Friday, October 09, 2009

Departure Delayed...

I'm alive and able to take nourishment. Plans to get the heck out of cold country for warmer climes earlier this year than in the past have come to a screeching halt. The culprits are bureaucracy and procrastination. Due to a rescheduled mediation concerning my wife's claim for workman's compensation, it is looking like it will be the end of November or early December before being able to depart Maine. Ouch!

Did you know that the earliest snow around here is October 6, while the
average date for accumulative snow is October 19, according to information provided by the forecasters at NOAA/NWS in Caribou, Maine to the local TV Weather Weenie? Well, I remember plowing on October 9 once. Had to stop butchering a hog to help my step-monster put the plow frame back on the truck (we'd had a camper loaned to us and needed to mount the spare tire carrier on the front). I know I said it back then, but once again a sincere "Thank you, Matt" is in order for the effort he expended on my behalf that night.

Anyway, I thought I should let y'all know what is doing in "Vacationland" with the Old Dog and his SWMBO. See you soon. Just not as soon as we had hoped.

Now, where did I put the monkey wrench? I have to pull the pump and the waterline strainer out of the lake before it freezes -- they're forecasting freezing temperatures for tomorrow night. Cast iron may be strong -- but it is no match for the power of water freezing solid.

A final note -- you'll love this funny tale by Ken Futch explaining how he shot himself and the aftermath of that action. Wonderful story-telling. And a special tip of the hat to the Bayou Renaissance Man, from who's blog the YouTube video was first viewed by Yours Truly. Get well soonest, old man...


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Summer's End

I've been remiss, posting here.

We've finally had summer and I have been enjoying it as much as possible.

But now, autumn is approaching. Summer is a grand old dame and we have had a nice two week run of warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights. Tonight, though, they are forecasting patchy frost and temps in the high 30's. Time to start getting the urge for going . Chevrons of geese family groups have been coming to the beaver pond down back ... I hear them squabbling at dusk and dawn' occasionally they'll take flight.

Jumped three does in the old garden spot at dawn yesterday. Funny watching their flags a bobbing as they took off across the field while the buck snorted up a heck of a racket in the hedgerow over the smell of my urine. Iggy, usually the whirling black dervish, ignored the does and huddled behind me after the buck started in with his foolishness. Guess the little monster is learning a little caution as he gets older.

I miss writing here and I don't. We hired broadband from the local cable company, Time-Warner, as well as cable tv service. Of course, that was when I thought we'd spend the summer at the camp. Well, a number of issues prevented that plan from coming to fruition, so computer Internet access has been spotty and competes with TV.

Guess which one wins out most often?

Exactly. I am a couch potato.

So what do you think? Should I shut this place down, rather than allowing it to become one of the derelict sites on the blogosphere? Or just keep on with these very sporadic entries?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In The Good Ol' Summertime...

I know I kvetch about the weather. A lot.

Still, it is omnipresent and immutable by mere individual action.

Closest thing to a god I've ever seen.

Maybe there is something to that old story about Noah -- we've just come off damned close to 80 days of rain and overcasted gloom and doom.

Yesterday and today? Absolutely gorgeous. The kinds of days that make putting up with a Maine winter almost tolerable.

Not that I have any intention of spending another winter here, mind you.

Here's hoping that Summertime is really here, finally.

Y'all come see us, y'hear?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And Noah only dealt with 40 days of rain...

Howdy, all. Missed you too. Just got internet access today, courtesy of SWMBO and Time-Warner. Talk about major withdrawal - it's been since before Memorial Day! SIX WEEKS! Egads and gadzooks. Too much to tell and it will all have to wait. However, you'all will appreciate this - it has been raining almost every day since the first of May here. Talk about soggy -- inside. Yep, both the house and camp roofs leAnd Noah aked and much has been destroyed. Damn. Can't catch a break, it seems.

Anyway, I'll get back to you ASAP, but we're both OK and merely mildewed...

Monday, June 15, 2009


Hanging tight in P.F. due to wx forecast of severe thunderstorms. Yesterday drove up and over the Great Smoky Mountains to Cherokee, N.C. What a depressing reservation (and I've been on quite a few). The people are wonderful, though and are a handsome mix of Amerind and Eurowasps. Fell in love with a half dozen maidens working in the shops. None even glanced my way (pout). They sure liked my wife and her c.c. - she added to their coffers with the purchase of an Airstream-shaped birdhouse while I went off on a musical bent with a Cherokee traditional flute from the Wolf clan and an ocarina from Peru (don't ask).

If ever you get over that way, take a moment to stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the Cherokee side of the park. It was built by the CCC - the Civilian Conservation Corps - in 1941 and is trimmed out inside with stained American Chestnut. Oh my, what a wonderful wood and such a shame to have lost it all to blight. Also check out the working grist mill up the road - Mingus' Mill - and the Mountain Farm Museum next to the visitor center.

