Tuesday, December 31, 2013

David vs Goliath, The Sequel

Let's see....the news....Exploding People In Russia....Ship Stuck In Ice At The South Pole....oh, here it is:

Texas Tech wins stunning upset in the "Some Mail-Order College I Can't Remember The Name Of * Holiday Bowl".

I don't know who was more surprised, the Arizona State fans who came to see their #14 ranked and highly favored (by 17 points) Sun Devils cake walk to an easy bowl victory, or the (7-5 unranked) Texas Tech fans who were wondering why they bothered to travel to San Diego to witness the whippin'?  As it turns out, both were shocked when Tech won convincingly, 37-23.

Truth is, the better team showed up unprepared and unmotivated and probably cocky, too.  Texas Tech on the other hand came pumped to play, with a highly creative game plan and a desire to be seen on national TV in the middle of the night by hundreds of people.  

Tech did every thing right while Arizona State never seemed to recover from the news their equipment manager left their jock straps back in Tempe.  In a nut shell (pardon the pun) Arizona State was out-coached.  *Great job Tech Coach Kliff Kingbury!*

All I know sitting here watching the game from my comfy chair in Dallas was that the game didn't come on TV until 9:30, and wasn't over until after 1 am.  *Yawn*  That's waaaaay past my normal bedtime.  Man, those West Coast people like to stay up late!  ;)

Happy New Year everyone!

S  (Full disclosure....Texas Tech University, Class of '72)

* I had to look it up....it was the "National University Holiday Bowl".

Monday, December 30, 2013

It's the chicken and egg thing, all over again....

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Now we have the 2014 version of that question:  Which came first, a higher minimum wage or increased consumer demand?

The papers this morning say that 21 states have now raised their minimum hourly wage to a level above the federally mandated $7.25.  This campaign, they say, will be the Democrats rallying cry during the 2014 mid-term congressional elections.

Republicans say there's no way businesses can justify hiring more people and pay skilled labor wages to workers who can do little more than sweep floors or flip burgers.  Raising the minimum wage will be a job killer.

Democrats say they're concerned about the disproportionate spread of low-wage jobs, creating millions of financially strained workers and putting too little money in consumers' pockets to spur faster economic growth.

No doubt, there are millions of minimum wage workers who would like to buy more "stuff" for their families, but can't afford to.  With higher pay they could, which would spur more production, AND HIRING.

Chicken....or egg?

Democrats seem to have the momentum here.  Polls show 70% of "moderate" voters, 64% of Independent voters, and even 57% of Republicans agree with the idea of raising the minimum wage.  

Looks to me like the Republicans better get on board.  An increase of $1-$2 probably wouldn't sink the ship.  That $15 an hour wage that Walmart workers (among others) are demanding likely will.

Remember the old "This is your brain...this is your brain on drugs" ad from the '70's?  Maybe they need to update that:

This could be your life.

This will be your life with no skills.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Observations of life

Here are just a few of the things I have learned / observed* during my 63-year knuckle-dragging life here on Planet Earth:

1.  There is a great need for a sarcasm font.

2.  You can't fold a fitted sheet.

3.  It should be a best friend's sacred job to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

4.  I keep some people's phone numbers in my cell phone contact list just so I can identify which calls NOT to answer.

5.  I disagree with Kay Jewelers.  I think on any given weekend more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

6.  Map Quest really needs to start their directions a little further down the list.  I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to get out of my driveway.

7.  They also need an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

8.  Sometimes it's hard to distinguish that fine line between boredom and hunger.

9.  High school kids get dumber and dumber every year.

10.  You never know exactly when it will happen, but there seems to be a moment in every work day when a little buzzer goes off in your brain and you just know you're not going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

Happy Saturday kids.

* True, some of them I observed here on the internet.  :)


Friday, December 27, 2013

Don't mess with little old ladies in Texas....they'll hurt you!

While I'm not 100% positive, I think one of these ladies might have been my step-mom, who is now 96.  At least it sounds like something she would have done.  She and my dad married after my mom passed away in 1994, and now that my dad has passed, too, she lives in a very nice senior's home.  From the stories I've heard about her in her younger days (70's?...80's?) she was not to be trifled with.

