Friday, December 30, 2011

Trader Joe's is coming!

I don't know why that title deserves an exclamation point, but according to everyone familiar with Trader Joe's it's at the very pinnacle of the grocery store pyramid, so I'll go along, too.  I know my friend Bruce is posting regular updates on the progress of the Trader Joe's being built in his hometown in AZ and is just giddy with anticipation.  K spent years in California when she was in the Navy saving the rest of us from the scourge of creeping communism and swears TJ's (as I'll hereafter refer to it) is indeed special.

We got the word yesterday that TJ's is opening 2 stores in the Dallas area, one being in Plano just 2 miles from where we live.  I hope they're not over-hyping it to the point it opens and people just yawn.  I think that's what happened when they opened In and Out Burgers in Dallas.  The lines were huge at first, but then people decided it was just another burger.  (Mooyah's has better ones.)  Right now Central Market and Market Street are our prefered specialty "foodie" grocers.  It's gonna be interesting when they all go head-to-head in a few months.

Today is the first of 4 holiday days off for K.  For me, considering how little I have to do at work right now, this will make it number 8 of 11 days off.  If I'd started learning a foreign language last Friday I could be fluent in it by the time I go back to work next Tuesday.  Another missed opportunity.  Darn!

Have a great weekend everyone.  :)


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rethinking this retirement thing....

Right now we have only one custom home under construction (pre-sold, thank goodness), completion expected within a month.  Tuesday morning the wood floor finishing crew started the sanding / scraping / staining / polyurethaning process, and will finish by the middle of next week.  In the meantime no one else can be in there with them as too many people stir up dust, which settles on their still-wet floor and ruins the finish.  This means I have to stay away, too.  What I'm getting at is I have no where to go all day, and nothing to do.  This week has become a sort of retirement trial run.  I don't like it.

I was home Tuesday morning before lunch.  After about half an hour I was bored, so I went to the grocery store and bought the fixin's for banana pudding and came home and made that.  Then I saw that K had some sweet potatoes out, so I went ahead and baked them.  And I cooked some pasta, too.  Then I went out and started my running program.  Later I read for a while, then watched a Big Bang Theory marathon.  And then I was bored again.

Yesterday wasn't much better.  I washed and dried and put away a load of clothes, and even ironed 5 of K's business-style blouses.  (My jeans and T-shirts are all "wash and wear", regardless of what the label says.)  Then I was bored again, so I went to a local park / nature preserve and walked about 3 miles.  I saw one bird.  Apparently everything else was either taking a nap or was nocturnal, or discreetly sized me up as not worth attacking.  I stopped on my way back at Starbucks where I sipped a latte and read my Kindle....until I got bored.  

When I do retire for real I'm going to have to either get a part-time job or do some volunteer work.  I never thought of myself as being overly active, but I guess I am.  

Are you retired?  If so, how do you spend your time on an average day?  I'll need some pointers.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rant time....

Yesterday I read that since 2006 federal government starting salaries have increased by approximately 15% while private sector jobs have seen an 8% decrease.   IMO, many of these government employees, maybe even most, are paid big bucks to do jobs that simply don't need doing in the first place.  They're glorified "make work" projects.  To add insult to injury, 22% of the fed's 2.1 million workers are paid more than $100,000 per year.  And once they get one of those cushy jobs, little short of raping a coworker on top of a desk will get them fired, and based on their lackluster job performance, they're well aware of that fact, too.  Only .55%....that's point 55 percent....of their workforce were removed for cause last year.  In fact, a federal worker is 13 times more likely to die of natural causes during his employment than get fired.  And their perks and retirement plans are legendary.  Many of them retire well before age 60 and are sitting on a tropical beach somewhere sipping drinks with little umbrellas in them while you and I are facing the probability of having our retirement age pushed back....again.

Why is it the least productive members of our society get the best benefits?  Are we that stupid?

And it's not just federal government employees who get my dander up.  Local and state workers are given ridiculous pay, perks, and retirement plans at the taxpayers expense, too.  Now I learn that in 21 states employees can buy credit for a few extra years of work, known as "air time", thereby enhancing their retirement pay.  As an example, it mentioned one guy in California who paid $75,000 for an extra 5 years work credit, which resulted in him getting an additional $13,000 a year in retirement pay for life.  And he retired at age 55!  My city gives new hires 21 sick-days off and 3 weeks vacation from day one.  My wife working in the private sector doesn't get three weeks vacation until she's been there five years.  And she's eligible for two weeks vacation only after she's been there for one year.

