Thursday, December 31, 2015

Controversy

Over the past year I've posted a couple of blog entries about the current state of the news media, and the sad fact that a truly objective, unbiased, news outlet does not exist. 
I also complained that CONTROVERSY sells, and that reporters are determined to create controversy where there is none.  The latest example of this is the truck pictured above.
This past Christmas, Wal-Mart offered a little eighteen wheeler with a livestock trailer in their toy department.  According to a story I read today, this toy truck is at the center of a huge CONTROVERSY!  
According to the story, complaining parents said the purpose of a livestock hauler was to carry cattle to slaughter and they thought it was unconscionable for Wal-Mart to introduce their innocent children to the concept of death at such an early age.
Although the story didn't say so, I have to assume the complainers were
  • Total idiots
  • Members of PETA
  • Vegans
  • Folks who think meat comes wrapped in cellophane from the supermarket
  • All of the above
The first amendment does give anyone the  right to complain about anything.  Thank God it doesn't require us to pay attention.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Honors

Like most TV viewers, we watched the Kennedy Center Honors last night.  As usual, it was a pretty good show with only a few disappointments - James Taylor's version of "Up on the Roof" and just about everyone toasting Rita Moreno were two of the weak spots for me.
One of the things I found most impressive was not part of the entertainment.  
I found it amazing that Cicely Tyson at 90
Looks so much younger than she did when she played Miss Jane Pittman back in 1974.
 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Place Holder

Nothing new to report today.
Honey is out walking.  It is 44 degrees and overcast, and she's bundled up like she was going out in a blizzard.  At least she is out and I'm not - maybe later, maybe not.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Fifty One

Today Honey and I celebrate fifty one years of marriage.
She had been a true partner - one who makes the rough times easier to deal with and the good times even better.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dogs




Those who follow this blog know that the Boggy Thicket family includes two miniature dachshunds, Tinker and Dusty.  That's a very old picture, but the dogs and the pillow are the same today. We still call them the puppies although they are twelve years old and their muzzles are completely gray. 
I was going to the bathroom last night when I heard Honey calling frantically from the living room.  I couldn't tell exactly what she was saying, but I did hear "Help, Tinker and Hurry!" I ran into the living room to find that Tinker had managed to get one toe-nail caught in the fabric of the pillow the pups lie on and couldn't get it out.  I had to get scissors and then hold Tink down while Honey cut the nail loose.  It took several snips at the fabric, but once she was loose everything was fine - no damage to the dog and only minor damage to an old, worn pillow.
Oddly enough, I had already decided several hours before that today's post would be about the pups, but I planned to write about Dusty.  She is the younger, and until last year the smaller of the two dogs - at their last Vet visit, Tinker had dropped a little weight and now weighs in just under ten pounds while Dusty added a few ounces and weighs ten and a half.  Although smaller, Dusty is the Alpha dog. She runs the household, and if you don't believe me, just ask her.
She also snores, and the older she gets, the louder.  That led me to write...


There’s simply no way to ignore
Dusty when she starts to snore
She rattles the dishes in the sink
Makes the walls shake, and I think
Vibrates the terrazzo tile on the floor

Saturday, December 26, 2015

12/26/15

Made it through Christmas - back home in one piece.  
Happy but tired - Christmas takes longer to recover from than it used to.
 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sick Santa

Just a few days ago, my old pal Ken Szostek was going around doing one of his favorite things - playing Santa at Christmas parties, then
The next thing he knew he was in the hospital with a heart attack.
The latest word is that he is doing OK after surgery to put in a stint.

Ken has brought joy to hundreds over the years at dozens of Christmas parties, so the timing couldn't have been much worse.

Get well soon Ken, we need guys like you around.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hope



This world is positively fraught
With wonders yet to be wrought
As we here on earth
Await the birth
Of ideas that have not yet been thought  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter

Today is the first day of winter.  
Here at the Boggy Thicket the day dawned with overcast skies and a temperature of 67.
The forecast calls for a 50% chance of rain, and a high in the upper 70s.
I was able to get the garbage can out to the street between showers, and the only other thing on the agenda is wrapping a few Christmas presents.  
It's shaping up to be a good day. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Enough Is Enough

2015 has been the year for stories about police violence - the Ferguson anniversary, Freddie Gray, Chicago, etc. - and each time the media became more shrill in their coverage.  
This morning, CBS news sent out what has to be the ultimate headline:

Police shoot dead suspect 

inside L.A. emergency room

If you read the Story, you'll see that this is not what happened, but it does read like the ultimate 2015 headline.

