Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grandpa's getting a tattoo? What's up with that?

Here's a new one:  It seems many people, particularly older people, are getting medical tattoos.  I guess they're suppose to replace those Medic-Alert bracelets.  They say things like "diabetic" or "allergic to ____".  Some have even had "Do Not Resuscitate" tattooed across their chest.  Paramedics can't use that as a legally binding order, but it will alert them to ask relatives for legitimate instructions.  I dunno.  I was kinda thinking about "Mom" or a pirate or something cool like that.

I think we've been sold a bill of goods....again.  Our politicians all say that it's small businesses that are the job creators in our country, so we can't raise taxes on them, right?  Now evidence says that isn't so.  It seems that brand new businesses just getting off the ground DO create jobs, but older small businesses (>5 yrs)  generally cut as many or more jobs as they create due to efficiency improvements.  Figured together, they cut more jobs than they created in all but 3 months last year.  I'm not suggesting we should or shouldn't raise taxes on small businesses, but I am saying the rationale our politicians have argued is a bunch of phooey.  Yet another reason to not trust 'em.  


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I think he needs a bit more coaching

I don't think 'ol Mitt gets it.  At this stage of a political campaign aren't candidates supposed to put on their jeans (after they buy some), roll up their sleeves, and mingle with the common folk?  Mitt managed to pull off the first two, but it's the "mingling" part that seems to be giving him fits.

He's in Michigan, blue collar heaven, and he tells a group of auto workers that he drives American-made cars, and that his wife drives a Cadillac, TWO actually.  And when asked if he followed NASCAR, he replied, a little, he's not really an expert, but several of his best friends OWN NASCAR teams.  

Well boy howdy!  Pull up a stool, Mitt, and have a cold one with us.  Or maybe he has one of those false labels he can wrap around his bottle of Dom Perignon to make it look like a bottle of Boone's Farm.  I'd suggest one of those little round cans of Skoal for his back pocket, too.  Yep, "A Man of the People".  That's Mitt.  *Some Grey Poupon for your hot dog, sir?*


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

Yesterday I was honored (and shocked) to learn that my friend Steve the Chubby Chatterbox nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award.  To think that someone as creative and articulate as he would nominate lil 'ol me is quite humbling.  Thank you, Steve.  :)

According to nomination protocol I'm supposed to share 7 interesting things about myself ("interesting" being relative) and then pass on my nomination for the award to a few others I find deserving.  So without further adieu....

1.  I had a loving, stable childhood.  Two parents (no stand-ins), both very caring and ultra-ethical, only three public schools, culminating in a B.A. in BS from Texas Tech University.  My dad had an outrageous sense of humor, so on those occasions when I go totally bonkers just know I'm's my dad's genes running amok inside me.  For 30-something years my brother and I have been partners building Park Place Custom Homes (.com if anyone cares).

2.  Politically I'm all over the map.  My conservative friends think I'm a card-carrying Socialist, while my liberal friends think I'm just to the right of Attila the Hun. So which is it?  Both, depending on the issue....with a heavy dose of cynicism mixed in.  I firmly believe our elected officials at all levels (and of BOTH parties) care about themselves first, those who bribe contribute to their re-election campaigns second, while We the People rank somewhere down there with the family pet....maybe even a notch below.

3.  I've had a life-long interest in aviation.  When I was 8 years old my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told them I wanted to have a party on the observation deck of Dallas' Love Field.  Back in the mid-80's I joined a WWII aviation heritage group then known as the Confederate Air Force.  We acquired, restored, and then flew our 130+/- aircraft at airshows all across the country.  I was a marshaller, leading a group of around 50 others who organized and ran the flight line at these shows.  I was the Ramp Boss at events from California to Maryland, Iowa to the very southern tip of Texas.  It was a very challenging (volunteer) job, basically run like a huge jigsaw puzzle based on aircraft size, turning radius, etc.  Over the years I worked closely with the US Navy Blue Angels, the USAF Thunderbirds, the RCAF Snowbirds, and the RAF Red Arrows.  That all came to an abrupt end when....