Why are workers in the private sector, the very ones who are footing the bill for everything from padded government payrolls to all our social programs, treated like second-class citizens compared to government workers?

Meanwhile, teachers are being laid off.  Priorities?  And in those areas where we need more government oversight, such as in financial auditing and banking regulation, they're no where to be seen.  I'm sure they're there, but they're either dumb or lazy (based on the things they let slide through), or they've been called off by their elected-official paymasters.

Anyone remember William Proxmire, the Wisconsin Senator who put out his "most wasteful government program of the week"?  Today Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is doing about the same.  He's bringing to light things like funding a $600,000 study to find out why monkeys fling their feces at each other, or the obscene sum of taxpayer money allocated to set up a museum to document the history of video games. He points out that billions of dollars in wasteful spending all starts with many small (?) million dollar pork projects.  Sort of like Sen. Everett Dirkson's famous "a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money."

The good news is I think people are getting fed up with this the more they see.  We simply can't afford the number of lavishly well-paid bureaucrats we have.  We need to look at every government program we have, at every level, and determine if we really need it, and if not, shut it down.  And all the people working on such programs should be given notice to start looking for a real job in the private sector. Short term hurt, long term gain.  Starting now!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

These 3-day work weeks are killin' me!

Today on her way out the door K's words to me were, "Go to work, don't die."  So I guess if I make it to work and back alive, or at least without lapsing into a coma, I've successfully completed my employment requirements?  Hmmmm....sounds like a government job.  

Are any of you runners?  I mean recreationally, not from anyone.  I must have had some brain chemical imbalance kick in as I have this urge to run a 5K, maybe even a half-marathon.  K is studying to get her personal trainer certification so I've enlisted her help in preparing me.  (I told her I couldn't afford to pay her anything, but I did offer to sleep with her.  She was not amused.)  She got me hooked up with an app that tells me how to ease into distance running without blowing out needed body parts/joints.  I guess that's what personal trainers do....they have a superior knowledge of all the current fitness apps.  Apparently what I did last week was all wrong.  It seemed simple enough at the time:  Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left......

I wonder if I'll need a helmet?  Or knee/elbow pads?  Or maybe some kind of fall-prevention apparatus?  Does OSHA have any jurisdiction over running?  Jeez, I hope not.

"Go to work, don't die."  Now she has me worried.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Cabin Fever

What kind of phobia is it when you can't stay inside for too long at a time?  It's sort of like "cabin fever", but it sets in after about 3 or 4 hours.  Whatever it is, I have it.  Today K and I both have time off, and we're looking for ways to use it up.  First we're going to Wolfe/Ritz Camera and pick up some prints of Emma Belle that we're going to frame.  Then we're going by the vet's office to pick up Emma's ashes.  To some this might seem icky, but I find it very appropriate.  It is, after all, what I wish for myself some day.   She'll be put in a special place alongside Tara Belle, who died almost 5 years ago.

Then lunch at Fuzzy's Tacos.  They have the best tempura shrimp tacos, and of course some queso and guac, too.  An outing just isn't right to me without a visit to a bookstore, so we'll hit one of those, too, while we're out.  Finally, REI Co-op has been pushing all my impulse buttons today, so we'll drop in for a quick look-see.  Maybe they'll be giving away kayaks today to the first 10 people who come in on bended knees and grovel.  Or maybe I could get K to wear her "Erin Brockovich" shirt.  Yeah, we'd probably have better luck with that than with me groveling.  Haha!

That ought to burn at least half the day.  Any suggestions for the other half?  (Besides that.  I've already tried.)


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Says it all....

Regardless of whether your 2011 was a "keeper"...

Or one you'd rather forget...

Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


(Credit to Outside Magazine "Parting Shots")

Friday, December 23, 2011

I liked the old way better

It never really dawned on me until now how much my holiday plans revolved around my dearly departed dog, Emma Belle.  Every major holiday....that would be the Big Three: Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas....K and I drove the 75 miles to spend the day with her parents.  We timed things so that we could make the round-trip drive and visit and still be back home within 6, maybe 7 hours.   I just didn't want to make Emma "hold it" longer than that.  Now we no longer have that time constraint.  It feels weird.

This evening my family will assemble at my daughter Erica's home to have our Christmas.  With married daughters come dual families (in-laws) for them to spend time with, so I just get in line and take my turn.  I'm not real picky.

