Friday, November 30, 2012

Not so sure thing

A version of this scene cropped up in my dream last night.


I mean, you're not supposed to strike out in your own dream, right?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fiscal Cliff's nuggets o' wisdom

Cliff goes 'fiscal':

You know, if you study history, you'll learn that lowering the marginal
income tax rate, as Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan did,
results in increased collections to the public coffers.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Hollywood Square?

This won't go over well in Gomorrah-by-the-Sea.

Actor Angus T. Jones, the 'half' of Two and a Half Men, has urged fans to not watch the show, saying it is 'filth'.

I don't disagree.  While I've never actually sat and watched a complete episode, it's been A/V wallpaper in my den many evenings while I was doing something else, probably blogging.  And one can't help but notice that a good amount of the show is not appropriate for households with kids, especially in the time slot where it runs.  Over the weekend, I saw a [re-run] snippet on 33.1 UHF where Charlie Sheen is rolling doobies on his kitchen table.


Am also not much the fan of How I Met Your Mother, but, IMO, the trashiest sit-com I've seen is Two Broke Girls.  Sexual innuendo and blatant smut abound, at approximately 15 to 20 second intervals.  To paraphrase the late Richard Pryor, those chicks probably got a VD that would scare the $#!@ out of penicillin!

Sure, I'm a prude, but not a humorless one.  Mildly ribald comedy certainly has its place, but it's not in prime viewing time.  And there's little mild about much of the current crop of shows.

There's no indication that Angus Jones is following in the footsteps of Growing Pains' Kirk Cameron, but, if he did, that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

A toast to Clarence Odbody

Just in case my angel drops in this season, I'm prepared for my annual viewing of It's a Wonderful Life.  (Actually, I have it on DVD and VHS, B&W and colorized - though I haven't seen that one.)

"Mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon and light on the cloves.  Off with you, me lad, and be lively!"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Save a man, ride a manatee?

From the strange news file comes a report that a Florida woman has been fined for riding a manatee, a species protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.  Although signs are apparently posted warning of interactions between humans and the marine mammals, the woman disregarded them, as well as requests from bystanders to leave the creature be.

The news article even posted a picture, prompting the question: Which one is the manatee?

Thankfully, as far as I know (no marine biologist I) people cannot interbreed with the sea creatures, as one would hate to see the result of such a union depicted above - Oh, the humanatee!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Back to the '80s with Mr. Alamo!

Just because...

It took me a week to get the sand out of my skivvies after doing those scenes...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CPO Sharkey's Greatest Hits!

As we segue from the Kingston Trio's performance on the Jack Benny Program, to Jack Benny at the head table of a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, we find Don Rickles zinging the California Governor - and the Governor giving back as good as he gets:

Thank goodness Maude Frickert was not like today's teachers, and apparently didn't have any inappropriate relationships with young Ronnie in Tampico.

Over a decade later, Rickles is at it again, this time at the second inaugural party for President Ronald Reagan:

I'm Going Home

Watching the Ken Burns documentary on the Dust Bowl reminded me of this old song, from the Kingston Trio.

This lineup is known as the second KT incarnation, Dave Guard having been replaced by John Stewart.  Long after his Trio days, Stewart had a mild comeback in the late '70s "...turnin' music into gold", assisted by Lindsey Buckingham, who'd learned his fingerpicking style listening to KT records.

For those apt to note such things, Nick Reynolds (left), passed away 10/1/08, and John Stewart (right) passed 1/19/08. Bob Shane (center) is still living.

Amen, y'all

Not sure how many installments will be in this series, but here's the first.

Amen Series Part 1 - AMEN! from Keystone Church on Vimeo.

The Rest of the Story

In the past, I've sung the praises of ordering auto parts online from

Today, I was off from work, and decided to take advantage of the great weather to install the new [less dusting] ceramic front disc pads I'd ordered recently.  Got out the floor jack (yeah, I'd so like to get one of those lightweight aluminum ones...) and the lug wrench.  In short order I was removing the brake caliper assembly from its mount, and popping out the old pads.

