Sunday, August 31, 2014

Geaux Tigers


In a sold-out game billed as the Texas Kickoff, the 13th ranked LSU Tigers met the number 14 Wisconsin Badgers in Houston’s recently renamed NRG Stadium last night.  It wasn’t pretty, but the boys from Baton Rouge scored the last 21 points of the game to win 28-14.  That took their non-conference winning streak to 46, the longest in college football.

Since they are just down I-10, most Houston fans consider the Tigers to be the home team.  Most, that is - except for Texans star J.J. Watt who is clearly a Wisconsin fan.  He has two younger brothers –junior fullback Derek and freshman tight end T.J.- who play for his alma mater.

Neither Watt brother had much to do with last night’s outcome.  Maybe if they lined up on the other side of the ball….

Saturday, August 30, 2014



The University of Houston Cougars played their first football game in their brand new stadium last night.  

TDECU Stadium – the Texas Dow Employee’s Credit Union bought the naming rights – replaces the old Robertson Stadium where I marched as a member of the Hamilton Junior High Band back in the 50s.  Robertson was okay for junior high games, but was not much of a college stadium even then.  It was an embarrassment compared to Rice Stadium a few miles west.

It would be nice to report that the Coogs christened their new digs with a win.  Unfortunately, the UTSA Roadrunners, who have only had a football team since 2011, beat the home town team 27-7.  Total yardage was almost even, but the Roadrunners intercepted four passes and recovered two Cougar fumbles.

UH finished with minus-26 yards rushing on 23 attempts.  Most of the fans had already left when Ryan Jackson avoided a total shutout with a 2-yard scoring run with only 1:04 left on the clock.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Yes Means

My niece just got back to Houston after driving her first-born son to California for his freshman year of college. 

It may well be just a coincidence, but on the day she returned, the California legislature  sent the governor a bill requiring all colleges receiving state funds to redefine acceptable sexual behavior of their students.

In cases of sexual assault, Senate Bill 967 goes beyond the old “No means No” standard, and attempts to define when “Yes means Yes.”  In the words of the bill, “Affirmative consent means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. ... Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. ...(consent) can be revoked at any time."

Twenty years ago, the idea of gaining explicit consent before engaging in sexual activities was considered so extreme it was -- literally -- laughable. Saturday Night Live in 1993 lampooned the consent policy adopted by Ohio's Antioch College with a game show titled "Is It Date Rape?"

"May I elevate the level of sexual intimacy by feeling your buttocks?" the male asks.

"Yes. You have my permission," the woman replies.

The bill's proponents say that those who think seeking consent is awkward, unrealistic or mood-killing miss the point. I’m not sure I agree, but I am sure that healthy college students can and will overcome any obstacles placed in the way of their having sex.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Can’t Trust Pandas

panda suit

For some time now, workers in China’s panda breeding program have been wearing panda costumes when dealing with orphaned cubs.  The theory was that it helps the youngsters feel more at home with real pandas when returned to the wild.  Ridiculous as it may sound, they think it works.

Now, in a classic case of turnabout is fair play, keepers in Sichuan province say that Ai Hin, a six-year-old female panda has been faking pregnancy.

Ai Hin 

She had been scheduled to be the star of the widely-promoted first-ever live broadcast of  the birth of a panda cub, but the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre announced yesterday that they were calling it off.  Ai Hin is not, and never was, pregnant.

They think she faked the pregnancy because, according to panda expert Wu Kongju,

“After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care. They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Curses - Foiled


I could have started this blog post from two totally different directions, so if the next couple of paragraphs seem to jump from one unrelated subject to another, just consider this a sort of prologue to set the stage. 

We have – hold on while I actually count them – a total of six cookie sheets in the drawer under our oven.  The oven would only accommodate two at a time, and there are only two that we ever actually use.  One is a huge aluminum thing that I picked up at a restaurant supply years ago, and the other is smaller; it’s an old steel cookie sheet that we’ve had forever.  That old tray gets used several times a week and washed about once a month.  That’s all the washing it needs because we always line it with aluminum foil.

The tips of our fingers are among the most sensitive areas of the human body.  They have about a gazillion nerve endings, each with a direct expressway to the brain. That’s why blind people read Braille with their fingers and not some other portion of their anatomy, and why nurses and phlebotomists take such malicious glee in poking fingertips for blood samples.