For that matter, and I write about this every year, I'm not a "Christmas" person.  I'm just not.  It's just weeks and weeks of going to places I don't want to go to, seeing people I don't want to see, doing things I don't want to do....but of course I do it anyway because it's "Christmas".  With my family we agreed years ago to just have gifts for the kids, but not the adults.  We're all relatively affluent and can just go out and buy what we want/need, so please, spare me another shirt.  As for K and I, she's getting a new Kindle Fire and I'm inheriting her almost-new old-style Kindle.  Fine with me.  (It's OK, it's not a secret.)

Shame we can't just all sit down and think about why we celebrate Christmas and forget about all the hoopla that its become.  And personally, I'll think about how blessed I am and about my late Emma Belle and how much fun she made my life for all those years. 

Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy Birthday Jesus.  And a special Merry Christmas to you, too, Miss Belle.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's wrong with these people?


 noun \ˈī-dē-ə-ˌlȯg, -ˌläg\
: an impractical idealist : theorist
: an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology

That's what Republicans in the US House of Representatives are; "impractical idealists".  It's their way or the highway, baby.  

I'm an independent voter, sometimes siding more with one political party or the other depending on the issue, but never consistently enough to proclaim myself a Democrat or a Republican.  IMHO there are indeed a few places where compromise is NOT an alternative:  Faith, honesty, integrity....but politics isn't one of them.  I'm fed up with the Republican ideologues in Congress. 

Through [mainly] their efforts they have empowered the financial services industry (think big banks) to rob us blind and ultimately take the world to the precipice of a financial abyss.  Over the past 30 years the middle class has seen their fortunes stagnate (fact) while the upper class has seen theirs reach unprecedented highs (also a fact).  When is enough, enough?  Now the Republican House of Representatives won't even give the working stiffs a simple payroll tax cut extension to help mitigate the financial misery we're all experiencing?  (Well, not all...see above.)  Merry Christmas to you, too, jerks!

When are these guys going to come off their ideological high horses and work with the Democrats to put in place a FAIR tax policy and a realistic, sustainable spending plan?  If the rich can't be taxed any more because they're using their trillions of dollars to create jobs, where are they?  China?  Vietnam?  Indonesia?  In fairness, the Democrats can't keep upping their social program expenditures either.  They all need to be realistically reviewed.

Come on, Speaker  LEAD!  ( nickname:  "Viagra John")  So where does this leave us?  Screwed.  (Pun intended)


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Those were the days, my friend, I wish they'd never end....

She and I were inseparable.   First thing in the morning as I would swing my legs out of bed I had to be careful not to step on her as she would be right there waiting for me. I could quietly walk from the den to the study, and even in a sound sleep she knew I had moved.  Within half a minute, tops, she would round the corner and take up her new position a few feet away from my desk chair.  Even while in the bathroom I knew she was right outside the door.  I knew because I would see her little telltale paw literally slid under the door.  

We had our assigned territory.  I would sit in my big leather chair and put my feet on the right side of the large ottoman, and she would plop herself down on the left side.  Peaceful coexistence.  At dinnertime she would position herself between K and I, confident that at least one of us would drop a morsel of food.  (I could be a very clumsy eater sometimes. *wink*)

She and I could communicate telepathically.  She would turn her head towards me and give me "the look" #1 or #2...."I'm hungry" or "I gotta go out, please."  Sometimes I could be a little too absorbed in something and she would have to lightly put her paw on my foot to get my attention, her way of saying "my turn".  Or my favorite:  I would put my hand under her chin (I guess dogs have "chins", right?) and scratch her on top of her head, and in about 3 seconds she would go limp and just let me hold her head up while she basked in the affection.

She could be mischievous.  If I would come in after an outing, and then go back out again before she felt she had gotten her due attention, she would go in the bathroom and overturn the waste basket in protest.  But before I could return she'd think about it and know it would make me unhappy, and she'd regret doing it.  Except without thumbs, she couldn't undo her evil deed.  I would come back home and she would be sitting at the door, her head bowed, her ears pinned back.  I'd give her a terse "Emma!  What did you do?", and she would jump on me meekly seeking forgiveness.  Being the benevolent King that I am, of course I'd give her a full pardon after a few wet licks.

I never realized how well sound-insulated our home is.  It is deafeningly quiet here all of a sudden.


Monday, December 19, 2011

RIP Emma Belle

My life was much richer because you were in it.  Thanks for being my best friend.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What a difference a day makes

Friday evening, our normal "date night", we celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Seasons 52.  Crab and shrimp stuffed mushrooms, fillet cooked just right, veggies, all advertised to be very calorie-conscious.  Then yesterday I gave back all my good eating habits and then some.  For lunch K and I split a BLT w/avocado pannini, then the rest of the day I had ice cream, 2 hot dogs, chips, peanuts, more ice cream, and several cokes.  Ugh!  It was one of those "do as I say, kids, not as I do" days.