Bonna?....Is that you behind those Foster Grants?

Happy weekend everyone.  :)


Thursday, December 26, 2013

A confession I am NOT proud of....

So this morning, as is my custom, I settled in to the....umm...."library" and carefully chose my reading material.  Too late I realized I had already read all the words off of every page.  DOH!  

Then, I must confess, I did something that I'm not at all proud of.  I....I....*gulp* I picked up one of K's ladies magazines and took a peek inside.  There.  I said it.  *Bye-bye Man Card*

It was More magazine, which based on my quick peek inside was short for More Ads, because that's what was in there.  More Ads to look at than anything to actually read.

But among the few articles was one that was really pretty interesting.  It was by Linda Yellin and titled "When did kale get a publicist?"  She wrote that she went to the store to buy a bag of potato chips and instead found an entire section of kale chips.  

And not just plain vanilla kale chips, but in flavors like Bombay curry, zesty nacho, and one scary-sounding variety called mango habanero.

Now please keep in mind that I was born and (mostly) raised in Texas when I ask, "What the #%&* is kale?"  The only "kale" I know spelled it with a "C", and he was an old-school NASCAR driver.  (All hearsay, of course.  I'm not into NASCAR.)

I used to kill stuff growing wild in my yard that looked more appetizing than this.

Even the author said she never ate it because "it's hard to wash and tastes like rubber."  (So was kale the inspiration for Gummy Bears?)  Up until now I always thought the parsley growers had the best PR guy in the business, but now I'm thinking this kale guy has him beat.

Think about it:  With parsley, that little green weed-looking thing restaurants put on your plate so they can get a few "presentation points", all you do is look at it, then immediately knock it off your plate carefully set it off to the side.  

With kale, their smooth-talking PR guy actually gets you to put it in your mouth and chew it (and chew and chew and chew if Ms. Yellin's description is accurate) and eventually swallow it.  

He's GOOD!  But as I see it, any vegetable that needs its own PR guy must be a real loser.  

Like the author said, back in her day (and my day) your mama would slap down a plate of meatloaf and say, "Eat it!"  The food we ate back then didn't need a fancy PR guy.  Just an "enforcer".  :)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Odd things I've heard today....

Did you hear about the stink involving NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) as they track Santa Claus?   It seems some people are upset that kids are seeing FA-18's escorting Santa as he slips into North American airspace.  

They say kids will think that either Santa himself is suspect, or that he might be attacked by bad guys.  Either way, it's a sight kids shouldn't be exposed to.  "Our society is just too violent" they say.

I agree.  How can we expect kids to enjoy playing Black Ops-Call of Duty on their new XBox One or to knock off hookers and dopers playing Grand Theft Auto 5 when their innocent little minds are worried sick over whether Santa is about to get whacked by Al Qaeda?


I'm all for government doing what they can to save a few taxpayer dollars, but I'm wondering if Wisconsin might have taken things just a bit too far?

I've never been to Wisconsin in the winter (and I'd like to keep it that way), but I understand there's a lot of ice and snow all over their roads.  To supplement the usual salt they spread around to aid drivers, they've now begun to also spread around "repurposed" provolone and mozzarella cheese brine, byproducts of their cheese industry.

Does this mean they'll soon change the slogan on their license plates from "Wisconsin:  America's Dairyland" to "Wisconsin: Come Smell Our Dairy Air"?  *think about it*


Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope you have a wonderful, safe, happy holiday.  :)


Sunday, December 22, 2013


My retirement these past few months has been pretty sedate.  Taking care of some household chores, keeping the cars in proper running order and their inspections up to date....just things like that.  That "fun life" came to an abrupt end Friday evening @ 6:30.

Background:  As has become our ritual, Friday was "date night", which usually involves dinner out.  One of K's co-workers found a new Chinese restaurant and K wanted to try it.  OK, fine with me.  BIG mistake.

It was essentially a soup kitchen, like they have in third world countries where people are just struggling to survive.  The menu featured pot stickers, fried rice, and then 3 pages of different soups.  (NOTE:  When I was growing up soup is what you ate/slurped when you were sick.  Dinner was more substantial and required chewing.)