 

 

 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Song

Continuing my tradition of posting a Christmas song every year, here's this year's offering. It ain't Robert Earl Keen, but it is topical...
 

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Gift




If you haven't seen this yet, you need to.  One of the most effective ads for organ donation ever...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Firemen

Watching TV and minding our own business last Saturday when we heard sirens - LOTS of sirens - approaching.  We went outside, and could hear them getting closer.  It was the local volunteer Fire Department carrying Santa around the neighborhood.  
Speaking of firemen.....
 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Progress

I have become a victim of progress. Since starting my blog, I have used Windows Live Writer to compose my daily entries. As of yesterday it is no longer compatible with Blogger. Google advised that I convert to Open Live Writer, Microsoft's replacement, but I can't get it to connect to my blog. Of course, Microsoft isn't the only game in town, so I tried another composition software that gets good reviews - Raven. It won't connect, either. I can still compose using Blogger itself, but it doesn't offer the same options, and is not nearly as user-friendly. Google says that there are some issues that should be resolved soon. Meanwhile, I probably won't be posting daily.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

More Xmas Lights

Yesterday, I shared Christmas lights on a train.  Today it’s a ship.  The picture was taken off the coast of Oregon.

christmas ship

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Train

 

December 7th, and I should be posting something about Pearl Harbor, but I decided to lighten things up a little. 

Here’s a video of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolling through Detroit last Wednesday.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Houston Football

Sunday morning, and two Houston Football teams (University of Houston and Sam Houston State) both won their football games yesterday.  Can the Houston Texans make it three for three this afternoon? 

On paper, the Texans should beat the Buffalo Bills, but unfortunately, they don't play on paper, they play on turf.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It’s a Sign

Driving around the neighborhood yesterday, I saw a hand written cardboard sign attached to the stop sign at Plum Grove Road and FM 1485.

imageI don’t have a dog in this fight, don’t know the participants,  but my first reaction was “Right on – you go girl.”  Of course, I would have been a lot more excited if she were selling his shotgun or his lawn mower.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pemex Comes to Houston

pemex PetrĂ³leos Mexicanos, the Mexican national oil company, opened its first Pemex gas station outside of Mexico yesterday.  The gas station/convenience store is in the 7900 block of Park Place Blvd in southeast Houston, and is the first of five stations – all in Houston – as a test of Pemex brand strength in the US. 

Pemex is hedging its bet - all of these first stations are in primarily Hispanic sections of town, with three more in the southeast and one in west Houston.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Command

command2

One of 3M’s many successful products is the Command line of removable hooks, very popular this time of year for hanging Christmas decorations. 

One of my Facebook friends posted a picture of the wreath on her front door and mentioned that she would be adding garlands as soon as she picked up some Command hooks at the 3M company store.

I don’t know whether it was intentional or not, but her first reply was classic.  Someone wrote “Command hooks are a staple in our household.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kaposi

In a Facebook post related to AIDS Day, former State Representative Debra Danburg noted yesterday that the group that became the AIDS Foundation of Houston was originally called the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Foundation.  She was one of the founders, and a board member when the group was organized in the early 80s.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma is a tumor caused by infection with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), and was often seen in young men with HIV infections.

The Kaposi group had an office in the Montrose area, and the company I worked for at the time had a copy machine there.  Several of the technicians refused to service that copier, or even set foot in the place.

I hadn’t heard the term in years.  Maybe that’s a good thing.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Under Two

Our “family car” is a 2007 Dodge Ram 3/4 ton pickup with a 5.9 Cummins Diesel engine.  We bought it just before we retired to pull our camper, and planned on it being our last vehicle purchase – so far, so good.

This past weekend, I bought fuel for $1.99 a gallon – the first time since we got the truck that I have been able to fill up – 30 gallons for less than $60.

Shortly after we got the truck, I did buy Diesel once at a pump that said $1.32 - but those were Canadian dollars, and the price was per liter.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Well, Duh!

