,  and I mean, I like Oreos as much as anybody - but…….Doesn’t the Oreo jingle specifically call for  ice-cold milk?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014



We woke up yesterday to find everything coated in ice  and the power out -  one more time that we were thankful for our Generac automatic generator.

Throughout the day we heard the crack and crash of overloaded limbs breaking and falling.  The only one that did any damage was a large pine limb that fell 50 feet or so and crashed into the top of the barn.  It left a hole in the roof and several sheets of corrugated sheet metal will have to be replaced.

The light company had power restored by about 11:30, and about a half hour later we received a computer-generated phone call that said “Increasing outages in your area have caused us to revise our estimate for when you power can be restored.  We can no longer guarantee restoration by 5 p.m. but will call back with a new estimated time as soon as possible.”

They did call back in a few minutes with a message that they showed our power to be back on, and to call back if that was not the case.

We have multiple downed limbs scattered around the yard, but the ground is too wet to collect them today.  I guess that gives me something to look forward to.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mirror, Mirror




When the man in the mirror catches my eyes
It always comes as the biggest surprise
That guy in the glass staring at me
Is not who I see myself to be
My mind or the mirror – one’s telling lies

I saw this picture on the web and it inspired the poem. 

Actually, my own problem is the exact opposite.  The fellow I see in the mirror is always a bit of a surprise, but it’s because he is older, more tired and considerably less attractive than I see myself in my mind’s eye. 

Before you decide that I’m an incurable  narcissist, let me say that I also think that practically everyone I know looks better in person than they do in photographs.

And I don't think it is simply a matter of personality affecting appearance. That’s part of it, of course, but there is some indefinable animating quality in real human faces that is simply missing in photos.  I suspect the same thing holds true for mirrors as well.

Psychologists will tell you that most men tend to think of themselves as more attractive than they actually are, and most women tend to think that they look worse.  Nobody, it seems, is capable of envisioning a true-to-life image of themselves.

There are a few folks who may look better on paper or on screen than they actually do face-to-face, but I suspect that most of those who do get their pictures taken for a living.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Coming Unsprung

Old-time  area residents will tell you that Spring never arrives here until after the trail rides and the parade leading up to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

Doesn’t matter what the Groundhog says, we’re going to have one last shot of cold, wet, nasty weather in the week leading up to the Rodeo.

Well, the trail riders got to town on Friday, and Saturday we had a high of 83°.  I took that as a sign that Winter was over.

Looks like I was a little premature. 

It did reach the upper 70s yesterday before the wind switched around to the North, but it’s 7:00 a.m. on Monday and I just came in from thawing out the pressure switch on our water well. 

The current temperature at the Boggy Thicket is 26°.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Reindeer Recliner

One end of the barn here at the Boggy Thicket is a greenhouse.  Back when we lined the pool deck with hibiscus plants, that’s where they spent the winter.  For the last few years I have used it to store all of the lighted wire Christmas sculptures; the Snowman, Santa, a huge sled, a Christmas Tree and about a dozen deer of various sizes.

There is also a faucet in there, installed when we were actually using the area for plants.  I had turned the water to the barn off back before the first hard freeze of the winter, and turned it back on this weekend. 

I went out to check the faucet, and this is what I saw:


That is one of the largest deer – over 6 ft. tall at the antlers, and almost 6 ft. long nose to tail.  Apparently, it makes an ideal spot for a moccasin to stretch out.  He was so comfortable there that I was able to go back in the house, get my camera, run back out and shoot the picture – he hadn’t moved at all.

Because of the size and coloration, I first thought it was just a chicken snake. With the tail up by the reindeer’s ear and the head stretching almost to its rump, it seemed to be much too long to be any of the poisonous snakes we normally see here. After I sent him on to snake heaven, though, I decided it was actually a viper.  He had the typical diamond-shaped head and a fine set of fangs.


A check of the “experts” at  Cottonmouth  found  several photos of snakes with similar markings, and this quote:

I’ve read several articles about the species where authors report that water moccasins don’t regularly climb low lying branches on the water’s edge and bask like other non-venomous waters snakes do, but that is entirely false.

I’ve personally seen several animals more than a couple feet off the ground basking in the sun in the same manner that common water snakes tend to do.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Counting To One


I consider myself to be a generally healthy person.  I do have my collection of minor aches and pains, but nothing too serious considering my age.


Like many folks my age, I do take a lot of  pills every day. 

I have one drawer beneath the bathroom sink dedicated to the meds I take every day.  Three of the nine pills I take daily are over-the-counter medications, but all of them were prescribed for one condition or another. 

Every morning, while breakfast is cooking, I remove one pill from each bottle and pile them on the counter.  Once I have them all, I scoop them into my hand and swallow them all at once.

Each of the prescription meds I take is mailed to me, and  each bottle is supposed to contain a 90 day supply.  Three of them come in the manufacturer’s packaging, and the other three are repackaged by the pharmacy, but all are supposed to contain 90 pills.


Why is it that they never run out at the same time? 

Why is one bottle empty when the others still contain several days supply?

Why is it seldom the same prescription that runs out early?

I suppose that there is a greater likelihood of a miscount on the repackaged meds, but they are not always  the ones that run out first.

I guess that I could be the problem, but I doubt it.  It’s pretty hard to mess up when you’re only counting to one.