Saturday, February 28, 2015

Let There Be Light – Part One

Today’s post is designed to set the stage for tomorrow, which I hope will be a report on a successful do-it-yourself project that I hope to finish today.

I will be headed out to the 5th wheel shortly to replace most of the interior lights.

Here’s how we got to where we are this morning:

Our trailer originally came with a couple of 120 VAC lights, but the majority of the lights inside were in 12 volt DC fixtures that used T-10 type incandescent bulbs like this:

 t10These bulbs burn very hot, don’t have a very long life expectancy and the interior of the trailer just didn’t get bright enough, so last year I replaced them with LEDs like these:

t10ledThat should have worked – comparing one of each in a two-light fixture, the LED lamp was noticeably brighter – but the light they gave off had a bluish tinge, and the interior was still as dim as a redneck bar.  Something had to be done.

Other owners on who had replaced their T-10 bulbs recommend using these,

$_1so I ordered 20 of them a couple weeks ago.

Of course, I can never do anything the easy way.  When they arrived I realized that I had ordered the wrong part number.  The p-c boards come prewired with a small pigtail that plugs into any of several adapters for use with several different types of sockets.  The one I got was to replace BA15S bulbs like this:

ba15sI called the vendor last Saturday – their website says their help desk is open Saturdays, but they’re not – and tried again several times on Monday with no luck.  Finally, on Tuesday morning, the help desk number was answered.  The person on the other end was the owner, in her car on the way to work.  Rather than do a return for credit and a reorder, we agreed it would be simpler just to send me the correct adapters, so that’s what she did. 

I got them yesterday and am headed out in a few minutes to try them out.

Friday, February 27, 2015

On Time

Hours and days seem fixed in place

While minutes creep at a snail’s pace

Weeks, months and years go flying by

Gone in the twinkling of an eye

A paradox of time and space

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Energizer Update


I took this picture back in February of 2010.  I didn’t post this one, but another shot of the same orchid was in one of my very first blog posts in March of that year - ENERGIZER ORCHID.

Five years later, and right on time, it is blooming again.  If I took a picture today – and I may yet – it would show all six blossoms on the stalk are fully open. 

I have no idea how long orchids are supposed to live, but I was amazed back in 2010 that this one had bloomed for fifteen years in a row.  Now it’s twenty!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ugly Update

Yesterday, I complained about the weather, and Monday I talked about the finch feeder.  Today is sort of an update on both.

It’s 39° and drizzling rain.  Honey and I have haircut appointments and the finch feeder is down to the last inch of seed in the bottom of the sock.  Otherwise, I don’t think I would be setting foot outside today.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


winter on tv

About the only positive thing I can say about winter here at the Boggy Thicket is that it has been a Hell of a lot worse almost everywhere else.

Our first freeze came early, and we had over a week in January with overcast skies and temperatures that didn’t get out of the 40s.  The most recent arctic blast came in Sunday, and while we didn’t have a freeze – low this morning was 33° – drizzle, mist and gusty winds have made it feel much colder.

Long-time  area residents will tell you that our winters are never really over until after the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the first of the annual trail rides just got underway.  Still, we have trees beginning to leaf out, one of our saucer magnolias is in full bloom, and we have violets blooming in the yard.

Spring can’t be very far away, and it can’t come a minute too soon.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Finch Feeder


We bought and installed a sock style finch feeder this year, and for the first week or so I thought I had wasted my money. 

Now, it is covered with birds all day long, and I have to refill the sock about once a day. I keep it filled with nyjer (thistle) seeds which are so small they are almost microscopic.  According to a bird fancier website, the Finches’ favorite seeds are the tiny nyjer seeds and the big black sunflower seeds that are part of the mix in our regular bird feeder.

The Finches – American Goldfinch – don’t have the aerobatic capability of the hummingbirds we feed at other times of the year, but they are fun to watch.  When a new bird wants to join in the feast, he should land on the hanger, and work his way down the sock on foot.  If he tries to land on the sock, it usually results in a bird explosion as they all fly away a foot or two and regroup.

In winter, they are mostly brown with black on their wings and tail and pale tan bellies.  Sometimes, if the light hits just right, you may see a hint of pale green or yellow, but they are, to put it kindly, drab little birds. It is hard to believe that in the Spring and Summer – after they’ve flown back up north – the males look like this:


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lost In Translation

hk-cny If you’re the sort who loves to party, last week was probably the biggest week of the year.  You barely had time to sober up from Mardi Gras – Ash Wednesday should have helped – when Thursday brought the Chinese New Year.

