Friday, August 30, 2013

I've got all the answers. It's the questions that trip me up.

So now leaked information has come out that says the NSA has paid $278M to media companies (Google? Yahoo? etc) for access to their customer's data.  What a waste!  They could have just come straight to me in the first place and for a whole lot less than that I would have "cc'd" them on all my emails from the get-go.  We could have cut out the middle men and saved the taxpayers a bundle.



I don't quite understand what's fixing to happen in Syria.  With the aid of maybe France....the Germans and Brits have opted out....the US stands ready to strike Syria in retaliation for their use of chemical weapons.

We've announced probable targets are their Ministry of Defense building, their Secret Police HQ, their Republican Guard barracks, certain military warehouses, etc, ALL OF WHICH ARE BY NOW UNDOUBTEDLY EMPTY.  And we've said we have no desire to target Bashar Assad personally....we're not looking for "regime change".  And we have no idea how to measure whether or not we're successful.

Yeah boy, that's a well thought out plan.  Can't we just hit a few keystrokes and cyber-fry all their computers and be done with this?  Yes, I know....they can retaliate and maybe fry ours, too.  Feces occurs.  I'll chance it.  (Which just reinforces my case for good 'ol yellow pads and #2 pencils.  :)


IMO we should either kick the ever-lovin' shit out of them or stay home and let's watch football.  And since cruise missiles cost more than we have left in petty cash, I say "pass the nachos".

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I hereby declare the long Labor Day weekend begins the second I click "Publish".  (The boss won't mind.  Go ahead and mention my name.)

Y'all have fun and stay safe.  ;)

S


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Good things happen to those who wait (like I have a choice)

Oh, those crazy Japanese!  They're a fun-loving bunch.  This morning's news showed this office clown dressed up in a dinosaur costume terrorizing his cubicle-mates, especially this poor guy just arriving for work: 


Funny, but seems staged to me.  

Try that here in Texas and you'd probably get popped by a dozen concealed-carry Glocks.

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

It's about this time every year that the optimist in me comes out.  I'm sure to the horror of all of you Yankees, I LOVE snow and hold out hope every late-summer that the upcoming winter will be at least a little white in Dallas.  

Why is this on my mind today?  Because today the weatherguessers predict we'll break the all-time record high temperature for this date....103.  UGH!

But before we get to winter we're blessed with about 6-weeks of the most perfect autumn weather you can imagine.  The perfect fall day for me?  After a Saturday doing fun stuff out and about, I retire to my den to watch a big rivalry college football game on TV.  

I'm sitting in my comfy chair with an ample supply of cold brew and football food (nachos works for me), the window beside me open, the evening temps in the 60's with a gentle rain shower in progress.  Clean-smelling fresh air...cool...football...it doesn't get any better!


God Bless America!

But before I can enjoy any of that I have to endure today.  Have I mentioned patience is NOT one of my virtues?

Stay cool everyone.

S



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's wrong with those crazy people?


What is it about Islam that makes their believer's minds short circuit?  Whether North African, Somali, Arab, Persian, Pakistani or even a Muslim American military doctor at Ft. Hood, TX, their minds often just seem to reject logical thought processes.  I've looked at it from every angle I can think of and the only common denominator seems to be their Islamic faith.

They just don't seem happy unless they're fighting each other or their neighbor.  "You covet my camel, you see my wife's big toe....I KILL YOU!"  A daughter somehow learns to read and write....heads roll, literally.  Want a job?  "I have a job.  I make bombs."

Now I'm wondering if being around them for all these years during this Age of Oil hasn't infected / affected our Western thought processes, too?  We somehow think they want American-style freedom and democracy.  We've set them up time and again, and they've squandered it every time.  Why can't we take a hint?

It seems to me our "problem" is we're a compassionate people.  We see pain and suffering and we want to help.  That's a good thing and I'm glad we're that way.  But to help someone they have to WANT to be helped.  I'm sure many Muslims do, but far too many others, perhaps even a majority, seem to want nothing more than to return to the 16th Century.  

Now the civil war in Syria has turned even nastier and we want to go and kick some bad-guy ass.  Look around, Washington....we're up to our eyeballs in Muslim dung now!  Lobbing a few cruise missiles into Syria might make us feel better, make us feel like we're doing something to help, but that's delusional.  

Why don't we just build a bonfire on the Washington Mall and shovel in a few billion dollars worth of greenbacks?  We could close the ceremony with a rousing chorus of Kum Ba Yah, too.  Yeah, that'll show 'em!

