Friday, December 18, 2009

A final ramble?

Kenju just asked me on Facebook, “Are you guys okay? Sure haven't heard from you in a while!"

Yeah, we’re fine.

I’ve just lost the desire to put up blog posts. Don’t know why, but the fun seems gone from it—and that’s a shame!

Being a part of the blogosphere for a few years was a hoot. I “met” online a bunch of really nice people who I still care about and follow on their blogs (those who still post to a blog anyway) and on Facebook, where most seem to have gravitated.

I had a huge amount of fun with poems, posts about the “ycaripsnoc” causing everything from bursting plumbing to the MS Windows Blue Screen of Death, tales about vacation trips complete with pictures, satires on movies, reviews of country songs, and lots more.

And wasn’t it a thrill when some completely new person first commented on a post, leading to a new friendship in blog-land? I made new friends in the UK, in South Africa, in Australia, and all over the US! I’m old enough to remember when people had Pen Pals in different places (which was like blogging but using the postal service to transmit your “posts”)—the thrill of meeting and sharing stories with someone far away was similar.

Anyway, because those blog posts meant a lot to me then, I’ll leave Romantic Ramblings and all its archives up on Google’s Blogspot for a while.

How long? Well, knowing my tendency towards inertia, probably until they declare it abandoned and erase if from their massive servers.

I started this blog when a literary agent I was working with told me I “HAD” to have an internet presence if I wanted to be considered commercially viable as a novelist. As you’ll remember, he later agreed to represent me but soon found that the publishers he approached had a somewhat different idea about what was commercially viable, and it didn’t include my first novel.

Undaunted I began two more books, but the writing languished at about the 10k word level. I still have those story lines percolating in the back of my mind, but wonder now if I’ll ever start them back up again.

In my blogging I met other authors, many of whom (honesty requires me to admit) are better writers than I am. Several of those are still on the verge of either representation or of at least seeing their work available on Amazon as a P.O.D. (Print on Demand) paperback or e-book.

You know who you are, Candace and Karyn!

But now I guess all of us have moved on a bit. I still browse a few blogs and all of my Facebook friends’ posts, but I have little desire to participate in the Facebook games and activities and causes.

I keep saying that I’m “nearing retirement” . . . But am I really? I haven’t even settled of a year yet, let alone a date.

So, Kenju, thanks for asking!

In my usual introspective way I’ve rambled around trying to say farewell; to blogging, at least. But I’ll still be lurking around waiting to make a sarcastic or double entendre comment to whatever you put on Facebook. (“Someone just fertilized my crops on Farmland!” You can imagine the fun I could have with THAT one!)

Like the line from the very old song, “Seasons in the Sun:”

We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun,
But the wine and the song,
Like the seasons, are all gone.

All our lives we had fun,
We had seasons in the sun,
But the stars we could reach
Were just starfish on the beach.

If I ever get published, or manage to get a book available as a POD, I’ll let you all know!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009


In case you didn't know, I have a grandson. He's 4 now, but at a slightly earlier age he was delighted by squirrels.

For a youngster learning to talk, the "squ" in "squirrel" was hard for him to wrap his tongue and mouth around, so the word came out "Ski Roll."

Thus, in this family every time a squirell is spotted we say, "Look! A Ski Roll!"

Here's a shot taken by his mom Christina of grandson in the tub. A picture like this is bound to embarrass the tar out of him when he gets bigger. But for now, it's cute.

Well, a blog-(and excellent author)-friend of mine Candace put me on to a web site called "Squirrelizer." It allows you to insert a picture of a ground squirrel into any photograph that has a URL address.

Here's the result, using the picture above:

I'm hoping this will further delight my grandson.

I'll let you know.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A funny story

As some of you readers know, I used to fly F-4 Phantoms off the Forrestal. I thought this story was hilarious, but Carol said, "Well, maybe it's funny to a pilot."

See what you think.

also reported as

Below is an article written by Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated. He details his experiences when given the opportunity to fly in an F-14 Tomcat. If you aren't laughing out loud by the time you get to 'Milk Duds,' your sense of humor is seriously broken.

'Now this message is for America's most famous athletes:

Someday you may be invited to fly in the back-seat of one of your country's most powerful fighter jets. Many of you already have. John Elway, John Stockton, Tiger Woods, to name a few. If you get this opportunity, let me urge you, with the greatest sincerity...

Move to Guam.
Change your name.
Fake your own death!
Whatever you do, Do Not Go!!!

I know. The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped. I was toast! I should've known when they told me my pilot would be Chip (Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

Whatever you're thinking a Top Gun named Chip (Biff) King looks like, triple it. He's about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair, finger-crippling handshake -- the kind of man who wrestles dyspeptic alligators in his leisure time.

If you see this man, run the other way, Fast.

Biff King was born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the voice of NASA missions. ('T-minus 15 seconds and counting' Remember?) Chip would charge neighborhood kids a quarter each to hear his dad. Jack would wake up from naps surrounded by nine-year-olds waiting for him to say, 'We have liftoff'.

Biff was to fly me in an F-14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million weapon with nearly as much thrust as weight, not unlike Colin Montgomerie. I was worried about getting airsick, so the night before the flight I asked Biff if there was something I should eat the next morning.

'Bananas,' he said.

'For the potassium?' I asked.

'No,' Biff said, 'because they taste about the same coming up as they do going down.'

The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had on my flight suit with my name sewn over the left breast.

(No call sign -- like Crash or Sticky or Leadfoot. But, still, very cool.) I carried my helmet in the crook of my arm, as Biff had instructed. If ever in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman, this was it.

A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety briefing and then fastened me into my ejection seat, which, when employed, would 'egress' me out of the plane at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked unconscious.

Just as I was thinking about aborting the flight, the canopy closed over me, and Biff gave the ground crew a thumbs-up. In minutes we were firing nose up at 600 mph. We leveled out and then canopy-rolled over another F-14.

Those 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 80. It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. Only without rails. We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute. We chased another F-14, and it chased us.

We broke the speed of sound. Sea was sky and sky was sea. Flying at 200 feet we did 90-degree turns at 550 mph, creating a G force of 6.5, which is to say I felt as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing against me, thereby approximating life as Mrs. Colin Montgomerie.

And I egressed the bananas.

And I egressed the pizza from the night before.

And the lunch before that.

I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade.

I made Linda Blair look polite. Because of the G's, I was egressing stuff that never thought would be egressed.

I went through not one airsick bag, but two.

Biff said I passed out. Twice. I was coated in sweat. At one point, as we were coming in upside down in a banked curve on a mock bombing target and the G's were flattening me like a tortilla and I was in and out of consciousness, I realized I was the first person in history to throw down.

I used to know 'cool'. Cool was Elway throwing a touchdown pass, or Norman making a five-iron bite. But now I really know 'cool'. Cool is guys like Biff, men with cast-iron stomachs and freon nerves. I wouldn't go up there again for Derek Jeter's black book, but I'm glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a rookie reliever makes in a home stand.

A week later, when the spins finally stopped, Biff called. He said he and the fighters had the perfect call sign for me. Said he'd send it on a patch for my flight suit.

'What is it?' I asked.

'Two Bags.'