Into the house for the new pads.

Ruh-roh!  The new pads were about half the size of the old ones.

Size matters...

Those might stop a Craftsman lawn tractor, but not so much my 3400# car.  Knowing I'd carefully screened the selections when I'd ordered them, making sure I got front discs for cars like mine that have front disc/rear drum systems, I readied myself to take RockAuto to task for sending me the wrong pads.

But first I checked the box, and the packing slip, and my online order confirmation.  While waiting for the customer service agent to answer, I went to my order archive, just to be prepared. 

Oops!  Looks like somehow, despite my efforts to ensure the correct part, I'd clicked the button for the part below it.  Although it took a couple of minutes to get an agent on the line (after the English/Spanish/German prompts) - the guy I spoke with had perfect English, and even used some of the same colloquialisms as I do.  He got my information to send email instructions, including a shipping label, to return the parts - turns out RockAuto's call center is not in New Dehli or Mumbai, but in Madison, WI.  I told him it was nice to speak with a onshore customer service rep.

Within three minutes, I had an email with instructions for returning the parts.

Thankfully, the old pads were not yet critical, so they'll be fine until the new ones arrive.

Thanksgiving week fun

Although some of the colleges had classes this week, my Daughter is out of school all week for the holiday.

Last night, I took her and a friend to a church bowling party.  The church had rented six lanes - from the looks of it, I think each lane was full up with 8 bowlers - and provided pizza, sodas, and snacks.

I think she got the spare on this one...

An M&M reindeer

Daughter's was the third highest score!

Observing some of the folks not part of the church group, I was reminded of the truth of this quote from Arthur:  "Normally, one must go to a bowling alley to meet a woman of your stature." - Sir John Gielgud as Hobson.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Unpopular Mechanic

I got an invoice today for a new subscription to Popular Mechanics - the magazine - not pictures of Manny, Moe & Jack.  I now receive both Popular Science and Pop Mech, the better to keep abreast of technology developments.

Speaking of Manny, Moe and Jack - well, I guess you could call me 'the accidental mechanic' - and a not particularly popular one, at that.  If I told you I do mechanic work for therapy, or because it's 'cathartic', I would be lying to you.  I do it so I'll have transportation.

I would like sometime to build a stripped down hot rod.  Something without a PCM and 53 sensors.  Maybe  even with, gasp!, a carburetor and manual choke.  Room to turn a wrench  Parts you can see and identify.  But that's in the future.

This past weekend I was dealing with a balky idle on my passenger sedan.  Using the SUV as a daily commuter was making me cross (at least every trip to the QT/RaceTrac), so I'd ordered new platinum SplitFires, plug wires, and air plenum gaskets from

What would be a 20 minute job on a classic car took well over two hours.  Sure, the front bank of plugs (the engine sits side-a-ways) were easily accessible.  But the rear bank of plugs, and distributor coil pack - well, let's just say it rhymes with "witch".  To access those puppies, one must remove the air filter box, the throttle body, EGR, PCV tube, various other vacuum lines and sensor plugs, and 8 bolts securing the air plenum to the intake risers.  Then, I put my left foot in, I took my left foot out, and did the hokey-pokey...

Well, it sorta seemed that way.

Here's what it looked like with everything removed.  The paper towels are in the intake ports to prevent FOD from entering.  The red heater hose is a southern-engineered setup - attached to a shop vac - to extract any grit or dirt from the plug wells.  The 3/8" ratchet is attached to an extension, longer than my...finger...with the plug socket.  Not pictured is the air impact wrench that was required to break loose the bolts holding the EGR body to its bracket on the air plenum.

