Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday's themes

...though not, apparently, unified.

A couple of weeks ago, my ancient GE refrigerator tried to die on me. It was so old that the fan motor was made in the USA.  But this nifty Korean replacement ($31 @ Grainger's vs. $144 at the appliance parts house) has it back among the living.

Thank goodness for Grainger's!

Nostalgic 1950's miniwaves?  Really?


Last week, at a trade group meeting, this was the view from my dinner table:

Back in the '70s, my Dad almost bought a DC-3,
for around $20K, though probably not quite like this one.

A diamond - it must be real - I found on a sidewalk outside a business. Probably 1.25 ct.  The gold paint overspray does not diminish its value in my eyes.

If only I had a fiancée...

Isn't driving a Beetle ghey enough?

This, al otro mano, is cool!  Very cool.

I really need to get a 'yak. I like the size of the cockpit on 
the one shown, but that dry hatch is ridiculously small.

Seen after church last weekend: 

The first things I noticed were the monster Brembos.

Earlier this week, oldest Son invited me to play disc golf (for my first time ever):

I got 1 par, 12 bogeys, and 5 double-bogeys.
I'll bet I can shave that by at least a half-dozen next time.

These shoes are probably cooler than I am:

I pulled the trousers up to show the shoes,
they are not high-water pants.

The bike named after the beer.  That is actually a 26" x 4" bike - the machete is there to give some proportion.  Yeah, the guy in sporting goods might have given me an odd look as I rode it down the back aisle, so what?

When the Apocalypse comes, there will be no gasoline 
for your car - this is a SUB.

 Same brush whacker, with my Zombie machete.  The brush whacker is $23 at Wally World.  For $6 at HFT, the machete is a better value.  Both are handy additions to my BOP.

I will fear no zombie!

Don't think me an ogre, but we have an upcoming promotion where I will really have to maximize my [highly talented but limited in number] front office staff's production.  When they exceed a certain time threshold with clients, I will step out of my office and give a signal to 'wind it up'.  Hopefully, they will hear the beeper going off in my office, and develop a sort of Pavlovian response so that I don't even have to intervene...

From the dollar store - programmable up to 99 minutes!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

¿No lo ve?

¿O no puedes ver, vato?

As I returned home from running some late evening errands, I caught an extended cover jam of this incomparable Marshall Tucker Band song wafting from the 'biker' bar about a kilometre from my casa.

This YouTube version, while good, is not so good as the extended version - Southern Rock at its finest.

If anybody asks - tell them you heard it from me.

And me?   Yo lo oí en una canción de amor.

Monday, July 14, 2014


This is one of my favorite songs that we sing at my church:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Independence Day Festivities

Since we hadn't experienced sufficiently large crowds since the Ren-Fest, Daughter and I decided to check out the Panther Island Cinco de Mayo July 4th celebration, the photographic evidence of which is presented herewith.

Because I'm frugal cheap, we parked in the $5 lot at the apex of Henderson and White Settlement - I couldn't discern that the $10 parking was that much closer.  Upon getting into the festival grounds, we made our way over to the Rockin' the River area, as Daughter wanted to float out in the Trinity - against my gentle, fatherly advice.  Cabela's and TRWD sponsored tubes and life vests, enough to satisfy projected demand.  If only the idiot festival-goers hadn't lashed multiple tubes together (in excess of what they were actually using), while others, after leaving the water, used them as beach chairs (also still lashed together).  One white-trashy woman - lounging like a grounded Shamu or Moby Dyck on the beach - growled and snarled at several small children who attempted to pick up the apparently vacant tubes that were lashed to her lair.  Classy, ma'am, real classy.

Clogging, er, Rockin' the River, as the rapper implored 
"Hey, evahbody, let's get stoopid".
The crowd was quite obliging.

After about 25 minutes, we located an unused tube, and Daughter prepared to go into the pristine waters, lined with grass, bark, & twig debris for about the first 16" off the beach - which I'd kindly pointed out.  As the water came up just above knee level, her desire to float the Trinity was abated by a dead fish, also floating the Trinity, and out she came.

