Friday, September 30, 2016

I Opened A Book

I first posted this a year ago today.  As I said then, I didn't write it, but I wish I had....
 I opened a book

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Free College

In an effort to pick up Bernie Sanders supporters, Mrs Clinton is now proposing tuition - free college education.  
Her platform lists a formula that says that by 2021, families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities. And from the beginning, every student from a family making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public college or university without paying tuition.
That sounds like a good thing.  
Nobody is against education, right?
But -  
Officials from the Department of Defense have consistently testified before Congress that the G. I. Bill, which provides free education to Veterans, is an invaluable tool necessary in the effort to recruit members of our military.  It is probably the largest single inducement for young people considering joining up.
The Democrats plan for free college for all would almost certainly require the re-institution of a military draft.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


When it was announced before the first game of the season that hometown hero J J Watt would be starting, Honey said that he was coming back too soon and would regret the decision.
Today, all the sports media are reporting that he has re-injured his back, will be placed on injured reserve later today, and may be out for the season.
Darn, I hate it when she is right.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Debate Debate

The first debate is in the can - not the Garbage can, unfortunately, just in the can in the sense of being over and done, completed. 
As expected, there was no clear winner as both candidates seemed to preach to their respective choirs.  Post debate polls and political pundits split on who came out on top
They both kept the fact-checkers hopping, and both had a significant number of statements that ranged from outright lies to factually inaccurate to intentionally misleading.  It is amazing that they could say so little of any substance, and still manage to get so much of it wrong.

Monday, September 26, 2016


The first head-to-head presidential debate of the 2016 campaign is scheduled for this evening.  Like just about everyone else, I'll be watching - and like just about everyone else, my mind is already made up.  
I really can't stand either of them, and I doubt that either can say anything that would change that.
Probably the most profound effect of the debate will be to the ratings of Monday Night Football.  The ratings have already been down so far this year and the Falcons/Saints game tonight may have the worst ratings ever.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Race Card

Yesterday, folks in Portland, Maine held a walk against Alzheimer's, and last night citizens of Chatham, New Jersey held a candle light walk to stop suicide.  Today in Austin they hold the annual Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure.
There is scientific evidence that walking and/or running is good for your health.  Unfortunately, the benefit only accrues to the participant.  
I wish events like these actually did some good.
Maybe, if they burned some cars or looted some stores.... 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Out On A Limb

Hard as it is to believe, that huge limb that fell on our house yesterday caused no visible damage except for one broken shingle.
I got up on the roof, and cut off all the branches, then hooked the main limb to the tractor and pulled it down.  
Cutting those branches up, and hauling them to the burning pile was all I could get done in one day.  I still have to cut the main limb into pieces small enough to pick up and haul, and I need to get back on the roof with the leaf blower and clear it of all the leaves and twigs.
Honey has given me strict orders not to get on the roof in her absence, and she is still out doing her morning walk.  I could get out the chain saw and cut up the limb, but I'm using her concern as an excuse not to do anything. 
What I did yesterday already has me so stiff and sore I can hardly move.  Old age ain't for sissies.

Friday, September 23, 2016

More Acorn Stuff

I wrote yesterday that our white oaks were not dropping any acorns.  As you can see in the picture above, the big white oak outside our kitchen window did drop some overnight.
Mother Nature made a liar out of me - OK - that would have been fine, but....
It didn't just drop a few acorns, it dropped an entire limb.  It's about 30 feet from where it separated from the trunk to the farthest twig, and it fell from a height about 20 to 25 feet above the top of the roof.
I'm not sure when it fell, but somehow I slept through it.  
It must have caused some damage, but I'm pretty sure it will be less than our deductible.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Half Mast

Botanists define Mast as the fruit of forest trees, particularly oaks.  A mast year is one in which acorns are particularly abundant.
On this first day of fall, the red oaks are dropping acorns everywhere, but the white oaks are not - thus the title of today's post.  
The white oaks have had a couple of strange years in a row.  I noted last year that the white oaks, which typically have huge acorns, had dropped early and the aborted acorns were tiny.  This year, although the trees appear to be healthy, I don't see any acorns at all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Last night marked the beginning of the new TV season, and the first episode of NCIS without Michael Weatherly.  
He didn't go far - the next hour on CBS saw him portraying the title character in BULL, a series we're told is based on the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw. He has successfully played celebrities in the past - back in '04 he played Robert Wagner in a docudrama about the death of Natalie Wood.  Wagner returned the favor with several years of guest shots as Anthony DiNozzo, Sr. on NCIS.
I've been a fan of Weatherly's since Dark Angel, and loved his character, Tony DiNozzo, on NCIS, but it was probably time for him to move on.
I liked the new show a lot - might have liked it better if I hadn't learned he was playing Dr. Phil -  but I'm having a hard time visualizing how they can stretch that concept into a series.  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Slow Day

