Sunday, November 30, 2014



As I have mentioned in the past, I am glad you follow my blog, but I write it mostly for myself.  The challenge of finding something worth posting every day is one way to try to keep my mind active.

It is good to know you are out there, so once in a while I check the stats on my website to reassure myself that I’m not just mumbling to myself in the dark.

I was amazed when I checked this morning to learn that my blog has been seen in Germany – what Google calls page views – more than it has in the US.  I don’t know when, why or how that happened – German page views last month were way down the list – but over the life of the blog, Google claims that German readers are on top by a huge margin.

I really don’t put much faith in Google’s stats. Last January, they said I had a big fan base in Malaysia, and they don’t even show up on the list today.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thought Piece

A year or so ago, I reconnected on Facebook with an old high school classmate that I hadn’t heard from since the early ‘60s.  After high school, he went to college, and joined the Air Force as a fighter pilot.  He retired from the Air Force and stayed in the Pacific Northwest where he is a regular contributor to his home town paper, providing opinion pieces that are well thought out and exceptionally articulate.  Typically, his views are conservative,  somewhere to the right of my own.

That is why I was amazed when he recently wrote that, in view of the incident(s) in Ferguson, Missouri, it was time to think about disarming police on street patrol.

I laughed when I first read that, thinking it was a joke,  Later, as he continued to defend the position, I thought he was just playing Devil’s advocate.  Now I’m wondering if he is suffering from dementia.

He points out that if Officer Wilson had been unarmed, the worst that could have happened in Ferguson was one dead cop and a miscreant on the loose – something that probably wouldn’t have made the news outside of the greater St Louis area.  There would have been none of the looting, vandalism, etc. that has wracked the country.  Nobody would have shut down malls on the biggest shopping day of the year.

All of that is probably true, and it is a seductive argument – as seductive as the song of those Aegean Sirens that led sailors to their death on the rocks. 

Nobody would have been forced to reexamine their views on prejudice or race relations or the viability of the American justice system.  But no good would have come from it, either.

Personal trainers are fond of saying “No pain, no gain” and I think that is just as true for civilizations as for individuals.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Home Again


Back home again after a pleasant Thanksgiving.

We drove up to Bertram, TX yesterday morning.  Had Thanksgiving meals there and in Liberty Hill, then headed for home after sleeping late this morning.

There was an interesting (but not enjoyable) episode in Giddings on the way home.  An 18-wheel tanker truck apparently stopped at a red light on US 290 with its tail end still on the railroad tracks.   A south-bound freight clipped it, sending it into an auto parts store.  As far as I know, nobody was hurt and damage was minimal, but it did have the highway totally shut down.  Volunteer firemen directed us onto a detour which eventually led us to a street where we could cross the tracks, but the back-up was remarkable, and added almost an hour to our trip home.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks – I Think


It’s going to be a typical Thanksgiving for us – a couple of stops ending up at my son-in-law’s house to eat again and watch the Dallas Cowboys play football.  Even more painful this year because the Cowboys are actually winning.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

False Alarm


The guy with the lamb is Patrick Rothfuss. 

I still can’t decide if he is my favorite author, or if I hate his guts for making us continue to wait for the third volume of the Kingkiller Chronicles Trilogy.  The truth is probably a little of both.

So when I opened Google news  this morning to see his name in a headline,  I got very excited – only to be disappointed again.  The book is not on its way – the Article is about Heifer International, his favorite charity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014



The grand jury report on the death of Michael Brown was released last night and, as promised, it led to a night of violence in Ferguson, Missouri.  There has been widespread arson and looting and at least 29 arrests.

I’m sure that there must be a few demonstrators who are sincerely protesting what they view as a miscarriage of justice, but I can’t help but wonder how many are the same sort of people who run amok after their hometown wins an NBA championship, for example.

How many actually give a damn about Brown vs. the number who see this as an opportunity to grab  a new flat screen TV?