I had always thought that paper cuts were among the most painful injuries a person could sustain – pain far out of proportion to the seriousness of the actual injury – but you have never known real pain until you get a paper cut from the edge of a sheet of aluminum foil! 

I was lining the cookie sheet prior to throwing some biscuits in the oven the other day when I learned this for myself. 

I screamed! 

I made noises and said things never before heard in our house! 

I called that foil things that were physically impossible, even for recycled aluminum!

All I can say is, if you haven’t experienced this for yourself, count yourself lucky, and Don’t Try This At Home!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Kelvin tue nguyen

My circle got smaller with the passing of two good men this past week.

Tue Nguyen was one of several Vietnamese refugees hired by Global Services and trained as copier technicians.  He worked for me at Ikon Office Solutions when I headed the color copier group. 

One of the most impressive (and often most frustrating) things about Tue was that he absolutely refused to leave a machine until he was satisfied that it was fixed.  That sometimes led to one-hour service calls that stretched to two or three days, but if I had a machine no one else could fix, Tue was my go-to guy. 

Kelvin Ischy was one of the “instant grandkids” we acquired when our daughter Cheryl married Gene Ischy, Kelvin’s dad.  He was handsome, popular, and left us much too young.  He had just turned 21 this past July. 

We only saw Kelvin at family gatherings each Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I wish I’d had the chance to know him better.

Monday, August 25, 2014



The Little League World Series is over for another year.  Our local favorites, the Pearland East team was declared the number four team in the country after losing to Philadelphia and to the Jackie Robinson All Stars from Chicago.

The kids from Chicago, who also eliminated Philly in the double-elimination format last Thursday, played international champs South Korea yesterday for all the marbles. 

The Korean team won 8-4.  That makes them the third international team in a row to win the series.

I guess it’s just human nature, but the local news gave more time to the Pearland team arriving back at the airport than they did to the championship game.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


It’s been a long time since I’ve written about earthquakes - I got a little tired of being the “boy who cried wolf,”  but there have been three significant quakes already today and the sun isn’t even up yet here at the Boggy Thicket.

There have been two tremors above 5.0 at the site of the Bardarbunga Volcano in Iceland.  That volcano seems to be about to blow and authorities have issued a Red Alert for aviation, warning that an eruption is imminent.  There has already been one eruption, but it occurred under a glacier and couldn’t be seen except for a little steam.

Meanwhile, a 6.4 quake hit the coastal area near Valparaiso, Chile yesterday evening, and early this morning, a 6.0 quake hit the Napa, California area.

The USGS expects anywhere from 30 to 70 aftershocks from the Napa quake.

No major damage is reported from any of these events, but in the words of that famous philosopher Jerry Lee Lewis, there’s “a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on.”

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Rodney Treat at Sea-Arama Marineworld, 1975.

Do you remember Sea-Arama Marineworld? 

It was one of the first parks anywhere to feature trained seals, dolphins and whales.

Located across the boulevard from the Galveston seawall, it was the island’s most popular tourist attraction for about twenty years from the time it opened in 1965.  It fell on hard times in the late 80s, and after the opening of Sea World in San Antonio, it could no longer compete.  Though Sea-Arama entertained more than 6 million people in its lifetime, only 300 turned out for what would be its final performance.

Animal activists were glad to see it go, citing the eleven dolphins and two orcas that died there before it closed forever in 1990.

Here’s a true Sea-Arama story that you’ve probably never heard. 

Back when the park opened, one of my best friends was living with a woman who worked there briefly.  “Jimmie” was a statuesque blonde who made a very good living as a model.  She was hired as one of the mermaids – bikini clad girls who swam with the dolphins.

I don’t suppose the possibility had occurred to anyone until it happened - this was, after all, one of the first parks of its kind – but she went into the tank on the wrong day of the month and was assaulted by an amorous male bottle-nose dolphin. 

She almost drowned, sustained numerous bruises and abrasions, and she never got into the tank again. 

I doubt if the dolphin cared one way or the other, but none of the humans involved wanted the story to go public, so the incident never made the news. She did get a very healthy out-of-court settlement from the park.

Friday, August 22, 2014



I’ve known for some time that I was letting myself get out of shape.  Not terrible for a guy my age, but not good. I was to the point that I was a little bit afraid that I might be unable to perform the exercises required to build myself back up without running the risk of causing myself serious harm.

But, I had decided not to put it off any longer. 