Doctor visit went fine yesterday - all labs and EKG were normal.  The most exciting thing to happen today was that I got to chase down the postal delivery person. (Wasn't life simpler when we could just say postman?) 
She is a new hire - second day on the job - and decided it was better to take my box of coffee back to the post office and leave me a note rather than taking a chance on leaving it at the wrong house.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Headed to the doctor today for my "annual" physical.  
My doctor actually requires semiannual visits and will not prescribe meds for more than six months.  Because of medicare rules, visits can not be less than six months apart, so I get the first appointment available six months and a day after the last one.
That means that I have gone from my birthday, August 9, to the 19th of September, and next year may actually be in October.
Does that mean the federal government is actually helping keep me young?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not Available In Stores

No post yesterday as I was getting ready to make our annual trip to Liberty Hill for our grandsons' birthday party.  
I'd rate the trip and the party as an overall success.  
Nash, who just turned 16, had a dozen or so boys and almost that many girls over for a pool party.  They had a huge inflatable water slide set up to empty the sliders into the pool, and seemed to be having a grand time.
Bryce, our 19 year old, couldn't participate because he is still recuperating from his recent wreck - he has a vacuum pump attached to the wound on his forearm - but his girlfriend seems to have devoted her life to his care.  She never left his side except to fetch him something to eat or drink.  I really couldn't feel very sorry for him. 
We also got our first look at my son-in-law's new truck.  It's a big black 3/4 ton Chevy 4X4 with more whistles and bells in the cockpit than the Starship Enterprise. Gene had been driving a hand-me-down - one of our old trucks, a Dodge half ton with over 350,000 miles on it.  It's nice to see him driving something shiny and new.
Oh - the title of today's post.  
Yes I chose it for a reason.
It is almost exactly 200 miles from our house to Liberty Hill, and the approximate half-way point is Brenham, the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream. Just west of the 290/36 split, there is an Exxon station that contains Scoops, a great little ice cream parlor.  They traditionally have a huge array of Blue Bell flavors, including the seasonal flavors not currently in stores.  I took a chance and found that they did have Honey's all-time favorite flavor, Mocha Almond Fudge in stock.  We didn't buy them out, but we both got a huge double-dip cone.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hummingbird Politics

I spent a delightful quarter hour watching a half dozen or so hummingbirds swarming around one of our feeders.  I say "or so" because they are so small and fly so fast that once you get more than three birds together, they become almost impossible to count with any hope of accuracy.
They are truly beautiful little birds, and their aerobatics are simply amazing.
If you watch them long enough, though, you will realize that they are highly territorial, bellicose, greedy little buggers that would rather starve than let another bird sip from "their" feeder - reminds me of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Honey and I went to our local Walgreen's pharmacy yesterday to get the Prevnar 13 pneumonia shots.  
We decided to double up, and also got this year's Flu vaccine while we were at it. One shot is for a bacterial infection and the other for a virus, and we were assured that it was perfectly safe and effective to get both at once.  
I elected to get both shots in my left arm, while Honey had one in each arm.  I'm not sure which is worse - we both had achy shoulders and stiff necks yesterday afternoon and evening, but are both pretty much over it today.  
Like the picture above, the gloves the nurse wore to give our injections were way too big for her hands - sort of reminded me of the first time I tried to wear my dad's welding gloves.  I asked her if Walgreen's didn't have gloves that would fit, and she told me that there were gloves on the shelves in the store that would, but she would have to buy them.  The gloves Walgreen's provides in the station were generic, and were actually labeled "One Size Fits Most."  She obviously belonged to the minority.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Clinton Shot

The incident on September 11 when Hilary Clinton either stumbled (Democrat) or collapsed (Republican) while being helped into her car has been all over the news and discussed ad nauseum.
It may or may not affect the outcome of the election, but it did convince Honey and I to stop by Walgreen's and get our pneumonia shots.

