Saturday, October 31, 2015


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


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 :

Thursday, October 29, 2015


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


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 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


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 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



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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Modern Mjölnir

In one of my all-time favorite quotes, Arthur C. Clarke once said that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Maybe that's how Thor's hammer seems to many who've read about it in Marvel Comics or seen it in The Avengers and Thor films: it's a magical object that only Thor can wield…Or, it was.

Now, Allen Pan, a young engineer with too much time on his hands, has created his own version of the mythical Mjölnir that only he can lift.

thorhammerPan’s hammer uses a pair of 12 volt batteries to power strong electromagnets (from a microwave oven transformer) along with a touch-sensitive handle that turns them on. The handle also has a  fingerprint reader which allows him to be the “chosen one” who can lift the hammer. It only works  if it’s sitting on a metal surface, but it works really well.

You can see details and a video HERE:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Everest 1

The license plate on our 5th wheel is due for renewal this month. 

We have not yet received the normal renewal paperwork in the mail this year.  Instead, we got a letter from the State of Texas reminding us that the trailer had to have a current safety inspection before a license could be issued.

I took the trailer to the inspection station yesterday, and it was about as painless as possible.  It only cost seven dollars, and only took about ten minutes, and most of that was spent typing information into a computer.  The safety inspection itself – lights and brakes – actually involved less than we normally check every time we hook up.

I asked the inspector if she thought we would receive the renewal form from the state now that the trailer was inspected.  She said chances were only about 50/50.  Since Texas is in the middle of a conversion year – going from two stickers to a single sticker for automobiles, trucks and trailers – people were only getting the renewals in the mail about half of the time. She assured me that if we didn’t get one we could still get the plates renewed since they could pull up the trailer records using the inspection paperwork she gave me.

Boy, I hope she is right!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I prefer bread with some texture – whole wheat, rye, or at least French or sourdough.  One of the few things I like about New Jersey is that it is almost impossible to find bread there that doesn’t have a crust you could use to break rocks or drive nails.  Honey, on the other hand, likes soft white bread – specifically, Sunbeam’s Texas Giant brand sandwich bread.

Sunbeam sandwich bread is about as bland as bread can get.  It does make good sandwiches because each slice is almost perfectly square.  The top is just as flat as the bottom.

If you ever wondered how they do that – and I had – the answer is ridiculously simple.  Sandwich bread is baked in a pan with a flat lid.

sandwich bread

Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus Day

When Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean, he thought he was half a world away in India.  Today we celebrate Columbus Day, giving him credit for “discovering” America, a land he may not have seen before, but which was already populated by people who were not lost.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Book Review

i am pilgrim


As usual, I am behind the curve on this one, and the book has been around for a couple of years.  That’s because we get our books from the paperback rack at Wal-Mart, or from Half Price Books.  Still, if you have not read this book, find it and read it.  It is outstanding.

A lot of reviews of the book make a big deal out of this being a “Fantastic First Novel” and it is, but that’s misleading.  Hayes has had a long and successful career as a film writer, going all the way back to Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior, and (one of my favorites) Dead Calm.

MGM bought the movie rights to this story in 2014, but don’t wait around for the film.  The story is far too complex to portray on screen.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jurassic Shave

barbasolA week or two ago, I picked up a new can of Barbasol.  I still had some left in the old can, so I didn’t notice until a couple of days ago that it had a dinosaur on the can.  The one I got was a lot more subtle than the one pictured above – instead of a huge pterodactyl, it had a smaller silver T-Rex on the can.  I tried to take a picture of mine, but it came out pretty terrible – out of focus, and the can looks bent.


I’m not sure how I missed it, but apparently there was a huge cross promotion between United Artists and Barbasol – complete with TV ads – to mark the release of Jurassic World.  I do know that, although no one will quote actual figures, Barbasol “starring” in Jurassic Park twenty-something years ago is considered one of the most successful product placements in movie history.

Anyway, when I mentioned the T-Rex on the can to Honey, she asked me if I had tried to unscrew the bottom of the can.  I laughed and told her it was the first thing I did when I noticed it.  What I didn’t say is that I’ve tried that on every can of Barbasol I’ve bought since we first saw Jurassic Park.

Friday, October 9, 2015

2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad – Or Is It?

I guess you would have to say that last night was a good night for Houston sports teams.  Not the Texans, who are still struggling and lost a game they were expected to win, but the Astros and the U of H Cougars both looked good winning nationally televised games.

Considering the expectations at the start of the season, anything the ‘Stros do now is icing on the cake.  They went into Kansas City, and beat the Royals 5 to 2 last night in the first game of the division series and they looked like they were having fun doing it.