Poor Emma Belle can't buy a break.  She's pretty much gotten over her episode with pancreatitis, but now she has a bum leg.  I think she jumped off the chair where she sleeps and somehow jammed her shoulder/leg when she landed.  The symptoms are the same as they were a year or so back, and that's what we deduced happened then.  Not much I can do for just heals itself over time.  Poor little mutt.  :(

I mentioned to K that the week before Christmas will be a blow-off week for sure.  Always is.  Productivity slumps to near-zero.  So what if employers were to make their employees this deal:  If they go the 3 or 4 or 6 months (TBD) before Christmas absence/tardy free, they can have the week of Christmas off. They would get to keep employees working full speed during normally productive times of the year, but lose very little actual work around Christmas.  Would you go for something like this?  Just another odd thought from my warped little brain.

Have a good day, y'all.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Our anniversary dinner....

Tonight K and I have reservations to celebrate our 5-year anniversary at Seasons 52.  It's one of those places that puts just a little bit of food on a great big plate.  *pout*  The good news is that little bit of food is amazing!  I'm going for the filet, and I think K is too as the last time we were there she had the Scottish salmon, but kept eyeing my steak all evening.  Watch, listen, and learn, babe....

That will be us sitting back in the corner by the kitchen.  (Hmmmm, the publicity photo shows decent portion sizes. Maybe my memory failed me.  For once I'm hoping.)

Best of all, it's just a 5 minute walk from our home, and I love walking around our neighborhood, especially on weekends.  The "sights" never cease to entertain/confound me.  You'll see stunningly gorgeous women dressed to the hilt accompanied by guys that look like they were under their car changing the oil just minutes before.  Fashion trends these days just baffle me.  

We've had two days of badly needed rain, and now the sun is coming back out for the weekend.  Perfect!  I still have to work this Sunday afternoon, but then I'll have two consecutive holiday weekends off.  I won't know what to do with myself!  We'll probably go to the mall this Saturday and indulge in a Starbucks, and as we've had all our Christmas shopping complete for well over a month, just sit and stare and laugh at all the panicked people scurrying around fighting over the last of whatever the latest greatest gizmo is this year. Haha!

What's on your weekend agenda?  Something fun I hope.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

And the winner is....

I see that TIME magazine has announced their "Person of the Year", the recipient(s) judged to be those "who have done the most to influence the events of the world....for better or worse."  And the winner is....protesters.  *applause*

I'd like to thank my parents, who taught me right from wrong and how to tie my shoes, and my high school government teacher who.....and.....

Like most everyone else I never read TIME magazine (their readership has been tanking for years), but for once I agree with their choice.  Protesters have overthrown corrupt despots in half a dozen slum-dog countries in the Muslim world and now are focusing their attention on western Europe, Russia, and in a weird and ineffective way, the USA, too.   I support them all.

Now comes the "for better or worse" part.  If you throw off one regime who's standing on its citizen's throats and replace it with another who does the same thing, is that progress?  The emphasis in the US is to throw the bums in Washington out at the next election, but then what?  Do we just get a new bunch of faces who do the same things the old faces did?  Is that progress?

IMHO we need a new Constitutional Convention to update the principles our Founding Fathers set us up with.  A constitution that removes the possibility of career politicians through term limits, removes lobbying and the corrupting "fundraising" that goes with it, prohibits special interest groups that seek to tilt the playing field in their favor to the detriment of "the little guy",  taxes everyone fairly and abolishes/prohibits loopholes that favor a select few, puts bankers in leg irons because of that karma thing, etc.

I'll see if we can meet at our community club house next Tuesday and get started.  Who's with me?  :)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Goin' to the chapel, and we're gonna get married..."

That's the song K and I were singing 5 years ago today.  We met online in the spring of 2006, one of the many Journal Space romances, and by December were ready to make ours a "forever" thing.  I suggested we say our "I do's" on California's Monterrey peninsula, and with a little more research we decided on Carmel by the Sea.  Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?  ~Carmel by the Sea~

We made reservations for five days at the Tickle Pink Inn, a beautiful Inn high up on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Yes, the sunsets were spectacular!  We spent more than a little time on our terrace, sipping an adult beverage, marveling at the view and listening to the waves crashing onto the rocks below.  We took day-trips south to Big Sur and on to San Simeon.  Just the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway was pleasurable...for me at least.  I was driving rather "enthusiastically" while K was turning various shades of green.  Oops.

