Friday, March 31, 2017

Brake - Part 2 1/2

I did start the brake job on our trailer yesterday, and I'm halfway through.  I got the left side done, and should get the right side today.
It did involve some crawling around on the gravel under the trailer, but, all in all, I was very pleased with the ease of installation.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Brake - Part 2

I mentioned yesterday that we were in the middle of a thunderstorm.  We ended up getting about two inches of rain, which left the ground pretty saturated.  
Our 5th Wheel Trailer is parked on a gravel (crushed concrete) pad, so it should be okay to start the brake job today.  
I'm still thinking about it - haven't really decided yet.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Give Me A Brake!

What I am NOT doing today is a brake job on our 5th Wheel Trailer.  
I am going to replace the brakes before our next trip, but not today.  I have ordered new brakes, and they have arrived, but we are in the middle of a thunderstorm at the moment.
There is another line of storms predicted for Sunday, and I don't know if things will dry out enough to get anything done before then or not.
If you ever did a brake job on a car with drum brakes, you know that it can be a pain, and requires some special tools to do it right.  I still own the brake tools, but probably won't need them.  Entire assemblies, with the brake shoes already installed, only cost about $5.00 per wheel more than just the shoes, so guess which one I bought.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Feeding Hummers

The map above shows  this year's earliest sightings of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds from
I put our feeders out early Monday morning, and we got our first birds about three o'clock in the afternoon.  There were two on one feeder and, right after they flew away, one bird on the other.
We haven't seen any more since, and Honey thinks I was too stingy on the sugar to water concentration I mixed up.  
She may be right.  
If we don't see any today, I think I'll bring the feeders in and start over.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


That's Corporal Desmond Doss receiving the Medal of Honor from President Truman.  
We watched Hacksaw Ridge last night, the amazing story of how Doss, an Army medic and conscientious objector, saved 75 men during the battle for Okinawa. 
I'm not sure the film qualified as entertainment, but it was remarkable, and truly moving.
In what can only be considered a truly odd coincidence, when I opened Facebook this morning I saw a post from Governor Greg Abbott. It said that one of the Navy ships whose big guns provided artillery support for the battle for Okinawa was the Battleship Texas.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

More Four

I posted this picture a year ago today, showing a patch of clover that has an unusually high number of four leaf clovers in it.  
The percentage in that little patch is just as high this spring, and I would have posted a picture, but a thunderstorm just before dawn left the patch beaten down and partially submerged.
I've tried to research the cause of this anomaly, with little success.  The closest I've come is articles that say polydactyly in humans is due to an aberration in one of 26 genes.  It appears to be random, and while it is not necessarily genetic, it does appear more frequently in people of African descent. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dishwasher Soap

Almost a year ago - Dishwasher - I reported about locating dishwasher detergent that actually still contained phosphates. That 25 lb. bucket I bought back then has lasted for a year, and I bought my second bucket on line today.
The cost - with shipping - was about $67, which translates to  $5.60 a month or about 18 cents per load/day.  That's less than I was paying for Grocery Store Dishwasher Soap that didn't get anything clean!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Grommet Fix

The living room area of our 5th wheel has a ceiling fan.  It is nice to have, we do use it occasionally, but over the years I've come to consider it more trouble than it's worth.  
It is all a matter of clearance, or lack of it.  
The blades on the fan as it was originally installed hang about eight inches from the ceiling.  The tops of the slides, when the slides are out, are about eleven inches below ceiling level, but when the slides are closing, they ride up, sometimes enough to catch a blade. If not caught soon enough, a fan blade can and will break.
Yesterday, after tweaking the slide alignment to track as flat as possible, I decided to modify the fan.
I inserted spacers between the outside screws of the blade holders and the fan blades, effectively changing their angle, and raising the tips.  The "spacers" I used were rubber wire grommets.

A change of less than 1/4 inch at the holders resulted in a change of an inch and a half at the blade tips. Now, instead of being eight inches below the ceiling, the blade tips are less than six and a half.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

That Was Quick - II

I was working on our 5th wheel, just about to break for lunch, when  the UPS truck pulled in our driveway yesterday.  He was delivering the RTIC cooler I ordered around lunchtime on Saturday!
The cooler seems to be everything I wanted it to be.  Of course, I haven't actually tried it out yet, the real test will come on our next long trip. 
Like just about every other cooler on the market, RTIC coolers are manufactured in China.  It took some searching - I actually had to go to the HELP tab on their website to confirm this - but the two-day delivery was possible because their corporate headquarters is only about 40 miles away on Hempstead Highway in Houston.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Snake on the Grill

