Sunday, September 30, 2012

To-may-to....to-mah-to....whatever.

Friday evening on our way out for dinner K said she wanted to stop by The Container Store to buy a thingy to hold her flower.  She said it could be sealed tight so as to keep bugs out.  Hmmm....I didn't know we had problems with bugs in our flowers.  I've never seen any.  'Course, I've never seen any flowers around here, either.  Maybe she has them hidden away somewhere.  Why?

On the way she told me she saw them in a magazine and that they were only $20.  Damn, 20 bucks? To keep bugs off flowers?  Why not just buy new flowers?

Then she said she would really like to buy 3 of them.  At $20 a pop?  Yikes!  How many flowers does she have hidden away?

In my sweetest, softest, most understanding tone of voice I asked, "HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FREAKIN' MIND!  DID YOU FORGET TO TELL ME YOU WON THE LOTTERY?"

She gave me "the look".  I checked the shine on my shoes and told her I would wait in the car while she went in and bought her flower holder thingy.  



Turns out THIS is what she was talking about.  And it was "flour", not "flower".  She's not very articulate sometimes, you know?

S



Saturday, September 29, 2012

It was a cold and rainy day....






OK, "cold" might be a stretch.  Low 70's and rain does feel good, though.  We were out for brunch by 10....la Madeleine, then to REI for K to buy a rain jacket.   I already own half the store so I didn't need anything.  Finally we stopped at Market Street where K bought baking stuff and I bought football food for the rest of the day.

Shortly Tennessee / Georgia is on TV, then tonight my alma mater Texas Tech plays Iowa St.  This will be their first true test as their first wins were against the Rainbow School of Jewelry Design and the El Paso School of Flower Arranging. *yawn*  Time to fix the queso and guacamole....I like being prepared.

Have fun everyone.

S


Friday, September 28, 2012

Who's running this asylum?


A couple of years ago I was invited to a presentation by a 4-star Air Force General who was the commander of Air Combat Command.  After his talk during the Q&A he was asked what his biggest fear was and he said a cyberwarfare attack against the US.  

As we all know, we live and die by computers.  They're both a blessing and a curse.  If some douchebag terrorist hits a few evil keystrokes how screwed would YOU be?  We might soon find out.  In recent days Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and several other major banks have experienced some sort of cyber attack, credit being taken by an arab group.   

So what are we collectively doing about it?  Apparently nothing.  That's because The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 failed by a 52-46 vote to pass the US Senate earlier this year.  This was a bill sponsored by Sorta-Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican Susan Collins of Maine, and supported by Brick Obama.  It would have set up a voluntary program of security measures to bolster protections for critical infrastructure networks like water supply systems and electrical grids and banks from attacks by rogue hackers and foreign nation states.

You know who killed the bill?  Lobbyists for the US Chamber of Commerce.  On que Republicans fell in line and voted "no".  They said the bill would have "imposed debilitating pressures on businesses to establish cybersecurity measures."

How is this a partisan issue?  Won't measures to protect our infrastructure and banks help businesses, the Republican's core constituency?  Once again short term profits trumped longer term common sense.  

When some a--hole sitting in a cave somewhere in Hell-istan gets his feelings hurt because someone painted an eye patch or blacked-out a front tooth on 'ol Muhammad's Polaroid and fries our power grid and freezes up our bank accounts, let's all march on the headquarters of the US Chamber of Commerce and ask 'em, "So, how'd that work out for ya?"

S


Thursday, September 27, 2012

I believe I hear the fat woman singing....

....and I don't think Mitt Romney likes what he's hearing.



Various polls are now saying Willard "the Mitt" Romney is losing ground in the few critical up-for-grab states that are going to decide who will be our next President.  Sure, there are numerous things that could turn his campaign around, but as I see it, they are all outside his control.

Brick Obama could have a brain fart during the debates, but I think he's too smart for that.  Israel could turn Tehran into a smoking hole, causing them to close the Strait of Hormuz.  Gas goes up to $8 a gallon, and Obama could be sending out resumes.  Who knows?  Unemployment could take a huge leap up, but with holiday hiring now kicking off, that doesn't seem likely. 

