Friday, December 30, 2016

Give Me A Second



For those who are thinking that 2016 can't end fast enough, you'll just have to wait - the world's timekeepers are adding an extra second to the official clock.  
It happens every once in a while, and I've even written about it before HERE.
This time, they are literally waiting until the last minute to do their tweaking.  The Naval Observatory will add a second to their Atomic Clock(s) at 23:59:59 UTC - that's Coordinated Universal Time, or what used to be called Greenwich Mean Time, or what the military called Zulu.  Here in Southeast Texas, that translates to one second before 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Coushatta

They say the secret to a successful trip to the casino is to first decide how much money you can afford to lose, then never bet more than that.  If you do lose it all, write it off as entertainment expense, and if you bring even some of it home, consider the trip a success.
Yesterday, Honey and I went to Coushatta Casino to celebrate our 52nd anniversary. She started off winning, but every machine I touched just sucked cash.  They no longer have the bank of Hot Shot machines where I won the last time we were there, and I couldn't seem to find a slot where I could even lose slowly over an extended period of time.
Finally, we took a break and enjoyed a nice supper - "comped" by the casino.  After that, Honey won on a dollar machine just outside the restaurant, and I went from consistently losing to just treading water.
We were literally on our way out, working our way toward the exit, when I sat down at a big, gaudy, penny machine called Hot Pink Sevens.  Over the next half hour or so I won back everything I had lost and then some.
You'd have to say this was a very successful trip.  We played for about ten hours, ate a good meal and returned home with about $200 more that we left here with.
We're a little tired today - didn't get home until 12:05 this morning, but we had a GREAT time, and a GREAT anniversary.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Down Day


Today is sort of an in-between day.  
After the hectic Christmas schedule and before the activities of the rest of this week - Wednesday is our 52nd Anniversary, we have dinner with friends scheduled for Thursday, and this weekend is New Year's - so today I'm planning to do as little as possible.

Monday, December 26, 2016

I Can Dream

I have had premonitions several times in my life that proved to be true, but I don't remember having any prophetic dreams.  I had one last night that I'd love to see come true.
We were on the road, somewhere out of state, and had stopped for fuel.  Honey was watching the pump while I went inside the store.  I returned to find her staring at the pump.  It was no longer dispensing diesel, but the dollar amount was still spinning.
When it finally came to a halt, the pump had somehow transformed into a slot machine and she had won $132,000!  
The attendant came out with an armload of paperwork we had to fill out, and somewhere in the middle of doing that, I woke up.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Home

Back home after our usual whirlwind Christmas trip to Central Texas.  
Missed one usual stop because everyone at the Robinson house was sick - but added a stop once we got back home.  Honey's sister was hosting Christmas at her house today for the first time in years, so we went by there for a couple hours.  
I had already changed into house shoes and sweat pants when Ernest Graff yelled across the back yards and invited us over.  Didn't stay long, but that visit put the icing on a very nice Christmas cake.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dreaming of a Warm Christmas

Last Christmas, the high temperature in Houston was
83° - a new record high.  This year the forecast is for another warm one, somewhere near 80°.  For all those raised on the American tradition of a white Christmas, this seems so wrong, but as our local weatherman pointed out last night, it's the norm for over half of the world - the entire southern hemisphere just saw the Summer Solstice a couple days ago.
 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Eco-Drive Update

Back on the eighth of December, I wrote about my Citizen watch finally giving up the ghost.  This morning I received a detailed estimate for repairs from their certified repair facility.
OUCH!
I knew it was going to be expensive, but it is going to cost more than I expected.  You can actually buy several models of Citizen watches on line for less than it's going to cost me to get this one repaired.  Still, I love this watch, so I gritted my teeth and authorized the repair.
That was tough enough, but then the email they sent confirming the authorization/payment said that it may take as long as four weeks for the repairs to be completed and the watch to clear quality control.  
I'm not sure my poor naked wrist can last that long.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Muskogee

My mother came from a large family - eight sisters and one brother.  When I was young, not all of them had kids themselves yet, some of them were still kids themselves, but on the years when we went to Oklahoma for Christmas, it seems like there were kids everywhere.
Sleeping arrangements in Muskogee were very much like this song...
 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Chill