"I saw a dead fish."

"So, you're not going to paddle across the river?"


"Well, OK then.  Let's go get you rinsed off."

We found our way to a fresh water fountain/station where she rinsed off the mineral & nutrient-laden waters of the Trinity.  In a nearby tree, we saw this visitor:

Kinda creepy.
...and this one:

Wrong event, dude.

While festival food is usually outrageously expensive, we found some affordable ice cream from a van, and a $4 chopped beef sandwich to tide us over at this FW [temporary] landmark:

Riscky business.

Several minutes later, Daughter captured a [live] baby locust/cicada.  Since we were on the north side, should I say 'chicharra' instead?

Afterward, she carefully put him/her back on a tree.  In his 
autobiography, he'll write "I had my first encounter with 
a human before I even shed my first exoskeleton."

Some people had brought their own equipment - kudos to them.

Not all attendees were human:

These fair-goers had manners.

We decided to make our way to the other side of el Rio Trinidad, a feat that took nearly ten minutes on the 8' wide footbridge, inasmuch as the seemingly simple task of placing one pie ante del otro was not well understood by the fair-goers.

On the other side, we hydrated ourselves courtesy of a TRWD potable water dispensary trailer, then perused local vendor tents.  One of the first we came to featured bandanas (no problem there), and an interesting proprietress with more hardware than a Hillman jobber, and enough ink to run the second shift of the Startle-Gram.  Lots of piercing accessories,  tricot/spandex (?) wrestlers' masks (do I even want to know what that sub-culture is?  Likely not.), and last but not least, an amazing array of crack pipes.  Stay classy, Fort Worth!

"Daddy, what are those?"

"Uh, those are crack pipes."


Daughter was going to ride the inflatable zip-line, but upon seeing a 200' line for a 40' ride, she thought better of it.  She was obviously becoming more discerning as the afternoon progressed.  We exited the event perimeter and headed south toward the 7th street bridge, observing a posse of horse riders, hoping they were giving rides.

While I've no desire to immerse myself in the Trinity's waters, I would enjoy floating the Trinity in a canoe or 'yak:

Dude, there's serious traffic about 1/2 mile ahead...prepare to portage or take alternate route.

Hey, wouldn't that be fun to ride a bike on?:

I dig bridge architecture.

As I took this photo of the Trinity Playhouse from the river levee, I told Daughter that I was sitting within about 5' of where her mother and I watched Shakespeare in the Park (Merchant/Midsummer/Much Ado..., one of the M comedies, though at the time I was more interested in my date), eating grapes and cheese, drinking wine coolers, on one of our very first dates - over a decade before the turn of the century:

Today:  All's Well  That Ends Well?
More like Love's Labour's Lost.  Sigh.

The horses we'd been following were 'parked' on the playhouse grounds.  Seven of them, but apparently they weren't for hire.  We have no idea where the riders went.

We could have gone to some pretty snazzy dining establishments along the W7 strip, but we walked to Wendy's, near University, and ate for cheap.  While development has totally changed the face of that area, the Wendy's doesn't seem to have changed since the '80s.  There were two flat screen TVs in the dining room, one with Univision or Telemundo, and the other displaying ABC's What Would You Do? Guess which one had the volume turned up?

As it was by then dark, we made our way back east, encountering a large - but sparsely packed - group assembled behind the Montgomery Plaza, waiting to watch fireworks.  We hung out there for a bit, but surmised it wasn't going to be a great vantage point, so we made our way back toward White Settlement Road.  When we got past Angelo's and Omaha's, the show was just starting.  Rather than fight the crowds back at the event, we climbed atop our SUV in the parking lot:

I think we had the best seats in the house parking lot:

Burn, baby, burn!

Bang, pow, boom! 

And the grand finale:

Glaring red rockets.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

R U smarter than a kindergartner?

Some folks, not so much.

A college twit-chick, thinks it would be cool to 'sext' a photo of herself in her altogether to her BF, DaQuon.  (Little known fact: DaQuon was my birth name, until I shortened/Americanized it to simply 'Don'.  Or maybe it was just a nickname given to me by my Aunt Polly Esther.)