I was going to start a regimen of sit-ups and toe touches. Then, while sitting in the Chiropractor's office, I saw a Power-Point presentation that said to never do sit-ups, crunches or toe touches!  When I asked him about it, the doctor said that I should get more serious about walking every day and should start Planking.

For anyone not familiar with yoga, or exercise in general, planking is apparently the in thing with fitness instructors.  It is an almost passive form of exercise – all you do is support yourself on your elbows and toes while keeping your body straight as possible from your heels to the top of your head.  Designed primarily to help tone the “core” muscles of the body – there are lots of before-and-after pictures on line of slobs achieving six-pack abs – I can testify that it will affect your entire body.

I have also learned that, aside from the position resembling a plank, just two days of Planking can leave you stiff as a board and too sore to move.  I’m going to keep at it, at least for now, but if this is starting easy……


Thursday, August 21, 2014



We had several pairs of nesting cardinals, and have a bumper crop of young cardinals this year.  We’ve been enjoying watching them mature. 

Two weeks ago, you couldn’t tell the young males and females apart, but now you can.


The adolescent males are showing a lot of red.  They are still a long way from the knock-your-socks-off brilliant crimson of a mature male, but they are displaying more, and brighter, reds every day. The females look more like their mothers, with coloring that ranges from light tan to reddish brown. 

The one exception is a bird I’ve seen on the feeder several times, but never when there was a camera available.  It looks like it has been rolling around in the ashes of our burning pile.  Instead of plumage that goes from beige to tan to brown, this birds coloration ranges from pearl gray to charcoal – almost black. 

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 50 shades of gray.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Out of Steam


The Pearland team lost 6-1 last night to the Jackie Robinson team from Chicago, ending their run at the Little League World Series.

Statistically, that leaves them as the number four team out of almost 7,000 little league teams in the US  – not too shabby, but not the result they were hoping for.

Pearland manager Don Smith told the boys to look around and take it all in. "There is nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody here is a champion. It just ended a little sooner than we wanted it to."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Uncle Charles

charles lee couch

I get emails almost daily from Publisher’s Clearing House urging me to use PCH Search for automatic entry in their sweepstakes.  I haven’t got rich yet, so I usually ignore them.

Today, I used PCH Search to look at the family plot at Rosewood Cemetery in Humble, where I found the headstone of an uncle I never knew I had!

Cemetery records show Charles Lee Couch was born in 1922, so he would have been 32 when he died.  A quick search of the internet brought up no other references.

I would have been 11, almost 12, when he passed away. I have vivid memories of family gatherings – Christmas and Thanksgiving – from about the time I was 3 years old, but I’m sure he was never there.  I never saw a picture, never heard him mentioned, never knew he existed.

I do remember being visited by a relative who was supposed to be locked up at a state home for the mentally impaired.  My mother told me that he had sustained severe brain damage in a farming accident as a child and supposedly had the mental capacity of a 6 year old, but he was able to walk away from the facility, make his way to Houston and find us even after we had moved. 

I can’t remember his name – it might have been Charles, but I don’t think so – I do know that I was told that he was my dad’s cousin, not his brother.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Filthy Rich


I have never really wanted to be rich, but it would be nice to not ever have to worry about money. 

I’ll admit that I have  occasionally fanaticized about being wealthy.  Now, according to an email I got last night, I have millions.

Of course, it is a scam, but it is better than most.  Here’s what it said:

Attention Sir,


I am delighted to contact you on a private note based on your beneficiary funds claim which is the sum of US$35.5 million which has been programmed for transfer into your designated bank account through my department. I hereby apologize to you for the delay in releasing the funds to you. This delay was caused by me because of improper documentation and breach of agreement between me and your so called partners in Africa.

Your partners agreed to give me the sum of US$750,000 (CASH) on my acceptance to assist them to transfer the funds into your account when I was still the Chief Executive Officer and Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc. As I made fruitful efforts on the business and demanded my$750,000.00 as agreed. Your partners deviated from the agreement and decided to outsmart me and go through the International Remittance Department - IRD: not knowing that the IRD is under my control legally. I got knowledge of their evil plans and proved their efforts  abortive. That was why you may have been pursuing this payment, spending unnecessary funds to some corrupt and fraudulent individuals and impostors who claimed to be in charge.