Yesterday's high temperature in Houston was
81° Fahrenheit, a new record for the day. We probably won't set any records today, but it ain't because old Mother Nature isn't trying.
A "blue norther" blew in last night.  It hit here at the Boggy thicket at 10:12 p.m.  At 10:11 it was 76° with a light Southeast breeze, and a minute later the wind was out of the Northwest at 30 miles per hour.  The temperature dropped ten degrees in the next five minutes.
This morning, we still have the strong North and Northwest winds gusting to 30 or so, and the temperature is hovering just over freezing.  The weather bureau says the "feels like" temperature with the wind chill factored in is in the 20s.
All in all, it's looking like a perfect day to stay inside and do nothing, so naturally I woke up wide awake just before 5 a.m.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Geese

Unlike the picture above, it was heavily overcast at the old Boggy Thicket yesterday, so I heard the geese flying over long before I saw them.  It brought back memories of living amid the rice fields of Brazoria County, and of going goose hunting with my dad.
These weren't the high-dollar hunts that sportsmen pay hundreds of dollars to go on.  We didn't have fancy boats or blinds. We just picked a likely looking spot, usually near some water, and if we set out decoys at all, they were only balled up pages newspaper.  In spite of that, we were always successful.
It was on one of these hunts that my dad said, "Son, have you noticed that when geese fly one side of the Vee is always longer than the other?"
When I agreed that was true, he asked, "Do you know why?"
I thought about what little I knew about the habits of geese, and things like drafting and wind currents, but finally admitted that I did not.
He looked at me, smiled and said, "It has more geese."

Friday, December 16, 2016

Luggy Sweater Day

I have mentioned before that our daughter Cheryl started talking at a very early age.  Sometimes, she didn't get the word quite right, like adding a syllable so buffalo became buffaloted - and sometimes words just got scrambled to create something entirely new and unique. My favorite, and a word I still use occasionally - Cheryl pronounced Ugly as Luggy.
Today, the third Friday in December, is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.  I have never owned an ugly Christmas sweater, and probably never will, but I enjoy the creativity.  Judging by what's on line, this year's selection is mediocre, at best...


  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Just A Little Spice

If you know me at all, you know that I am a chocolate addict.  I like banana pudding and peach cobbler, but if you offer me cake, it had better be chocolate - and the more chocolate, the better.
I now have a new second choice that contains no chocolate whatsoever.
Earlier this week, I made Honey a Spice cake from a box of Duncan Hines cake mix.  Nothing special, I followed the recipe to the letter, didn't even put icing on it.
I can now attest that there are few things in life better than hot spice cake - fresh from the oven - and covered with Blue Bell Home Made Vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thought Police

There's word this morning that a woman in the L A area is suing Walgreen's because She sees Swastikas in wrapping paper on sale in their store.


Do you see it?  I'll admit it takes some imagination.
She is apparently offended because she thinks of the Swastika as a Nazi symbol, but it has been around for thousands of years in various forms all over the world.
My advice - if you don't like the paper, don't buy it.  Anything else is just ridiculous.
 




Monday, December 12, 2016

Not So Merry

Every year about this time, I have posted a Christmas song for you to enjoy.  Most of them have been Rock or Country tunes, and most have been more about relationships than religion.
I'd guess you could say this year's offering fits the pattern.  In view of the fact that this season is difficult for many, here's Kacey Musgraves...
 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Language




I grew up in the Houston area, speaking a sort of Texan version of English.  I spent years,especially when I was a radio announcer, ridding myself of what accent I had, learning to speak a generic Middle American English.  Possibly as a result of this, I have a pretty good ear for regional dialects, and can usually guess where someone is from after a few minutes of conversation.
In addition to English, I took two years of high-school Spanish, two years of college French and one semester of college German. While I never got particularly fluent in any of them, I did reach the point where I could make sense of either the French or Spanish versions of Reader's Digest.
I say all this to establish the fact that I have adequate language skills, but I realized long ago that my abilities don't hold a candle to our Dachshund Dusty.  
By the time she was two months old, she already recognized words like "outside" and "treat," and her vocabulary has continued to grow over the years.  I honestly don't think that there is anything I can say that she doesn't understand.
I can claim to understand some of the things she says, but honestly, I don't. It's always a guess arrived at by process of elimination.  
For example, one of her quirks is that if she can see even a portion of the bottom of her food bowl she will come and demand that I fill it up.  Like the American in China who can't be understood will resort to speaking the same English words slower and louder, she will continue to repeat the same sequence of barks until she gets what she wants.
After twelve years, you might think I would understand her, but she could just as easily be telling me that my fly is open or the house is on fire.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mystery In The Dark

Earlier this week, about nine o'clock in the evening on a totally dark, overcast night, I watched a patrol car driving very slowly past our house. He was cruising at walking speed, about five miles per hour.  It was much too dark to tell if it was a Sheriff's deputy or DPS - I could only make out the outline of the vehicle, and could barely tell that there was a highly reflective logo on the door - couldn't read it but knew it was there.
Just before he reached the corner, he stopped and backed up about 100 feet.  Then I watched as a small deer crossed the road in his headlights.  The car sat there for another minute, then the driver got out and opened the trunk.  
I couldn't tell what he was doing, so after a couple minutes, I cut through the house to the front porch in hopes of getting a better view.  By the time I got out the front door, he was gone.

