Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bob and Honey – Movie Stars

Our Chiropractor’s office is normally closed on Tuesday mornings, but we got a call from them Monday asking us to come in.

Dr. Rob Rosenbaum is making a new series of instructional videos for his Website and wanted each of us to be in a segment.  Of course, we said yes.

Each of us recorded a video that had to do with something other than the traditional spinal adjustment normally associated with a visit to the chiropractor. 

Honey’s is about treating Temporomandibular Joint  pain.  The TMJ is the joint connecting your jawbone to your skull, and Dr. Rob has new equipment and procedures that gave her immediate relief.

In my case, when I broke my ankle and crushed my talus (heel bone) in an accident 13 years ago, doctors told me I would experience some pain from the area for the rest of my life.  I believed them, and their predictions had proved true until about two months ago.  I was having a particularly bad day and mentioned to Dr. Rosenbaum that it was a shame that my ankle pain was something chiropractic couldn’t fix.

He took the challenge.

After just a few minutes using a combination of new equipment and manual manipulation, he had my foot and ankle pain-free for the first time in 13 years. 

I’m not sure when the videos will be on line, but I’m looking forward to seeing them.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tornado Advice

Ever been in a tornado, or seen the path of destruction after one touched down? 

If not, let me assure you that an F-3 tornado, with winds in the 200 mph range, can wipe out anything standing and leave a path that looks like fresh-plowed earth!

tornado mayflower rv

When a tornado hit Mayflower RV on I-40 north of Little Rock yesterday, not all of the RVs on the lot fared as well as the ones in the picture.  Many were picked up and carried hundreds of yards down the road.  Some have not been found at all.

Of course, that’s not the worst of it.  As of this writing, 14 are confirmed dead in Arkansas twisters that touched down yesterday.

A lady from California, obviously unfamiliar with the power of tornadoes, posted on that they were in an area of northern Alabama with tornado watches in effect.  She asked if they should bring in their slide-outs if they had to ride out a tornado in their motor home.

It might be considered cruel – maybe a bit condescending – but the best answer she got was that if she was determined to ride out a tornado in her RV, she should leave the slides out because she “Might as well be as comfortable as possible during your last few minutes on earth.”

Monday, April 28, 2014

Another Spell Check

Way back in June 2010, I had a blog post titled Spell Check

Twice in the past week, I have received comments on that post.  Both were from somebody trying to sell their spell check program.  I do not allow comments like that to be published on the Boggy Thicket, but, even if I did, I could not recommend this one.

A quick look at their website will show you why. I added the red highlights – Giving the benefit of the doubt, I assume the lack of spaces between words in the title and the name of the product is on purpose…

SpellChecking Modes of KetticSpellChecker in C#.NET

KetticSpellChecker provides two spelling check modes for the developers to define how this control checks the spelling in there Windows applications. This spelling check control is capable of checking spell both word by word and all words at once.

The website goes on to explain that Kettic is capable of checking spelling in multiple languages.  I wonder if one of them is English.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Adventures of a Shade-Tree Mechanic

Ford 2000

There is an old saying - “If it ain’t broke, Don’t fix it.” – that carries a whole lot of wisdom in just seven words.  That is not to say that normal maintenance is not a good thing, but sometimes it is better to leave well enough alone.

I had a good example of that this past week.  My new-to-me Ford 2000 tractor, a three cylinder diesel, had bad battery cables that occasionally lost connection.   I knew they needed replacing when I bought it, and Friday, I bought new cables and swapped them out.

That seemed like a simple enough operation, a straightforward replacement of bad parts with good.  Nothing to go wrong there – Right?


After replacing the cables, the engine fired right up, but it only ran about 30 seconds and quit.  It wouldn’t even try to start again.

Here’s what happened -

In order to reach the battery cable connection on the starter solenoid, I had to remove one of the fuel filters.  When I put the filter back on, I failed to fill it with fuel.  Once the air from the filter reached the fuel pump, it lost its prime.  Much like a bolus of air in a human vein causing a heart attack, it killed that old Ford deader than a doorknob.

Once I figured out what I had done wrong,  I had to detach the fuel lines at the injectors and cycle the engine until I had fuel flowing again.  

