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


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


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.
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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.