Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I think I would make a fine King


Here is the new King of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander, shown with his mother, Queen Beatrix, who officially abdicated her throne yesterday so her son could have a go at it.  The papers said for years there had been some quiet concerns that Willem-Alexander, who was seen as a bit lazy, wouldn't be up to the rigors of being a reigning monarch. 


Come to think of it I do sorta see the resemblance.

Somebody help me out here....what exactly does a Dutch King do?  I'm thinking maybe attend a few ribbon cuttings, dedicate the reclamation of another few acres from the North Sea now and then, officially declare the opening of Tulip Week, make a trip to the airport every once in a while when a VIP comes through....what else? 

If it turns out Willem can't hack it, I'm available.  ;)

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


When the temperature starts creeping up, and when I see Home Depot ads like this ^ , I remember why I'm a home builder living in an apartment.  And that's just page one.

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

Some days I think it's probably a curse to have a logical mind. Every day I see and hear things and I wonder, "What were they thinking?"  I spend so much time shaking my head in disbelief I'm afraid I'll someday give myself a whiplash.


S

Monday, April 29, 2013

Has it really come to this?

Yesterday we drove into Dallas to the Lakewood area....I wanted to get some photos of one particular home I once saw there.  While in the area we stopped at the Whole Earth Provisioning Company, or as I call it, "the hippie store".  It has outdoor gear, shoes, clothes, etc, but the thing I like most about this store is it's book department.  They have titles you just don't see at a "normal" bookstore.  Like....



Has it really come to this?  Have we become so "civilized" we need a book to tell us how to answer nature's call?  Notice it's the Third Edition, like the author suddenly realized she got the sequence wrong or something.


Now this one actually piqued my interest.  Try as I might, rap makes no sense to me.  What are they saying?  Even if you can mute that infernal base and actually hear the words, it's like some weird jibberish.  

I started to buy it, but then decided it was cheaper to just keep doing what I've always done....turn it off.


This one was hilarious.  For example:

"In recent years, white people have loved giving their children two last names.  This is a direct result of white women thinking it's sexist and outdated to take their husband's name.  The only logical solution is to give the kid a split last name.  White people can't get enough of it!"  

"As this is a recent phenomenon, we have yet to see what happens when one split-named person marries another split-named person.  Does their kid end up with four last names?"  Well....?

Where do they come up with this stuff?  ;)

S

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A wonderful Saturday at "Art in the Square"

Yesterday we went to "Art in the Square" in Southlake, Tx.  For some reason we'd never attended this one, and as it's one of the very best art festivals around, I'm still kicking myself.  Jeez!  How could I have overlooked this one?


The setting was storey-book perfect.   So was the weather....75 degrees, sunny (after the morning clouds burned off) with calm winds.


One of the organizers told me this show has been ranked the 8th best in the country, and is moving up.  I believe it.



There were 145 judged exhibitors there, and their stuff was absolutely top shelf.


This was carved from one block of wood.  I had no desire (nor the money) to buy it, but still the talent and patience it took to create it just boggled my mind.


But of course, you know me....I'm always drawn to the oddball stuff.


And this one....ceramic figures rappelling down a wall....was the oddest and absolutely most creative/unique thing I saw.  At $170 each I wanted them all.  However my bank account just laughed at my spontaneity.


I was at first disappointed that there was only one food truck there (although there were lots of restaurants around the "square"), but then I realized it was my favorite Korean taco/kimchee fries vendor from last week, so all was well again.


We bought our food, then walked over to the "King and Queen" pub where we ordered a couple of brews with names I couldn't pronounce.


Then I heard the music from the stage a half block behind us.  OMG!  It was Jake and Elwood, The Blues Brothers.


I left K to relax while I went and enjoyed this surprisingly good act for a while.


One last look back.  Kudos Southlake for a fantastic art show!

;)

S


Friday, April 26, 2013

And I was thaaaaaat close!


I was thaaaaaat close to landing my dream job.  

It seems the English Heritage organization, which oversees English historic sites, is searching for a general manager to look after Stonehenge.  To refresh your memory Stonehenge is a bunch of rocks piled up by prehistoric people about 2,500 B.C. near Salisbury, England.  

How hard could it be, managing a rock pile?

I'm told Stonehenge is a really big deal to old-time history lovers.  Many travel great distances in uncomfortable tour buses to take pictures of it.  (I'm too lazy to do that, so I just got my Stonehenge picture off the internet.)

I had already dusted off my resume and updated it since the time I landed my last job back in '79 and was ready to drop it in the mail when I read the job description's fine print:  They want someone who will not only contract out the lawn mowing (a specialty of mine), but to oversee the building of a new visitor's and education center, cafe, shop, and exhibition space.  Whoa!  

