Thursday, July 31, 2014

Logical Disconnect


One more thing about yesterday’s post -

The picture above shows the visible portion of what is known as the battery bypass or battery disconnect switch.  As the name implies, it is there to remove the battery from the circuit when the trailer is not in service.  Most modern RVs have several items – thermostats, sensors, etc. – that are always on and require 12 volts to operate.  They don’t use much juice, but will eventually run a battery down if the trailer is in long-term storage.

In all of our years of camping, I have never used the battery bypass switch.  Our pop-up trailers did not have one, and our last two trailers were always plugged in to a power outlet when parked at home.

I probably added an extra half hour to my trouble-shooting Tuesday when I accidentally moved the battery bypass switch to its OFF position, but I’m not complaining about that.  My gripe is that the label on this switch is about as confusing as it could possibly get.

Nothing in the literature that comes with the RV tells you how to operate this switch – probably because it should be a no-brainer.  It’s a two-position switch – how difficult could that possibly be?


It is a two-position switch – either ON or OFF – anyone should be able to deal with that… ON means the contacts are closed and OFF means they are open, right?  But wait,  the label clearly says Battery Disconnect – does ON mean that the switch has done its job – i.e., the battery has been disconnected?

As if that wasn't confusing enough,  the switch is operated with a removable L-shaped key.  If it is in the position pictured above, with the leg of the L pointing toward the right, you would probably assume (correctly, as it turns out) that the switch was in the ON position.  It seems to be pointing toward the ON on the label – all’s right with the world.  But -  from this position, you can only turn the switch 90° clockwise which leaves the L of the key pointing down – away from the OFF on the label. 

It’s enough to make a grown man whimper, if not break down and cry.

This is clearly one of those situations where thinking and logic can only get you in trouble.  The correct way to deal with this switch is to check it with a voltmeter, or – better yet - never touch it at all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Back in March, and again in May, I mentioned problems with leaks in our fifth wheel – wet carpet due to rainwater getting in.  Thankfully, I can report that those problems have been resolved.

That does not mean that everything was OK. 

When I picked up the trailer last time, I had a hard time hooking up - the battery was almost too low to operate the landing gear.  We assumed (incorrectly) that someone had left lights on while the trailer was in storage.  Once I got it home, I pulled the battery, charged it for 24 hours and reinstalled it.  It looked like everything was working fine.

Sunday, Honey asked me if the trailer was OK.  Something (she’s spooky that way) told her that I needed to check it, and sure enough, nothing requiring 12 volts would work.

After working for a month and a half, the battery was dead again.

It turned out that the converter – a replacement and supposedly an improvement over the original – was trash.  It had lasted just long enough to outlive its warranty.  Once it was replaced – with one that’s supposed to be bigger and better than the last one – everything is back to normal.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

German Marbles

german marbles

One day when I was about seven or eight years old, my father gave me an unexpected gift. 

We weren’t poor, but we were far from wealthy, so any present that came on a day that was not Christmas or my birthday was unusual to say the least. There was nothing special about that day, so this gift came as a total surprise.

I could hardly contain my excitement as I opened the box to find it contained 200 more-or-less spherical balls.  They varied quite a bit in size, but ranged from about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter.

I was confused – dumbfounded – I had no idea what they were or what they were for. Dad explained that they were German Marbles and that they were really special.  I tried to hide my disappointment, but I doubt if I did a very good job.

Google German Marbles and you will find pictures of some of the most beautiful glass marbles ever made – clear glass with gorgeous swirls of color – but there were also German Marbles made of clay. 

Those clay marbles were what I got.  They all had flat spots and the colored glaze had so many bumps and pits and pockmarks that they often looked like the surface of the moon.  None of them would roll straight, even on the smoothest surface.