That solved the problem with the tractor, except that by the time I got the fuel lines reconnected,  the battery was getting too low to start the tractor on its own. At that point, I used jumper cables and my riding lawnmower to give the tractor a boost.  It was working, too– I had just seen the first puff of smoke from the old Ford’s exhaust when the lawnmower abruptly quit. 

It just stopped like I had turned off the key.

After breaking out my voltmeter and tracing the circuit, I discovered that the mower has a 20 amp fuse that had picked that precise moment to fail.  It never had gone out before – after owning the mower for almost ten years, I didn’t even know it was there.  Luckily I had a replacement fuse in my tool box, and once that was fixed, the tractor started up on the first try.

All in all, a half hour job had grown to almost three hours over two days, but at least now it’s done.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fishing In The Corvette Hole


Remember hearing about the huge sinkhole that opened up inside the National Corvette Museum back in February?  Well, all eight of the priceless Vettes have now been retrieved, but museum officials haven’t decided what to do with them yet.

Currently, the damaged cars and the big hole are on display at the Bowling Green, KY facility.  That’s not a permanent solution, but it seems to be working – attendance at the museum is actually up by about 50%. 

The disaster has even inspired art.  The painting above, titled Resurrection, was done by board member Dana Forrester.

Damage to the Vettes ranged from only minor cosmetic damage on two vehicles to one – a custom made 2001  Mallett Hammer Z06 race car -which which one museum official described as “just a tire.”

crushed vette    

It may just be coincidence, but the fiberglass bodies of the older cars seem to have fared better than the high-end composites of the newer Vettes.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Unfiltered Frustration

filter price

After filling in our pool this spring, I put the pool pump and filter on sale on Craigslist.  In the past, I’ve had the usual obvious scam replies, but I’ve always had good luck selling whatever I posted in a timely manner.

Not this time.

This time has been three weeks of total frustration!

  • I had one immediate query, then no reply to my response. 
  • Then I had two separate callers who went so far as to arrange a time to come out - even get directions to the house - and never show up.  Neither had the decency to call back and say they had changed their mind.
  • I even had a shirt-tail relative message me on Facebook asking if they were still available.  She never answered my response either.
  • Finally had a potential buyer show up yesterday only to change his mind. 

Although he had asked about the model and size of the filter (It’s a CCP420, which indicates 420 feet of filter material in the cartridges) he drove all the way out from the Galleria only to tell me that he already has that size filter and needs something larger.  The guy was an African immigrant, and there was a but of a language barrier, but DAMN!

I’ve taken Honey’s suggestion and deleted the Craigslist ad – at least for a while. 

If you’re interested, they are still for sale -  I’m just not actively selling them.  I’ve got to get my frustration level down to a more manageable level – somewhere below the boiling point.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Up in Oregon, there is a plant that seems to offer solutions to at least two of the problems concerning the environmentally conscious citizens – waste disposal and energy generation. 

Since 1987, a company known as Covanta, in cooperation with Marion County, has been turning municipal waste into electricity.  According to its website, Covanta Marion processes 550 tons per day of municipal solid waste, generating up to 13 megawatts of energy which is then sold to Portland General Electric.  The facility also processes about 700 tons of in-county medical waste each year and about 1,200 tons from elsewhere, making it a small percentage of the total waste burned. Out-of-town medical waste is charged a higher fee.

It is an elegant solution that has worked well for over a quarter of a century, but it is now in jeopardy – all because the B. C. Catholic, a Vancouver based newspaper, reported that the plant was burning Canadian medical waste that included aborted fetuses!

The Marion County Board of Commissioners is moving to ban the practice immediately. 

Apparently, even in super-liberal Oregon, burning unwanted babies to light your house is just too creepy.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pool Pump Update

Not much to report from the old Boggy Thicket

I guess the most exciting thing this week is that after a couple of weeks without any responses we’ve finally got some action on our Craigslist ad for the pool pump and filter. 

We haven’t made a sale yet – in fact, I wasted all day Monday waiting for a potential buyer that never showed up.  He was supposed to call for directions about 10 a.m. – I’m not good at waiting, and when I hadn’t heard from him, I finally called him about noon.  He apologized for not calling, said he had run into some problems on the job he was doing, but would definitely be calling me by 2 p.m.  I never heard from him again.

