Wednesday, April 29, 2015



Car buffs are all familiar with Mecum Auctions, the source of some of the most sought-after automobiles in existence.  This year’s Indianapolis auction will feature something truly unique – a 1970 Hemi Cuda with 81 actual miles.

The Plymouth Barracuda with a 426 Hemi engine  was special-ordered and purchased new at Shreves Plymouth-Dodge in June 1970 by Bill Reardon of Clarksburg, West Virginia, who was finally buying his dream car at 62 years of age. One of the last 10 Hemi Cudas built in 1970, it was exactly as he imagined it: Tor Red with a Black interior; Torqueflite automatic transmission; Shaker hood with tie downs and color-matching steel wheels with dog-dish hub caps.

Bill immediately began the modifications needed to ready the car for the drag strip, removing the intake and carburetors, the complete exhaust system, rear end, rear wheels and tires and front shocks. He replaced all these with the best performance parts available, while carefully stowing the originals in safe storage. In his first season of racing, Bill made approximately 30 passes at three local drag strips.

Less than a year after acquiring his dream car, Reardon died.  It has passed through several other owners  over the years, none of which bought it to drive.  Unrestored, and show-room perfect, it is expected to bring six to eight hundred thousand dollars at the auction.

You can see more details HERE.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Sooner or later, enough is enough.

horwitzIrwin Horwitz, a college professor with 20 years experience, apparently found his tipping point.  He just failed his entire management class at Texas A & M Galveston, and announced that he would no longer be teaching the course.

An email to the class said, in part, "I am frankly and completely disgusted. You all lack the honor and maturity to live up to the standards that Texas A&M holds, and the competence and/or desire to do the quality work necessary to pass the course just on a grade level," he wrote, "I will no longer be teaching the course, and [you] all are being awarded a failing grade."

That blanket fail probably won’t take.  University officials say that the grades will be reassessed and the department head will take over Horwitz's class for the remainder of the semester. Some students need the required course to graduate with business degrees in May.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Muscat Ramble


I have always been a fan of Dixieland Jazz, and one of the things on my bucket list for as long as I can remember is a visit to Preservation Hall in New Orleans.  We have been planning to be in that area soon, and I was thinking I could finally check that off my list. 

Then today, I saw an announcement in the Times of Oman – the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be performing tomorrow night at the Royal Opera House in Muscat.

What’s the old saying? - Man plans, God laughs.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Standing With Blue Bell

jenis661All of the local coverage has been about the problems at Blue Bell, and the outpouring of support for the beloved Little Creamery in Brenham, but there was another Listeria-connected recall last week. 

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream of Ohio pulled all its products after the Nebraska Department of Agriculture found Listeria in a sample pulled from a Whole Foods Market in Lincoln.

The Listeria bacteria is commonly found in soil and water that can be tracked into a facility or carried by animals. It can be very difficult to get rid of once it contaminates a processing facility, partly because it grows well in refrigeration. It is commonly found in processed meats, unpasteurized cheeses and unpasteurized milk.  Although ice cream from Blue Bell has been linked to illnesses in four states, Listeria generally only affects the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women and their newborn infants. It can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Blue Bell’s Brenham plant did make some ice cream this past week, but it was strictly for testing.  None of it will be sold.

To put things in perspective, there have only been three Listeria-based fatalities in Blue Bell’s entire history.  In 2011, Canteloupe from just one farm in Colorado caused thirty deaths.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Because we opted to have our swimming pool filled in last summer instead of taking a trip, it’s been two years since we’ve taken our 5th wheel trailer on the road.  I’ve been getting it ready for the past couple weeks, and it has been challenging to say the least.

So far, in addition to normal cleaning and dewinterizing, I have had to fix the water heater, the DirecTV satellite system, and a small but persistent leak at one of the slide-outs.  Yesterday, the air conditioner - which had been working fine – decided to quit. 

The compressor comes on, but the fan just hums.  I found that giving the fan a little spin would start it running, an almost sure sign of a a bad start capacitor, but replacing the capacitor didn’t help.  Now we are waiting for a new motor, which should be here Monday.