Yesterday, the first day of Spring, one of our local reptiles decided it was a perfect time to soak up some sun, and the ideal place to do it was atop our gas grill.  He failed to take my wife into account.
Honey called me and gave me a "request" to do away with the intruder.
When I explained that it was a Chicken Snake - aka Texas Rat Snake - she did allow me to take a picture first.  The fact that they are non-poisonous cuts little slack with her, especially since one cleaned out a Cardinal nest we had been watching from our front porch a couple years ago.
Although they are darker and browner, their mottled diamond pattern looks an awful lot like a Copperhead, but I have never seen a Chicken Snake that wasn't twice as big as the largest Copperhead I've seen.  For anyone who cares, here's a chart:

Monday, March 20, 2017


According to the weatherman, Spring officially began at five twenty something this morning.
I guess the calendar didn't get the memo.  
Judging by the trees and flowers and the pollen count here at the Boggy Thicket, Spring got here over a month ago.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


As we've gone traveling over the years, we have used several different approaches to keeping cool stuff within easy reach in our truck.  None of them were ever totally satisfactory.
Peltier effect type 12 volt refrigerators never seem to get stuff quite cold enough, and we've never had one last more than about two years. Ice chests sweat on the floorboard and they require regular refills of ice.
Lately, we've been thinking about getting a top-of-the-line ice chest - a Yeti or RTIC - and I decided to splurge yesterday.  
We settled on the RTIC, because it appears to be extremely well made, is said to be able to keep ice for up to 10 days, was half the price of the Yeti and the customer reviews were at least as good.  
I ordered an RTIC 20 direct from their website about noon yesterday.  I then went outside for about 15 minutes.  When I got back in, I had two emails from the manufacturer.  The first confirmed the order, but the second  was the one that has me amazed.  It was a notice that my cooler had shipped, complete with a tracking number for UPS!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

New London

Eighty years ago today, in one of the worst disasters in Texas history, the New London School near Overton exploded.
Of the 500 students and 40 teachers at the school, 294 are known to have lost their lives when the school blew up.
It is said that a shop teacher turned on a sander which ignited natural gas that had permeated the building.
Natural gas, CH4, is odorless, and the New London disaster is one reason that Mercaptan, CH3SH, is now added to natural gas to give it a distinctive smell.

Friday, March 17, 2017

St Paddy's Day

Leprechauns have Feminists in a snit
And I really don’t blame them a bit
The Leprechaun holding all that gold
Is always male, and white, and old
No wonder they’re throwing a fit

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Irish or Scot

My maternal grandfather was Irish, and would fight anyone with the temerity to suggest otherwise.  Actually, from the stories I was told, he and his brothers often fought for a Hell of a lot less.
He would be rolling in his grave if he could see the ancestry websites that declare that Boyd is a Scottish name, and most of them do.  
According to them, the name Boyd meant someone from the Isle of Bute, which is not that far from Loch Lomand, and just west of Glasgow.
It took a bit of a search, but I finally found one site that said one offshoot of the family settled near Belfast, and there are birth, death and marriage records for Irish Boyds going back at least to the 1600s.
Tomorrow, all that becomes moot.  On St. Patrick's Day, Everyone is Irish.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Beware the Ides

When Shakespeare had the soothsayer warn Caesar to beware the Ides of March, it made the word sound particularly ominous.  Actually, Ides is a word that simply meant the middle of the month - it could just as well have been the Ides of April or June.
I think Ides are much more dangerous if you add an apostrophe - even more so when that's followed by a but.
"I'd _____, but...."
Those words, with their implied longing for the option not taken, have caused tremendous heartache for humanity. Maybe not as painful as being stabbed by a passel of friends and colleagues, but definitely something to avoid.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Each year on March 14, I try to post some reference to
, this year, it's pi(e) in the sky.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Daisy A Day

Do you remember Jud Strunk?  
He died in 1981, so he may have been before your time.  He was a country music singer/songwriter once described as a State of Maine version of Jimmy Buffet.
His one big hit was A Daisy A Day, but he did have two other recordings that made it into the top 100 - a spoken word offering called My Country, and a novelty song, The Biggest Parakeets In Town.
I hadn't thought of him in years, but I woke this morning humming Daisy.  I really liked that song.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How To Boil Water

