Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cajun Navy

There have been hundreds of individuals who brought their boats to the Houston area to rescue folks stranded by Harvey.  The one group getting the most news coverage is the Cajun Navy, a bunch of Good Ol' Boys from South Louisiana who rescued literally hundreds of people in the past week.
I have a neighbor who was out doing rescues on his jet ski, and worked alongside one of the Cajun Navy crews. He couldn't say enough about the boat handling skills of the boat owner - or about the boat itself, a 20 ft skiff that's big fan was powered by a 454 chevy engine.  Shane came home saying "I'm gonna build me a boat!"
All those folks are getting for their efforts are thank yous, and I'd like to add mine.  I'm also re-posting an article that describes the situation very well:
Hundreds and hundreds of small boats pulled by countless pickups and SUVs from across the South are headed for Houston. Almost all of them driven by men. They're using their own property, sacrificing their own time, spending their own money, and risking their own lives for one reason: to help total strangers in desperate need.
Most of them are by themselves. Most are dressed like the redneck duck hunters and bass fisherman they are. Many are veterans. Most are wearing well-used gimme-hats, t-shirts, and jeans; and there's a preponderance of camo. Most are probably gun owners, and most probably voted for Trump.
These are the people the Left loves to hate, the ones Maddow mocks. The ones Maher and Olbermann just *know* they're so much better than.
These are The Quiet Ones. They don't wear masks and tear down statues. They don't, as a rule, march and demonstrate. And most have probably never been in a Whole Foods.
But they'll spend the next several days wading in cold, dirty water; dodging gators and water moccasins and fire ants; eating whatever meager rations are available; and sleeping wherever they can in dirty, damp clothes. Their reward is the tears and the hugs and the smiles from the terrified people they help. They'll deliver one boatload, and then go back for more.
When disaster strikes, it's what men do. Real men. Heroic men. American men. And then they'll knock back a few shots, or a few beers with like-minded men they've never met before, and talk about fish, or ten-point bucks, or the benefits of hollow-point ammo, or their F-150.
And the next time they hear someone talk about "the patriarchy", or "male privilege", they'll snort, turn off the TV and go to bed.
In the meantime, they'll likely be up again before dawn. To do it again. Until the helpless are rescued. And the work's done.
They're unlikely to be reimbursed. There won't be medals. They won't care. They're heroes. And it's what heroes do.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

High and Dry

Still cloudy here at the Boggy Thicket, but the flood waters have receded. We have a few small spots of standing water, but no more than we see after a good thundershower.
There are still high water rescues going on within a few miles of us, and there are no stores open that we can get to from here, but the worst (for us) is definitely over.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Even More Harvey

The flood waters here at the Boggy Thicket receded about seven inches, then started coming back up again overnight.  So far, only an inch or so - but still, not what we wanted to see.
The carpet that got soaked is still damp, but no longer saturated.  I found that the carpet shampooer does a better job of sucking out the water than the shop vac.
We're still fine, but cabin fever has definitely set in.

Monday, August 28, 2017

How High 3

Although we have had over 20 inches of rain courtesy of Harvey, the water never made it in our front door - it came right up to it, but never got in.  
The last band of heavy rain was ending, and I was feeling pretty smug when I walked barefoot across our living room carpet about one a.m. this morning...
Apparently the flood water seeped in via weep holes in the brick.  Only a fraction of an inch, but enough to ruin the carpet.  I'll be using the shop vac to dry it as much as possible.
For now, the rain here has stopped, and the water level in our yard has dropped by at least four inches overnight.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

How High's the Water 2

The weather guessers have been warning for days that Harvey was going to result in a major flooding event, and it looks like they were right.
We started out slow here at the Boggy Thicket, but the rains began in earnest yesterday.  The semiofficial rain total at the Weather Bug station in Huffman registered about six inches yesterday and over 3 1/2 since midnight last night.
Our yard is a lake all the way over the street and about halfway up the front yard across the road. We have about an inch of water on our front porch for the first time in 40 years,  but we're still about three inches away from getting water in the house. 
TV is reporting rainfall accumulations in excess of 20 inches in some areas of Harris County, with some areas having rains in excess of five inches per hour overnight.  There are some reports of water into the second floor of homes and apartments.
With that in mind, our septic system has flooded and we can't flush toilets, but otherwise we are OK.  That is unpleasant, but a very minor inconvenience compared to what some are going through.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How High's the Water