To prevent any air leaks, I installed new gaskets on the air plenum where it meets the intake risers (where the paper towels are seen).  Dutifully gapped the plugs at .054" (these are SplitFires, woo-hoo - they'll probably double my mileage - if I use magnets on the fuel line...), swabbed the contacts on the new ignition wires with a Q-tip with a wee dab of conductive grease, and installed some new cable sleeves anyplace where the cables wanted to touch each other.

Finally, I put it all back together, and didn't even have any leftovers.  I did have to charge the battery, since I hadn't driven the car in a while.

I even turned the oil filler cap right side up...ya gotta take pride in your work.

Drove it to work today - runs stronger, but still an occasional hiccup at idle, though it hasn't thrown a code yet.  This evening, I pulled the idle air valve (visible above in the 1:00 position above the EGR diaphragm) and cleaned the plunger with carb/choke spray and gave it a shot of WD-40.  We'll see tomorrow how this works out.

I wish I had a Model A.  Or maybe a '49 Chevy.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Olympics may be over...

...but you can still order your own mini-luge - Now on Sale @ Northern Tool & Equipment, $34.99!

Seriously?  That just looks so wrong...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Can you say 'Bad Idea'?

This looks like an accident waiting to happen:

Oops, wrong magazine/speed loader!  I think there are better and safer ways of doing realistic simulation.

I wouldn't want to be the insurance carrier on that one.

More classic fun

Kinda like watching a Conway/Korman bit:

Although Brooks battled the bottle earlier in his life, which gave him insight in creating the character, he was actually sober during the heyday of his career.

Is anybody goin' to San Antone, or even Oklahoma?

I see where Charley Pride is appearing at WinStar on November 25.  Very reasonable ticket prices.

As a kid, I think we nearly wore out a couple of Mr. Pride's 8-tracks in my Dad's Scout.

Part owner of the Texas Rangers

Friday, November 16, 2012


...Navy, Air Force and Marines.

I...wanna bomb Tehran all night...

You know, if the U.S. or Israel does finally have to put the kibosh on Iranian nutcase Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it would be kinda funny if the first wave of bombs, bombers, AC-130s or A-10s had nose art of "The Demon" - the onstage persona of Israeli-born Chaim Weitz, a/k/a Gene Simmons.

h/t: qdub

Ding-dong, the Wicked Witch is dead

No, not Nancy Pelosi - she's alive and well AFAIK.

I'm speaking of Verizon DSL - from which I just un-subscribed this week.

Verizon, since rolling out its FIOS fiber optic service several years ago, has spent untold sums of money trying to entice me, and other Neanderthals, to upgrade to their SOTA¹ network.  Slick Madison Avenue marketing pieces, fake FedEx packages, sky banners, stripper-grams - OK, maybe not stripper-grams, all with the intent of luring me to fork over at least one Franklin a month to them.

Trouble is, I don't need blazing fast speeds (I'm not a gamer), or 2759 TV channels, or a POTS landline.  I just need something to connect the ol' Timex-Sinclair personal computing device to the ARPANET so I can get a few electronical mail messages and maybe send out an SOS in these days of Armageddon.  A couple of Green Giant lima bean cans with copper wire instead of string, figuratively speaking, would work just about right.

So, several years ago, I had upgraded from d-d-d-dial-up to D-D-DSL for the not unreasonable tariff of about fifteen GWs per lunar cycle.  Life was good.

But, of course, the Wicked Witch still wanted to seduce me.  Being strong of faith (but mainly weak of wallet), I was able to resist.  Ever resourceful, she started turning up the heat, kind of like the frog in the water experiment.  $19.95 - [grumble, grumble].   $24.95 [grumble, teeth gnashing].  Then I did the apparently unforgivable, I cancelled my POTS.  Shortly thereafter I got a notice that without an associated POTS, the [384K] DSL service would be $39.95, plus a boatload of taxes and fees, totaling about $43 per month.

