Thursday, July 31, 2014

The storm of the decade

Looks like Frisco is going to get wet again. cell phone is now screaming a flash flood warning.

Last night we experienced the biggest lightning storm I've seen in years, and now it looks like we have one last round coming at us.

Rather perversely, I'll admit I'm a weather junkie.  I love storms, at least so long as they don't cause injury or damage.  Unfortunately last night's lightning did strike two homes setting them on fire.  But as I didn't know that at the time, I stayed up half the night taking in the sights and sounds.

My back doesn't like being prone for 8 (7?...6?) hours at a time, so I'll often get up sometime in the night and settle in to my comfy chair in the den to snooze for a while.  

I had just gotten comfortable when the sound of rolling thunder began.  It wasn't long before it was just one lightning bolt and clap of thunder after another.  It was so bright I think I could have read the newspaper with the lights off.

Thunder seems to piss off the dog.  With the first crack of thunder Luke bolted upright and ran in to the den to bark at it.  K came in to retrieve him and asked me if I wanted her to close the blinds.  

I told her she'd better not touch those blinds as I was enjoying the show.  Then just as the crescendo built, it slowly died away after a spectacular 2-hour run.

The forecast high temperature for today is 84 degrees.  :)  This climate change thing is....umm....interesting.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Good guns vs bad guns. Wha....what?

I wonder if anyone has the cojones to weigh in on this one:

For years now one of the questions that has bedeviled us is what, if anything, can or should we do to curb guns and the violence that accompanies them.  The idealists want to simply outlaw guns.  Just pass a law and....pfffft....problem solved.  The Bubba's want to arm us all with Gatling guns and assault rifles....commence firing! 

Being consistent with my philosophy of avoiding the extremes, I agree with those who say guns aren't the problem, but the intent of the person using it is.  Consider this:

"A psychiatric outpatient opened fire Thursday inside a psychiatrist's office at a hospital near Philadelphia, killing his caseworker and slightly wounding the doctor, who shot the gunman with his personal firearm, authorities said."  USA Today

So in this instance was the gun the villain or the good guy?  Laws that prevent the sale to/possession of guns by those who shouldn't have them don't work.  If they did, this psychiatric patient (with a criminal background no less) wouldn't have had one in the first place.  

Yet the pacifists amongst us want to disarm us, or at the very least make it extremely difficult for us to buy personal defensive firearms.  If they had their way the good doctor in the story above would probably be a victim, too, and the gunman might have kept on killing others until someone stopped him.

Here's where it gets convoluted:  The hospital had a policy that prevented everyone but on-duty law enforcement from having guns on campus.  The authorities say that the doctor had a legal right to possess his gun, so criminally he's safe, but from a civil standpoint he's in deep doodoo.

The hospital might take action against him, possibly revoking his privileges there, and the original gunman can now sue him in civil court (he survived his wounds).  The bad guy is quite likely to settle in to a very comfortable retirement, courtesy of the doctor.

Where is the justice in that?  (See my post of several days ago bemoaning "too many lawyers, and too many laws for them to manipulate".)

Sure, we need to enforce the laws we already have.  Enough "background checkers" aided by a state-of-the-art computer system could possibly have prevented this wacko from getting his hands on a gun.  

With 300M (?) guns already on the streets, there is no ironclad guarantee he couldn't have obtained one clandestinely, but surely we can keep guns away from some of these nuts. 

IMO, good people should be allowed to protect themselves with defensive firearms as the police are almost always REactive*.  They don't show up until the damage is already done.  YOU are primarily responsible for your safety.

*In case you're wondering, assault rifles are by definition primarily offensive weapons*

What was it the lady interviewed at the scene of the hospital shooting said?  "I never thought it would happen here."

Yeah, famous last words.