I just happened to buy a couple cases of water like the one above last Tuesday.  They were on sale at my local Brookshire Brothers grocery for $3.00 a case. 
There have been reports on TV of price gouging due to the hurricane, and many of those reports had to do with bottled water.
One report had a local convenience store selling that same case of water for $14.99.  
Price gouging?  Maybe not.  
The store manager said the water was supposed to sell by the bottle - $1.29 per bottle, which translates to $30.96 for a 24 bottle case.  He sells water out of his refrigerated case all day long at a buck 29.  He thought he was being a good neighbor selling it for less than  half price. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

More Harvey

Hurricane Harvey continues to build. 
It's up to a Cat 2, 240 miles south of Galveston this morning, and still expected to make landfall near Corpus Christi early tomorrow as at least a Cat 3.
It is getting hard to find bread and water as far north and east as Louisiana, but at least one person in Corpus had a sense of humor.  He posted this picture of the Statue at the Selena Memorial...

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Tropical Storm Harvey is growing fast.  Yesterday weathermen were saying it might reach hurricane status before making landfall -  now some forecasters are saying it may reach Category 3 status before coming ashore near Corpus Christi Friday night.  
Here at the Boggy Thicket, we were already being warned of a major rain event - heavy rains beginning Friday and continuing through Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Just Imagine

Monday was a New Moon - just the smallest sliver.
Imagine what the eclipse would have been like if the Moon was full.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse Two

 I no longer have an arc welder - it succumbed to flood water years ago - but I still have my welding mask.  I cleaned it up and put it to good use yesterday watching the eclipse of the sun.

The first time Honey tried it, she said that all she could see was her own reflection, so I removed the headband and she was able to see the sun by just holding the mask in front of her.   
We took turns, and both agreed that even though there was only about 60% coverage from our vantage point at the Boggy Thicket, it was still pretty amazing - and we agreed to stick around to see the next one in 2024.

We still won't be in the path of totality next time, but we'll be pretty darn close.  We might even want to make a trip to Del Rio, Belton, Kerrville, Corsicana, Mineola or Texarkana. 
Dallas is squarely within the path, but it would take more than an eclipse to make me want to go there.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Lots of stuff I could comment on this morning:
  • Texans beat New England this weekend. OK - it's pre-season, but we beat them!
  • Black activist/comedian Dick Gregory died. (Define comedian)
  • Comedian Jerry Lewis died. (Define comedian)
  • UT removed a bunch of Confederate Statues (and one of Governor Jim Hogg) overnight. That one ought be worth a couple of posts.
  • Another Navy ship was in a wreck with a commercial vessel - this time it was the USS John McCain. (Named for the father of the Senator from Arizona)
But the big story today has to be the eclipse of the Sun.
The map shows the path of totality, and where the view of the eclipse may be hindered by cloud cover.  I post it because I have a friend and former coworker who drove from the Dallas area to Missouri to be in the path of totality.  Looks like he should have driven to Nashville, or, better yet, just stayed home.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Time Out

Over the past few weeks, those on the fringes of both the left and right have gotten more outrageous in their claims and in the way they try to promote their opinions.  
I have no doubt that there are a few on each side who genuinely believe in their cause, however misguided it may be, but I suspect that a large number of the demonstrators on both sides are simply "acting out" - demonstrating behavior that would have gotten them punished as children - just because they can.
I'd like to tell both sides to shut the Hell up, but nobody would - especially when they are being encouraged by the media and promised their 15 minutes of fame.
They probably won't pay any attention to this either, but I do have some serious advice - 
Please speak softly.  
I can't hear you when you yell!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Experiment Was A Success!

I wrote yesterday about the meal my daughter Cheryl sent me for my birthday, and promised to report on the results.  
To describe it as a success is an understatement.  The burgers were fabulous!
We knew we were getting hamburgers from, but we weren't prepared for how much food would be included in the box.  In addition to the mac and cheese burgers, the garlic/Parmesan fries and the Cole slaw pictured above, there was a full serving of baked beans, large orders of chili and cheese fries, Buffalo chicken, and a 9X5X3 inch aluminum pan full of more mac and cheese. I don't know how many calories that all adds up to, but just the burgers alone, with their fabulous four-cheese mac and cheese, would see you through Ramadan.
Each item came with instructions, and we followed them pretty closely with just a few exceptions.  We don't own enough frying pans, and the stove doesn't have enough burners to do everything according to their directions, so we did the bacon in the microwave, and the burgers on the grill. I did add a little more spice (HEB Texas Traditions Fajita spice) on the burger patties, otherwise, we followed their instructions to the letter.
Yes, I'd have to say that, gift-wise, Cheryl knocked it out of the park!

