Monday, February 28, 2011

Cold Nights & Monday Musings

When I last mentioned outdoor sleeping, I'd spent four nights in a row under the stars.  I capitulated to a threat of rain, and went indoors one night last week, then back out, until last night, when they were threatening thunderstorms in my area.  Tonight, who knows?

Chupacabra wrote recently of a neighbor being startled when he was sleeping on his back porch.  I don't know that I've startled my neighbors, but early the other morning, I was a bit concerned when the bright lights from my motion detector went on at about 4:00a.  Since the pupster hadn't alerted, I assumed it was the wind blowing the trees, and returned to sleep.

There was a night last week when it was so still that I could hear the 60 Hz hum of the power line or transformer.  I generally prefer a slight breeze.
  • News today that Muammar Gadhafi warned those accusing him of using deadly violence against his own people that he would "put two fingers in their eyes."
  • I'm picturing something out of The Three Stooges.
  • Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!
  • Actually, I think he used those very words.
  • Or maybe it was a bad translation.
  • Also, Bernard Madoff declares "Government is a Ponzi Scheme."
  • Well, duh.
  • But hey, Bernie, baby, you're hardly in the high moral position here.
  • One winter’s evening, seated next to a blazing camp fire, an old Sioux Indian chief told his grandson about the inner struggle that goes on inside people.

    “You see” said the old man, “this inner struggle is like two wolves fighting each other. One is evil, full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, deceit, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

    “The other one,” he continued, poking the fire with a stick so that the fire crackled, sending the flames dancing into the night sky, “is good, full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

  • For several minutes the grandson pondered his grandfather’s words and then asked, “So which wolf wins, grandfather?”   
  • Softly but confidently, the wise old chief looked his grandson in the eyes and responded: “The one you feed.”
Another dynamite episode:

In this week's message, Brandon uses the phrase "heart of the matter" and the word "forgiveness".  Not right together, mind you, but more than once each in the sermon.

Coincidence?  I think not. 

IN-N-OUT of LOVE - Part 2 from Keystone Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Surly Sunday

Told ya I'd come back to it.

I managed to watch some of the talking heads today.  One of the topics, due to the fiasco occurring in Wisconsin, is unions.

One pundit plaintively proclaimed that private-sector union membership had plunged from 35% a generation ago to about 12% today, and that the unions had been "de-fanged", lost their potency.  He seemed to indicate that this was a bad thing.

Newsflash, meathead!  Does it take a rocket scientist to posit that there's a strong correlation with the shift of manufacturing jobs to foreign factories?  Does it seem plausible that union labor in the manufacturing sector priced itself out of the market, and that in so doing, the union bosses put their workers out of jobs?  I'm not saying all of those jobs would still be on U.S. soil without the union influence, but I do believe it's fair to say that the union leaderships' demands hastened the exit of many industries from our borders.

Elsewhere, it's reported in the Fort Worth Startlegram that an El Paso State Representative is proposing an increase in the State component for traffic fines, from $30 to $45:  ""With a statewide budget crisis and ever-increasing healthcare costs, helping our local governments and local hospitals bear new financial burdens is incredibly important,"  [representative] Gonzalez said."

Notice that the representative refers to the State's budget crisis, but not to the citizens' economic woes.  And while her rationale speaks of helping local governments and local hospitals, I'm willing to bet a box of doughnuts that in the bill there's no language dedicating the proposed increased funding to such use - it would simply go into the general fund.  Just like the lottery proceeds that help education.

In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, to try to recoup some of the debt incurred from the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), to be imposed on the American Colonies.  Since the Colonies had no representation in Parliament (no George Clinton or Bootsy Collins), they saw this as a naked money grab, and took a dim view of the Act, their increasing displeasure later culminating in The American Revolution.

We appear to be on a similar path today.  Governance of a population of sovereign, free individuals relies on the consent of the governed.  For over two centuries, the citizenry of the United States have assented, for the most part, to the collection of certain funds with which to operate essential government services.  However, in recent times, the necessity of certain services has come into question, as well as the lack of fiduciary responsibility in handling the funds.  Topping things off, many Americans are struggling for economic survival, while government seems to have no spending restraint whatsoever.

I don't think it's going to be smooth sailing.

Canadian or Snow?

The AOL News headline called out to me: Is Your Lawn Overrun by Geese?

It is not.  I just checked.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nostalgia Nugget...

This afternoon I started a post, Surly Saturday, to try to exorcise my inner 'Grumpy Old Man'; however, other tasks beckoned, and by the time I needed to leave to go to church, it was way unfinished.  This evening's sermon, plus something I heard over the sound system at the local grocery, brightened my mood, so the earlier attempt was scrapped.