It didn’t seem to affect the celebrations around the world, but this year is a little confusing. 

2015 is either the Year of the Sheep or the Year of the Goat, and I’m finding both references on line in about equal measure.  Even the Chinese Zodiac, which calls it a Goat, features a picture that looks just like the Ram logo on my Dodge truck! 

There is also disagreement over which new year actually began on Thursday.  Scholars reference at least three different sources for the first year of the Lunar calendar, so this is either  4713, 4712, or 4652.

Whatever it is, 新年快乐 – Happy New Year!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Texas Two-Step Stumble


For years, windshields in Texas have sported two stickers – one for license renewal (registration) and one for a safety inspection.  Now, as a result of House Bill 2305 passed during the 83rd legislative session, the State of Texas will stop issuing inspection stickers and transition to a “Two Steps, One Sticker” vehicle inspection and registration program. Beginning March 1, 2015, vehicles will no longer be issued an inspection sticker. Your registration sticker will serve as a combined proof of registration and inspection.

The big plus of this program is that Texans will no longer be able to buy license plates (or renewal stickers) without proof of insurance and a valid safety inspection in the state’s computer system. 

The big minus is that the conversion year is already causing major confusion, even among the people whose job it is to understand the system. 

I pulled the following from the State Website set up to explain the new law:

From March 1, 2015 through February 29, 2016. You may renew your registration if your vehicle has a current, passing inspection. However, if your inspection and registration stickers both expire in the same month, your vehicle will need to pass inspection prior to registration renewal.  At the time of registration, your inspection status will be verified electronically. A current, passing inspection is required for registration renewal. Starting March 1, 2016, you will have a convenient 90-day window to complete both your inspection and registration.

That seems pretty straightforward to me, but when I took my truck (current safety inspection expires this month) to be inspected yesterday, I was told not to do it now.  The shop manager said that, as of next week, they would no longer issue, and law enforcement officers would no longer be checking inspection stickers.  I was told I would be better off waiting until just before my license plates were due for renewal next November- sometime within that 90 day window that goes into effect next year.

I’m pretty sure that’s wrong, but I decided to go along with it for now.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Image converted using ifftoany

It was just about two years ago.  We were getting ready for a summer trip to Waterton National Park in Canada with several stops along the way, and I decided that before we went, I needed to replace the tires on both the 5th wheel trailer and the truck.

The trailer had come with Chinese-made Goodyears that were always a problem.  We had experienced several blowouts with the Goodyears, and sustained damage to the trailer every time.  Research had convinced me that the problem was not so much that the tires were cheap Chinese crap (they are) but that driving 60 m.p.h. for several hours at a stretch was pushing the limits of ST (trailer) tires that are only rated for a maximum speed of 65.  I decided to replace them with LT (light truck) tires that were actually designed for hours of travel at highway speeds.  That was a decision that has worked out well.  So far – knock on wood – we haven’t had a single problem with the LT tires on the trailer.

I wasn’t so lucky with the tires on the truck.  The original tires on our ‘07 Dodge Megacab were Michelin 265 /70 R17 121R E1 tires. There was nothing wrong with them, but they were over five years old and already past their advertized 70,000 mile life expectancy, so I decided that just to be safe, they had to go.

I don’t suppose that I have to tell you that tires are expensive.  Buying eight tires at once was going to make a serious dent in our travel budget, so I let the salesman at the tire store talk me into putting Cooper tires on the truck.  He assured me that they were “almost as good as the Michelins” and they cost $100 less per tire.

I knew all about settling for second-best.  All my life, I had heard “You get what you pay for.”  But - sometimes you have to make sacrifices to the gods of finance.  This seemed like one of those times, so I bought the Cooper tires.

That was a decision I have regretted every day since I bought them.  The first thing I noticed was that they didn’t handle as well, even on dry pavement.  Then I discovered that the mileage on the truck dropped by approximately two miles per gallon.  I had always heard that the brand of tire you ran could affect mileage, but had never believed it.  Now I ad indisputable proof.

Then, with less than 30,000 miles on the tires,  the truck developed a bad vibration that was the result of a failing tire – the belts were separating internally and causing the whole truck to shake.

So this week I bit the bullet and shelled out $1001.23 for a new set of Michelins.  Our truck is a whole lot happier, and once I get over the shock, I’m sure that I will be too.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


bra-holsterIt probably had to happen sooner or later, and it did back on New Year’s Day. 

