Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Don't Think I'm a Prophet...

While my last post was tongue-in-cheek, someone apparently had the same stupid thoughts as I (scary, no?), and more, uh, initiative. Yes, a prankster (supposedly in Plano) hacked a portable road sign, posting the following message>>>
I feel like I'm in the vanguard of imaginative thought.
h/t: Special thanks to Shay R. for forwarding this photo.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Driving Dangers II...

In my last post, I alluded to a bill, currently before the Texas Legislature, that would outlaw faxing while driving. The bill's author, State Rep. "Chente" Quintanilla of El Paso seeks to stiffen penalties for eating, drinking, interacting with a pet (sorry, Paris Hilton) or passenger (that would've stunted my dating years), grooming, reading or writing while operating a motor vehicle.

Now, the bill isn't quite as silly as it has been portrayed. Obviously it is aimed at curbing the proliferation of distractions and possibly re-educate drivers that their focus should be on the road and not on their Blackberry, i-Pod, DVD player, Norelco shaver, GPS, Big Gulp, or Double Cheese Bacon Explosion. Not too outrageous a concept, really. And, though this is clearly a trial balloon legislation, I actually like the approach, inasmuch as it isn't outlawing the activities, only increasing penalties for other infractions if you do these also.

In my [small 'l'] libertarian thoughts, I can envision all of these, even DWD, as not being unlawful [pregnant pause] until you have an accident (of any kind), at which time you go to jail, no excuses (DWD), or pay a stiff fine (most of the others). It would bring accountability back to the driver to take responsibility for safe vehicle operation, much like a pilot.

Interestingly, there is no provision for smoking while driving. I'd have to imagine that more than a couple of accidents have resulted from someone dropping hot ashes down his/her torso or on other body parts, not to mention a few prairie grass fires from discarded butts. Maybe it just didn't come up in discussion?

While the derision is aimed at the faxing provision, it is simply one line of fourteen, defining (as bureaucrats are wont to do) personal communications devices.

If you need to reach me while I'm in my car, don't call me - I'm concentrating on driving. But, if it's urgent, send me a telegram (they're not listed in the bill).

And if I'm in an accident, I won't dial 9-1-1, I'll send out an S-O-S!

Driving Hazards...

I don't generally condone mischief, but this following has been picked up on several news outlets and made me chuckle. Pranksters in the Lone Star Capital city of Austin, broke into portable traffic signs and hacked the processors to display the following message:

It should be pointed, out, however, that being January in an odd-numbered year, these are probably the least of the pranksters at 'work' in Austin.

I wonder if the sign was posted in a "No Faxing" zone...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Agree!

Let's hope they don't make the sequel...

Boycott McDonald's?

We've all heard that no good deed goes unpunished, and that Murphy was an optimist.

Lately, it's been reported that The Golden Arches, a/k/a McDonald's, has seen a sales increase during the economic downturn, while other iconic American hotspots (e.g.: Starbucks) are shuttering stores and laying off employees.

McDonald's success is apparently bad news for some. This past week I've received two forwarded emails, purportedly from an expert at Texas A&M University on behalf of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, urging a boycott of McD's because the chain is undercutting domestic beef producers by buying foreign (South American) raised cattle. The general tone of the email is protectionist, and it raises the spectre that unsuspecting Americans may be ingesting beef from cattle that were fed cattle/beef by-products, as well as anti-biotics and hormones, and which may be tainted by insecticides/herbicides banned in the U.S. The campaign urges customers to boycott McD's until they promise to buy only U.S. beef.

The first time I received this message, I was a little bit revulsed by the prospect of feeding cattle cattle - until I thought: "Hey, if beef is OK for me, why is it dangerous for them? As long as they're not being fed Soylent Green." I also rationalized that since I don't often eat at McD's, I couldn't very well boycott them.

The second time I got the email, it caused me to wonder what was behind the campaign. As I noted, I'm not a huge customer of theirs, but McD's has certainly built a successful business by offering consistent fare, served quickly, from store to store. So, as my blogging mentor RTB taught me, I Snopes'd the story that had been sent to me.

As it turns out, neither TAMU or the Texas Cattle Feeders have anything to do with the email. As well, McD's is not purchasing South American beef cattle. According to Snopes, most U.S. beef is grain fed (in feed lots), resulting in a higher fat content than what the chain specifies for its burgers, so they are buying Australian and New Zealand grass-fed beef to augment supplies from American producers. Such amounts are said to be in the single digit percentages of the chain's beef purchases.

So, if hunger strikes me, I won't have any problem ordering a Quarter Pounder or Big Mac, or something from the dollar menu.

I hope I don't see Jeffrey Dahmer working in the kitchen...

Presidential Interview

Following his first interview since taking office, President Barack Hussein Obama was questioned about why he chose Al-Jazeera to initiate relations with the press.