Friday, December 9, 2016

(Mrs) John Glenn

Yesterday marked the passing of John Glenn - fighter pilot, astronaut, senator and by any standard, a true American hero.  He left behind the love of his life, Annie, a woman whose bravery he said exceeded his own.
Annie suffered with such a severe stutter that she was unable to do such simple things as grocery shopping, or taking a taxi by herself. Finally, at the age of 53, she found an intensive new program that cured her affliction, and she became an adjunct professor with the Speech Pathology Department at Ohio State University’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science, and a spokesperson for the disabled. 
She  received the first national award of the American Speech and Hearing Association for “providing an inspiring model for people with communicative disorders.”
As John Glenn once wrote of her: “It takes guts to operate with a disability. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do all the things that Annie did so well.”
“We tend to think of heroes as being those who are well known,” he wrote, “but America is made up of a whole nation of heroes who face problems that are very difficult, and their courage remains largely unsung. Millions of individuals are heroes in their own right.”
“In my book, Annie is one of those heroes.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Eco-Drive

Almost since the invention of the wheel, scientists and engineers have dreamed of inventing a perpetual-motion machine.  
Never happened - probably never will - but the closest they have come is probably the Citizen Eco-Drive Watch.  It is battery powered, but that battery never needs to be replaced and is constantly charged by ambient light.
I have been the proud owner of one of these amazing watches for over a quarter of a century.  It is a WR100 model, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 feet.  I never take it off - I've even worn it scuba diving - and the only time it needs adjustment is on the first day of any month that comes after a month of less than 31 days.
It has kept perfect time - never failed - until about four days ago. 
I'm not sure what is wrong with it.  It's displaying a symptom similar to what the Citizen website says you might expect if the battery was recharging after the watch had been stored in the dark for a week or two. It hasn't been off my wrist, so that obviously isn't the problem.
I've sent it in for repair.  
Now all I can do is hope, and keep looking at my naked wrist.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

War Effort




When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 75 years ago today, they probably didn't plan on one reaction from the American public.  According to the Children's Bureau, the increase in the birth rate in 1942 was the largest since they began to keep records in 1915. Nine months after Pearl Harbor, in September of 1942, the rate jumped from 18.7 births per 1000 citizens to a wartime high of 23.3, and it stayed high. According to J. C. Capt, then Director of the Census, "the 1943 birth rate was the greatest in US history."
Those bombs that sank the Arizona were also responsible for the "Baby Boom." Patriotic American moms pumped out 300,000 more babies in 1942 alone (2,808,996) than they had in 1941. By 1943, the total increase in new births surpassed the number of American lives lost in all of WWII.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Peace and Quiet

It's a quiet day at the old Boggy Thicket - all the rain from the last few days has either run off or soaked in - everything is fine.
For some reason, that made me think of Schofield Barracks 75 years ago today.  Home of the 25th Infantry Division, located in Honolulu, Hawaii, it's hard to imagine a more perfect military assignment, but one day can make a Hell of a difference.
I have no idea why I thought of that today, but I sincerely hope it wasn't a harbinger of things to come.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Firemen

I have mentioned this before FIREMEN but somehow we are never quite prepared for it to happen.  
We live on a very quiet country road, on what is essentially a cul de sac - only one way in or out - so when we hear sirens (Lots of sirens) in the night, we naturally assume the worst.
If it is December, instead of a calamity, the chances are it's the Huffman Volunteer Fire Department giving Santa Claus a ride around the neighborhood on a fire truck.  
If they had come around last night, we might have been prepared, but this year they came on December 1st, and managed to scare the be-jabbers out of us once again.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Barbie Boom