So where did Romney go wrong?  As I've said for months, most Americans don't want an "extreme" candidate from either end of the spectrum.  Remember the extremely liberal Democratic Party of the 1980's?  The Republican's ultra-conservative Tea Party of today is that far to the right.  Many middle-class mature voters are turned off by those types.  Why didn't Mitt move towards the center?  

Instead he picked lightning rod Paul Ryan for a running mate, IMO a bad mistake.  Seniors see him as the guy who's gonna mess with their Medicare and Social Security.  Even though Ryan said nothing for them would change, seniors don't believe him.  It's sort of like how, when one company buys another, they always say, "No operational changes are expected."  

Yeah, right.  Six months later divisions have been sold-off, pensions and health care have been overhauled for the worse, and a few more pink slips are passed out every Friday.  That's how many seniors see Paul Ryan.  And just coincidentally, battle-ground states Ohio and Florida are loaded with seniors.

And the "47%" quip, the "my wife has two Cadillacs", and the "I don't know anything about NASCAR but several of my friends own teams" hasn't exactly made folks want to invite Mitt and Ann over for hot dogs and a friendly game of backyard horse shoes.  There's just no "warm fuzzy".

Nope, I don't think Mitt Romney has enough time left to distance himself from the Tea Party "Young Guns" and reinvent himself as a moderate (that he probably really is).  I guess we can read the expert's election post mortem three months from now and see if my analysis was on target or not.  One thing no one can argue with is this has been a ridiculously expensive, nasty election.  Can you imagine the free-for-all in 2016?

S


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The coming "Aporkalypse"

The news reported yesterday that within a year we might be facing a serious shortage of bacon.  I'm sure that would also include pork chops, ham and other assorted pig parts, but of most concern to me is bacon.  It seems the drought has caused pig farmers to thin their herds (?), which means by next year bacon might be scarce.



Doesn't it look good?  Yum!  I love it, but since I know it can't be that good for me, I eat it sparingly.

All this brings to mind the time years ago when I tried my luck in the pig farming bidness.  I had a trash-haul guy, Eddie, who owned some land in the country about 50 miles north of Dallas.  He was always looking for a way to make some extra money, and that included raising pigs, goats, cattle....anything legal....and maybe even a few things not legal.  I never asked.

One day he approached me offering a joint venture deal.  It worked like this:  I would give him $500 and he would buy some piglets.  Then he would take them to his property and feed them, and when they were "porky" enough, he'd sell them and we'd split 50-50.   Sure, why not.

Shockingly, after 4 months and 1 week I received a check payable to me from the Bonham (TX) livestock auction for $1,154.  That's about a 400% annual return.  WOW!  

He asked if I wanted to do it again, and I said absolutely!  My brother even wanted in this time.  I briefly thought about giving him $10,000, but I really didn't trust him that much.  His could have been a small-time Ponzi scheme for all I knew. I stuck with another $500.  

This time, however, it took 10 months before he handed me $900 cash for my $500 investment.  As I had already figured out that pigs grew fast, I deduced he sold our bacon months earlier and floated himself a loan.  Sneaky, but I still couldn't complain.

I've often thought maybe I should have stuck with it and applied to the Agriculture Department for a "Not-Raising-Pigs Subsidy".  I could have started by not raising a few dozen pigs, then a few hundred, and over time upped that to not raising several thousand a year.  (Isn't that how the government works?)  I could have been a pigless pig farming mogul by now!

Wonder why when Wall Street is on fire they call it a Bull Market?  Why not a Pork Market?  Seems to me that's where the big investment opportunity is.

S



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New home, day 1



Waiting at the site for the tree removal crew to arrive.  The lot is overgrown with scrub and must be removed and fill dirt brought in to build up the pad elevation.  I'm hoping to get free dirt from pool excavators looking for a place to dump about 200 cu. yds. of soil.