The only good news is that this happened now, and not a week into a 30 day trip.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Just a note- My blog will look different today because I had to compose it using Google Blogger. I normally use Windows Live Writer because it's a lot more convenient and has more options, but Live Writer went fubar over night and will not publish to my blog. It sees the blog and will let me access it, just refuses to publish, claiming the server can't be located.
With all the rain we’ve had this spring, we were expecting a lot of mosquitoes. What we didn’t expect were the gazillions of caterpillars that are crawling all over the place. We have a few green caterpillars, and a couple of inch worms, but the majority of the critters look more-or-less like the one above. We have a lot that look like that, and they seem to come in two distinct sizes – those just over an inch and a half long, and those that are much smaller, measuring about 3/4 of an inch. They look alike, but they all seem to be one size or the other with nothing in between, so I’m not totally sure they are the same species. An on-line search identifies them as the larvae of the Tussock Moth -
That makes sense since Tussock Moths make their home in oak trees, their coloration blends with the bark, and their primary diet is oak leaves. That doesn’t explain why we have so darn many of them this year.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

That’s Just Embarrassing


As I wrote last Sunday - DTV Woes – the DirecTV receiver in our 5th wheel had died (would not turn on) and the company had sent me a reconditioned replacement. 

I could not get the new one to work either – it would turn on, but could not find a satellite – and the set-up screen that should have been in color was a grainy black and white.  After several calls and what seemed like forever on the phone with tech support, DirecTV agreed to send out a technician.  They don’t normally make service calls on systems in RVs, but since we are parked at home, the agreed to send a tech.

I had literally spent hours trying to diagnose the problems.  Yesterday, in less than an hour, the DirecTV technician had both problems fixed, had even double-checked our system in the house and was finishing up his paperwork.

The no color problem was because I had the TV set to the wrong input!  We use the input button on the remote to switch back and forth between broadcast TV and satellite, but I had no idea the satellite receiver signal could feed more than one TV input – after all, it only plugs in to the TV in one place.

The no satellite signal problem was even worse!

We use a portable dish like this one to get our signal -

mydishOver the years, I have used it to receive DirecTV in dozens of locations all over the US (and southern Canada) and thought I had become an expert at setting it up.  You just have to find a spot with an unobstructed  view of the sky, adjust the dish to the proper elevation and point it in the right direction.  Input your current Zip code during setup and the TV screen will give you the correct azimuth and elevation.  You may be looking for something up in space, but it ain’t rocket science.

The DirecTV tech took one look, then picked up the dish, moved it about 50 feet and voila! we had a signal like gang busters.  In my own defense, when the dish didn’t work in the location we’ve always used at home, I  moved the dish to several other locations – I guess that I just never got it completely out from under the trees.  The only thing wrong was that our trees have gotten taller and thicker since the last time I set the dish up at home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dead Computer

dead-computer-20150421According to a Colorado Springs police report, Lucas Hinch’s Dell PC did him wrong one too many times, so he took it out back and shot it.

The incident report says that he fired eight times, “effectively disabling it.”

In spite of being charged with unlawfully discharging a firearm in the city limits, Hinch says he has no regrets. 

“It was glorious,” he said. “Angels sung on high.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Cow Came Home

bluebell We thought the worst was over, but apparently not.

Back in March, Blue Bell Ice Cream was linked to a Listeria outbreak in Kansas, and Blue Bell issued the first recall in the company’s history.  All of the contaminated product was traced to a single production line in the company’s Broken Arrow, Oklahoma plant, but all Blue Bell products disappeared from supermarket freezers.

A week or two ago, it was back, and Blue Bell addicts breathed a sigh of relief.

Then last night Paul Kruse, CEO of Blue Bell, announced a total recall. "We are heartbroken about this situation and we apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem," Kruse said.

Blue Bell officials will initiate a "test and hold" procedure for all products made at its facilities. That means any product will be tested first and held until the ice cream is shown to be safe.  No word on how long that’s going to take, but it’s going to be too long.


Monday, April 20, 2015

CB Chatter

Did you ever have a CB radio in your vehicle? 

It doesn’t seem that long ago that everybody and his brother had one. By a strange logic that could only have come from the federal government, the FCC years ago got tired of issuing Citizen’s Band licenses and granted everyone what they called “license by rule”.  That meant that, as long as you followed the FCC’s Part 95 rules, you were deemed to have a license. 