Well, not just water - How to boil Eggs.
I have been boiling eggs for at least 65 years, since I was seven or eight, and aside from the ongoing dispute over how long to boil them, I always thought it was pretty simple and straightforward. Place eggs in pan, add water, place over heat source, wait...
I've recently learned a tip that will make your life easier.  Actually, I saw this on Facebook over six months ago, but only tried it over the last six weeks.  
When boiling eggs, add a little baking soda to the water.  
It has no effect on cooking time, or how the eggs taste, but it causes the shell and the egg inside to separate, making them amazingly easy to peel.
As to how much baking soda to add - a teaspoon or a tablespoon - it doesn't seem to matter.  I don't measure, but then, I'm a guy.
I'd guess I add about one Blinkum.  
That's a unit of measurement I first heard about in the mid-60s.  Webb Hunt, program director at KQUE, told the story of the elderly black lady who helped raise him.  She was teaching him her recipe for fried chicken and told him she always added one extra blinkum of milk to the batter.  When he asked, she rocked the milk carton back and forth saying "One blinkum, two blinkums..." 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Springing Forward

Tonight is the night to set clocks ahead one hour as we begin Daylight Saving Time.  
There must be someone left on the planet that likes the idea of diddling with the time, but I've never met him.  There are numerous studies that show that it does not save energy as it was supposed to, and may actually be bad for your health and well-being.  There's even one study that shows that Judges hand out harsher sentences in the weeks following the spring forward.
Arizona and Hawaii have never embraced Daylight Saving Time, and it hasn't seemed to hurt them. When Indiana finally adopted Daylight Time in 2006, electrical consumption actually went up.
My wife (and apparently a lot of other folks) think we should switch to Daylight Time and stay there. Current federal law allows states to stay on Standard Time year-round, but does not allow states to opt for constant  Daylight Saving Time.  Even so, nine of the twenty bills in various state legislatures this year would attempt to do just that.
Massachusetts has even found a way around the Feds.  They are looking at moving out of the Eastern Time Zone entirely, and into the (one hour earlier) Atlantic Time Zone, then staying on Atlantic Standard Time all year. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

No Small Feat

It's Rodeo time in Houston, and that - along with yesterday's post - got me thinking about Acme Dingo Boots, shoe sizes, and feet in general.  
I've talked about feet before (HERE) but there are a couple of updates to pass along.
First, I no longer wear a size 7 or 7 1/2 shoe.  The last three pairs of shoes I've bought, including those yesterday, were size 8.  I'm not sure why this change came at this stage of my life, but I suppose it is the result of some combination of gravity and old age.
I also failed to mention in my earlier post that Dingoes were not really cowboy boots.  As the name implied, they were fashioned after the footwear of Australian sheep herders, and they were endorsed by American football players O. J. Simpson and Joe Namath.  Still, they looked "Western" enough to wear to the rodeo, and they were remarkably comfortable.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


I bought a new pair of shoes yesterday.  Don't know what to call them - moccasins, or loafers - but they were purchased to replace the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned.
I'm not sure how long I have owned the dark brown pair, but I did wear them to work for several years before I retired.  I have worn them until they are literally coming apart at the seams.  
I don't remember what brand they were, or where I bought them, but I am pretty sure the replacements I got yesterday cost at least twice as much.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


There are a few things I do well, but waiting is not on that list. Yesterday was a good example.  
We were waiting for a FedEx delivery - what we were waiting for isn't important, and we didn't really need it yesterday, but we had a tracking number that showed the package was on the truck for delivery as of 10:15 yesterday morning. 
When it hadn't arrived by 4:30, we began to worry.  
We had a UPS driver last summer report that our address didn't exist wrong-side-of-street , and we were afraid it had happened again, or that the parcel had been dropped off at the wrong house, which has also happened before.  I checked the FedEx tracking page again just to see if it showed it had been delivered.
Finally, at 7:00 p.m., as we were discussing calling FedEx, the package arrived safe and sound.
I'm pretty sure life was easier back when on-line tracking was not an option.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

All Quiet

Today is one of those days that challenges my commitment to write a daily post.  
There is nothing new to report here at the Boggy Thicket. Everything is fine.  I can't even think of anything to complain about.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Wood Ducks

One day last week, as I was enjoying my first smoke of the day, I heard a noise and looked up - way up about 50 feet or so in a tall pine tree - and saw a couple of ducks sitting on a limb.
They turned out to be a pair of Wood Ducks, one of the few species with claws on their feet that allow them to perch on a limb like that. I didn't take the picture above, I found it on the internet, but I did call Honey.  She got outside just in time to see them fly away.
We see a variety of wildlife here at the Boggy Thicket - deer, foxes, possums and coons - and a huge assortment of birds, but these were our first Wood Ducks.  I guess if you sit still and watch long enough, you're liable to see just about anything.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Production Deadline

As I have noted in previous posts, our Azaleas bloomed early this year - very early - beginning about the first of February, about two months earlier than usual.  
The one exception was a small bed on the North side of the house.  These Azaleas didn't get started until all the rest were done, and finally came into full bloom on March first.
That begs the question - If I complete my task a month earlier than usual, but a month later than everyone else, am I still early or am I late?