We plan on leaving tomorrow. Taking today to relax and regroup.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shanghaied by Christians!

Bloody awful hot on Friday. Only made 300 miles or so. Made the mistake of getting off the highway at Pigeon Ford, Tennessee. That's right, home to Dollywood and about 1000 outlet stores, theaters, restaurants and other tourist traps. The main strip puts me in mind of Myrtle Beach, NC. All that is missing are the honky-tonks and strip joints. Pigeon Ford is all about family fun.

Anyway, pulled in to the River Bend Campground after deciding that two previous facilities looked at were a bit too religious, what with Jesus in flashing lights on the office rooves. It was what seemed like a reasonable hour -- 8 o'clock. Darned if the office wasn't closed up tight (turns out we'd crossed a timezone line and didn't know it - it was late, after all). Finally a tall skinny fellow gets out of his motorhome next to the pavilion and introduces himself as "Pastor Ron". Bloody Jesus-folks snuck one by me, dang-it-all! He helped get us signed in, but only after extracting a promise from my wife that we would attend the Saturday night gospel singing! If you hear of a pavilion collapsing on a bunch of gospel singing folk, you'll know why.

We'll be here a few days to play then onwards towards the soggy Northeast.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're off!

Lots of false starts and failed attempts later, but we have departed for points North. Hard slog in 95° heat and high humidity. Put some miles on, despite a lateish departure time. Saw one bad accident (fatalities, I think) involving a 15 passenger van, a pick-up and a couple of cars. Somehow, two more cars and an 18 wheeler got tied up trying to avoid the mess.

Arrived at the Good Sam Campground - Birmingham South (in Pelham, AL) just at dark. I think I described it as a "rabbit warren" in an email to family. Lots about 25' by 60', small concrete pad with picnic table, hook-ups. No shade to be had. All for the low, low price of $37 a night with our club discount. Now, to be fair, they have significant overhead, pool, restrooms, mowing, etc. Still, even with lots of headaches and high taxes, it is a money maker, for sure.

Heading further north today . Haven't decided whether we're going up the east side or the west side of the Appalachian Mountains. Have to wait to see how the better half is feeling. She has developed a sore throat and laryngitis. All that money spent for cell phones and now she can't talk.

And So It Goes...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Where I've Been ...

is a very bad place, indeed.

I started to write about what has happened back in the middle of the month but just could not do it. Still can't, actually. So here's the bare bones. Willow ze Wunderhund has had a lump on her butt that started just before Christmas as we made ready to leave Maine for Louisiana. By the beginning of May it was the size of a golf ball and causing no small distress. So off to a local vet we'd used for Iggy's shots. They performed a lumpectomy which resulted in a 12" incision that they attempted to close with staples. That failed after four days. Back for sutures - they failed in three days. Lab results came back. the tumor was metastatic. I wouldn't prolong my own or my wife's suffering with futile treatments. I be damned if I would do that to a dog. So we agonized for a day and then took her to be euthanized. It was very, very hard. She'd been "our baby" - one of two fur friends that had been with us since the start of our marriage and we'd lost the other one just before leaving Maine.

So to those friends and family who have heard nothing from us for a while, the explanation is simple. Not in the mood for conversations. Light banter not currently in our repertoire. Tolerance for both criticism and sympathy virtually nil. Silence is golden.

So, we were getting ready to leave about a week after this all came down and we got the bright idea to have our air conditioner on the trailer worked on. We'd been limping along with a 20 year old unit that needed to be recharged. We could use it for maybe 24 hours before it would freeze up and have to be shut down and thawed. So we had a local A/C firm come in and they diagnosed it as needing to be charged up. Took some freon and put some ports on this sealed system and charged it. Unit was blowing really cold air for the first time since we bought the trailer. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Four hours later (on a Friday evening) no joy in Aluminum Tube-Ville. Outside temperature 86° -- inside temperature 86°F and steadily climbing. No answer at the A/C service company. Monday became Tuesday became Wednesday before they came out. Tried a recharge to no avail -- the evaporator coils are "leaking" . I located a potential source for parts in Houston and gave all the info to the service tech with the understanding he would order the parts and install them by Friday, May 10. Friday came and went - so Saturday I called and left a message. Owner got back to me - claimed no knowledge of the situation and would have the tech call me on Monday. Monday, Tuesday came and went - called again. Long story short, got the royal runaround until the weekend and then told to go 'F*** myself' by the owner after my step-daughter complained about their shoddy treatment of us! Screwed without benefit of lubrication or even a "by yourleave" and still no cold air.

Did I mention it has been averaging 90° for the past two weeks?