Operators were still expected to follow the rules – in 2011, the FCC fined a man who jacked up his output power $15,000.00 for operating without a (nonexistent) license.

The popularity of CB radios rose and fell like a skyrocket.  The bottom line is that the same circumstances that led to everyone getting a CB radio quickly led to their loss of popularity.  Frequencies became so crowded as to become unusable, and – much like the internet today – broadcasting to everyone while remaining anonymous led to a lot of things being said that were in poor taste, and often downright offensive.

One of the best (or worst) examples of this I heard was this exchange:

A young female voice said, “Hey there, southbound Kenworth.  How’s it look  over your shoulder?”

To which the trucker replied, “Don’t know, darlin’. I can’t hardly get it past my thumb.”

Sunday, April 19, 2015

DTV Woes

dtv1-d12 It all started innocently enough. 

While getting our 5th wheel trailer ready to go, I was replacing all of the double-A batteries in TV remotes, smoke alarms, etc., when I discovered that the DirecTV receiver was dead.

After a couple of calls (I accidently hung up on one rep after five minutes of navigating their automated system) I finally reached a young lady in Oregon – the one I cut off was in Georgia.  After assuring her that

  • The receiver would not turn on via the remote or by using the on/off switch on the front of the unit.
  • Yes, there was power at the plug.
  • Yes, I had tried plugging it in somewhere else.
  • Yes, I had unplugged and reinserted the power cord from the back of the unit.
  • Yes, I had tried pushing the reset button.
  • No, it still didn’t work

She had a new receiver sent to me by overnight delivery.

Once it arrived, all I had to do was activate the unit by entering the serial number on their website and it would be good to go.

That’s what was supposed to happen, but it didn’t. 

The new (refurbished) unit does turn on, but it doesn’t receive anything.  Early in the setup process, it fails to find a satellite and continues to tell me to retry.  At this point, I have replaced all coax and even swapped out the LNB on my dish, but nothing works.

After about an hour on the phone with tech support, they told me that while they don’t normally send service technicians to work on units in RVs, since it is located in my yard at home, they would.  He is supposed to be here Wednesday morning.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

For the Record

tony-danzaMalapropisms abound in popular music.

If you ever wondered why in the Hell Johnny Rivers was singing about a “secret Asian man” – or if you sang along with the Bee-Gees about a “Four letter woman” – you are not alone.

My all-time favorite came from our daughter, Shanna.  It was probably the spring of 1981, since she was about eight years old, when I heard her singing the chorus of the Kenny Rogers hit:

You picked a fine time to leave me. Lucille.  Four HUNDRED children and a crop in the field…….

 I’ve never been able to hear the words right since.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Canvas Rx

A couple weeks ago, I bought myself a new pair of canvas loafers – the kind I grew up calling Tennie-Loafers and Honey’s Uncle Larry insisted on calling Pimp Pumps.  In the past, the ones I had were always white (or started out that way) but these are black.  That may not have been the best color choice.

I was sanitizing the fresh water tank on our camper Thursday, and I managed to drip Clorox on the left one.

shoeAs you can see, it totally obliterated that new shoe look and left some really obvious spots.

Not willing to leave it that way, I grabbed a big black Marks-A-Lot marker to see if I could hide the blemishes.  The marker was old, and too dry to do much good, so I switched to a Sharpie.  The Sharpie took a lot longer, and I may need to do it all again, but it worked pretty well.


Now that I’m seeing the pictures, I do think the shoes would look better with socks.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

the CHERYL Problem

There’s a math (or more specifically, a Logic) problem that is all over social media today.  They say that it is getting more hits than singing kittens.  It goes like this:

cheryl problemImpossible? 

No, there is a correct answer, and you can get there through a process of elimination.

SolutionIn what may have been the best comment I’ve seen, one reply read “I don’t care, as long as there’s cake!”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Leaving Harlan County


The FX network showed the final episode of Justified last night, and while it brought the story to a satisfying conclusion, it left me wanting more. 

It’s hard to believe that the writers were able to squeeze six full seasons of one-hour shows out of a single Elmore Leonard short story, but they did.  In fact, they did it so well that I would happily start over with season one – episode one tonight.

I’m not sure which character I’ll miss the most, Raylan Givens or Boyd Crowder, but I do know I’ll miss the show.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just Sayin’

I don’t think I mention often enough that I am in awe of my wife – not sure that I could.