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Great Experiment

Our daughter Cheryl has come up with some pretty amazing presents over the years - often having to do with food, like the time she sent us a free meal at Driftaway Cafe while we were camping in Skidaway Island, Georgia, just in time for Mother's Day. This year for my birthday, she sent me something that should turn out to be wonderful, but has the potential to crash and burn. 
The Boston Burger Company has won Rachel Ray's competition for the best burger, and has been featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  We won't have to travel to Boston to try them, because they have a subsidiary called that ships their signature burgers all over the country.
Sounds fantastic, right?  Who doesn't love a good burger? 
The monkey-wrench is that they ship INGREDIENTS - I have to use those ingredients to make the burgers myself!
I just got an email saying that the delivery is on the FedEx truck for delivery today.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Don't Blame the Bats

Tourists (and locals) line the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin to watch the thousands of Mexican Free-tailed Bats at sunset.
Although not as famous, Houston's Waugh Drive Bridge over Buffalo Bayou is home to an estimated quarter of a million bats, and is becoming an evening destination for sightseers as well.
It would be tempting to say that all of those bats, and their associated bat guano, might explain why the politics of Austinites in particular and that of more Houstonians  every day seem to fall far to the left of  Texans in general.  
Unfortunately, Histoplasma capsulatum, the fungal disease carried in bat guano, causes Histoplasmosis, a lung disease.  While there is one version of Histoplasmosis that can cause blindness, there is no proof it has ever caused anyone to go bat-shit crazy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Phone-y Warranty

I got to the AT&T phone store yesterday, and after the usual half hour wait to actually see someone, the clerk confirmed that Honey's phone was, in fact, dead, and since it was just six months old, it was covered under a one year warranty.
"Great!" I said, "Give me another one."
"It doesn't work that way."
"How does it work, then."
"We don't replace phones here at the phone store.  We take your information and AT&T will mail you a new phone.  Once you get it, you can bring it back here to set it up." 
"That's ridiculous! That means she will be without a phone for at least a week."
"That's the way it works."
"OK. What do you have in house that I can get her today?"
We settled on an LG phone, and by putting the SIM card from her dead phone in my phone, they were able to retrieve and transfer MOST of her saved files to the new phone.
I upgraded to the LG Phoenix phone as well, and so far, I think I like it.
They were still going to send us a replacement for Honey's old dead phone, and warned me that if we didn't send the dead phone back when we received the replacement we would be charged double.  I told them that as long as we had two working phones, I didn't want a replacement.  I suggested that they issue us a credit instead, but of course, they don't do that.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dead Phone

That's a picture of the cell phones that Honey and I carry.  At least that is what they should look like.  
Yesterday, Honey's phone just died.  
It was working fine in the morning, but in the afternoon, the screen was black and it would not turn on for love or money.  
I tried swapping batteries between phones, but that didn't work, so I'm off to the ATT store this morning to get it replaced. We just got these phones last February, so you'd think they would last longer than longer than six months - apparently not.
It wasn't that many years ago that cell phones didn't exist, and we seemed to get along fine without them.  Now, a phone that doesn't work will ruin your whole day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Scary Thought

The first amendment to the Constitution seems pretty straightforward:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This has given Americans the right to hold and express some pretty outrageous opinions, and more people from the fringes of both right and left seem to be taking advantage of this. It only becomes a problem when folks with opposing views choose to confront each other and counter-demonstrations lead to violence like we saw this past weekend.
This led me to a disturbing thought.  
It is not something I'm advocating, just something that occurred to me -
The Supreme Court has ruled that the act of burning the American Flag is protected under the free speech portion of the first amendment.  If the physical act of setting fire to a flag is "free speech," should the act of driving an automobile into a crowd expressing an opposing view be considered "free speech" as well?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Amost Edible

Conservators from the New Zealand based Antarctic Heritage Trust have come across a 106 year old fruitcake in one of the oldest buildings on the continent.  They believe it was left by British explorers on an ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.
The tin it came in had almost completely rusted away, but the paper it was wrapped in was pretty much intact.
The fruitcake itself did not seem any worse for wear, and was described as "almost edible."
That is probably as good as any fruitcake can get.