Monday, November 24, 2014


Writing a daily blog can sometimes be a challenge.  That’s okay - it’s actually part of why I do it – but sometimes I can’t come up with anything new, or exciting, or even mildly interesting to post.

Today is one of those days, so I’m just posting a picture emailed to me last week….


Sunday, November 23, 2014


catsBetter late than never, I suppose. 

We finally got around to watching CATS, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical about a late-night gathering of felines.  When the video version was shown on PBS last week, we recorded it, and we watched it yesterday evening.  It was the first time Honey and I had seen the show.

It’s not like there haven’t been other opportunities – CATS premiered in London in 1981, and on Broadway a year later.  At one time the longest-running show on Broadway, it was surpassed in 2006 by  Phantom of the Opera, another Webber show. 

Like Grizabella the Glamour Cat, the play refuses to die – or at least continues to be reincarnated.  According to the UK rag, the Mirror, Nicole Sherzinger has been spotted at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home studying strays for her role as Grizabella.  She’ll be starring in a London revival scheduled to open next month.

And by the way, yes, we enjoyed it.  In fact, we thought it was fabulous.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Busy Morning

Today’s the day we finally get rid of our huge collection of outdoor Christmas stuff. 

The purchaser is on the way, and we need to get everything loaded up this morning because the weather forecast is calling for some really bad weather this afternoon.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Punny You Should Ask

Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  Seems like a good time for a little math humor….

math humorOkay, I thought it was funny, but I realize that it’s only funny if you can read it or figure it out for yourself.

Just so you’ll seem cool (or sufficiently geeky) the next time you see it:

  • the square root of minus one is i
  • two cubed equals eight
  • Sigma is the symbol that designates the sum
  • pi should be self-explanatory



Thursday, November 20, 2014


George Bernard Shaw is credited with saying England and America are “two countries separated by a common language” but you don’t have to cross the Atlantic to run into problems.

I came across an on-line article yesterday about “Canadianisms” – words and phrases commonly used in Canada but unfamiliar to people below the 49th Parallel.

It features words like Tuque, which is a knit cap similar to what we might call a watch cap, and Hooped, more or less synonymous with FUBAR, an adjective which describes a situation so screwed up as to be unfixable.

The article reminded me of a true story about the difference in Mexican and Puerto Rican Spanish. 

An old friend of mine has bright red hair (now going gray) and looks as Irish as a Leprechaun, but he is of pure Spanish descent and was born and raised in Puerto Rico.  He is married to a Mexican woman.

On their first trip to California to meet her parents, Felix saw his mother-in-law drop a clothespin as she was hanging out the wash.  He rushed toward her saying “Let me get your pinza.” It was all perfectly innocent – pinza is Spanish for clamp or pincer and in Puerto Rico it is the word commonly used for a clothespin.  Unfortunately, it is also crude Mexican slang for a certain female body part.  

He says they can laugh about it now, but it was several months before she would stay in the same room with him, even when his wife was around.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014




Of course, being filthy rich ain’t too bad, either.

Bob Marley, already listed by Forbes Magazine as the fifth-highest paid dead celebrity, is about to get even richer.  His heirs, and an investment group called Privateer Holdings, have announced the formation of a company called Marley Natural which will market “heirloom Jamaican cannabis” wherever it is legal, and other hemp-based products where it is not.

Last year, Marley made over $20 million, and that doesn’t count the sale of all the unlicensed products which Billboard Magazine estimated  brought in upwards of $100 million.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weather and Baseball



Like the weatherman promised, we did record our first freeze of the season last night, but just barely.  It was 32° at dawn, and the “official” low temperature (at the WeatherBug station at Copeland Elementary in Huffman) was 31.4°.  We didn’t come close to the upper 20s local forecasters were promising.

The weatherman is never right.  Well, almost never.  Close, but no cigar.  Still we watch them religiously and plan our lives accordingly.

I once had a manager who told me with a straight face “I was a terrible technician, couldn’t fix anything, but I was such a nice guy that nobody wanted to fire me.  They finally promoted me just to get me out of the field.”  Even if that were true, outside of entertainment, politics and sports, I doubt that very many people in the real world fail their way to success.

