Friday, October 31, 2014

Candy Man


Earlier this week on national TV, I heard a man unequivocally state “There has never been a documented case of anyone in the US giving poisoned candy to children on Halloween.”


How about Ronald Clark O’Bryan?

Isn’t Pasadena, Texas part of the USA?

Forty years ago this evening,  the Pasadena father-of-two  laced candy with cyanide and handed it to five children including his own 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son.

The optician had taken out a life insurance policy on the children; prosecutors later argued he was trying to kill them simply to claim the $40,000 payout.

Only his son, Timothy, ate the candy, hidden in old style Pixy Stix which O'Bryan had opened and then re-sealed with staples. Timothy was killed in a crime that shocked and stunned the nation, changing Halloween forever. One other child was found holding the candy while he slept. He had been unable to remove the staples.

In his subsequent trial and ultimate death sentence, O'Bryan became known as the Candy Man. He was executed in 1984 after a judge refused his pleas for a final stay of execution.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bare Bones Humor

With Halloween less than 24 hours away, I thought it was a good time to share this ----


Wednesday, October 29, 2014


You already know that Honey walks five miles each morning five days a week, and that I usually walk a little over a half mile a day.  Today’s post isn’t about that – today’s post is about the fact that, if we want to go anywhere for the next couple of days, walking is our only option.

The P1740 error code showed back up again on our truck, and although we haven’t had any serious problems yet, we decided to bite the bullet and have the transmission rebuilt.  It was a painful (and expensive) decision, but we decided it was better to fix it now than to have it fail when we were on the road.

I priced renting a car for three days, but after talking it over we decided that we really didn’t need to go anywhere.  Another $150 on top of the cost of the transmission just seemed like a waste.

This is the first time since I was in the Army in 1966 that I have been without a vehicle, and even then the government provided me with a jeep to drive around the base.  It’s an odd feeling, but so far, so good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Ghost of Pigpens Past

“Bob, what is that?”

We were just outside our back door, and Honey was pointing toward the edge of the woods.  I looked, expecting to see some animal, but instead saw a grid made up of five inch squares glistening in the sunlight. It seemed to be hovering right at the point where the underbrush takes over.

Neither of us had ever seen it before.  

I told her that I thought that it looked a little like hog wire, but I didn’t think that was possible.  It was in the area where we had a pigpen back when our daughters were in elementary school, but after the hogs went to the butcher, we tore the pen down.  That was over thirty years ago.

The next time we came out, the grid was gone, and we haven’t seen it since.  We looked that way every time we came out for the last two weeks, but we never saw it again.

Yesterday morning, I walked out to the edge of the woods, and sure enough, there is a fifteen foot section of the old hog pen still standing.  I had to walk within about six feet of the fence before I could see it – it’s dull and rusty and blends in perfectly with the brush around it.  To see it from the house, the angle of the sunlight had to be just right, and the odds against that must be astronomical.

I have no memory of leaving that one section up, and no idea why I would have, but there it is.

You still can’t see it from the house, even when you know it’s there.

Monday, October 27, 2014

In Between Halloween

Our neighborhood Halloween party was held this past Saturday, and it was bigger than ever.  This year there were three flatbed trailers full of trick-or-treaters who made the rounds just before sundown.  Then they all headed back to the starting point for a weiner roast.

If all goes like the last few years, we will have no visitors at all on October 31st, but we saved a little bit of candy just in case.

Sunday, October 26, 2014



Remember the Houston Comets? 

They were one of the most successful (on the court) teams in Houston history, and with back-to-back championships in 1997, 98, 99 and 2000, they were the winning-est team in the WNBA.  Even when featuring some of the best women ever to play the game, winning doesn’t always translate into dollars, and the team was disbanded in 2008 when nobody could be found to buy the franchise.

I always thought that Comets was a great name for a team.

I thought of them this morning when I read a Reuters story that says that Swiss scientists have determined that comets really stink! Researchers at the University of Bern, in Switzerland, determined the odor of the comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko  by analyzing the chemicals in its coma, the fuzzy head surrounding the nucleus. They say that comets smell like a mixture of rotten eggs, horse urine, formaldehyde, bitter almonds, alcohol, and vinegar, with a hint of sweet ether. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Recipe

I saw this on a forum I visit and thought it was too good not to share.  Honey thought it was terrible – too gross by far.

I guess I’ll let you decide for yourself.

