Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Mind the Gap, Chuck"*

Isn't it funny how people will travel hundreds / thousands of miles to see something you see every day and think nothing of?  In my case people still come to Dallas from all over the country, the world even, to see Southfork Ranch.  

As I didn't watch the TV show Dallas I was clueless when people asked me for directions to Southfork.  When it finally dawned on me they wanted to see the home in the opening scene of that famous (?) show I gave them directions to the very unremarkable house sitting in the middle of a field in Parker, TX and they excitedly hurried off.  *yawn*

The London Tube was like that for me. I saw on the news yesterday that the Tube was celebrating it's 150th anniversary and is the oldest underground transit system in the world.  Even Prince Charles and his honey Camilla gave it a try.  (Is that Charles' "excited" expression?  He probably whispered to her, "....and I own this, too.")

That news item reminded me of my trip to London and southern England in 2006.  One of my aviation museum buddies and I had arranged for VIP passes to the Farnborough Air Show, and we thought while we were there we'd see the RAF Museum(s), Duxford, the Churchill Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the Queens crib, as well as a bunch of old churches and other touristy stuff.  We were there two weeks in all and had a great time. (This was all planned pre-K.)

While my friend Neil was from New York and knew all about subways, they were something I'd only read about or heard Archie Bunker or Seinfeld mention on TV.  I learned from scratch, but in no time I was a genuine Tube expert.

My first encounter was somewhat less auspicious, though.  We approached my first-ever subway turnstile and Neil swiped his Oyster card (a small magnetized pre-paid card) and went right through.  My turn came, but I stepped aside for a little old lady to go first.  Then another little old lady.  Then a man walking with a cane.  Then a lady carrying a baby.  Then....

Neil by then was far ahead of me and was waving his arms and frantically yelling, "'re bigger than they are....squeeze 'em out of the can do this.  LET'S GO!"  He later had to explain to me that while courtesy might have a place in Dallas / Texas / the South, it had no place in a subway.  It was dog-eat-dog, use those elbows, take no prisoners.

To this day I fondly remember how proud I was of myself for mastering the London Tube system.  Within a day I learned how to zip all across the city, jumping from the yellow line to the blue line to the red line, to the railroads that ran to Birmingham, Oxford, and Farnborough, with only a few gaps that required walking more than a couple of blocks. I had conquered one of the world's great cities.  I was now a seasoned international traveler!

By looking at my fellow Tube commuters, however, I could tell they were about as enthused by it all as I was about Southfork Ranch.  :)


* "Mind the Gap" is the announcement made at every stop on the Tube warning people to not step into the gap between the train car and the concrete walkway.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Don't I even get time off for good behavior?

Kelly's Eastside Grill used to be one of my favorite places to go for a causal meal and an adult beverage.  It's a little hole-in-the-wall place in downtown Plano with good food and reasonable prices.  In nice weather I liked to sit outside and enjoy the sidewalk scene.  

I say this in the past tense as I haven't been allowed to go there for about 5 years now.  No, I wasn't banned from there by "Kelly" the proprietor, but by "Kelly" my wife.  All because of what she refers to as "The Great Little Person Incident of '07".

We had just arrived at Kelly's where I placed my order for a jalapeno burger, spicy fries, and a cold beer and then excused myself to go to the rest room.  I had just begun my "business" when someone outside tried to twist the knob to come in.  I politely said, "Just a minute."  

In about 5 seconds there was a knock on the door and again I said, "Hold on."  Then in just a couple of more seconds he started banging, so I yelled, "KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON PAL!"

After the obligatory hand washing (yes mom) I opened the door and said, "Sheesh!"....only there was nobody there.  Well, there was, only he was a "little person" about 4 feet tall.  I had to look down and squint to see him.

I went back to my table and told K what had happened when we began to hear could hear 'em getting closer and closer until they stopped right outside Kelly's.  Paramedics came in with all their paraphernalia and minutes later hauled the little guy out on a stretcher.

K's face went pale as she leaned over and whispered, "What did you do to him?"

"Me?  Nothing!  I never touched him, I swear."

We woofed down our meal in record time and she hustled me out the door, doing everything but holding a jacket over our faces like the perps on TV when they're running the gauntlet of reporters on their way to arraignment. 