But all is not lost.  Someone else called yesterday and is supposed to be coming out this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I got an email last night from a woman who thinks that she wants them.

I guess I’ll believe it when they are sold, but things are looking like they should be gone soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Rainbow of Snakes


Killed a pinkish orange or orange-ish pink snake the other night.  If you’re into Pantone colors, it was somewhere between PMS 163 and PMS 1635 on the Pantone Color Chart.

I had never seen one before, and the closest match I could find on line was the Southeastern Crowned Snake, a small non-venomous grass snake that is about the right size. 

crowned snake

I’m not sure this is what I saw because

  1. I stepped on its head before I saw the identifying black band, and
  2. They are mostly found in Alabama.  The documentation says that the far western edge of their range is eastern Louisiana, not eastern Texas.

I was planning on writing about this critter when I got an email, forwarded to me by my sister. 

The woman who wrote it (I’m assuming that the anonymous writer is female) is talking about another colorful snake, one known as an Indigo Snake and also as a Black or Blue Racer.  She says that her dad always told her she should encourage the presence of Indigo Snakes because they killed and ate Rattlesnakes. 

She admits to being skeptical, but now has photographic proof. 


Picture2a Picture4a



Monday, April 21, 2014

Go Wild


In case you missed it – and I almost did – this is National Park Week. 

There are many special events scheduled at our various National Parks, including Earth Day events tomorrow and National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday.  You may have already missed the best, though.  Admission to all National Parks was free this past weekend.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


phone box 3

No post from the Boggy Thicket yesterday, but there was a good reason.  When I got up yesterday, I discovered that we had no DSL, and checking further, that our phone lines were completely dead.

I used my cell phone to call the phone company, and after navigating the maze put up by the automated response computer, and being subjected to several minutes of really bad symphonic music on hold, I finally reached the right live person and a repairman was dispatched.

It didn’t take him long to discover the problem – Copper Thieves!

After Hurricane Ike, the phone company installed underground cables in our area and phone service has been uninterrupted ever since – much better than it ever was before.

Uninterrupted until Friday night, when sometime during the night, thieves hit every connection pedestal in our neighborhood, stealing all the wire that they could reach. 

Considering that they hit about a dozen pedestals, the amount of wire inside and the small (14 gauge)size of the telephone wire they stole, they couldn’t have netted more than $5.00 worth of copper, but the cost to the phone company was easily into the thousands of dollars. 

They had to send out crews with backhoes to dig out each pedestal and uncover enough cable to be able to splice it, then there were the actual linemen called out to do the splicing and to reinstall and reconnect the wires at the pedestals.  They had crews working from about  10 a.m. to 10 p.m. – over a dozen men at the height of the activity – and all drawing overtime for work on a holiday weekend.

Friday, April 18, 2014

J. J.

Dec 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) warms up before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The big news around Houston and the NFL this morning is that the Texans have exercised the fifth-year option on J.J. Watt’s contract, locking him in for  2015. 

Watt and other members of the 2011 draft, signed four year contracts that gave teams the option of a fifth year under a formula that probably sounded good at the time.  The top ten players drafted do get a nice deal ( same as a transition tag) but Watt was picked number eleven.  That means his salary is based on the average paid to the top 25 players at his position not counting players one through three. 

It’s hard to feel too sorry for anyone who will be making $6,969,000, but based on NFL salaries, he is worth a heck of a lot more.  It’s about half of what the Rams pay Chris Long, and Watt’s stats are better.

Sports writers  say this is just a temporary measure to keep things cool while a contract extension is negotiated.  They all expect Watt to be making big bucks by this time next year.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The McNamara Corvette


The Mecum Auction folks came to Houston last weekend for an auto auction at Reliant Center. 
The big news at the event was the car pictured above – a showroom perfect 1967 Corvette with less than 3000 actual miles.  Known as the McNamara Corvette, the car sold last Saturday for $750,000.

Even more interesting, is the story behind the car.  Here are the details from the Mecum website:

In the fall of 1966, 30-year-old Don McNamara of Colorado Springs, Colorado, celebrated his retirement from the United States Marine Corps with a trip to Las Vegas. It was the one and only time he would visit Sin City, and it proved fortuitous when Lady Luck intervened and a slot machine Don was playing paid out the massive sum of $5,000. By the time he returned to his parents’ home where he lived, he knew what he would do with his winnings. He asked his father, a car salesman, to take the money and buy a new Corvette.