It’s really not much of a recipe.  It just calls for sculpting your favorite meatloaf recipe – you might need to add a few more bread crumbs, or whatever you use as a binder. Form the meatloaf as seen below,


then add onion for the ankle bones and toenails – catsup for blood. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Beautiful Skin

Earlier this week, while watching a TV show, my wife commented that the actress on the screen had beautiful skin.  She wasn’t talking about Hallie Berry, but she could have been – Honey has mentioned her skin several times in the past.  Anyway, that comment got me thinking…

When listing their criteria for beauty, men seldom – if ever – mention skin, but it is obviously important. Beautiful skin is big business. Billions of dollars have been spent on various cosmetics and medicines over the years in the effort to make complexions appear as flawless as possible. 

I think my very first date (or the first one where I actually drove the car) could have been a poster child for beautiful skin. 

Her name was Judy.  She was a friend of my sister and I took her to some school function.  She was of Mexican descent and about four inches too short for her weight, but her skin was perfection, a golden tan that seemed to give off an inner glow.  She was, by our standards, wealthy – her dad owned a couple of parking lots in downtown Houston.  Two city blocks, even in the 50s, had to be worth a fortune. 

I’m pretty sure that we had a good time, but I never asked her out again.

Honey’s interest in skin must be, to some degree, due to the fact that she has psoriasis.  I wish she didn’t, since it bothers her, but it doesn’t bother me. Unless she is pointing out a new patch that has shown up, I never really see it, and  I learned long ago that the perfection the skin encloses is a lot more important than the package it comes in.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ode(s) to Ragweed


The weather has been very close to perfect here at the Boggy Thicket for the last week or so – clear blue skies, low temperatures just below 60°, highs in the low 80s and low humidity.  Unfortunately, that is also perfect weather for Ragweed!

That has led to sneezing, sinus headaches and a couple of poems ---

You sneeze and wheeze with allergies

That bring the sufferer to his knees

While you’re there, sincerely pray

That Ragweed soon will go away

Just can’t take many more days like these

And ---

The antihistamines you take

Have side effects that can make

You drowsy all day

(Don’t drive that way)

Then all night long they keep you awake

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Flu Shots


We got our flu shots yesterday. 

I guess that’s a good thing, but this morning my arm feels like I was in a Frogging contest, trading pokes with the biggest kid in gym class.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


we suck

The Houston Texans embarrassed themselves on Monday Night Football, losing to the Pittsburg Steelers 30-23.

Pittsburgh  needed just over a minute at the end of the second quarter to turn a 10-point deficit into an 11-point lead as the Texans self-destructed.

Actually, the Texans played pretty well except for the last two minutes of the first half, but that’s like saying “He’s always been a good pilot except for that one time he flew into a cliff.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

H-B Feeder

The H-B in today’s title used to stand for Humming Bird, but for one of our feeders it now stands for Honey Bee.

We have had bees show up in the past, but they lost interest if we diluted the sugar water solution.  Instead of a one to four mixture of sugar to water, we would change to a one to six mixture and the bees would go away.

That didn’t work this time.  The bees are only visiting one of our three feeders, and only when it is in full sunlight, but they are drinking it dry.  The birds still use it, but they will hover over a spot until the bees move out of the way, then drink without landing.

You might not think that a bee would drink much, but today this feeder is empty while the other two are half full.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Brow Beaten

I am not a particularly vain person. 

Seriously - I’ve given it some thought, and can honestly say that I am not. It is true that on the few rare occasions when I’ve received compliments on my looks I did get warm and fuzzy feelings, but most of the time, I give little or no thought to my appearance at all.

Since I retired, I only shave when Honey tells me to, and I’ve been known to leave the house with my hair uncombed and wearing old and grungy clothes.  Of course, that’s usually for a trip to Wal-Mart where I know I’ll fit right in.

This happy-go-lucky attitude about my looks has recently been shattered by a symptom of old age - a single hair! 

It is brilliant white. It’s long and wiry, and it shoots out of the middle of my right eyebrow.  When it first appeared, I hunted down the tweezers and pulled it out, but a few days later it - or one just like it - was right back, standing out like a neon sign in the middle of the Sahara.

I know I shouldn’t let it bother me, but it does.  Every time I look in the mirror, it ticks me off.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Let There Be Light


The light fixture in our kitchen ceiling is similar to the one above.  It is basically a wooden box that contains four 48-inch fluorescent tubes.  Depending on how long it’s been since it has been cleaned, it also contains dust, a collection of spider webs and the remains of a variety of dead bugs.