So began the unsuccessful search for a replacement. The one we have now, a Coleman "SuperMach" is a 13,500 BTU unit. It wouldn't have been up to the needs of our trailer in Louisiana, anyway. So we started searching for a 15,000 BTU unit (the next larger size). Coleman has changed the design of their A/C's enough that the drainpan can not be re-used with a new unit and no one has a drain pan that fits. I have spoken at length with Coleman and Airstream and each is pointing the finger at the other like two eight year-olds with a broken window. No drain pan means water would be streaming down the sides of the trailer, at best. At worst, it would be streaming down onto the floor after being sprayed around the inside of the trailer...

There are two other A/C manufacturers in the RV industry - Dometic and Carrier. Carrier has the shortest tenure in the industry and a horrid repair/failure record by all accounts. The big gun, aside from Coleman, is Dometic. Guess who had a really massive fire that destroyed their warehouse and much of their manufacturing facility, resulting a a worldwide shortage of RV awnings and air conditioners? Yep, you guessed right. Dometic.

All attempts at acquiring a unit that will work, is big enough and won't give me a cold shower every time I pour a cup of coffee have failed. Dometic isn't able to ship until mid-June at the earliest and they intend to fill backorders in the order they were placed.

Did I mention how hot it gets inside of an aluminum tube when it's 90° in the shade and the trailer is in full sunlight? As I mentioned on Twitter this morning -- just call me "Tubesteak".

We've given up and resigned ourselves to driving back to Maine with no air conditioning when we stop. This is affecting our trip planning no small amount, of course. As of now, we plan to drive North in a forced-march fashion during the warmest parts of the day, stopping only for food and bathroom breaks. No sightseeing, no visiting. Sorry guys, maybe next fall when things are fixed. At least the temperature has been more moderate in Maine lately...

There you have the broad outlines. Lots of annoying details omitted to protect the innocent.

And So It Goes...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?

The daughter of my friend Bob up in Brampton, Ontario is seeking pledges for an upcoming "Relay For Life" walkathon to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society.

"The Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life is an overnight non-competitive relay that celebrates cancer survivors and pays tribute to loved ones. It's a night of fun, friendship and fundraising to beat cancer. "

This one hits particularly close to home with the removal of a tumor from my big dog's butt last week that is only going so-so (we had to redo the whole thing after the staples pulled on the morning of Day 2 of her recovery). I've had several tumors (melanomas) removed over the years and no doubt, will have more off in future...

So buddies, if you can spare a dime or dollar, your support will be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This 'n' that

Still alive. Thought for a moment I wasn't last Thursday. But, false alarm - I'd merely overdone the preparations for a weekend camping trip and passed out. Some OJ and cancellation of the trip brought me around. A weekend of rest restored me to my customary curmudgeonly ways.

Saw Celtic Woman in concert that Thursday evening. As expected, the singing was wonderful. The choreography ... not so much. Why singers think they can act or dance is beyond my ken. Still it was a great way to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We even ran into a couple my wife hadn't seen in 25 years! So, hello to Dr. Melvin and Barbara in Ponchatoula.

Willow ze Wunderhund , our Bull Mastiff cross, went under the knife today to have a jawbreaker-sized growth removed and biopsied. Initial news not good. Definitive opinions must await histology studies and that will be a couple of weeks, most likely. She came through the general anesthesia without difficulty and is looking forward to getting back to chasing Iggy and the rest of the canine residents around the yard very soon.

Lexy cat, our Maine Coon Cat has decided to do a neighborhood walk-about. Assuming she survives and returns unscathed it'll definitely be bath time for her - fleas are bad this year. Assuming she returns before we leave...

We're slowly getting it together to begin our annual pilgrimage north to Maine. Haven't decided on a route, yet. May take in some of the Smokies and other sights just east of the Mississippi. May head to the coast and head up the flatlands - we are fond of the ocean. To be continued.

Have had a miserable chest & head cold this week. The regular springtime ritual coupled with severe allergies has made Wil a dimwitted boy of late. Not that anyone noticed any significant difference, mind you.

Word from Maine friends reports the possibility of reaching 80 degrees this weekend! Only last week they were having flurries. Hoo boy - there's a recipe for some monstrous colds.

That's all the personal news fit for publication. Assuming I don't DFO¹ in the next couple of days, it's off to NOLA, the aquarium and Bourbon Street for some coffee with chickory and Beignets.

¹DFO= an acronym for "Done Fell Out" which is pretty much what I did, too.

04/24 UPDATE: Willow survived the general anesthesia and is resting quietly in her crate for the next 10 days. Not looking real good for the long-term prognosis but won't know anything for another week or two. Necessity of return visit to the Vet in 10 days means departure is delayed until after the first week in May.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Goodbye, Marilyn Chambers

Marilyn Ann Briggs, AKA "Marilyn Chambers" died April 12, 2009 at the age of 56 from undetermined causes. Foul play is not suspected.