At first glance, Don’s dream car appeared to be just out of reach; the features he specified pushed the price tag more than $500 past the $5,000 mark, but his father’s persistence paid off when he found a dealership in Lamar, Colorado, about 125 miles away, that agreed to sell a 427 coupe for under $5,000. Built on May 10, 1967, and delivered to McNamara on May 20 by Ray Motor Co. in Lamar, the Corvette coupe was exactly as Don had ordered, with the L36 427/390 HP engine, M20 4-speed manual transmission and 3.36 Positraction rear end; tinted glass, telescopic steering wheel, AM/FM radio, side exhaust and bolt-on aluminum wheels. Don’s innate patriotism influenced his choice of colors: Ermine White paint, Red Stinger stripe and Red interior – a matchup he completed by replacing the factory Black wall rubber with a set of double White-and-Blue stripe tires.

Don drove his new Corvette only sparingly for the first several months, until it inexplicably disappeared. When asked of its whereabouts, he would always answer that he no longer owned it. And yet, rumors that it was parked in his heated single-car garage persisted for years afterward, even after Don McNamara passed away in July of 2011. Only then was the truth revealed: the Corvette had been there the entire time, a full 45 years, discovered by the neighboring couple McNamara had befriended in his later years and to whom he had willed his entire estate.

Recorded interviews with the couple uncovered the story not only of the Corvette but of its enigmatic owner as well. Don McNamara was a unique man, one who loved his country and surrounded himself with its symbols of freedom and individuality while maintaining an intensely private life. He never married or had a family, never had a checking account or a credit card and always presented himself as barely getting by. He had decided to put the Corvette under wraps when after the first year the time came to pay license and insurance renewal fees, and began driving it only late at night, away from prying eyes and ever faithful to the pursuit of happiness. When the Corvette’s odometer approached the 3,000-mile mark in the mid-Eighties, he retired it from the road for the rest of his life.

When the Corvette was removed from the garage in 2012, the late McNamara’s next-door neighbor of 22 years saw it for the very first time. It had been discovered wrapped in a car cover, over which was draped a shipping blanket decorated with large Stars and Stripes and Marine Corps flags. It was in a virtually flawless state of preservation, entirely original except for a few personal touches under the hood comprising polished Edelbrock aluminum valve covers and four Corvette emblems mounted on the air cleaner.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014



I blame it all on the Washington Redskins. 

Well, not on the Redskins, but on those who have tried to make political hay by claiming the team’s name was ethnically insensitive. In spite of attacks by Barack Obama, the ACLU, and even a spokesman from the UN Committee on Indigenous People, team owners have stuck to their guns – the name is staying.

Here in Houston, the HISD, in an effort to appear more enlightened and cosmopolitan than the NFL, decided that the traditional mascot names of four of its schools were inappropriate. 

After several months of controversy, the Houston Independent School District has announced new mascots for four HISD schools.

At a press conference yesterday, HISD Superintendant Dr. Terry Grier announced that the Lamar High School Redskins will now be known as the Texans, Welch Middle School Warriors are now the Wolf Pack, and both the Westbury Rebels and Hamilton Indians will henceforward be called the Huskies.

Making these changes is going to cost the district over a quarter of a million dollars for new signs, uniforms, etc.

A local TV station reported that this change to more politically correct mascots brought over four hundred comments on their website.  None – not one - of the comments was positive.

As a former Hamilton Indian, and someone who carries at least a small amount of Choctaw blood, I never found the nickname offensive and thought the whole name change thing was ridiculous.

Even more amazing is that with all the possibilities out there the district and its naming committees could only come up with three mascots for four schools.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No Left Turn



Did you know that UPS has a right-turn-only policy? 

According to Priceonomics, UPS engineers found that left-hand turns were a major drag on efficiency. Turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes that wasted time and fuel, and it also led to a disproportionate number of accidents. By mapping out routes that involved "a series of right-hand loops," UPS improved profits and safety while touting their  environmentally friendly policy. As of 2012, the right turn rule combined with other improvements -- for the wow factor, UPS doesn't separate them out -- saved around 10 million gallons of gas and reduced emissions by the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars of the road for a year.