Honey had been saying for quite some time that the light was getting too dim, and I assumed (incorrectly) that it just needed cleaning again.  I had always thought that fluorescent tubes either worked or they didn’t.  I didn’t realize that they could get dimmer with age.

Yesterday, I cleaned the fixture and replaced all four old tubes with new ones, and the difference was amazing .  The ambience in the kitchen went from neighborhood tavern to operating room!

An internet check after the fact revealed that fluorescent tubes actually do deteriorate over time and can often be rejuvenated by just removing the tube, swapping it end-for-end and reinstalling.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Don’t Walk

We’ve all heard about the benefits of thinking outside the box.  Sometimes, even the goofiest ideas actually work!  Here’s proof -

Thursday, October 16, 2014

One More Way

Our Houston Texans Hero, J. J. Watt has scored three touchdowns so far this year – one fumble recovery, one pass interception and one on offense when he lined up as a tight end on a play near the goal line.

Here is one way Watt  hasn’t scored yet, and probably won’t.

Watch kicker William Will of the University of Dayton Flyers-

Wednesday, October 15, 2014



Ever wonder if anything you do makes a difference? 

You'd be surprised how much seemingly insignificant words and deeds can affect your environment and those around you.

I don't suppose there is a direct link, but I thought of that when I first saw this video.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Unintended Consequences

You can call it Murphy’s Law if you want, but whatever you call it, the Law of Unintended Consequences may be the most prevalent and unyielding force in the universe.

We got a couple of reminders of that in the past few days – both of them having to do with our new Genie DVR.

First, we learned that the on-air tuner that I bought back in 2012 to use with our DVR would not work with the new one.  The tuner attached to the DVR via a USB cable and the Genie does not have a USB port.  I really liked the convenience of being able to scroll and select on-air channels through the DVR, especially when bad weather caused the loss of satellite signals, but it ain’t the end of the world. I was able to connect the antenna directly to the TV.  That doesn’t give us the guide function, but we can switch to the on-air channels, scroll and select using the same remote with only one extra step.

Our second “gotcha” came yesterday.  Severe thunderstorms in association with a front knocked out power in our area for about six hours.  Our generator came on like it is supposed to and everything was fine except…..

When the power fails, the DVR loses connection and has to go through a complete diagnostic and setup when it reboots.  This takes several minutes and can be extremely annoying when it happens at the end of a show or the last few minutes of a football game.  To avoid this, I recently bought and installed a UPS battery backup to power the DVR and TV.

Yesterday, the UPS worked as advertised and the DVR continued to function without a hitch.  Then the alarm on the UPS started beeping. 

Every few minutes, the alarm would give a series of eight loud irritating beeps.  A check with the manufacturer’s tech support told me that

  1. The UPS is extremely frequency sensitive
  2. The eight beep series indicates a frequency deviation
  3. No, the alarm can not be deactivated

I have suspected that our generator ran slightly less than 60 cycles per second since over several hours our clocks will lose a couple minutes, but it has always run everything in the house without a problem. 

We’ve decided that the beeps are going to be more annoying than the wait for the DVR to reset, so it looks like the UPS is on its way out.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Picture is Worth … Whatever Someone Will Pay

Rhein II

Back in 2011, I reported that a tintype photo of Billy the Kid had sold at auction for $2.3 million.  The price struck me as outrageous, but at least the picture (at the time, it was the only known photograph of the outlaw) has some historical significance.

That 2.3 pales in comparison to the $4.3 million paid a few months later for the picture above.  Titled Rhein II by photographer Andreas Gursky, it is still the most expensive photograph ever sold.  The print is huge, six by eleven feet, but I can’t see any reason why anyone would pay that kind of money for the thing.

Fellow amateur shutterbugs will be interested to learn that the picture has been Photoshopped – some elements that appeared in the original were electronically removed.  Justifying this manipulation of the image, Gursky said "Paradoxically, this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river."

Admittedly, I am not particularly artistic, so I must be missing something very important.  I do know that I have taken (and deleted) similar photos so I may have thrown away a fortune and never knew it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hungry Mother

hungry mother sp

We never get much in the way of fall color here at the Boggy Thicket, so I’m always impressed (and a little jealous) when I see the brilliant foliage in other parts of the country.  This picture is from another blog I follow and an article about the best fall color at Virginia State Parks.

In addition to having great fall foliage, I think Hungry Mother State Park has one of the most intriguing names of any state park in the country.