4.  ....I had several back-to-back detached retinas in my left eye which, long story short, left me with no peripheral vision on that side.  When you're literally working just a few feet from giant whirling propellers capable of turning you into sausage in the blink of an eye, situational awareness is critical.  With no peripheral vision on one side I decided it was time to hang it up.  I then studied and became a certified docent at a local aviation museum, but frankly I found it boring.

5.  I've attended both Citizen's Police and Fire Academies, giving me just enough knowledge of what they do to be dangerous. It was a blast, and very "hands-on".  I've also completed (for real) Aircraft Rescue And Fire Fighting (ARFF) training at Dallas' Love Field and DFW International Airport.  I was first to arrive at several airshow crashes, but the damage was catastrophic and there was little I could do when I arrived on scene.  Very sad.

6.  Back in 1992 I was invited to experience a "trap" (landing) and a "cat shot" (takeoff) on the USS Forrestal, a US Navy aircraft carrier operating in the Gulf of Mexico at the time.  It was a fun ride, lemme tell you!  Yes, that makes me a "tailhooker", no pun intended.  (Well...maybe a little.  ;) 

7.  I met my wife Kelly (aka "K") online, but not the way you might think.  I was reading an aviation blog and it said "for further info on this topic read", so I linked over.  JS said I had to have a membership to read there so I signed up.  Later while surfing JS I saw a photo of a weed on a blog, the blogger asking what it was and how do you control it, so I answered.  Later posts were also interesting so we began visiting.  Come to find out she was living far away at the time but was from near Ft. Worth, Texas (I'm from near Dallas).  More talk, then a meet, then....  :)  And to think if I had linked over to Journalspace just a few seconds earlier or later I probably would never have seen her weed photo and cry for help.  It was fate, I tell ya!

Are you bored to tears yet?  I thought so.  

Now please allow me to nominate a few other bloggers I find interesting:

Oddball Observations....Bruce writes about....well....oddball observations.  He's had an interesting life and has some interesting opinions, too.

Charleston Daily Photo....Joan shares some of the interesting sights and history of the Charleston, SC area.

Suldog....what can I say?  Jim is just not right!  In a good and humorous way, though.

Now y'all close your computers and get to work.  :)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Restaurant review time

We have a core group of restaurants we frequent often, but recently we've stepped out and tried a couple of new places that have really impressed us.  Obviously this won't be of much use to you if you live outside the Dallas area, but I'm going to sing their praises anyway.

Anamia's has about the best Tex-Mex I've ever tasted, and believe me I've tried a LOT of Tex-Mex in my time.  It's a family-owned place (wife Ana, daughter Mia) and I'm betting it will thrive!  I had traditional Tex-Mex (it's that "old dog / new trick" thing), but K had their shrimp enchaladas and said they were fantastic.  And their margaritas were done right, too, using a lot more than just the usual whiff of tequila fragrance.  The atmosphere is definitely not your typical cheesy mexican-village-mural-painted-on-the-wall, but instead a very nice soft contemporary feel that's just loud enough and just dark enough to be comfortable.  We enjoyed it so much we gave an Anamia's gift card to a friend whose birthday party was last night.  Two thumbs up, and that's only because I don't have three thumbs.

Then there's Tru-Fire Kitchen and Bar.  Their slogan:  "Life happens in the kitchen".  Most of their cuisine seems to be Italian although I saw a waiter delivering a burger to a table nearby.  (Boy did they miss out!)  We each had an adult beverage and a small Caesar salad and then shared a gourmet pizza...."Parma Prosciutto".  It was mouth watering! And again the atmosphere was very comfortable.  Dark but not too dark and some lively noise that still allows for conversation.  The hardest part was deciding on which entre to order.  Decisions, decisions...  ;)

Today we're doing more packing, and going by Ikea to check out some new everyday dishes, and I think we need some new kitchen knives, too, then on for some coffee and read time afterwards.  But first, back to Anamia's for their weekend brunch.

Y'all have fun!  


Friday, February 24, 2012

What's up with the price of gas?