Describing the policy in a speech, Scott Davis, the CEO of UPS told his audience, "I can see a few of you smiling out there, and I know what you may be thinking. But it really works."

Of course, it’s impossible to get around without ever making a left turn, but one UPS driver estimates that his left turns are less than one turn out of ten.

Speaking of UPS, I’m not sure whether our dogs love or hate the UPS truck, but they do go nuts every time it passes by, running up and down the fence line barking their heads off.  They can recognize the sound of the UPS truck from half a mile away, and they react the same way every time. 

They ignore the postal carrier and Federal Express, but go into a frenzy for the UPS truck.

FedEx even has a new truck serving our area that looks just like a white version of the brown UPS wagon.  The dogs don’t even look up when it goes by.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Requiem for an 8-N Tractor



It’s an old Ford tractor from ‘52

We got her in ’60, almost good as new

When my dad passed away, she came to me

We kept the old 8-N in the family

Muddy and greasy, parts of her rusted

She served us well ‘til she finally busted

I tried to revive her, but I could not

The farther I got the more hopeless it got

I finally realized I’d done my best

It’s time to put Betsy out to her rest

My brother can’t stand that she didn’t survive

Mowing pasture on Betsy’s how he learned to drive

He loved that old tractor, He loves her still

Made me promise to leave her to him in my will

Thought she’d last forever, so it’s breaking our hearts

But you’ll find her on Craigslist, for sale for parts

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pick A Number

A world-wide survey launched by British math writer Alex Bellos asked people to name their favorite number.  After over 40,000 replies, he reports that the overwhelming favorite number was Seven, followed in order by Three, Eight and Four.

Bellos, whose new book is entitled The Grapes of Math, claimed he received over 30,000 responses within a few weeks of launching the survey, with total responses currently standing at 44,000. Out of all the submissions, almost half of the votes cast were for the numbers between one and ten.

The least favorite number turned out to be 110, which was the lowest number to receive no votes.

The writer suggested that the reason for seven’s popularity is its prevalence in global culture, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, to the existence of seven days in a week.

Bellos said he started the survey because of his belief that people have strong feelings about numbers, something he learned from giving talks about math in schools, colleges and festivals. “I am always asked for my favorite number – it’s guaranteed this question will come up,” he said.

I’m not surprised that 7 was the first choice – if asked to pick a number between 1 and 10, I would probably pick 7 more times than not, and 3 would be my second choice. 

My favorite number, though, is probably 17, followed by 23.  I guess that part of their appeal in that, like 7 and 3, they are prime numbers, not equally divisible by any smaller number except one, but that doesn’t completely explain their attraction.  I like, and I’m prone to use, 17 and 23 because they are believable numbers.

If I’m having an argument, or just spinning a yarn, they somehow sound more valid than 18 or 25, for example. 

So if I tell you “There are seventeen different ways to…”  or “Twenty-three percent of the…”  chances are good that I don’t know the actual figures and just pulled the number out of thin air.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


gray fox

We were out last night having a last cigarette before bed.  The moon was shining brightly, and an old song came into my head.  I started singing

The old gray fox came out one night

prayed for the moon to give him light…..

Honey asked what the heck I was singing – thought I was making it up.  I told her it was an old Harry Belafonte song.  It was also recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, but it is actually a traditional English children’s song.

She was not impressed.  In fact she said it was even dumber than last year’s What Does the Fox Say.

Friday, April 11, 2014

New (?) Tractor

Ford 2000

Thirty–Something years ago, when my dad passed away, I inherited a 1952 model Ford 8-N tractor.  It was one of the finest small tractors ever built, performing well with a minimum of maintenance.

Then several years ago – Honey and I have a friendly argument over just how many years. Please don’t tell her, but she’s probably right.  It just seems  impossible that it could have been that long ago. – I had the engine rebuilt, a new clutch and new tires installed. 

Shortly after that, it set up all winter, and I was never able to get it started again.  Usually that’s just a matter of cleaning and drying out the distributor and maybe replacing any old gasoline in the tank.  This time, the farther I went, the more I found wrong.  I was  finally forced to admit that it was more trouble than it was worth.