Friday, August 11, 2017

That's No Joke

Someone posted this on Facebook this morning - 
Even without getting the joke, you can tell that this is supposed to be funny.  But, unless you can decipher the next-to-last panel - and I can't -  it is just a waste of time.  
If you do understand it, and would care to explain it to me, fine, but jokes that have to be explained usually aren't very funny - at least to the one who needed the explanation.
It did remind me of something one of my professors said once, "If I told you a horribly obscene joke in Pashtu,  and you didn't speak the language, it wouldn't be funny, it wouldn't be dirty, and it wouldn't be a joke.  It would only be a collection of nonsense syllables."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me

I woke up humming this song this morning - 
 For some reason this was on the jukebox in the Student Union at Stephen F. Austin the year I met my wife.
It probably got more plays than the top hits of the day, because there was a group of folks that thought it was so bad they couldn't leave it alone - sort of like picking at a scab.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


If you accept the theory that the Human race has evolved, then one of the reasons for our progress has been the ability of intelligent humans to extrapolate - to use a set of facts from one situation to make assumptions in another.  In some circles, this is referred to as a SWAG - scientific, wild-ass guess - but it, rather than necessity may well be the mother of invention.
Unfortunately, successful extrapolation requires a mindset that is not available to many, and this often leads to wildly erroneous conclusions.  We see this all the time in politics, where two intelligent individuals will draw totally different  conclusions from the same set of facts.
If, for example, we accept that 
A. Cowboys like their eggs over easy, and
B. Jockeys prefer theirs scrambled,
we might correctly conclude that
C. Some riders like eggs. 
But - if we assume that everyone who ever straddled a horse eats eggs, that would be erroneous. 
Even worse, in today's environment, some scientific group or some  news organization will use that same set of  facts to publish a headline saying "CHICKENS ARE THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION BY EQUESTRIANS!"

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sometimes I Just Can't Help Myself

There is a story on the news this morning about three Boy Scouts who were electrocuted while sailing on Lake of the Pines in East Texas yesterday.  Apparently, the mast of their catamaran came in contact with a power line.  Two of the boys were killed outright and the third was flown to a hospital in Shreveport.
I felt terrible when I read the story, felt remorse for the pain and suffering their families and friends must be going through, but - God help me - my first thought was "Well, that gives a whole new meaning to the term Floating Ground ."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Day of Rest

There's an old joke that goes something like "Woke up this morning with nothing to do, and this evening I'm less than half done."
Today is one of those days.  
I woke up late.  
I have plenty of projects that I could be doing, but none that require immediate attention. 
I'm out of books to read.
It's almost eleven o'clock, and I still haven't settled on anything I want to do, but nothing is headed toward the top of the list.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

It Ain't An Ant

In her years of walking five miles each morning, Honey had only called me to come get her twice - once when she was caught in a sudden rainstorm and once when she was bitten by a dog.  
Call number three came last week.  
She was about as far away from the house as she gets when she was stung between the toes by a Cow Ant.  We don't know if the critter was inside her sock when she put it on, or how it could have gotten there, and we have no idea why it chose that moment to sting her.  I do know that it hurt bad enough that Honey didn't think she could make it home. 
The original pain subsided shortly after we got home - she actually talked about resuming her walk, but decided against it - and life went back to normal.  Two days later, it started itching so bad it was driving her nuts.
I did some on line research and learned more than I ever wanted to know about Cow Ants - also known as Red Velvet Ants and Cow Killer Ants, they are not an ant at all, they're Wasps!  If you get stung, it was a female - females are wingless but have stingers, males have wings but no stinger.  
They are solitary, so at least you'll never come across a colony of Cow Ants. They lay their eggs in the ground in the nests of burrowing wasps and other insects, and their offspring feed on the larvae of the host. 
The one useful thing I learned is that Cortisone will relieve the itch.  Honey tried that, and it worked.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Three Quarters