Friday, August 14, 2009

As long as I’m breaking my own rules . . .

Jack K got me going on this topic. It’s HIS fault. Blame him.

One of my blog rules is that I won’t post about certain topics. Like religion. Oh, I have strong ideas about the subject, and very strong personal beliefs.

But who cares, right? Am I going to convince anyone by preaching what I believe? Probably not.

Some will agree, and some won’t. The ones who disagree will be the ones most likely to comment. Why? Because they’ll want to argue their own, differing beliefs. They are JUST as convinced they’re right as I’m convinced I am.

Will either one of us persuade the other to change? HA! Do pigs fly? (No, let’s not argue that one either.)

Another hot topic I try to leave alone is politics. Same reason as religion (see above).

Last post, I quoted President Reagan’s, “Never say never.” And then I said never. Broke my own rule.

So in this post I’m going to break another rule and venture into one aspect of politics I believe in; and I’m sure I won’t convince ANYONE to change his or her own mind on the subject.

What got me going on this? Like I said, Jack K did. In a comment on my last post he said at the end, “Wouldn't be interesting in the next election if every, and I mean EVERY incumbent were voted out? Hmmmm.”

My response is that it would not only be interesting, it would happen EVERY election if we just had . . . are you ready for it? . . . TERM LIMITS!

Most people think term limits are a short-sighted attempt to get rid of the “bad” politicians. They quickly retort, “Oh, but then we’d lose the good ones as well as the bad. That wouldn’t help.”

However, a longer look at the concept will show you that term limits for all elected officials would have a huge, profound effect on much of what ails our representative system. It would remove the seniority system for committee appointments and committee chair assignments. The relationships developed over multiple terms between elected officials and lobbyists, and special interest groups, and well-heeled constituents, just wouldn’t develop. Or they’d have to develop very quickly and they wouldn’t last very long.

Our politicians could, for once, be honest with us! Why? Term limits would remove the one key factor that motivates most officials to play both sides of the street, to spin everything to try to please everyone. That key motivating factor is the desire to get re-elected! They wouldn’t do ANYTHING just to get more votes. They might vote a certain way to get a payoff, although that could land them in jail, but they might . . . just MIGHT . . . vote a certain way because they believe in it, or because they are convinced it’s best for the people they represent, or for the country.

Wouldn’t THAT be refreshing!

Where in our constitution are the guidelines for the power structure that has developed within the legislature? How do one or two senators or representatives gain the power to control blocks of votes? Is that what our founding fathers envisioned?

Ooooo. I sound like I’m getting passionate here, don’t I?

Not a very “romantic” rambling, eh?

That’s the trouble with breaking rules—once you start, it’s hard to stop.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One more health care post

Since my last post stimulated comments and a few emails from folks I'd not heard from before, as well as from my daughter and several of my blog friends, I'm going to take one more brief foray into the topic.

(Well, that's my plan NOW. Who knows HOW many additional forays I might take? I often repeat the quote attributed to President Reagan, "Never say never." It's corollary has to be -- although I just made this up -- "Never say always.")

(What? You don't know what a corollary is? Well, it's like a coronary, but not as serious.)

Anyhoo, speaking of coronaries, back to health care!

It's really tough to filter through all the arguments for and against government involvement in our health care system industry MESS ( . . . pick your own descriptive noun, or just leave it blank -- works either way). Which ones are real, and which ones are hype? Is it 47 million uninsured Americans, or 57 million (the number seems to go up weekly). Are the doctors at fault, or maybe the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the malpractice lawyers, etc., etc.

To me, most of the hype and horror stories we hear are overblown. The issue really boils down in most cases to access versus cost. To hammer access ("Everyone should have access to quality health care!") while ignoring cost is not just stupid, it's immoral. But likewise to hammer (and try to artificially, through legislation and controls, limit) costs while ignoring access will result in the situations found in other countries with months-long waits to see a specialist or have needed testing done.

How do we achieve the balance needed between access and cost?

I don't know.

But I have little faith in our government to achieve it, whether in typical partisan division or through a coalition of the parties. Politics, and favors, and hidden agenda of all kinds are just too engrained in our elected representatives in D.C. to allow, I fear, the kind of well thought-out policies and programs it will take. (BTW, I'm and old-schooler and using "agenda" as a plural of "agendum," although I know that usage has fallen out of favor).

And unfortunately, our president's hard pushing for quick action may further doom any slight chance that achieving such balance may have had.

So I fear that we may indeed never have a government-instituted health care plan that provides wide access at a reasonable (affordable!) cost.

There. I broke my own rule. I said (wrote) "never." Shame on me.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Who, exactly, are those uninsured Americans?

I have no idea if this is accurate or not. So why am I posting it?

I'm a firm believer in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" We've been hearing for years how our health care system is "broke" (that's as in "broken," not out of money).

What proof is offered? Usually the statistic that tens of millions of people are uninsured and thus can't afford needed treatments and therapies and medications. And in a country as rich as America, that's a travesty.

I never gave much thought to that argument, accepting both premises: 1) that all those peole didn't have coverage because they couldn't afford it, and 2) that this fact is a travesty.

Then I saw this cartoon, and began to wonder . . .

Is this just some right-wing fringe hype? Or is it close to the truth? If the latter, then . . . Gee!

Of course, it doesn't matter. It looks like we're going to get a government health plan of some ilk, regardless.

Will that be a bad thing? My gut tells me, probably. But the pendulum swings both ways, in most cases. We'll see.

Well, DUH!

Headline in this morning's financial news:

Obama officials: Taxes may rise to pay health care

Obama officials say middle class may face tax hike to reduce deficit, pay for health care

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two of President Barack Obama's economic heavyweights said middle-class taxes might have to go up to pare budget deficits or to pay for the proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system.

My comment: ". . . might have to go up?" Who do they think they're kidding?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I smell trouble coming

Okay Jan, you asked for it. (See Jan’s comment on my post below this one.) You want controversy? Here you go.

(BTW, don’t you love the British pronunciation of the word “controversy,” with the accent on the second syllable? If you’ve not heard it pronounced that way, watch some old British movies. "Con–TRAH–ver–sy.")

I learned a principle some years ago that helps me understand seemingly complex issues or problems. Simply stated, you take an issue to its extreme and see if (at that sometimes ridiculously extreme point) the rightness or wrongness of it doesn’t become apparent.

Example: This article regarding universal health care for all Americans.

Health care is a good thing, right? Of course it is. When I, or someone I’m close to, is sick or injured, I want to be able to have an adequately trained, licensed, insured professional treat the condition.

How about if the sick or injured person is a stranger to me? And how about if they have little or no money to pay for the treatment? Would I be willing to pay for their care? Er . . . Maybe.

But I’d have lots of questions. What care/treatment do they need (not want)? Is that treatment appropriate for them, for their condition, for their lifestyle? What will it cost? Are there alternatives? And many, many more.

And who says MY opinions about those questions and answers are “right” or “wrong?” Well, I say so, right? But do I really know? Who am I to make those decisions for someone else?

Ah! More to the point, who should make those decisions for ME?

I find myself thinking in circles.

