Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Short Week

Yesterday was Monday, a day that usually starts the week for people with jobs, and for retired folks like us who built up habits over years of employment. 

We sort of skipped yesterday. 

Honey didn’t take her usual walk, because she had a doctor’s appointment.  I was just coming out of 24 hours of allergy Hell – feeling a lot better after sleeping 11 hours Sunday night, but still not ready to take on the world.

Honey is already out walking this morning, but I’m still trying to get it in gear. 

Monday morning syndrome is especially tough when it comes a day late.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Getting Mooned


Yesterday evening, the slightly-larger-than-normal full moon shined brightly in Earth's skies and then dove into the planet's shadow, turning a gorgeous reddish-gold color as observers with clear skies enjoyed the view. The event marked the first supermoon total lunar eclipse since 1982, and the last until 2033 — and it was visible to potentially billions of people across the Western Hemisphere and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia.

Just about the only place it wasn’t visible was here at the Boggy Thicket.  True to tradition, when anything of interest is happening in the heavens, our skies were overcast – whatever celestial events took place behind that curtain of cloud could only be imagined.

Here on the ground, we were supposed to have a 60% probability of much needed rain.  We did get (and  are still getting) some form of precipitation, but I’m not sure what to call it.  The drops are too small to call it drizzle and too few and far between to call it mist.  After 20 hours of the stuff, there are no puddles, the ground isn’t even muddy and the grass is barely damp.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Just last night, Honey and I were talking football, and she said that no Houston team has ever had a really good quarterback.

I had to go waaaay back, but I finally came up with:

1962Fleer46Blanda(That’s his Fleer bubble gum card from 1962.)

Not the same, but related - Brian Kalchick, who writes for the Houston Texans, just released an interesting piece on Rant Sports listing his picks for every NFL team’s worst quarterback of all time.  Some of the names might surprise you.

Saturday, September 26, 2015



squirrel-with-acorn-colouring-pages-tagged-with-acorn-coloring-pagesI have written at least twice in the past, once Last November, and previously in October, 2012, about the size and the number of acorns that fall here at the Boggy Thicket.  Both times, I mentioned that the acorns from the white oak trees were HUGE.

This year is a little different.

It’s still early for acorns to be dropping, but a couple of days ago, I noticed that the top of our generator was covered with something that I didn’t recognize right away,  They were little round balls that appeared from a distance to be covered with tiny scales.  Only about 1/4 inch in diameter, they almost appeared to be fuzzy. 

My first thought was that they were some kind of fungus or mushroom, but close inspection showed that they were – or would have been – acorns.  The balls were what would have been the caps on the acorns had they continued to develop normally.

The strange weather cycles this summer – months of extremely wet days followed by months of drought – have been hard on a lot of plants.  We may have lost some of our azaleas that have been growing for over thirty years.  I suspect that the weather may have led to the oaks suffering a sort of acorn miscarriage.

The oaks are not due to drop their acorns for another month, so it’s too early to tell how many are still developing.  I suspect that – like stressed plants that drop only some of their leaves – the oaks only dropped some of their acorns and there will still be plenty that make it to maturity.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Honey and I have a phone conference with our attorney today to update our wills.  Don’t worry, you weren’t getting anything anyway.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The End of Forever


You might feel justified in expecting a TV series called Forever to be around for more than one season.  If you did, and you were depending on the ABC television network to keep providing the show, you would be disappointed.

In case you missed it, Forever was the story of New York pathologist Dr. Henry Morgan, ( Ioan Gruffudd)  an Englishman who could not die.  Oh, he could be killed – and he was at least once in every show – but every time it happened,  he would soon pop to the surface of the East River (or was it the Hudson?) alive and well and naked as a jaybird.  His adopted son, played masterfully by Judd Hirsch, would fish him out and take him home to get dressed and resume his life as if nothing had happened.  Sure it sounds ridiculous, but it worked – it was actually an entertaining and intelligent show.

This time, it looks as though Morgan and the series are truly dead.  The series female lead, Alana De La Garza, has jumped to CBS where she has landed a recurring role on Scorpion, and another as a regular on a new Criminal Minds spinoff, Criminal Minds – Beyond Borders due to debut sometime mid-season.