Yes, I could build those things in my sleep, but as I thought about it more I realized I'm a little intimidated by the commute.  And when I got there all my guys would be speaking some weird foreign language.

"Blimey....crikey....not fit for purpose....mind the gap", etc.  Learning English as a kid gave me fits, I can only imagine how hard it would be to learn a new language at my age now.

Maybe I'd better just stay retired.  *Darn...nothing's ever easy anymore, is it?*

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

Crossing my fingers the weather cooperates with our plans for tomorrow.  We're going to the Southlake Art Festival, one we've never been to before.  In addition to the usual artists and musicians they'll have food trucks, too.  I see a photo op. ;)

Hope y'all have a fun weekend planned also.

S

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't look now, but Dubya's back


Today all five living past and present Presidents will be in Dallas to dedicate the President George W. Bush Library on the campus of SMU.  As a native Texan, please allow me to give you my impression of our (semi-) native son "Dubya".

We all know the early story....he grew up in west Texas in a family with money and prestige.  He partied hard like many most rich kids do and got into his fair share of minor trouble.  Big whoop.  He was President of the Texas Rangers when they were little more than a door mat, and sold out (and did very well) to run for governor.

He wasn't supposed to win but he did, beating HRH Ann Richards.  She took him too lightly and it cost her.  Dubya was actually a very good governor.  Reasonable, responsible, able to work with both parties in the legislature.  So well in fact that the Democratic Lt. Governor at the time endorsed him for re-election.

He might have come across as a tongue-tied doofus compared to the urbane veteran politicians in Washington, but that wasn't him at all.  (Just ask Ann Richards.*)  Ex:  His grades at Yale were better than those of John Kerry. 

He was a natural to fill the vacuum in the Republican Party leadership.  There was a lot of Republican money itching to take back the White House, he had his daddy's Rolodex, and probably a bit of a swollen head after his success in Austin.

In the strangest election in our history he won, and IMO was immediately steamrolled by the Washington political establishment.  Those guys eat little west Texas boys for breakfast.  He fell under the influence of long-time political heavyweights like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, which I think really came back to bite him hard later.  

Cheney, the ultimate insider, especially seemed to have his ear.  He seemed to have the knack of wanting something, and then making Dubya think it was his idea.  I trust Cheney about as far as I can spit into a hurricane.  (I still don't think Dubya "gets" Cheney's influence on him.)

Then, BAM!  9/11.  Dubya did what most red-blooded Texas boys would do when they get sucker-punched....he got out his can of whup-ass.

Again IMO, 9/11 would have happened regardless of who was in the Oval Office.  Islamic terrorists had been jabbing us since the Carter administration.  Dubya just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Regarding Iraq:  Saddam Hussein laid out too convincing a lie and it cost him.  He wanted the world to believe he had WMD's in order to make him seem stronger than he really was.  Our CIA bought it (led, don't forget, by a Clinton holdover), as did Britain's MI-6, Israel's Mossad, the French, the Germans, and probably many others, too.  Even Colin Powell bought it.  Nothing definitive was ever found, but there were enough shreads of evidence to seemingly corroborate Saddam's tale.  I really DON'T think Dubya lied to us deliberately.

The beginning of the end for Dubya was when the US got into Iraq and proved Colin Powell correct.  Remember Powell's advice?  "If we break it, we buy it."  We broke it, and we couldn't afford to buy it.  Paying for that war was where our financial wheels fell off.  There was more than that, of course, but paying for the war in Iraq financially devastated us.

Regarding the financial meltdown of '08:  Again, Cheney & Co. were in the back pocket of the financial interests.  They got the green light they wanted.  The rest of us got (and are still getting) the bill.

Regarding his Grand Plan for the Middle East:  Too many lightweights, probably academics (Condi?), convinced Dubya that if we could just set up a democratic Iraq that would mirror our free society, the other people of the region would want the same and fall in line, too.  Kum Ba Ya, y'all.  

That might have sounded good on somebody's PhD dissertation, but it didn't mean shit to the average guy on the average street in the average Middle Eastern country.  Again, IMO Dubya really thought this made sense.  He has a "western" thought process, while they will always have an "eastern" thought process.  They are very different.  It was just very naive thinking on his part.

In short, I really do think George W. Bush was/is a good man.  He meant well, truly wanted to do good things that would benefit us and the world at large.  His spirituality is genuine.  He was just out of his league, coaxed along by advisers he shouldn't have listened to into doing things that we'll be regreting for a long time to come. Once you find yourself at the bottom of a deep hole as Dubya did, your options are few and not very good.