Best known for her role in "Behind The Green Door" (1972), Miss Chambers was found by her daughter. No arrangements have been announced.

She was probably the prettiest, most vivacious actress to grace an X-rated screen; certainly, she was the first to bring an actor's sensibility to the cultural wasteland of pornography. She wasn't hard-edged like Linda Lovelace, another contemporary. I definitely had a crush on her ... Rest in Peace.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dog Takes Blanket From Cat

This appeared over at the J-Walk blog last week. For those who haven't seen it, it's an eye-opener. And funny, too.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Darling...

Ten years ago this morning, you crawled from your sickbed at O-dark thirty to have your hair and nails done in anticipation of your nuptials. Then you went drinking with your buddies at 9:00 AM! To steady your nerves, so y'all claimed (a likely story).

Fortunately for me, baby brother (RIP) made sure I didn't oversleep, so I didn't beat him into an even earlier grave. Because, when I got done with him, you'd have started in.

Our wedding commenced at 11:00 in the Gazebo at Cascade Park. Then off to a fine dinner at Paul's restaurant with the entire wedding party (all 9 of us). Home and into bed with a 101° fever by 2:30 PM. I'd succumbed to your flu infection.

It was an affair to remember, alright.

And I'd gladly do it again this morning, love.

If I was home, I'd have gotten some scans of the photos from that day. Instead, you'll just have to imagine them, dear readers.

Oh My!

This is just one of a dozen images of an exploding undersea volcano off the coast of Tonga which appeared on's fine photoblog, The Big Picture. This stuff is right up Remo's alley.

P.S. This IS NOT breaking news -- the eruption occurred circa March 18, 2009.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Medicare coverage in a nutshell

This showed up in my email this morning. I found it funny and, sadly, too true as to how the Medicare system presently works.

Medicare coverage in a nutshell:

The phone rings and the lady of the house answers,


'Mrs. Sanders, please.'


'Mrs. Sanders, this is Doctor Jones at Saint Agnes Laboratory. When your husband's doctor sent his biopsy to the lab last week, a biopsy from another Mr. Sanders arrived as well. We are now uncertain which one belongs to your husband. Frankly, either way the results are not too good.'

'What do you mean?' Mrs. Sanders asks nervously.

'Well, one of the specimens tested positive for Alzheimer's and the other one tested positive for HIV. We can't tell which is which.'

That's dreadful! Can you do the test again?' questioned Mrs. Sanders.

'Normally we can, but Medicare will only pay for these expensive tests one time.'

'Well, what am I supposed to do now?'

'The folks at Medicare recommend that you drop your husband off somewhere in the middle of town. If he finds his way home, don't sleep with him.'

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hot Stuff!

SWMBO* & I visited Avery Island and the Tabasco factory on Sunday, as I mentioned in the entry below. It was a beautiful day and temperatures were perfect for a road trip.

Avery Island in the distance as viewed across the sugar cane fieldsAvery Island, Louisiana, viewed across a sugar cane field. Photo credit: This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Source-English Wikipedia, original upload 7. Sep 2006 by Skb8721

From the English Wikipedia entry:
Avery Island is actually a huge dome of rock salt, three miles (5 km) long and two and a half miles wide.[1] It was created by the upwelling of ancient evaporite (salt) deposits that exist beneath the Mississippi River Delta region. These upwellings are known as "salt domes." Avery island is one of five salt dome islands that rise above the flat Louisiana Gulf coast.[6]

At its highest point, the island is 163 feet (50 m) above mean sea level.[6] It covers about 2,200 acres (9 km²) and is about 2.5 miles (4 km) across at its widest point.

  1. ^ a b Tabasco, History of Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  2. ^ a b Inventory of the Avery Family of Louisiana, 1796-1951
  3. ^ History of McIlhenny Company and Tabasco sauce
  4. ^ Shevory, Kristina. "The Fiery Family: The McIlhennys Make Tabasco Come What May," Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2007, pp. B1 and B4.
  5. ^ NPR Morning Edition, November 29, 2002
  6. ^ a b c d History of Avery Island where Hot and Legendary TABASCO Sauce is Made!

The factory building is relatively new and covers more than two football fields in area. My wife's health is such that we are not up for a long walking tour. Tabasco didn't disappoint.
Click 'em to enbiggen...
The oak barrels formerly held Jack Daniels whiskey are what the pepper mash ferments in for 3 years.
Shade is a rare commodity out in the bayous.
A bit of the Tabasco history presented in the waiting room of the factory.