To her that was "The Great Little Person Incident of '07".  I have no idea why it embarrassed her so much.  To me it was just a little guy with a personal plumbing problem.  I hardly think it deserves my five year (and counting) banishment from Kelly's.  

How come I couldn't just get a 10 minute "time out" or something, considering I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING?

It ain't fair, I tell 'ya.  ;)


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Somewhere along the way my mind made a hard left turn

I'd like to know the name of the runt who first invented the electric refrigerator so I can smack him.  I say "runt" because he must have been about 3 feet tall, otherwise why would the compartment that holds all the food be between ankle and navel height?

Our apartment has decent appliances.  They're stainless steel, they look nice, and they function as advertised.  But they're the old-school style....freezer on top, refrig on bottom.  That means that 15 times a day I have to get down on my hands and knees to find what I'm looking for, which is invariably at the back of the bottom shelf.  And even if I want something off the top shelf I have to kneel down to see it as it's tucked underneath the freezer.  Does anyone besides me have trouble like this with their refrigerator?  

I'm thinking we need to somehow combine a refrigerator with one of those rotating clothes hanging things like the dry cleaners have.  You push a button and cold food rotates around and presents itself to you at eye level.  That would impress even the Jetson's, don'tcha think?  


This morning the local news reported an oil storage tank in Van, TX (east of Dallas) exploded, sending a man and a woman to the hospital in critical condition.  They were on top of the tank smoking when it exploded at 3 am this morning.

OK, I understand it's a terrible tragedy, but....what were they doing on top of an oil storage tank at 3 in the morning?  Smoking?  Some kind of post-whoopee relaxation?  

"Aww, come on Edna.  They'll never find us up there.  Whatdaya say we climb up on top of that oil tank over there and get frisky?" 

 Am I the only one that wonders about these things?


A friend on Facebook recently told of how he had to call in a "squirrel expert" to get the pesky little critters out of his attic.  While he was telling the rest of his story I'm thinking, "I wonder how you get to be a squirrel expert?"  

Did his high school career counselor one day call him into the office and tell him, "Now Freddy Joe....we've evaluated all your aptitude tests and we feel you should pursue a career as a squirrel expert"?  "Forget about investment banking or medical school. No sirree, you'll be a natural as a squirrel expert.  You can trust me and Merle on this."

It's tough sometimes having a brain as warped as mine.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Me from A to Z

Shades of JournalSpace!  These sorts of personal expose's were common back "in the day", but I haven't seen one since JS permanently crashed.   This exercise was at the suggestion of my friend Suldog, and at his request I'll play along.  Here's me, from A to Z:

Age:  62 chronologically, much less emotionally.  K sometimes says I'm a "stick in the mud", and I'm sure I am at times, but most of the time I'm having too much fun to act my age.  That may be because I pretty much toed the line as a kid and now I'm making up for lost time.

Bed Size:  Queen.  To me a King is just too big.  They're so big you can stretch out and never even know you're in bed with anyone else.  I like to think snuggling in a Queen bed is the perfect way to promote world peace.  *I can't imagine why that line hasn't worked better?*

Chore I Hate:  Yard work, hands down.  I hate mowing, edging, weed-eating, trimming shrubs, raking leaves, fertilizing, spraying for various bugs and lawn diseases....all of it.  All so it can look good for maybe 3 days until it starts looking shaggy again?  Talk about an exercise in futility!

Dogs?  I love dogs, pretty much all dogs.  But I only want a small to medium sized dog for myself.  Big dogs have too much going in one end and coming out the other.  My love of dogs is odd since my parents didn't have dogs and therefore I was never around one as a kid.  Right now we have a Yorkshire Terrier (Luke), and before him we had a Miniature Schnauzer (Emma), a West Highland White Terrier (Tara), and many years ago (pre K) I had an American Eskimo (Tahsha).  Dogs bring me much happiness.  :)

Essential start to my day:  A cold beverage.  Right now I'm partial to Trader Joe's Latte's and Mocha Cappuccino's.

Favorite color:  I'm easy.  I like green, blue, red....there's no color in particular I plan my wardrobe or room furnishings around.  If it looks good in context, I like it.