I am also aware that they now contact you and parade themselves as staffs and managements of various banks, some even claim to be Barristers of different kinds and some also go as far as claim be me. Some even claim to be High officials of our bank. Some even claim to be FBI investigating your transaction. They are all impostors deceiving themselves and will not be able to secure release of the funds - as far as I am concerned.

Henceforth, I advice you to suspend any dealings with any group of person(s) from any other financial institution / parastatals in Nigeria or overseas, that might be contacting you in this purpose and endeavor to keep this information confidential until we finalize this transaction to avoid them using it as an advantage to scam you again or even make you lose your money. Also on no account must you contact them any more and on no account must you let them know of my contact with you. This is for my own safety and for the security of this venture. The funds US$35.5 million which you are the rightful beneficiary, is still at CBN and under my control, waiting for a proper documentation and due process.

Take Note: To curb corruption, all beneficiary claims are now subject to the Apex Bank which is the Central Bank Of Nigeria after certification by ICPC as ruled by the Federal Government.

Now with my whole heart I want to enter into real business with you on a sincere agreement due to my job placement as the new Governor of the Central Bank Of Nigeria.

1. On an agreement, I am assuring you that I will transfer the funds US$35.5 million into your account. ( Thirty five million and five hundred thousand United States dollars ). That is the original sum, not previous as mentioned by your so called partners.

2. You will assure me of keeping my dealings with you to an utmost secrecy because of my position in our organization. I will be at the front line of this venture, but we must act as if you contacted me to seek advise on your claim procedures.

3. With a written promissory note signed by you, you will promise to give me 20% of the total sum as soon as the funds gets into your designated bank account.

I promise you that you must smile big at the end of this venture.

I await your favorable response via my secure email: (  ) to enable us move forward in this transaction.

God bless you.

Mr Godwin Emefiele.

Executive Governor, Central Bank Of Nigeria.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thirty-two : Seven


Thirty-two is becoming a recurring theme on Sunday posts – last week it was Thirty-two Zip, but this time our Houston Texans came out on top. 

In the home pre-season opener, the Texans looked so much better than the week before it was amazing, and I don’t think Atlanta was that much worse than Arizona.  They just played a much better game, especially on defense and special teams.

Early in the first quarter, Jadeveon Clowney came up with two huge hits on back-to-back plays, including his first NFL sack.  That, in itself, would have been worth the price of admission.



These two plays are .gif files – I hope they work.

There were still way too many penalties.  It is still pre-season and the outcome doesn’t matter.

But it was nice to get a win.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Oh, I See


This summer, 60 Minutes on CBS revisited a story they first aired in 2012.  It was about a little-known Italian company called Luxottica, the company that controls the eyeglass industry.

Luxottica manufactures just about every designer eyeglass brand in the market – Gucci, Prada, Ray Ban, Oakley, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Chanel, Chaps, Paul Smith, Vogue, etc., etc…

Not only that, but they also own or run the retail channels – Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical, Sunglass Hut, and Oliver Peoples. All but a few brands sold at these retailers are made by Luxottica.

AND they even control some of the payment channel by owning the second largest vision insurer, Eyemed.

All of this was on our minds when we got our eye exams this year.  My prescription hadn’t changed, but Honey’s had, so she decided to price new glasses at Wal-Mart Optical – one of the few places left on the planet that are not owned by Luxottica.

The price difference was Amazing!  She was able to get new glasses – with top of the line Nikon lenses – for over $350 less than she paid for just the lenses on her last pair of glasses from Lenscrafters.

Wow!  Outstanding!  Fantastic!  Wonderful!


They never worked.

We were in the area, and bought her new glasses at the Wal-Mart in Crosby – a store we almost never visit. 

Once the glasses came in the trouble began.  We didn’t make it home before she was complaining that the glasses hurt her nose.  They also gave her a headache, but we thought that was normal – actually to be expected with a new set of progressive lenses. 

She had already lost confidence in the technician at the Crosby store, so we began a series of visits to our “local” store in Porter.  We made about a dozen visits, sometimes twice in a single day, but the Porter technicians  were unable to help – if she could see, the glasses hurt, and if they didn’t hurt, her vision was blurry.

They finally decided/admitted that the glasses the Crosby store sold her were never going to work properly.  The bridge width was too short for her face.  Honoring their 100% satisfaction guarantee, they helped her select frames that fit and ordered her a new set of glasses.

The new glasses came in yesterday and they were just about perfect right out of the box.  The technician did tweak the ear pieces a tiny bit, but they probably would have been fine without it.