Even so, as someone who really enjoyed the show, I hope Hirsch is keeping an eye on the river.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fishy Story

red-tide-fish-in-channelJust ignore the picture for now – It’s here for a reason, and I will get around to it.

Meanwhile, here’s my story for today:

For quite some time, Honey has been taking fish oil capsules as a dietary supplement, and a year or two ago, the vet suggested that we give our dogs fish oil as well.  A few months back, we decided that if it was good for Honey and good for the pups, I probably should be taking it as well.

This past Monday, as we were making breakfast, Honey put my gel-cap on the table.  Without thinking, I popped it into my mouth and attempted to wash it down with a freshly-made cup of coffee.  Freshly made as in HOT – not quite hot enough to scald, but more than hot enough to immediately dissolve gelatin!

When that capsule melts, you are left with 1,000 Mgs of fish oil in your mouth, more than enough to coat every available surface. 

It tasted horrible.

It tasted Fishy. 

It tasted like the shoreline in the picture must have smelled.

It took a major act of will to swallow, but I finally did - only to find that my tongue and palate were still smothered in fish oil.  The taste simply would not go away.  Breakfast, at that point, was out of the question,

I know that you would never do something so foolish, but just in case, I did find an effective first aid treatment for fishy mouth syndrome – lemon juice. 

I grabbed the bottle of  ReaLemon juice out of the fridge and took a swig.  It immediately cleaned the fish oil off my taste buds.  A few sips of water to wash the lemon down, and I was back to normal, or as normal as I have ever been.

Honey thought that I was over-reacting.  She said that the dogs chew their capsules up every morning and consider them a treat. I told her that didn’t impress me much, since these were the same dogs who have been known to eat their own poop.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dream Bear

dream bearI came across this picture on line.  It’s called Bear Attack, and was described as an American Indian dream painting.  It led me to write this:

There once was a fellow from Eau Claire
Who dreamed he was eaten by a bear
When he awoke
He saw it was no joke
They can’t find his body anywhere

Monday, September 21, 2015


If you’ve never tried it yourself, you’ve probably seen it in a movie – the frustrating, almost impossible task of trying to communicate with someone via radio when at the very fringe of the reception range.  The signal breaks up, goes in and out, and is interrupted by static.

This could serve as a metaphor for all human communication. 

Any transfer of ideas requires assumptions about commonality of thought, some or all of which are incorrect or at best only partially true.

For example, I must assume -

  • that we speak a common language.
  • share the same definitions of words.
  • share the same logic system.
  • share the same opinions regarding basic “truths.”
  • share life experiences that lead us to the same conclusions.

With the odds so heavily stacked against us, it is truly a miracle that anything is ever taught or learned.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Back Bumper Wisdom

There was a lot said, and a lot of pictures posted over the past couple weeks leading up to and just after the anniversary of September 11.

Just in case you missed this photo of a bumper sticker, here it is again:


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Middle East Quandary

fenceThere is an old Arab proverb that says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  The current situation in the Middle East has proven that while this may work in the short run, it leads to a disastrous foreign policy for the US.  Saddam Hussein was no friend of ours, but he did provide stability and a counterbalance to Iran.  The turmoil that arose when we left Iraq, and what happened in Libya after the fall of Qadaffi, probably contributed to our failure to act in Syria at all before it was too late. 

Now we are bombing the enemies of the Assad regime. ISIS is undoubtedly worse than Assad, but, in trying to control ISIS, we are helping prop up a dictator whose overthrow is still listed as a positive by American policy makers.  To make matters worse, Russia is now ramping up their support for Assad, leading to the very real possibility of a clash between US and Russian planes over Syria.

Add to that the level of atrocities committed on each side.  Sunnis hate Shiites, and vice-versa, and the Isis troops hate everybody and everything.  The abominations being committed there in the name of religion today make Northern Ireland of a few years ago look like a picnic on a sunny spring day.

They all hate the US, and if there is anyone they hate worse than the “Great Satan,” it is each other.  It is enough to make you think that the doomsday predictors might have a point – this may be the beginning of Armageddon.

Even the Iraqis and Syrians have had it.  They are bailing out by the hundreds of thousands– trying to get to Europe by any means necessary – and they are creating a humanitarian crisis unprecedented in modern history.