I'd had enough - but where to turn?  Charter uses essentially the same playbook - they'll give decent rates IF you bundle all their services, which I don't need or want.  DISH gives a reasonable six- or twelve- month trial rate, with a 24 month commitment - the dollar cost averaging makes it not such the great deal.  And Clear Wireless, which at one time could be had for about $25, must've thought I was a leper or something, because their coverage map seems to have avoided my neighborhood - it looks like Mitt Romney sitting in the audience at the BET Awards.  (I once borrowed a friend's Clear modem, and the service worked just fine, even if their map didn't indicate it).  But Clear's rates and commitment requirements went up, making it not much more desirable than the Witch.  And ATT's U-Verse counterpart to FIOS, is about $20 for 3Mbps, but isn't offered in my neck of the weeds.

At last, my cellphone company decided if it wanted to stay in business, it would have to come off the porch and let Chad & Ranjit run with the big dogs. They started offering mobile hotspotting on select 4G phones, some even with generous rebates!  I figured I'd have to connect a wi-fi dongle and double sine wave generator to the acoustic coupler to the Timex-Sinclair, and create a 47 character super secret password (that even Paula Broadwell doesn't know) using exactly 11 uppercase, 7 special characters, and 5 numbers, just to keep the neighbors from hacking into the unpublished drafts (Stronger than Sominex!) of Sonnet 116.  Instead, when I got the new communicator, I found I can just USB tether it, keeping the battery charged, and eliminating any security concerns.

Beam me up!

Ironically, after upgrading to 4G and mobile hotspot service, my monthly phone bill went down by $5.

And the Witch's bill went down by 100%!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

They're packing...

...but do they support your right to do the same?

A HuffPo article about well-known public figures who carry, or at least own or shoot firearms.

Some are obvious, like Selleck, Lambert, and Eastwood.  But Whoopi Goldberg a member of the NRA - call me skeptical.

And who knew that gonzo guitarist Uncle Ted Nugent had guns?   ;-)

It's good to have friends

...or is it?
My Friend is a Vampire Bumper from Keystone Church on Vimeo.

This morning...

Actually, I don't know from which service this was recorded, but she brought the house down:

Mean - Taylor Swift (Cover Song) from Keystone Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Taurus 1968

From the jazz/prog-psy rock band Spirit, which featured Jay Ferguson (pre-Thunder Island) - an instrumental containing a few measures you might recognize:

No, the airship guys lifted the licks from Spirit, for whom they'd opened a year or so prior, but they let that part of the song remain [fundamentally] the same. Rock and roll fans would not be denied.

Rip van Donald

I feel kinda like Jack T. Colton this morning, Michael Douglas' character in Romancing the Stone.

After finding shelter in a crashed DC-3 drug transport, Colton, who's been smuggling exotic birds for years, opens a copy of Rolling Stone and reads that the Doobie Brothers have broken up, and exclaims in surprise.  (It's a couple of scenes prior to putting some moves on the then-hawt Kathleen Turner/Joan Wilder.)

Anyway, I got an email ad from J C Penney (see, I'm not exclusive to Kohl's), featuring their IZOD collection.  I looked a couple o' things, and noticed there weren't no reptile insignia.

Now, back in the day, I went to prep school, but was not a preppie.  Just to march to a different drum, I had a sweatshirt featuring an upright alligator with an insignia of a dude.  Nonetheless, I also had one IZOD/Lacoste polo shirt, sort of the same way some guys own only one suit.

After a bit of googling, I found that IZOD and Lacoste divorced in 1993.

Just call me the fashion caveman.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kohl's or no Kohl's?

I didn't receive any Kohl's flyers today, but if I had, they likely would have been addressed to me, and that's OK.  I don't share the dog blogger's angst with the midwestern retailer.

However, like The Todd, I did receive not one, but two, pieces of mail addressed to a woman who has not lived here for over five years.  In fact, the only addressed mail (the rest being third-class bird cage lining) in my box today was addressed to said woman.