The architecture in Carmel is unique, with storeybook houses everywhere, most beautifully maintained as a tribute to the town's beginnings as an artist's colony:

We learned our way around town easily enough and found several nice bistros where we became regulars.  (We slept late and had our breakfasts brought in.)  Just walking down Main Street in the evenings, looking in all the quaint shops (shoppes?) at their Christmas decorations, was a nice diversion.  And of course we learned every twist and turn in the road while driving all over/around Pebble Beach.  Our big day finally arrived and we found that our little chapel in the woods wasn't exactly like we pictured it.  Oh well....

Here we are five years later (June, 2011), happily enjoying a casual meal al fresco in Aspen, Colorado:

Thank you, Ms P, for putting up with me these 5 years.  I hope you'll see fit to hold my hand for!  :)


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The troublemaker gets his due....

Yes, this is autobiographical.  I was "the troublemaker".  Years ago I got crosswise with the Executive Director of the Texas Association of Builders.  IMO he simply wasn't representing us well, and I had the audacity to write him and say so.  Actually, I was a serial corresponder.  Then one day I got a letter from the Office of the Governor of Texas asking if I would allow His Holiness the Governor to appoint me to some board that had "housing" in it's name.  

It didn't take much research for me to learn it was a "do-nothing" board, so I declined, which really pissed off the Executive Director of the TAB as he was the one who had forwarded my name for the appointment.  As most appointees' heads swell up the size of the capital dome, he was sure I would jump at the chance to "move up" and would therefore have no time to pester him.  Little did he know how small my ego was.   Nor was he aware I knew a guy who at one time was the appointment secretary to the Governor of Maryland.  It was he who once shared with me how most board/commission appointees were there to get them out of someone else's hair and were merely fundraising tools for the Governor.

Any time someone comes at me with syrupy-sweet praise, totally outsized kudos, undeserved political appointments, etc, I tend to back myself into a corner and hold on to my wallet.  It's a tactic that has worked well for me for years. Feel free to use it yourself.

Oh, and the Exec Director mentioned above has since moved on.  I'll always like to think I was one of the reasons he left.  ;)


Monday, December 12, 2011


Now for my expert opinion on this year's crop of Presidential candidates:  They suck.  We're screwed.  Now back to you in the studio....

Oh, OK.  Details....Mitt Romney is one of "them", the hedge fund/speculator/big money crowd that I generically call "The Bankers".  That's his background, those are his financial backers, and that's who he'll fall in line with if he's elected.   He likes to point out that in his former stint at Bains Capital he created a lot of jobs, but there's ample evidence his stable of companies were net job losers.  Sorry Mitt, but we've given The Bankers free reign before, and look where that got us.  No thanks.

Newt Gingrich....narcissist, hypocrite, dangerously smart, totally shameless.  He, probably more than anyone else in Congress back in the 90's when he was Speaker of the House, empowered The Bankers to run crazy.  He's not even well thought of in his own party.  Remember the attempted coup by a sizable number of his fellow Republicans to oust him as Speaker?  He tells us he's "reformed" and we can trust him to lead us out of the economic mess we're in.  Hell, he couldn't even pay his own Tiffany's bill without collecting $1.6M from Freddie Mac for "consulting".  *wink*

Ron Paul....the only one of the bunch I respect.  He'll take a stand on an issue, regardless of how unpopular, and stick with it, the polls be damned.  I admire that.  I even like some of his positions.  Most, however, are way out there.   Not electable at all.

Rick Perry....where do I start?  Smartly dressed, great hair, dumber than a box of rocks.  He wants to bring the hammer down on "those Pakastani countries".  Huh?

Santorum, Bachmann, that guy from Utah....not even on the radar.

Which leaves us Barack Obama.  An incredible orator, a graduate of the Jimmy Carter School of Leadership, totally ineffective.  He's much too liberal to be able to work with any Republican (as much their fault as his), and even a sizable number of Democrats keep their distance from him.  Click here to see what commentator Chris Matthews, a "liberal's liberal", has to say about him.  Can you imagine how ineffective he'll be in a second term as a lame duck?  Ouch!  Why is it an incumbent President gets an automatic pass by his own party to run unopposed?

Where are the LEADERS?