The final outcome was that Honey got a great pair of glasses at an excellent price, and we have become experts in a new field.  We now know more about fitting glasses than we ever wanted to learn – certainly more than most optical store sales people.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Just Don’t

There are a lot of ads out there saying don’t text and drive, but somehow people keep doing it, and people keep dying because of it.

I remember being a teenager and feeling nine feet tall and bullet proof.  If cell phones had been around back then, I probably would have been one of the worst offenders – sure that nothing bad would ever happen to me.  Now that I have a grandson who drives, I have an entirely different perspective.

This video is directed at those young drivers.  Hopefully, it will change some attitudes.  If it does, it will save lives.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Boiling an Egg


4 minute6 minute

Folks describing their lack of cooking ability are likely to say “I can’t even boil an egg.”  About the only thing worse would be “can’t even boil water,” but the sad fact is that, according to the experts at the American Egg Board, almost everyone does it wrong.

They say the perfect boiled egg isn’t boiled at all.  If eggs are cooked at 212°F for too long, the whites become rubbery and the yolks dry. Why? Egg whites are mostly protein and water; as the proteins cook, they coagulate, and if overcooked, the water is pushed out.”

Egg-sperts say your eggs should be placed in boiling water and the pan immediately removed from heat.  Your mother may have taught you to start your eggs in cold water, and that works too, but when do you start timing?  Do you count from when the water is simmering, or when it comes to a rolling boil?  Waiting to drop your eggs in until the water is is boiling allows for more precise timing.

Of course, if you’re going for a hard-boiled egg, it really doesn’t make any difference, but I do like my eggs soft-boiled.  Honey likes fried eggs over easy, but will not eat a boiled egg unless the yolk is cooked bone dry.  I pull my eggs from the pan at four minutes to get eggs similar to one on the left above, then re-set the timer for another six minutes.  I can usually have my eggs peeled and on the plate before she thinks hers are ready to take off the stove.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nose News

Not much to report today – things have been pretty quiet lately.  The most exciting thing that has happened so far today is that the scab came off of the side of my nose.

I had a scab there on my nose because, a week ago Monday, I paid a woman to cut a chunk out of it.

Actually, Medicare paid her.  She is a dermatologist who was removing a lump that turned out to be a benign fibroid.  A spot that looked to my untrained eye very much like the tumor that Honey had removed a couple months ago.

I first noticed the lump about eight months ago, and it had grown to the point that it looked like I was sporting a pearl stud.  Now, I don’t have much of an opinion one way or the other about piercings – if you like them, that’s fine – but I can definitely say that they are not for me. 

I had no wish to wear a white ball on the side of my nose whether it was home-grown or installed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

R I P Robin

robin williams

Robin Williams was found dead in his home yesterday, and the coroner’s preliminary cause of death is listed as suicide by asphyxiation.

What a waste, and what a loss, but like many of the best and brightest comedians of the last half century – Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters – Williams suffered from inner demons that led to self-destructive behavior and an early death.

It’s been said that Comedy isn’t pretty, and sometimes it seems that a true gift of humor can be terminal.

Monday, August 11, 2014



The Pearland Little League All-Stars are on their way to Williamsport Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series.  They won the Southwest Region Championship handily, and should have a good chance of winning the whole thing.

But -

They better watch out, or they might get beaten by a GIRL! 

13 year old Mo’Ne Davis pitched a three hit shutout yesterday to lead her team, the  Taney Youth Baseball Association Little League of Philadelphia to an 8-0 victory over a squad from Delaware.  That gave them the Mid-Atlantic Championship, and a slot in the Series.

Davis, who struck out six in the six-inning game, will become only the 17th girl to play in the Little League World Series in 68 years.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thirty-two Zip


We decided to go out to eat for my birthday on Friday so we could be home to watch the Texans’ first preseason football game on Saturday evening.

I was looking forward to the game – new season, new coaches, new personnel, new strategies – it offered the promise that the team had to look better than the one that was on the field for last year’s dismal season. 

I wish that I could report that was true, but  unfortunately, they stunk up the field in Phoenix so bad you could smell them from here.

I know that preseason games aren’t about winning. They are a time to evaluate strategies and personnel, a chance to see potential players show their stuff in a real-game situation when the score doesn’t matter.  But thirty-two to nothing?  Sheesh!