Mr. Stein was asked these questions:

“Why should everyone be guaranteed free health care? And if we guaranteed to people goods and services they could not afford, where would it ever end? Where would it end short of assuming that everyone has a right to everyone else's property and labor?”

And then he began taking the issue to some extremes by asking:

“ . . . do I want to have patients seeing masseuses? Do I want them to be able to see the same psychiatrists that billionaires see? What about a nose job? A plastic surgeon could make up a medical need for a nose job or even a face lift. Where does it end?”

He continues down that philosophical road until he reaches its extreme end:

"If we have as a social rule that poorer Americans are required to have the same good things that rich people have, where is the stopping point? Where do we stop short of confiscatory taxation, taking away property, taking away affluent people's homes and basically abandoning the bedrock of the free society -- private property -- to achieve equality?"

Read the article. Mr. Stein does offer a few ideas (not really “solutions” though). But he does reach a conclusion about the debate, stated as:

“Maybe as important as health care is, individual freedom and private property are indispensable, too.”

Gee, ya think? This all gives me a headache.

I need some health care!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bad Blogger?

I accused my daughter of being a Bad Blogger. Why? She has become so addicted to Facebook that she only posts on her blog a few times per month.

Then I looked at my OWN blog. Hmmmm. Kinda like looking in the mirror and saying, “Bad blogger!” (Pot and kettle syndrome?)

So what’s my problem? Well, I just hate to sound like a broken record, saying the same thing over and over.

Aside: Think about that – has anybody under the age of 30 (or 40?) actually heard a “broken record?” Do they even know what a “record” is (beside what’s in the Guinness book, I mean.)

Reminds me of that VERY old joke about the first automated airline flight. You know:

The plane climbs and levels off, and the cabin speakers crackle into life with, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your automated captain speaking. Congratulations; you are now part of aviation history, because you are riding the very first commercial flight with no flight crew. Please do not be alarmed. All systems have been triple checked. Absolutely nothing can go wrong [click] . . . go wrong [click] . . . go wrong [click] . . . ”

So, what’s that got to do with blogging? Well, it seems that all I’ve been able to focus on and think to write about for the last two months is the HEAT! I don’t want to keep blogging about how hot it is here.

I know, I know: Global Warming, right? Well, ask the folks in the Northeast about that. This is one of the coldest summers on record for some of them – how about you, Kirsten?

Anyway, I know the alarmists are changing their mantra to “Global Climate Change” from “Global Warming” in order to accommodate the record cool/cold that strikes some regions and confuses people who thought they had it all figured out. Don’t get me going on that topic, please, or I’ll have to drag out the articles that report warming and reduction of polar ice on other planets in our solar system (but fail to mention how our man-made CO2 got to their atmospheres to cause it).

I guess I could blog about the evils of government-sponsored health care, and challenge any random reader to report any successful example of such in the world. Then I might wonder aloud (so to speak) in a subsequent post why our President and Congress think we are smart enough to avoid all the problems and inefficiencies of such systems elsewhere.

I could decry the economic stimulus plan(s), and ask rhetorically how we can avoid runaway inflation to pay all the debt we will (or have already) incur(red).

OH! Have you seen this political cartoon? I love this:

No, I could write about all those things, but I’d just get myself in trouble. So I think I’ll go back to the standard, “It’s HOT here.”

Or just not post very often.

Or both.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gripe, gripe gripe!

I know. Everybody talks about the weather.

Well, I’m not here to talk about it, I’m here to COMPLAIN about it!

Of the first 14 days this month, only ONE of them had a high temperature below 98 (it was 95 – an anomaly!)

Nine of those 14 days had a high of 100 or higher. The highest was 102 (three days in a row).

Now, that was just July, right? How about June?

Well, the last 8 days in June were ALL at or above 100! The last time we had a high below 98 was June 20, except for that one anomaly in July. That’s 22 days, with only one exception. Three weeks, and counting.

The high today is going to be at least 99, and may be over 100 again.

So, if anybody asks you, tell them (on good authority) that the Hades Index here is right about at 100%, meaning it’s hot as Hell! Oh, and it’s dry, too. Our paper said that thus far in 2009 we’ve had only about 6 inches of rain. All year! That’s like desert climate.

(Had enough complaining? Oh, all right; I’ll stop. I’ll be in a better mood next time, I promise.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

A little Texas humor . . .

(This is making the email rounds, especially in the Lone Star State. Substitute your own region or area of domicile, and you'll think it funnier.)

God was missing for six days.

Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him resting on the seventh day. He inquired, "Where have you been?"

God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look, Michael. Look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet," replied God, “and I've put life on it. I'm going to call it Earth, and it's going to be a place to test Balance."

"Balance?" inquired Michael, "I'm still confused."

God explained, pointing to different parts of earth. "For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while southern Europe is going to be poor. Over here I've placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things."

God continued pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, pointed to a land area and said, "What's that?"

"That's the State of Texas, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful rivers, mountains, streams, lakes, forests, hills, beaches and plains. The people from the State of Texas are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, humorous, and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of good things."

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, "But what about Balance, God? You said there would be Balance."

God smiled, "There's Washington, DC. Wait till you see the idiots I put there!"

Friday, July 03, 2009

HOW hot!?

Yes, this was taken today at 4:05 pm.

Yes, that's my backyard in Victoria, TX.

Yes, it's in the shade!

No, I am NOT out playing golf (or doing anything else) today!

Ask, and ye shall receive!

In my previous post I complained about the heat, right? Right!

The forecast (for the part of Texas where we were) called for more days of triple-digit temperatures, but with “isolated thunderstorms.” We decided to play golf anyway, but to cut back on the length of time we spent out IN that heat.

Tuesday dawned with overcast skies, and temps in the upper 70s. Fine.

But to our amazement, the skies stayed overcast all day, and the temps never rose above the low-to-mid 80s! Wow! Great golf weather!

Well, then on Wednesday the sky stayed overcast (with occasional very light drizzle, but no real rain), and again, temps in the low 80s!

Gee. Maybe I ought to complain about things more often . . . ya think? (Carol says an emphatic “NO!” According to her, any more complaining from me might exceed some kind of arbitrary limit. I have no idea what she’s talking about.)

We are now back in our hometown of Victoria. We were greeted and welcomed home by the announcement below:

City of Victoria/ NEWS RELEASE

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Victoria Public Works Department: 485-3381

City Initiates Stage II of Drought Contingency Plan

(VICTORIA, TEXAS) The level in the City of Victoria’s Off-Channel Reservoir #8 has fallen to elevation 42, which is approximately 50% of its maximum capacity. As a result, the City is initiating Stage II of its Drought Contingency Plan beginning Friday, July 3. The following restrictions apply under Stage II:

(Yada, yada, yada.)

It seems that Victoria is now one stage beyond "Extreme Drought" and is considered to be in "Exceptional Drought" conditions!

With lots of restrictions, water rationing, and so on.

Well, given my experience earlier this week, I'm going to start right now complaining about the lack of rain.

If you notice on the national news a story about floods in this part of Texas, you'll know the reason.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Too hot to fish, too hot for golf . . .

Carol and I are in our camper, parked in Belton, TX. We arrived here on Saturday when the car’s outside thermometer read 105. That’s degrees Fahrenheit for all you Metric System folks.