Police in St Joseph, Michigan have now confirmed that Christina Bond, a 55 year-old mother of two and a local politician, fatally shot herself in the eye while adjusting the pistol in her bra holster. 

"She was having trouble adjusting her bra holster, couldn't get it to fit the way she wanted it to. She was looking down at it and accidentally discharged the weapon," said St. Joseph Public Safety Director Mark Clapp. She was airlifted to a hospital in Kalamazoo where she died the next day.

Carrie Lightfoot, owner of the Well Armed Woman store, told USA Today that bra holsters were becoming increasingly popular.

"Women just need options because one day a woman is wearing a dress, the next day a suit and the next day exercise clothing."

"It's kind of a natural location depending on the size of the gun and the size of the 'guns.’"

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What Are The Odds?



Absolute Zero is −459.67° Fahrenheit, and the temperature at the surface of the Sun is about 9,900° – the Sun’s core is a whole lot hotter, about 27 million degrees. 

Scientists will tell you that out of that huge  temperature range only about 70 degrees or so – roughly, from freezing to about 100° – will sustain human life.  Even that is overly optimistic; a naked human can succumb to hypothermia at temperatures above 60° and people can (and sometimes do) suffer heat stoke at temperatures below 90°!

There are hotter stars in the universe, but – just using the figures quoted above – the odds are 99.999741% against finding a temperature range in which humans can exist. 

And - That only considers temperature, and does not take into account other requirements like water. a food source or an atmosphere containing an acceptable percentage of oxygen. Air on Earth is typically about 21% oxygen - OSHA considers anything under 19.5% or over 22% unsafe.

So, is the fact that we exist at all a miracle?  Is all human life a sacred gift from God, or is it just a strange anomaly, a minor mistake in an otherwise orderly universe? 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

23 Truths


Don’t know who wrote this – I first saw it in a Facebook post, then a little research led to a blog where was first posted back in 2011.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this list of 23 Adult Truths

1 Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How on earth are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind-of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.
17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.
18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important. Ladies.....Quit Laughing.

Monday, February 16, 2015


wash monument

Figures released today show that the Washington Monument is 10 inches shorter than it used to be.  The new measurement by government surveyors puts the monument at 554 feet, 7 and 11/32 of an inch, as measured from the floor of the main entrance to the top.

Ever since the stone obelisk was completed in 1884,  the historic height has been recorded at 555 feet, 5 and 1/8 inches. It's a number circulated for decades on tours of the capital and in brochures about the monument that honors our nation's first president.

The Washington Monument is still the tallest structure in Washington D. C., and, of course, it never was as tall as the San Jacinto Monument.  The 567 foot tall monument commemorating the battle for  Texas independence was already twelve feet taller.

That’s O-K, I used to be five – seven and 1/2.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


“My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!”

Edna St. Vincent Millay, A Few Figs from Thistles

Remembering our daughter, Shanna Leigh Couch Robinson,

June 5, 1973- February 15, 2006.

A life well lived, but much too short.  We miss you every day.

Friday, February 13, 2015



Tomorrow is Valentine’s day, so I’m reposting my Valentine poem.  I plan to repost it every year until I find someone who likes it as much as I do.

clip_image001 clip_image003

Cupid’s Twin

An Original Valentine’s Day Poem by Bob Couch

You all have heard of Cupid, or at least I guess you know,

How he flits about both day and night with his arrows and his bow.

But Cupid has a brother (this isn’t widely known)

Their parents named him Bupid, though he was seldom shown.

He looks just like his brother, and his brother looks like him

If they were not little Pagans, they could both be Cherubim.

They both are prone to shoot you with the arrows in their quiver,

But Cupid’s darts go for the heart; Bupid’s for the liver,

Or the stomach, or esophagus or some other vital part

So if Bupid’s arrow strikes you, it won’t be in the heart.

With heart aflame you probably think that Cupid nailed your ass,

But give it just a little while, the feeling just might pass.

Cupid’s shots bring love or lust,

But Bupid’s give you gas.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Saint Kayla

Kayla Mueller3

Since the confirmation of her death while a captive of terrorists in Syria, there has been a concentrated effort by the media to portray Kayla Mueller as a saint.  She may well have been.  I have no doubt that she was a wonderful person who felt a true calling to alleviate suffering in the world.

But – coming just days before the President’s request for authorization from Congress to fight ISIS - the timing of the campaign to portray her as a Christian martyr has me wondering.  How much of what we see and hear is sincere, and how much is a cynical attempt to use her tragic death to achieve an agenda?