German Clay Marbles were mostly made in the 1800s.  Thinking back about them now, I suppose that they were actually genuine antiques and probably very valuable.  The only use I could find for them was to pay off losses when we played marbles “for keeps.”   My friends objected, but I stuck to my guns, and it wasn’t long before all 200 were gone.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Andrea photo

The young woman in the picture is Andrea Kowch.

I do think she is attractive, but what first got my attention was the fact that her last name could almost be a phonetic spelling of mine. 

I came across this photo – and lots of her paintings – while surfing the net this past weekend.  Andrea is an award winning painter from Michigan and I really like her work.

You might not. 

Her work is dark, stark and sometimes creepy.  Even the happiest of her scenes seem to have some ominous undertones.  I’m not sure how significant it is, but (except for her Hiawatha illustrations) all of her subjects are women.

Here is an example:

Andrea Kowch

She has a WEBSITE and a FACEBOOK PAGE, or you can see lots of her paintings HERE.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Double Feature

dreamer wilde

I have no doubt that my old pal Kirk Dabney can put on his coat of many colors and interpret these, but I had two equally strange, and apparently unrelated dreams last night.

In the first one, three of my former coworkers and I were somewhere near Brenham at the home of a man who owned a brewery.  We were there for a business-related dinner, but never got around to eating because he kept urging us to sample his latest brews.

Also present were the brewer’s wife, three grown sons and two daughters.  The youngest son was a drug addict and the younger daughter was sweet but seriously mentally challenged.  Somewhere in her late teens, this girl was the baby of the family and they were all fiercely protective of her.  I scored major points with the brewer when I was able to make her laugh.

Our hosts were gracious, everyone was friendly, and we all were having a good time, but even my dream self kept wondering why they were hosting four copier repairmen.  I (my dream self) also had a strong sense of deja vu – I knew that I had been there and done that all before – I just didn’t know why.

The other dream was a bit more straightforward. 

I was back in the Army and I and two other guys were delivering a Zodiac inflatable boat to a National Guard unit near Brownsville.  When we got there, the Guard Colonel commandeered the truck and trailer we had used to haul it there.  We were still trying to figure out what to do about that, and how to get ourselves back to Ft. Hood when I woke up.

One more point for what it’s worth – the brewer in my first dream made some really great beer.  My favorite, a dark ale, was so wonderful that I can almost taste it now.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ghost Town

ghost town

If the picture looks like some tourist snapped it at some old ghost town in the American Southwest, it is probably supposed to, but it would be hard to be more wrong.  It was actually taken by Australian photographer Shane Thoms at an abandoned amusement park in Japan.

The place was called Western Village and closed in 2007 after failing to compete with the Japanese Disneyland.  Built in 1979, seventy miles north of Toyko, Western Village included a cowboy saloon, jail, post office, shooting gallery, a fake Rio Grande.  There is even a 1/3 scale replica of Mount Rushmore that was added in 1995 and allegedly cost the park $27 million to build.

Thoms is a guy who thinks abandoned theme parks are more fun than the ones in operation.  You can see more of his photos from Western Village HERE.  and even more photos Posted Here by a group called

Friday, July 25, 2014


va tornado

A tornado hit an RV park yesterday, killing two campers and leaving one in critical condition.  It left a path of downed trees and overturned RVs in the Cherrystone Family RV Resort in Cape Charles, Virginia.

We know, or should know, that tornadoes can strike anywhere, but I never thought of Virginia – particularly the Atlantic Coastal Area of Virginia – as a tornado prone area.  Tornadoes usually bring to mind the “Tornado Alley” that stretches from the Panhandle of Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and maybe Arkansas and Illinois.

But Virginia does get tornadoes.  NOAA records show the state averages about seven tornadoes a year, most of them in July.  The death toll from Virginia tornadoes since records began is about seventy.

What county in Texas do you think has the most tornadoes? 

Logic might tell you it would be somewhere on a line from Wichita Falls to Dallas, but according to the Insurance Council of Texas, it’s Harris County!