Like anyone with a heart, I am moved by the pictures of desperate refugees drowning in the Mediterranean or being turned back at the Hungarian border by soldiers and police.  One thing keeps niggling at me though – the extremely high percentage of young men among the refugees, men who are choosing to leave their homeland rather that choosing a side and fighting for their beliefs.

I don’t have a solution to the problem.  I vacillate between staying out of the conflict entirely and the “Kill them all and let God sort them out” approach.  The only thing I know for sure is that whatever we do will eventually prove to be wrong.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Seven Years


No, that is not my side mirror.  It is a picture I pulled off the internet, but it does reflect the sort of damage that mine sustained on Tuesday when it was brutally attacked by the car wash.

When it happened, I thought about broken mirrors bringing seven years of bad luck. 

Upon reflection, I decided that

  1. It was just a silly superstition with no basis in fact.
  2. I didn’t break the mirror, the car wash did.  That Shell station (or maybe Royal Dutch Shell) is in for a rough ride.
  3. Or – if it did apply to me, at least I would have to stick around for another seven years.  I might not enjoy it, but a guarantee that I’ll live to be eighty isn’t all bad.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Not the Best Day

Thank goodness yesterday is over.

It wasn’t the worst day I ever spent, but it was far from being the best.

I took the truck through the new car wash at the recently reopened Shell station in New Caney.  The machine ripped the glass out of my right side mirror.  I could see it happening, but there was nothing I could do. 

After the wash was over, I retrieved the mirror and reinstalled it.  It still works, but a spider web of cracks makes it almost useless.  Assuming the parts guy at the dealership quoted me a price on the right replacement, it’s going to cost $65.  I’m not even sure about that, because I can’t find the part number he gave me anywhere on the internet.

I wasn’t the only one having a bad day – our dog Tinker managed to get snake bit again.  She’s fine, in fact we weren’t even sure she had been bitten for almost an hour after it happened.  They have built up such a tolerance over the years that the only symptom was some minor swelling, and a little Benadryl took care of that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


robbie I read an article on line yesterday written by Robbie Couch.  The article itself was well written, but after seeing the author’s byline, all I could think of was the name, and my reaction was “Oh, you poor son of a bitch.”

When I entered first grade, my class already had three boys called Bobby and two Roberts.  At the teacher’s request, I became Robbie.  It was a name that I hated, and when we moved to Alvin ten years later, I told everyone my name was Robert.  Even so, it is a nickname I never entirely outgrew – my sister and a few of my very oldest friends still call me Rob. I find that I can live with that as an acceptable diminutive of Robert; at least it doesn’t have that prissy feminine ie on the end of it.

I haven’t found out much about the  Robbie that wrote the article – his Likedin profile shows that he is a 2011 graduate of Michigan State and currently an associate editor at the Huffington Post.  His Twitter account indicates that he may have left Huffington and writes for Upworthy, whatever that is.  It also seems to indicate that he is Gay, so Robbie might suit him just fine.

I have no idea how he feels about his name.  I hope he actually likes it, but either way, I wish him well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wi-Fi, oh my

Late posting to my blog today because of an accessibility issue.  Honey and I both connect to a local network and the internet via a Wi-Fi router.  This morning, we could access each other, but lost  internet.

This happens occasionally and has been getting more common. Usually, I can just reboot the Belkin router and things will go back to normal.  When that doesn’t work, a reboot of the DSL modem does the trick, but not today.  Tried rebooting each several times with no luck, then called my provider’s help desk.

Carl at the CenturyLink help desk had me bypass the router and connect Honey’s laptop directly to the modem. The internet was there and available which made me feel stupid for not trying that before I called.  The good news was that our DSL modem is eligible for a free upgrade, and the new one comes with a wireless router built in.  Carl ordered it for me, and it should be here in a couple of days.

Once we got off the phone, I moved the cable back to the router, and everything is back to normal.  Looks like the whole problem was a network cable making a poor connection.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rice Hulls

On the south side of US 290, just outside the beltway, is an old rice drier that has been there for as long as I can remember.  It had fallen into disrepair, was looking pretty shabby, but it recently got a facelift that includes a big electronic sign near the top.  As we headed for Liberty Hill on Saturday, I noticed the sign was advertizing stabilized rice bran for deer feeders.