Meanwhile, the Cougars went to 5 and 0 with a 49-28 win over the SMU Mustangs. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. was 16-for-18 passing for 243 yards. He also rushed 14 times for 82 yards and four touchdowns. Those kinds of numbers are guaranteed to make Texans fans drool.

Houston is still looking for a quarterback, but Indiana proved that the quarterback isn’t necessarily the problem.  They used 40 year-old backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has been in the NFL longer than the Texans – and who was out sick and didn’t practice last week – to lead them to a 27-20 win.

Defensively in the Texans game, both Watt and Clowney were double-teamed on every play.  That means somebody should have been wide open and in the Colts backfield on every play, but nobody ever was.  I know we had a couple of linebackers sidelined with injuries this week, but where was everybody else?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Half-Glass Wisdom

half glass

This isn’t original, but it’s worth repeating……..

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything."

Remember to put the glass down.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Don’t Call It Frisbee Golf


The U S Disc Golf Championship gets underway today at the Winthrop University Gold Course in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  I probably wouldn’t know or care, except that a former student of mine, Dieter Neumann, is one of the participants.

When I say former student, I mean that I taught him service techniques on several copiers – I sure didn’t teach him how to throw a Frisbee.  I’d like to think he enjoyed my classes, but I know Dieter liked to come in from Shreveport for classes because it gave him the chance to play several disc golf courses around Houston. 

Folks in Rock Hill have spent the entire summer getting the course in excellent shape – even re-doing direction signs on Interstate 77 – and despite all the flooding in the eastern part of the state, the course and the weather today should be almost perfect.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


niflpink I got up this morning and put on a brilliant hot pink golf shirt.  I didn’t do it because it’s October - not because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – I pulled it out of the closet, and got dressed in the dark.

As someone who lost a daughter to breast cancer, I find the whole empty symbolism of wearing pink in October a little offensive.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Yes, It’s a “Real” Day

do something nice

Yes, it’s today.  There seems to be an official day, or week or month for almost everything, but if you’re going to have a day, this is a pretty good one.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


May 2, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros mascot Orbit performs before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When this baseball season began, not even the most unrealistically optimistic Houston Astros fan expected them to do as well as they have. Most were hoping for a few more wins than last year, but with one game still to play this afternoon, the ‘Stros  have already guaranteed themselves at least one post-season game, and it is still statistically possible for them to tie for the division title.

Friday, October 2, 2015

There’s a Code for That


Beginning this month, the government will require doctors, hospitals and health insurers to begin using a new set of codes.  Known as ICD10, it is a new, and vastly more complicated, set of codes to describe injuries and illnesses. 

The old codes – ICD-9 – had not been updated in 36 years, and many were no longer valid.  The new codes try to be more specific, and as a result, the codes doctors now must use to diagnose patients have multiplied from about 14,000 to nearly 70,000. Hospitals use a related set of medical procedure codes, which has grown even more — from 4,000 to about 72,000.

Specificity may be a good thing, but some of the codes are just bizarre:

  • W61.33 pecked by a chicken
  • Y08.01 assault by hockey stick
  • R46.1 bizarre personal appearance
  • W22.02XD walked into a lamppost
  • T71.224 asphyxiation due to being trapped in a car trunk
  • Z63.1 problems in relationship with in-laws
  • V95.42 forced landing of spacecraft injuring occupant
  • W61.12xA struck by macaw, initial
  • The water-skis on fire code at the top of this post is real.  The picture is from an illustrated book titled Struck By Orca which is available on Amazon.

    The changeover won’t come cheap.  In just one example, Kaiser Permanente's 4 million-member health care region in Southern California, the transition involved revamping up to 30 computer systems and training about 10,000 employees, at an estimated cost of $15 million to $25 million.

    While health organizations in the United States have long been preparing for the transition from ICD-9, the actual changeover date was delayed several times after some physicians and provider lobbying groups said they weren't ready.

    Even with the additional time, some recent tests of the codes among early adopters nationwide resulted in about a fifth of the claims being denied because they weren't accurate or weren't correctly submitted. I can’t say for sure, but there’s probably a code for that.

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    Vlad and Me

    vladimir-putin On his recent visit to the U. N. and in his 60 Minutes interview last week, Vladimir Putin – a guy who ranks right up there with as one of the world’s most dangerous men – made statements about how to deal with the Mideast Crisis that sounded almost identical to what I’ve been saying. 

    That really had me concerned.

    Now, after the first two days of active military action in the region, it’s reported that Russia is bombing troops who are NOT affiliated with ISIS.  So far, they’re only hitting groups the US supports who are trying to overthrow Assad.

    Typical of politicians everywhere, Putin’s deeds don’t exactly match his words.