Harris County has recorded 210 tornadoes in the past 58 years. In a distant second was Hale County located just north of Lubbock with 118. The next three counties reporting the most tornadoes were Texas coastal counties. Galveston County has had 108 confirmed tornadoes, Jefferson County has had 99 and Nueces County has had 93.

Of course, tornadoes are only recorded if they are reported, and a lot of tornadoes probably touched down in unpopulated areas.  And a lot of the coastal tornadoes were spun off during Hurricanes.

Still, it’s something to think about.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

For the Birds


The Audubon Society and the Minnesota Vikings are fighting about the new stadium going up in Minneapolis.  The bird lovers are afraid that the two hundred thousand  square feet of glass walls will be a “death trap” for migratory birds.

"We're talking about a billion dollar stadium here, and the cost to save perhaps thousands of migratory birds -- and make the Vikings a global leader in green stadium design -- is about one-tenth of one percent of that," Audubon Minnesota executive director Matthew Anderson said in a statement issued Wednesday. "Hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is going to build this stadium, and we know the people of Minnesota do not want their money killing birds."

There are new Minnesota state laws designed to minimize the problem, but the stadium design was approved before the regulations were passed, and the Vikings say they will not change the design in the middle of construction.  Looks like the Audubons are one team the Vikings can beat.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Smithsonian Institution studies show that up to 988 million birds are killed annually in the United States by collisions with buildings, especially ones featuring glass windows.

But the danger doesn’t have to come from glass.

Back in the 50s, when we first moved to Liverpool, Texas, we lived in what had originally been half of a World War II mess hall.  We coated the leaky roof of the old building with an asphalt based aluminum paint.  It stopped the leaks, but several times – usually on foggy nights – we were awakened by the crash as geese tried to land on what they thought was water.  It was a scary way to wake up, but that shiny roof not only kept us dry, it provided several tasty meals.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cloud Behind That Silver Lining


In one of those great “Feel Good” stories this past weekend, local TV reported that a pretty little Maltese dog that had been missing for seven years had been found in Washington and was being flown home to Texas.  They promoted, and then  showed, the reunion at Bush Intercontinental airport when Dinah Miller of Tyler got the dog she calls Reese back.

The dog had been picked up on a road near Tacoma and identified by a microchip implanted before he disappeared near Dallas.

Now we learn that Reese has been living with the Davis family in Spanaway, Washington for almost the entire time he had been gone.  Shortly before moving to Washington, Kelli Davis adopted the dog they call Harley at a shelter in Mesquite where he was listed as an owner surrender.  They had been searching and putting up flyers when they learned Reese/Harley’s fate on the news. 

“Harley is my daughter’s best friend. That’s her little buddy. They do everything together,” said Davis,   “I don’t know what to do. We just lost a part of our family.”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grass Pains

Back in early June, I wrote about the sod we ordered to cover the big bare spot where our pool used to be.  Two posts in two days, both very excited and optimistic, and another on the 15th that was still positive but somewhat concerned.

Here’s where we stand today:

The first pallet laid down looks wonderful, but the last one is almost completely dead.  About a third of the grass is dead or dying, and I don’t know why.  Here and there within the brown area there are single rectangles that are lush and green surrounded by others that only have a few green shoots at best.

It all came from the same place, was installed at the same time and got the same amount of water, so why part of it looks great while much of it looks terrible is a mystery.  I think that maybe the sod was harvested using too shallow a cut, leaving the grass without enough root to sustain itself, but I really don’t know that for sure.

I’ve thought of treating the area with root stimulator or something like Medina Soil Activator, and I probably will - but I hate to throw good money after bad.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wasn’t Me

i didnt say that 

There are an awful lot of statements posted on the internet – particularly on Facebook – that are attributed to people who  simply never said them.  Often, these are statements that should be able to stand on their own merit, but the authors – in hopes of giving them increased credibility – feel compelled to claim they are quotes from  from some respected figure. 