'Splain something to me, Lucy.  When I bought my little Audi five years ago the difference between 87 octane "regular" gas and the 93 octane "premium" that I use was $0.20 a gallon.  A couple of years later the difference was $0.30 per gallon.  Yesterday I paid $3.95 a gallon, while regular was $3.59.  That's $0.36 a gallon difference.  Why?  Somethin' smells.

Remember back in early '08 when oil hit $147 a barrel?  I was one of those early ones screaming "speculators!" while our government, who's supposed to be looking out for our best interests by insisting on a level playing field, said, "Huh?  We don't see nuthin'.  Yuck, yuck."  As it turned out it was speculators who ran the price up and got filthy rich(er) at our expense.  It's one thing to add something to the economy and make a profit, but when you just skim off a fat profit without adding anything, well...that's called stealing as far as I'm concerned.

I'm seeing things right now with the price of oil that don't seem right.  The supply / demand equation doesn't sync.  I'm not ready to attribute it all to speculators just yet, but my antennae are up.  As Inspector Clouseau was fond of saying, "I'm on zee case."


Thursday, February 23, 2012

No more "all-nighters" for me

When you were in school did you ever put off reading those last few chapters until an hour before class, or start writing that essay due the next day at the 11th hour, or maybe procrastinate cracking the books in preparation for a big exam until the day before?   No?  Me either.  I was always prepared long before  *HUGE LIGHTNING BOLT...DEAFENING CLAP OF THUNDER*  OK....OK....maybe once or twice I was caught off guard.  Sheesh!

K and I have one month before we move to cull through our stuff, decide which of our "family heirlooms" we'll keep, which we'll continue to store, and which we'll toss.  Come moving day I'm gonna have my shit together!  No more "all-nighters" for me. 

I've decided my big oak desk and 3-drawer oak file cabinet will go on Craig's List today.  Right now they're fulfilling the Murphy's Law that says "the amount of junk you have is directly proportional to the amount of storage space you have."  The exercise bike goes on there, too (once I dust the cob webs off it), and some nice art prints I've had stored for years.  Good riddance.  I'm really into this minimalist thing.  "Travel light and freeze at night" as they say.

Today's rant:  Afghani-f>>king-stan.  What a hell-hole.  Even after a sincere apology the natives are attacking our people there in protest for destroying some Korans or something like that.  Here's what I say....pack up all our stuff, load up the planes, what you can't load, pile up and throw a match on it, and get the hell out.  There isn't one thing, NOT ONE THING there that interests me.  

As it is foreign aid by us (and our allies) make up 97% of their gross national income.  They'll have to find 'em another national pastime besides shaking down gringo's.   El Presidente Humid Carbide and his graft-grabbing buddies can kiss my a$$.  Let 'em go back to doing what they do best....breaking big rocks into little bitty rocks.  It's what made them the great progressive country they are today.

Ahhh....better. :)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giddiup cowboy

Yesterday I stopped by my daughter's house for a few minutes and noticed on the way there that all the streets in her community have old west / cowboy names.  This reminded me of a post not long ago by my friend Bruce Taylor pointing out similar street names in the area where he lives. Some examples in daughter Erica's neighborhood:

I guess that's all pretty cool....if you're a fan of those sorts of things.  At the risk of betraying my Texas roots, I must admit I'm not.  I was never into Roy and Dale and Gene and all that "yee-haw" stuff.  


Some of the, MOST of the things our government does baffles me.  I read today that so far Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, now wholly owned by the taxpayers after they went bust back in the Meltdown of '08, have spent nearly $100M defending the actions of several of their former executives against accusations of hokus pokus bookkeeping and securities fraud.  And who's making those accusations?  Our government.  We're essentially suing ourselves.