Monday, September 12, 2016

99 Bottles

Have you ever wondered why you never see Plastic beer bottles?  
Well, I do.  
We see gazillions of plastic water bottles, soft drink bottles, even 1.75 liter bottles of booze are common as dirt, so why not beer?
It would seem plastic bottles would be ideal for the beach, or the pool, or anywhere glass bottles are prohibited, but I've never seen one.
The answer may be that I just wasn't paying attention.  
Miller attempted to introduce plastic in 2014, announcing that 2% of their production would be packaged in plastic bottles.  I'm not sure where they sold them, but I never saw any here.  Heineken (an official sponsor) shipped over a million plastic bottles to London for the 2012 Olympics. Several companies offer plastic beer bottles for the home brewing industry - they may actually be more common than glass bottles.
Reasons given for not using plastic don't seem to hold water beer.
It has been said that plastic will not hold up to the heat needed for pasteurization, but the fact that it has been done by several breweries seems to give the lie to that.  The other common excuse is that plastic is more permeable than glass, so beer in plastic can lose carbonation.  It doesn't seem to affect the millions of soft drinks bottled in plastic.
Even so, the vast majority of beer comes in glass bottles or aluminum cans, with a slight edge (53.5% in 2012) going to aluminum cans. 
I should point out that even those aluminum cans are lined with  plastic, and that plastic contains BPA (bisphenol A) an endocrine disrupting product that has been banned in baby bottles and sippy cups. BPA has been associated with cognitive issues and some forms of cancer, but I wouldn't worry about it.  At the low concentrations in can linings, that much beer will kill you long before you're affected by the plastic in the liner.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the day the twin towers fell, the day we all came together as a nation and promised to never forget.
I suppose Colin Kaepernick and most of the Black Lives Matter demonstrators are too young - too young to remember, or too young to have grasped the significance of what happened that day. 
Still, never should have lasted longer than fifteen years.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dusk and Dawn

I had a strange dream last night, and woke up with this poem almost completely composed....

 Dusk and Dawn

In the school cafeteria early this week
I saw a sight that caused me to shriek
Two lovely young girls, from the second grade bunch
Sat down together and were sharing their lunch

They looked so alike that they might have been twins
So it’s no surprise that they’d want to be friends
But one was named Dusk, the other named Dawn
If they ever should touch, the Earth would be gone

I grabbed Night and told him “Soon as you’re able
Move one of them to the far side of the table.”
They did what he told them, they’re timid and shy
But I thought for a moment that I saw Dawn cry

The week brought earthquakes and hurricanes
Famine and floods from torrential rains
Experts on television pinned the blame
On fracking, or warming, or more of the same

But, I know the cause, and I tell you brother
It was just Dusk and Dawn reaching out for each other

Friday, September 9, 2016

Why Red?

Since its beginnings in 1917 or so, members of the Communist Party have always been referred to as "Reds" - and throughout the Cold War we constantly heard about the "Red Menace" of the Soviet Union and China.  Apparently, red was associated with left-wing movements in Europe long before the Russian Revolution. The flags associated with the European revolts in 1848 as well as the flag of the Italian nationalist Garibaldi were red – indeed his troops were called camicie rosse (redshirts). The flag of the Paris Commune of 1871 was also red.
So why are States that vote Republican called Red States and those that vote Democrat, Blue?
It wasn't always that way. 
In 1976, NBC debuted its first election map on the air, with bulbs that turned red for Carter-won states (Democratic), and blue for Ford (Republican). This original color scheme was based on Great Britain's political system, which used red to denote the more liberal party. 
The color coding we're familiar with today first appeared during the election of 2000, when The New York Times and USA Today published their first full-color election maps. The Times spread used red for Republicans because "red begins with r, Republican begins with r," said the senior graphics editor Archie Tse, "it was a more natural association." 
Using that logic, Democrats should be labeled with a color that begins with D.  Good luck with that.  I checked, and the closest I could come was a Crayola (and a digital font) called Daffodil, a bright yellow.
I'll admit my logic is skewed.  Why should I think anything about American politics should make sense?

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Today is off to a really bad start.
I went out to have my first cigarette of the day, and as I leaned on the back fence, enjoying the sunrise, I felt something wet hit me on the forehead.  Skies were perfectly clear; I had been nailed by a passing bird.
I was first disgusted, then angry, then amused as I remembered Val Jahnke, my best friend in elementary school.  
It was in third or possibly fourth grade when Val stood before the class and recited:
Birdy, birdy in the sky
Why'd you do it in my eye?
It didn't hurt me, I didn't cry
But, Boy I'm glad that cows can't fly

After coming in and cleaning up, it occurred to me that I hadn't heard from Val in a while. When I checked, I learned that he had died January 8th of 2014.
 Val and I got drafted within a week of each other, and shortly before reporting, he and his wife went to dinner with Honey and I.  We agreed that we would keep our heads down, do our duty and get out.  I can still remember him saying "One thing I won't be is a hero."  
It didn't quite work that way - Val went to Viet Nam as a medic, and picked up two Purple Hearts and the Silver Star.
After the service, Val moved to Louisiana where he became a financial success as the owner of a company that supplied Bingo Balls to VFW Halls and churches.  It would never have occurred to me that you could even make a living doing that, but it was the sort of thing that fit his personality perfectly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Bru- Jim