This android system isn't as easy as I first thought.  There's supposed to be a photo attached, but I can't see it.  Maybe it will surprise me and somehow magically appear.

The morning temp and breeze feels wonderful.  I hope it can last the day.

S

Monday, September 24, 2012

"It's deja vu all over again"....

....At least that's what the legendary Yogi Berra would call it.  Only after I'd left the store did it dawn on me that I must be entering my second childhood.  I can just barely remember it, but I felt like the ultimate 1st grade stud when I got my first big boy tablet:



Now here I am many birthday candles later with another new "tablet":


It's a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0). 

We're breaking ground tomorrow on a new custom home and it looks like I'll be spending a fair amount of my semi-retired time on-site.  From what I'm told a "tablet" is the new clipboard, the universal symbol that says, "Don't ask me to actually DO anything.  I'm just a supervisor."

So far my impression is it's very intuitive, which is good because if it wasn't, this old Neanderthal would simply be the proud owner of a Samsung Rock.  I had an early iPad and didn't care for it because it was too big to lug around.  This is about the size of a Kindle.....juuuuust right.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you're on the waiting list for a new iPhone 5 your wait just got a little longer.  It seems that last night there was a big riot at one of the Foxconn factories in China that makes components for Apple:


The plant employs 79,000 workers and it took 5,000 riot police to restore order.  The facility is closed for at least today.  If there's a silver lining in this (for the US) it's that Chinese workers are getting restless and demanding better pay and working conditions.  Maybe we'll see a few of those outsourced jobs start to come back home?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The TV news (?) this morning was all abuzz about who wore what to the Emmy Awards last night.  What caught my eye/ear was they kept saying "....and it looked like she was wearing Jimmy Choo shoes."


So how can you tell?  Is there some identifying logo on there somewhere?  I mean, if you're wearing the shoes, and your foot is covering the name, how would anyone know?  I guess in glitzy Hollywood this is a big status symbol, but where I'm from this just screams, "Look at me!  I just dropped a THOUSAND bucks on a pair of shoes.  How dumb am I?"  I wanna know who Jimmy Choo's VP Sales/Marketing is.  He's good.  Really good!

Guess I'd better go do something constructive.  Have a good day everyone.

S


Saturday, September 22, 2012

How I spent my Saturday morning....

Blowing bubbles.  OK, I'll elaborate:

Luke the Wonder Dog needed a bath, and as K had to go to work for a while this morning, I figured, "Fine, I'll give him a bath.  How hard can it be?  He's only 7 pounds."

Once I caught the little bastard the fight was on.  He really doesn't like that shower wand thingy.  Too bad.  The groomer told me that for in-between visits I could bathe him myself using Herbal Essence shampoo on his body and Johnson's Baby Shampoo on his head.  She also said using a soft sponge....not the scrub kind....would make a little shampoo go a long way.  No shit!  Define "little".

Lather....rinse....repeat on the body, no problem.  I got the old soap out of the sponge and opened the new bottle of baby shampoo and squeezed, and....nothing.  I squeezed so hard I thought the bottle might explode.  Still nothing.  Then I realized it must have one of those little removable pieces of plastic on top of the bottle, under the cap.

Ever try to unscrew a smooth plastic top off a bottle of shampoo when you're wet everywhere above the waist and still semi-slimy from the previous shampoo?  I finally got one hand dry enough to unscrew the top and sure enough, there it was.



Next hurdle:  The little piece of plastic had a tiny extension that you're supposed to pull to get it off the bottle.  Tiny, as in maybe 1/16".  I have man-hands and short fingernails.  Needle-nose pliers?  They're in the other room, and remember I'm wet and soapy.  Plan B?

I did what any man would do....I used my teeth.  I bit it and pulled, and I suppose the built-up pressure from my powerful earlier squeeze caused a glob of shampoo the size of a quarter to shoot up into my mouth.  Blech!  Blech!  Spit!  Spit!  I'm trying to tell the dog to just stand there and quit shaking and all I'm doing is blowing bubbles.  I grabbed the shower wand and aimed it at my face, hitting myself and the wall behind me, too.  By now the dog's probably thinking, "And you call me the dumb one?"