There is no question that by any name, ISIS - or ISIL, or Da’ish or whatever they are calling themselves today – represents true evil; evil somehow made worse by claiming their despicable actions are being done in the name of their God.  Still, I wonder what Miss Mueller would think of being used as a rallying cry, as a Standard for leading men into battle.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Not much to report today, so I decided to take the advice of that great philosopher from Oklahoma, Will Rogers….

will rogers

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Forbes Magazine publishes a lot of lists.  They are always interesting, but if you read them carefully, they are also often contradictory.

For example - one recent post on their website has Texas and California tied for 10th place in a list of the best states in which to retire, while another recent article had California in the 10 worst states for retirees and Texas somewhere in the middle of the pack.  Granted the two lists were using different (and very subjective) criteria, but they both seemed to be stating facts.  The casual reader wouldn’t know what to think.

God only knows what the first list was based upon, but the second considered things like state taxes and the cost of goods and services – still opinion, but at least it used measurable criteria.

retiree_tax_mapThis color-coded map accompanied that second article.  It shows tax burden for retirees, with maroon being the worst and dark green as the least.  I wasn’t surprised at where Texas or California fell on this spectrum.  Montana, on the other hand…..  

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Other Side

Since the Moon always shows the same face to us as it orbits the Earth, I suppose that people have always wondered what the other side looks like. Thanks to a  just released video from NASA, now we know.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Jackrabbits and GPA


In the fall of 1961, I attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas as a sophomore transfer student. 

Attended may be a bit of an exaggeration - I did show up for most of my classes, but formal education was not even near the top of my priority list.  The majority of my time and effort went to learning to play contract bridge, singing in a folk-music quartet called the Converts, and hunting rabbits at night from my pickup truck.

We had a five man cadre of rabbit hunters, and three of them – all mediocre shots – used shotguns.  John Stuckey and I used 22 rifles. Mine was an old open-sight single-shot Savage that was older than I was.  We usually used my truck, and I usually drove, but one night Johnny was driving.

That was when I made what had to be the shot of a lifetime

Johnny had seen a jackrabbit out in a pasture, and stopped the truck at the end of a dirt road.  The rabbit was no longer visible - just past the edge of the high beams – all we could see was the glow of his eye about a hundred yards beyond the barbed wire fence.

Standing in the truck bed, I propped my elbow on the top of the cab and squeezed off a shot.  The glowing dot disappeared.

“You missed” yelled the guys in the back of the truck.  I’ll admit I didn’t know if I hit it or not – I wasn’t even sure that there was a rabbit out there.

Johnny got out, ducked through the fence and walked out into the pasture.  A few minutes later, he returned with a dead rabbit, shot through the eye.  “He got it.” he said, “He never misses.  That’s why he always drives - to give you other guys a chance.”

Saturday, February 7, 2015



We have over a hundred Azaleas in our yard here at the Boggy Thicket, and a whole bed of Gardenias lining the front our house, but we  only have two Camellias. 

This year they are blooming like crazy – almost like they are trying to make up for the fact that there are only two of them.


camelia r 2



camelia r 4



camelia r 3

Friday, February 6, 2015

I Think That I Shall Never See…..

Given the current state of affairs in Mexico, I doubt if I will ever see this in person, but I wish I could.


It is a Cypress tree in the town square of Santa Maria del Tule, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. 

Known as El Arbol del Tule, this tree was old, and honored by the Aztecs, before Columbus ever stumbled upon the Western Hemisphere.  Depending on measuring methods, its circumference has been estimated at anywhere from 130 to 170 feet, and it takes from 30 to 50 people with their arms outstretched to reach around trunk.  Its average diameter is just over 30 feet, making it bigger than the largest Redwood in California.  It isn’t as tall as the giant Redwoods, but at 130 feet, it towers over everything in the little town.


Thursday, February 5, 2015


Thought I would share a couple of cartoons I saw recently.  The first was published in Charlie Hebdo :


I’m not sure where the other one came from, and, now that I see it again, it’s not really a cartoon. I’m not sure what you would call it.  It was emailed to me last week. 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

No Comment



The prestigious University of Qassim in Saudi Arabia held one of the biggest women’s rights conferences in the Arab world last year. Ironically, the institution managed to hold the event without the advice or attendance of a single woman.