I hadn't planned this next, but since RPM over at Stay Thirsty, and Ed the Thud Driver both posted vintage pop songs on their blogs this morning, I couldn't resist (RPM put together a really nice collage).  There I was, on the Kroger coffee aisle, when this song came on, probably hadn't heard it in, like, thirtysomething years.  More shocking was that, somehow, I knew who it was (I think that Cathy, the girl next door when I was a kid, had his poster in her room).  So herewith I give you the original Justin Bieber - Bobby Sherman:

Groovin'.  Wonder if I can attract some chicks with leather pants and a fringed shirt?

This next was featured on WFAA-TV news last night.  I've seen the open-air version at an airshow at Fort Worth JRB, née Carswell AFB, a few years ago.

Really cool concept:

Carter Copter - The funniest home videos are here

I guess I'll have to do my 'grumpy' post later...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cold again?

Seems I've gotten spoiled with all the good weather following the February deep freeze.
  • License plate seen on a black Mercedes in Southlake yesterday: CME 2P
  • Urologist?
  • Went to the big mall north of the airport yesterday, reminded me of a visit last month where I was accosted by a not-unattractive woman with a clipboard in the food court who asked: "When was the last time you slept outdoors?"
  • If you've read this blog for a while, you know of my (and my daughter's) penchant for sleeping under the stars.  I surmised the question was related to the Surf & Ski outdoor goods retailer.
  • I paused, and said "Friday night."
  • "Um, okay.  Thanks."
  • I made my rounds of the food samples (it all tastes like chicken).
  • As I began my return route to leave, I passed the clipboard woman, but this time I could see that she was at a table with some colleagues, at which some banners were displayed relating to the U.N. Council on Homelessness.
  • I think my response must have totally thrown her off-script.  Apparently I didn't fit their model of 'normal'.
  • There's a newsflash.
  • BTW, daughter and I slept outside two nights this weekend.
  • Punched some holes in paper today.  .224, .244, .308 inch little holes.  Three different action types.  You guess the calibers.
  • Yesterday's sermon was awesome:

IN-N-OUT of LOVE - Part 1 from Keystone Church on Vimeo.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy VD, y'all

Sure, the [vinyl] original featured Henley on harmony vocal, but this is not a bad version.  Kenny Edwards, on bass, passed away August 2010.   I think this footage is from a few months before I saw her at DCCC in early December '76.  That's Andrew Gold on piano ( Lonely Boy, Thank You for Being a Friend ).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I may already be a winner...

Or so a German-language email informed me this morning, stating that I had won the German lottery.

Wow!  I didn't even know I'd entered the German lotto, much less given it my email address.

I guess since deleted the email without clicking on the link, I'll never know how many Deutsche Marks I would've had.

In other news:
  • Watched a bit of Sunday morning 'talking head' blather on TV, most of it about Egypt, some about the R's nominee for 2012.
  • Best quote was from David Brooks, stating that rumor has it "Donald Trump will throw his hair into the ring."
  • During station break, Michelle Obama had a PSA for literacy or somesuch.  The funny part was watching her eyes track back and forth reading the prompter.  Either that, or a cop behind the camera was giving her a HGN test.
  • For months, I've labeled Todd the Blogger's site as: Todd the Dogger?  No, Blogger!
  • It's come to my attention that 'dogger' can be British slang for one who, uh, does lewd acts in public.
  • Uh-oh!  It's getting to where almost any word in the language can be corrupted.
  • I have no reason to believe that that would include Mr. The Blogger, so I'll change it to a simpler label, with apologies.
  • Unless he thinks it makes him sound more daring...
  • I recently had the opportunity to ride with a group of work colleagues across town - about a 45 minute drive, with 7 people in the SUV.
  • Four of us with '5' in front of our ages, three with '4', we listened to the classic rock station.  I'm not really much the karaoke fan, but here is a suggestion for your next group outing.
  • American Pie came on the radio, and we commenced a sing-a-long.  No ordinary sing-a-long, though.
  • The intro and extro, the slow portions, must be done in the style of Bobby "Boris" Pickett, he of Monster Mash fame.
  • The up-tempo, main part of the song, was done en voce Bob Dylan.
  • The Monster Mash treatment also works well on Hotel California.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcome to Nanny-World 2011 (in what used to be the USA)

My office, like many, many others, was closed yesterday, and we had instructions to wait for information for today, but to expect to open at 10:00.  As I started to get out of bed to get showered and dressed this morning, the power went off.


