Thursday, June 30, 2016

Telling Simmons What I Think

A few months ago, I received a survey in the mail.  
It came from  the Simmons National Consumer Survey folks, and it came with a five dollar bill inside the envelope.  I took their survey, mailed it in and they sent me an additional payment for my trouble.
At some point, they asked if I would be willing to participate in other surveys, and I must have checked the Yes box, because we got Three additional surveys in the mail - one for me, one for the household, and one for Honey.  Honey and I each got $15 up front with the promise of an additional $40 when the completed surveys were received.
That may sound like a good deal, but that $55 comes out to less than $10 an hour if you actually try to conscientiously answer all their questions.  
Honey threatened my life if I ever offer to participate again.
The surveys were in the mail box, ready to go back to Simmons yesterday, when I mentioned a question about no fat sour cream.  Honey was sure that she had not had that question, and agonized over the possibility that she had skipped a page.  
I was of the opinion that she should forget it, but she could not.  She retrieved her survey from the mail box and we confirmed that the huge survey she had completed did not include that question.  It was apparently in the smaller Household survey that was only addressed to me.
All the surveys are now back in the mail box, and we are officially and permanently out of the survey taking business. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Name Game

I have mentioned before - and expressed my disgust over - the Houston Independent School District's decision to rename several schools named after leaders of the Confederacy.  The changes will cost a lot of money - one estimate was  over two million dollars - and that doesn't include defending lawsuits now being filed by alumni and others who oppose the changes.
Now, the South Texas College of Law has decided to change its name to the Houston College of Law for no particular reason.  
It didn't take long for the University of Houston, which has its own Law School, to file suit in federal court.  The U of H suit says, in part, that the change constitutes "intentional and willful infringement of UH's intellectual property and unfair competition," which results in "confusion in the marketplace and damage" to the university and its brand.
Educators in Houston apparently never learned the truth of the old saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Saturday, June 25, 2016


A molting python in an Australian zoo started eating its skin the other day, and got itself caught inside for several hours, creating a perfect Ouroboros.  
The Ouroboros, the circular figure of a snake eating itself, first appeared in ancient Egypt, was big in Greek mythology, alchemy, and Jungian psychology.  Obviously having multiple meanings depending on who was using the symbol.
I can see several Ouroboros symbols in current affairs - the Brexit vote, the American presidential race, etc.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Time May Have Come

I've mentioned several times over the years that we have three acres that are woods, basically untouched in the 40-plus years we've owned it.  
We try to keep the other approximately two of our five acres looking like a lawn, but it's getting to be more of a challenge with each passing year.
This morning, Honey brought up an ad she'd seen on Facebook - a young man in our area trying to get a lawn care business going - she thinks it's time to consider getting some help.  I can keep the place mowed, and more-or-less keep up with the weed eating, but doing that plus cleaning flower beds and all the other little chores is getting to be too much.
No decision yet - I'll keep you informed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Eye, Ay Ay

Just back from the mall where Honey was fitted for a new pair of glasses. 
We spent most of the trip home discussing the fact that glasses are a scam - that selling glasses must be a great way to get filthy rich.
I know there are ads on TV for places that offer two pair of glasses for $69, but would you trust them?  Honey's glasses cost well over $500 - just the frames were almost $200, and frames at the ophthalmologist started at $300 and went up sharply from there. 
If you actually need them to see - any price is a bargain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Things are almost back to normal here at the Boggy Thicket - or as normal as they'll ever be.  
After delays due to mechanical issues with our new lawn mower, and a couple spots that were too wet to mow, I finally got the entire yard mowed at once.  
It really looks pretty good.
I also cut a couple of new ditches to provide drainage on the side of our house where water has been standing for days after the recent rains.  You would not believe how many mosquitoes that area generated.  The area used to drain on its own, but the ground here shifts like an ocean tide in slow motion - what used to be higher is now lower and vice-versa.  It looks like it ought to drain now, but we will have to wait for the next big rain to see how well it works.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Checkin' In

It's been a week, and I'm still not ready to get back to the routine of a daily blog post.
In fact, I really don't have anything to say today.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Excuses, excuses

I started this blog to be a daily record of my thoughts, and - for the most part - it has been.  But there are times...
This is one of those times.  
I intentionally did not post anything while we were away from home for a month, and since we returned, I have been busy as a one-armed fan dancer - way too much to do to write anything of significance.  I haven't felt like posting just to fill space, so I haven't posted anything.
I will probably return to a daily schedule at some point, but today isn't the day.