* Some facts:  In the average shooting less than 4 shots are fired, at a range of 7 yds, in less than 10 seconds.  In my city the average police response time is 4.5 minutes.  In some rural areas and in some crime plagued, underfunded cities the response time can be up to an hour. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Man shopping" for clothes

Over the past several "semi-retired" years my wardrobe, modest in the best of times, has taken a nose dive.  I can count only three decent sports shirts that I can wear out in the evening or to a casual business meeting.  As I have another meeting tomorrow and they've already seen me as "Larry, Curly, and Moe", I figured it was time to go do a little shopping.

 Whatdayamean "Am I going out looking like this?"

Like many men, I'm not a good shopper.  That's why I rarely do it.  That's also why I usually look like a holocaust survivor, except for the part about being brutally starved.  (Trust me, I DON'T look starved.)  My default version of clothes shopping consists of going to the LL Bean website and buying some new shorts and t-shirts, then waiting for the UPS man to arrive.  Easy peasy.

But today I felt brave and ventured out to the big mall just a couple of blocks away.  I went in to Dillard's first, found the men's department in the back corner, and then found several shirts that looked nice.  The lady whose first language sounded like it was Russian told me they were now 40% off.  Sweet!

I whipped out my wallet and she said, "I'll need your Dillard's card, please."

I said, "I'll just pay with my debit card, thank you."

"Oh no sir (or maybe it was "Comrade"), the sale price is only for Dillard's Club members.  I'll be happy to open you a membership.  ("Membership" must now be the code word for credit card.)  Nope, no more "memberships" for me.


At the other end of the mall was Macy's.  Same drill, found the men's department and a couple of nice shirts....they were Tommy Bahama....but they were waaaaay over $100 each.


Next it was on to Nordstrom's.  I found their men's department in the corner of the basement (how come women get 95% of the store?) and a couple of acceptable shirts.

The tag said the fabric was "modal".  So I said to myself, "Self, WTF is modal?  And more importantly, does it need to be ironed?"  I looked it up on the World Wide Web (thank you iPhone) and it said modal "pills" and likely needs ironing.


I decided my last stop before I gave up entirely would be REI.  Fortunately they had a couple of Colombia shirts that I liked, never mind that they looked like I was going fishing, so I bought 'em.

Now I'm just hoping the "fisherman look" is better than the "holocaust survivor look".  I'm thinking it's a toss-up.  Meh.  ;)


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What do you call a busload of lawyers going over a thousand foot cliff? A good start.

We have too many lawyers, and too many laws for them to manipulate.  I say this based in part on a piece I saw on the news this morning.

It seems a lady in a resort community (in Florida?) put her house up on Airbnb, a website that matches people who have property with people who want to rent a resort house or an apartment or even just a room for a short term.  A guy leased her property for 45 days, and paid her 30 days in advance.

After he was there only a day he began complaining about the "cloudy" tap water.  The owner said she would give him a refund and he could just move on.  He took her money, but then didn't leave.  She thought he would surely leave after his original 45 day term,'s still there.

Turns out the laws in that state view this guy as a "tenant", which means to get him out the owner will have to jump through all sorts of hoops and spend thousands of $$$ in attorney fees to legally evict him, which could take months.  So this guy is living in her house rent free, and perhaps trashing it in the process, and there is precious little she can do.

In this country today most laws are written by lawyers, and passed into law by legislators who themselves are predominately lawyers, and enforced by courts who are, of course, lawyers.  And they're written in such a way that the layman usually has to hire a lawyer to tell them what the document they're signing means.  And if something backfires, you have to hire a lawyer to save your a$$.

Sounds to me like lawyers have written their own ticket to a very well paid lifetime employment.  And the only way to stop them is to....hire a lawyer!  DOH!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Hello Monday

It was 45 years ago yesterday that the United States successfully completed its first moon shot.  For the record, my first successful moon shot predates that by about 11 years.


Speaking of mooning....what is it with Russian President Vladimir "Pootie Poo" Putin?  Why do we even sit down with him to discuss anything?  In his world lying through your teeth to get what you want is perfectly acceptable. 