In an entirely unscientific survey (I pulled the numbers out of thin air) I would estimate that the most misattributions are sayings claimed to be from Buddha, followed closely by Confucius, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and William Shakespeare.  It would be interesting to see actual figures, but I doubt if it would affect the practice.

Many of these false quotes are original, but often they are  words that could be correctly credited to one person but are incorrectly attributed to another. That’s how we get lines from a Shakespeare play attributed to Jesus Christ.

We often see obvious misattributions like Confucius saying A crowded elevator smells different to a midget that are meant to be humorous, but far too often misquotes and false attribution are the result of a lack of research or a serious attempt to mislead.

In the words of Groucho Marx – or was it Karl?- we see it all the time.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

You Might Be…..

About a dozen years ago, I delivered a speech that got a standing ovation.  It may well have been the best thing that I ever wrote, and I would give anything to have a copy of it today, but like the emails at the IRS, I’m afraid that it is gone forever.

Here’s how it came about -

As a technical instructor at IKON Office Solutions, I was instrumental in conducting the Tech Olympics, a program designed to recognize our most outstanding technicians.  Our Southwest District had recently been reorganized, becoming the Central Region, and now included contestants from  states that stretched from Louisiana to Colorado and as far north as Michigan. That year, we held our finals at Mayan Ranch, a Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas, where in addition to some demanding tests, our best technicians also got to enjoy trail rides, barbeque and western entertainment.

That picture here on my blog of me with a microphone was taken at that event.

As part of the festivities at the awards ceremony, I got up and explained that while I, as a native Texan, got my first horse for my first birthday, I was amazed to learn that one of the contestants – in spite of also being born in Texas – had never been on a horse  before he got to Bandera.  I was appalled, but it made me realize that a lot of what I took for granted was totally new to many of the people at the gathering.

I went on to explain some of the basics of cowboy life – like how a real cowboy would only wear the old shrink-to-fit Levi’s 501 jeans or Wrangler 13MWZs, and I explained that 13MWZ stood for 13 oz. denim made with a zipper.  I told them that a real cowboy would  wear straw hats only in summer, but had a XXX beaver by Resistol or Stetson for the winter months.

I told them that they wore those hats everywhere and all the time, except for church on Sunday. That meant that their faces were tan to just above their eyebrows, then white as a fish belly above that line.  I did point out that there were exceptions, noting that Fred Whitfield from Hockley, Texas, the PRCA Champion All-Around Cowboy for 1999, was African-American, and his forehead was pretty much the same color all the way to the top.

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, I then listed a long string of things followed by “You might be  Cowboy.”  The audience quickly caught on and was soon chiming in on the chorus. 

I listed things like -

If your horse trailer cost more than your house, and the horse you put in it cost more than the truck you pull it with….“You might be  Cowboy.” 

I wish I could remember them all, but the one that brought down the house was -

If the old freezer on your back porch contains deer sausage, Blue Bell ice cream and bull semen….

When the awards ceremony was over, the wife of one of the district managers asked me for my copy of the speech.  Sure that the original was still on my laptop back at the office, I gave it to her. 

I don’t know what happened, but when I got back to work, the speech was no longer there, and it wasn’t in the file on the server where we had all the other Tech Olympics stuff.  I never saw the lady or the speech again.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Asleep at the Wheel


Insurance statistics show that falling asleep at the wheel and/or driving while drowsy contribute to about 20% of all accidents.  That translates to hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and about $46 Billion in damage each year. 

While it doesn’t carry the same stigma – there is no Mothers Against Drowsy Drivers – driving drowsy is just about as dangerous as driving drunk.  In spite of that, statistics show that about 2/3 of drivers have driven while drowsy at one time or another.

A recent DMEa survey of 2,000 car owners found that a lot of drowsy drivers may be out on the roads right now. The majority (53%) of U.S. drivers reported that they are taking a road trip this summer, and that they plan to drive at least 7 hours each day – with 1 in 10 reporting they plan to drive more than 12 hours.