"Guided tours" go off every 20 minutes or so and consisted of a brief explanation of the rules ("No smoking, no photos of the line, please.") history of the facility and island and then it is off to the projection room, where a professionally produced video is shown that details the history of the company and the actual process of making the world-renowned pepper sauce (all you need are red ripe peppers, salt and water and patience - the pepper mash is fermented for three years!). Then it's off to a stroll along the bottling line behind a glass enclosure (the line runs Monday through Thursday so we didn't get to see the sauce being bottled and labeled for distribution to over 160 different countries).

Next we visit the Tabasco store, sampled some Tabasco ice cream (!) and various other concoctions with Scovil ratings anywhere from 600 to over 3000. Hot stuff - washed it down with ice tea and lemon to cut the heat. Tasty, though.

Off to "Birdland" and the "Jungle Tour" -- a self-guided drive and walk through the nature reserve on the island established by the McIllhenny family. We kept a sharp eye out and were rewarded with alligators,

This 3' long fellow was swimming along in the bayou next to the road we were driving on, keeping pace in hopes of a snack when a boat came up very fast and he sank below the surface.

Next stop was the Buddha Garden. The pagoda-like structure houses an 800 years old bronze bodhisatva. Sadly, you can't get in to touch or take a clear photo. But, I did see this four foot specimen eyeing my calf while I was trying to focus:

I failed to oblige him or her by offering it a munch, so it lazily swam away. This isn't a captive gator by any means - the pond is connected to the bayou beyond by large culverts under the road. We then visited the Crater of the Palms.. This is a large depression in the surface of the salt dome which used to be the site of a large number of stately date and fig palms which found the sheltered micro-climate to their liking. Hurricanes Rita & Ike decimated the palm population (Katrina struck much farther east of here).

The Avery Island Trust is working to bring back the palms. starting with this big fellow.

Those Live Oaks that survived the hurricanes' winds are thriving and covered in Spanish Moss.

As any gardener will attest, bamboo is a pest of gigantic proportions. Once established it is darn near impossible to eradicate without resorting to some pretty heavy artillery. Imagine, if you will, importing over a thousand varieties. The stuff is everywhere on the island. It's kinda pretty, though.
Look behind the pagoda - bamboo wall!

"Pesky Bamboo Eats Truck - Film at 7"

More to follow as I find the time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Games Old People Play...

Spent Sunday touring Avery Island, home of the McIllheny family and the source of all things Tabasco. WHILE SWMBO spent most of the visit looking out the window, I just had to get out and walk over hill and dale (it's a "salt dome" so yes, Virginia, there are some hills in south Louisiana).

Oh boy, I'm paying the price today. Just bought more stock in Bayer and find myself contemplating things to do as I get older. Like playing new versions of old favorite games...

1. Sag, You’re it
2. Pin the Toupee on the bald guy.
3. 20 questions shouted into your good ear.
4. Kick the bucket
5. Red Rover, Red Rover, the nurse says Bend Over.
6. Doc, Doc, Goose.
7. Simon says something incoherent.
8. Hide and go pee.
9. Spin the Bottle of Mylanta
10. Musical recliners.

Still working on the photos from yesterday so a photo narrative must wait until later. Have a good week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tempus Fugit

My, my. Where has the time flown? Seems like just last week I wrote the entry below. Tempus Fugit goes the old saying. My personal tempus seems to be employing a Learjet while my memory and recall creeps along in this Model A flivver for a brain.

Mostly consumed with the intricacies of daily life and survival in this modern world of ours. This area, Baton Rouge, hasn't seen the drastic economic collapse evident in so much of the rest of the nation and world. Hurricane Katrina forced a massive population shift northward five years ago, Some 400,000 came and only half of them went home. There is a construction boom here that is mind-boggling to the uninitiated. Old, bad, habits die hard, so I see new construction that I would have placarded as unsafe back in the day. Oh well. Some other schmoo's problem. I'm out to pasture.

We've had a beautiful run of weather the past week: warm, sunny days in the 80's with nights in the 50's and 60's. A good thing the nights have been so cool, too. The Airstream needs its air conditioner recharged and there isn't a 30 amp hookup so I couldn't run it even if I wanted. :-0 We have had rain the past two days but it is needed (it is Spring here) so it's all good. My wife saw her first snake of the year over at her son's house. Time to start paying more attention to the dogs when they are out and no more bare feet walking from the trailer to the house.

Up home they are having a bit of a thaw. The local "Pettybees"* are voicing concerns about flooding and roofs collapsing from the weight of water and snow (over 4 feet of the stuff up in "the county" but my neighbor says the only threat to the homeplace is on the garage and I designed the trusses for a 100 pound per square foot snowload, so no worry). Another month and it will be time to head north to take advantage of the building season to get some things done to the camp.