Gold or Silver?  Silver.  It's less flashy than gold.  I'm not a flashy person.

House or Apartment?  For 35+ years I owned my own home(s), but for the last 4 years I've had an apartment and I LOVE IT!  In fairness, at certain times in my life, such as when I had small children and they needed a safe place to play, a house was perfect.  But I'm long past that now.   A house again someday?  Never say never. *wink*

Instruments played:  AM radio, FM radio, Quadraphonic stereo, 8-track, cassettes, CD's and iPods.  I'm accomplished in them all.  ;)

Job title:  Until last fall, President of Park Place Custom Homes.  That sounds impressive until you read my job description:  "Responsible for every shitty detail if no one else can be found to dump it on."  Now I'm semi-retarded.

Kids:  Three daughters; Kristan, Andrea, and Erica.  Today all are grown, well educated, and gainfully employed.  *happy dance*  They've also blessed me with four grandkids (Austin, Colby, Parker, and Blakely), with one more (Reese) on the way.

Live:  If that's a long "i", yes I am.  Otherwise, in Frisco, TX, a far-northern Dallas suburb.

Married:  Happily, to the lovely and talented "K".  Six years so far and counting.  :)

Never Again....will I ever sign my name to a mega-million dollar bank note.  Been there, done that, (successfully) escaped by the skin of my teeth.  I don't trust #$%& bankers.  "He who has the gold makes the rules", and the rules are 100% tilted in their favor.  Always!

Other Fun Facts:  I love history (college minor), and in particular aviation history.   For a while I was a docent at a Smithsonian-affiliated aviation museum.  I was also very active for nearly two decades with the Confederate Air Force, today known as the Commemorative Air Force.  I traveled the country on their behalf and had a great time, but what I did was extremely dangerous and about 8 years ago I figured I'd pushed my luck long enough and hung up my chocks.  

Pet Peeves:  People who throw cigarette butts on the pavement, people who make messes and leave it for someone else to clean up, f__ked-up renditions of the Star Spangled Banner, people who pull in front of me on the road and then just poke along, cops who get all bent out of shape when I do 54 in a 40....

Quote:  "Character means doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."  (author unknown)  Also: "Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense." (Winston Churchill)

Righty or Lefty?  Righty, although I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous!

Siblings:  One, Todd.  Good guy, business partner, extremely competent, totally trustworthy.  He's 11 years younger than me (can you say "Oops"), so we were never close as kids.  Especially after the time I put him in the clothes dryer and gave him a couple of spins.  (Oh stop it!  You know you'd have loved to do the same thing to your kid bro/sis.  You just didn't think of it.)

Time you wake up:  Wake up around 5:30 (thanks to Luke the Wonder Dog), feet hit the floor about 6.

University attended:  Texas Tech University, class of '72.  Nine of the happiest years of my life!  (Kidding....I made it in 4.)

Veggies I dislike:  Pretty much all of them, especially those that have a color...yellow, green, red, orange...yuck! The blue ones aren't too bad.  And I do like jalapenos.  (When I was a kid to get my mother to quit bugging me I convinced her a jalapeno was a green vegetable.)  

What makes you run late?  Very few things.  I'm extremely punctual.

X-rays?  Sure.  For dental work, of course.  And on my head to see if I was "normal"....oh, and to check out my sinuses, and on my back, and on the typical assorted adolescent broken bones. 

Yum foods?  Steak!  Mexican!  Italian!  Banana pudding!  Pecan pie!  Ice cream!  (I'll stop there as this post is already waaaay too long.)

Zoo animal (favorite):   I'm not really into zoo's all that much, but I'd have to say it would probably be one of the birds of prey.  I find them fascinating.

OK, that's me.  Now as Jim (Suldog) challenged me, I'm challenging you to do one of these on yourself.  I think it's a pretty cool way to learn more about your blogging friends.  

Hope you enjoyed.  :)


Friday, January 25, 2013

A wake up call

Politics is basically just a numbers game, right?  Whoever gets the most votes wins.  While the rich might have the money, it's the middle class, and to a lesser extent the lower economic class, that has the numbers (votes) necessary to win an election.  If you don't understand that, ask Mitt Romney to explain it to you.