So, I shaved in the bathroom that has natural light, then got a flourescent lantern to take a shower in the other one.  Not as cushy as my normal routine, but workable. I dried off and got dressed with what I'd normally wear to hunt pheasants¹ - long johns, jeans, boots - since I didn't expect we'd have many people in the office anyway.  As I was finishing getting dressed, I got a text from the office to hold off coming in - waiting for a decision from HQ regarding the opening. 

Then the power returned, so I finished dressing with the bathroom heater on, and noticed the spots I'd missed shaving.  Another text - the office would remain closed.

Before the power loss, the TV reporters had repeatedly informed viewers that due to emergency demand, they should expect rolling blackouts, so I wasn't surprised when it happened.   When the power returned, about 40 minutes later, I listened as whining TV viewers called the station and said that the outages were "unacceptable" (from a mother because she couldn't warm 5 baby bottles) and "ridickalus" (from a woman who said she always paid her bill on time).  A common theme was that they had called Oncor and "they haven't done anything!"

Well, excuuuuuse meeeee!  I'm sure that since you called WFAA-TV,  ERCOT and Oncor will immediately attend to your narcissistic requests, you whiny little jackwagons!

As I write this, I'm comfortably dressed as noted above, with a flannel shirt.  My thermostat is set to 64° (I suppose if I were a true Limbaugh conservative, it'd be set at 78° just to show those damn liberals they're not the boss of me²), and most electrical appliances are off.  The den is warm, but the 'atomic' clock above my computer monitor (on a perimeter wall), shows 59.4°.  Nonetheless, I've got a hot cup of coffee, so I'm good-to-go.

If these people are so concerned about the power, then maybe they should trot down to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy themselves generators (and hire electricians to install them), for just such instances.  As for me, if it goes out again, I'm warmly dressed, and if it stays out for an extended time, I'll burrow into my sleeping bag and throw some comforters over it.  I've got a propane stove I can use on the back porch if I need to cook something.

One wonders how long our Republic has left when everyone has become a dependent.

Even a nanny, or Super Nanny at least, would give those idiots a good scolding.

¹ About a dozen years ago, we were stranded by a snowstorm in NW Kansas after a weekend pheasant hunt.  Our camping trailer was parked in a service bay of the local feed co-op, so we weren't without lodging, but the continuing snow and outside temperature of -10° kept us from taking off from the local airport (we didn't want to meet the same fate as Charles Hardin Holley et al).  After a couple of days hanging around the local convenience store/fast food place, the temperature rose to a balmy 0°, and the precip stopped.  Unfortunately, the ignitor on the engine pre-heat pack wouldn't spark - so we walked to the local hardware store and got a BBQ ignitor kit, wired it up, and started the pre-heat pack.  Since the airplane's engine had AeroShell synthetic, after about 20 minutes of pre-heat, it fired up in about 3 turns.  Adapt, improvise, overcome.

² Being a libertarian-conservative doesn't mean that one has to abdicate one's societal responsibilities.  And besides, I have to pay for that gas/electricity.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Holed up in the cabin

Well, not really a cabin.  I just wish.

Word came at 5:45 this morning via group text that our office would open at noon.  At 8:15, it was updated to say the office would remain closed.

So, what does one do when it's an ARCTIC BLAST outside?

I decided, first, to sleep in a bit. 

Then I had a late breakfast.  A toasted half cinnamon raisin bagel with Neufchâtel cheese, fresh coffee, and an egg on toast with turkey slices, covered in chili, and a sprinkling of cheese.  Yum!

Then, reading the Dillon Precision catalog, cover to cover.  Of course, I was asking myself: "If I could afford a new super-progressive reloading outfit, why couldn't I just shoot factory ammo?"  So, for now, it's still the Lyman and Lee turret presses.  Still, one can dream (and drool).

Decided to take advantage of the down time to transcribe some old vinyl to MP3/CD.  Over the weekend, I'd borrowed some LPs from my Dad, stuff that we listened to, loudly, back in the, uh, early '60s through the '70s.  Dad was quite the hi-fi aficionado back then.  So, part of today was spent recording Harry Belafonte, Johnny Mann Singers, John Gary, Ted Heath & Edmundo Ros, and Kris Kristofferson to iTunes.

During the recording sessions, I was also monitoring the kitchen: A tuna casserole for lunch (and four leftovers to take to work), and a pot of beef/steak chili for dinner (with a similar number of leftover portions to put up for later).  At present a pound of huge (caps about 3" diameter) 'shrooms have been sautéed - these will find their way into spaghetti sauce and atop a steak tomorrow.

Dessert?  Southern Butter Pecan ice cream, with a small handful of cracked walnuts, some flax seed sprinkled over, and drizzled with a couple tablespoons of Kapali (similar to Kahlúa - hey, why didn't I think of that with my breakfast coffee?). 

Not a bad way to end the day.