1. Drink A Caffeinated Beverage-52.9%
2. Open a Window or Sun Roof-41.7%
3. Switch Drivers-41.5%
4. Pull Over and Exercise/Stretch-35.2%
5. Listen to Loud Music-34.9%
6. Eat-33.0%
7. Sing-31.7%
8. Turn Up the A/C-25.1%
9. Pull Over and Nap-22.6%
10. Listen to Talk Radio-14.2%
11. Talk to Self-10.9%
12. Slap Yourself-10.3%
13. Exercise or Stretch in the Car-10.0%
14. Smoke-9.9%
15. Splash Water on Your Face or Neck-8.3%

The problem is that none of these solutions work!  At least, not very well, and none of them work for long. The only safe solution is to pull over and take a nap.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Film Review Thor The Dark World thor woman marvel 660

Today is Thursday, an appropriate time to comment on the Nordic/Germanic God Thor, the God of Thunder for whom the day was named.

Since long before the days of Roman occupation – the Romans compared Thor to Jupiter and/or Hercules – Thor has always been male.  In fact, he was about as masculine as a guy could get.  As recently as the current movie series, Marvel Studios cast Chris Hemsworth, a real hunk the ladies drool over, as Thor.

Now, in an inexplicable turn of events, Marvel Comics – yeah it’s the same Marvel as the movie folks – is bringing out a new series of comic books in which Thor is a Woman!


Did they discover that Hemsworth was secretly transgender?

What about Thor’s marriage to the goddess Sif, and their kids Járnsaxa, Magni and Móði? Where does that leave them?

With no further explanation than that they want to continue to present strong female role models, the powers that be at Marvel are disregarding their own successful story lines, not to mention centuries of history, to bring out a series of stories about a female Thor. 

Weren’t there any other god(dess) names available in the universe?  Couldn’t the creative bunch at Marvel come up with at least one?

Making Thor a female is truly a Marvel in more ways than one. 

I have never accepted gender limitations or gender discrimination, and I always told my daughters that they could be anything they wanted to be.  Now, I think I’m going to have to modify that to read anything you want to be except a guy that’s been around as a guy for hundreds of years.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Year of the Mole


The Chinese calendar may say that this is the Year of the Horse, but here at the old Boggy Thicket, it is definitely the Year of the Mole.

We have always had moles, Scalopus aquaticus, but the only time I saw any evidence of them was when I pulled the drowned body of one of the little buggers out of the pool skimmer.  That didn’t happen often, but was common enough to not be considered remarkable.

This year, it is almost impossible to go anywhere on the two or so acres I consider yard without coming across a narrow strip of raised dirt that is evidence of moles tunneling  just below the surface of the lawn.  There must be hundreds of them out there digging their way to wherever the heck it is that they are going. I know that many natural phenomena are cyclical – 17 Year Locusts, etc. – but in the 38 years we’ve lived here, we have never before experienced a swarm of moles .

Ever wonder why moles choose to travel underground when it would be so much easier to move around just a couple inches higher? 

I think it is an example of Darwinian natural selection.  It may be the only way they could have survived as a species, the only way they could ever reproduce.  They are such ugly little critters that they would never be considered attractive – even by another mole – if they didn’t bump into each other in the dark.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Killing the Grand Canyon

Dead Tree - Grand Canyon NP-1

Turn on the news any day, and you can take your pick of gloom and doom stories about humans bringing about the end of the world – stories about Global Warming (now called “Climate Change” to accommodate the cooler temperatures being recorded in a lot of places) or the disappearing Honey Bee population, or how Genetically Modified Crops are turning us all into something less than human.  All of these stories began with some small grain of truth but jump to conclusions that are often suspect at best.  Of course, if there weren’t dire consequences to predict, it wouldn’t be news.