So here's what I don't get:  Why does the Republican Party time and again shoot themselves in the foot by taking stands against the middle class?  Consider this....President Obama just yesterday appointed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  He currently heads that Bureau with a recess (temporary) appointment, and now Obama is asking the Senate to make it permanent.

Senate Republicans have already said they would not support him or any candidate for that position.  It isn't that they have any particular bone to pick with Mr. Cordray.  They just don't like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, period.  I suppose it has something to do with "big government", "too much regulation", etc.  

Keep in mind the CFPB is charged with making sure mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and other financial firms (payday lenders?) play by the rules.  Heaven knows in years past they have been the most egregious of consumer abusers.  

By their opposition to the CFPB isn't the Republican Party in essence saying they condone such a royal screwing of the middle class?  That's sure how it looks from where I sit.

I'm sure they see it as a stand on principle, but all it's accomplishing is getting them run over by the proverbial bus.  Instead they need to get on board and help establish and enforce some financial rules that are fair to consumers yet allow businesses to make a reasonable profit.  

A "win-win" deal is always good.  A position where the side you favor (big money) wins big and the other side (the consumer) gets crushed will make you a consistent second place finisher.

Come on Republicans.  America's demographics are increasingly working against you already.  If you don't reasses your positions you'll eventually become irrelevant.  Wake up!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

What a difference trashing 1,400 downloads makes

Wanna have your laugh for the day?

My computer, an iMac Warp Speed VI, had slowed to a crawl.  On rare occasion K used my computer and complained about how something was waaaay wrong with it, this from a woman who has a Hewlett Packard, which of course runs Windows.  (Can you tell I'm not a HP or Windows fan?)

Yesterday I was looking at all the little symbols on the screen of my Warp Speed VI (by then more like a Molasses Drip II) and saw there was one marked "downloads", which I assumed was just an inverted "upload".  (Hey, to my little Neanderthal brain that makes perfect sense!)  I've opened email attachments from friends and contracts and such from work, but never thought about where they went after I read them.

I clicked on that icon and lo and behold there were "downloads" on there from years ago!  Over 1,400 of them to be exact.  I figured if I hadn't looked at them in years I probably wouldn't look at them again in the future, so I whacked 'em all.  Pffffft!  Gone.  And now my 'puter is back to running at Warp Speed again.

^already more tech savvy than me

Who knew?  *Besides every other adult and most kids over the age of 2 in the civilized world.*


I see the Defense Department will soon remove the restriction that prohibits women in combat.  The social media is abuzz with the question, "Is this a good idea?"

My answer is a resounding YES!  I say this because years ago as a married man with a wife, three daughters and a female dog in the house, I knew without doubt on certain days of the month they could have gone toe-to-toe with the Warsaw Pact and put some serious whup-ass on them.  

Ronald Reagan didn't bring Communism down.  It was the threat of having to face my female warriors that made them unfurl the white flag.  ;)


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Kidding....this must be the most boring news day ever.  Did Beyonce lip-sync the Star Spangled Banner at O'Bama's inauguration?  Why would anyone care?

Michelle O'Bama rolled her eyes at something John "Boner" Boehner said at lunch.  The big deal is they won't tell us what he said.  Shouldn't there be some Freedom of Information Act rule that applies here?

Apache helicopter pilot Prince Harry (Capt. Wales if you're curious) is in trouble with the Taliban....shouldn't that be a mark of honor?....for saying popping terrorists is like playing a video game.  Take note Xbox....I've found your next celebrity spokesman.

All the world's big-name bankers are assembled in Davos, Switzerland trying to tell us they're really good guys and asking us to pleeeeease not regulate them any more.  Now that's an uphill PR battle.  "Listen to what I say, just don't watch what I do."  

One of the Williams sisters lost her match and destroyed her tennis racket in frustration.  Like that's never happened before.  Next they're gonna tell us some golfer got pissed and threw his clubs in the lake.

Hold the presses:  The AP headline reads "Foes of NYC Soda Size Limit Doubt Racial Fairness".  Huh?  

Airlines still have all their Boeing 787's parked due to the plane's insistence on smoking in the lavatory, and in the cockpit, and in the cargo hold, and in the avionics bay....