We need to face facts:  Nothing we can do is going to civilize them.  We need to treat them like our old, weird uncle we see at the family reunion once a year....say "hi", send them a Christmas card (they'll love that!), and then stay as far from them as possible.  We want to buy their oil, they need the money; that's business.  Otherwise, leave them alone to re-arrange their own rocks.

S


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The kind of Monday that gives Mondays a bad name....

That's what I had yesterday.  I covered work for my bro while he played in the local Homebuilder's Association Golf Tournament.  The profits go to a charity, and since he plays golf and I don't, I figure covering for him is my contribution to the cause.  

When I say he "plays" golf, that's probably a stretch.  He whacks at the ball and occasionally makes contact.  Me....I can't even do that.  I've tried, but honestly it frustrates me no end.  

Despite the fact that golf just bores me to tears, I can usually hold my own until I get to "that" hole.  You know the one I'm talking about....every course has one.  I'm talking about *wait for it*  >>>>
               










....the dreaded windmill.  Grrrrr!

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

But back to work:  The electricians showed up late, and when they finally arrived they brought a new guy with them.  Actually he worked for them 5 years ago and was an absolute f__k up.  I was glad to see him go.  But now with the local economy again hitting on all cylinders, and with labor hard to come by......heeeeeee's baaaaaaack.  *Ugh*  And despite the extra hand, they still didn't get finished.

Then a new building inspector showed up to give us a  plumbing final inspection.  Here's the problem with inspectors and building codes:  Every inspector interprets it differently.  Something one inspector insist on another expressly prohibits.  

This guy wants the fancy, high-dollar outdoor grill installed now.  We usually wait until right before the homeowner moves in so as not to tempt thieves.  Then he wants the pool company plumber to come do something-or-other.  I asked him why that was my problem?....let the pool company address that at their inspection.  *sigh*

*In my best Rodney King whine* Why can't we all just get on the same page?  

All this in 100 degree heat.  I couldn't have been any wetter if I'd fallen in the pool.  I need these inspections in order to get the utilities turned on.  With utilities comes air conditioning.  You watch....as soon as we get the A/C turned on it will turn nice and autumn-like and we won't need A/C.  Another Murphy's Law / Scott's Corollary.

Oh well.  It just made my glass of wine that much more special when I finally made it back home for the evening.

A more sedate, less frustrating Tuesday would be sincerely appreciated.

S



Monday, August 26, 2013

Wonder if it's too late for reservations to "Ski Lubbock" over the Christmas holidays?

Major change in plans:  I had hoped to take K and Luke the Wonderdog on a week-long vacation over the Christmas holidays to a new ski resort I recently heard of.  Unfortunately I couldn't afford Aspen or Telluride or Steamboat during the high season, so I got a package deal to the new Masik Resort in beautiful North Korea.



This is a pet project of North Korean (Dear) Leader Kim Jong-un, who reportedly skied when he attended secondary school in Bern under an assumed name.  Western experts also think the project is a response to South Korea hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.


Plans were to have the resort open by the end of the year, but are now behind schedule because of heavy rains and mudslides.  Now, to add insult to injury, the Swiss have decided to NOT sell ski lift equipment to the North Koreans.  Prior to this, both the Austrians and French had also refused to sell them lift equipment.


The North Korean Skiers' Association, shown here at their annual general membership meeting, said such equipment should not have been included in the UN sanctions.  They point out that "cableway equipment for the ski resort do not produce any rocket or nuclear weapon."  

They went on to say the sole purpose of the resort was to give the North Korean people "highly civilized and happy living conditions and make them enjoy all blessings."  (It was either this or some food.)

I'm sure K will be disappointed to miss out on this unique opportunity, but I'm thinking Luke might be rather relieved on account of his status as a delicacy in North Korea.

To read more about this for yourself, here is the link to the BBC story.

Happy (?) Monday everyone.  :)

S




Sunday, August 25, 2013

My annual rant against Half Price Books


Or is it "Get PLAYED"?

Yesterday I took a full load of used books and magazines to Half Price Books for resale.  I had to wheel 'em in a cart to my car, then from my car into the store.  Check in, wait until they called my name, then they gave me the news:

CONGRATULATIONS!  WE'RE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE WE CAN OFFER YOU THE WHOPPING SUM OF $5.50  

Big f__king whoop!

"We're kinda overstocked right now."  (How come every time they see me walking in the door they're suddenly "overstocked"?)

Every year I do this, every year they insult me, every year I swear I'll never go back.  I told K this was the absolute last time I'll ever darken their door.  Of course she launched into her goody-two-shoes "it's not about the money but keeping things out of the landfill" spiel.