Yesterday we played 36 holes of golf. When we finished and got back in the car to return to our air conditioned camper, the reading was 106.

I gotta tell you, this camper’s little roof-mounted A/C unit just can’t handle 106 with the sun beating down from a cloudless sky. But we survived, thanks to ice-cold beer, a fan, and the knowledge that eventually the sun would go down and we’d get some REAL cold air out of that roof-mounted thing.

(Last night I woke up at 3:30 a.m., cold! Ahhhhh! I got out a blanket and loved it!)

Today we played 27 holes of golf, and the car thermometer reading was 103.

I can hear you asking, “Are you gluttons for punishment?” “Are you masochists?” “Are you out of your ever-lovin’ bloomin’ MINDS!!?”

Well, possibly.

We’re beginning to wonder how much more of this golf “fun” we can stand.

Tomorrow we’re set for another round or two at a different golf course. We’ll probably go and play for at least a while. As for the rest of the week . . . well, I’m thinking we should have scheduled a trip to a more northern location; like maybe Alaska.

We’ll take it one day at a time.

The title of this post is from a country song of a few years back. It is indeed too hot for those activities mentioned. I’m just wishing the next line was also true: “And it’s too cold at home.”

For that I’ll need a bigger A/C unit on this camper!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


According to the first book of John (me), chapter 7 and verse 12, Saturdays when the sun is shining and the temperature is between 45 and 100 (depending upon the wind speed) are intended for golf.

Today is Saturday. The sun is shining brightly, the temperature is in the mid-90s but the wind is blowing at 15-25 with gusts to 35. So why are Carol and I not playing golf?

What's that? Did I hear someone wonder aloud if perhaps the dreaded ycaripsnoc might have something to do with it?

Well, judge for yourselves.

Yesterday evening I entered the master bathroom to . . . well, I went in there. I noticed a shiny spot on the floor, and stooped to examine it. Wet! The puddle extended along the wall behind the toilet, and further examination revealed that the toilet supply plumbing was dry. So where was the water coming from?

I noticed a drop of water on the bottom of the top tank. As I watched, it fell to the floor and another drop formed. How . . .?

Then I saw it; a hairline crack running from the top of the tank, through the handle-mounting hole, down and around the side almost all the way to the bottom. Given the small quantity of water on the floor and the speed at which the drips were falling, it had to have started less than an hour ago.

I ask you: Why does a porcelain toilet tank crack from top to bottom all by itself in the middle of an otherwise normal Friday evening? You already know the answer!

Timeline: 0830 – arrived at Lowes and shopped for a replacement toilet. Carol's "must have" list included a "best flush rating" of 5 stars. We selected a mid-priced model with the requisite flush rating, paid, and took it home. The advertising on the box says this commode will flush a bucket of golf balls!

(Side note: Lowes store is only a two-minute drive from my house!!)

0930 – the old commode is drained, dried, disassembled and removed from the house. The area is cleaned and ready for the new installation.

9:50 – determine that the bolts to mount the toilet to the ring in the floor aren't long enough. Try to use the old hardware but drop a bolt down the toilet drain hole in the floor. Unable to retrieve it. Think a few choice words.

10:00 – back to Lowes for some longer bolts.

10:45 – longer bolts are in place, but I determine that the wax ring that came with the new toilet isn't thick enough (a common problem). Mutter a few choice words under my breath.

10:50 – back to Lowes for a second wax ring.

11:20 – toilet is installed with double wax ring in place. However, it rocks slightly because the tile floor isn't exactly flat. Need some shims.

11:30 – break for lunch.

12:10 – back to Lowes for some nylon washers to use as shims. Buy a tube of caulk while I'm there to save any further trips! (Ha!)

1:15 – toilet is in place with top tank mounted and seat attached. All that's left is to hook up the water supply line!

1:16 – determine that the old supply line is two inches too short to reach the new, higher top tank. Say a few choice words loudly (Carol is outside and can't hear me).

1:20 – back to Lowes for a longer supply line.

1:50 – all is connected and in place. With trepidation, turn on the water and fill the tank. Check for leaks. Call Carol to come and try out the new, super, five star flush. Carol's reaction: "This doesn't flush any better than the old one!"

1:51 – excuse myself to Carol, walk through the house and out of the garage to the back yard and SCREAM a few choice words at the sky. Notice the neighbors looking at me strangely. Quickly walk back inside.

2:20 – tools and trash are put away, bathroom is clean, and job is complete. Too late (and too hot) to consider golf today, so opt to watch the US Open and stay in the air conditioning.

5:40 – crack open my second cold brew and order carry-out dinner from Olive Garden.

In the first book of John (me), chapter 7 and verse 13, it is advised that the activities in the preceding sentence are appropriate for Saturdays when golf is not played. Being a "by the book" kind of guy, I agree!

Oh, and by the way . . . Carol and I have agreed that we aren't going to be testing the "bucket of golf balls" claim concerning the toilet's flushing prowess. First, neither of us thinks the commode can do it, and second, we put enough balls in the water on the golf course as it is.

Maybe we'll golf tomorrow. Ycaripsnoc permitting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Psalm 23

At the office our General Manager called a "staff meeting" today. Though why he wanted to hold a meeting with a bunch of hiking sticks is beyond me. You know; as in "Thy rod and thy STAFF, they comfort me?"


But that tendency of mine to see possible puns in many everyday conversations is what prompted this post. A little background is in order.

My company makes a product that we ship out to customers in granular form. It looks kind of like coal, but much more expensive. We use railroad hopper cars to send it forth. Sometimes we'll send a LARGE shipment in a barge, propelled by a tugboat along the Intracoastal Waterway to either its final destination or to an intermediate one (like a port where it will be trans-loaded onto a ship for international customers).

One such barge-load of product left our plant several months ago, but before it reached the port of Houston (to be loaded onto a ship) the intended customer called to cancel the order. This was about the time the market for our stuff REALLY started going soft.

Rather than pay to bring the barge back to our plant and unloaded, we called all our customers and offered the material to them at a discounted price. Good deal for them, and for us (saving the unloading costs).

Nobody wanted it. NOBODY was buying our product at that point.

While we waited for someone to make an offer, we began referring to the shipment as "the orphan barge." Unloved, unwanted, nobody to take care of it. *sniff *

We have finally bitten the proverbial bullet and had the poor lonely thing brought to the plant, but have waited to unload it, still hoping that somebody will buy its contents from us.

Today, at the staff meeting, a decision was reached to unload the material from the orphan barge.

Unable to resist such an opportunity, I spoke up and said, "You know, we've been talking about that orphan barge for months now. I think we should just name it Annie."

Thus ended the meeting. Some had the courtesy to laugh; most simply groaned.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. . ."

Yeah, I ducked out through the nearest door before the stones started flying.)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Love conquers all – part 2

I read an interesting article on Yahoo Finance recently, called “What Not to Do When You Buy a Home.”

Here’s a link, but about half the time the link doesn’t bring up the article. I don’t know why.

So why am I writing about a financial article under the post title of “Love conquers all?”