Several times a year, we see reports of a new scientific study proving something so obvious we can only shake our head in wonder.  The latest of these BLOCKBUSTER Studies made the news this morning.

Reading in Bed A research team from the Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY, released the results of a study that found that children with dogs suffer from less anxiety that kids without pets. 

My first thought was “They needed a Study for that?”

In case you’re wondering, the name of the place does not indicate any pro-dog bias.  It’s named after Mary Imogene Bassett, and old maid doctor and daughter of doctors who practiced in Cooperstown. They practiced in a house that still stands on lower Fair Street and treated their patients for $6-$12 week -- including room and board!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Allergies

Starting to feel a little more human today. 

Honey is actually out walking for the second day in a row.  I’m not ready for that, but then again, I don’t enjoy walking and never walk as far as she does even when I feel great.

I have managed to get through the last two days without taking any allergy medication.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Our Cup Runneth Over

As it turned out, Honey was feeling better yesterday, but I was feeling worse.  The decision to stay home for Thanksgiving seemed more than justified.

Since we had not planned on being home, our holiday feast was not exactly typical, but it was close.  Instead of a turkey, we had a spatchcocked chicken. 

If you’re not familiar with the term, Spatchcock is a word from 18th century Ireland that describes a way of cooking poultry, and you may have been doing it already without knowing what to call it – it involves removing the backbone and laying the bird flat on a grill before placing it in the oven. 

spatchcock-turkey-food-lab-12

In addition to the chicken, we made a big pan of dressing and some giblet gravy, and Honey made the broccoli rice she had intended to make for Cheryl. We ate around three o'clock, and had way too much food for two people. 

Then just after dark, as we were trying to decide whether to go for leftovers or ice cream, the door bell rang.  Knowing that we had been under the weather, the Graffs, our next-door neighbors, had brought over dinner.  The plates included ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, devilled eggs and more, and there was another plate with slices of pumpkin and pecan pie.

If you’re hungry, feel free to stop by.  We have enough leftovers to feed an army.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

The_First_Thanksgi_jeanferris 

That is Jean Ferris’s painting of the first thanksgiving. 

Normally, we would be on our way to Bertram and Liberty Hill for the day, but we have both been a little under the weather and decided to stay home this year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Place Holder

 

I just don’t feel like writing anything today, so if you were breathlessly waiting for today’s blog post, here it is.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Drain

Our house has one water inlet (from the well) and three outlets – one to the septic tank, one from the kitchen to a grease trap with its own field lines, and one that is just a pipe that drains the washing machine out into the woods.  It is a system that has served us well for almost forty years.

Over that time, I have had to use a roto-rooter on the septic field lines once or twice, and have had to empty the grease trap several times, but until this weekend the washing machine drain had never been a problem.  I was washing my sheets this weekend when the drain decided not to drain anymore and soapy water filled the utility room and most of the kitchen.  I caught it  while the machine was still about half full, but a gallon of water can go a long way.

After mopping up the mess, I tried using water pressure to open the drain, and thought that it worked.  The rest of the wash water drained without incident, but then, when the rinse cycle ended, it flooded again.

At that point, I went out and dug up the end of the pipe, then ran a water hose up the pipe from that end.  Kneeling in the mud with my arm shoulder deep in freezing water and shoving a water hose up the pipe ain’t fun.  Okay, it wasn’t freezing, but 36° is close enough! 

I think it’s okay now, but I’m going to work on it some more this afternoon to be sure.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Whut?

Our hummingbird feeders are in storage for the next few months, and this is one problem we have never experienced.

hbirdfeederWe have had raccoons, and honeybees, and a couple of birds other than hummers, but never a horse.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Turkey

Thanksgiving is coming up this Thursday, and will bring with it the usual arguments about the best way to prepare the turkey – roasted or fried, corn bread vs. white bread stuffing, etc.

A contributor on an internet forum I follow posted this bird that he prepared for a Thanksgiving party on the beach.  A few well-placed pieces of aluminum foil before the bird went in the oven resulted in:

florida turkey

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Troubleshooting 101

Whether you’re talking about the family car, a washing machine, or a widget, if you want to fix it, you first have to pinpoint what is wrong. 

That means you have to be able to recognize and eliminate what it is doing right.

At one point in my career, I wrote and taught a basic, generic troubleshooting class.  It was designed for copier repair technicians, but I wrote it without any references to copy machines. 