One of my stepdaughter's dogs has come into heat. Her two males, a visiting male Schipperke (Iggy's sire) and Iggy are all extremely attentive to the BIH. Timing couldn't have been better as far as I am concerned.

Iggy made the promised trip to the Vet last week and came home a day later with an "elizabethan collar" and a drug hangover that made me wince. Oh, and he was minus previously intact portions of his anatomy. Took the E-collar off last night and he discovered what he was missing. Refused to have anything to do with me all evening!

Waiting for the mudbug season to really start down here - another couple of weeks the price should come down to near-reasonable and I'll get us a mess to chow down on before leaving Louisiana. Should be strawberry festival in Ponchatula soon, too. Yum...

That's the news. Be good to yourselves...

* "Pettybees" or PTB's = Powers That Be

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dis 'n' Dat

Heard from my neighbor, yesterday. They're having a helluva winter in Maine. SO glad I am not there...

It's Mardi Gras time here. Of course, now my arthritis in my hip and leg chose this past week to go into high gear. Big time pain that NSAIDs don't touch. So much for watching the various Krewes do their thing either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge and vicinity. Standing for more than a half hour is excruciating now.

The dogs are loving it here in Louisiana. They have a fenced yard to play in, four other dogs to play with, and they even get to have a kid or two to chase in fun, now and again.

Another soldier dies in Baghdad. The new kid on the block doesn't seem able to convince the military-industrial establishment to loosen the reins of the war wagon, does he?

Speaking of his presidency, Obama is not going to be the "Great Black Hope" supporters made him out to be, pre-election. This economic depression won't allow that particular legacy to survive. It is going to be very bad for a long time. I suspect I won't live to see a recovery...

A shout out to NZforme who has recently bought herself a house! When's the move date -- my chiropractor has me scheduled for back therapy that day... (actually I am envious - sun, warmth and a built-in cocktail shaker - what else could you want in a home?)

SO, in closing, as they say down here:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ode To A Fart

This was my wife's Valentine's Day gift to me. Being as I went to kindergarten, I know how to share ...

Happy Valentine's Day to my readers!

A fart is a pleasant thing,
It gives the belly ease,
It warms the bed in winter,
And suffocates the fleas.
A fart can be quiet,
A fart can be loud,
Some leave a powerful,
Poisonous cloud
A fart can be short,
Or a fart can be long,
Some farts have been known
To sound like a song......
A fart can create
A most curious medley,
A fart can be harmless,
Or silent, and deadly.
A fart might not smell,
While others are vile,
A fart may pass quickly,
Or linger a while......
A fart can occur
In a number of places,
And leave everyone there,
With strange looks on their faces.
From wide-open prairie,
To small elevators,
A fart will find all of us,
Sooner or later.
But 'farts are all bad',
Is simply not true-
We must never forget.......
Sweet old farts like you!

Kinda brings a tear to your eye - doesn't it?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Science, Not "Creationism"

The following came across my email desk this morning. If you, or any of your relations, live in Texas and you believe that science should be taught in your public schools, regardless of religious denomination or absence thereof in your life, then pay heed:

Take Action Now to Ensure that Texas Kids Learn Science, not Ideology, in Public Schools

Creationists Besiege State Board of Education with Calls to Dumb Down Science Education in Texas Public Schools

As we mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the religious right has launched a new and ferocious attack on science education in Texas public schools.

Last month the State Board of Education narrowly voted against a curriculum requirement that students learn phony “weaknesses” of evolution promoted by creationists. Creationist pressure groups have responded with fury in the press. They have even viciously attacked the religious faith of board members who support giving Texas kids a sound science education.

And now the Texas Freedom Network has learned that creationists are flooding board members’ offices with thousands of e-mails and phone calls critical of evolution. They are demanding that the board reverse course in a final vote next month and require that science classes teach anti-evolution arguments that mainstream scientists debunked long ago.

This is outrageous. Texans cannot permit the religious right to bully elected officials into voting against the interests of Texas families and the mainstream values we all support. Supporters of sound science education cannot stand aside while far-right pressure groups try to distort and undermine the education of an entire generation of Texas schoolchildren.

Take Action! SUFS
The State Board of Education will meet on March 25-27 to take a final vote on the proposed science curriculum standards. It’s important that you take the following actions to ensure that board members vote for standards that put sound science ahead of ideology in our kids’ public schools:

1. Tell your State Board of Education member that you oppose efforts to water down instruction on evolution in public school science classes.
- Ask you board member to vote to adopt the sound science standards proposed in December by curriculum writing teams made up of teachers and academics.
- Oppose requiring that students learn phony “weaknesses” of evolution.
- Ask your board member to vote to strip out any amendments approved by the board in January that undermine instruction on evolution.

You can find the name of your board member by clicking here. It’s best to write your board member in your own words and send your e-mail to: However, you can also click here to send your board member a pre-written e-mail.