K ordered one of the soups (it had spaghetti floating in it....go figure) and I had pot stickers.  No, I had ONE bite of A pot sticker.  They claimed it was chicken, but....?  (A whole blog post on this some other time.)

Then....and this is where things REALLY started going down hill....we stopped at a store so K could get some more of those little Keurig things for her morning coffee.  This caught her eye and she thought she'd give it a try:


07:30 Saturday morning as I stumbled into the kitchen....


"Hey, how are you and Luke the Wonder Dog doin' this morning?"







Just then the printer coughed and spit and died.  Permanently.




"Umm....something about Office Depot.  Are we going there?"




"You're not going back to work until Monday the 30th, right?"




"Did you say ice skating?  You want to go ice skating?"



By my count she has 7 more days off work, and 7 more Bob Marley Espresso's.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Nice to see her having some fun

News reports* say this years Buckingham Palace Employee's Christmas Party was a huge success, particularly after Her Majesty The Queen found the bowl of spiked egg nog. During the festivities she bestowed titles on some of her long-time servants and freely awarded others on her staff some of her smaller colonies that she seems to have tired of.

The next morning at breakfast Prince Phillip, looking exhausted but with a gleam in his eye, agreed it was a "smashing evening".

Those attending confirmed The Queen enjoyed herself so much she's offered to host a New Year's Eve party at her place as well, complete with games, balloons, and silly string and, of course, more egg nog.

Prince Charles seemed especially pleased....giddy, actually....to hear of the boisterous evening enjoyed by his elderly parents and their household staff.  

More news as it becomes available from The Sun.


*  OK, it was a very slow news day.  It's possible this just might have all been made up.  Merry Christmas anyway.  :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A sad anniversary....

It was two years ago today that my wonderful best (4-legged) friend, our Miniature Schnauzer Emma Belle, passed away.  I still think about her every day, and probably always will.  

I had taken her that morning to the vet, knowing she was seriously ill.  The vet said she would do some tests and have some word for us later.  We pretty much knew what that word would be, and were prepared to put her down rather than let her suffer.  Before we could make that decision, however, Emma passed.  I know deep down that she passed when she did so we wouldn't have to agonize over making that final decision.  She was thinking of us to the end.

Here's what I posted two years ago:

RIP Emma Belle

My life was much richer because you were in it.  Thanks for being my best friend.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A betrayal of the highest magnitude....

I stayed awake half the night thinking of how I would address the media this morning when I was announced as the Mega-Millions Lottery winner.  Then after just a few hours sleep, I went straight to my computer this morning only to find that some a$$holes in Georgia and California ripped me off!  Forget The Italian Job or The Great Train Robbery.   THIS is the crime of the century!  ;)


From the highest of high tech....

This was on the BBC news this morning, and for someone technologically challenged like myself, it's just science fiction at its freakiest.  Have you heard of Google Glass?  I had to look it up, and this is what I found:

"Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that is being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project.  It displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can communicate with the internet via natural language voice commands." 

And it's here, now.  And the new, improved version goes beyond voice commands and can react to simple commands via a wink.

"Imagine a day where you're riding in the back of a cab and you just wink at the meter to pay....or you wink at a pair of shoes in a shop window and your size is shipped to your door," Google said in a blog post.

So here's what I want to know:  What do you do when you suddenly develop a twitch in your eye?  I don't know why/how those things happen, but they do.  So you're walking through Macy's, or maybe through the Ajax Liquor Store or Monique's Sex Toy Emporium one day and you have a sudden twitch, or you sneeze or hiccup, and the next thing you know a crate shows up at your door and your bank starts calling to say you're overdrawn.  What then?

I wonder if those brainiacs at Google ever think of things like that?

....to the lowest of low tech

So you're not exactly a mental giant, you've spent all your money on tattoos and dew rags, it's late at night, and you're thirsty.  What do you do?

You take your pet alligator down to the corner beer barn and barter.  "Hey, buddy, you wanna trade a 12 pack for a 'gator?"