Here’s an interesting quote from the article:

A researcher at Ohio State University found that people who stayed married accumulated 93 percent more wealth than single or divorced people. Economist Jay Zagorsky of OSU’s Center for Human Resource Research tracked the financial and marital status of more than 9,000 people from 1985 to 2000. Those who divorced saw their wealth reduced by 77 percent on average.


Carol and I have been married only once. To each other. For over 40 years. So, does that make us rich . . . or just old?

Definitely old.

No, my point is that even in matters as pragmatic as money, being in love and STAYING in love helps!

Another excerpt (quoting from a different study than above):

The typical husband says the couple earns 5 percent more income and has 10 percent more total wealth than his wife reports, the study found. Meanwhile, the wife says the family's debts are $500 more than her husband reports. Among older couples surveyed, half differed in their wealth estimates by more than $14,700; among younger couples, half differed by $7,000. (Husbands paid the bills about 40 percent of the time.)

Perhaps the most critical discovery: Couples who didn’t divorce in the 15-year study were more in agreement on their estimates than couples who divorced. In other words, they knew how to communicate about money. If you want to avoid your own personal credit crisis, that's a good place to start.


(And you thought I never wrote about ROMANCE in “Romantic Ramblings!”)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Love conquers all – part 1

I read a lot of novels. And since I’m not picky about the genre (not to mention: cheap!), I go to our local “Friends of the Library” book sale every six months, stock up on a stack of used paperbacks at 25 cents per copy, and I’m have bedtime reading to last me until the next sale.

How do I pick them? If the title strikes me, or the cover is a pretty color, or my hand closes on it when I’m really reaching for a different one. It usually takes me about 5 minutes to collect a grocery bag full.

That selection method typically results in me finding a couple of books I really enjoy, about 6-8 that are okay but I CAN put them down easily when the clock (or my eyelids) tells me it’s time to turn out the light for the night, and one or two stinkers.

Aside: I always wonder about how those stinkers ever got through an agent to a publisher who bought them, promoted them, and surely failed to sell enough to even come close to breaking even. Yeah, I know. It’s all a matter of taste, and mine aren’t necessarily representative of everyone else’s. But gee, I can recognize when something is well-written and entertaining, and when something is schlock. I guess some schlock does sell. But my novel was better than that, and . . . Oh, well. **sigh**

Okay, where am I going with this?? In January I picked up a (thick) book called The Brothers K, by David James Duncan. Never heard of him, and never heard of it. Grabbed it on a whim.

After a couple of chapters I knew this book was something special. This guy could WRITE!

When I was about half-way through it I announced to my entire family (on our ski trip) that this was probably the best book I had read in at least ten years. I raved about it.

After I’d finished it I gave it to Carol (who doesn’t necessarily share all of my tastes in books, movies, and so on). She and I were both college English majors, so she is widely read also. To cut to the chase, she finished the book last week and declared that it is probably the best book she has EVER read, period!

Check out this review by a random reader, copied from’s reviews:

Favorite Book, June 8, 2006
By Una (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews

After more or less bitterly mocking my conservative Adventist upbringing with my very Catholic best friend 7 years ago, he laughingly recommended this book to me, saying it might help me "deal" with that upbringing to soothe away the bitter. Ohmymymymy.

I checked this out at 9 in the evening and by 4 in the morning had finished this...this...this...the word “book,” from this book-lover, does not do this book justice. This is the monster of books, the God of all books, it's been given a little book-sceptre and rules over all the rest of the book-ette proletariat. It's bourgeois book and beastie book. Even better, instead of pompously lording it over all the rest of the lesser books, it quotes them, loves them, welcomes them in for one big book party.

I have two copies of this book. One copy is signed and is missing three pages, and is ripped in two from reading it too many times. The other is yellowed and sits on top of my bedstand. I have parts of it committed to memory, and re-read over and over and over.

The thing that strikes me most about Duncan's style is his underlying foundation, his ability to find love in the most crazed places: from the Adventist church to Vietnam to Canada to the village dotted desert outside Pune. There is a certain naivete in looking for unmitigated love in these places, but while various of his characters embody that Dostoyevskyan naivete, I get the feeling that Duncan is an incredibly down-to-earth guy and that down-to-earthness meshed with mysticism, Adventism gone fanatical, non-violent violence, etc. leaves a lasting impression.

I would say his main foundation is that love is an uncontrollable force, it takes on faces we might never expect of it. We see that over and over again as we watch this family's epic story unfold so heartbreakingly and terribly.

As for my old friend's comment that "The Brothers K" might help me "deal?" Yes. And then some. I felt like someone had hit me over the head with a frying pan after reading this book. Maybe it was the staunchly Adventist Mama Chance who stepped out of the pages and gave me a good iron whack. Duncan called The Brothers K (and I might be misquoting him a bit) his 700-some page attempt at coming to terms with his own Adventist/Presbyterian upbringing.

Having been raised solely Adventist I find it necessary to point out that some of the theology he attributes to Adventism is incorrect, particularly that Adventists don't believe in a literal hell. The culture, which is ultimately what matters in a book like this, he has portrayed amazingly well, right down to the children's rooms being in the church basement. I understand, from an interview he had with Dan Lamberton of Walla Walla Adventist College, that he was originally trying to write about Baptists, which is bigger and more mainstream and therefore more meaningful to readers, but found himself always returning to his Adventist upbringing, finally switching over altogether.

This book was amazing. While I'm not sure that Duncan would like that I felt hit over the head by a frying pan wielding Mama Chance, it turned out for me, and it keeps turning out. This book "holds multitudes." I can read it and come out crying and laughing and head-achey and glowy and furious and excited depending on which page I'm turning to and which character I'm reading about.

So. Should you buy this book?

Dear friend, buy two copies of this one, for one will fall apart on you for all that page turning.

So, Love is an uncontrollable force that can be found in the craziest of places.

Find a copy of this book. Start reading. You owe it to yourself.

Love conquers all.

Friday, May 22, 2009


One of these days, I swear, I’m going to take the time to clean up my blog roll in the right-hand sidebar below.


I mean, probably half the blogs listed are either no longer active, or have changed names, or the blog authors have abandoned blogging in favor of Tweeting on Twitter, or socializing on Facebook. So I need to clean house.

But some of those links will still take you to active blogs whose authors are witty, entertaining, and exceptional writers. Some have obvious themes they follow, like Jan over at The Poodle (and Dog) Blog, while others post on diverse subjects from humor to politics to life in general.

Some make me think (a monumental task, according to Carol), like Kirsten over at Writer’s Catch-All. Several make me laugh. One keeps me in touch with a distant family member, daughter Christina over at Another Day In Paradise.

Anyway, Jan of Poodle (and Dog) fame recently emailed me regarding an awful comment (an attempt to be funny with puns — seldom a good idea) I’d made on one of her posts. She wrote, “When are you going to get your priorities straightened out and start blogging?”

She’s right. It’s all a matter of priorities. I HAVE the time, I just fail to TAKE the time.

So, Jan, I’ll get right on that!

Heck, I MIGHT even clean up my blog roll while I’m at it.

If I ever find have TAKE the time.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Is that too strong a term for my open-mouth disbelief at the results of a recent survey?