While such "agreements to defend" are common in corporate America, the inspector general of the agency defending the former Fannie/Freddie executives says those agreements went out the window back in '08 when the government took them over, but because we're such nice guys suckers, we're defending them anyway.  And it isn't like these guys are indigent.  Hardly!  (Former CEO Franklin Raines was paid over $90M.)  Let 'em defend themselves!  I sometimes think our government just goes out looking for piles to step in.  *shaking head*


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Down-sizing" finally makes it to "right-sizing"

I read an interesting story in the paper recently about empty nesters and their downsizing dilemma.  The jest of it was that people stay in their huge homes where they raised their family, loaded to the gills with a lifetime of accumulated "stuff", then they retire and find it difficult to simplify and downsize like they promised themselves they would.  They say you should gradually wean yourself from the thinking that "more" and "bigger" are better.  It's like an auto race:  the winner doesn't cross the finish line and then stomp on the brakes.  He gradually decelarates and eventually walks to the podium to collect his prize.

That's essentially what K and I have been doing for the past three years.  In 2009 we sold our large 2-story home with the big yard (that I promise you DIDN'T mow itself!), gave to my kids whatever stuff they wanted, then sold or gave to Goodwill all but the things that were important to us that we wanted to keep.  We moved into a comfortable apartment which was supposed to be temporary until I could build us another patio home-sized residence, but found we actually liked the maintanence-free lifestyle.  (Something needs fixing, just fire off an email.  I like!)

Now we're on to phase II of our "right-sizing" journey.  We're signing a new lease today on another apartment a couple of miles away, still in a great location, but which is new and immaculate.  It's actually a bit smaller, and a bit cheaper, too, but it's arranged to feel larger.  Granite countertops, porcelain tiled floors, stainless steel appliances....all very upscale.  And all that stuff we brought from our old home we really wanted to keep?  Much of it has been stuffed into the back of closets and in our storage room ever since, untouched. 

Tonight we start culling through it all....again.  It really feels liberating to pare yourself back to less "stuff".  I remember many years ago I had a friend who lived on a 35 ft. boat in Florida.  He could take everything he needed for a week's vacation in a carry-on duffle bag.  If he bought something new and took it onboard his boat, something else had to come off to make room for it.  I doubt I can ever match his efficiency, but I think I can get reasonably close.  K too.  This is one move I'm actually looking forward to.  :)

I'll leave you with my favorite sarcastic cartoon-of-the-day:

I feel so much better now that the banksters have said they're sorry and made amends for their past sleazy practices.  Bless 'em all.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Strange....or spot on?

Over the weekend I stumbled on to a new series on the National Geographic Channel called Doomsday Preppers.  It's about people who think their world is about to collapse and are putting away food and water and ammo in preparation.  (Not to be confused with Mormons, who have long advocated keeping a years supply of food on hand at all times.)  It's really both part sad and part funny to watch.  Most are just a bunch of bubbas who live in "compounds" out in the sticks with buildings bulging with thousands of cases of canned goods, barrels full of potable water, and LOTS of guns.  

And what they're afraid of is almost comical.  For instance, one guy thinks the north and south poles will switch places, royally screwing things up on earth.  Another is afraid solar flares will fry everything electronic on earth, leaving those unprepared cold and hungry, with no trucks to deliver food to the stores, no cars to get to work, and for that matter no workplaces to go to.  Possible?  Sure, but I think I'll take my chances.  They have remote food caches, "bug-out" routes, and back-up defense measures (bows and arrows) in case they run out of ammo.

One guy, however, seemed like he wasn't a bubba, and in fact seemed quite normal.  His fear?  We're headed towards a world-wide economic collapse.  Seeing as how we came a lot closer than most of us realize back in 2008, and in fact Europe is still on the edge right now, his concerns aren't as far fetched.  

I'm still not ready to run out and buy 50,000 cans of beans and a years supply of freeze-dried chili, however.  For one thing I don't have a place to store it all, and certainly no place to stock the thousands of rolls of toilet paper such a diet would necessitate.  I do have three boxes of microwave popcorn in the pantry, though.  I wonder if I could use that to barter for some Snickers bars and maybe a Coke?  If so, then I'm good.


And to turn the topic around 180 degrees, according to the NYT, the Urban Man lives!  Their headline reads, "Men Step Out of the Recession, Bag on Hip, Bracelet on Wrist".  They go on to say "men are buying so many accessories that some forecasters predict sales growth....this year will set a 20-year high."  To appeal to men they're not calling bracelets "bracelets", but "wristwear".  And it's not a purse or a "murse" (Man pURSE....get it?), but a "holdall".  