No joke....I really couldn't make this up.

Happy Hump Day everyone.  :)


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Finally, a customer service story you'll enjoy

But first....OK, OK, I give.  Apparently there are more of you oddballs out there who read the dribble I normally write about than I figured.  I'll continue to serve as your insomnia medication.

I think we've all experienced it:  You have a problem with your computer, iThing, washing machine....whatever....so you call customer service.  You're invariably connected to a guy in a land far, far away who speaks some version of English @ 100 mph, and sounds like he has his 'nads caught in a vise.  An hour later you're no better off than when you first called.  Grrr!

Yesterday I did something I'd never done before.  I called my insurance company's Roadside Assistance hotline.  I was a mile from home when I felt something wrong with my car's steering, indicating a flat tire.  

Simple enough....I pulled into a parking lot and started to change it.  I got the jack positioned and up a few notches, then went to get the lug wrench.  It wouldn't fit the lug nuts.  HUH?

I was dead in the water.  I called K at work (a mile away) and asked her to bring me her lug wrench, hoping against hope it would work.  No luck.  *sigh*

One ring later:  "Thank you for calling USAA's Roadside Assistance.  With your permission we can pinpoint your location through your cell phone.  Is that OK?"

ME:  "Uh...sure."

Two seconds later:  "What is your USAA member number, please?"

ME:  "1234567."

Ten seconds later:  "I see you're covered, so there will be no charge to you.  We have your location pinpointed, we've already called service, and they will be there within the hour.  Please just stay with your car."

Fifteen minutes later:  "The Guy" showed up and had me rolling away five minutes later.  (I would have spent more time than that just cussing.)

Then, before I could even get out of the parking lot I received a call from USAA saying they showed my car was fixed.  "Was everything handled to your satisfaction?"

SWEET!  :)

My testimonial:  USAA is the best insurance company EVER!  (Years ago when she lived in a small town in the frozen north K had a wreck one night, and early the next morning the USAA adjuster called to say he was already in town and wanted to know where he could see the car.  He totaled it, and in record time had her a check that exceeded her expectations, no arguing.)

And for what it's worth, USAA is my bank, too.  All check deposits are handled by their cell phone app, and if I ever need to deposit cash (the bank is 300 miles away in San Antonio, TX) I can go to any UPS store and deposit the cash with them and have it credited instantly to my account.  

They don't have ATM machines so I can use any bank ATM anywhere and agree to pay the sponsoring bank's fees, and USAA will reimburse me those fees.  All my bill paying is done through them electronically, a service offered for free.  In fact, I pay no fees for anything!

For once, kudos for GOOD customer service.  Thanks USAA.  :)


Monday, December 16, 2013

Just coasting....

I stopped by the bookstore over the weekend and this book caught my eye.  It's about the world leaders who met in Paris to hammer out the details of the Treaty of Paris, which ended WWI.  (The thumb was just a special limited-time promotion they were offering.  ;)

This got me to thinking:  I'm so far out of the mainstream it's a wonder I can even communicate with other earthlings.  The huge bookstore was filled with fiction, romance novels, teen novels, science fiction, etc, with just one tiny section on one wall dedicated to the topics I like to read.  Ummm....

Everyone is all ga-ga about America's Next Star, Watch Us Dance, Housewives of Tulsa and the like, while I'm watching The History Channel or a car show when I can find one.

I can't watch the Oscar's, Emmy's, Grammy's, etc, because I've never heard of most of those people/movies/songs they're honoring.

This time of year most people are all into professional football.  Not me.  I don't know the standings, the teams in the playoffs, and very few of the players.  Fantasy football?  Fuggetaboutit.  Anyone want to talk about college football or maybe rugby?  Didn't think so.

Yes, I can write a semi-coherent blog, but it usually revolves around news stories about one crooked banker or politician or another, things that 99.9999% of blog readers don't seem to give a hoot about.

While most of you write about your most memorable Christmas, your adventures at summer camp circa 1972, your favorite cookie recipe, or maybe the time you and Billy Joe Jim Bob took daddy's car out and ended up with a flat tire and didn't know where the jack was, I really don't have many memories about things like that.  Don't get me wrong....I enjoy reading about your adventures, but I just can't add much to the conversation.