She is out walking her five miles this morning before the rain starts – the probability jumps to 40% in an hour.  Yesterday, she got her walk in after the thunderstorms passed.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to build up enough ambition to get up and go shave, something I haven’t done for almost a week.

Monday, April 13, 2015


hillary-clinton-winking-550x367In one of those strange quirks unique to American politics, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for President yesterday.  Strange because everybody knew she intended to run, her campaign had even issued an announcement about when and how she was going to announce, and when the expected announcement failed to come on time, it led to all sorts of speculation.

Now that it is official, my left-leaning friends are ecstatic, but  I can’t understand why.  As far as I can determine, her only accomplishments are becoming a poster girl for pantsuits, and staying married to someone any self-respecting woman would have kicked to the curb years ago. Meanwhile, those on the right are flooding social media with attacks on her honesty, her competence and even her looks.

She might not be the worst presidential candidate this country has ever produced – Obama probably has a lock on that title – but one day into her campaign, she seems well on her way to becoming the most divisive.

Saturday, April 11, 2015



While doing some spring cleaning in the 5th wheel trailer, I came across this in the silverware drawer. It is eight inches long, made of stiff but flexible plastic, and the patch on the end resembles the smoother half of a Velcro fastener.  Neither Honey nor I had ever seen it before; we had no idea what it is or what it was for.

I posted the picture on my favorite RV website ( and got a correct answer – including a link to instructions on how to use it – within minutes.  It is a special tool designed to clean the seal of a SeaLand brand toilet.


I also got a lot of replies ranging from ridiculous to hilarious -

  • I think its used to clean the toilet seal- that or an old pregnancy test.

    Great....use it on the toilet, and store it in the silverware drawer! Better do some cleaning on the silverware!

    Good thing you didn't think it was a tongue depressor.

    Just when I thought I had all the maintenance tools I needed for my TT, now I need to buy a fancy popsicle stick to clean the toilet…Should that read "poopsicle" stick?

    Also is a re-usable coffee stirring stick or a butter/PB spreading knife. The rough side is the handle end and it's rough so it doesn't slip in your hands.
    Unlimited uses and more uses found everyday!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Roll Over


Safer Hasan of Houston has been notified that the State of Texas is cancelling the personalized license plate that he’s had on his car for the last three years.  It was originally approved – then somebody decided that if the vehicle rolled over, it might be offensive.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Under the Dome


Houston’s Astrodome is 50 years old, and they’re throwing a party tomorrow, complete with entertainment and tours.  Nobody is quite sure what should be done with the old girl, but it would be a shame to see her go.

The first event in the dome took place 50 years ago today – a baseball game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees.  I was an announcer at KQUE-fm, and as a member of the media, I had a pair of complimentary tickets.  Since I had to work, Honey took her dad to the game, and it may have been the best present he ever received.  He talked about it for years.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Search for Life



High-ranking NASA scientists say that we are right on the verge of discovering alien life,

"I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said Tuesday (April 7) during a panel discussion that focused on the space agency's efforts to search for habitable worlds and alien life.

"We know where to look. We know how to look," Stofan added during the event, which was webcast live. "In most cases we have the technology, and we're on a path to implementing it. And so I think we're definitely on the road."

I think that’s interesting – exciting to have the sci-fi fantasy of my youth discussed as a serious probability – especially when it seems less and less likely that we will ever find intelligent life on Earth.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Catching Flies

“Why in Hell would I want to catch flies?”

The speaker is a character in a book I’m reading, a police lieutenant and total literalist.  It is her response when someone quoted the old axiom - “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”

My mother must have told me that a thousand times, usually after hearing me make some cynical (or downright snarky) comment.  It is a good and valuable metaphor - You will make more friends by being nice than by being rude.

Taken literally, however, the statement is demonstrably incorrect.

Empirical observation has proven that flies are not particularly attracted to honey, but acetic acid (vinegar) reminds them of rotting fruit, and that is something they do like.  Balsamic vinegar in a saucer with a little water and a few drops of dish washing detergent will lure, secure, and eventually dispatch flies by the truck load.

fliesWhile I’ve heard that saying all my life, I had never really given it any thought.  Now that I have, I think you would probably catch more flies with bullshit.