2. Submit your comments about the proposed standards to the Texas Education Agency. You can read the standards by clicking here. Then scroll down to Proposed Revisions to 19 TAC Chapter 112, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science, Subchapter A, Elementary, Subchapter B, Middle School, and Subchapter C, High School. Send your comments to TEA to this e-mail address:

3. Sign up to testify at the State Board of Education’s public hearing on the proposed science standards on March 25. For information about how to testify, click here.

To find out how your SBOE member voted in January, and to stay informed on this issue, please click here.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

It was inevitable, I suppose -- RoboGuitar

Dax covers this in his entry yesterday. The video is enlightening.

Make your Congress Critter Twitter

You're on Twitter, right? I am. Is your Congress Critter on Twitter? You can check at TweetCongress. You can even petition non-participants to get with it.

Go check and see if Senator Susan Collins, R-ME is a-Twittering...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Darwin Award Winner for 2008

THE DARWIN AWARDS:  A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises.
Honoring those individuals who improve the human race...
by accidentally removing themselves from it!

Celebrate Charles Darwin's 200th Birthday on February 12, 2009.

2008 Darwin Award Winner: BALLOON PRIEST (Padre Baloneiro)

April 2008, Atlantic Ocean | A Catholic priest ascended to
heaven on a host of helium party balloons, paying homage to
Lawn Chair Larry's aerial adventure. Larry, the beloved
survivor of a Darwin-worthy fiasco, attached 45 helium weather
balloons to his lawnchair, packed a picnic lunch, and cut the
tether--but instead of drifting above the Los Angeles landscape
as planned, he was rocketed into LAX air traffic lanes by the
lift of the weather balloons. Astoundingly, Larry survived the

Adelir Antonio, 51, was not so lucky.

His audacious attempt to set a world record for clustered
balloon flight was intended to publicize his plan to build a
spiritual rest stop for truckers. But, as truckers know,
sitting for 19 hours in a lawn chair is not a trivial matter
even in the comfort of your own backyard. The priest took
numerous safety precautions, including wearing a survival
suit, selecting a buoyant chair, and packing a satellite phone
and a GPS. However, the late Adelir Antonio made a fatal

He did not know how to use the GPS.

The winds changed, as winds do, and he was blown inexorably
toward open sea. He could have parachuted to safety while over
land, but chose not to. When the voyager was perilously lost
at sea, he prudently phoned for help--but rescuers were unable
to determine his location, since he could not use his GPS. He
struggled with the unit as the charge on the satellite phone

Instead of a GPS, the priest let God be his guide, and God
guided him straight to heaven. Bits of balloons began
appearing on mountains and beaches. Ultimately the priest's
body surfaced, confirming that he, like Elvis, had left the

The kicker? It's a Double Darwin. Catholic priests take vows
of celibacy. Since they voluntarily remove themselves from the
gene pool, the entire group earns a mass Darwin Award. Adelir
Antonio wins twice over!

Obviously not a Jesuit priest...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


John Updike, one of the premier novelists of the generation immediately prior to mine, has died at 76, from lung cancer, according to his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. At least, that's the AP report in this morning's The Advocate.

I think Updike and Truman Capote were the first "adult" novelists I took note of in my early teens. He had a way about his words that just sucked me in and carried me along. I didn't understand all the nuances of his language then. But I did recognize the import thereof. That is getting to be a long time ago. Damn!

Rest in peace, John. Rabbit is finally at rest.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Life List: Have You Ever...

This meme was over at Patrick's Place and Simon's the Simian Farmer so I thought I'd give it a whirl, too. On second thought, change the first line to "Monkey See, Monkey Do"...

bold = done it
italics = want to
strikethrough = don't want to
Plus snarky comments

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars. I prefer a tent - usually there's too much dew (or frost).
3. Played in a band. Alto Sax in junior high - both marching band and orchestra.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland. But I have been to DisneyWorld...
8. Climbed a mountain. Several of them, in fact. Actually ran back down from Chimney Pond at Katahdin, too.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. More times than I care to count.
17. Walked to the top of The Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked. Twice across the US and once across Canada.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. But of course, I was severely stressed, so really, they were "mental health" days.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb. I prefer to eat them.
26. Gone skinny dipping. In a farmer's pond next to US Rte 2, outside Plainfield, Vermont, in full view of the road.
27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. I've even done the "Maid of the Mist"!
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. Someday I'll make it to Ireland and Germany.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.
41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen the Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. I miss it, but with only one functional lung...
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. My second time was in a drive-in.
55. Been in a movie. I was in some home movies as a kid...does that count?
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business. It failed.
58. Taken a martial arts class. Although, I'd like to do Tai Chi.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration camp.
67. Bounced a check. My own damn fault, too.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone. Several.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car. Only once ... that was enough.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby. Wrong gender.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a mobile phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day.