The latest in this line of stories predicts the demise of the Grand Canyon.  The erosion that shaped the canyon has been going on for at least six million years, but now Park officials and environmentalists fear that delicate balance, already stressed by the Glen Canyon Dam, might be destroyed forever by development.

Two proposed projects in the area are seen as potential disasters. 

One is a development in the Kaibab National Forest that amounts to a small city, backed by Italian investors.  After 20 years of wrangling over water rights, the developers have now pulled a legal end-around – they incorporated and filled the city offices with employees.  As an incorporated city, they now have legal access to the water in the aquifer on the north rim of the canyon.  That already limited aquifer is the only source of water at the park on the south rim (it’s a little-known fact that there is a pipeline from the north rim to the south) and the water demands of the proposed development could force the closing of the park.

The other project is a proposed Gondola Ride on Navajo land at the eastern end of the canyon.  The Gondola would take tourists from the rim of the canyon to a restaurant on the bottom. 

That one may never get off the ground.  First, because the Navajo and the US disagree on who owns the land where the proposed restaurant would go – and, second, because (assuming the Navajo won the first) the tribal council would have to approve placing a tourist trap at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers, a spot traditional Navajo consider sacred.

You can read more about this story HERE.

The worst fears expressed in this story may be overblown. 

Neither project might actually reach fruition. 

But – if you’ve never seen the Grand Canyon, now would be a good time to go.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Caesar and Algernon


There is a new Planet of the Apes movie that opened at theaters this weekend.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pulled in $73 million including the box office from Thursday previews.  It is billed as a sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes that came out in 2011.

Meanwhile, somebody – I think it was TNT, but I wasn’t really paying attention – was showing Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Sunday afternoon.  We watched it because it was just about your only choice if you didn’t want to watch Soccer or Golf.

It didn’t occur to me while I was watching, but it is remarkable how many parallels exist between Rise and Charly, the 1968 movie that won Cliff Robertson the Oscar for best actor. 

Quality of the acting wasn’t one of them, but there are a lot of similarities in the story.

Charly, Flowers for Algernon (the Daniel Keyes short story Charly was based on) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes all deal with what happens when intelligence/brain function/cognitive ability are greatly enhanced in laboratory animals and in humans.  All seem to say that such growth can only lead to disaster.

It is a story at least as old as Genesis and the story of the Tower of Babel, and I can’t think of a single story that predicts positive results.  

It seems to be a part of our collective psyche that too much intelligence and/or knowledge is a bad thing.  I wonder why.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


As I mentioned back in MARCH, the ice storm of March 4th froze a lot of blooms on our largest Saucer Magnolia.  The blossoms shriveled and turned black, but even after the unfrozen buds had blossomed and fallen, those black blooms were still attached.

Believe it or not, they still are. 

They are well hidden by lush foliage, but those black blooms are still there – still hanging on after all these months.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pain In The Asphalt


Yellowstone National Park announced yesterday that they had to close Firehole Lake Drive, the 3.3 mile loop that takes visitors past Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser, and, of course,  Firehole Lake. 

The problem is that geothermal energy in the area has melted the tar in the road surface – a reminder that Yellowstone lies within the caldera of one of the world’s largest active volcanoes.

It reminded me of summertime in Houston when I was a kid.  This time of year, it was common for the summer sun to melt the tar in the Macadam streets of our neighborhood.  Kids soon learned to cross the street fast, but at the end of the day the bottoms of our bare feet were usually black.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Do It Right Or Else

My wife is the personification of a strong work ethic -

  • Get to work early.
  • Never call in sick.
  • Do everything right the first time.

She once had an employer tell her that she was the perfect employee, but that she wouldn’t work for her because she never cut herself, or anybody else, any slack.  While there is some truth to that, Honey’s employees tended to be fiercely loyal.

That same attitude carries over into horticulture where Honey has a produce or perish approach to the plants in our yard.  We have a magnolia tree and several crepe myrtle bushes that refuse to bloom.  Honey has been after me for years to cut them down or dig them up and burn them.