Yesterday, I got a replacement for the old 8-N.  It’s another Ford - this time a Ford 2000 from the late 70s or maybe 1980.  It’s very similar in size, but the 2000 has a three cylinder Diesel vs. the four cylinder gas power of the 8-N, and the transmission has a high and low range.

It has a few cosmetic issues, but it runs like a top, and all the implements I had for the 8-N will work without any modifications.

Moving from a 50+ year old tractor to a 30+ year old model certainly feels like progress, and this one actually runs!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day About the Night

A friend posted a Doris Day song on Facebook the other day, and it got me thinking about her and looking for the song I’ve posted here.  It is not your typical Doris Day song – it’s a Willie Nelson song – but it is one I’ve always thought was one of her best.

Back in 1960, while he was living in the Houston area and working as a D-J and guitar instructor, Willie wrote a song he couldn’t get recorded. The head of the little recording studio didn’t think it was a Country song.  Money was tight, and  Nelson sold the song for $150. 

Ray Price recorded the song as the title track of a 1963 album– and had a hit with it , and Doris Day released her version a couple months later.  I was working for KQUE-fm when the song came out, and of course we were much too sophisticated to play Ray Price, but we did play the Doris Day version.  On the late night – 10 pm to 2 am - shift, I got requests for it almost every night.

In 1965, Willie finally recorded the song on an album called Country Willie – His Own Songs for RCA, and had to pay royalties on his own creation.

Over the years, the song has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, BB King, Roy Clark, and quite a few others.  It may or may not be a Country song, but it is one of Willie’s best creations, and that’s saying something.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Annual Bluebonnet Trip


We made our annual trek to see the Bluebonnets today.  They were better than last year, but thick areas were small and the larger fields were mostly sparse.

In contrast, the fields of Indian Paintbrush are spectacular this year.


We did see one field off Hwy 105 east of Brenham that looked great from a distance.  I tried to get some pictures, but had to shoot through the bushes and a barbed wire fence.


The best blooms were probably in the ditches along the back roads north of Chappell Hill.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Windows X-Pired


Today officially marks the end of Microsoft’s support for the XP operating system, something they have been threatening since September of 2007.

That doesn’t mean that XP won’t work anymore – it just means that there will be no more patches, security updates, etc. from Bill Gates & Co.  XP will continue to work as well as ever until something (probably something external) causes it to fail.  If you still use Internet Explorer, now would be a good time to switch to Chrome or Firefox.

Just because you can no longer get Microsoft support for your XP system doesn’t mean it isn’t available.  “While many customers have already completed their migrations to a modern OS, some large customers with complex Windows XP deployments may not have their migrations complete by April 8,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. “To help those customers, we offer Custom Support for Windows XP as a temporary, last resort to help bridge the gap during a migration process to a modern OS, as the newest technologies provide the optimal chance to be and stay secure.  We are sure that our customers are taking the necessary steps to protect their customers.”

That custom support isn’t cheap.  Negotiated on a per company basis, estimated cost of the service could be as much as $200 per computer.  The United Kingdom is paying 5.548 million pounds to Microsoft for an additional year of support to maintain critical and important security updates for Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003.

Monday, April 7, 2014


It is almost embarrassing to admit, but we’ve become addicted to the ABC series Dancing With the Stars.  So much so that we actually care about the scores awarded by the judges.

This season, as usual, has some folks who couldn’t dance if they were being electrocuted, but there are a greater than usual number of people who actually have talent.  The odds-on favorites to win this year are Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the gold medal ice dancing team from  Sochi.  Of course, since they are competing with each other, they can’t both win.

My personal favorite is Amy Purdy, the paraplegic snow boarder who is competing on prosthetic legs.  It may be hard to imagine, but she is doing remarkably well – actually looks graceful.

She and partner Derek Hough did a contemporary piece last week that should have got 10s, but did not.  In spite of having the judges’ panel and the entire audience in tears – Judge Bruno Tonioli said there wasn’t a dry eye in the country – they got 9s across the board.

Part of the problem may have been her partner.  Emmy award winning choreographer Hough is easily the best of the “Pros” on the show, but we’ve found over the past few seasons that the judges tend to hold him to a higher standard – score his partner’s performances a point or two lower when compared to the other competitors – particularly in the first few weeks of a season.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sugar Land


Back when I was growing up, Sugar Land, Texas, was a little town known only for state prison farms and the Imperial Sugar mill.  Just about every bread-winner in town worked for one or the other.