An hour later I finally got the dog dried off and the bathroom mopped down.  Then I spent another half hour eating stuff (an Almond Joy) and drinking a Coke, trying to get that soapy taste out of my mouth.  I'm afraid my taste buds are permanently injured.  

I'm gonna write that baby soap company and tell them they ought to give their shampoo a flavor in case this thing ever happens again to some other unsuspecting man.  Like maybe beer, or guacamole.

"How hard can it be?" my ass.

S




Friday, September 21, 2012

Congratulations France!

Today has been declared a holiday in Pakistan, to be known as the "Day of Love for the Prophet Muhammad".  



As best as I can make out from news reports from the region, the professional rock throwers have been given the day off so they can throw rocks on their own time.  Groups of Pakistani yoots are roaming the streets, yelling "death to the United States and death to the French" in response to the showing of "blasphemous" pictures of Muhammad in those countries.

Congratulations France!  Looks like you've made it to the Big Leagues.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love hard work.


I could sit and watch it for hours.

This morning I took Luke the Wonder Dog for a long walk all the way around the nearby construction project.  We sat on a park bench and watched the workers laying brick and stone, the guys up on the roof laying the clay tiles, and the lift truck drivers scurrying back and forth keeping the workers stocked with materials.  It was a very well coordinated operation.  They've obviously done this a time or two.  I'm glad there are still people willing to work that hard.

The park across from the construction site commemorates the "Shawnee Trail", which was apparently a cattle-drive route from further south up to the rail yards and meat packers to the north.  

Our park has this little stream running through it:


I found this spot to be very relaxing, no doubt just the way the Shawnee stone masons intended it. I also found this spot made me want to go to the bathroom.  Luke was already empty by the time we got here, so he was fine with it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

S



Thursday, September 20, 2012

The world's toughest job....

Q.  Do you know the profession that you would most likely starve to death pursuing?


Amman, Jordan


Baghdad, Iraq


Cairo, Egypt



Peshawar, Pakistan


Tehran, Iran


Tripoli, Libya


Damascus, Syria



Osama bin Laden's million-dollar estate in Pakistan.


A.  A paint salesman in the Mideast. *

No wonder they're always pissed off.  The heat, that awful music wailing from the loudspeakers, always having to lug around a grenade launcher, and those dirt-colored cities!  Maybe instead of sending them "democracy" we should try sending them some iTunes gift cards and some Sherwin Williams paint.  Couldn't hurt.  Might even cheer 'em up a little.

S

*Yes, I know....Pakistan is in SW Asia.  Picky, picky.




Wednesday, September 19, 2012

VERY encouraging signs....with EDIT

In my daily drives around town I've begun to pay attention to what's going on around me as opposed to just trying to get from Point A to Point B.   Here's what I've noticed just within 1 1/2 miles of my home:










Everywhere I looked I saw construction.  LOTS of it!  New apartments, retail, a hotel, and more than a few new office buildings.  Yes, I know Dallas and Houston and Austin and Texas in general are doing well, but I suspect if you paid attention when driving around Atlanta or Chicago or Boston or Denver you'd see something similar.

Either our economy is turning the corner as I write this *fingers crossed* or it's close at hand and these forward-looking companies are getting the jump on their competition.  

So, does Obama get credit for this?  Who knows.  I'm of the opinion the President can sit in the Oval Office late at night eating Cheetos and watching porn and he'll still get the credit for or the blame for whatever happens, whether he deserves it or not.  In most cases whatever a president does, for better or worse, isn't obvious until years later.  

You can credit Obama or the Easter Bunny or Batman for this light at the end of the tunnel, I don't care.  I'm just glad to see these encouraging signs.

S

EDIT....from USA Today:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Existing home sales jumped 7.8% in August to the highest level in more than two years, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
In an earlier report, U.S. builders started work on more homes in August, driven by the fastest pace of single-family home construction in more than two years.