That's why today I'm announcing....  :)


Sunday, December 11, 2011

No big screen TV for us

Our un-lucky streak is intact.  Once again K and I returned from her company Christmas party empty handed.  They always have drawings for some really delicious prizes like big screen TV's (70 inch!) and computers and blue ray's, but none of them have our numbers on them.  Ever.  (We already have a big screen TV, but there's always room for another bigger, better one.)  Oh well, it was still a good time, with plenty of great music and food and drink.  Truth be told, though, I wonder how many of the 1000 people there would be there if they didn't have those great prize give-aways at the end of the evening?

Some people thrive on being social butterflies.  I'm just not one of them.  I generally don't look forward to many....OK, most.... of the social events the season dictates, but of course I go anyway.  I know lots of people at work who I deal with professionally on a daily basis, but I have zero desire to pal around with them after-hours.  I'm very much a "low-profile" person. 

Remember what George Washington once said:  "Avoid entangling alliances".   'Ol George was talking about international relations when he said that, but I think it can apply to social alliances, too.  I just don't like getting too close to other people's daily dramas, and I don't want them in mine, either.  And frankly, most of them just aren't that interesting. Neither am I. 

Anybody else feel the same?


Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm not sure what to think of this....

Rinspeed, an aftermarket car customizer in Europe, proposes to make an add-on pod for a Smart car, making it capable of carrying more stuff.   Isn't the whole idea of a Smart car to travel light?  When it's hooked up it sorta looks like a  WWII German troop carrier.  Maybe a fake machine gun on top for effect?  Make the Highway Patrol think twice before stopping you, for sure.  

I also read in the paper where Wachovia, now part of Wells Fargo Bank, has agreed to pay a $148M fine to settle charges of illegal bid-rigging in years past.  That's it?  Really?  That would be like me robbing a bank (say Wells Fargo) of $1M, getting caught, and agreeing to pay a $500,000 fine.  And they say crime doesn't pay.  Ha!  I wanna see some "suits" busting rocks in the prison quarry!

Emma is doing much better.  Her digestive system seems to be performing as advertised.  Thanks for the prayers and good wishes on her behalf.

Hope y'all have a great weekend.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Emma update....

The vet examined her and said all vitals looked good, but obviously her digestive system was still unsettled.  She prescribed several more meds to ease her queasy stomach and diarrhea and to coat her stomach and make it less sensitive.  The bland diet continues, probably forever.  I just now (4:30pm) gave her more food, the first in nearly two days.  We'll see how she handles it.  *Fingers crossed*  All things considered, she's doing better than I expected.


Emma's sick....I'm afraid

My dog Emma Belle is not well.  A few weeks ago she was diagnoised with pancreatitis and has been on a special prescription diet ever since.  (I found out in my research that miniature schnauzers and westies are prone to the condition.)  Most days she seems OK, will eat her food, go to the bathroom, etc.  Every now and then her system would rebel, and it wasn't pretty.  Now is one of those times.  She hasn't been able to keep food down for almost two days and has had diarrhea and thrown up twice.  This morning at 4am she scratched at the door, her signal to go out immediately. 

 I have an appointment with the vet this morning at 10.  I have no idea what to expect.  I thought Emma was about 12 or 13 years old, but K says she's more likely around 15.  I know what her ultimate fate will be, but I would prefer it to be later....much later.  Regardless of what I want, I will not let her suffer.  I owe her that much.  She gives so much and asks so little in return.  Please say a prayer for my little pooch's recovery.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cold...wet...busy...I'm tired just thinking about it

K took the dog out early this morning for her normal dootie call and returned to tell me there was a light dusting of snow on everything.  I looked out the window to see....nothing. It must be a VERY light dusting.  Wonder if this will bring out "Team Coverage" from all the TV channels?  Haha!

Unfortunately I won't be able to enjoy it as I have to be at work early.  Seems everyone and their uncle will be on my jobsite today.  I tried to space things out but was told I'd better take 'em when I can get 'em, so they're all showing up today.  I'll deal with it.  That's why I make the big lucky to have a job.

And to top off this splendid day, tonight K and I are going to the Performing Arts Center to watch grandson Parker's 2-year-old kindergarten class perform their Christmas concert.  Really?  2-year-olds?  I'm betting  the curtain will go up and 20 little kiddlette's will see all those big, scary grown ups in the audience staring at them, and they'll run off crying their eyes out.  I just can't imagine what they can do/sing that would justify a 40-minute commute, but, such is the burden of being a grandpa.  Sing on, kids.  :)


Monday, December 5, 2011

So this one moron says to another moron....

...."hey Aoki, watch this"....then everything went black.  