Sony Pictures has announced that they are in the process of creating a live-action movie based on Mattel's Barbie.  It is said that their choice for the title role is Amy Schumer, the occasionally funny but always foul mouthed comedian.
If Barbie were life-sized, she would be 5'9" tall, with a 39 inch bust, an 18 inch waist, and a size three shoe.  She would weigh in at  110 lbs. soaking wet, and her Body Mass Index would make her severely anorexic.  
Schumer's stats (you can find anything on the internet) are 5'7", 38-28-39 and she weighs 160.
This could be the worst casting snafu since Paramount decided 5'7" Tom Cruse  was perfect to play 6'5" Jack Reacher.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Shot

Last Wednesday, I took Honey to Walgreen's to get the Shingles vaccine.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but we weren't prepared for the consequences.
The Zostavax website lists possible side effects as

The most common side effects of ZOSTAVAX are:

  • Redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump, warmth, or bruising where the shot was given
  • Headache

Additional side effects reported with ZOSTAVAX are:

  • Allergic reactions, which may be serious and may include difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Chickenpox
  • Fever
  • Hives at the injection site
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Rash at the injection site
  • Shingles
  • Swollen glands near the injection site (may last a few days to a few weeks)
Granted, the side effects listed aren't as dire as some of the medications advertised on TV, but they are enough to give you pause.
The morning after getting the shot, Honey woke with flu-like symptoms - ached all over, with headache and nausea and a lump at the injection site about the size of a chicken egg.  Friday morning, the lump had grown to the size of a goose egg, was painful and hard as a rock.  Her other symptoms were probably a little better, but it was hard to tell.
She feels a little better this morning, and we're hoping we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Having had Shingles, I think I would probably still advise having the vaccine, but at this point, I'm pretty sure Honey would not. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Border Blaster

When I saw this picture on line, the first thing I thought of was driving late at night in the late 50s and early 60s.  That may not be an obvious leap, but it is valid.  Here's why:
Back then, cars  had radios that could only receive AM, and about the only stations that you could pick up at night were the 50 thousand watt clear channel stations like KOA in Denver or WOAI in San Antonio. Sometimes, driving across Texas, I could pick up WSB out of Nashville.
The one station you could pick up just about anywhere West of the Mississippi was XERF which broadcast from a 250 thousand watt transmitter across the river from Del Rio in Villa Acuña, Mexico.  At times, the station featured country music (they were once the home of the Carter Family) and later Rock and Roll (Wolfman Jack) - but very late at night they broadcast evangelists like Charles Jessup from Ft. Worth.
I can still remember him urging listeners to "Put your hands on the Radio" to be healed, and promising that for a small donation, he would send you an "autographed picture of Jesus Christ."
 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Snapper

That's a 53 lb. Snapping Turtle that was rescued from a drainage pipe near Hockley, Texas earlier this week.  
The article that contained this picture said that Alligator Snappers are endangered, but I'm not so sure about that.  They are a pretty common sight in the ditches here in Northeast Harris County, and we had one living in the flood control ditch where it goes under our road that is at least this big.  He may still be there, but I haven't seen him in a while.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More Than Meets The Eye

A few years ago, I posted a piece about PORTER, TEXAS, amazed that this little red-neck town in Southeast Montgomery County contained a Nudist Camp.  If you click on the link, you will see that not much has changed - can't say for sure, but from the highway, it looks like the Nudist Camp is still going strong.
About the only thing I would have thought less likely than a Nudist Camp in Porter would be a Mosque, but yesterday I learned that now they have one of those, too.  
Taking the shortcut from Ford Road to the strip center housing Skeros Barbecue, I drove through the parking lot of Masjid Fatima-tuz-Zahra.  
The mosque is named for Mohamed's daughter, one of Islam's four perfect women. This would be an ideal spot to say something about the chances of finding a perfect woman in Porter, but enough is enough.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One More Time

Yesterday, my wife posed an interesting question - Have we really seen the last of him in January, or could Barack Obama run for the Senate?
I'm embarrassed to admit that I honestly didn't know.  
I did know that he was prohibited by the 22nd Amendment from running for President (or Vice President), but had no idea about any other public office.  
Thanks to Google, I can now report that he not only could run for public office, but it's been done before.
John Quincy Adams, our 6th President, left office in 1829, but returned to Washington as a Representative from his home state of Massachusetts serving from 1831 to 1848.
Number 17, Andrew Johnson left the Presidency in 1869 but became a US Senator from Tennessee in 1875.
And number 27, William Howard Taft, left office in 1913.  Eight years later Taft became the 10th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.
If Obama just stays home and does nothing, he will receive a pension of over $200 thousand  and thousands more in perks.  Last year, we gave George W Bush over a million including $434 thousand for office space.
I think Harry Truman had the best idea. Retiring long before there were such things as presidential pensions - he got an Army pension of 116 dollars and change - Truman had numerous opportunities to leverage his position as a former president, but unlike those who followed him, he refused them all and said, "I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency."



