Honey spent her career in hospitals; a medical technologist whose lab tests and cross-matches had to be right, every time, or somebody’s life could literally be in jeopardy.  Even in the copy machine business, if I had been wrong as often as the local weather guy, I would have soon been out of a job, and/or the company I represented would have failed.

Still, weathermen aren’t the only people who get rich by failing.

Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton has a career batting average of .288 – that means that he fails to get on base over seven out of ten times that he comes to bat.  Still, yesterday he signed a contract with the Marlins that will pay him an average of $25 million a year for the next 13 years.

I do not begrudge him the fantastic salary - a baseball player, like a work of art or a pair of shoes, is worth whatever someone is willing to pay.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wind Chill


wind chill

It’s the middle of November, and we are already flirting with freezing here at the Boggy Thicket for the third time this fall.  We woke up to 35 degrees this morning, with a wind chill of 28, and tomorrow morning’s forecast calls for temps in the upper 20s.

The actual formula used to calculate wind chill (for people using Fahrenheit thermometers) looks like this:

but it’s a lot simpler to just refer to a chart.

Either way, I can tell you that wind chill calculations don’t tell the whole story.  They fail to take psychology into account.

In the early 70s, I spent three weeks in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Daily highs were in the single digits and the lows each night ranged from 30 to 35 below zero.  I have tried to explain to my wife how cold that was, but finally realized that it was impossible.  She has no frame of reference – it was like trying to explain purple to a blind man.

The coldest I ever felt was not in Minnesota, but in Mexico.

In 1962, a disc jockey at KBIL in Beeville, Texas, had a heart attack, and I was hired out of radio school to cover for him until he was back on his feet.  One Saturday, I drove down to Villa Acuña for the weekend.  It was in the 70s when I left Beeville, and almost 80 when I crossed the border, but then, about two p.m., a blue norther blew in dropping the temperature over 40 degrees in less than an hour.

I spent almost all of my money on a really ugly coat – the warmest garment I could find in the mercado – and still thought I was going to freeze to death before I could get back home.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Anti-Snow Birds


Search the internet, and you will find dozens of pictures like this - photographs and paintings – of Cardinals in the snow. 

That’s something you will never see here at the Boggy Thicket. 

First, because it only snows here once every ten years or so, and second, because our Cardinals are good ol’ redneck birds that bail at the first hint of cold weather.

Bird-watching websites, the Audubon Society and National Geographic will all tell you that Cardinals do not migrate, but tell that to the Cardinals around here.  As late as the end of September, we had well over a dozen in our yard, but they started disappearing with the first cold front.  We haven’t had a freeze yet – it came close around Halloween and again last week – but our Cardinals are long gone. 
We’ve only seen one in the past two weeks.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bad Decisions

kodakI read an article this morning that said that back in the 70s, when Kodak controlled 85% of the market - of everything having to do with photography – their researchers actually invented digital photography. Company execs shied away from the new technology, thinking of the potential loss of income from sales of film, processing, etc.

It didn’t kill the company – they are still around – but the film that used to be available everywhere, and the labs that used to be in every drug store have almost disappeared, and Kodak is a very minor player in the digital market.

If you’re asking yourself how anyone running a major corporation could be so short-sighted, so stupid, they were not alone.  In the late 60s and early 70s, 3M Company was the world’s largest  manufacturer of copy machines.  Back then, all of their copiers used chemically treated papers to produce an image, and the paper was patented. You had to buy your copy paper from 3M, or an authorized distributor. According to the official company history, the guys that invented Xerox pitched their idea to 3M several times, but were turned down.  The 3M decision makers just couldn’t see any profit in plain paper.

Friday, November 14, 2014




The Global Warming crowd has never been shy about predicting gloom and doom – polar icecaps will melt and Austin, Texas will become ocean-front property, etc.  Today, the threat is Lightning.