There were a few things to smile about during the Cardinals’ first possession – Watt got his first sack of the season just a few seconds into the game, and Clowney showed why he was a first-round pick, stopping a run for a loss deep in the Arizona backfield.  That was it – we should have turned the TV off right then and there. 

There were no positives to note after that, except that I don’t miss football anymore.

Saturday, August 9, 2014



Today is – and it is not – my birthday. 

It is, because I’ll be posting this in the morning, and it is not because I’m writing it the night before.

I've pretty much ignored birthdays for the past several years, but somehow this one seems important.  I’m not sure why, maybe because it is birthday number 72. 

72 seems like it should be a milepost year.   After all, it is divisible by a lot of other milepost years like 2, 4, 6, 8 ,9, 12, 18, 24 and 36.  Each of those years typically produce achievements and/or changes in a person’s life, so it seems logical to expect this year to be the same. I don’t know what changes or accomplishments I might expect, or even what I might want to happen, but I do think that somehow something will.

71, the number I’m leaving, is a Prime number, but the last year has been pretty ordinary – not a bad year, but nothing to write home about.

72 must be special – As I write this, my birthday is still a day away, and I’ve already received birthday wishes from several Facebook friends, a slightly off-color card from my daughter , and another, more traditional, card from the company that handles our investments.  I’ve received  email greetings from the Boyd Gaming Casinos, and one  from IRV2 , one of the RV forum websites I follow. I even got one from Dr. Reddy, the guy who does my colonoscopies.

Speaking of whether or not it is my birthday – my mother, an otherwise extremely intelligent woman , almost never got my birthday right.  If asked, she was more likely than not to say that I was born on the 8th. 

When I complained, she explained that her due date was the 8th of August, and she showed up at Houston’s St. Joseph’s Infirmary on the 8th, ready and willing, with every intention of giving birth.  It wasn’t her fault that I didn’t join the party until the wee hours of the following morning.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Pulling for Pearland


The Pearland, Texas, Little League All Stars won the regional championship in Waco on Wednesday night and are on their way to the Little League World Series.

Local news coverage of the tourney on Channel 11 featured video of the team moms – in uniform – chanting “PULL THE TRAIN” which they said was the team motto. I don’t know what - if anything - it has to do with baseball, but Google the phrase and you’ll see that it has a very disturbing sexual meaning.

That video is no longer available on the KHOU website.  I wonder if someone gave them a hint.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Reel-y Disgusting


One of my favorite time wasters is playing on-line slots.  There are a gazillion of them to choose from – probably fifty or more apps, each with a bunch of games, that can be accessed via Facebook alone.

The picture above is from one of those games, and it is one I refuse to play. 

It pays off as well or better than most, but I won’t play it - mostly because of the guy you see here.  That silly-assed helmet is bad enough, but the guy wearing it looks just like a cousin that I absolutely could not stand when we were growing up -  someone who I always considered a total schmuck.

If the game was actually paying off with real money, it couldn’t pay me enough to look at that jerk’s face every time I clicked to spin the reels.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

S A Sports


Lately, the most interesting sports stories in Texas have been coming out of San Antonio. 

Last week it was the Oakland Raiders in town to talk to city fathers about moving the NFL franchise to the Alamo City.  Yesterday, it was the announcement that the San Antonio Spurs had hired the first woman coach in NBA history – well, almost – but more about that later.

The Spurs newest assistant coach is Becky Hammon, and she certainly seems qualified.  She is a six-time All-Star and two-time first-team All-WNBA, is seventh in points, fourth in assists and sixth in games in WNBA history. Planning to retire as an active player, she hoped to become a coach, and  has been working with the Spurs for a while.

"I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. "Having observed her working with our team this past season, I'm confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs."

Back to that almost in the first paragraph – Hammon will be the first female coach on an NBA team’s payroll, but Lisa Boyer was an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-02. Boyer didn't travel to away games and wasn't paid by the Cavaliers. She was paid by the Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA.

As to that Raiders story from last week – it’s not likely that anything will come of that.  Still it might be fun to have three NFL teams in Texas.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Term Limits

bobby tufts

Robert “Bobby” Tufts has lost his bid for a third consecutive term as the mayor of Dorset, Minnesota.  Bobby was only 3 when he was first elected mayor in 2013.

His mother says its OK though – this year he will be able to catch candy thrown during the annual parade instead of being the guy throwing it.