Monday, November 28, 2016

Caution

A quiet Monday with light rain and nothing much else going on, so I thought I would share this...


Did you ever wonder if simultaneous
Is actually faster than instantaneous?
Just put your hand
On a hot frying pan
You’ll find that the difference becomes extraneous

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fidel

This week marked the passing of Fidel Castro, a major pain the the side of the US for over half a century.
He held the title as the third-longest serving head of state, after the Queen of England and the King of Thailand, and is also known for delivering the longest address ever (4 hours and 29 minutes) before the UN General Assembly.
There is much that could be listed about the evil this man did, and not much to say that is positive.  He did have a reputation as a pretty good baseball player when he was young. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Disappearing Moon

The moon rose about an hour ahead of the sun this morning.  It wasn't much of a moon, just a crescent that looked like a smile in the Eastern sky.
A couple of hours later, when I went for my morning walk, I looked for the moon and couldn't find it.  
I knew how far ahead of the sun it ought to be, about 20 degrees or so, but it wasn't there.  I stood in the street and searched the sky for so long it's a wonder I didn't get run over.  If it wasn't a Saturday and a holiday weekend, I probably would have been.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday

There are certain jobs, such as police officers, where it is almost guaranteed that you will never get a holiday off.  When we married, Honey as a medical technologist and I as a radio announcer fell into that category, so it was several years into our marriage before we ever got to experience Black Friday.
Innocent as babes in the woods, we assumed (incorrectly) that since we had never had the day off, that most other folks didn't either.  We also assumed (incorrectly) that it would be a great day to do our Christmas shopping.  Our first indication that we were wrong was the line of cars waiting to turn into the mall parking lot.  We should have turned around right then, but, as I said, we were naive. 
I'm pretty sure that we did not buy anything that day, and I know we only lasted an hour or so before returning home in an exhausted frazzle, swearing that we would never try that again.
I know there are folks who love to brave the Black Friday crowds every year, and some even claim to have made fabulous deals on something or another.  I'm pretty sure these same folks would jump at a chance to run with the bulls in Pamplona.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bittersweet

The Houston Texans lost a tough one last night, falling to the Oakland Raiders 27-20. 
It's really hard to not sound like a sore loser when talking about this game.  
The announcers on ESPN, writers on SBNation and NFL.com all agree that our guys were the victim of several really bad calls, the first of which cost us a touchdown on our first possession. 
It is one of the calls that is not subject to review, and after searching through what must have been thousands of pictures, Oakland fans claim the  shot above shows DeAndre Hopkins' right heel was across the line.  The shot is not down the line, and subject to interpretation, but my take is that his heel did not touch - and he's not the sort of guy that runs on his heels.
Dean Blandino, the NFL senior vice president of officiating, offered an explanation on the call:
"The heel (right foot) appears to be in the white," Blandino said of Hopkins' run. "It's not right down the line, so it's not definitive, but we certainly can't say that he's obviously in-bounds from this angle ... it's not definitive either way."
Texans coach Bill O'Brien, however, wasn't pleased with the call.
"Was Hopkins out of bounds on that play? No," O'Brien said. "So like, look, I'm not going to sit up here and get fined, I'm just a third-year coach in the NFL. But I think we really got to look at all of those things. You know, we got all of these cameras, and we can't get that right. And I don't think Hopkins was out of bounds ..."
We probably could have survived that call, but two obviously bad spots late in the game made that impossible.
Then there was the jerk in the stands that kept shining a laser in our Quarterback's eyes....
 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Settling Down

Even my most rabid left-wing friends (and yes, it is possible to like folks with whom you totally disagree) have started making less noise on Facebook.  I hope they have finally accepted the results of the election, but I suspect they are just waiting for their second wind.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

T-shirt Weather

Woke up to 36° here at the Boggy Thicket.
I know, that's T-shirt weather for some of you, but it's got me longing for spring.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Can't Un-hear

I've commented several times over the years about unfortunate name choices.  I'm sure that I've mentioned:
  • I had several fights before I got out of second grade brought about by kids who thought it was the height of originality and humor to "sit on the Couch."
  • When my wife financed her first new car, the president of the bank called the dealership and said, "I have a young lady here named Honey Couch, and she is NOT a Stripper."
  • One of the smartest couples I've ever known, Ann and Gus Brooks, named their daughter Crystal.  Innocent enough, but it sounds like the stage name for a porn star.
  • A friend, an Ikon trainer from Atlanta, is named Richard Jirka.  His mother still sees nothing wrong with calling him Dick. 
Several years ago, when I was a technical trainer at Ikon, we had a field service technician named Michael Hunt.  Nobody who was in the office that day will ever forget when the receptionist went on the P. A. system and asked, "Has anybody seen Mike Hunt?"