I first posted this story back in March of 2012.  I got to thinking about Richard, so I hunted it up to post again today ----

In the fall of 1961, I attended Austin College, a small  and (hard as it may be to comprehend, considering that I was admitted) rather elite Presbyterian school in Sherman, Texas.  The curriculum was demanding, and the school boasted the highest percentage of high-school valedictorians in the state.
My first roommate was a total asshole who dropped out of school before the end of September.  I had a blissful ten days with a room all to myself and then there was a knock on my door.
I opened it to see a local minister and a little Chinese guy.  The minister explained that he had been a missionary in Taiwan and that he was sponsoring the Chinese fellow – Richard – and that Richard was to be my new roommate. 
My new roomie said “Herro.” and not knowing what else to do, I said “Come on in.”
It proved to be a great experience.
Richard I-Fu Ho – In Texas, Ho was pronounced like a garden tool and was his last name, but in Taiwan, his name was pronounced Huh (like a strong, sharp exhalation) Ee-Foo. The Richard had only recently been tacked on when he was baptized.
He had flown from Taiwan to Seattle and then taken a Continental Trailways bus to Sherman.  Somewhere around Denver, Trailways had lost his luggage, so he showed up at our room with the clothes on his back and one suitcase full of several varieties of green tea.  Trailways said that their posted policy was that if his luggage did not show up in two weeks, they would pay him $50 for the missing items.
Upon learning of Richard’s situation, the guys in the dorm collected a small pile of clothes, most of which fit, and a small sum of money for him to use to buy more.  The next day, I took him to downtown Sherman and dropped him off at J C Penney’s while I ran a personal errand.
I came back half an hour later to find Richard and a middle-aged saleslady standing in the aisle screaming at each other.  I quickly stepped in and asked what was wrong. 
The saleslady said “Son, you get this boy out of here or I’m calling the police.”
Richard said “Tell stupid rady sell me srack bru-jim.”
So I told her “Sell him some srack bru-jim.”
She said “What the Hay-ell is srack bru-jim?”
And I said “Richard, what the Hell are srack bru-jim.”
“SRACKS!” he said, pointing to his pants, “SRACKS! LEEWEYES! BRU-JIM!”
“He wants some blue jeans.” I told her.
“Well shit!” she replied, “Pardon my French.  Why didn’t he just say so?”
Richard’s English got a lot better over the semester, and by Thanksgiving, I could actually trust him out on his own.
He had a sister who was an assistant professor at M-I-T, and when he called her in December, they could NOT communicate in English.  By then, he was speaking Texan (with a Chinese accent) and she spoke Boston (with a Chinese accent) so their only option was to switch to Mandarin.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

109 Yards

Yesterday was a pretty good day for college football.  In what may have been the best game of the day, Number 15 Houston beat Number 3 Oklahoma in the game held at NRG Stadium.
In what must have been the most exciting play of the day in this or any other game, Houston's Brandon Wilson caught a missed field goal at the back of the end zone and ran it back 109 yards for a touchdown.  IN case you didn't see it --- 

Saturday, September 3, 2016


My old pal Robert Lieder posted the following quote as an illustration on Facebook's Addicted to Limericks site yesterday.
His accompanying poem, as usual, was quite good, but I was left with something else altogether.  
When I looked at the Nietzsche quote, what I should have seen as a pair of stylized dancers appeared to be the outline of a female torso. 
Once I saw that, it was impossible to un-see.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Sound of a Shoe Dropping

One of the reasons our marriage has been so successful for over half a century is that Honey and I approach life from such totally different directions.  
I don't want anyone to get the idea that she is a sourpuss, or even a pessimist - anyone who knows her will testify that she is a sweet and generous soul.  BUT - she is the sort of person who plans things out for years in advance, and she can always envision the worst-case scenario in any situation.  
I, on the other hand, am more happy-go-lucky, or maybe I just don't understand the situation.  
Her conservative approach has saved me from myself more times than I can count.
Yesterday was a day that we could finally breathe a sigh of relief.  Our insurance debacle had finally come to a successful conclusion, and all of our State Farm policies were back into effect. We were relaxing, enjoying the feeling of having that weight off our shoulders when Cheryl called to tell us that our grandson Bryce had been in a wreck and she was on her way to the hospital.
We still don't know all the details - he doesn't remember what happened - but it was a one vehicle accident.  
The pickup he was driving is pretty well trashed, and his left arm didn't fare much better.
He has already had a couple of surgeries on it, with another scheduled for later today.  The good news is that all his fingers work and eventually everything should be OK.