A purportedly “nonpartisan, nonprofit” organization called Public Agenda ( conducted the survey. According to the results:

“Half of all Americans (51%) could not correctly identify a renewable energy source such as solar or wind power, 39% could not name a fossil fuel, 65% overestimated US dependence on Middle Eastern oil, and 52% thought that by reducing smog the US has ‘come a long way’ in addressing global warming.”

Who the #**!!@#!* were they surveying? It says “Americans.” So . . . were these participants all nursing home residents with dementia?

100% of our public-school “educated” young people have been saturated with environmental studies for the past dozen years or more. In fact, one parent I work with told me his son had to watch Al Gore’s movie as part of his curriculum in three different grade-school classes.

I’ve heard and read for years that a high percentage of US high-school graduates can’t name the three main branches of our federal government and can’t read beyond a 6th grade level, but my gosh! I would have guessed that at worst, one out of ten wouldn’t be able to name a fossil fuel (Hello!?! Oil? Natural gas? Coal?), but can it possibly be true that FOUR out of ten can’t do so?

Now, I’m not ranting about the politics of the energy ~~~~~ (pick your descriptive noun: “crisis,” “situation,” “swindle,” “scam,” “other”). Rather I’m appalled (there, I said it!) at the apparent oblivion of people—if, in fact, the survey results are scientific and statistically accurate within a reasonable error range. And if the results are not slanted or spun to further someone’s agenda.

Of course, what are the odds that this survey ISN’T an attempt to further somebody’s agenda?

Maybe that’s what I should be appalled at.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Uh Oh!

(“C” Alert!)

Les and Linda came to visit us. Who are they, you ask? Well, scroll down all the way to the very bottom of my sidebar (where it says, “Click HERE to view my web site/home page.”) and click the link, then select the number 1 link on the left side, “Africa Trip with Pictures.” Les and Linda are the couple we travelled to Africa with.

Side note: If you haven’t ever scrolled through our Africa trip story, there are a bunch of cool wildlife pics.

Linda wanted me to help her load some anti-virus software onto her laptop computer. Well, actually she wanted me to DO it for her. She’s not comfortable with computers in general and usually gets friends to install things for her.

But I was happy to help, and got started by first removing from her hard drive all the programs she never used. As she and I scanned down the list (in the “Add and Remove Programs” function in the Control Panel), I saw that most of the programs had never been used since she bought the computer in 2005! She uses the computer for almost nothing except email, and for that she uses Juno – a web-based program that does not store archived emails, address book, etc., on her hard drive. That’s a real plus since she’ll often stop during their travels at a library and email from its machines.

Anyway, we deleted a BUNCH of unused programs, then started loading new applications.

What applications, you ask? Mostly Anti-virus, Internet Security, Anti-spyware, and the like. Linda is one who believes that the more of these protective measures you use, the safer you are.

Well, okay. But my experience has been that often these various programs (from different software companies!) interfere with each other and prevent you from doing what you want to do. She had her internet security set so high that she could hardly view any web site without seeing pop-up warning messages about potential hazards, no digital certificate, potential phishing, and similar cautions.

Oh, she also complains about slow performance. Go figure.

Well, after loading all this stuff so she’d feel secure, I noticed that the machine had not downloaded any Windows updates for over 6 months. That’s unheard of! Well, except among you Mac users, who don’t understand these things.

I navigated to the Microsoft Windows update web page and tried to start the process. Nope. The machine couldn’t seem to communicate with the site and presented me with an error code.

Undaunted, I Googled the code and soon found a list of steps to try, in order, to fix the problem. After each attempted fix I had to restart the machine.

Well, after restart number three or four (who’s counting?), the computer refused to boot. One of the “protection” programs, a Norton (Symantec) product, had inserted itself into the Master Boot Record, corrupted it, and prevented Windows from loading at all, even in “Safe” mode.

Ah, but eventually ANOTHER error code appeared on the screen! Thus armed, I hustled back over to Google (on my own desktop computer) for some research. My search results took me to Symantec’s own web site where the problem (apparently not all that uncommon!!) was addressed with another step-by-step solution.

Okay, I KNOW you’re already bored with this, so I’ll cut to the chase: Symantec’s fix did NOT work, and I was out of options. The next day I took the machine to my professional IT guys at work and pleaded for help.

First answer (with a grin): “Oh, no problem! I’ll boot the machine to a Windows program CD, swap out the corrupted Master Boot Record for a good one, and it’ll be good as new!”

Next answer: “Uh, that didn’t work. I got Windows running but couldn’t get rid of the MBR. I can view enough of the hard drive to see a “Restore” sector, which OUGHT to put everything back. Let me try that.”

Next answer: “Damn, I can’t access that Restore sector. I KNOW it’s there, but I can’t get to it. !#@%!!**#! Norton software!”

Next answer: “!#!&%!*@!!*! !#!**$!!%^#! *!!##!!@*%$##!!!"

Final answer: **SIGH** “No choice. I’ve got to wipe the hard drive and re-install Window from scratch. She’ll lose all her data files and you’ll have to reinstall all her applications software. It’s that or she buys a new computer.”

Two days later, Linda can again read her emails on Juno. The computer is still slow, and still has too much “Security” software installed (which she’ll never need or use). But all that is a LOT cheaper than a new machine.

So, is this a Norton (Symantec) problem? Is it my fault for trying to get the machine to “talk” to the Windows update site?

(Or is it the “C********y” doing what it does best and laughing it’s a$$ off at me?)

I think all my regular readers know the answer to that question!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Shameless promotion

You gotta go over to Christina's blog and read about my grandson's "tea party."

It'll crack you up. Well, it cracked ME and Carol up.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ski trip photos

I know . . . They're over a month old.

So sue me. I just haven't had the time inclination to post them 'til now.

This first one (below) is the view facing north from near the top of the mountain.

Then I just zoomed in a little on the "dome" in the foreground. That was one of our favorite areas to ski.

The next shot is taken from the very top looking back the other way, toward the southwest. The rope in the foreground with the orange tie on it marks the boundary of the ski area.

Again at the very top of the mountain, I had to stop Carol and take a picture of her. That's my wonderful wife in the white jacket!

Then the obligatory "family" picture of my three favorite women in the whole world! (Amy just wouldn't take off her goggles! And Joy -- Christina to many of you -- seemed to have a signpost growing our of her head. That's one of my professional photography traits.)

And here (again below) is a slightly distant shot of Joy, now standing again, just after she had collided hard with one of the padded posts holding up the signboard beside her.

That's what I was referring to in the last post's comments about the necessity of wearing a helmet!

And lastly, here's a shot of the WHOLE CREW in our matching ski sweaters, each one lovingly handmade by Carol.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Any idea who this is?

Well it's my grandson Trevor, of course!

Back in February we took our annual family ski trip. This year Trevor was just two months shy of being 4, and old enough for first-ever ski lessons.

In the picture above, he didn't know I was off to one side with a telephoto lens snapping pictures, so he's NOT smiling for the camera. That cute little grin is his pure joy at skiing down the small, gentle learning slope. (If you look close you'll see the snow flying up from the back of his skis -- he was moving right along.)

What you CAN'T see in this shot in his female instructor, jogging down the slope beside him telling him to turn or stop. She finally caught him just before he skied into a nylon mesh "fence" at the edge of the area.

What, doesn't he know how to turn or stop?