Friday, November 18, 2016

Doth Protest Too Much

Houston has had its share of protests recently, but now the protestors have something new to protest.  
They - and their lawyers - are claiming that the Houston police have been concentrating on the protest leaders, arresting them too often.
Ringleaders have been busted for everything from jaywalking to punching a police horse.
One of the most publicized cases was the arrest of Sheree Dore, a Black Lives Matter organizer and homeless advocate accused of punching a police horse.
Even as Dore appeared in court Monday — where the judge more than doubled her bail — prosecutors were preparing to file similar charges against another protest leader, Joseph Wade, who often attends Houston protests dressed like Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.
During a rowdy Nov. 10 anti-Trump protest, Wade was initially arrested and cited for jaywalking, according to court documents.
Three days later, he was charged with felony harassment of a public servant for allegedly spitting on the officer who told him not to jaywalk.
Then on Tuesday, prosecutors filed another felony charge alleging that Wade punched a police horse named Sgt. Curly.  
His attorney thinks it isn't fair.
Well, if the cops are giving special attention to the ringleaders, it seems like a good tactic to me.  Somewhere along the line when the demonstrators should have been learning personal responsibility and that all actions have consequences, they should have heard one of the old sayings about standing out in a crowd - the squeaky wheel, the tallest nail, etc.
Personally, I think the cops have behaved with a lot of restraint.  I don't currently own a horse - haven't since I was a kid - but if someone punched my horse and the horse didn't kick him into next week, I might.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Art for Houston

It ain't a done deal yet, there's supposed to be an official announcement at two this afternoon, but Houston and Austin TV stations are reporting that Art Acevedo will be Houston's new police chief.
Conservative spokesmen are already complaining.  Acevedo, as police chief in Austin for the past ten years, has been a liberal voice in one of Texas's most liberal cities. He has even been disciplined for speaking out on issues after being told to keep his mouth shut.
That being said, he seems to be well liked and respected in the Capitol. He is well-spoken - I can testify from our visits to Austin that he gives a Hell of a news conference.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Update

I called Murff's  after I posted yesterday's story - probably should have called them first, but the weren't open yet.
They told me:
  • They actually remove about an inch of soil each time they harvest.
  • They harvest grass somewhere every day, and may harvest the same spot once or twice in a year.
  • They do not haul in dirt.
  • Finally, she had no idea why they haven't dug themselves into a hole.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Murff's Turf

That's a picture of the entrance to Murff Turf Farm on Bohemian Hall Road in Crosby.  
Bill Murff, who passed away earlier this year, founded the business in 1969 while teaching at Crosby High School, and they have been providing grass for Houston area lawns for almost 50 years.
I have bought grass from them, and I have driven past their farm(s) hundreds of times, but I never thought of this question until last night.
 I've  watched them harvest turf, seen them spread liquid fertilizer on the fields, and seen the big irrigation sprayers at work, but I have never seen them bring in any dirt.  Every time they harvest sod, they have to be taking at least 1/2 to 3/4 inches of dirt along with the grass, maybe more, and they have been doing that in some fields for almost 50 years.
So - Why aren't they growing their grass in a hole?

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Extra" Parts

I saw this T-shirt advertised on line this morning.  It brought back so many memories of my time in the office equipment service industry, and it reminded me of so many of my students.  
At $19.95, its a bit over-priced for my blood, but if I had one, I would wear it with pride.

If you'd like to buy me one, they're available at https://www.teezily.com/curious.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Ring of Fire



A magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit New Zealand this morning - actually just after midnight tomorrow, because of the international date line.  It has triggered a tsunami with waves 3 to 5 meters above normal expected.  This doesn't guarantee a quake on the other side of the Pacific in California, but don't be surprised if it happens.
Just sayin'.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thanks and You're Welcome