I’m not a deer hunter, haven’t been in years, but my friends and relatives who do hunt have always used corn in their feeders.  A check on line seems to show that rice bran feeders are growing in popularity – just because I’d never heard of them doesn’t mean they aren’t around.

rice hullsI may not know anything about rice bran, but I do have fond memories of rice hulls.  Rice hulls are now used in everything from building materials to animal feed, but when I was in elementary school, we used them as mulch in our flower beds. 

In the innocent past, when companies didn't have to worry so much about lawsuits, rice companies would let the public fill their buckets and trailers and pickup trucks for free from the huge piles of hulls that built up outside the mills.  It was great fun to climb those hills of hulls and jump and roll in the soft, shifting pile.  For a kid who had never left southeast Texas, it’s probably the closest I ever came to playing in fresh powder snow.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Our grandsons were having their birthday party yesterday, and we were headed out for Liberty Hill. 

Driving along Beltway 8, just past Hwy 249, we saw a huge parking lot swarming with hundreds of people in blue T-shirts.  They were gathering for a march in honor of the late Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth, and all of the law enforcement officers who risk their lives for our safety.

goforth Wearing their shirts with the slogan Blue Lives Matter, an estimated 10.000 plus marched a 4.5 mile route. 

Houstonians must be out of step with the rest of the country – there were no fires, no looting and no reported injuries.  No one was arrested.

We missed the actual march, and made the birthday party with time to spare.  Fifteen hours and 400-plus miles makes for a long day, but it was worth it.  Bryce is 18 years old today, and Nash turns 15 on the 16th.  Both have become handsome young men.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

In the Name

As a native Houstonian and a football fan, I’d say I am as big a J. J. Watt fan as anyone – at least I thought so until I saw this:

banner The banner’s creator, a guy known as Rock, says it is not a statement about religion, “I see it as satire, and plays on the fact that everyone puts JJ on a pedestal...I travel with a group of friends and sit front row for 1 road game each year and meet up with the Traveling Texans, and I hope to hang this off the railing.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015


-Pinky-Here’s a picture of Pinky, a rare pink bottlenose dolphin, as she appeared along side her mother in 2007.  Pinky is a resident of Lake Calcasieu in southwest Louisiana.

She made the news this week when charter boat captain Eric Rue, who has been following her for years, announced that he has seen her breeding and she is definitely a female.  There has been a lot of speculation about how she came to be that bubblegum pink color, but the consensus is that she is an albino.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Today is one of those days – nothing of significance on tap, just more of the same old stuff.

Sometimes, that is a good thing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Here’s a picture I took two years ago today:


We don’t have nearly that many Hummingbirds so far this year, but their numbers are increasing.  This time last week, there were only two or three – yesterday, we could count ten or eleven at a time.

Monday, September 7, 2015

American Sniper

am snipe

We might have been the last people in Texas, but we finally got around to watching American Sniper last night. 

I didn’t feel like this was a film I would want to see in a theater, but we did record it as soon as it became available on pay-per-view.  Then we just held on to it, waiting for the right time.

We knew it was going to be well done.  In spite of being snubbed at the Oscars, it was the American Film Institute’s Film of the Year for 2014.  It did get five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor, but only got the award for Best Sound Editing. In case you’ve forgotten, the Academy’s Best Picture award went to Birdman, and the Best Actor award to Eddie Redmayne for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

We also knew that it was an important film, and one that would be difficult to watch.  We were right on all counts.

Just in case we weren’t the last people to see this film, I strongly recommend it.  I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy it, but it is one you need to see.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Practice Squad

This weekend, all NFL teams had to reduce their rosters to no more than 53 players, and later today, teams will begin to sign players to the Practice Squad.

If you follow professional football, you’ve hear the term Practice Squad for years, and know in a general sense what it  is, but the actual logistics of who is eligible and how they get there is pretty complicated.