Monday, April 6, 2015


sandwiches-2What comes to mind when I say sandwich?  Something like the picture, or something simpler?

I think my wife’s favorite simple sandwich is peanut butter on white bread.  Not peanut butter and jelly, just peanut butter – and not just any white bread, it’s got to be from a Sunbeam brand sandwich loaf.

I like peanut butter, but there is no way on earth that I would eat it alone.  I learned that it stuck to my palate when I was a little kid, and now that I have dentures it would be so much worse.  I also prefer breads with more texture – whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel, just about anything but white.

When I was about seven or eight years old, Gus Brooks, our across-the-street neighbor, made me a sandwich with peanut butter, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato, and I thought it was great.  Since then, not all of my peanut butter sandwiches have included lettuce and tomato, but if they didn’t have jelly, they had Miracle Whip.  Honey thinks this is an abomination, but I won’t eat them any other way.

Speaking of abominations, my dad’s favorite sandwich was pressed ham and apple butter.  I tried that once, but didn’t get past the second bite.  A sandwich with meat in it should never be sweet – that’s just wrong!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Eggs

A couple of Easter Eggs for you today:

First, the Houston Zoo had an Easter egg hunt this week -

mongooseEach animal got “eggs” filled with treats designed specifically for them. The Meerkats  went nuts over plastic eggs filled with mealy worms, while the Orangutans got papier mache “eggs” the size of footballs stuffed with broccoli and bok choy.  All of the treats were a lot healthier than what human kids are getting today.

Second, an interesting way to cook Easter eggs:

eggsTwo hours on the smoker at 250°, and the eggs will decorate themselves.  The guy who posted these on line admitted that he hadn’t tried one yet, but they sure came out pretty.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rash Statement


Yesterday started out normal enough – Honey went for her walk, and after hauling another trailer load of limbs to the burning pile, I started mowing the yard.  By the time I came in for lunch, though, things had changed.

Honey told me to look at Dusty, our little red Dachshund.  After being her usual feisty self earlier in the day, she had suddenly become lethargic, she was obviously in pain and would barely lift her head to look around. 

My first thought was snakebite – our dogs are hunters, hate snakes, and one or the other of them has managed to get bitten about once a year since they were pups.  I checked her all over, but found no tell-tale swelling anywhere.  I called the vet’s office and told them we were on the way.

The vet had a full schedule, and they had to work us in, so it took a while.  Once we were finally in an exam room, it was determined that her temperature and heart rate were normal.  Then they did blood tests, which came back normal, too.

Then, while we were waiting for the doctor, Dusty broke out in a rash.

I had never seen anything like it – one minute she looked the same as ever, and the next little patches of hair were sticking up out of her normally smooth coat.  When the doctor came in, I pointed this out and he agreed that she was definitely covered in welts.  The technician was quick to point out that they hadn’t been there when she worked on her just a few minutes earlier.

They gave her a Benadryl injection and a steroid shot, and sent us home with Prednisone tablets. $200 later, we still have no idea what caused the reaction, but by yesterday evening, Dusty was her usual ornery self.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Taxes and Yard-work, Whoopee


Not much new, and nothing fun, to report today. 

We got our income tax check off in the mail yesterday, and today’s big project it to pick up and burn fallen limbs before the rain starts again. I burned a big trailer load yesterday, and got at least that much cut to sizes I can pick up so I could burn it today.

There is a chance of rain this evening,  a better chance for even more on rain on Easter, and there are still spots in the yard that are too wet to mow.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Clover Do-Over

A week ago today, I posted a picture of a five-leaf clover I picked in our back yard.  Later that same day, I found two four-leaf clovers within inches of where I had picked that five lobed one.  Those two went into the same baggie where Honey was drying and pressing the first one.

Then Tuesday, Honey, who swears that she had never found a four-leaf clover in her life, picked two more in the same spot! 

Not sure if they all came from the same plant, but they all came from an area no larger than about three square feet.  I would have posted this yesterday, but I didn’t want it mistaken for an April Fool’s joke.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015



April first and Spring has definitely arrived at the Boggy Thicket.

Can’t really explain it, but here is the thing

Eighty degrees just feels different in spring

By the middle of August, I know that you might

Be praying for sixties on a hot summer night

But a warm day in April can make your heart sing