He sure does! He just doesn't WANT to. What he WANTS to do, in his own words told to us a number of times, is "Ski FAST!"

Trouble is, until he responds to the instructor's command to stop, they won't take him up on the big mountain so he can REALLY ski fast. If they did, and he refused to stop, they'd have to chase him a LONG way.

** sigh **

Well, likely next year he'll be old enough to understand all that and will stop when he's told. Or at least he'll stop enough times to get them to take him up on the real mountain where he can ski F-A-S-T!!

Then those instructors had better be quick!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What’s a Trikke?

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video must be worth millions, right? So to spare me from typing out a million words you wouldn’t read anyway—

(I KNOW I’m a very entertaining writer, but I still doubt you’d read a million words. Heck, the novel I wrote is only about 85,000 words long.)

(And only a VERY few people have read that!)

(No, it was never published and is not available for purchase, but thanks for asking.)

—click THIS SITE and watch the advertising video that plays immediately. The site is for the Houston, Texas, dealer that sells Trikkes. The manufacturer’s site is (go figure).

Carol happened to see an infomercial for these things a couple of months ago while setting our DVD machine to record a televised pro golf event. She was intrigued, checked them out thoroughly on the web, and talked me into getting us one. We ordered online an adult sized “starter model” (the T-78cs) for $220 (on special), assembled it when UPS dropped it off, and began figuring out how to make the thing go.

For us beginners (and grandparents at that) it wasn’t too hard to make it go slowly, but going up a very slight incline or into a headwind was impossible. But we kept at it, because written reviews from other seniors indicated that it just takes time. After about three weeks we were pretty good on the flat, and could climb a VERY gentle slope. And you know, darned if it wasn’t fun!

The thing gives you a good whole body workout (including aerobics; I’m puffing pretty hard by the time I’ve gone a couple of miles on it), but it’s so much fun you just want to keep going.

To be honest I guess part of the fun is the looks everyone gives you. Most people have never seen them and are intrigued. Passing cars will slow to the same speed we’re going (about 10 mph) and the occupants will just stare. Occasionally they’ll roll down a window and ask us what “it” is and where we got it.

After 5 weeks we had both gotten good enough that we wanted to ride together. Hmm, I think that’ll require a second Trikke.

So Carol did more research and we ended up buying (from the Houston dealer whose web site led off this post) TWO of the T-8 Sport models. We were now the proud owners of THREE of these Trikke things. We folded up the starter model, stashed it, and began riding the others around the neighborhood. We’re now able to go for several miles and even up some gentle slopes without passing out.

So, we wondered, what are we going to do with that like-new starter model we have as a spare? Can we sell it on eBay or Craigslist? I kept the original box and packing materials, but then I’d have to disassemble it and ship it, and that’d be a pain. Maybe we can sell it locally, you think?

Well, guess what? We sold it today!

We’d been riding our Trikkes around the block when a car pulled up beside Carol and the lady driving asked her about the machine. We told our story and mentioned that we had a like-new extra. She lit up, obviously enthused. We got it out and showed it to her. She came back later with her husband and two kids to look at it and they bought it on the spot.

Their kids, a 12 year old boy and a slightly older sister, each got on the thing and were riding it in 5 minutes better than we had done after two weeks!

Darned kids, always showing off.

So, I’d tell you more but it’s early evening, the wind is down, and it’s warm outside. We’re going Trikking!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Memory lane

On a whim (it was a slow day at work, okay?) I went back and read some of my earliest blog posts and the comments that ensued.

Have you ever done that? It's fun!

Plus, if your memory is as bad as mine, you've forgotten what you wrote 4 years ago and are amused by it.

Right. Well, some of the posts were amusing.

This begs for an example, so here you go. I remember (sort of) thinking the post below was clever when I wrote it. As I re-discovered it yesterday it made me laugh again -- especially the part about linguini . . .

Oh, here. Read it yourself and see what you think:

HERE's the link.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Even Further Affirmation!

Below is this morning's offering of the same strip as yesterday.

All I can add to this is; maybe the Mom in this strip doesn't know, but all of my readers certainly do!

STILL any doubters out there????

Remember; you read about it HERE first!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PROOF Positive!

Some of you have been known to pooh-pooh my theory contention SURE KNOWLEDGE that the ycaripsnoc is as pervasive as I claim.

SOME have even gone so far as to deny its very existence! Don't you know they are playing RIGHT INTO ITS HANDS!?

WELL, you *snort* naysayers, check out these comic strips! They were published on three successive days this week (Monday, yesterday and today). Obviously the artists who draw this strip know the truth. They're showing it through parody, no doubt in an attempt to continue to lull it into somnolence. (Yes that's a real word; in fact, it's a good word—look it up!)

But enough words and discussion.

See for yourselves! (Or, as the poker players say, "Read 'em and weep!")

(And yes, if you click the picture a large readable version will open.)

I can only imagine where Mssrs. Kirkman and Scott are going with this, but the message seems pretty clear to me.

And I'd say, WATCH OUT! With these many references to the ycaripsnoc coming is such close proximity, I think we're in for a doozy of an attack.

Might even throw the country into a recession . . .

Or even the whole WORLD!

Say, wait a minute . . .

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Goddess! How COULD you??!!?

All of my regular readers will be HORRIFIED!

Well, of the two I have left maybe ONE of them will be slightly disturbed.

I just had a message from my best friend in all of South Africa.

Well, okay, she's the ONLY person I know in South Africa.

Anyway, that friend (known as "The Goddess," a.k.a. Michelle, who blogs under the title of "Because I Can -- My sessions from the couch") commented on my last post the following:

"BTW - any mechanical, technical goings on on your end? My brakes failed, my fridge packed up and the winder on my car window broke - all within days of each other."

Can you BELIEVE she did that!!??!

And that's not all! Oh, no! She also put the same information in her blog post!

Now all of you regular readers know that it is extremely dangerous to simply MENTION activities like that in conversation. But when you type them out on a keyboard and send them out over the Internet, it is only asking for trouble for all of us. And when you then POST comments like that for ALL TO SEE, and LEAVE them there for weeks and weeks . . . Well, in all likelihood she has just unleashed a full-blown attack on all of mankind of the dreaded ycaripsnoc!

As all (or both) of you know, I have tried to inform my readers of the fact that so-called inanimate objects will lie in wait for unsuspecting humans to become complacent, and will then ATTACK in a concerted manner across a broad spectrum of areas including plumbing, appliances, anything mechanical, electronics, and even the very houses and structures we live in! These objects will fail either all at once or in a rapid series, causing us humans untold misery and sometimes financial ruin!

The ONLY way to keep this ycaripsnoc at bay is to ignore it; don't mention it, don't acknowledge it in any way, and most of all DON'T POST INFORMATION ABOUT ITS ATTACKS ON THE INTERNET!

So thanks a LOT, Michelle! Now you've gone and unleashed this disaster on all of us!

No, I HADN'T been having any failures of problems on my end, but I'm sure THAT respite has now come to an end! I can almost feel the thing building up, gaining strength, preparing to POUNCE if it once senses that my guard is down.

I'm sure I won't sleep at all tonight, but will just lie there, listening, waiting for something to break!