To try and make a few bucks off of them while they're just sitting there smoldering, how about this:  Open them up as kid's playgrounds.  I mean, are those cool slides or what?  :)

And finally, it's been leaked that this year's Super Bowl XLVII will be heavy with beer, car, and cola commercials.  Unlike the other XLVI Super Bowls that came before it. 

Y'all behave.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How do you take a nap?

How hard can it be?  I mean, little babies do it, apparently a big chunk of the population of Greece does it, even our little dog, Luke, takes naps.  Yesterday I tried, but failed miserably.

I had all my "to do" list worked off by 3:30.  I read the paper and perused the internet, but after a while that ceased to be fun.  "OK," I thought to myself.  "I'm retired, and retired people take naps (so I'm told), so I'll take one, too."

I took off my shoes, stretched out nice and comfy, everything was completely quiet....and nuthin'.

*Imagine that, two brothers coaching opposing teams in the Super Bowl.*

*Now where am I gonna find a piece of land where they'll let me build as small a house as I wanna build?*

*Wonder where a safe place is to hide all my usernames and passwords and security questions?*

*They had a big luncheon for the VIP's after O'Bama's inauguration, put together by a 'tasting committee'.  A what?  Is that a paid government position?*

* Wonder how many Porta-potties they had to bring in to take care of all those people at the inauguration?*  

On and on....  

I get up every day around 6 am, and I'm awake until after dinner later in the evening. That's when whatever sleep deficit I have catches up with me.  But not at 3:30 in the afternoon.  Nope, I'm still raring to go at 3:30.

So, what's the trick?  Short of trying to contract the flu on purpose or taking one of those pills that makes you sleepy but leaves you unable to operate heavy machinery (and you never know when you might stumble across a bulldozer that needs operating), I can't sleep in the daytime.

Wonder if they have meetings for that?  You know, the kind where other poor pathetic people who also can't snooze on demand sit in a big circle and confess to each other?   

"Hi, my name is Scott, and I can't take naps."


Monday, January 21, 2013

Damned if I do, damned if I don't

My eyesight sucks.  I've worn glasses since I was a little kid, and later in life tried contact lens, but found them to be more trouble than they were worth.  They were just very uncomfortable, and besides, by then I was totally used to glasses.  And oddly enough, as I'm nearsighted, I sometimes take my glasses off to read if the print is too small.

Then about 8 or 9 years ago (I never did have a good sense of time) I had a series of detached retinas in my left eye....they kept lasering it back on, it kept coming back off.  They finally got that fixed, but the result is I have zero peripheral vision on my left side.

My right eye has gotten substantially stronger to compensate. (Thank you God!)  You learn how to get by.  For example, I put one of those tiny convex (?) mirrors on my driver's side rearview mirror to help me with my blind spot when I far so good.

A couple months ago I had a spot on the side of my nose (where my eyeglasses rest) removed as it was diagnosed as skin cancer.  The cancer is all gone, but in the process they mucked up the tear duct in my good eye.  GRRR!  What was it Roseanne Roseanna Dana said on SNL?..."It's always something".

Now here's the other side of my conundrum:  I hate carrying stuff around.  Unlike what the late actor Karl Mauldin said in his TV commercial, if it won't fit in my pockets, I DO leave home without it.  "Travel light, freeze at night."  I finally broke down and started carrying sunglasses, which for me was a major concession.

E-readers have been a mixed blessing.  I loved my Kindle, but it was limited.  I wanted to be able to check email and the internet while on the move.  iPhone to the rescue.  Sort of.  It met my requirement of being small and "carryable", but dang that print was tiny!  I mean, you can only stretch/enlarge something so much.

Next, the iPad.  UGH!  Waaaaay too big to tote around.  How about a tablet?  Better....  I bought a Samsung Whizbang III (this was before the iPad mini), and it's worked pretty well.  Still a hassle to carry, but all things considered it could be worse.  Yesterday it was a beautiful day and K and I settled in to a nice table outside Starbucks to drink coffee and read, but the sun's glare off my tablet made reading virtually impossible.  UGH again!

What I need is a screen the size of my gigantic iMac screen that folds in half, then half again, then half again, then half again, and fits in my shirt pocket.  Can any of you really smart geeky-type people help me out here? Invent me one, oh, and dip it in that non-glare stuff, too, while you're at it.  And please hurry....I'm not getting any younger.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

A very credible source talks about the Mega Banks.