Dorset, a tiny tourist town about 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis, has no formal city government and a population ranging from nine to 28.  People can vote as many times as they like in the "election" — for $1 a vote — at ballot boxes in stores around town. The winner is selected by drawing a name from the box at the annual Taste of Dorset Festival.

During his two terms, Bobby raised a lot of money for the Ronald McDonald House in Fargo, and officially declared ice cream to be at the top of the food chain.  He says he is considering retiring from politics at this point and giving his 2 year old brother James a shot in next year’s race.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Black Hills Making Us Green

Rushmore In Tunnel 2

Our daughter Cheryl, and her husband Gene, along with his brother and sister-in-law  and about a half dozen of their biker friends are in South Dakota this week for the Sturgis rally.

She called us yesterday from Mt. Rushmore – about the only place in the Black Hills where she has found cell service.

It was great to hear from her, we’re glad they’re having fun, but boy, it made us wish we were there.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Trunk Tale


Both of my camera batteries were dead this morning, so I took this shot with my cell phone. That blurry, out of focus, picture should at least give you an idea of the subject of today’s post.

Back in September, 2008, Hurricane Ike left us with a lot to clean up.  We had no damage to our home, but there were lots of downed and damaged trees.  We concentrated our cleanup efforts on the front yard, but one of the most spectacular effects of the storm was what happened to a big oak tree in the back. 

Oaks, with their thick trunks and shallow root systems, typically suffer broken limbs or they are totally uprooted by high winds.  This tree snapped off leaving a 20 foot stump! 

The storm left a bare trunk standing 20 feet tall.  The diameter was more than twice the length of the bar on my chain saw, so even if I had cut all the way around it, I might not have been able to bring it down.  We had too much else to worry about – too much that I could accomplish – so I decided to leave it for later.

Later came yesterday afternoon. 

Entirely on its own, and for no apparent reason, that big trunk fell over.  It left me with a lot of rotten wood to dispose of, but it broke off smoothly, and even with the ground.

Sometimes, procrastination pays off.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Dog Tags



I’m not sure what brought them to mind – hadn’t thought of them for years – but a couple of evenings ago, I asked Honey “Did you wear dog tags in elementary school?”

We were having a pleasant conversation on a totally different subject when the question popped into my head.  Her answer, by the way, was “Yes.”

In the early 50s after the Soviet Union got the bomb, American kids had and wore dog tags to identify them in case of a nuclear attack.  We also participated in bomb drills where we were instructed to huddle under our school desks, cover our heads and –as it was cynically described - “kiss our asses goodbye.”

In doing a little research since our conversation, I was surprised to learn that the dog tag thing was never totally adopted nationwide.  It started in North Carolina, was picked up by the New York City schools where every kid from kindergarten through 4th grade was issued a set of tags.  The tags were soon de rigueur for every elementary school student in every major city from coast to coast.

Houston, with its port and petrochemical plants was considered a priority target, so it’s no surprise that Houston schools were quick to jump on board.

It might have been worse - the assistant superintendent of Milwaukee schools raised the possibility of even more bizarre tagging methods. Writing in a 1951 issue of the Journal of the National Education Association, assistant superintendent William M. Lamers laid out these options:

Tattooing is considered occasionally, but generally rejected because of its associations and impermanence in the case of severe burns ... Marking of clothing is more seriously regarded [but] clothing can be destroyed... and is frequently interchanged. Fingerprinting is... regarded by some as an infringement of privacy... Cards are easily worn out, stolen or destroyed.

The tags – we were issued two, but only wore one – had our name, parent’s name, home address, city and date of birth.  We both remember wearing them, but only in elementary school.  Neither of us has any idea what happened to our tags after that.

Friday, August 1, 2014


We celebrated the end of July and the beginning of August last night with the arrival of a rare summer cool front.  Temperatures over the next few days are predicted to average about 10° below normal.

As predicted, the frontal passage brought rain – we got about 3/4 inch overnight – but the big attraction here at the Boggy Thicket was the thunder and lightning. 

I have never seen such a show.

When I went out on the front porch around 9 p.m., it wasn’t raining very hard, and the surface winds were totally still, but the thunder and lightning were constant.  During the 10 minutes or so that I was out there, the strobe flashes came one upon the next - so fast that the skies were never dark. It was still going on at 10, and when I woke up at 1:30, it still sounded the same.

It seemed to all be cloud-to-cloud lightning.  I didn’t see any ground strikes at all.