I taught that you have to understand what the machine is supposed to accomplish, and to be able to break the process into a sequence of individual steps.  Then, you have to be able to identify the step where the process went awry.  Once you’re there, finding the source of the anomaly is usually easy – seldom more complicated than choosing between two components.

If you can do that, you can fix anything.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall Color

Folks from Texas go to New England, or at least to Arkansas, for a glimpse of fall color, but you don’t have to go that far.

lost maples This picture, taken one year ago today, is from the Lost Maples State Natural Area near Vanderpool, Texas.  gold treesAnd this is from Tyler State Park this year.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wheeler

wheelWe picked up chicken on the way home yesterday, something that seems to give me very vivid dreams.  Last night, I dreamed that Houston’s defensive end, J. J. Watt appeared on Wheel of Fortune.  He won, but was unable to solve the bonus round and only came away with $12,600. The other contestants were people I should know, but I can’t remember their names this morning.

Even more frustrating is that I watched the entire show but can’t remember any of the puzzles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sunfall

I saw an amazing natural display this morning – something I had never seen before.  I’m not sure what to call it, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to describe it well enough, but it was something to behold.

It was foggy this morning, and the sunrise was nothing special – no brilliant colors on the eastern horizon - the day just transformed from dark to light.  An hour or so later, I was standing at the back door looking east when the fog began to dissipate. 

We think in terms of fog lifting, but in this case it was falling, falling in an absolute deluge of droplets so small they should have been invisible.  They were visible, though. Each miniscule droplet became a lens that picked up, amplified and projected the light from the rising sun.

It only lasted a few minutes, but it was a remarkable experience.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Superstorm

For the past several days local weathermen have been warning about the potential of a major weather event.  A huge dip in the polar jet stream was expected to join up with the southern jet stream over our area.  That, combined with a major storm moving in from the Rockies was supposed to create conditions that would bring heavy rain, hail and a strong possibility of tornadoes.

When we went to bed last night, the front was expected to move in about 3:00 a.m. and be out of the area by early afternoon.  It is now almost 10:00 a.m. and the front still hasn’t arrived.  Not looking forward to severe weather, but I’m getting tired of waiting.  I’m ready for it to be over.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Really Monday

DentalHygiene2 Since we have been retired for several years now, Monday’s aren’t the hassle here at the Boggy Thicket that they are for folks who are still punching a clock.  Usually, Mondays are pretty much like any other day.

Today was a bit of an exception.  Honey had a dental appointment (for a cleaning) and we had to get up in time to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get the garbage out to the street in time to make it to Huffman for the first appointment of the day – not difficult, but it gave the morning a sense of exigency that we don’t normally feel.

Then, as we were eating breakfast, the Dental office called.  The hygienist was not going to be in the office – she was home caring for a sick child. Honey rescheduled her appointment – another Monday, but this time at 11:00 a.m.

No longer under any pressure to get somewhere on time, everything went back to normal, but it took a while for it to feel that way.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Equal Time

There were reports yesterday that said ringleaders of the recent demonstrations on college campuses were upset because the ISIS attacks in Paris had pushed their movement out of the headlines.

I’m sorry they are upset, so am doing my part to remedy the situation.

racist

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Created Equal?

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal”

Wait!  Stop!  I’m calling BS! 

While all men (and that’s a generic, gender-neutral men) may have been created equal, nobody actually believes it. Everyone either thinks that they are superior, or secretly fears that they are inferior to everyone else, and the drive to be better than their fellow man is what has driven civilization since the stone age.

That competitive drive is the impetus that led to the founding of nations, of religions and of high-school cliques.  It has been the cause of untold evil in the world, but it is also what led to the scientific discoveries that brought us to where we are today. 

Recently, unscrupulous leaders have set about to create and to empower a new class of people, convincing them that they do not have to play the historical competitive game - at least not by the established rules. They tell them that they no longer have to seek to improve themselves, just demand whatever they think they want in the name of justice. They tell them that they are entitled to special consideration because they have been bullied, disenfranchised, discriminated against, or, most recently, simply offended. 

What’s really scary is that it seems to be working.