Washington is a wicked place.  It devoured George W. Bush, and unfortunately he probably won't be the last.  This isn't meant to excuse Dubya's political failures.  For eight years the buck rightfully stopped with him.

Pity how things turned out.  A lot of us had high hopes for him.  

S

*Actually you can't ask her.  She's dead.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My (very) unsophisticated palate

My palate is almost Neanderthal-ish in it's simplicity.  Meat, potato....eat.  

Scott like.

Well, maybe not quite that simple, but you get my drift.

I'm a product of my childhood.  My mom was an absolutely wonderful person.  She would give the shirt off her back to help someone....anyone.  She loved kids, and was a prolific volunteer for anything involving education.  (At the time of her passing she was a 50-year Life Member of the PTA.)  About the only thing she couldn't do was cook.*  It was an absolute mystery to her what a stove had to do with making water boil.

She couldn't cook because her mother never taught her.  That's because her mother was never taught to cook.  That's because her parents (my great-grandparents) were well off (for their time) and had people to do all those mundane chores for them that life required....cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing, etc.  Food just somehow appeared on the table.  That's all they knew.

I can remember mom getting all distraught when she knew she'd pushed her luck about as far as she could getting dad to take us all out for dinner (for about the fifth evening in a row).  She was going to have to break down and....*gulp*....cook something.



With big 'ol crocodile tears in her eyes she'd lament, "Meal planning is just so stressful for me."  Then she'd retreat into the kitchen for what seemed like hours and finally emerge with a bunch of heated up corny dogs and some tater tots, all of which were frozen solid 15 minutes earlier. 

My dad used to be impressed with her chicken and dumplings *blech* until he found a can of them hidden away in the back of the pantry. (No one ever actually saw her cook anything.)

On holidays dad would buy a turkey and take it to the local barbecue house and have them smoke it us for a few cents per pound, and my grandmother would bring the cornbread dressing.  Mom made the mashed potatoes, which were just potato flakes mixed with hot milk, and for dessert we had a store-bought pie.

My point is, I wasn't raised eating gourmet foods.  I'm pretty easy to please, and my bride K can flat cook up a storm.  Lucky me!  Imagine my shock when I read on K's Facebook page that "planning dinner stresses me out".  

Oh puh-leez!  How could meal planning, especially to please me, be stressful?  It's deja va all over again.  Will my future now be endless breakfasts of mom's cinnamon/sugar powder sprinkled on bread and toasted?  And mom's specialty....her baked ball of meat?  (It vaguely resembled a meatloaf, except without any seasonings or taste.)  *shudder*

I think I'm having a flashback.  Could this be PTSD?  You think this might qualify me for one of those "close-up" parking stickers? 

S

*I'm not talking about mom behind her back.  She knew well her culinary shortcomings and was the first to have a good laugh about it.  :) 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sleep well tonight...NATO has your back


There was a time after WWII when the US, UK, and western Europe had real reason to believe the Soviet juggernaut would just roll right on across the Iron Curtain border and claim everything right up to the US continental shelf.  That spawned the creation of NATO.  We had the money and hardware, they had the manpower.  Fair enough.

But over the years the western Europeans got back on their feet and became solid economic powers on their own.  But they also had warm feelings for social services for their people and decided to spend their money on their people instead of their militaries.  Of course they spent some, just not as much percentage wise as they should have.  Why should they as long as Uncle Sugar was there with his checkbook?

Today we're all in economic straits, cutting back on everything, yet the US still pays for 75% of NATO's expenses.  Only the US, the UK, and basket-case Greece pay their treaty-mandated 2% of their GDP for defense spending.  (The US actually spends 4.9% of our GDP.)

Remember a couple of years ago when Europe was all up in arms about the mess Muammar Gaddafi was making of Libya?  With great chest-beating they demanded NATO military intervention.  Yes, they got it.....on our dime.  And a nickle of that we had to borrow.

According to an article in the NYT:

 “We are moving toward a Europe that is a combination of the unable and the unwilling,” said Camille Grand, a French military expert who directs the Foundation for Strategic Research. “European countries are continuing to be free riders, instead of working seriously to see how to act together.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere the news reported that many cancer treatment centers here who serve Medicare patients may soon have to turn some away because of a lack of funding, airline flights are backed up because we can't pay for enough air traffic controllers (that sequester thing), and our veterans can't get the VA benefits we promised them without waiting up to a year for their paperwork to be processed.