Monday, September 17, 2012

The "Pelosi-Ryan" connection



Yesterday on the news I saw GOP Veep candidate Paul Ryan trying to explain why Mitt Romney won't divulge any specific tax loopholes he would close or what tax rates he would set if he's elected.  They're being vague, he said, "....because we want to get it done."  He went on to say, "We don't want to presume to say, 'Here's exactly our way or the highway, take it or leave it Congress.'"  Huh?
Ummm, Paul....that's exactly what the Tea Party "Young Guns" have been saying since they got to Congress:  "Here's what we demand, take it or leave it."  No compromise, no way.
And didn't the Republicans lambaste then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her quip during the debate over health care reform when she said, "We'll just have to pass this bill so you can see what's in it"? 

Aren't Romney and Ryan doing the same thing, in essence saying, "You'll just have to vote for us so you can see what were going to do with your taxes"? 
One of my favorite old sayings is, "If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem."  Looking around Washington today I see lot's of "problems" and very few "solutions".  

Even though you might have some potential solutions, unless you're willing to work with others, you have nothing.  Therefore you're still a "problem".
Whenever politicians, any politicians, try to fluff me off by just saying "trust me and I'll fix everything",  I immediately grab my wallet and back myself into a corner, 'cause I'm fixin' to either get robbed or screwed....quite likely both.

S


All smiles today.... :)


I saw online an excerpt from The New Farmer's Almanac, specifically the upcoming winter and spring/summer weather forecasts.  Here's what it said about my area:

"The 2013 Almanac says that temperatures will be much colder this winter from the East Coast westward to a line from the Dakatos to Texas."  (Me)

"Snowfall will be above normal near the Great Salt Lake and in the areas from El Paso to Detroit to Virginia Beach."  (Me)

"Summer temperatures will be hotter that normal along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the Ohio Valley, but cooler than normal elsewhere."  (Me)

"Expect fewer tornadoes than in the past couple of years."

While any of us with a Oujia Board could make a similar forecast, somehow The New Farmer's Almanac people actually have a pretty good record doing this. 

I know most of you in the colder/snowier areas are cringing reading this, but for this Texas boy, snow is something rare and pretty and to be enjoyed.  Plus a decent winter kills bugs.  Bring it!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Boy, that was quick:  The new iPhone 5 goes on sale this Friday, and already people are camping out at Apple stores to be first in line to get one.  So if they skipped work to camp out, how can they afford one?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A decision I can live with:  Bro and I met Friday with a developer who would like for us to build (over a few years time) a number of medical re-hab centers.  It would involve us signing notes for about $8M each (gulp!), and lots of travel.  They would be all over Texas, and as bro does most of the office admin and I do operations, I would be the one to do most of the travel.  Like 5-days-a-week year 'round.

And the margins are tight, and there's a lot that can go wrong, too.  A few miscalculations and we might be working for nothing.

Nope, I've already resigned as president of our little family business (although I still own half the company), and right now we owe no one.  At my comfortable age, it's time to scale back, not gear up.  We're going to pass.

Another Monday.  Hold on, everyone.

S



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Public Enemy #1


Luke, aka "The Lukester",  'lil Buddy, "you little bastard",  PITA, and finally Public Enemy #1.

This is Kelly's dog,  Luke.  Most of the time he and I get along fine, and when we do, I just call him "Luke".  Sometimes we get really chummy and I call him "The Lukester".

He sleeps on his own fluffy blanket at the foot of our bed.  We're careful not to kick him, and we all sleep in peaceful coexistence.

At 4 AM this morning when he woke up and started walking around our bed, he became "'lil Buddy", as in "Go back to sleep 'lil Buddy".  It's not time yet."

When he woke me up AGAIN at 5:18 he became "you little bastard", as in "It's still dark outside.  Go back to sleep you little bastard."

When he was jumping around and whining at 6-something he became PITA, as in "OK, OK, I'll take you outside.  You're a Pain In The Ass, you know that?"