Those dumb rebel bastards in Ukraine apparently don't know there are ears listening to all their radio transmissions and eyes (and cameras) watching their missile launcher, minus one missile, hot footing it back across the border into Russia.  All while Pootie Poo says, "Nope, not us.  We didn't shoot down your plane.  Nobody saw us.  You can't prove a thing." 

I thought one of the benefits of doing business with "enemies" people who we have previously been at odds with is they wouldn't dare do anything to jeopardize their newly-found mutually beneficial business relationship?  It would "civilize" them.
Apparently Vladimir Putin didn't get that memo.   He is now the official "King of Mooning".  All Hail King Poot!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Denial solves nothing

Unless you've been comatose for the past few months you know that, in addition to the normal influx of illegal immigrants, we've had tens of thousands of kids sent to the US by....their parents?....their home countries?  Who knows?  And the situation is getting worse by the day.

If their stories are to be believed, they are fleeing Central America because violence, likely drug cartel related, and dire poverty, are forcing parents to push their kids north, hoping for a better life for them.  

I don't know if that's true or not, but what I do know is we have thousands of kids, dirty, many of them sick, sleeping on floors inside chain link cages, in totally inadequate, unsanitary conditions.

The heartless among us are fighting tooth and nail to keep these kids from being humanely housed, even temporarily, in their communities.  They've actually thrown up roadblocks and threatened violence to keep these kids out of their sight.

I think that's shameful!

If there are mangled bodies littering the scene of a horrific highway crash, the first order of triage is to care for the victims.  There will be plenty of time later to determine what happened, who's at fault, who should pay for the damages, etc.  But first you provide care for the injured.

Can you imagine yourself as a 10 year old, away from your family and everything else you know, a thousand miles from home, regardless how pitiful that home might be, and you're being snarled at by people who think of you as scum?

We need immigration reform.  How should it be structured?  I have no clue.  But these illegals are here now anyway.  It is simply impossible to round them all up and send them home.  

We need to find a way to bring them into our system and make them useful, contributing, tax paying members of our society.  Sure, weed out the criminals and those who are here just to scam our system, but then welcome the rest and put them to work. 

The Democrats want this and the mainstream Republicans want this, too.  The latter's traditional base, corporate interests, definitely wants this.  But rank-and-file Republicans are petrified by the extremists on their Tea Party right and refuse to face reality.  The "problem" isn't going away.  We need action.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hump Day brain musings

I read in the newspaper yesterday that a Navy nurse at Guantanamo, Cuba is refusing to participate in the force-feeding of an Islamic detainee who is on a hunger strike.

The concept of a hunger strike makes no sense to me.  If it's some sort of protest, how does dying of self-induced starvation make you the big winner?  

"Ha!  I'm dead, but you're still alive.  I WIN!"

That might make sense in the eastern mind, but to my western mind it just sounds stupid.  If you're dumb enough to refuse the food offered you, especially since it's prepared in accordance with the sensitivities of your culture, well....then say "hey" to Allah for me.

So does this make me....what do the shrinks call it?...."passive aggressive"?


For the past several weeks all the sports news has been about nothing but the World Cup, ad nauseum.  I kept watching all those string-bean soccer players and wondering how they would physically compare with American football players, or even more of a mis-match, with English rugby players?

Ever wonder how those rugby guys get those big, powerful legs?

It's due to off season training like this....doing ONE LEG squats with about a half-ton of weights.  (That's pretty impressive.  I personally couldn't roll that much weight downhill with a tail wind.)

Let's review:

World-class soccer player

English rugby player

I'm getting a visual

I think I answered my own question.  :)


In this morning's email I received from Living Social (like Groupon) an offer to take a discounted stripper class.

I forwarded it on to K, with an offer of a full scholarship.  So far she hasn't said "no".  *Ha!  Not gonna happen*  :)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Would you please be so kind as to forward to us $75.8 Billion Dollars?"

 Still waiting.

"Send cash".  That's what the Federales have oh-so gently asked of numerous banks, both American and foreign, who were caught doing unspeakable things to their investors and consumers.