"Bracelets (I thought we just decided to call it "wristwear"?) are on fire right now", said Tim Bess, a trend forecaster.  "I'd say it's the No. 1 look for the young man."  

"Young man"?  I must admit I've worn one for years.  I knew if I wore it long enough the trend would come around and I'd be considered fashionable.  'Bout damn time!  :)


Saturday, February 18, 2012

She's created a MONSTER!

Remember the horror movie where the little kid turns into a monster, his eyes glowing in the dark, etc?  Was that The Omen?  Anyway, that's what K's little dog has turned into.  He got a haircut yesterday for the first time and I don't think he liked it, and he's taking it out on ME!

I think she should have named him Damien.  Every night this week he hasn't slept well.  He wakes up at 3 am and whines, so K gets up with him and tries to calm him back down.  Consequently she's had no where near enough sleep all week.  By last night she was just dragging.  I told her I would take dog duty on Friday night / Saturday morning so she could sleep in.

Sure enough at 3:15 the little bastard starts whining.  I took him into the den and put him on his round dog bed while I tried to go back to sleep on the couch.  (NOTE:  I'm 6 feet tall, but the couch is only about 5' 6" between the arms on the ends.  How do those big-ape basketball players sleep at night?)  I tried lying on my side (which women can't do BTW because they don't have a kick-stand :) with my legs all bent up, but that was NOT conducive to sleep.

And it didn't matter anyway because all wanted to do was scratch at the bedroom door and whine for K.  Well guess what K?  You wanted to "bond" with YOUR dog?  You got your wish!  I tried picking him up to keep him away from the bedroom door so K could sleep, but trying to hold him is like trying to hold a 5 pound glob of jello during an earthquake!  Finally I gave up and took him back to K and said, "I tried...he's yours", and then I went back to the couch so he could sleep IN MY BED.  

Then this morning we heard the loudspeakers blaring and the crowd cheering because our neighborhood is hosting yet another 5K / 10K / Fun Run.  I'm pretty sure Luke had something to do with that event, too, just to spite me.  I'm surprised there wasn't a banner stretched across the street that said, "WAKE UP, SCOTT.  NO SLEEP TODAY FOR YOU".  If you ever want to pull off a bank heist, do it the same morning they're having a 5K in Plano, TX because all the cops are there blocking off streets, setting up barricades, acting as crowd control, etc.  Nobody's watching the banks.  You could be in New Mexico before they could send a cop to the crime scene. 

I think I might have to re-visit my childhood and take a nap today.  Which might not be a bad idea as it's supposed to rain all day anyway.

Later, friends.


PS...Yeah, yeah, I know.  He's cute.  :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flush twice....Houston needs the water

That was the news headline today regarding the drought all across Texas.  Technically the Dallas area is no longer in a drought.  In fact, so far this year we're 5" above normal in our rainfall.   Our area lakes have been largely replenished and it's not even spring yet, traditionally our "wet" season.

Houston, however, isn't so lucky.  Their population is growing, but their water supply due to the drought is shrinking.  Eventually the two lines on the graph will cross and they'll be in deep doo-doo.  Which....umm....brings me to the title of this post.

The Trinity River, the nasty 'ol Trinity River that runs through Dallas, the river that has signs posted along it's banks telling us to not eat any fish we catch there, is Houston's drinking water.  Dallas processes 135-145 million gallons of raw sewage every day, know, and sends it on downstream via the Trinity, ultimately to Lake Livingston.  From there Houston puts their Good Housekeeping Seal on it and pumps it right to their residents.  While this is probably pretty normal in the water biz, it just sounds so....Ewwwwww!

But then Houston is used to it.  You know how the beer brewers always brag in their commercials about their "perfect water", the ingredient that makes their beer the best in the world, blah blah blah?  Last time I looked there was a Budweiser brewery in Houston.  Right on the Houston ship channel.  So am I to infer the water for Budweiser's Houston brewery comes from....Ewwwwww!