While I doubt many if any of you will take the time to read this, I think if you would you'd better understand why I've been so down on the the Mega Banks ever since the financial meltdown of '08.  As things are now we're setting ourselves up for another huge economic catastrophe.  This proposal is gaining traction.  I have my fingers crossed!


The world has turned upside down!

Did you read in the news that France is involved in a military action in Mali (West Africa)?  Let me say again....FRANCE is involved in a MILITARY action.  This from the military juggernaut that most recently flopped at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and before that saw their Maginot Line fold like a card table in 1940.  Maybe they'll surprise me and whip up on those nasty Malian rebels.  Then Paris can at last have a victory parade of their very own.  I've heard their military marching is one of their strengths.  *wink*

In fairness, France also gave us (their former First Lady) Carla Bruni Sarkozy. (Technically she's Italian, but we're splitting hairs.)  For that reason alone I'm willing to cut 'em some slack.  


And former New (The Chocolate City) Orleans mayor C. Ray Nagin has been indicted on 21 counts of conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering.  A crooked politician?  In New Orleans?   Nooooooo!  I certainly didn't see that coming!


And now I learn that President O'bama's big contributors are lining up to see which country they'll get to be the ambassador to.  (The big prize is apparently Great Britain.)  Here's how it works:

"Democratic officials and advisers involved in the discussions revealed some unspoken rules:  Volunteer for more than one country.  Be prepared to serve for only two years, so that a second round of envoys can be appointed before Mr. Obama leaves office.  Don't mention how much money you raised for the campaign (but don't expect much if you didn't raise at least a million dollars)."

I'm thinking O'bama should take the high road and hold out an olive branch to his defeated opponent, Mitt Romney. I suggest he make Mitt the ambassador to....oh, I dunno....maybe Mali.  ;)


Friday, January 18, 2013

The Lance Armstrong it TV "sweeps" week?

OK, I know I'm gonna get roasted here, but as everyone else is offering their opinion of Lance Armstrong and his misdeeds after watching him on Oprah last night, I'll offer mine, too:  *Yaaaaaaaaaawn*

He's made a lot of money from his job as a professional bicycle rider, but not a penny of it was from me.  I'm told in many parts of the world (Europe 'cause it's so congested, and Asia where until now it was all they could afford) riding a bicycle is a big deal.  It's how many people get to work.  I get it.  (If I lived in an area where everything I needed was just a short bike ride away I'd ride one too, but I don't.)  

I can see why people "over there" might be enamored with Lance Armstrong and bicycle riding.  That's why it's called the Tour de FRANCE.  But just as I doubt they're too impressed with our World Series or Super Bowl, I'm not into their bicycle riding events or icons*.

Like most people my age I had a bike when I was a kid, but I never thought of riding it as a future career, and I outgrew it. To me riding a bicycle is about as relevant today as roller skating or jumping up and down on a pogo stick.  If anyone feels it necessary to get doped up in order to be the best pogo stick jumper in the world, well, I feel very sorry for them.  I'll be enthralled by their career and their personal life....umm....never.

Mhew....That's my take on the Lance Armstrong "scandal".  :)

Happy weekend!


*  I don't think I'm alone.  Lance was born in the Dallas suburb of Plano, yet I don't recall ever seeing a sign that said, "Welcome to Plano, Texas, the birthplace of Lance Armstrong!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just a quaint little cabin on the high plains....

Yesterday I went by to pick up something from a friend of mine who owns a large woodworking shop. He's the guy who made these ceiling beams for a home I built a couple of years ago:

Until now I was pretty impressed by the size of these beams.  I say "until now" because yesterday he invited me back into his workshop where his guys were working on some beams that would soon be installed in an outdoor dining hall addition to  T. Boone Pickens' ranch/estate in West Texas.  They were 36 feet across, so large that the only way I could show them was in this video:

He told me just his woodwork for this addition is valued at $150,000-$200,000. Yikes!  

This is Larry standing beside some of the other pieces that will go into T-Boone's weekend getaway.  (I wonder if that's what his friends call him since "T-Bo" is already taken?)  That top piece is the fireplace mantle in the new addition.  Can you imagine the fireplace itself?  I suspect it doesn't burn logs, but entire trees!