Friday, June 10, 2016

For Want of A ....

For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a  nail.

We've all heard that before, and we all have some opinion as to what its lesson might be.  Small things ignored can lead to disastrous results, or something like that.
I recently had an experience that qualifies as a shining example. The culprit in my case was not a nail, but a washer.
Earlier this spring, I bought a new lawn mower.  I had mowed the yard only twice when the damn thing fell apart.
The mandrel assembly - item 14 above - shattered, causing the blade to hit the ground and bend beyond repair.  I couldn't imagine why this happened on a brand new mower, but assumed the part was defective to begin with due to a bad casting.
Once we got home from vacation, I purchased a replacement part.  It worked, but it was noisy.  There was obviously something still wrong.
See the washer - item 31 above?  That little washer is absolutely necessary in order to tighten the pulley properly.  Without it, the pulley will wobble, the mower will make loud clanging noises and the mandrel will eventually crack.  
My new mower came without that washer! 
The lack of that little fifty cent part ended up costing me four hours of work and about eighty dollars.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Trip Report - Final Thoughts

As I've said, this was a great trip, but there were a few negatives.  Probably the biggest was delays due to road construction, which we encountered almost everywhere we went.
Signs on the way into El Paso advised through traffic to use the loop - good advice that we ignored.  Single lane traffic on I-10 in that city added about an hour to our drive.  We also encountered major delays elsewhere on I-10, on I-17 and at the top of Red Mountain Pass on US-550.  Of course, summer is the best - in some cases the only - time to do road maintenance, so you have to expect it.
Speaking of delays on I-10, we were a day ahead of some major delays in Arizona.  Blowing dust from a huge, freshly plowed field closed the highway completely for several hours for several days in a row.  Spraying water on the field only helped for a little while, and it was dry enough the next day to once again cause zero visibility on the interstate.  The Phoenix TV station reported that the state planned to spray the area with GORILLA SNOT - Yes, that's a real product, check the link.  I guess it worked since we didn't hear any more reports of dust closing the highway.
If you're wondering why the farmer didn't do something to correct the problem, so was most of Arizona.  The TV station said the spread was owned by a foundation which was owned by a TV evangelist, and all attempts to contact them had been met with silence.
For the most part, we had great weather, but once back in Texas, we did have one full day of driving in pouring rain.  That wasn't much fun, but at least it was on good roads that we had almost entirely to ourselves.
The road past our house is too narrow.  It is almost impossible to back the trailer into our driveway without the front wheels of our truck leaving the paved surface.  
It happened when we got home, and the ground was so saturated that I got stuck - had to get our good neighbor to hook on with his one ton Dodge and pull us out.  Another two feet of paved surface, and I would have made it fine, but we eventually did get in and got the trailer parked beside the garage.  
I'm thinking of having a truckload of gravel brought in to widen the road, but I've said that before.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trip Report - Part 4

Our first stop in Texas was at Caprock Canyons State Park at Quitaque, TX.  If you're wondering how to pronounce the name of the town, it's "Kitty-Kay" according to the welcome sign at the edge of town. 
Caprock is the home of the Texas Bison herd, but we never saw them.

The herd had spent the past three evenings in our campground, but we never saw them.  We did have several balls of bison hair on our picnic shelter. One of them had used the support post as a rubbing spot.
Caprock also has some beautiful scenery.  Canyons of red rock that rival anything we saw in Sedona.

 There is also a nice fishing lake with a swimming area  complete with a playground.
 From there, we had an overnight in Abilene, and then headed to Jim Hogg COE park on Lake Georgetown.
 It made a great place to stay while we attended our grandson's high school graduation.
 The ceremony was rained out - had to be moved indoors at the last minute - and we were only able to see it via closed-circuit TV.  Still, he graduated and we were there, so I guess that counts for something.
Next stop - HOME - I'll have some final thoughts tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Trip Report - Part 3

Our first morning at Ridgway State Park was a bit of a shock. We awoke to a low temperature of 30 degrees - on the 23rd of May!  As I have mentioned before, Honey loves deer, and we had seen droppings, but no deer for the first couple of days at Ridgway.  We just missed a bear at the footbridge over the Uncompagre, but hadn't seen any mammals larger than a chipmunk.
Late one afternoon, Honey was sitting at the picnic table, facing the camper and talking on her cell phone.  I came out and said, "Honey! Turn around!"  There were eight deer grazing within 50 feet of where she was sitting and another four within 50 yards!
I shot this from the door of the trailer.  That's the top of Honey's head at the bottom of the frame.