All this reminds me of the time years ago listening to the radio as they reported a massive recall of Payday candy bars.  It seems the department that oversees health at food processing plants (FDA?) found an unacceptably high level of "rodent droppings" in the finished product.  A certain amount of rat poop is within tolerance it explained, but this batch was waaaaay off the chart.  At the moment I heard that report I was eating a Payday candy bar....Ewwwwww!

Some things you just don't want to know.  Who's with me?  I wonder if this is where the old saying "Ignorance is bliss" came from?  

Now forget about everything I just wrote and go have a nice weekend.  :)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Time to "put up or shut up"

As you know I'm no friend of the big banks.  They have systematically and, through their intensive lobbying, legally raped and pillaged America.  Some would say the entire world.  Now our illustrious congress is debating whether to include/enforce "The Volcker Rule" as part of our banking "reforms".  Those reforms have been watered down so much already they're of dubious value, but still I suppose they're better than no reforms as all.

The Volcker Rule would prevent banks from "proprietary trading", which means taking their money and betting it on highly risky trades.  "But if it's their money, why should we care" you ask?  Because they can't lose.  Only we taxpayers can lose.  If they gamble big and win, they make mega-billions of dollars, meaning huge profits and BIG bonuses for their top executives.  But if they gamble big and lose, like they all did back in 2008, they know the US and I....will step in and make good their losses.  (They'll just have to be more discreet when they pass out their bonuses.)

They know they're "too big to fail"....if they lose everything and go out of business they'll take the whole country with them.  They know we won't let that happen.  It would be like you and I partying in Vegas with daddy's money.  As long as somebody is behind us to cover our losses, why hold back?  That's what they call "moral hazard".

The banks have already successfully beat back a proposal to break them up into smaller parts.  Under this scenario if their freestanding proprietary trading company failed it would just be allowed to go bankrupt.  It wouldn't hurt the bank's depositors (as they would be in a separate freestanding company) and the FDIC / U S Treasury wouldn't be out anything.  Just the proprietary trading company's investors would lose.  They do NOT like that idea!  They would lose their Sugar Daddy, aka Uncle Sam.

The time allowed for the banks to plead their case why they should continue to be allowed to gamble wildly has passed.  It's time for congress to decide.  Are they going to the banks and agree to cover their losses with our taxpayer money, or will they introduce some prudence to the banking biz?  My guess?  Bend over, America.

Will it do any good to write your Congressman and Senators and express your opinion?  Only if you attach a check for about $100,000 with your letter.  Those seem to be the only letters they read.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Please, say it ain't so!

Did any of you watch the Westminster Kennel Club dog show last night?  It was the final evening of judging and when the big reveal finally came this was declared the grandest dog in all the land:

Really?  Really??  I know, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and all that, but Jeez, that's technically a Pekingese....looks like a prop from a Star Wars movie.  Or maybe something from a Saturday Night Live skit:

Anyone remember Gilda Radner as "Roseanne Roseannadana"?  I think all that hair (on the dog) is to cover the wind-up key.  And to think they passed over some beautiful dogs like a Dalmatian, a Doberman Pinscher, and a regal looking Irish Setter that was my personal favorite.  The sole judge was a lady from Colorado.  I'm guessing she lives on a 14,000 ft high mountain, without oxygen.  Sorta makes K's Yorkie look rugged and manly, don'tcha think?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

This is my Valentine, the lovely and talented "K"....

Fortunately she doesn't get spiffed up too often, as she, like me, is much too casual for that...


We have a pretty good GREAT life together!  Oh sure, we sling some arrows now and then, but we're both pretty bad shots.  She takes great care of me, and I try to do the same for her.

We've been to a few fun places....

With hopefully a lot more to come.

She's a real adventure junkie, too.  I like that!  (We're at the front, naturally.)

And she's not at all demanding.  Even a day at a local art show has her grinning ear-to-ear.

She loves my daughters, and they love "Miss Kelly", too.  So do all the young 'uns.

I love her much, and best of all, she loves me right back.  Sweet!