That's an interior shot of the Ranch Hand Cafe in Tarkington, Texas.  With its mismatched tables and chairs, etc., it may be hard to imagine that the outside looks worse, but it does.  
The place looks like a dump, with several small buildings thrown together with ramps to get up or down to the next floor level.  The parking lot makes you wish you were driving a high-clearance four wheel drive vehicle.
Even if you know how to find Tarkington, you might glance at the place and just keep on driving down highway 321 - but that would be a mistake.  We have been there several times, and the food is always excellent.
We were there last night with our friends the Sheltons, and the waitress asked Travis if he was a veteran.  He told her that he was, and I was too, and jokingly asked if dinner was going to be free.  She said that they had served free lunch and would be doing it again today for all the vets in honor of Veterans Day.
We didn't think any more about it until we were leaving.  We went up to pay, and they told us our dessert was on the house, and thank you for your service.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen, possibly the greatest poet of my generation, is dead at 82.
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Majority

My left-leaning friends who are not out marching (Yes, I had at least one join the demonstration in Austin) are all saying that Hillary won a majority in the election.  
They are incorrect. 
The vote split almost exactly, with Clinton receiving about 200,000 more votes  than Trump, or about 47.7% of the total votes cast, compared to Trump's 47.5.  Those few thousand votes that went to Libertarian and Green Party candidates meant that neither gained a true majority of the popular vote. 
This marks the third time in history that the Electoral vote did not match the popular vote.   There is an outcry demanding that we do away with this antiquated way of selecting a President, but it may not be such a bad thing, and here's why:
 
The map above is based on population, not politics, but its resemblance to the 2016 Electoral map is remarkable.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Grace

The election is finally over, and God help us, the results are finally in.  
It is no secret that I had no love for either candidate, but I considered what I didn't know about Donald Trump less scary than what I did know about Hillary Clinton, so I held my nose and voted for Trump.  
My first indication that I made the right decision came late last night when Clinton sent John Podesta to the Javits Center to tell her supporters to go home.
Those hundreds of people gathered there for what they expected to be a victory celebration were already visibly devastated.  I'm sure Clinton was as well, but her supporters deserved to see her, and to hear her thank them for a well-fought campaign.  The fact that she did not make an appearance shows such a lack of consideration and common decency, such a lack of grace, that I can only thank God that she did not win.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

When Will It Be Over?

Today is election day, 2016, and by tonight we will know who will take over the White House next year, but I'm afraid this election will be one that is never actually over.  The fact that both major candidates are almost universally disliked guarantees that most people will be dissatisfied with the outcome, whatever it might be.
Those little towns in New Hampshire that always vote at midnight - it's their one chance at national attention, and only comes every four years - have already announced that Trump's their guy.  He won 32/25, but in Dixville Notch, the town that first started midnight voting back in 1960, Hillary won by a vote of 4/2.  Two points of interest about Dixville Notch -
  • In past elections they favored both Bush and Dole over Bill Clinton.
  • They normally have between 25 and 30 registered voters, but only 6 votes were cast last night.
Thomas Tillotson, the Dixville Notch Town Clerk says his little hamlet is historically about 70% accurate as a predictor of the national outcome.
Sometime tonight we will be told who won, but the process will not actually be over.  The Electors of the Electoral College must meet in their respective states on December 19, and their results sent to the U S Senate.  Those results do not become official until approved by Congress on January 6, 2017.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Bright Side

The floods that hit the Houston area last spring still have us a few inches over our normal annual rainfall, but we haven't had a any measurable rain in over a month.  
We are back in drought, and our azaleas are not happy.  In spite of running sprinklers, we have some plants that are not likely to recover.
Watching the weather on TV, it seems like they have rain almost every evening in Sugarland, and/or Jersey Village, or even just across Lake Houston in Atascosita. But, do we get any?  No!
As recently as Saturday, rain probabilities for today and tomorrow were 60 and 70%, and a line of thunderstorms passing through Brenham yesterday evening was supposed to hit here about ten o'clock.  The storm fizzled out before it got here, and this morning the rain probability has dropped to 30%.
Oh well, it gives me something to worry about besides politics. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's About Time

We went back to Standard Time last night, dropping Daylight Saving Time until March 12th of next year.  If you didn't "fall back" before you went to bed, now's your chance.
The change didn't happen without a lot of grumbling, including several published studies claiming that arbitrary time changes are bad for your physical and mental health.  My wife, who has said so for years, was joined by numerous experts who say we could stick to Daylight Saving Time year-round.
Perhaps the most radical approach comes from an article in the New York Times - it advocates doing away with time zones entirely, and putting the whole world on UTC - Coordinated Universal Time.  UTC or "Zulu" time is already in use in Aviation, for example, and the global economy and internet seem to call for a standardized version of telling time.
It would take some getting used to - here in the Central Time Zone (UTC minus six hours) we would seldom be getting up before noon.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Have Some Butter