Oh dear, oh dear.

WHERE are my meds?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I’m doing MY part!

According to THIS NY Times story and other articles, the Obama EPA is moving towards regulating carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and thus a pollutant harmful to the health and welfare of the people.

Hmmm. Okay.

Of course, the regulatory emphasis is said to be aimed toward coal-fired power generation plants. But my thought is, why stop there? There are lots of other sources of CO2, many of which produce far more tons of the nasty stuff that do power plants.

What? You want examples? Well, one story I read indicated that termites produce more tons of CO2 than all human activity combined. Why not regulate termites?

Oh, and not long ago I posted a sorta-tribute to Dave Barry in which I reported on the belching and flatulence of farm animals. Yes, they produce many tons of both methane AND CO2!

But gee, don’t we humans produce CO2 every time we exhale? That’s what they taught me back in Biology class, I think. So it occurred to me that maybe the EPA ought to regulate our breathing while they’re at it.

THAT thought, in turn, caused me to glow with pride. Why? Well, because according to Carol I am one of those folks who experiences sleep apnea. (I won’t say “suffers from,” because I’m not aware of any suffering – at least not on MY part; SHE says it causes HER some mental anguish.)

What is sleep apnea? That’s a cessation of breathing while I’m asleep! Sometimes (she reports) I go for up to a minute without taking a breath. In fact, occasionally she wakes me to get me to turn over and breathe again. (Yeah, okay, THAT does cause me some suffering – being shaken awake in the middle of a nice dream in which I’m stuck under water and can’t breathe . . . hey, wait a minute . . .)

ANYway, if I’m breathing less that means I’m reducing my CO2 output. I’m fighting Global Warming in my sleep!

I think that qualifies me for some carbon credits I can spend when I buy gas for my car; you know, a kind of gasoline discount. I also ought to get discounted airline tickets, and a discount on my electric bill since I’m reducing my carbon “footprint” through other measures. And since I’ve been doing this for several years; I ought to be way ahead of the game here.

So please let me know if the EPA starts offering any awards or medals for those who help cut down on the production of that nasty carbon dioxide. I’ll have Carol nominate me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Ink Roach?

That's what my wife called me last night.

After pausing a moment — while my brain processed images of an ink pen, an ink well, a roach scuttling through an ink well and leaving inky roach tracks across a counter top, an octopus spewing forth ink for camouflage or to confuse predators, an octopus eating a roach and then spewing forth ink in disgust, a marijuana roach with ink on it, a "roach clip" dipped in ink, and a few more I can't remember now — I questioned her with a well-though-out and articulate response of, "Huh?"

She said again, more slowly, "You're being an ink roach!"

I pondered, making sure I hadn't mis-heard or missed a syllable, and tried to figure just what the HELL she was talking about.

We were lying in bed, reading. (Now this is a family blog, so don't be getting any lurid ideas. We were READING BOOKS, okay?)

I had just moved my left foot slightly in her direction and stretched out my leg to prevent what felt like an incipient leg cramp. (Have you ever had leg cramps in bed? They're no fun, I assure you. Sometimes, if it's a calf cramp you have to straighten out your leg and pull your toes up to stretch out the calf. And when the cramps are REALLY bad, you then have to quickly relax that stretch or your thigh will start to cramp!)

Anyway, I finally had to ask her to please explain what she meant by that remark. I mean, it might have been critical, but then again it MIGHT have been complimentary (hey, anything's possible).

She turned her head toward me, smiled sweetly, batted her eyes and said, "You're ink roaching on my space."

I got up, went into the bathroom to throw up, and then returned to my reading.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In case anyone is still jealous . . .

. . . of the low local gasoline price I posted a week or two ago, here's the CURRENT low price in my area:

Most local stations are in the $1.65 range.

(Of coures, you might still be jealous of our weather.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The name game

Yesterday morning I was shaving, mentally somewhere else entirely, when I noticed a trickle of blood from my chin. Hadn’t felt a thing, but the razor had apparently been just a bit too aggressive at that spot.

That reminded me of the old joke that goes something like:

Q : What do you call a man who cuts himself shaving?

A: Nick.

And THAT thought got me to wondering how many other, similarly punful names could be so used.

I thought of another one or two I’d heard before, and then tried to be creative and think of more. I’m sure that if I Googled some of the humor sites I could find a hundred such name jokes, but all of the ones below that do NOT have an asterisk are made up by me (even if not original).

Here’s my list, with the answers in the first comment. Some are pretty obvious; all are bad. See how many you can get, and then how many others you already know or can come up with on your own. (No fair searching the web!)

What do you call a man who:

1. Repeatedly cuts himself shaving? (I already GAVE you this one.)*
2. Lights up a room with his smile?
3. Can lift up one end of a car with his bare hands?
4. Has no arms or legs, and falls into a pool?*
5. Has a nose like a bird’s beak?
6. Is a homosexual member of the upper chamber of parliament?
7. Always knows the direction to his house?
8. Can force open a stuck window barehanded?
9. Smells like an outhouse?
10. Has a colorful birthmark on his face?
11. Is short and skinny with a flat head?
12. Burglarizes homes?
13. Operates a P.A. system?
14. Likes to run after women?
15. Loves to try on clothes?
16. Keeps his gas tank topped off?
17. Is always cleaning his house?
18. Is a probate attorney?
19. Plays practical jokes?
20. Enjoys cutting his grass?
21. Wears an ear stud?

How about a woman who:

1. Is a partner in a law firm?
2. Loves to sing Christmas songs?

(See first comment for my answers . . . And I apolgize in advance!)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A quick retort

A local family friend informed me yesterday that they had seen the promotional gasoline price in our paper and hurried to the store to fill up, only to find bags over the pump handles and a “Sold Out’ sign. But they were encouraged to see that a tank truck had arrived and was getting ready to fill the store’s tanks.

They drove off to run an errand and returned a short time later to find the bags removed but the posted price changed to $1.39!

This reminded me of a story a different friend told me many years ago:

He had gone into a part-time retail business from his home selling, of all things, motorcycle riders’ garments. You know; leather pants, jackets, and the like. (He was a motorcycle enthusiast, as you might have guessed.)

He complained to me about the difficulty of “stocking” enough of all sizes so if a customer wanted something he would have it. Otherwise they’d go somewhere else. Also his business, like most, was very price competitive.

He told me of a customer who browsed, found exactly the item he wanted (and in the right size!), but complained that my friend’s stuff was too expensive. “There’s a place on the other side of town that sells this same thing for 10% less,” he griped.

My friend asked, “Why didn’t you buy it there?”

“Well, he was out of them.”

My friend snorted and said, “Hell, when I’M out of stock, mine are free!”

I’ve never forgotten that as an example of a real zinger retort.

And maybe THAT’S why the store posted the $1.19 price for gas, ‘cause when you don’t have any you can sell it REAL cheap!

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Okay, okay. The gasoline price posted below WAS legitimate, but it was a special promotional price only, and has since been raised at that store back to the prevailing price of $1.39.

But it WAS legitimate for a few hours, at least! I swear!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Another reason to be jealous?

The scanned image below is from the front page of today's local newspaper.

Anybody else seen prices like that lately?

Happy New Year!!