Feel free to participate, but feel no obligation, either.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Patrick, over at Patrick's Place, had an interesting entry yesterday about the proposal before Congress to delay implementation of Over-the-Air (OTA) digital television broadcasting (DTV). While I am in general agreement with his assessment, to a point, there are elements his entry doesn't address. Read this entry then come back...

The problem for the very poor is different than the problem(s) for the rural customer. As noted in other discussions, many rural and fringe area customers simply were unprepared for the not insignificant expense of installing an external antenna with rotor and signal amplifier in order to receive the distant station(s) they are accustomed to receiving now. Quite frankly, neither am I.

My camp is a case in point. There is no satellite window to the SW due to a thick forest cover and a ridge. Cable is unavailable. No broadband service is available. That leaves me with the choice of obtaining a zoning variance (fat chance) to install a 100 foot tower capable of supporting over 150 lbs of antenna, rotor and cables and then spending some two to ten thousand dollars for the antenna and all the rest, or, do without. In my case, there isn't a choice. I haven't got that kind of money to spend on television that I might watch for five months out of the year for one or two hours in the evening. What with Jay Leno leaving late night TV, that viewing time may be cut by another 5 hours a week (my wife HATES Conan and Dave).

I am sympathetic to broadcasters who must bear the burden of the additional expense(s) of operating analog and digital transmitters. I am also sympathetic to those facing the loss of OTA TV with no possible replacement, for whatever reason. In my case, I'd signed up for the government's discount card to be delivered last February. If you've been following my blog, you know that was a serious mistake - I didn't get back to my domicile until July. By then the card had expired. The expired cards went into the trash and I reapplied, only to be told that the guvmint wouldn't issue new ones. Then they turned around and rescinded the expiration. By then, they were long gone in the landfill -- SOL again. I ended up having to buy a converter box at full price or do with out any OTA TV at home or in my trailer. Suffice it to say, I only bought one box and swap them from the trailer to the house as needed. Watching from bed at night, from the kitchen in the morning or out in the shop will be impossible. Tough luck for the local broadcasters - another customer gone. And forget public television - those cows decided they'd concentrate only on the more populous areas to the south of us - we no longer get their signal. Sorry MPBN - there goes my contribution.

So, I selfishly applaud the idea of requiring dual broadcasting. It is, after all, the public's airwaves. Broadcasters must either provide for the needs of all of the viewing public or pack it in and start selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door.

Disenfranchising some 6.5 million citizens is politically unthinkable to Congressional Democrats and the new administration. Republicans with rural constituents will either provide more time for conversion to digital broadcasting or face a backlash at their next attempt at reelection.

There really isn't a middle ground.

And so it goes...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And what would you do?

I'm trying to enroll in an EMT course at LSU I need to obtain a job with the local EMS. Doesn't look like it is going to happen. I graduated high school in 1968 from a small church school. Last time I actually used the diploma was to confirm graduation for a job I was hired for in 1989. Just about the same time that my school closed it's doors forever.

Flash forward about 10 years. I tried to find said diploma for a new job and made a horrifying discovery. Squirrels (yes, those nasty rats with fuzzy tails and a good P.R. firm) had invaded the box those documents were kept in out in the garage and amused themselves while nesting by chewing everything in the box into confetti! I was fortunate the last time I had a job requiring confirmation I'd graduated as the boss accepted my word on it. Faceless bureaucracies. like a college admissions department, don't.

Hence the dilemma which prompts the question in the title. EVERY job I have looked at lately requires certified confirmation of HS graduation. All the colleges and EMT courses down here require the immunizations record (I think this is a federal law geared primarily to prevent children from engendering an epidemic -- not to keep us over-the-hill-and-twice-as-moldy types from taking a few college level courses). Heck, even the Coast Guard wants certified copies of HS diploma or an original. And of course, they want a record of every freaking immunization I have had since birth. Certified by an M.D. no less.

I'm so screwed...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bad Bob and Handler

Texas Renaissance Faire
November 20, 2008
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

We Made It!

After the weather gods finally let us loose from the sub-zero blizzard followed by nearly Spring-like monsoons accompanied by extremely high winds, we had a false start involving missing trailer brakes that suddenly reappeared and didn't bother the rest of the trip, we would have made it to Maryland in near record time - except for the pea-soup New Jersey smmog that forced a layover for 12 hours. Nevertheless, we made it on Sunday. After a nice visit with my Uncle and Aunt, we took off on New Year's Day afternoon and arrived here in Louisiana this evening! We even squeezed in a nice visit to Mystic Springs Airstream Camp yesterday on the Florida panhandle.

Off to bed, I'm beat. More on the flip side.