I first posted this in April of 20ll, and I'm posting it on Facebook today especially for some cousins who have become Facebook friends since then.  It contains a bit of family history they ought to know.

banded_butter_main
As a child of the Great Depression, my mother had it better than most. 
The Boyd family was far from wealthy, but my grandfather did have a job – he was an engineer on the MKT (Katy) Railroad - and they lived on a place that was large enough to have a vegetable garden, a milk cow and a flock of chickens.  Even with their large family (mom had eight sisters and one brother) there was always enough food to go around.
Because they did have plenty, my grandmother was in the habit of inviting a less-fortunate parishioner or two home from church to share Sunday dinner.
At one of these meals, an elderly maiden lady – I guess PC speech was around then, too; that does sound much nicer than old spinster. - was slathering an extremely generous portion of butter on a biscuit.  The poor old gal probably hadn’t seen, much less tasted, fresh churned butter in months.
My Aunt Frankie noticed what she was doing, and in a voice dripping with all the sarcasm an eight-year-old could muster, said “Well, have some butter, Miss Evans.”
Miss Evans was embarrassed,  my grandmother was mortified, Aunt Frankie probably didn’t sit down for a week and “Have some butter, Miss Evans” became part of the family history and the family lexicon.
If you ever hear that phrase, you can bet that:
  a. Someone was being a little too greedy, and
  b. Whoever said it probably has a Boyd gene  or two in  their DNA.
 Update:  My Cousin Norma just talked to my Aunt Barbara who was there when it happened.  She confirmed the story, but said it was Aunt Claire, not Frankie, who made the comment.  I always thought it was Frankie, but she’s probably right.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

You Pick A Title

Honey and I went out on our monthly dinner date with our next-door neighbors, the Graffs, last night, and as usual we had a great time - good food, and better company.  Since Honey's birthday is tomorrow, they came with a very pretty birthday cake.
Once we got home and turned the TV on, the final game of the World Series was well under way, and by the time we got ready for bed, the Cubs had blown their lead and it was all tied up. 
I like baseball, and had nothing planned that would force me to get up early this morning, so there was no reason not to sit up and watch the game to its conclusion.  
Did I? 
No I did not!
I have nothing against Chicago or Cleveland, but nothing that ties me to either city or their team, either.  Watching two teams I care nothing about play baseball is a lot like watching tortoises breed - I know it happens, and I suppose the fact that it does is a good thing - but I wouldn't pay to watch them.
And - I'm sure not going to lose sleep over it! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Standing Rock

The stand-off at Standing Rock continues as Native Americans (mostly Sioux) are joined by left-wing actresses and others using this opportunity to protest the North Dakota Access Pipeline, pipelines in general, fossil fuels and imminent domain.  
According to their Facebook posts, I know at least two of these protestors - a grand-niece and a former coworker - and while I know a little bit about their beliefs, I would not presume to explain why they are there.
The Sioux object to the pipeline because it crosses sacred ground - the media has tried to imply that this means that it goes through graveyards, but even the Indians admit they have no idea where their ancestors might have been buried. Their other concern is that  a leak could do terrible damage to the water supply, not only in the immediate area, but potentially the entire Missouri River.
Pipeline spills do happen, but there is no question that pipelines are by far the safest way to transport oil - much safer than trucks or railroads.  And - this 30 inch pipe parallels a pipeline that has been in operation without incident since 1982. There are over 2.4 million miles of pipelines in the USA, and in spite of occasional incidents like the explosion in Alabama this past week, the environmental effect has been very near zero.
Before the pipeline was approved, North Dakota held over two years of Town Hall meetings, and though they were urged to participate, the Sioux never attended, and never filed any paperwork in opposition to the project. That, to me, brings into question the legitimacy of their protesting now.
Nobody likes Imminent Domain if it affects them directly - I certainly wouldn't want a freeway running through my property - but, without it, we would have no railroads, pipelines or highways.  This pipeline will connect some of the newest and most active oilfields in the country to a system of lines that could bring North Dakota crude all the way to refineries near Beaumont, Texas. 
I can't see how that is such a bad thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

'Shrooms

We have a bumper crop of Mushrooms popping up all over the yard here at the old Boggy Thicket.  I haven't been able to identify the species - tried a search last year with no definitive result, and am having no better luck this year.
I can't help wondering if they would be good to eat, but I'm reminded of the words of a mushroom expert, "ALL Mushrooms are edible, but some species only once."