After he peed a thimbleful and chased bugs for a while we went back inside and I tried to go back to sleep, but his incessant whining got me up again.  I closed the bedroom door so at least K could sleep, and I "slept" sitting upright in my big chair while PITA had his breakfast and roamed the house.

Around 7-ish I gave up.  He won.  His whining and "talking" and demand....not "request", but DEMAND....that I play "chase the mouse" with him meant any more sleep this Sunday morning was out of the question.  At that moment of realization, PITA officially became "Public Enemy #1".

He should be appearing on "America's Most Wanted" any week now.

S



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our destination today....w/ EDIT

The Red Bull Soap Box Derby





A little levity would be welcome.

S

EDIT:  We couldn't get near the place. There were tens of thousand of people having to park miles away and walk in.  Big disappointment. :(


Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm beginning to see a pattern here...with EDIT


I've said for a long time, particularly after watching news clips showing rioting mobs in Muslim countries, "Those people just don't think right." A like comment yesterday on my blog from PT Dilloway, referring to the violence in Libya, said, "In what freaking universe does that make any freaking sense?"

This brought to mind an article I once read that pointed out that in the Muslim world marriage between cousins (known as "consanguinity"), and even brothers and sisters, is common.  A little online research found many credible sources confirming this and offering these statistics:  

Thirty-three percent of all marriages in Egypt are consanguine, as are 48 percent in Libya, 60 percent in Iraq, 70 percent in Pakistan, 67 percent in Saudi Arabia, 40 percent in Syria, 34 percent in Algeria, 63 percent in Sudan, 46 percent in Bahrain, 64 percent in Jordan, 42 percent in Lebanon, 54 percent in Qatar, 45 percent in Yemen, and 54 percent in the UAE.

This has been going on for 1,400 years in the Mideast, and is done in order to keep wealth (?) and power "within the family".   This is why it's so hard for sovereign countries to command the loyalty of their citizens.  People's loyalty goes to their "clan", not their arbitrarily cobbled together "country".

Not surprisingly, research has shown that children of consanguineous marriages have 10-16% lower IQ's.  Can you imagine the consequences of this generation after generation after generation?  Well, they might be able to keep all the camels in the family, but they also have a mighty polluted gene pool!

We (the West) keep trying to lead the Mideast towards our version of how things should be....democratic, governed by rule of law, peaceful, respectful to all, including women, etc.  I'm wondering if their average citizen can even comprehend those concepts?  

Thousands of years of tradition and ignorance and inbreeding are hard to overcome.  IMO we're beating our heads against a brick (or in their case mud) wall.  

S

EDIT:  Oh, the insanity....now they're burning the KFC in Cairo!  Is nothing sacred?



Thursday, September 13, 2012

The world's most dysfunctional people!


I'm so sick and tired....have been for years....of opening the paper every morning and reading about one crisis after another in the Middle East.  If they're not killing each other, they're blowing something up.  I swear, those people could fuck up a one car funeral procession!

I understand the hazards of drilling for more oil domestically, and building more wind farms on the prairie, and producing more energy via nuclear plants, etc, but damn, we REALLY need to do whatever it takes to be energy self-sufficient so we can cut ties with the Middle East.  

I know that developing their oil industry a century ago seemed like a good idea at the time, but I don't think we understood what ignorant barbarians we were dealing with.  This has turned out to be yet another example of unintended consequences.  Ours has proven to be a marriage made in hell!

There are many parts of the world that we barely recognize....we send them old reruns of Dallas and The Three Stooges, and they send us produce and flowers.  Honestly, if the Middle East didn't have oil, would we give them the time of day?  We need to make them one of "those parts of the world".

It seems like half our diplomatic corps is engaged one way or another in trying to arrange peace between Israel, the Palestinians, the Shiites, the Sunnis, and all the rest of those obscure rock-chuckin' tribes.  They've been at each other's throats for centuries.  I doubt they're gonna sit down now and happily break bread together just because we ask them to.

I say we need to conserve as much as we can and to rely on ourselves and our dependable allies for our energy needs. Then we can tell the Middle East to go play grenade-toss with each other.  We, and our checkbook, are outta here!

S