Here's where I'm going with this:  I'm only going to post when I have something interesting to say, as defined by the majority of readers.  Things like news of the grandkids, or funny things the dog did yesterday, or maybe the odd weather we're having....things like that.  It just seems pointless to continue writing about topics only some intern at a Washington think tank would read, and only then because he was told he had to.

So please, continue to write, and I'll continue to read and comment, but I'll be coasting here, at least for a while.  :)


Saturday, December 14, 2013

And it just keeps getting better and better....

It was seven years ago today that my lovely bride literally became "my bride" and said "I do" in front of the minister in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Ca.  It was a wonderful destination wedding for the two of us....we didn't tell anyone else until the deed was done.

Our trip began rather ominously when our airplane couldn't take off from Dallas due to a flat tire.  They finally found a jack big enough to lift a fully-loaded 767 and we departed for San Francisco. 

It was a beautiful drive down to the Monterrey Peninsula and our accommodations at the Tickle Pink Inn.  (Don't laugh, it is a VERY nice place high on a hillside overlooking the Pacific.)  

We did all the usual sightseeing....Pebble Beach, San Simeon, Big Sur, enjoyed a spirited drive down the winding Pacific Coast Hwy (I enjoyed it, K turned green), etc, but discovered that just sitting at a sidewalk cafe was pretty much the height of leisurely enjoyment. 

Being the architecture aficionado I am I enjoyed seeing all the storybook homes in town (thanks for indulging me, K), and walking down Carmel's Main St, which was all decorated for Christmas, was a joy.  (Did I just say looking at Christmas decorations was a joy?  *snap out of it Dude!*)

Now here we are seven years later and she's still talking to me, and actually even seems to enjoy it. She's certainly more than I deserve.  

I doubt life can get any better.  

I love you Kelly.  Happy Anniversary.  :)


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The King is back!

I think it was Mark Twain who once said "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated".  I think the same could be uttered by the ghost of Elvis Presley.  Check this:

This is a 16-year-old Canadian young man who does the best Elvis impersonation EVER!  If I was one of the many Elvis-ti trying to make a buck in Vegas, I'd be worried.  VERY worried!


Civil disobedience, Principality of Monaco style....

The accompanying article said there are 36,000 residents of Monaco, the average income is $150K per year, health care benefits are "generous", and unemployment is 0.  I was thinking about packing up and moving there until I read they have "a stringent policy of barring residency to people whose bank accounts, for example, do not meet the authorities’ approval."

I wonder if they would count the value of my Legends of NASCAR commemorative plate collection*?  If so, then I'd have....let's see....that's 9....carry the 2....aww, the hell with 'em.


*  Kidding, I'm not into NASCAR.  :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cobblestone ice, fugly sweaters, and BS taken to a new level

Here's something this Southern boy has never seen before....

...."cobblestone" ice.

Last night we were driving down the tollway and suddenly traffic just stopped.  It turned out maintenance crews had closed 2 lanes of traffic in order to remove some cobblestone ice.  Bright sunlight has already melted most of the ice on our roads, but in the shadows the remaining ice somehow morphed into this lumpy mess.  You hit that at 70 mph and you're in for a wild ride!


Back in my yout when I first saw one of these fugly sweaters I knew they were destined to someday become the theme for a holiday party.  That day has arrived.  The hottest Christmas party theme in 2013 I've now learned is the "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party.  My question:  How inebriated do you have to be to put on one of these?


Well, here's one way to rub elbows with the world's leaders....

....just show up at Nelson Mandela's Memorial event and pawn yourself off as a deaf sign language interpreter.

It turns out the guy on the right who is supposed to be signing for the deaf is just faking it.  He's just flapping his arms and pointing this way and that.  I wonder what the deaf people in the crowd were thinking?  

"I want to thank the insane penguin for the Chevrolet hubcaps, the fugly sweater, and this 'gently used' jock strap.  More egg nog?   Bonjour, dudes."  


Happy Hump Day.  :)