Luckily, somehow her ironclad rules don’t extend to husbands.  We have been together for almost fifty years although God knows I am far from perfect.  I am thankful for that.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I Just Turned Eight

I’ve mentioned before that I have always had very small feet.  I came by it honestly – my dad wore a size 6 1/2 and my maternal grandfather wore a 6.

I wore size 6 1/2 shoes when I was drafted in 1966, but came out of basic training wearing footwear a full size larger.  Almost half a century later, I was still in a 7 1/2.

Lately, I have been having a heck of a time replacing my comfortable walking shoes, a pair of Reebok cross-trainers that have been falling apart for a year.  I repaired the delaminated sole on one shoe with 3M weather stripping glue, and got a few more months wear, but they have definitely seen their last days.

I tried to find a pair just like them, but had no success.  I’ve tried Nikes and Addidas, shopped Academy and Foot Locker, but every pair I tried hurt my feet in one way or another.  Either the arch support was too high, too low, or in the wrong place.  A walk across the store, or often just standing up, showed me that the shoes were not right for my feet.

In desperation, I bought a pair of Nikes that were less uncomfortable than the rest, but I wish I hadn’t.  It’s an odd thing to say about sneakers, but the heels are too high – they seem to force my feet down toward the toe, and make my calves feel like I’m walking around in stilettos.  I’ve worn them to the grocery store and made it home OK, but they are useless for walking any distance.

Yesterday, I tried on a pair of New Balance shoes, and they fit just right.   I did a half-mile test run (actually walk) in them this morning with  positive results – little or no break-in issues and my feet and legs feel fine.

These new shoes are my very first size 8s.  Many catalogs and on-line vendors start their men’s shoes at size 8 1/2 – maybe if I live to be 90……


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Comfort Zone

We are constantly swimming in a sea of information – constantly bombarded by much more than we could ever possibly assimilate. I’m not talking about the internet or the 24/7 news cycles of modern television, but I could be – the results are essentially the same. 

What I had in mind this morning is the way we comprehend the universe in which we exist.

We only hear sounds of certain decibel levels that fall within a very limited range of frequencies, and we only see light within a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Much more is going on around us all the time, but we are severely limited – and our conclusions are limited proportionally– by our ability to recognize and evaluate that activity.

These limitations of our senses allow us  to function in a world that would otherwise prove overwhelming – too much data can be as deadly to any activity as not enough – but it does have its drawbacks.  Because of our limits, our understanding of God or the Cosmos soon becomes a comedy of errors, much like the fable about the blind men and the elephant.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014



Had a weird experience yesterday morning. 

I felt perfectly normal until I pulled my first cup of coffee from the Keurig machine, then I started shaking so badly that I had to set it back down on the counter.  I couldn’t even get the cup to my mouth with both hands.  The harder I tried to control the tremors, the worse they got.

Honey was on “dawn patrol” – had already left for her morning walk when I got up, so I couldn’t yell for help.

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had tremors before.  My hands shake a little all the time, and have as long as I can remember, but I have never had the shakes like this.  It wasn’t painful, but I’ll admit that it did scare me a bit.  I must have looked like someone suffering DTs on steroids.

I checked my blood pressure and my blood sugar – pressure a little high but both within normal limits.

It only lasted a few minutes – ten at the most – and I was back to normal by the time Honey got home.  It may have been my imagination, but it left me feeling tired all day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Some Things Should Never Go Out Of Style

Honey mentioned yesterday that we went through the entire 4th of July weekend without seeing James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy.  She didn’t even see it listed.

That’s like going through December without seeing Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life!  It just shouldn’t ever go out of style.

So – Honey, this is for you…


Sunday, July 6, 2014


egrets mower

Egrets spend so much time around farms that they could almost be considered domesticated.  It is common to see them with – and on the backs of – cattle.  Pull a plow through a field, or a brush-hog through a pasture, and Egrets will show up in droves to feast on whatever critters the farmer uncovers.