You'd think with all the super-computer data mining out there, they could keep track of who lives where.

Maybe it's good to be single

Consider the case of a Vermont dude who's now room temperature after his loving wife drove into a tree to clear her online dating schedule.

Right of way?

OK, between an airplane and an SUV, who has the right of way?

WFAA posted video of a single engine Cessna landing at Aero Valley Northwest Regional Airport Saturday.  The new pilot's wife was recording his first solo landing.

All was going well until an SUV crossing the flight path at the north end of the runway failed to stop and yield to the oncoming aircraft.

As the video shows, the aircraft's right main landing gear was clipped off on the SUV's roof.  Ouch!

Now, if you're not familiar with this airport, and only saw this video, you might wonder why a road runs right next to the end of the runway - and the simple answer is - to get to the other side.  The road in question is not a thoroughfare - it accesses only other airplane related addresses (hangars/homes/businesses) that are related to the airport.  It is the way in and out from the east section of the airport (that is, unless you drive across the middle of the runway), so no one driving over there can claim that they were going from point 'A' to 'B' and didn't know there was an airport there.

As it happens, the SUV driver has apparently admitted he's made that crossing several times before to eat at an airport café, so clearly he's aware of the runway. It was daylight and the weather was clear.

The report mentions there's no stop sign, other than painted on the roadway, at the edges of the crossing.  That's because things that stick up out of the ground next to runways are frowned upon, especially so by pilots of low-wing aircraft.  However, if memory serves, the airport entrance monument sign, just before the crossing, does alert automobile drivers to be alert for landing and departing aircraft.

I've made that same crossing dozens of times by car, and have [as co-pilot] landed or taken off there a few times as well, and have had occasion to drive on runway/taxiways at other facilities.  The point is, at such places it's imperative to carefully scan the area, both on the ground or in the air, for moving aircraft, and that apparently didn't happen here.

Thankfully, no one was killed or seriously injured.

Friday, November 2, 2012

More Jeepery

This is not an old style Jeep, but it does have, uh, a snorkel - see if you can spot it:

Some parts pictured may be non-OEM.

British Montgomery Gentry

The Todd suggested I'd have better odds joining these country rockers than becoming British nobility.

He might be right.

Dang, that is a sad song - if the dude had knowed she was comin' back, he coulda moved or at least changed the locks or sumthin'...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Get your Woody on!

Um, you know, the wood grained Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

It seems there's an outfit in Kerrville that restores the classic body styles.

Delivery Trailer

I'm kinda partial to the old Traveler series.

Where's my Zoot suit!

About three or four weeks ago, I bought these nifty brogue/wingtips at Kohl's on sale.  Since I spent quite a bit of time trying to find my size (and customer service checking other stores' inventory), I gently requested to  get the 'additional 30%' discount - which they did.

They turned out to be some of the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn.

Unfortunately, once I got them home, I thought the shade of tan was too light (at the time, they were all one color).  As I happened to have a jar of Burt's Bees Almond Milk and Beeswax hand creme on the desk (hey, if it's good for live skin, it oughta work on dead skin, huh?), I thought I'd darken part of the leather to see what effect might be achieved.

Now, if Jas. K. Wilson Jos. A. Bank happens to be including Zoot suits in their 70% off sale this weekend, I'm set.

'Course, for that style, I may have to look at K & G Menswear...

Click here for the jacket I would wear on my Scottish Highlands hunting estate (to which I would drive in my Morgan 3-wheeler, below).  Elbow patches, I assume, could be added by my tailor.

On the way to looking for something else

I found something else - a 2012 Morgan 3-wheeler:

File:2012 US-spec Morgan 3-wheeler.jpg

If I ever become part of the British gentry, I'm getting one of these.

0-60 in 4.5 seconds.

Two great qualities life are Patience, and Wisdom - this guy has both:


h/t: qdub


A little bit o' greatness from the email bag today:

Thanks, Mom & Dad!