It seems that yesterday a group of friends in their exotic cars were cruising down a freeway in Japan (at a reported 90+ mph) when one decided to change lanes, lost control, and started a chain-reaction wreck.  All total, 14 cars were involved, including 8 Ferrari's, 1 Lamborghini, and 2 Mercedes.  Fortunately no one was seriously hurt.  Talk about having a bad day!  The only one who had a worse day was probably their insurance agent.  I wonder if they all went out for lunch afterwards?

It's a cold, wet day in Dallas.  Lots of rain, 36 degrees, and just one county to our west...snow.  The Old Farmers Almanac has predicted a warmer, dryer winter than normal for north Texas, but I'm hoping they're wrong.  I'm one of those weirdo's who actually likes snow.   Texas snow.  You know, the kind that falls 5 or 6 inches deep, looks pretty for a couple of days, spawns more than a few snowmen, then melts.  Not sure what it's like to have snow fall 3 or 4 or more FEET deep and last for 5 months.  I guess if I ever make it to Colorado I'll find out.

Y'all have a good Monday, and drive carefully.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Postal Service strikes again!

I know the US Constitution specifically says the government is supposed to deliver the mail, but really, the Postal Service is about as worthless as a screen door on a submarine.   Why would anyone choose to deal with the USPS, given a choice?  How inept do you have to be to get a job at the post office?  Maybe that's why they lost $5.1B last year, and are projected to lose another $14.1B next year.  They can't even deliver a simple magazine in one piece:

Up through page 48 I just have to guess what the missing words might have said.  As far as I'm concerned, the USPS can go ahead and forgo Saturday delivery as they are proposing.  They should easily be able to compress their damage into a 5-day-delivery week, leaving their Saturday's free for banjo practice.

Long live UPS and FedEx!


Friday, December 2, 2011

I have a pain in my Pippa

I'm sure to those of you who keep up with high society and matters of style this will not come as any great surprise, but according to all the trend setters, Pippa Middleton, sister of Kate Duchess of Something-or-Other, has one fine arse.  I saw on the news that women are actually having "butt lifts" so they can look more like Pippa.  Really!  Cosmetic surgeons are being overwhelmed with requests to imitate Pippa's derriere.  There is even a "Pippa Middleton Ass Appreciation Society".  This is what "it" is supposed to look like:

And for those who can't afford surgical enhancement, several lingerie makers are offering padded "Pippa" panties.  Imagine the disappointment on the wedding night when the groom first sees (?) his bride without her padded imitation-Pippa undies.  Haha!

Speaking of underwear, did any of you see the Victoria's Secret fashion show on TV earlier this week?  I never ceased to be amazed by how some marketing hype turned a company that essentially sells underwear and bras into a cult phenomenon.  You think the "suits" at Playtex and Fruit of the Loom are beating their heads against the wall, saying, "Dang...that could have been us"? 

I think VS is slipping a bit, though.  Remember, they were the ones who put curves back on fashion models, but several of their fashion show "angels" looked to me like they need to eat a cheeseburger or two.  

Now I must go and take an Aleve to help ease the pinched nerve in my Pippa.  Hope you all have a great weekend.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

A clean desk is a sign of.....

....a sick mind.  At least that's the old saying.  Really?  I've been told I'm "not right", but "sick"?  I'll let you I normal, slightly warped, oddly eccentric, or in need of one of those shirts with the really long sleeves that tie together in the back?

One bit of paperwork clutter I do like on my desk is this:

I have no idea what it is, or even if it's legitimate, but I'm gonna throw it at my bank and see if it sticks. Apparently I'm part of a class action know the type, where the lawyers get $100,000,000 and the screwed consumers get $18.04 each.  But, hey, I'll take it.  Being the big spender that I am, I'm gonna treat K to one of the finest drive-thru burger joints in town.

Speaking of burgers, you'd better start checking the list of ingredients in your burger meat.  That's because the USDA will soon begin inspecting horse slaughter houses, which means horse meat might soon start showing up on American menus, or at least discretely as an added filler.  Now it goes mostly to pet food makers, although I understand horse meat is not uncommon in Europe.  What next?  Baby seal meat?


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's a GIRL!!

Last night K and I met up with the rest of the family and invited friends at daughter Erica's home for her baby's "gender reveal" party.  I'd never heard of this before, but it's apparently become a big deal:  After the doctor's sonogram is reviewed and the gender is determined, the nurse puts the typical sonogram portfolio and a note, "boy" or "girl" as appropriate, into an envelope and seals it.  The new parents take the envelope to a bakery and have the baker open it to see which sex it is, and then make a small cake with the insides either pink or blue, while the outside icing is unisex white/green/yellow.  Then at the party they cut the cake open to reveal the baby's gender.