Just last week prosecutors told BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, to cough up $8.9 Billion Dollars as punishment for sanctions violations and falsifying their records.  (That was more than da bank made last year, so I'm sure they felt it.)

Here's the financial fine score card since 2012:

     Bank of America.......$35.6B
     JP Morgan Chase.....$23.4B
     BNP Paribas...............$8.9B
     Wells Fargo................$5.3B
     Credit Suisse..............$2.6B

The Frenchies were forced to plead guilty to criminal charges, but it was apparently little more than a photo-op slap followed by a wink.  Nobody is going to jail.

This all looks good on paper, but here's my gripe:  The individuals involved got away with it.  Those billions of dollars in fines are being paid by the banks shareholders.  While the shareholders in a round-about way benefited from the bank's fraud, they didn't cause any of it.

We know from emails and other evidence that those bankers who sold those fraudulent derivatives, swaps, etc, knew exactly what they were doing, but were overcome by the "show me the money" syndrome.  In most cases this knowledge went all the way to the very top of the bank's hierarchy.  They knew, too, but did nothing....except cash their ill-gotten mega-million dollar paychecks every year.

Today they're still sitting on their pile of personal wealth.  They weren't forced to give it back, much less spend even a day in jail, when their banks were fined all those billions of dollars.

This really irks me because I personally know lots of small local businesses who closed their doors when the economy collapsed and credit dried up.  They lost everything....their homes, their life savings, their credit rating, all their assets....pfffft....gone.  (I was lucky.  I never stuck my neck out too far, so I was able pull back pretty easily when it all hit the fan.)

I want to see the bankers punished.  I want to see them driving Chevys and living in little rented houses on the edge of town.  I want to see them working 8 to 5 in a cubicle.  I want to see them pushing a shopping cart through Walmart buying groceries.  

I want to see them eating meat loaf and Hamburger Helper.  I want to see their VIP parking spot at the local country club now say "Reserved For the Caddy of the Month".  I want to see their credit ruined, so they can't even buy a TV on their signature.

I want to see them suffer the same fate as the millions of others they screwed over.  Show me that, then I'm willing to call things even.

I think it's gonna be a long wait.


Monday, July 14, 2014

I'm not a "joiner"

I had a fun day yesterday at the Frisco Gun Club.  I thought the Dallas Gun Club was nice (that's where I took shooting lessons once from the guy who was the "hunt master" (?) on the estate of The Earl of Something-Or-Other in Scotland), but I think this place could give it a run for it's money.

Ahh....nothing like "Hard Liquor and Handgun Night" at the club with the family.

I remember after a day of shooting sporting clays at the Dallas Gun Club a few years ago I was impressed enough I thought I would join.  I went online and filled out the membership application, then was instructed to send it in along with $5,000 and they would see if my nose was stuck sufficiently high enough into the stratosphere to warrant them talking to me any further.  

POP!  *the sound of my bubble bursting*

I seem to have a knack for taking my thinly papered wallet to places that require a personal financial statement be submitted prior to entry. 

When I was still in high school researching which colleges I wanted to go to I decided on the University of Hawaii.  At the time they didn't have any out-of-state tuition, so it sounded affordable.  

Then my dad asked how I was going to get to Hawaii, and then home again for the summer?  I said, "No prob....I'll just fly."  He asked, "On who's dime?"

Umm....  it was about then that Texas Tech, located in beautiful picturesque West Texas, rose to the top of my list....

That's "Diamond Head on the Plains" on the horizon, left.

Then when I was in college I saw a story in Life magazine (?) about an experiment at Vassar College in NY whereby they would begin admitting a few males to the previously all-girls school.   I wanted to be one of those select few.

Go Vassar!

I went so far as to write them and ask for an application and a catalogue.  They sent the application, but said I would have to fill it out and send it back with a $50 application fee (times were simpler then) before they would send me the catalogue.  I'm guessing I wasn't the only guy making that same request.

As it would have been challenging for me to scrape together $5 at the time, much less $50, my experience at Vassar was brief....and all in my head.  :)

Now that I think about it, I'm just gonna pay per visit to the Frisco Gun membership for me.  Groucho Marx might have been on to something when he said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."  