The story goes that Molly Marley and her small child were taken in an Indian raid but managed to escape.  They traveled for days, living on berries, but Molly eventually collapsed.  The child wandered off and was found, but all the kid could tell the rescuers was “Hungry mother.”  By the time searchers found Molly, she was dead.  The hill where her body was found was named Molly’s Knob, and the nearby stream became Hungry Mother Creek.

Hungry Mother State Park in just north of Interstate 81, about midway between Roanoke, VA and Knoxville, TN.

Saturday, October 11, 2014



Congratulations to Malala Yousafzai, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Can one person make a difference in the world?  Her life seems to say yes, you can.

Friday, October 10, 2014

It Just Looks Fast


If you want to avoid getting pulled over, stay out of the Subaru WRX.

According to the latest figures from, WRX drivers are stopped more often than any other group, with just over a third (33.6%) of them reporting a recent traffic citation.

The rest of the top twenty were:                                                            2. Pontiac GTO – 32.7%
3. Scion FR-S – 32.6%
4. Toyota Supra – 30.8%
5. Subaru Tribeca – 29.7%
6. Volkswagen Rabbit – 29.6%
7. Mercury Topaz – 28.8%
8. Scion tC – 28.8%
9. Toyota FJ Cruiser – 28.4%
10. Mazda2 – 28.1%
11. Hyundai Veloster – 28.1%
12. Volkswagen GTI – 28.1%
13. Suzuki Reno – 28.1%
14. Scion xA – 27.8%
15. Pontiac G8 – 27.7%
16. MINI Cooper S Countryman – 27.5%
17. Mitsubishi 3000 GT – 27.4%
18. Saturn Aura – 27.1%
19. Infiniti QX56/QX80 – 27.1%
20. Toyota Prius C – 27.0%

It is hard to guess why these particular cars led the list.  Some of them do look a little sporty, but others look like the boxy little economy cars they are.  Toyota’s FJ Cruiser looks like it would be more at home off-road and would be hard pressed to even approach the speed limit.

I thought it was interesting that none of the four U.S. cars in the Top 20 is still manufactured. Ford has discontinued the Mercury brand entirely and the Mercury Topaz was last produced in 1994. General Motors abandoned Pontiac and Saturn in its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Waiting for the Genie


As I mentioned back in 2011, we watch a lot of television shows and most of them via our DVR from DirecTV.

It has a lot of advantages. not the least of which is the ability to pause a show, take a break, and then fast-forward through all the commercials. 

The main reason we got a DVR in the first place, though, was as a way to get around network TV’s programming policies.  Some nights are a total wasteland, while on others there are several shows worth watching, but they all air at the same time.

Our old DVR let us watch one show and record another, but that often meant that we still had to pass up something we might have wanted to watch.  Honey has gotten good at finding those shows elsewhere – the on-demand channels, etc. – but it is an unnecessary aggravation, so we are upgrading (at no charge) to the Genie which allows you to record up to five channels at once.

The DirecTV technician is scheduled to install our new Genie this morning.  That meant that we spent yesterday in a sort of TV marathon, watching shows we had recorded but hadn’t yet seen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Got up today and went out to view the lunar eclipse.  We hadn’t planned to, but we woke up around 5:00 a.m. so we went out and saw it. In fact, it is still going on as I write – 6:22 a.m.

It is still theoretically possible that the Selenelion I mentioned Monday could happen – sunrise today will be at 7:19 and the moon doesn’t set until 7:26 – but we won’t be able to see it here.  From our best viewpoint – at the end of our driveway - the moon is already dropping below the trees, and it’s still almost an hour until the sun comes up.  Besides, the total phase of the eclipse has come and gone as I was writing. 

Honey was a bit disappointed that the “Blood Moon” wasn’t very red.  Here, anyway, it was orange.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Almost Normal

cautionMy laptop is almost back to normal, or as normal as any computer can ever be.  It is still downloading a bunch of Windows updates every time I shut it down, which means that I have to run a clean-up program the next time I log on ( I use and like the free version of Glary Utilities) to get rid of all the unwanted extraneous crap.

I’m starting to get used to navigating Windows 7 and I’m beginning to like it.  The learning curve wasn’t all that steep – it is Windows, after all, something I have been using for 30 years since Windows 3.1.

I have decided that dealing with a computer is like living with someone who is stone nuts.  It’s hard to say which is the bigger pain in the neck – dealing with them when they are around, or missing them when they are gone.