I’m still trying to decide if this movement is the antithesis of historical progress or only a clever ploy designed to give its members a bigger club in the fight.  Either way, I see it as a disturbing trend.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Whaaaaaat?

stabwith squirrel

This headline has me bemused
And frankly a little confused
Did she catch them in the act?
Was the squirrel the weapon with which she attacked?
Either way, the squirrel should have refused

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day

Veterans-Day

At the invitation of the President of the United States, I served in the Army from 1966 to 68.  I attained the rank of Specialist 5, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for my work with the Ft. Hood Public Information Office.

To those who say I’m not a real veteran since I never was deployed in a war zone, I will remind you that the Viet Cong never got anywhere near central Texas during my tour of duty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fade

We haven’t seen a hummingbird in a couple of weeks, so I’ll probably be taking our hummingbird feeders down later today.  Very little, if any, sugar water has been consumed since the last time they were filled.

On the subject of sugar water, we use a 1:4 mixture in our feeders most of the year.  If swarms of bees show up, we’ve found that cutting the concentration to 1:6 causes them to lose interest.  Hummingbirds still like it, but the bees go somewhere else. 

When mixing up the solution, we always add a few drops of red food coloring, and that is the source of today’s mystery.  We have three feeders out and the sugar water in the two plastic ones is still bright red, but in the one with a glass reservoir the solution is clear.  I noticed a few days ago that it was pink, but today it looks as though we never added any food coloring at all.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Simple Math

A six-year-old’s answer to a question on a math quiz is all over the internet.  Posted by a proud mom, it has gone viral.

If you haven’t seen it already, here it is:

bobmath

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lucky

pony

I got my first horse for my first birthday. That is a fact, and it is a story that I have enjoyed telling - particularly to folks from out-of-state who had unrealistic ideas about Texas and Texans.

The horse was a four month old Shetland pony we named Lucky, and although we sold him when I was five years old, I do have several vivid memories of life with Lucky. 

For example, Lucky once got into a bin full of sweet potatoes and ate his fill.  He almost died - blew up like a weather balloon, had trouble breathing and could hardly stand.  Watching my dad give my pony an enema with a garden hose is a scene that nobody is likely to ever forget.

I don’t actually remember the best Lucky story, but I’ve heard it often. Here’s what happened: 

Shortly after Lucky arrived, our next door neighbor stopped by.  He said that his milk cow had suddenly gone dry, but only on her left side – the teats on her right side were still functioning normally.  He asked my dad if he had ever heard of such a thing, and of course, he said that he had not.

The mystery was solved a few days later when my mom saw the neighbor’s cow standing at the property line allowing Lucky to nurse through the barbed wire fence.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Middle Child

Over the years, psychologists have written reams of reports about middle child syndrome, and the problems of growing up with older and younger siblings.  My problem was a little different.

A couple years before I was born, and after several miscarriages, my mother gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  I’ve seen pictures, and beautiful is not an understatement – she was one of the prettiest babies I’ve ever seen.  They named her Dana Lynne.

Everybody and his brother came to see them in the hospital, and someone gave her a cold, which developed into pneumonia.  She died before she ever left the hospital.

When I came along, I was loved and cherished and spoiled rotten, but my mother always continued to mourn that perfect little girl.  It’s hard to compete with someone who died before they ever had a chance to do anything wrong.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Paid Patriotism

fake patriots

A report just released by Arizona’s two US Senators reveals that many of those patriotic displays we see at professional sports events were actually bought and paid for by the Military. 

The figures – for fiscal year 2013 – show the Houston Astros got $25,000 from the Texas National Guard and the Dynamo got $15,000 for allowing Guardsmen to act as color guards at some of their home games.  During the same time period, the Atlanta Hawks raked in $230,000!

The 6.8 million dollars they quote may be a drop in the bucket in the overall military budget, but I think it is reprehensible. 

I know that professional sports is a business - and the business of business is to make money - but Patriotism should never be for sale or rent.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Happy Birthday

70th_birthday_greeting_card

I am, and I treasure every day we have together. 

Happy birthday, Honey.  You truly are the love of my life.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Groveton

No, my parents were not related, but they met when they both went to visit a mutual cousin. Her name was Mildred, and I guess she would be my double second cousin.  Her parents were my mother’s father’s brother and my dad’s mother’s sister, and they lived in Groveton, Texas.  I don’t know if it was an actual case of love at first sight, but  dad is supposed to have told mom that summer that he was going to marry her when she grew up.