I do have my standards, you know.  :)


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fun and games at the DMV

A while back I received a letter from our Department of Public Safety (aka the DPS, our State Police), what you folks in the other 49 would call the DMV, telling me that this year I needed to renew my drivers license in person.  

Something about they were pretty sure my appearance had changed since my last mug shot.  (I've just been renewing online without having to pose for a new photo since they invented the internet back in the '90's.)

I sent them a more current "selfie"....

...but they emailed back they couldn't use it because they can only take "head shots", then added a very nice note about how I should try out for that new TV show Last Comic Standing.

So this morning at 10:30, after I thought the line would have thinned out some, I mosied down to the DPS office.

Missed it by thaaaat much.

I finally made it inside to the "check in" window where they gave me a form to fill out and my very own personalized number, then pointed me towards the packed waiting area.  After watching the lawn boys mow the grounds outside....twice....they eventually called for me...."now serving number 12,368"

I gave the nice man my properly filled out paperwork and he looked pleased UNTIL he got to the part about my Social Security number.  It seems it didn't match the number in their database.  He insisted I wasn't me.  He wanted my Social Security card or a W-2.  I told him I didn't usually carry my file cabinet around with me, so he was just gonna have to work around it.

It was about then I think I saw him reaching under the counter to push a button which I assumed would bring out a SWAT team or something.  Trying to defuse the situation I asked him how I could be in their system since 1966 and they just now figured out something was amiss?

He turned his computer monitor around and showed me:  The first two digits of my SSN had been reversed.  He told me I MUST return with my official Social Security card or the FBI, Homeland Security, and Interpol would be super pissed, or worse, the Tea Party might have me deported as "undocumented".

In my always playful, pleasant tone I told him it seemed pretty obvious to me a DPS clerk somewhere made a data entry error and FRICKED up my file, and therefore it was up to the DPS to UN-FRICK it!

Did you know there are uniformed, armed State Troopers there patrolling behind the customer service counter?  (I wonder how badly you have to screw up to get assigned to the Drivers License Division?)  

After a twenty mile round trip home to search through files that haven't been touched since the Carter Administration, I returned with my official Social Security card.

All is good now.  After an exchange of money, a donation to some wayward urchin fund, and an agreement to be an organ donor I am now once again authorized to drive on the Highways of the Realm.

Tomorrow....I'm sleeping in.  :)


Monday, July 7, 2014


If you're one of those morons who wants to star in your own Jackass movie by jumping off your roof into a cup of water, I say go for it.  As long as you don't hurt anyone else, I see it as positive for the rest of humanity.

But when you start doing things that hurt others, or the defenseless....especially the defenseless....then you have just found yourself a new mortal enemy.  ME!  Yesterday I came face-to-face with one of the latter.

K and I met my daughter and granddaughter for lunch, then we drove a couple of blocks to a mall that had an indoor kids playground.  As we left and were walking across the parking lot, K heard a dog barking.  She went to investigate and found this....

....a little tiny cha-hee-hee dog locked up in a black car, with a black interior, parked with the windshield facing west.  The poor little thing was panting heavily. It was in the low 90's outside, but I'm sure it was 110, 120, maybe more inside.  The window was cracked maybe 1 1/2", but BFD!


I felt like that comic strip character who gets all riled and turns green and starts going after bad guys.  While the ladies stood watch over the little guy I went into the nearest store and instructed them to have mall security meet me outside immediately.  In less-than-record time Paul Blart, Mall Cop arrived.  It was apparent he had an IQ well short of triple digits.  

He radioed mall HQ and they dicked around on their little walkie-talkies for a few minutes, then I said screw you, I'm calling for the REAL cops.  Fortunately several of Plano's finest drove through about that time and I flagged them down.  They requested animal control come immediately, took my name and number as the complainant, and we waited.