 From our base at Ridgway, we made trips to Montrose and Ouray, and across Red Mountain Pass to Silverton.  

When we left Ridgway, we were essentially on the way home, but there were several stops and several sights along the way worth sharing.  Our first leg was across Colorado - over Monarch Pass - to Woodland Park, Colorado.

That's our 5th wheel on the left in the parking lot at the top of the pass.  There are miles of 6 and 7% grades on both sides of the pass.  Our Cummins engine scarcely noticed, but the transmission got hot enough that we had to stop and let it cool down.
We got to Woodland park in early afternoon and the temperature was in the low 50s.  Then as we were setting up the trailer, it started to snow.  Big fat flakes that didn't last long, only about 10 minutes, but it was the first and only time it snowed on us on this trip.
From Woodland Park, we had an overnight at Raton Pass, New Mexico, then back to Texas.
We'll talk about Texas tomorrow.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Trip Report - Part 2

When we left Cottonwood, we made an overnight stop in Gallup, New Mexico, then headed for Ridgway, Colorado.  (Spell Check doesn't like it - wants to add an 'e' - but the town and the state park are both spelled Ridgway.)
I took the "easy" way up - US491 to Colorado 145 - but still encountered enough switchbacks and grades and SNOW to make it an interesting drive.  Almost as soon as you enter Colorado, the scenery changes from desert to lush meadows and forests, and before long, you're into the Rockies.
We followed the Delores River for several miles, and at one stop I saw this:
It was a chain binder attached to a piece of driftwood.  No idea why it was there, but it made a cool picture.
We saw large areas of "dead" Aspens, but finally realized that even though it was the 22nd of May, we were high enough and it was cool enough that they just had not leafed out yet.  Several places there was snow down to the roadway.
The town of Ridgway is where they filmed True Grit, and there are True Grit Tours, and a True Grit Cafe in the center of town.  It was also the home of Dennis Weaver, famous for Gunsmoke, McCloud, and Stephen Spielburg's classic TV movie Duel.  There is a Dennis Weaver Memorial Park in town that is worth a visit.  it features a plaque with an original poem
and an impressive statue of a bald eagle
Ridgway State Park is just north of town on the banks of the Uncompagre River.  There is a dam that created Ridgway Reservoir
which offers a variety of water sports.
The temperature was 68° when I took this shot, but mom was stretched out on a blanket soaking up the sun while hubby and their toddler were playing in the water - Colorado people are TOUGH!
 Fishing in the river is strictly catch-and-release, but fish from the reservoir and a couple fishing lakes can be kept.  They actually encourage keeping small mouth bass as they are crowding out some of the native species.  There was a fishing tournament at the reservoir on the 28th with cash prizes for the most small mouth bass caught.
More about Ridgway tomorrow.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Trip Report

We're back home after a month on the road.  Good trip, but we're tired  and there's still stuff to unload.  Honey has been doing washing all day, and I have to make a trip to the store if we want to eat tonight.
Our first stop was going to be Stephen F. Austin State Park at San Felipe, Texas, but they contacted me the week before we left and cancelled our reservations.  The bridge leading into the park had been swept away by flood waters, so there wasn't any way in.
We held off leaving for a day and went to our second stop.  Spent two nights in Kerrville at Kerrville-Schreiner Park on the banks of the Guadalupe river.  Our old pals and traveling buddies, Travis and Cheryl Shelton, met up with us there.  Honey loves deer, and the park is full of them - even a herd of Axis deer in the campground across the road from the river.
An overnight stop in Ft. Stockton and one in Deming, New Mexico, got us to Southern Arizona and the first real stop on our trip.  We stayed at Catalina State Park in Tucson, and the entire desert was in bloom.

It was getting hot in Tucson - nothing like the 110 expected today, but hot enough.  
We took a trip up to the top of Mount Lemmon,where the temperature really is 30 degrees cooler.
 There were Roadrunners all around the campsite, but never when I had my camera.  I did get a picture of Wiley Coyote.
From Tucson, we headed to Cottonwood, AZ, and Dead Horse Ranch State Park, where we spent a week. The park has nice campsites, a great little fishing lake, and makes a good center of operations for visiting Tuzigoot National Monument, the old gold-mining town of Jerome, and , of course, Sedona.

The Sheltons said goodbye at Cottonwood and headed for Las Vegas to visit a grandson stationed at Nellis AFB.  We stayed another day then headed for Colorado.  I'll tell you all about that tomorrow.