According to an article published today in Science, lightning strikes in the US will increase by 50% by the end of this century – three strikes then for every two strikes now. That means your chance of being struck by lightning go up, too. The  current chance of a person being struck by lightning in the USA is 1 in 700,000 over a year, or about 0.0000014%. A 50% increase brings it up over 0.000002%.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Out Of Service

No post yesterday because we lost phone and DSL service.  I didn’t have anything earth shaking to say, but not being able to say it is really annoying.

Speaking of annoying – when I called for service, the automated screening service’s first question was if I was calling about the number I called in on. 


If the number I called in on was working, why the Hell would I be calling for service?

After about five minutes of talking to a machine that didn’t understand what I was saying, and/or typing in responses on my cell phone keypad, I finally got transferred to an actual person.  It was at that point that I learned that my local phone company had outsourced customer service to someplace in Asia.  Communicating with the machine was a breeze compared to talking to the little guy who insisted on calling me Mr. Robert.

Calling their internet support line still gets you someone in the US.  It may not get things fixed any faster, but it is a much more pleasant experience.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014



We are having a banner year for acorns here at the Boggy Thicket.  The ground is covered with them, and they are dropping so often that it’s almost dangerous to step outside.

As I’ve mentioned before, we have several different species of oak trees on the property.  The acorns from the Live Oaks and Red Oaks are small – about 1/2 inch in diameter – but the acorns from the White Oaks are huge, and seem bigger than ever this year.  It is only a slight exaggeration to say that they are nearly the size and weight of a golf ball.

I was minding my own business, leaning on the gas grill the other evening when one of those big nuts bounced off of it, and it sure got my attention.  It wasn’t even a direct hit, more of a ricochet.  The acorn caromed off the roof of the house and hit the grill hard enough to make it ring like the Liberty Bell!

That got me thinking about the story of Chicken Little.  If he had been hit by one of those big White Oak acorns, he never would have run around telling anybody that the sky was falling.  That big old acorn would have taken him right out.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It Wasn’t Xerox


Saw a story on the news last week about a marvelous new washing machine from Xeros Corporation.  I probably wouldn’t have paid as much attention, except that I thought they said Xerox, and as an old copier tech that made my ears perk up. But no, the announcer said Xeros with an S.

The Xeros system uses thousands of tiny plastic beads – over a million in their commercial washers – to rub, beat, and agitate the clothes, which means they need much less soap and less (and cooler) water to get clothes clean.  Xeros has proven this “new” technology for several years in commercial washers in the UK , and is now moving into the home appliance market.

It strikes me that this new and wonderful technological breakthrough they are touting really isn’t all that new.  Never mind the rub boards our grandmothers used, almost since clothes were invented, women were carrying them down to the river and beating them on rocks.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ebola Beach

nudists ebola

Normally, about the worst thing you might expect at a nude beach would be the sight of some really ugly bodies, or maybe a painful sunburn in areas of your body that would be hard to explain. 

European tourists at Maspalomas beach on Gran Canaria Island, were ready to trade their birthday suits for Hazmat suits this past  week when a boat load of illegal immigrants from West Africa came ashore. 

Some of the 19 migrants on board were from Sierra Leone and Guinea, two of the West African countries ravaged by Ebola, and four were sick enough to be hospitalized.  The rest were hauled away to a makeshift quarantine in a garbage truck.

A number of the Africans showed symptoms of fever, and local Red Cross workers made the decision to employ emergency Ebola procedures, leaving face masks, food and water 50 yards away from the boats and the immigrants, who were kept isolated on the beach for 7 hours.  Those not taken to the hospital were hauled away in a garbage truck, and all face deportation back to their countries of origin.

The boat the immigrants arrived in was burned.

Illegal immigration is becoming a growing problem in the Canary Islands as Africans come hoping for a better life in Spain.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Another Reason to Camp More Often

wasp nest

Robert McDougal of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, had no idea there was a yellow jacket nest in the pop-up camper in his storage yard until he lifted it with a forklift Tuesday. Lifting the camper got the wasps moving, but amazingly, McDougal was never stung.