I can’t quote actual figures, but I’d bet today’s median income in Sugar Land – even accounting for inflation - is about ten times what it was back then.

You wouldn’t recognize the town today, in fact it’s hard to find remnants of that little town from the 1950s.  What used to be farm land is now sprawling subdivisions of high-end homes populated by business executives, doctors and sports figures. 

The town boasts its own professional baseball team with one of the finest ball fields outside of the major leagues, a major satellite of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and starts construction this year on a new, state of the art, performing arts center.

As if all that wasn’t enough, it was reported yesterday that Ashley, a website dedicated to promoting affairs among married people, says almost 9% of its 160,000 Houston area members come from Sugar Land, making Sugar Land home to the most promiscuous folks in the area.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Yeah, He Looks Like a Killer

This is NOT an April Fool’s story – it really happened. 

A nine-month old boy was arrested in Pakistan and charged with attempted murder!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fort Hood, Again


That’s a picture of the 4th Infantry Memorial at Ft. Hood, Texas.  I’m sure that today his prayers are for those who fell yesterday.

March was the first month in years in which the US Army sustained no casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Just two days into April, we have already lost more troops at Hood.

It’s being reported this morning that Ivan Lopez, the soldier responsible for killing three and wounding sixteen before killing himself, was being treated for depression.  Some take solace in the reports that his act was not an act of terrorism, but four people are just as dead and three of the wounded are critical.

I’ve mentioned Ft. Hood a lot over the years on my blog, since I was there both as a toddler - First Time – and as an enlisted man during the height of the Viet Nam war - Hell on Wheels.  Incidents like the one yesterday afternoon would be terrible anywhere, but I’ll admit they bother me more when they happen in a place I used to call home.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


rio brush 7

Allergies seem worse than usual this spring, and if they haven’t already, somebody is going to tell you that it’s all your fault – global warming, polar vortex, climate change, or whatever buzz words are in vogue this week.

Speaking of pseudo-science, CNN has published their list of the ten worst cities for allergies – or is that best for allergies, worst for allergy sufferers? – and for the second year in a row, Mc Allen, Texas made the top ten.  They say that these so-called allergy capitals are ranked based on pollen levels, use of allergy medications and the number of board-certified allergists in the area.

Here’s this year’s list:

1. Louisville, Kentucky

2. Memphis, Tennessee

3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

4. Oklahoma City

5. Jackson, Mississippi

6. Chattanooga, Tennessee

7. Dallas, Texas

8. Richmond, Virginia

9. Birmingham, Alabama

10. McAllen, Texas

Mc Allen would never have made the list before it became a haven for “Winter Texans” – the thousands of retired folks from the northern US and Canada who come south to escape the snow.

Although studies show that little of the native flora actually remains in Mc Allen proper, the indigenous plants were mostly included in what scientists called the Tamaulipan Thorn Forest, a mixture of prickly pear, yucca and mesquite.  That's pretty much what most of us would consider desert – a place to go to escape your allergies.

Personally, I have serious doubts about any list that doesn’t include Austin,  so I dug a little deeper. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation Spring List shows Austin at number 50.  I guess that depends on just what make you sneeze – they show Houston at number 28.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014



In a joint news conference this morning, Cai Wu, the Minister of Culture for the Peoples Republic of China; and J.J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, and  Damon Lindelof; the creators of the TV series Lost, have confirmed that Air Malaysia flight 370 is safely on the ground on a small, previously uncharted island south of Sri Lanka.  All passengers and crew on the flight are alive and well.

The flight, and the multinational search for the plane, were all part of a publicity stunt for a new Chinese-language version of the show – a stunt that quickly got out of hand.

The military search vessels and much of the satellite imagery shown on the news was stock footage - and they  only used one P-3 Orion plane, alternating between US and Australian crews. 

The distraught Chinese mother who threw herself at security and had to be removed from the press conference is the star of a well-known soap opera, a Chinese version of All My Children.

When asked how they could even consider such a world-wide hoax, Abrams simply pointed to his company mascot.