I'm no longer getting a warm fuzzy about NATO covering my back.  What exactly does NATO do these days, except spend our money for us?

S


Monday, April 22, 2013

Take two of these and call me tomorrow


If I ever get sick, I mean seriously ill, I'm probably a goner.  Checked out.  Movin' on.  

This morning I saw a commercial on TV for Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  The guy (a patient) asked, "Do you know all about the type cancer you have?  Have you read everything you can about it?  Have you asked your doctor every possible question you can think of?"

On the rare occasion I go to the doctor K asks me when I get home, "What did the doctor say?"

"He said to take these."

"What are they?"

"Little white pills."

"What's wrong with you?"

"I'm sick."

"Well duh!  What specifically is wrong?"

"I dunno, but these little white pills will fix it."

K says I should always ask the doctor if he's color blind.  She says if he is, and he gets the color of my pills wrong, I'm screwed.

Medical stuff just bores me to tears.  I'm a very good 'delegator'.  I don't need to know everything about "X" as long as the person I delegate to knows all about it.  That's why they are doctors and I'm not.  They like that stuff.  I don't.

"What have I got, Doc?"

"X"

"Gimme the Reader's Digest version."

"Do this, don't do that, take these, pay that."

See....simple.

Why do we always have to complicate things?

(And if that doesn't work, I've asked K to make sure I have The Mother of All Wake's, and you're all invited. ;)

S

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The PERFECT Saturday!

Yesterday was the kind of Saturday all Saturday's should be.  Sunny, low 70's, just gorgeous.  (A little windy, but I'll let that slide.)  K and I were up and out of the house at a decent hour and knocked out our to-do list by early afternoon, just in time to go to granddaughter Blakely's 1st birthday party:





With mom, dad, and brother Parker.


Umm....my plate's on fire!


Hey, this birthday thing is fun!  We need to do it more often.

After da party we went to the Frisco StrEATS Food Truck and Music Festival.  I love watching that show on the cooking channel that features all the food trucks and never miss an opportunity to visit one when I can find it.  Yesterday they had about 20 for us to choose from parked nose to tail....




After walking around and seeing what our choices were we decided on ssaham BBQ.  I had gourmet Korean chicken tacos (chicken, sesame soy vinaigrette salad, caramelized kimchee, cilantro and onion, Korean salsa roja, and spicy mayo) and some kimchee fries.  Oh man, were they good!

Later back home we watched the taped game of our adopted English rugby team, the Northampton Saints.  A win would put us in the semifinals of the Premiership championship and we did it, winning convincingly 47-7 over Sale.  


And no, we didn't have to tell everyone we met yesterday to NOT tell us the final score of the game.  There was no need for a "spoiler alert" as we were probably the only 2 people in North Texas who ever even heard of the Northampton Saints.  I guess that makes us "unique"?  No?  OK then, "weird". ;)

Hope you enjoy your Sunday.

S


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Just sayin'


It's politically correct these days to point out that not all Muslims are terrorist.  Of course this is 100% correct, but have you noticed that, worldwide, almost all terrorists are Muslim?  True.  There are very, very few exceptions.  Timothy McVeigh comes to mind.  Any others?

Just a tidbit of trivia from my somewhat strange mind.  Make of it what you will.


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

I think I have begun to see the value of Twitter.  When it was first explained to me I was told Twitter was a way for you to tell your friends in a very few words what you were doing.  I wondered, "Why would anyone want to know I'm eating a bowl of cereal?"

But last night as we were eating at Fuzzy's Tacos, with all the TV's tuned to soccer *gag*, K was keeping up with the second-by-second breaking news from Boston.  She knew within seconds that  Dzhekalto Tsrkilckicopev (sp?) had been captured, a full 5 minutes before the news outlets reported it.  And can you imagine a faster way to get the word out when you're looking for someone, whether it be a terrorist or a lost child?

I'm still not going to be a Twitterer myself, but if there's a news story I want to follow, I'm going to Twitter first.  Another nail in ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN's coffin.

Good day to you all.  :)

S




Friday, April 19, 2013

BREAKING NEWS!


For once there's actually news worthy of the title.  These are crazy (read: insane) times we live in.  As I write this the news is showing live pics of the cops surrounding the suspected hiding place of Dzhakhar (I'm just gonna henceforth call him "Dizzy") Tsarnaev.  He's giving the usual "you'll never take me alive, copper" speech, and I imagine the cops are thinking, "OK, as you wish, ass hole."

What do we know?  Just bits and pieces.  He and his bro were Muslim, but we don't know if they were radical Muslims.  Is this politically motivated?  Did they get terrorist training somewhere?  Do they have accomplices?  Have they set booby-traps elsewhere?  All unknown.