Themed around the topic of “Women in Society” the conference, held every year at the University, is supposed to set a benchmark for tolerance and progress in the region. Delegates and speakers from more than fifteen countries showed up.

As is to be expected from Saudi Arabia, a country firmly under the grip of Sharia Law, zero women attended the event.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Kid, a Dog and a Puddle

I got my first dog, a pointer named Rip, when I was about the age of the boy in this video.

There is one big difference, though.  Rip wouldn’t have waited around while I had my fun – he would have been right there in the middle of it with me.  We were such soul-mates that I’m told he would whimper and howl whenever I got scolded.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Either Way, I’m Rich


Maybe it’s because it’s Groundhog Day, or maybe it is simply a coincidence, but when I opened Outlook this morning, my Junk Mail folder contained:

Dearest  One,
Good afternoon to you, l deem it fit to contact you today based on your profile which l saw today in my private search, when l was looking for some one who l will in-trust my future living under his/her care for a better living of mine, please bear with me. i will really like to have a good relationship with you, and i have a special reason why i decided to contact you, I decided to contact you based on the urgency of my situation here today.
My name is Sandra xxxxx. l am a single lady, of 24 years old, the daughter of Late Chief Dr.Lambert D xxxxx, my late father was a successful business man during his day's, it is sad for me to inform you that l lost my father in a motor accident on the 14th of November, 2006. during the time he was returning from a business trip from Jackson, Michigan to Ohio (USA), Dear, after four months l lost my beloved father, his second wife killed my mother so that she and his children will inherit all what my father left for all of us.
Meanwhile after my fathers second wife poisoned my mother to death, I wanted to escape to any where l can be accepted since she's also after my own life and no where is safe for me to stay with her and his children, but she went and hid away my international passport and other valuable traveling documents which I'm suppose to travel with. luckily for me as God have his own plans for my life, she couldn't discover where I kept my fathers file which contains important documents of his deposited money of US$3,800,000.00.which my father used my name to deposit with one of the leading financial bank. So after then, since l have no where to run to, I decided to run to the refugee camp here, where l am today by the grace of God, presently seeking asylum under the United Nations High Commission for the Refugees and Now I am out seeking for your humble assistance for a long term business relationship between us in your Country. Which l would like you to invest my inherited money for me in any lucrative moving business.

However, l wish to stop here for now as l have no much time to explain all the details to you as l wish, but please dear, as soon as l hear from you soon showing your interest and acceptance to assist me as l really need your help to me now and l am waiting so that l shall send you my pictures and forward all vital information's to you for your confirmation to help me out.

In my regular Inbox, I had an even better offer from

I wish to notify you of an inheritance $7.9m to you,please send me full names and telephone number to this email only : ( ) for details and further instructions.

They say the key to success is a positive outlook – according to my Outlook, it’s going to be a wonderful day!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

NFL Awards


Nobody – not even the Food Network – was showing anything but reruns during NBC’s airing for the NFL Awards last night, so you probably watched the show.  Just in case you didn’t…….

Hometown hero J. J. Watt was not named the NFL MVP for 2014. That honor went to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers for the second time in his career.  Even though that honor almost always goes to an offensive player, usually a quarterback, Watt and Rodgers were the only two serious contenders for this year’s award – Rodgers won with 31 votes, Watt got 13, followed by a couple of Cowboys (Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray) with two votes apiece. calls Watt  a football superhuman who is well on his way to being the best 3-4 defensive end in history and striking his place among the all-time defensive greats. He finished with 78 tackles and was second league-wide with his 20.5 sacks, becoming the first player in NFL history to have 20 sacks in two separate seasons. Working as an occasional goal-line tight end, Watt added three receiving touchdowns and had five touchdowns overall.'s approximate value metric, which attempts to quantify a player's performance and normalize it across positions, had Watt as the league's best player by a significant margin.

Watt’s blocked pass/interception/long run for a touchdown was one of five plays shown on the big screen as a contender for Play of the Year. Offensive Rookie of the Year, Odell Beckham Jr. grabbed Play of the Year for that unbelievable one-handed catch he made for a TD against the Cowboys.

Watt was the first presenter of the night, and he drew laughs for correcting his co-presenter’s pronunciation - She kept saying o-fensive and he kept telling her it was off-ensive – and he may have drawn the biggest laugh of the night during his acceptance speech when the thanked the cafeteria workers who prepared the food, LOTS of food.

Acceptance speech – oh yeah.  He was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in his short career. He was the first unanimous choice for the honor in the history of the awards.