OK, fine.  Next time I'll just run 'em through one of those tree limb shredders and turn 'em into mulch.  See, I can be an environmentalist, too.  Or I'll take them to the doctor's office.  His magazines are really old.*


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


I'm guessing we still have about another month of summer left before we begin to see the first signs of autumn (in Texas).  Miserable as it still is, I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And I have football season to take my mind off the lingering heat.  Yes, football is a wonderful thing.   ;)

S

* Or the library.  I think they give their old ones away for free.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Old habits are hard to break

What happened to our nice, uncluttered, minimalist, downsized lifestyle?  Five years ago we gave away, sold away, and threw away tons of seldom-if-ever used stuff and cut the size of our living quarters by 2/3.  Surprisingly, everything fit comfortably, and life was a lot more relaxed.



OK, slight exaggeration.

Now we're moving again and we're going through our "stuff" to see what we can ditch and not have to move, even if the move is just to the other side of our building.  OMG....where did all this crap come from?  Without even realizing it we've brought back in over time a few (OK, a lot) of new books, magazines, small appliances, "gizmos"....the list goes on and on.  

Today it's a load to Half Price Books for disposal, then on to the stores to buy the new stuff we're going to need for our new place.  

Ummmm....DOH!

S


Friday, August 23, 2013

Thinking outside the box

Want to put your town on the map?  Don't have the funds to build a new Disney theme park or a NASCAR race track?  Not to worry.  Just follow the lead of Deer Trail, Colorado.  This small town (550 ppl) east of Denver will vote October 8 on whether to issue permits to hunt drones.



The idea started out as one man's symbolic protest against a "surveillance society", but quickly morphed into a plan (?) for the town to pull in tourism....and revenue.

"What do you want to do for a summer vacation this year, dear?  Take the kids to Disney World again?  Maybe the beach?  Or how about we leave the little urchins with your mom and just the two of us take a cruise?"

"Oh, I dunno, Earl.  I'm tired of the 'same 'ol thing'.  I was kinda thinking we could go to Deer Trail, CO, just east of Denver, and plink us some drones."

If the voters approve, the town would issue drone hunting licenses for $25, good for one year.  "They'll sell like hot-cakes.  It could be a huge moneymaker for the town", according to resident Phillip Steel who drafted the ordinance.  

The town would also offer a $100 bounty for shooters who brought in downed-drone debris.  Never mind that the only guns "hunters" would be allowed to use would be shotguns, making hitting the high-flying drones (30,000') a "long shot".  *Pardon the pun.*

And just FYI....gubment drones can be fitted out with ordinance that enables them to shoot back.  That ought to add to the "thrill of the hunt".  ;)

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

Big changes for fans who attend NFL games this year....they will no longer be able to bring into the stadiums backpacks, fanny packs, small coolers, seat cushions, even women's purses will be banned, all in the name of security.  

On our local (Dallas) news this morning they asked whether these new rules "would deter you from going to see a Cowboy's game?"  Responders to the poll said "yes" by a 71-19 margin, the other 10% asking "why would I want to go see the Cowboys?"

That personally wouldn't deter me.  The fact that Jerry Jones would also be "in the House"....THAT would deter me.

Three cheers for Friday!  :)

S


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Troubles in Europe



Apparently tourists are voting with their feet, and they're traveling increasingly to places other than Paris.  The stereotype at least is that Parisian service providers are crabby, so unpleasant the Paris Tourism Board had 35,000 pamphlets distributed explaining how to behave towards tourists.

"The British liked to be called by their first names.  The Japanese like to be reassured.  The Spanish just want people to be nice.  Americans are glued to their electronic devices and like to eat as early at 6 pm."

Paul Kappe, an owner of the renowned Brasserie de I'lsle Saint-Louis, perched behind the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, gave a Gallic shrug when he saw the brochure.

"In the United States", Mr. Kappe observed, "waiters can be fired at any time and must work for tips, so they have to be nice. In France, you can't just fire somebody if they're not doing a good job.  If you could, everyone would be friendly."

Ummm....

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


And apparently HRH Queen Elizabeth II is having a tough time making ends meet, too.  The headline in today's paper read:

England:  Queen's Swan Is Barbecued and Eaten

(Maybe I should go back and read the accompanying article?)

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

On a more serious note, I recently watched an episode of Top Gear (British car show) where the guys drove some exotic convertibles around sunny Spain.  The striking thing that was pointed out was how economically depressed things are there.  You can read about it, but until you see it you can't really comprehend it.