Monday, October 6, 2014



We are going to have a lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning.  It will be the second “blood moon” of the year, and it will be a selenelion – an extremely rare event in which both the sun and eclipsed moon are actually visible at the same time.

Selenelions were once said to be impossible.  Lunar eclipses are rare enough, but having both the sun and moon visible increases the odds exponentially. That can only occur for a few minutes at sunrise or sunset.  This one will be at sunrise. 

I don’t know if it will be visible here at the Boggy Thicket.  After several days of crystal clear skies, the clouds are rolling in this morning, and almost every celestial event in the past year – meteor shower, lunar eclipse, even the passing of the International Space Station – has been obscured by cloud cover.  At least I won’t have to get up at two a.m. just to be disappointed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Username In Vain


It has been several days (and nights) since I got my repaired and refurbished computer back.  So far, it’s working great, but there have been a lot of issues – before the crash, I was running the 32-bit version of Windows XP Pro; now, I have the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Pro, and several of the programs I used to use are incompatible. I have spent a lot of time coming up with work-arounds and/or  locating and installing replacements.

For example, I print from my laptop via a wireless network.  The print server is the PC in our office (Honey’s computer) that runs XP and is connected to the printer through a USB connection.  There were no compatible print drivers loaded on the PC, and updating the print drivers didn’t help.  Loading print drivers on the laptop required that I disconnect the PC and plug the printer’s USB cable into the laptop to complete the installation.  Once I did that, I was able to plug the PC back in and establish a wireless connection that would actually work.  Not that big a deal, but it took me about two hours to accomplish a print connection that should have been seamless, and should have only taken seconds.

Other problems weren’t that simple.

One of the biggest, and most time-consuming, issues has been passwords.  For security’s sake, I have always used several passwords (not as many as I should) and changed them from time to time (not as often as I should) and remembering which password went with what  account has been darn near impossible.  I have been locked out of several websites before I came up with the correct password and/or user name.

It looks like I will be chasing passwords for quite a while since I still haven’t accessed all of the on-line accounts I use, but I have reestablished contact with those that are most important.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Smoking Okra


Across the road and about 100 yards east of the Boggy Thicket there is an abandoned property that has reverted to nature.  Undergrowth is so thick that you almost have to know that there is a ruined trailer back there to be able to spot it.  I mention it today because  I have been wondering on my morning walks about several plants lining the ditch at the front of the place - plants that look a whole lot like the hemp plants above.

Are they actually marijuana plants growing wild?  I used to hear stories about wild pot plants along ditches in South Texas, but I never saw anything that I actually recognized as Cannabis.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who can’t identify the stuff - Dwayne Perry of Cartersville, Georgia  was awakened by a helicopter flying low over his house Wednesday and then some heavily-armed deputies and a K-9 unit showed up at his door. They were from the Governor's Task Force for drug suppression and they were out looking for marijuana plants.

It turns out the chopper has spotted his field of okra.

                      okra1  hemp

                                   Okra                             Marijuana

Now, that’s just embarrassing.

Friday, October 3, 2014



Now, that’s an image that’s hard to un-see.  And, no, I am not sitting here looking like that. 

I don’t even telecommute anymore, although I did briefly (after surgery) before I retired.  I just posted this for friends who are still employed.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gone Forever


The photo above is Herbert Lake between Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies.  I think it may be the best picture I ever took.

Unfortunately, it is the only picture we have left from our first extended trip after retirement.  I pulled it back down off the web from my Photobucket site.  All of the other photos from that trip, and a whole lot more, were lost when my laptop crashed last week.  The guy who repaired it was able to save a lot of files, including some photos, but he left out one folder that contained hundreds of images.  A lot of those photos were junk, but a lot more were memories we wanted to keep forever, and now there is no way to get them back.

It is a hard lesson, brutally taught, but from now on I will back up any files I really might want in the future on some type of external media, thumb drive, DVD, etc.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pride Goeth etc.

If you read my last blog post, I was bragging (a little) that although I had done something that I knew was stupid the antivirus/anti malware programs loaded on my computer had saved me from myself.

Unfortunately, that statement was premature.  My computer crashed later that day, and I have been off-line for a week.

We were able to save a lot of the files from the hard drive, but I lost a lot of other stuff, including all my email contacts and the passwords for quite a few accounts.  I learned a few hard lessons and have been suffering from withdrawal but it looks like I am on the road to recovery.