Happy Valentine's Day, my love.  :)


Monday, February 13, 2012

This could be reeeeeeeally BIG!

I love Aspen, Colorado.  It's a great place to visit but a lousy place for anyone but a billionaire to live.  My casual observation is that they seem to have an inordinate number of beautiful young women there accompanied by "more mature gentlemen".  Maybe that's why Aspen Sojourner magazine is suggesting the development of several Aspen-specific iPhone apps such as this:

"The Trophy Wife Locator app....After a few hours of drinking at the Caribou Club, picking out your recently acquired 35-year old blond wife from the others who look just like her can be tricky.  Especially since you're 70.  This app will ensure you head home with the right missus.  Pro Upgrade includes Alimony Calculator."

Isn't money wonderful?  ;)


Looks like the Greeks are not too keen on a steady diet of dog food, which is what they'll all be eating once the latest austerity measures being imposed on them kick in.  They do, however, have a supply of matches which they're using to burn down their country in protest.  I've never understood get mad, so you burn up your own stuff.  The logic escapes me.

"Hey Nikos.  Whatcha eating?"  

"Dog food."  

"Why are you sitting on the floor?  Where's your stuff?"  

"I burned it up."  

Yeah, that'll show 'em!  Did you know that a third of all Greek workers are employed by the government?  What could they possibly do all day?  Process each other's paperwork?  Oh, wait....I'm beginning to understand.  Government logic....OK, I get it now.

All our TV stations are on "Storm Watch" mode, with reporters spread out all across 6 counties showing us the falling snow.  And it melting as soon as it hits the ground.  "Look....wet pavement!"  *big yawn*

Happy Valentine's eve, everyone.  Fair warning....  :)



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winter arrives this evening at 6....

....and will be gone by noon tomorrow. I'm not joking.  That's likely to be all the winter we have this year in Dallas.  By tonight it will begin to rain, sleet, and snow.  No accumulation is expected, however, as the temp overnight isn't expected to drop below freezing.  High tomorrow, 47.  Mid 60's by Wednesday.  Now my concern is if it's this warm during the "winter", how hot is it going to be during the "summer"?

Here's my plan:  Y'all stop driving.  Ride bikes or skateboards instead.  And start giving all the cows Bean-O.  Between you people driving and the cows farting you're screwing up the atmosphere.  Is a couple inches of snow and maybe a few pitiful snowmen too much to ask for?  I WANT MY WINTER BACK, DAMMIT!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Remember when bankers were honorable people?

What's my bitch with the banks?  The banks have a choke hold on this country.  The world, even. They sneeze, we get a cold.  They devise a new way to squeeze a few more bucks out of us, they drop a few $$$ on the right congressional committee chair, and the rules are changed.  The regulators go blind.  

Banks have never directly screwed me.  When the economy went down the toilet in '08 I only had a couple of lots financed and I was able to get out from under those.  All the contract homes I've built since 9/11 have been financed with the loans in the customer's name, not mine.  I won't sign a (business) loan agreement with a bank because they're 100% loaded in the banks favor.  For example, they have the right to call the note due, at any time, for any reason, even if I'm current with all provisions of the loan.  Doesn't matter.  And yes, I know people they've pulled the rug out from under.  "He who has the gold makes the rules."  Personally I deal only with member-owned USAA for all my banking and insurance needs.  My credit record is spotless.

Indirectly the banks have screwed all of us. Beginning roughly 20 years ago they legally rigged "the system", enabling them to do whatever they wanted.  "Financial engineering" it's called.  All the unregulated "derivatives" and "credit default swaps" that made the news when the world went over the edge....those were HUGE profit makers for the banks (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars), yet they added nothing of value to the economy.   When the dust settled they still had their money, and individually they still had their hundreds of millions in bonuses, while we were left with the bail-out tab.  Yet I know very well-off people (doctors) who today still find it difficult to secure financing to build a new home.  As a builder that hurts me and my family.