Spain had a building boom just like we did in America, their bankers throwing money at builders and developers and unworthy borrowers while raking off Mucho Euros for themselves in the process.  (Apparently we don't have a monopoly on crooked Banksters.)  In some areas, as far as you can see, tens of thousands of unoccupied high-rise condos sit abandoned.  



There was even a billion-Euro airport built, complete with a 15,000' runway (wildly excessive), that sits unused, rotting.  And long stretches of roads equal to our Interstate highways are totally empty.  There is no traffic.

The Spanish economy is in ruins.  Overall unemployment is 25%....youth unemployment (<24 yrs) is 56%.  It will take them years to pull out of this self-inflicted disaster.  Kinda makes our mess here seem tame, doesn't it?

Q:  And what have governments / regulators done to see to it that this can't happen again in the future?  A:  Almost nothing, here or there.  And don't bother writing your Congressman to complain.  They're probably on a junket somewhere with their sponsoring Bankster.  (They can probably get a helluva deal in Spain.  Just sayin'.)

S



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."


K seems to think that because I've blogged on the public broadband that our leaders are crooks and their underlings are overpaid, lazy bureaucrats with BO I probably have a sizable dossier somewhere in the NSA archives.

Gee....I hope they spelled my name right.  *That's SCOTT, with two "T"s*

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


Would you buy a used car from this man?

It seems the Junior Embarrassment from my home state of Texas, US Senator Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz, has renounced half of his dual citizenship (born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father).  Rumors are this was done in order to pave the way for a 2016 run for the Presidency.  Of the United States of America.  Yes, I know!

I guess Canada's loss is....well....Canada's gain, too.

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

Just got the news....we're moving again.  A nicer, larger apartment with a balcony/view here in our building has opened up, and we were first in line.

One question:  Does anyone have any experience with AT&T U-Verse internet/cable TV?  We have Time Warner now, but with their ongoing fight with CBS, and with football season rapidly approaching, I'm thinking this might be the time to tell TW adios.  (You don't mess with a man's telecast football games!)

Good day everyone.  :)

S

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So much for being Mr. Nice Guy


This shows just some of my muscles that are sore this morning.

Sorry for being AWOL yesterday, but I did a good deed and I'm paying the price for it this morning.  My daughter and SIL need some work done at their house, so I arranged for my trim carpenter to help them out.  He's only charging them 1/2 price....very nice of him.  To say thanks I thought I'd jump in and help him on the project he's on now and make his life a bit easier.

I used to do little manual labor things like this regularly to help out if one of my subcontractors was short-handed for a few days.  I used to be younger.  I used to be in better shape.  I think the only part of me still in fighting trim today is my smart-aleck mouth.

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


"We just can't have nice thangs!" 

The news reported today that actor/comedian Dick Van Dyke was driving his new Jaguar when he began hearing strange noises under the hood, then it burst into flames.  Passers-by got the 87-year-old Van Dyke out uninjured.

A friend of mine bought one just like this a year ago.  He took it on a cross-country trip and it broke down in Tennessee (?).  They gave him a temporary loaner to finish his trip, then called him a month later and finally admitted they couldn't fix it.  Jaguar gave him another new one, and after just a few months it broke, too.  Last I heard he was negotiating with Jaguar to get his money back.

The old joke was that you'd be lucky to get your new Jag home from the dealer without the aid of a tow truck.  Then things got better.  Now they're apparently back in the toilet.  It seems "quality" is just another obscure word in Jaguar's dictionary.  My one word for you:  DON'T BUY ONE.   (OK then, three words.)

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

Oh no!  My regular Friday night hang-out (after a nice evening meal out) is in danger of closing.  The big bookstore chain Barnes and Noble lost $87M yesterday, or maybe it was last quarter.  Whatever.  How am I going to know what books I want to buy from Amazon if I don't have a Barnes and Noble to browse through first?  

Ummm....

S


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just a walk in the park

Since I'm not having to endure the floods in the midwest and southeast or the drought, heat, and fires out west I can say this:  I'm rather enjoying this climate change thing.

With early morning temps yesterday in the low 60's and staying in the 70's until early afternoon, K and I decided it would be a perfect day to go and re-visit the new Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas.



K's little Toyota Skateboard Coupe is perfect for maneuvering 'round town.


Lots of people were there with their miniature humans in special push-carts.


The mid-sized ones seemed content in the corner corral.


We had a good selection of food trucks to choose from for lunch.