Here at the Boggy Thicket, Egrets even follow me when I mow the lawn on my riding mower. When I mowed yesterday, two showed up within the first five minutes and stayed with me almost an hour until I took a break. 


The birds looked identical – they are Cattle Egrets, one of the four species common to the USA – snowy white with just a dash of peachy beige. 

Although they looked the same, their feeding approach was totally different.  One liked to hunt in the unmowed grass for bugs and frogs that were scurrying to escape the mower, while the other preferred the area I had just mowed and the easy pickings of critters killed or injured by the mower blades.  Both of them seemed sure that I was mowing strictly for their benefit, and while they would occasionally run or fly to get out of my way, they never went more than about twenty-five feet.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

By the Numbers

Tinker 9th bday

Yesterday, the world’s sweetest miniature dachshund, our dog Tinker, turned nine years old.

It also happened to be the 238th birthday of the United States.

If you divide 238 by 9, you get 26.44, which is the new American record for a 10,000 meter run, set by Galan Rupp on May 30 of this year.

If you Google 26.44, you’ll also see a self portrait (number 26.44) by a Canadian blogger named Andrea Wrobel. 


She calls it Metropolitan Unicorn.

If instead of dividing, you multiply 238 by 9 you get 2142.  Look for that on line, and you’ll get lots of hits – all for Battlefield 2142, which must be a pretty popular video game.

The whole point of this exercise is that numbers do mean something, but this time they don’t mean much.

Thursday, July 3, 2014



I experienced what could only be described as an epiphany last night. 

While I slept, I received perfect insight into a problem that has troubled me for years. Suddenly, I understood with absolute clarity why otherwise decent people – intelligent, hard-working folks with good will toward their fellow man – form into factions that despise each other.  Why they join groups – political, religious or whatever - that will never get along and view each other as evil.

My understanding was complete, but like a soap bubble’s perfect sphere, it only existed so long as it remained whole.  When I tried to put it on paper, the whole thing fell apart.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hobby Lobby II

Several of my left-leaning friends on Facebook have posted links to this article from Forbes which seems to say that Hobby Lobby profits from the very things they objected to providing in their suit against Obamacare.  All of their posts screamed HYPOCRICY! 

I can see why they feel that way, but here’s my take on it:

I pay a professional to administer my retirement account. That account includes several mutual funds.

The big selling points of mutual funds are safety through diversification and professional management so you don’t have to constantly monitor individual stocks and market trends.

So - the funds have managers, and my account has another manager. Although I do get literature from the various funds I have little or no input into what they do.

Do I know what companies are included in those funds? Do I know what each of those individual companies do, make, sell?

No, I do not.

Could one or more of the companies in my portfolio be involved in something I wouldn’t normally condone?

It’s possible – even likely.

So, before you jump on the HYPOCRICY bandwagon, I have a question…..

What’s in YOUR wallet?


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby


The Supreme Court has ruled, 5 to 4, in the Hobby Lobby case, but the fight seems to be intensifying.

The problem, as I see it, is that nobody – not even the Justices on the Court – can agree upon what the real issue is. 

One side calls it a Women’s Rights issue, while the other sees it as the Constitutional protection of Freedom of Religion.

In the majority ruling, the 1st Amendment took precedence when the Court ruled that the Southern Baptist owners of   Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties could not be forced to pay for contraception for their employees as mandated by Obamacare.

Like dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned, this decision could open the door to a flood of other cases.  There are those (and presumably business owners) whose religion prohibits things like blood transfusions and vaccines – will this case set a precedent that will allow them to refuse to purchase health insurance altogether?  It could get interesting.

  • Should women have access to birth control? 
  • Absolutely!
  • Should an employer be forced by the government to pay for something they consider a sin?
  • Absolutely not!

Was yesterday’s decision the right decision? 

I think it was.