He called a professional, Eric McCool of McCool Wildlife Services, who estimated the nest be 10 feet long by 7 feet wide and 2 feet tall and containing about 350,000 wasps!

Talk about a reason to use your camper more often. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Promising Start

rocket I suppose I should admit that I’m not a huge basketball fan. I haven’t really followed our hometown Houston Rockets since the days when Olajuwon and Drexler played.  I’m definitely a fair-weather fan.

That being said, it is very early in a very long season, but Houston is off to a very good start.

The Rockets are 6-0 for the first time since 1996-97 & join the 1985-86 Denver Nuggets as the only teams in NBA history to start 6-0 with  10+ point margins in each of those wins.  Last night’s 98-81 win over the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs was the first game this season in which the Rockets failed to score 100 points.

This year’s Astros were a disaster, and the only good thing about the Texans season so far is that they’ve already won more games than last year.  A fair-weather fan might be forced to cheer for the Rockets.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Danse Romantique

This video is several years old, but I just saw it for the first time.  Honey and I have become big fans of So You Think You Can Dance, but this is as remarkable as anything ever aired on that show, and certainly much longer.  Aside from the grace displayed, the amount of conditioning and stamina required is mind boggling.

Nicolas Besnard and Ludivine Furnon, AKA “Duo MainTenanT,”  performed on the Swiss TV show “Benissimo.” Both of them  dance for  Cirque du Soleil and they are absolutely amazing!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Political Ads

Candidates can and do say pretty much anything they want in political ads.  They are not completely immune from libel laws – an Iowa state senator won $231,000 in 2012 after his opponent claimed he “put profit over children’s health” – but such consequences are so rare, that rules of law (and decency) are usually ignored.

In the run-up to yesterday’s elections, TV ads declared that almost all of the candidates from either party were terrible - describing them as deadbeats and felons, treasonous bastards that hated women, children, fair play and puppies.  If the ads were to be believed, there was nobody running for office that you would want living in your state, much less running it!

Many of the claims were outright lies, and many took statements out of context in attempts to prove the candidate held opinions that had nothing at all to do with the statement quoted.

In spite of this, democracy seems to have worked.  People went to the polls and voted.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sure, You can Tow That

Salesmen at RV lots are notorious for assuring potential customers that whatever vehicle they own can tow whatever trailer they are considering.  Somehow, I don't think even they would suggest this.

You like the size and layout of a 5th wheel trailer, but you only own an SUV?

No problem!

Just exercise some ingenuity.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bentley Is Back


People around the world have been worrying about Bentley, the King Charles Spaniel owned by Nina Pham, one of the Dallas nurses who came down with Ebola.  He got a lot more publicity than some of the people who had come in contact with the nurses – partly because he was so cute, and partly because Spanish authorities had put down a dog that belonged to a nurse infected there.

His 21-day quarantine is over and he is back with Pham.


Nobody seems willing to say how much Bentley’s three week kennel bill might be.  A spokesperson for the City of Dallas said the cost of Bentley’s care has been a collaborative effort through the City of Dallas, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas A&M, TDSHS, Dallas County and community support.” We likely won’t know how much it cost until mid-November.”

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Surf and Turf

Surf and Turf

Our daughter Cheryl called yesterday and asked if we had received a delivery.  I told her no and she said I needed to stay home because FedEx would be showing up with a delivery that needed to be refrigerated.  We hadn’t been off the phone for long when the package arrived. 

It was an early birthday present for Honey – her birthday is Tuesday – a package containing two live Maine lobsters and a couple of beautiful steaks!

There was no way we were waiting until her birthday next week.  We cooked them and ate them last night.

I seasoned the steaks with H-E-B Texas Tradition fajita rub and cooked them outside on the charcoal grill while Honey boiled the lobsters.  The addition of a simple salad of romaine, cherry tomatoes and cucumber (with a little Olive Garden Italian dressing) made it a perfect meal.

Honey says it may have been the best birthday present ever.