Friday, March 3, 2017


Because of the extremely mild winter, reports are already coming in of bluebonnets in bloom.  
The picture below may not be the first ever taken of people posing in a field of bluebonnets, but it has to be close - The young ladies were photographed on the campus of the University of Texas in 1904.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Texas declared its independence from Mexico at Washington on the Brazos on this day in 1836.
Here is a transcript of that historic document:
 Texas Declaration of Independence San Felipe de Austin, Texas, March 2, 1836.   Broadside, 1 sheet.          UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, BY THE DELEGATES OF THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS, IN GENERAL CONVENTION, AT THE TOWN OF WASHINGTON, ON THE SECOND DAY OF MARCH, 1836 --------------------------------  When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted; and so far from being a guarantee for their inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression. When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted Federative Republic, composed of Sovereign States, to a consolidated Central Military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the ever ready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants. When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.  When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abduction on the part of the government, anarchy prevails and civil society is dissolved into its original elements, in such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self preservation, the inherent and inalienable right of  the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves and a sacred obligation to their posterity to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from  impending dangers, and to secure their welfare and happiness.   Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.   The Mexican Government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.   In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez Santa Ana, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers, as the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.   It hath sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, persecuted to the general congress a republican constitution, which was, without a just cause, contemptuously rejected.   It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution and the establishment of a state government.   It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.   It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain;) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.   It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyranny, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizen, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.  It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us from the fundamental political right of representation.  It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defense of the laws and the Constitution.  It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels and convey the property of our citizens to far distant parts for confiscation.  It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a nation National religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.   It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defense - the rightful property of freeman - and formidable only to tyrannical government.   It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with the intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.  It has, through its emmissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.  It has been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrannical government.   These, and other grievances, were potentially borne by the people of Texas, until they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be virtue. We then took up arms in defence of  the National Constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance: our appeal has been made in vein; through months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the interior. We are therefore forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction therefor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.  The necessity of self preservation, therefore now decrees our eternal political separation.  We, therefore, the deligates [sic], with plenary powers, of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and DECLARE, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas, do now constitute a FREE, SOVEREIGN, and INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the supreme Arbiter of the destinies of nations.  RICHARD ELLIS, President.  C.B. STEWART,  THOMAS BARNETT.  JAS. COLLINSWORTH, EDWIN WALLER, ASA BRIGHAM, J.S.D. BYROM.  FRANCISCO RUIS,  ANTONIO NAVARO,  JESSE B. BADGETT.  WILLIAM D. LACY,  WILLIAM MENIFEE.  JAMES GAINES, W. CLARK, JR.,    } Austin. } } } Brazoria. } }    } } Bexar. } } Colorado. }   } Sabine. } JOHN FISHER, MATT. CALDWELL,  WILLIAM MOTLEY,  L. DE ZAVALA,   STEPH. H. EVERITT, GEORGE W. SMITH,  ELIJAH STAPP,  CLAIBORNE WEST,  WILLIAM B. SCATES  M.B. MENARD, A.B. HARDIN,  BAILEY HARDIMAN,   J.W. BUNTON, THOS. J. GAZELEY,  R.M. COLEMAN,  ROBERT POTTER, THOMAS J. RUSK,  CH. S. TAYLOR, JOHN S. ROBERTS,   ROBERT HAMILTON, COLLIN MCKINNEE, ALB. H. LATTIMER,  MARTIN PARMER,  E.O. LEGRAND, STEPH. W. BLOUNT,  SYD. O. PENNINGTON, W. CAR’L CRAWFORD,   } Gonzales. }   Goliad.    Harrisburgh. } Jasper. }    Jackson. } Jefferson. }   } Liberty. }   Matagorda.  }  } Mina. }   } } Nacogdoches, } }  } } Red River. } } } San Augustin. }  } Shelby. } JAMES POWER, SAM. HOUSTON, DAVID THOMAS, EDWARD CONRAD,  JOHN TURNER,  B. BRIGGS GOODRICH, G.W. BARNETT, JAMES G. SWISHER, JESSE GRIMES,    } } Refugio. } }    San Patricio. } } Washington. } }     Printed by Baker and Bordens, San Felipe de Austin. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

All That Jass

This week marks the 100th Anniversary of the recording of the first Jazz record.  It was cut at Victor Records in New York City by a bunch from New Orleans that called themselves The Original Dixieland Jass Band.  They later changed Jass to Jazz, and went on to record Dixieland classics like Tiger Rag. The band has been around in several versions over the years and the original members were elected posthumously to the Jazz Hall of Fame.