Both of my maternal grandparents grew up in that area, and years ago, while traveling through Groveton, I talked to an old man who knew them both when they were young.  I had stopped at a gas station to buy a coke to drink with my lunch, and struck up a conversation with an old-timer who was sitting in a cane-bottom rocker outside.

He told me that my grandmother and her twin sister (fraternal twins that didn’t look a thing alike) were the prettiest girls in the town.  I asked about my grand-dad and his brothers, saying “I’ve heard those Boyd boys were pretty rowdy.”

He thought for a minute, then replied, “Well, them Boyd boys was what you might call noticeable.”

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Mob

Well, the weather cooperated and our neighborhood hay ride went off without a hitch.  The rain (we had 5-plus inches overnight) stopped just before noon, and the trailer-loads of goblins showed up at our place a little after five o'clock. 

I left the house to go grocery shopping at noon – thinking that many would still be waiting for the water to recede, and I would beat the crowds.  Boy, was I wrong!

I drove through high water – never more than two or three inches – a dozen times or more on the way to the store, only to arrive to find the HEB parking lot totally full and only about a half dozen shopping carts available.  I have never seen the store so full – not even when folks were stocking up for a hurricane. 

I guess everyone was going stir-crazy, and got out of the house as soon as they could. The good news was that everyone was in good spirits and they were all friendly and courteous. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

10/31/15

It’s a rainy Saturday morning.  Most of the yard is under water and the rain is still coming down, so there’s nothing much to do but surf the net.

Sometimes, not always, that will net a jewel.  Here’s what I found today:

A couple, both age 78, went to a sex therapist's office. The doctor asked, "What can I do for you?"

The man said, "Will you watch us have sex?"

The doctor looked puzzled, but agreed.

When the couple finished, the doctor said, "There's nothing wrong with the way you have sex," and charged them $50.

This happened several weeks in a row. The couple would make an appointment, have sex with no problems, pay the doctor, then leave.

Finally, the doctor asked, "Just exactly what are you trying to find out?"

"We're not trying to find out anything," the husband replied.
"She's married and we can't go to her house. I'm married and we can't go to my house. The Holiday Inn charges $90. The Hilton charges $108. We do it here for $50...and I get $43 back from Medicare.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Kurt

True stories are usually the best stories, and this is one of my favorites. 

Originally posted here in September, 2010, it’s the story of a Houston police officer and his K-9 partner, Kurt :

http://boggythicket.blogspot.com/2010/09/k-9.html

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kaput

As I mentioned several times last June, I have been trying to get one more year out of our old riding mower. 

I have probably spent as much time working on the mower this summer as I did actually mowing grass.  In addition to the spindle I replaced back then, I’ve replaced blades and belts, and even repaired a cracked engine block with epoxy.

We almost made it.

I had just finished mowing a few days ago, and was running up and down the driveway blowing leaves and clippings off the pavement, when the engine made a loud noise.  I shut it down immediately, but when I tried to start it again, the engine wouldn’t turn over.

I went out to work on it yesterday, and found that – even with the sparkplug removed – I could not turn the engine with a wrench and a cheater pipe.  It is locked up as solid as a rock.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween!?

About yesterday’s post –

Just after I finished it and clicked Publish, Honey came in with a paper in her hand.  Organizers had finally got around to sending out flyers and this year’s Halloween Hayride is officially scheduled for Saturday.

Now if we can only get the weather to cooperate.  Current forecasts call for a 70% chance of rain, including some heavy thunderstorms, for the 31st, but at least one local weatherman is holding out hope that the worst will be over by mid-afternoon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween?

Halloween is just a few days off, and we don’t have any idea what is going to be happening here.  There is a long-standing tradition of a Halloween hayride, but the neighbors who host it have always put out flyers about the event a couple weeks in advance.  So far, we haven’t heard a thing.

The hayride has always been very well received, and seems to have grown every year.  Last year, there were three tractors pulling flat-bed trailers full of little goblins, along with six or seven outriders on four-wheelers, Rangers and Gators.  It’s hard to imagine that anything so successful would just die.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Patty

floodAfter several days of rain that had brought flooding from Waco to Dallas, the low that was causing it all was expected to meet up with the remnants of Hurricane Patricia – the strongest hurricane ever recorded – to create a major weather event in the Houston area.