And it gets worse.  On paper the banks were broke in '09, so the Treasury "loaned" them billions of dollars, supposedly to "prime the pump" and get lending to businesses and hiring going again.  But that's not what the banks did with the money.  Instead they took the 0% interest "loans" (free money) and bought Treasury bonds paying 3%.*  It was simply a money transfer from the taxpayers to the banks.  Our government was either in bed with the bankers, or stupid.  Think you or I could get a deal like that?  HA!  Never heard of that, did you?  It was just a scam to re-capitalize the banks at taxpayer expense, without the taxpayers knowing it.  All we were told was "the deficit grew".  

And nothing has changed.  All the "banking reforms" that have been legislated recently to "correct past wrongs" are a farce.  They were gutted by the bank's lobbyists before what was left ever became law.  A little hand slap here and there, but always with a wink, too.   The number of banksters prosecuted for committing fraud?  You can count them on one hand.  Obama's recently announced effort to go after those responsible and bring them to justice?....I'll believe it when I see it!  And why did it take him 3 years to decide to go after the crooks?  Could the upcoming elections have anything to do with his newly discovered indignation?  "It plays good in Peoria." Again, I'll believe it when I see it.

We need to reign the bankers back in.  While I generally don't like excessive regulation in our lives, the banks have proven without a shadow of a doubt that left alone and without regulations (with teeth), they will act like drunken sailors on shore leave.  Trust a banker**?  I'd rather trust a crack whore with my bank account and PIN number.


*  Suggest you read Confidence Men:  Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President by WSJ writer Ron Suskind.  He names names, lists dates, places, directly quotes conversations....very informative.

** I'm talking about the Ivory Tower bankers at the BIG institutions, NOT the little loan officer or teller at the corner branch bank.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do we dare hope?

I'm almost scared to say this out this in writing, but it looks like maybe our economy has turned the corner.  Job creations have been getting much better lately, unemployment is inching down, even state budgets are on more solid ground.  I realize a lot can still blow up in our face, but I'm genuinely feeling optimistic.  I read this morning that lowly Michigan...basket case Michigan!...has a $450M state budget surplus.  Texas has a $1.6B surplus, plus still has $7.3B is its Rainy Day Fund.  Par-tay!

So where's mine?  I read this morning that a settlement is near between state Attorneys Generals and the Axis of Evil II...that would be Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Ally Financial.  It's gonna cost them $26B to settle mortgage abuse claims against them.  Some $$$ will go to the "victims", but who's looking out for those who kept their payments current and then saw their property values (their life savings?) fall through the floor?  Actually I'm not due anything as I saw this coming and bailed before it hit the fan.  I just feel better knowing the bastards (A of E II) got hit where it hurts, and not just a few measly million bucks, either.  Twenty Six BILLION dollars.  Shame it couldn't be a hundred and twenty six billion dollars.

I'm working from home today (if you call this work), waiting for it to rain.  It's been cloudy for several days now here in Dallas.  I'm almost feeling like a Seattlite.  So does that make me an astronaut?  (And here comes the big hook  :)


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

There's a snake behind every log....LOOK OUT!



1. baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of others.

We have got to be the absolute most paranoid people in the world.  I commented on Monday how much I liked the Chrysler Super Bowl halftime commercial.  I found it to be very inspirational.  It talked about the American can-do attitude, pulling together, working hard, never giving up, etc.  I saw nothing political about it.  It was great!  Plus I'm a big Clint Eastwood fan.

Not so the viewers of FOX News.  I read that it was widely panned by them as a blatant attempt to support the Obama administration and thank them for their bail out from a couple years ago.  Huh?  Where did that come from?  

I have some conservative friends (I'm fairly conservative myself) who I think wake up every morning foaming at the mouth, ready to jump into their camo and paint up their faces and go out an hunt 'em some Socialists.  Then at the other extreme I have some more liberal friends who would swear on a Bible (if they have one) that the Huns are at the gate and will soon be goose-stepping up their front sidewalk.

What is wrong with people these days?  My only concern is that one political party or the other will gain control of BOTH houses of Congress AND the White House, and everything I see/hear/read is indicating that's not going to happen.  Just chill, people.  Go take your medicine, or maybe watch a Chrysler commercial.  Sheesh!  ;)