I also know the contractor who has done all of T-Boone's projects for years, Tommy Ford.  He's a real builder's builder, truly in a class by himself.  And to his credit, he's a nice, down to earth guy, too.

It's a shame Boeing can't build airplanes (at least the 787) as good as Larry can build beams and Tommy can build mansions:  

Let the weekend countdown begin.  G'day everyone.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From 1992 to 2009 I served on the Civil Service Commission in my city.  We set the rules for police and fire department employment, promotion, discipline, and removal.  One rule that had been in effect for many years (prior to my service) said that unused sick/personal leave could accumulate.  This meant that after 20 or more years of service an employee could have many months worth of sick/personal leave built up that he/she could use to in effect accelerate retirement (not show up for work) and still get paid.

The city realized this was costing them lots of money to pay overtime for police/fire fighters to cover for employees coasting into retirement early and they asked us to change the rule effective immediately.  The city would "buy" some of the accumulated leave time from each officer/fire fighter, but not all his accumulated time.

Problem was, this was an enticement when it came to recruiting new employees and was part of their original terms of employment.  In my mind, to disavow that promise later would be wrong (and maybe illegal).  We voted to change the rule for any NEW hires, but to honor our word to our existing officers/fire fighters.

Isn't this essentially what is happening now with our Medicare and Social Security systems?  We were told (not asked) that we would pay in X% from our pay and we would have Y benefits at the time of our retirement.  Now the government realizes it's costing them big bucks to do this and they want to back peddle.

How is this right?  A deal is a deal.  No?

The government has already postponed retirement for most of us by a year or two, and now they're talking about amending things further.  They win, we lose.  If they want to have a two-tier system from this day forward, fine, but to change the rules in the middle of the game....

Is congress going to cut back THEIR (extremely liberal) retirement package?  Are they going to unilaterally cut back the retirement terms of current and former government employees (one of their most favored constituencies)?  

You put something on layaway at a department store, pay on it for months, then when paid in full go to pick up your purchase and are told they're changing the terms....they're only going to deliver to you the basic model, not the super deluxe model you were promised.  Would you say anything or would you push back?

They call Medicare and Social Security "entitlements", which in popular modern vernacular implies "I didn't do anything to deserve it, but I'm entitled to it anyway."  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I paid for mine, and I have the receipts to prove it.

IMO, we taxpayers have held up our end of the deal, now it's time for the government to hold up their end.  As it is, they're holding up their end all right, and saying, "Kiss it!"

Counterpoint anyone?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I don't like hats, but the doctor said....

If you'll pay attention to old photographs from about the turn of the 20th Century through about the 1950's +/- you'll see that men, all men, wore hats.  They wore them to church on Sunday, they wore them to their offices or to work on the assembly lines on weekdays, and they wore them to sit on the porch and whittle on Saturday afternoons.  

Where'd they go? 

After a little research I found out that President John F. Kennedy personally didn't like hats and refused to wear one, and because of his immense popularity at the time....Camelot and all that....he pretty much squashed the men's hat industry in the US. 

Young urban men of a certain age and rappers still wear them today as part of their "statement"....

....and drugstore cowboys like to wear them while they're out the on the range rounding up stray doggies.  (Haha....on their Wii's maybe!)

They're about it.  Otherwise, it's all about baseball-style caps. Hands down, if a man is going to wear a hat at all, they're the hat of choice today.

I bring all this up because about a year ago I was told by a dermatologist that the hair (singular) on my head wasn't enough to protect my scalp from the blazing Texas sun, and that I could look forward to hats/caps being part of my wardrobe from now on.  My recent bout with skin cancer brought that home.

I'm with Kennedy....I don't like hats either.  Still, it beats smearing that nasty sun screen all over my head before I go out every day.  I have a collection of a few hats....

 ....but I'm thinking I might get something a little more stylish for the spring / summer.

I'm thinking something like this ^.  It seems to work well for Sean Connery, and I like to think he and I have a lot in know, the rugged good looks  that macho air of confidence  the moustache.  Then there's....ummm....

Maybe I'd better keep looking.  *sigh*