I have a birthday coming up in a few days.  
Normally, I try to ignore birthdays, or at least treat them like just another day, but this one is number 75, and for some reason it seems like that ought to be sort of a big deal.
When I was 25, or even when I was 50, it never occurred to me that I would make it this far, but - barring some catastrophe in the next couple of days - it looks like I have.  Not only that, I'm in relatively good health and don't feel any older than I did ten years ago.
Honey asked me the other day what I wanted for my birthday, and I couldn't think of a single thing.  I have a loving wife, a house that's paid for, just enough retirement to get by without having to do without, and I still have my health.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Celia 1970

Today is the actual anniversary of Hurricane Celia's 1970 landfall in Corpus Christi, and I've been talking about Hurricane Celia here on my blog for over a week now.  It's time to wrap it up and move on.
Just a few more memories:
  • On the morning of August 3rd, frantic shoppers emptied the shelves of the local grocery stores.  There were several reports of folks actually stealing stuff from another shopper's grocery cart.
  • A few days later, those same folks were emptying their freezers and hosting neighborhood barbecues to eat the food before it spoiled.
  • I'll never forget the ungodly smell from our freezer when I opened it a day or two too late.  Hours of nausea and gallons of Clorox later, I finally got it usable again, but when it got warm months later during our move back to Houston, I realized the smell would never go away.
  • And I'll never forget the taste of the first cold beer after the storm.  We had heard a rumor, so several coworkers and I went to Nolan's Steakhouse for lunch, and sure enough, they had icy mugs of cold draft beer. I don't think any beer before or since has tasted that good.
  • I can't close this out without mentioning that Honey was right there beside me during those 19 days of sweltering heat and low supplies - and she did it while pregnant! She did make a trip to Houston, but after she was sure her dad was OK, she turned around and came back to Corpus.
A few months after the storm, when everything was more-or-less back to normal, I received an award from the City of Corpus Christi for my work in getting the news out before, during and after the storm.  I was very proud of that - included it in my resume - though I suspect the same Certificate of Appreciation was handed out to dozens of folks, probably just about anyone connected to a local radio or TV station.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Celia - Not JUST Corpus Christi

That's a picture of the shrimp fleet at the harbor in Port Aransas.
I have been talking about Hurricane Celia and Corpus Christi as though that was the only city affected.  
It wasn't.  
  • Highest wind gusts  (180 mph) were recorded at Aransas Pass and Robstown.  The Corpus Christi weather station recorded 161 before the anemometer blew away.
  • At 95%, the City of Portland had the highest percentage of homes and businesses that sustained damage.
  • Still a Tropical Storm, Celia did over a million dollars worth of damage to Del Rio, and it was still a Tropical Depression as far west as El Paso.
  • Shortly after forming in the western Caribbean, the Tropical Depression that would become Celia crossed over Cuba where it caused five people to drown, and once in the Gulf of Mexico and before it turned west, the storm surge from Tropical Storm Celia caused nine deaths along the coast of Florida.
  • Total damage from Celia - homes, businesses and crops - exceeded $3 billion in today's dollars.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Celia, the Driscoll and the Red Cross

I mentioned on Saturday about watching all the water being sucked out of the pool at the Driscoll Hotel.  Yesterday, I came across this "after" photo which shows the damage.  As you can see, there was almost no glass left in any of the hotel's windows.
Honey reminded me that the Driscoll was one more reason we love and respect the Red Cross so much.  
When she got to our studios on the day Celia hit, Honey called her dad at the hospital in Houston.  She assured him that we were safe and would be riding out the storm in the hotel.  That night, Channel 2 in Houston reported that the Driscoll had suffered over $2 million in damage.  Of course, by then there was no telephone service. We didn't know about the TV report, but we did know they would be worried.  
The Red Cross had announced that they were coordinating with HAM radio operators, and offering to send emergency messages.  We went by their office, and Honey filled out the message form which they assured us would be delivered. Days later, when phone service was restored and we finally got through, we learned that the message was never delivered. 
One last bit about the Red Cross and Celia:  
Power was still out in much of the area - ours was out for 19 days - when the movie theater reopened downtown.  Honey could tell you what was playing, but I really don't remember - I was mainly there to cool off and relax for a couple hours.  What I do remember - will never forget - is that at intermission the Red Cross ran a film saying "We helped you, now it's time for you to pay back." and sent ushers down the aisles with collection boxes.
The ushers escaped with their lives (barely) and some remarkably novel suggestions about where to put those boxes. 
I'm sure that somewhere, at some time, the Red Cross has done something good, but Celia showed me that there are other agencies - the Salvation Army, for one - that do more and ask for less in return.