The original Practice Squad was in Cleveland, where Browns coach Paul Brown invented the "taxi squad," a group of promising players who did not make the roster but were kept on reserve. Team owner Mickey McBride put them on the payroll of his taxi company, although they did not drive cabs 

First off, under current rules, teams can sign up to ten players to the squad.  Players must be paid a minimum of $6,600 per week, but a team can (and often does) pay more.  All Practice Squad salaries  are applied to the the team’s over-all salary cap.

In order to qualify for the Practice Squad, players must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Have no prior Accrued Seasons in the NFL (An accrued season is six or more games on the active roster).
  • Have one prior Accrued Season in which the player was on the 45-man active roster for no more than 8 games.
  • Each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of 2 Practice Squad players who have earned no more than 2 accrued seasons of free agency credit.
  • If served two seasons on a practice squad, are eligible for a third season only if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of that player's employment.
  • A player has served one season on the practice squad if he is on the practice squad for at least 6 games. The rule previously required 3 games on the practice squad roster.

A Practice Squad player has the right to sign with another team's 53-man roster. The one exception to this is that the player may not sign a contract with his team's next opponent after 1 p.m. six days preceding the game (10 days preceding in bye weeks). A player cannot sign a practice squad contract with one team and then leave to sign a practice squad contract with another team, unless the first team has released him.

If a player signs with another team's 53-man roster, or is promoted to his own team's 53-man roster, the player must be paid at least the league minimum salary for at least three weeks. They can be released before the 3 weeks is up, but they still have to be paid.

There is one exception, the Contagious Disease Addendum, which was first added in June 2010 in a side letter agreement. This states that if a player is promoted from the practice squad for a game because a club was given a roster exemption due to confirmed or suspected cases of contagious disease among its players, the player remains on his practice squad contract, but will be paid 1/17 of the league minimum salary. After the game he can be returned to the practice squad without having to clear waivers.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Just Quit

The news this week has been full of stories about people who have refused to perform the duties outlined in their job description on moral grounds.  There is Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who is currently in jail for contempt of court – she refuses to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.  And then there is Charee Stanley, a Muslim flight attendant currently suing ExpressJet Airlines – she was put on administrative leave after refusing to serve alcoholic drinks to passengers.

In Davis’s case, issuing licenses to gays was not part of the job when she took office, but Stanley must have known that serving drinks was  part of the job when she applied. 

In either case, the solution is simple – just resign.  There are plenty of other jobs out there that would not require them to violate their religious or moral convictions.

Friday, September 4, 2015


sofiaA friend noted on Facebook that his wife referred to TV actress Sofia Vergara as Sofia Viagra

Freudian slip or just an innocent malapropism, that was funny.

I’ve never watched her show, but you can’t escape seeing her in commercials.  What with her ads for Pepsi, Cover Girl, and now her own furniture line, she’s everywhere.  While others take offense at being considered a sex object, Vergara is laughing all the way to the bank.  With an estimated net worth of well over $100 million, she may be the richest Colombian who is not in the cocaine business.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Don’t Save Bambi

Whitetail fawn_Jean_Watson_1

It is the time of year when well-meaning animal lovers often try to rescue “abandoned” fawns.  In fact, that is about the worst thing for them to do.

Does will often leave their babies alone for two or three hours while they go graze, but they will return several times a day to let them nurse.  The odds are that the fawn you found is just fine, and the best thing you can do is leave it alone. It’s OK to look, even take a picture, but you should quietly and quickly move away.

Wildlife experts say you should never try to rescue a fawn unless it is injured or with a dead doe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


charcoal2I’ve mentioned several times over the last year or so that we have a Cardinal that almost looks like a charcoal sketch of one.  It has been a source of frustration that I never seemed to have my camera available when our “Charcoal Cardinal” was around. 

Now, I finally have a picture – not a great picture, but perhaps good enough for you to see what I meant. The bird is one of this summer’s hatchlings, and the red in its tail and wing tips has just shown up over the past week or two. 

It’s not the only one.  We see at least two and probably three birds in varying shades of gray. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Some Men Just Deserve It


A Facebook friend whose opinions I usually agree with (and always respect) posted yesterday that he no longer believes in the death penalty, but that the murder of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth as he pumped gas into his patrol car made him question his decision.

Sometimes, no other response is appropriate.  This is clearly one of those times.