By this time it had been at least 20 minutes since we telling how long the dog had been like that before we arrived....and I was fully prepared to grab the glass and rip it out of the car door if something didn't happen fast.

About that time a little preppy girl came out to the car, and I went off.  

"Oh....I was only in there for a minute."  

"A minute" my ass!

She got the dog out and K had some water ready.  The little dude seemed most appreciative.  I read her the Riot Act, told her she almost killed her dog, what a despicable person she was, etc....and the cops sat back and let me.  *thanks cops  :)*

After I spoke my mind the cops took her ID and were running it through all their databases, so we left.  K said she hoped the girl had warrants against her and they hauled her in.

I do not apologize for my loud, belligerent attitude towards her.  I would happily do it all over again.  I hope you would have the cajones to step in, too, if you saw something similar.

And if you're one of those who has a dog (or any kind of pet) and aren't willing to properly care for it, why have it?  Give it up to someone who will.  Or face someone like me who will REALLY, REALLY make you want to give it up.

Fair warning.


Black Mazda 2, 4-door....sorry excuse for a human being inside.  Somewhere in the west Plano, TX area.  Considered intellectually unarmed, but still very dangerous.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cars and Coffee, July 2014

As I suspected would be the case, attendance at this month's Cars and Coffee event was down by roughly 25% due to many of the regular attendees being out of town for the holidays.  That turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it was much easier to walk around and take photos....there were lots of unique cars there I hadn't seen before.

The oddest of the odd had to be this 1960 Panhard.  Can you guess its country of origin?

A clue?  OK...."stinky cheese"...."escargot"....DOH....

Yes, France!  The home of the world famous Le Odd School of Automotive Design.

Doesn't it just scream, "Stop the assembly line!  We're out of wine." 

It completely out classed the East Germans, who nevertheless proudly displayed their ever-popular Trabant.  How 'bout that fine build quality, huh?  (Take note J.D. Powers.)

McLaren was there showing off their uber-exotic P1.

Fetching from any angle.

Here's one I'd never heard of...a Rossion Q1.

It's a specialty American maker and it's based on the British Noble M400.  Meh.

I saw this Jaguar F-Type coupe there, the first coupe I've seen in the flesh.  It is truly spectacular from this angle. 

Unfortunately IMO the front doesn't impress as much.  It seems a bit busy.

This was a true rarity....a 1990 BMW Z1.

The owner told us there were only 8000 made, all for Europe, although a dozen now reside in the US.

The most interesting thing about this unique car were the doors.  They "opened" by sliding down into the door sills.  Oh, those wacky Germans!

Whatcha lookin' at Scott Tweety?

Anglophile that I am, you knew I'd be drawn to the British sports cars.

This very nice 1962 Triumph TR4 stirred me.  ( I said "stirred", not "shaken".  :)

Likewise did this classic Triumph Spitfire, although I think it would have looked better in British Racing Green, especially with that tan leather interior.  That's my favorite color combination on British sports cars.

How about some vintage off-roaders?  This was one of the best back in its day, the Toyota 40-series Land Cruiser.

Newly refurbished Ford Broncos like this have developed a cult following and are now demanding top dollar.

Most unusual paint job of the day went to this iridescent purple/green Mazda RX-8.  The verdict is still out.

The worst....this Fiat 500, although Peter Max fans might disagree.

This BMW 1600 Cabrio was impressively restored and maintained. 

Beautiful!  Love it!

Some classic Americana....

....a '59 Cheeevy.  Fins rock!

Anyone remember the Nash Rambler?

Yes, this was the car immortalized in >>the "Beep Beep" song<< by the Playmates in 1958. 

Ahhh....Hula girls, fuzzy dice, curb feelers, and necker knobs.  Who remembers?

I know!

Looks like the rolling Tacky Party made it to Dallas just in time. 

Note the Sapporo beer tap handle as the gear shift. (Walmart, here they come!)

But for simple, classic understated style....

....I think I'd take this '70's-era Ferrari 308 home.

Hope you enjoyed Cars and Coffee/Dallas, July 2014.  :)