President Obama responded, "Is my [head bob, to the left] freakin' middle name 'Smith'? I don't think so!"

Advisors to the President tried to smooth over relations with the foreign, er, American press corps, and assured representatives from NBC that the new Commander-in-Chief would in due course also grant interviews to Al-Roker and Al-Michaels.

Mideast Peace at Hand

In an effort to effect peace in the perennially war-torn middle East, rookie American President B. Hussein Obama has dispatched former U.S. Senator George Mitchell (D-Maine) to the area in the capacity of special envoy.

Sources report that the former Senate Majority Leader has included scouts among his entourage for the purpose of assembling something akin to "All-Star" teams comprised of Palestinians and Israelis. Turmoil in the region is expected to be settled by a 'best of five' series of baseball games. Due to their rock-throwing prowess, the Palestinians are early favorites in the pitching department.

Special Envoy Mitchell has pointedly warned heads of state in the region that no steroid use will be tolerated.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wonder Whoa-MAN

A local church has a tradition of specially-themed worship services during one of the summer months.

RTB, I have spoken with Mel - this year's theme is "Super Heroes".

Here's your costume:

h/t: "That Dude"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Settle A Bet

Dear Answer Guy:

A friend of mine sent me this email with the attached photograph saying this is the new White House dog. I know a little bit about dogs, and I say that my friend is wrong and the photo is a hoax. We have a small wager riding on this. Who is right?

- Skeptical in Texas

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Morning or Mourning in America?

Like tens or dozens of millions of people in this country, I tuned in for the 'historic' inauguration of President Barack H. Obama. Didn't watch the whole thing, just the swearing in of the Vice-President and the President, and through the lift off of the Marine helo with George W. Bush.
I saw giddy folks in different locations around the country celebrating the event with glee, and I'm happy for them. But suffice to say, my reaction to the whole affair was pretty somber.

An old anecdote, probably true in some cases, but more likely apocryphal as details get changed with each retelling, relates a small [Main Street, not Wall Street] business owner who displays a framed Presidential portrait in his place of business. An acquaintance sees it, and says: "I thought you hated 'so-and-so'". The rejoinder and moral of the story, of course, is that the business owner acknowledges the statement, but adds; "I am an American, and he is my President".

During the 1990s, I remember distinctly saying of WJC: "He's not MY President". Now older and hopefully, wiser, and despite not having voted for BHO, I feel like the shopkeeper. Like it or not, President Obama is the new occupant of the Oval Office. You won't see me displaying his portait, but I am an American. But I hasten to add that denial, abridgement, or usurpation of the rights of sovereign citizens changes the whole paradigm.

Well, enough blogging for now, as a [nearing] middle age white guy, I've gotta go "embrace what's right".

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's Been Awhile

Well, I haven't posted any images of motorcycles lately, but I just received an email from a Harley-riding friend of mine. He says this is his next bike. Yeah, sure!

While the æsthetics of it are of course beautiful, and I'm sure with its V-4 its 0-60 is probably under 2 seconds, the practicality quotient is zero. Oh, and did I mention the estimated $1.4 million price tag (maybe that was in lira?)
I wouldn't even want to test ride this bike. It has no gripping surfaces at all - I'm afraid I'd twist the throttle and just slide off within the first 50 feet - and then the whole biking world and Ferarri enthusiasts would hate me for being the putz who totaled an Enzo motorcycle.

Like Their Owners?

On another blog I recently expressed a variation of the old maxim that over time dogs and their owners begin to resemble one another. So, is this Gene Simmons' dog?

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's Always About the Biological Clock

Just so that I can get the scoop on this before RTB tries to send me her phone number, let me state that I am NOT a candidate as a suitor for this woman.

And no, I'm not interested in Amy Winehouse either.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Am I the Only One?

Well, now that they're finally getting settled in Washington, Barry's got to deliver on his promise to get his daughters the canine they've been wanting. Word has it that the choices have been narrowed down to a 'designer dog' Labradoodle (sounds like a Franken-dog to me) or a Portugese water hound.

I know nothing of Portugese water hounds, but learned from the article:

The Portuguese water dog was originally bred to work for fishermen retrieving broken nets, herding schools of fish, and carrying messages between boats and the shore, according to the American Kennel Club.
Obama's fellow Democrat, Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, owns two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash.

While I pray for Sen. Kennedy's recovery from his medical issues, I can't help but chuckle at the irony of his having 'Portugese water dogs'. I'm guessing he didn't have that breed in 1969 - if he had, he might have been inaugurated as POTUS in January 1973...

And, how apropos that one of them's named "Splash"!?

Calling my CBA friend

No, your eyes don't deceive you (unless you're that Andre guy). I'm calling upon my Chronic Book Addiction friend (aka Todd the Blogger), to see if he's read "The Shack".