But to tie this in with another current hot topic....this is exactly one reason why people should be allowed to own and possess firearms.  People in the Boston area have been told to stay home, don't go out for any reason, and if possible to retreat to their basements.

I personally would feel a helluva lot safer if I had my gun with me as a last line of defense in case some nut on the run like Dizzy were to invade my home and threaten my family.  I don't need an assault rifle with a hundred-round magazine.  My .40 cal H&K is plenty.  

If you ever thought that scenario was an absolutely far-fetched possibility, turn on your TV right now.  This whole thing is insane.  Killing innocent bystanders, knocking off a 7/11 (to draw out the cops and bring things to a head?), tossing more homemade bombs, shootouts....just insane.

S

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two questions....

It's come to this:  I've spent a fair amount of my life outdoors.  Some of it was supervising my guys building homes, some of it was mowing my $#%^* yard, and some of it was swimming or simply catching some rays.  And now it's all come back to bite me.  Skin cancer.

Last November I had a couple of spots successfully removed.  Now I'm told I must wear a hat every day.  I have a collection of baseball caps I rotate wearing, and those are fine, but some days I want to look a little more upscale, you know?




That's why I've been thinking about getting something like this.  ^


The look came to me after I saw this ad in a magazine of Sean Connery selling fancy duffel bags.  I thought, "Hey, I've got a duffel bag.  If I just had a Panama hat people wouldn't be able to tell us apart.  I might even get moved up to the head of the line at the Dairy Queen!"

Now here's my first question:  If I wear a Panama hat am I likely to get beat up a lot?  Be honest.

And my second question:  How do you keep a hat on your head when it's windy?  Believe me, the "Windy City" has nothing on Dallas.  

I know it can be done because I see drugstore cowboys around here wearing hats all the time.  Are they glued on with that stuff not-very-well-endowed women use to keep their strapless evening gowns from falling off?  Is it available OTC? 

I'm not gonna spend the money to buy one if the consensus is I can't pull it off.  So what do you think?

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

On a completely different topic, check out THIS video of Bubba Watson's* hovercraft golf cart.  I don't play golf....it bores me....but if I had one of these I'd....make one helluva good golf chauffeur.  (You thought I was gonna say I'd learn to play golf, didn't you?  Haha!)

Hang on.  It's almost the weekend.  ;)

S

*I'm guessing he's a famous pro golfer?  


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today's silliness...

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was laid to rest today in a pomp-filled ceremony in London.  Years ago she was in Dallas on a book-signing tour and I got to meet her.  She had on her finest British properness (is that even a word?), just as I imagined she would.  But I digress.



As I mentioned, today was Margaret Thatcher's funeral.  This photo was on the morning news pages, and I was struck by the ceremonial dress of the Honour Guard.  I wonder where they get those helmets with the built-in lightning rods and feathers?  And those boots?  Harrods?

Nobody does pomp like the British.  If you've never seen the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, you've missed something quite spectacular.  I have no idea what the purpose of it all is, with the cavalry and bands and such, but I liked it. Maybe it was just for the benefit of us tourists.

By contrast American military dress uniforms are just so....blah.  Dignified, but blah.  Some militaries just know how to please a crowd, you know?  For example....


....the Swiss Guard that protects the Vatican.  If there's ever trouble in St. Peter's Square, just imagine a few hundred of these guys counter attacking with their red-plumed helmets, court jester costumes, and assault rifles.  Grrrr!  (They need to cull that tall guy in the middle.  He ruins the chorus line.)


I'd have to give the Indian's a B-.  They've got the Las Vegas show-girl headdress down, but IMO they need a bit more panache with the rest of their outfit.  (Read:  Lose the brown.)


It's good be Leader, at least until your subjects behead you.  Remember Libya's Muammar Gaddafi?  Snappy dresser he was.


Here's something I'll bet you haven't seen in the Western press.....the North Korean Army Terror-ette's Drill Team.  Step, kick, step, step kick!


And then there's the Greek army.  Laugh if you want, but I think they'd make a very effective fighting force.  I mean, if I saw a division of these guys charging me with their chiffon shirts, tights, and petticoats, not to mention those cute little puffy balls on their shoes,  I'd run like hell.

I'm sorry, but I have to say my US of A needs to up their game.  Whenever we get our financial house back in order I think we need to bring in a designer to give our troops more flamboyant uniforms.  

Maybe they could make it a TV reality show where we could call in and vote for our favorite.  It's the American way.  ;)

S