We had a perfect spot to sit and enjoy the sights.  It was very pleasant until two guys got out their guitars and starting yelling and groaning.  (K and I had a difference of opinion on this.  She thought they were "singing".  She's funny sometimes.)


It was interesting watching this tiny little lady, maybe 110 pounds, hauling around this GIANT dog.  He was a Great Pyrenees / Bull Mastiff mix that weighed 180 pounds.  Very friendly, though, a true gentle giant.


This Miniature Schnauzer, however, had no use for the paparazzi.

A little grocery shopping later and a stop at Paciugo for some gelato, then we retired back home to watch the Louis Vuitton Cup yacht racing on TV, which still fascinates me.  Yep, this climate change thing makes for some fine weekends.  :)

S


Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's almost here....I can FEEL it....

While our days are still warm, and I'm sure we still have plenty of summer ahead of us, our evenings have been amazing all week.  And at 7 am this morning it was 64 degrees....imagine that!  With fall-like weather my mind automatically starts thinking about....




FOOTBALL SEASON!!

And this fall, as an added bonus....


....at the Lowandslow residence at least....English rugby, too.  :)

Later this morning K and I are going back downtown to the new "park on top of the freeway".  I'm ready for a little sunshine, cool temps, people watching, and maybe lunch off a gourmet food truck, too.  Looks like a spectacular weekend.  :)

S



Friday, August 16, 2013

The biggest mis-match of all time....


No, this is not a post about my sense of fashion.

This morning I took Luke the Wonderdog out for his usual morning stroll around the 'hood.  HIS hood, or so he thinks.  Seems he hasn't yet noticed he's a Yorkshire terrier weighing in at a mere solid 8 pounds.  There are some regulars we see every day out walking, too, like Oliver the bulldog, Angel the little fluffy "thing", The Lady Who Won't Talk To Anyone and her long-haired dachshund, and a few others.  They all pay their respects to Luke, and he lets them use his sidewalk.   Vivre et laisse vivre.

Today there was a new kid on the block, a Mastiff.  He was HUGE!  And yes, it was most definitely a "he".  I didn't have my camera with me, but as best I can remember he looked something like this:


He was on the other side of the street checking out the smells of his new neighbors when he and Luke spotted each other at the same time.  Luke immediately widened his stance and stood a 1/4" taller as though saying, "Did I say you could look at me?  Did I?"


The stare-down lasted a good minute.  I don't know if the Mastiff actually blinked first or if he just really, really had to go pee, but he broke things off and went looking for a suitable tree, and Luke went back to sniffing bugs, about the only things outside that are smaller than him.  

One of these days I'm gonna have to sit Luke down and explain to him how the jungle works, but for today at least, I was proud of the boy.  :)

Happy Friday everyone!

S



Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Git on down the road, Miss Priss...."

My daughter will be moving next month into a new (to her) house in the podunk-but-growing town of L___n, northeast of Dallas.  (It's sort of like Mayberry, except not as picturesque, and Otis is in charge.)  

Last week in preparation for her move she called the L___n Special Utility District (the water supplier for the town) and asked how much the deposit was for water service.  She was told, "Twenty dollars, but the Board will meet next week to discuss revising that."

She went in yesterday and was told the Board had indeed revised the deposit/application fee....to $300.  Yikes!  Effective when?  Tomorrow.  

"OK, I'm here today with all the paperwork you require, and here's my $20."

"No ma'am, it will be $300."

"No, you said that's effective tomorrow.  I'm here today.  Here's my $20."

"But you're not moving until next month.  By then that will be the required deposit."

"So I can't make application in advance?"

"Of course....you can make it tomorrow."

*Sigh*

"I need to speak to someone with some authority, please."

"You come walkin' in here like you're Miss Priss....you git on down the road.  Looks like you're not movin' to L___n!"



"If you don't take my deposit right now, I'm leaving here and going straight to the news media.  They'll have a field day with this one!"

HMFIC gets involved.  

"Blah, blah, blah, but, but"....they took her $20 cash deposit and gave her a receipt.

Fifteen minutes later a member of the Board of Directors of the L___n Special Utility District (Otis' idiot son?) calls fire-spitting daughter....

"Seems to me you're just trying to beat the deposit increase."


"Well, I can't really blame you, but I'm going to have to make some phone calls.  This has never happened before."

"Knock yourself out.  BTW, I'm holding signed receipt number 1234 dated today acknowledging my application and deposit.  Game.  Set.  Match."

That's my kid!  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

*Occasionally that's not a bad thing.*  :)

S