While at the Sam's Club today, I was perusing a copy of "The Love Dare" when a fellow passed by and saw me reading it, noting "That's a good book". I replied that I'd seen the movie, to which he responded that I should try the book as well, telling me that he'd purchased it and was halfway through the 40 days. Exposing my unadorned left hand, I explained that it had come out a few years too late for me. He caught my drift and indicated he was trying to avoid the same fate. He said he also wanted to read "The Shack" upon completion of his 40 days. He wished me well going forward, as I did for his completion of The Dare.

Anyway, anyone out there read "The Shack" and have any comments?

I can't take credit, but...

In my profile, I've noted lack of decorum as one of my peeves.

Although I'm sure he's not one of my readers, this young man is at least trying to show he has some manners.

It's a start.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

Although I presently have no spouse, I have always felt that complete fidelity was a pre-requisite, as this article proves. (At least Lorena Bobbit's handiwork was reversible...)

h/t: "That Dude"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

There's Good and Bad Every Day

As a self-admitted curmudgeon, I've been wanting to write an uplifting post, so as not to get trapped in a naysaying rut. So, as I was leaving my local Wal-Mart (Walmarts for my Lake Worth reader[s]) Neighborhood Grocery, a couple of examples materialized.

The first that brought a smile to my face was an elderly couple crossing the parking lot to enter the store. Now, when I say elderly, I don't mean 'just got their AARP cards in the mail' elderly. This husband and wife had to have been every bit of mid-80s plus. Their bodies were both stooped over with the ravages of time, and individually, you would think of either one as frail. But together, they crossed the parking lot, arm in arm, each a strength to the other. Although there were cars behind me, possibly with impatient drivers, it was no inconvenience to me at all to wait as they passed by. In fact, I considered it a blessing.

About the same time, another not-quite-so-elderly woman, probably in her 70s - a bluehair, you might say - was leaving the store. As a Wal-Mart, carrying your groceries to your car is usually self-service. But there was the store manager, pushing the lady's cart out to her car. Another uplifting moment.

I'm nowhere near 80, and can presently cross parking lots pretty well, but I have to do it alone. Maybe sometime before I go to the nursing home, I'll find a sweet young thing in her 70s to walk with me arm in arm at the Wal-Mart (or whatever discount stores exist then - perhaps Gibson's will come back in vogue).

And the bad? Nah, I feel better now. I'll save my rants for later...

Captain, I hate to ask, but...

Comes now this report from the international wires, concerning an Indian (the sub-continent country, not a Piper Navajo) pilot who failed to load sufficient fuel for his flight.

Apparently, passengers are now being requested to inquire of the flight crew whether sufficient fuel is onboard to reach their destination, plus appropriate reserves. I'm sure that'll go over really well.

What I think is funny about the article is the syntax. No wonder I can't get help programming my DVR!

P.S.: What would be the chance of having that airline name in the United States? ("Good afternoon, ladies & gentlemen, this is Capt. Amos Jones. Assisting me today is First Officer Andrew Brown...")

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

This is the kind of news I really dig.

If you know me, I don't consider myself a 'tree-hugger', but do like the idea of stewarding natural resources wisely and recycling when viable. I guess you could say I am on board with Scouting's "Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle" philosophy.

Well, it seems a Baylor student has found a way to grind up coconut husks to use in automotive sound-absorbing mats as you might find in trunks, door panels, and on the interior engine bulkhead. Currently, such materials are made of polyester.

There seem to be many advantages of using a fiber composite made of ground coconuts and polypropylene, including:

  • Lightweight, fire-retardant, moldable material

  • Elimination of an equatorial third-world waste product that currently contributes to disease (discarded hulls collect water, creating breeding zones for mosquitoes)

  • Creation of a raw material market for poor countries

Beyond automotive uses, perhaps there are other industrial or residential uses for the new material.

Not to mention the possibility of re-using those 1978 movie posters:

Oh, and by the way, using coconut shells for industrial purposes will use up tons more shells than Wilma & Betty, and Ginger & Mary-Ann ever could...


This just in! In November, a band of brazen banditos (apologies to Bill Safire), described by Todd the Blogger as "gutsy, desperate or stupid", robbed an Azle gunstore on Jacksboro Highway. A surveillance photo of the getaway car was published in the Startlegram:

Now, your tireless investigator, Woodward E Bernstein, has uncovered a possible new sighting of the escape vehicle, modified, fortified and soon-to-be-sanctified (and it got a paint job, as well), suggesting larger heists to come, perhaps on a national scale:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Something You'll Never See in Texas


Turns out Harrison Ford was letting Calista drive home from a New Year's Eve party. That's gonna leave a carbon footprint!