It did, but for the most part the results were anticlimactic.  There was some minor flooding, and the usual brain-dead drivers ended up stalled in underpasses, etc., but mostly the damage was negligible.

Here at the Boggy Thicket, we had constant rain from late Saturday morning until about midnight last night, and gusty winds all day Sunday.  The Weatherbug station in Huffman got about six inches of rain, but I don’t think we got that much - I’m guessing that we got  somewhere between three and four. 

What we did not get was any lightning.  Two days of constant rain – fed by a tropical system that was still spawning tornadoes and waterspouts along the coast – and we never saw a single flash, and never heard a single clap of thunder.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Vladimir Skywalker

leninvaderThe Ukraine doesn’t have much love left for the old Soviet leaders.  There’s even a law calling for the destruction of their statues.

Outside a factory in Odessa, Ukrainian artist Alexander Milov transformed this piece  rather than destroy it– changing it from the likeness of Vladimir Lenin to that of Darth Vader.

As the factory manager is quoted as saying, “Everything flows, everything changes, old figures give way to new ones, and so the world turns.”

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Teflon Factor

teflonBack in the early eighties, Colorado Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder first referred to Ronald Reagan as the “Teflon President,” because nothing she and her fellow Democrats threw at him ever seemed to stick.  To hear her tell it, the term occurred to her one morning as she was frying eggs for her kids. .

It was a great line, and one of the few things that did stick to a man who became one of the most popular presidents in history.

Since Reagan, the term has been applied (with varying degrees of accuracy) to several of his successors including Democrats Clinton and Obama, but if this past week’s Benghazi hearings proved anything, it is that Hillary Clinton has the Teflon factor in spades.  To use one of my grandfather’s home-spun colloquialisms, the woman was “slicker than snails in a barrel of snot!”

I guess that’s what my liberal friends mean when they say she looked presidential.

Friday, October 23, 2015

America’s Team

cowboysAs a native Houstonian, I have always despised the Dallas Cowboys.  I have admired several of their players over the years, but I just can’t like the team – it is genetically impossible.  That makes it particularly hard to report that, according to a new Harris Poll, The Cowboys are back on top as America’s favorite football team.

In an attempt to make the survey as accurate as possible, respondents were asked to name their two favorite football teams.  When all the replies were added up, Dallas came out on top, but male respondents named the New England Patriots as their favorite team and women preferred the Green Bay Packers.

The Denver Broncos, who were on top last year, dropped to number four.  Green Bay (up from #3) and New England (up from #8) are tied for second place.  Demographic breakdowns show

    • The Dallas Cowboys are the favorite among adults 30-64, Southerners, Blacks, and Hispanics.
    • The New England Patriots are the favorite team of American men and adults living on the east coast.
    • Women, Midwesterners, and Whites are most likely to be found throwing their support behind the Green Bay Packers.
    • Westerners and Asians are most likely to be found cheering for the (#9) San Francisco 49ers.
    • Americans between 25-29 stand alone in their dedication to the Pittsburgh Steelers (#5 over all).

Professional Football remains the most popular spectator sport, with 69% of men and 50% of women describing themselves as football fans.

It’s almost not worth mentioning, but my Houston Texans came in 24th of the 32 NFL teams.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fully Vetted

I was looking around the internet for a picture to go with today’s post, and came across this one from an animal adoption organization called Date A Dog. I had to post it.

date-a-dog-adsI could (and probably should) stop right here, but I did have something to say today.

The current search for a “forever home” from a local pet rescue organization described the dog in question as “fully Vetted.” 

In this case, the term did not refer to the sort of background check required for security clearances or some political appointments - it meant that the animal had been checked for health problems, that all its shots were up-to-date, and it had been neutered.

It occurred to me that the world would certainly be a different place if the same meaning were applied to politicians.  Not necessarily better, but different – we probably do want our leaders to have cojones.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

They’re Watching

For years, conspiracy theorists have warned that the government is watching everything that you do. 

I never worried about that much, because:

  1. The government seldom does anything right.
  2. I don’t think that I do anything that even the most repressive regime would consider dangerous or even interesting.

Whether the government is watching or not, you are being watched!  On at least one level, the paranoia is justified.