It was a lot of fun watching the faces of the new parents as they got the news.  Even Erica's sister in San Antonio was there via the magic of iPhone live video.  It was interesting watching all the people tweeting and Facebooking as soon as the first sign of pink became visible.  Technological Neanderthal me....I couldn't even manage to take a decent iPhone photo.  Erica wanted a girl so she was ecstatic, while Donnie (I think) wanted a boy, but as they already have Parker, was fine with having a daughter.  

So now I'm going to have a granddaughter, to be looked after quite well, I'm sure, by her older brother and 3 nephews, and her dad, and her granddad, and her......


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mommy, where does sod come from?

Waiting for me in this morning's email:

Two blonds were sitting at a sidewalk table at Starbuck's one afternoon when they noticed a pallet of new grass sod across the street.  The first blond said, "Oh wow!  If I ever win the lottery, that's what I'm gonna do."

The second blond said, "What do you mean?"

The first blond said, "Send my lawn out to be mowed."


This evening we're going to a family get-together at my youngest daughter's home where she's going to announce the results of today's doctor visit.  Today she'll learn the gender of her baby.  My 2 1/2 year-old grandson will learn if he'll have a baby brother or a baby sister, or as the blond from the story above might say, "He'll learn if he'll be  a big brother or a big sister."  ;)


Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Us vs. Them, and we're losing

I've read recently that the big financial interests, that would be commercial banks, investment banks (pretty much the same these days), hedge funds, etc, are pushing back hard against the implementation of parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms law.  Seems the new rules make it more difficult for them to gamble big (which means "heads they win, tails taxpayers lose"), and opens up their books for *gasp* consumers to see just how badly they're screwing us.  (They like to work in the dark, or at least in the shadows, as much as possible.)

I can see why they're pushing back, as it impacts their multi-million dollar pay and bonuses.  What I can't understand is why they have allies in Congress who are siding with them.   Well, I can understand why....Congress is bought and paid for by the "bankers".  I guess what I can't understand is why we, the electorate, keep giving these guys our votes?  It's like thanking the mugger and inviting him to meet you again next week, same time, same place. 

We need a new, third political party, a party that will represent US.  The Democrats and Republicans surely don't.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

The end is near!

The end of our long holiday weekend, that is. I'm the world's worst about looking forward to time off, and dreading seeing it end, too. Right now K and I are drowning our sorrows non-alcoholicly at Starbuck's. K does this every Sunday, but as I usually work Sunday afternoon's, this is quite a treat for me. My instructions are to sit here and read for hours on end. And if my butt starts hurting, shut up and keep reading. Haha!

I saw on the Internet that Eurostat, the EU agency that keeps track of all the statistics, says that the UK has the highest obesity rate in Europe, and Italy has the lowest. Italy, with all the pasta and bread they eat? How's that possible? If I ate that kind of food daily I'd be the size of a house! I'll just stick with my meat and potatoes. Um....wait...

I read in the newspaper that Sergio Scaglietti has died. If you've ever admired the beautiful lines of a vintage Ferrari, you've admired the genius of Mr. Scaglietti. Just look at the cars driving around today (IMHO usually very bland) and you'll appreciate his sense of style even more. RIP, sir.

A family birthday party tonight, then it's back to the cold, cruel world tomorrow. :(


Friday, November 25, 2011

You might be a redneck if....

....your momma puts "ammo" on her Christmas wish list.

K's former boss....she's now working "upstairs"....for some reason recently decided she wanted a concealed handgun license.  She successfully completed the classroom portion and passed the shooting part as well with a gun she rented from the gun range.  Now she wants to buy her own semi-automatic pistol. Trouble is, she knows nothing about handguns.    Tomorrow morning I'm taking her to the Gun and Knife Collector's show in Dallas and will try to give her a crash course in what she needs to know about firearms, especially about safety.  I'm afraid her out shopping for a gun by herself would be like the little naive lady at the unscrupulous car repair shop.  

She's not that big of a lady and she keeps talking about getting a .45.    She mentioned that her rented gun jammed several times during her test, which tells me her wrists might not be strong enough to handle the recoil from a .45.  I'm going to try and talk her down to a 9mm.  I hope she'll listen.  Then comes live shooting at a range, and finally care and cleaning.   When I get through with her she'll be a regular Annie Oakley.  ;)


Late edit:  K's boss called to say she's sick.  This is twice she's asked me to take her, and twice she's been "sick".  Maybe she does need to go gun shopping by herself after all.