Websites now employ algorithms that note your activity and tailor their responses.  Here’s just one example - You don’t have to buy anything, just look at an item on line. Later, check the ads on the right hand side of your Facebook page.  Chances are that you will see an ad for the thing you recently looked at on the website of Best Buy, Wal-Mart or Lowes.

Just ten days ago, my blog post was a review of I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.  This morning, an email from Amazon offered a chance to pre-order his latest:

locust A new book that is not due out until May of next year.

I didn’t even buy Pilgrim from Amazon.  As I implied in my blog, I got it from the paperback rack at my local Wal-Mart. But, before we assign the Amazon website magical powers, I should point out that I did get the copy of the book cover I used in my post from the Amazon.com website. That, in itself, is amazing enough for me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Right to Hunt and Fish

Proposition 6 on the November Ballot in Texas provides for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing Texans a right to hunt and fish.  It’s not a new idea – Vermont’s constitution gave their citizens that right in 1777, and as of today, 17 other states offer that guarantee.

hunt and fish

The proposed amendment would add a Section 34 to Article 1 of the Texas Constitution. The following text would be added by the proposed measure's approval:

Sec. 34.

(a) The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing.
(b) Hunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife.
(c) This section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.
(d) This section does not affect the power of the legislature to authorize a municipality to regulate the discharge of a weapon in a populated area in the interest of public safety.

I have not been hunting in years, and have bought my fishing license several years without ever going fishing, but I support the amendment.  The main argument against the amendment is that it is unnecessary, and most editorials for it say that, while it may not be necessary, it doesn’t hurt anything.  Although most Texans  assume we have the right to hunt and fish already, a huge majority of the legislature voted for the bill that put the proposition on the ballot. There were only three votes against it in the Senate and only one against it in the House. 

For my money, one of the main arguments for the amendment is that it is opposed by both PETA and the Houston Chronicle.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Well, You Knew What I Meant

A former coworker and his wife recently celebrated their wedding anniversary. 

Extolling the virtues of his wife on Facebook, he wrote that she was such a virtuous and  kind person that “old people and little children naturally aggravate to her.”

I can’t think of anything to add to that.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Outfoxed

Don-Gutoski-Wildlife-Photographer-of-the-Year

Dr. Don Gutoski, an ER doc and amateur photographer, captured this scene in the Wapusk National Park near Hudson’s Bay, Canada.  It shows a red fox and his prey, an only slightly smaller arctic fox, and it has been named the wildlife photo of the year by London’s Natural History Museum.

Foxes don’t normally prey upon each other, but they are territorial.  When one encroaches on the other’s hunting grounds, they will attack.

Of course, USA Today could not post the story without blaming Global Warming.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mulling Media

ok chart

Yes, the chart is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but there is more truth there than humor.  Whatever your politics, if you get all your news from a single source, you will never be well enough informed to make a wise decision about your world.

Whether intentional, or simply slanted by how the editor’s own politics color his idea to truth, every news outlet has its own point of view, and its own agenda.

Unfortunately – and it is just human nature – folks tend to watch the news on the outlet that most resembles their own political leanings.  That only tends to reinforce their preconceived opinions, doing nothing to encourage consideration of alternative points of view.

Editorial leanings in news stories can be blatant or subtle – ask a liberal about Fox or a conservative about MSNBC – but even more insidious  is what the news outlet chooses not to report.  There are things happening all the time that are never mentioned on one newscast or another, and some of these are important.  If you confine yourself to one news source, you’ll never know.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Bit Much

Several days ago, I got a good laugh when someone posted this on Facebook:

what I got an even bigger laugh when my old friend Dave Szostek added this in the comments:

bitgunIf you’re still not laughing, let me explain – the “bullets” are actually screwdriver bits, used in magnetic screwdrivers and electric drills.

As a new-hire at 3M in 1971, I got my first Magna-Tip screwdriver in my tool bag.  Over the years since then, I have owned a dozen or so magnetic screwdrivers and hundreds of bits. 

One of the best Christmas gifts I ever received was an electric screwdriver that uses those bits and runs on triple-A batteries.  A coworker found it on an under $10 table at Home Depot, and bought it as a gag gift.  I’ve used that screwdriver several times a week for over twelve years, and changed the batteries for the first time this past summer.