Unfortunately for twit-chick, she sent it to her Dad, who may about now be re-thinking that condo in Cambridge thing, and encouraging daughter dearest to check out the community college catalog.  Of course, entertainment media types, for whom Socrates' directive of examined lives simply means more video but no introspection, are recommending that she get the SnatchPic SnapChat app to prevent future embarrassing episodes.

Good grief!

But, theirs also gud nooz.  Dude in Washington, excited by being one of the first buyers of legal weed in that state, hams it up for the local press/media.  His boss at the staffing company sees the coverage (I know, I know, you're as surprised as I that he had a job),  and didn't so much share his enthusiasm (or maybe he'd called in sick so he could camp/chill out overnight to be one of the first customers).  The company asked him to take a pee test.  Apparently, like, man, they got rules against that sorta thing, and stuff.  You know how employers are - so oppressive/repressive and all.

He failed.  They fired him.  A classic case of what Confucius say: Play stupid game/win stupid prize.

And while it's a heartwarming story, you do have to feel sorry for the parents, who are now fearing that Harold, or whatever his name is, will never surrender his video game controller and  move out of their basement.  Maybe he can be an extra in Pineapple Express VI or somesuch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Damit wir es nicht vergessen.

Comes now news that Sears, Wal-Mart, and Amazon have removed a photographic poster depicting the famous Dachau Nazi concentration camp sign that reads: "Arbeit Macht Frei", after savvy shoppers allegedly complained that Nazi motifs just weren't in style this season.

Although the actual seller was a third party linked to the major retailers' sites, Sears & Wal-Mart wasted no time distancing themselves from the fact the poster had been linked at all.  And the Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors organization suggested that the poster's listing implied that modern Nazis were the product's targeted customers.


Perhaps cadres of skinheads in Idaho decorate their walls with the AMF image.  But I take a different stance, believing that the grandparents of the Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors would be outraged at that organiztion's myopic view.  As someone who personally met and shook hands with famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal (Vienna, 1974), I strongly counter that the survivors - and the souls of those who perished - would cry out not to blot the images from being displayed, but to ensure that successive generations would see the image, ask questions, and learn what those sonsofbitches did to their fellow human beings, lest we forget.

The image isn't pretty - it's not supposed to be.  But art - photographic decor in the instant case - is not always about pretty flowers and idyllic pastures & waterfalls.  Sometimes it makes you think.  That seems not excessively in vogue these days, much to the chagrin of my buddy So-crates.

That last line of the article torques me just a bit, as I find it to be either apocryphal, or someone's asinine attempt to be clever.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Truth or fiction?

This article reads like fiction to me.

Perhaps its saving grace is that it's comparing the U.S. to other nations' economic circumstances, and, in comparison, the U.S. seems less afflicted.  However, I think the article's overall tenor dismisses the gravity of our current circumstances.

Some recent history:
  • Aided by tax reforms from the 1980s (which were partially negated by record defense spending), the U.S. economy in the 1990s was very strong.  Combined with new financial franken-products (i.e. derivatives) and regulatory encouragement of lessening credit criteria (Community Reinvestment Act, et al), the stock market - particularly the tech sector and financials - soared.
  • By Y2K - which, through thorough planning at most company, organization, and government levels was itself a non-event - the exuberant irrationality party was coming to an end.  Venture capitalists had gotten stung funding too many tech deals written on the backs of bar napkins or rolling papers, pie-in-the-sky ideas with no cogent business plan or deliverables, no incoming cash flows. As well, investors (and regulators) had begun to wake up to the Alice-in-Wonderland house of cards that was derivatives trading.  The 'tech bubble' bursting was the result.
  • On the heels of major retreats of the stock market indices, the 9/11 attacks further eroded consumer confidence and security.  Many Americans instinctively cut back on spending.  Others, having never been acquainted with financial prudence, made no changes at all.  
  • To stimulate a stalling economy, the government looked to real estate to fill the void of the hobbled tech/financial sector.  Easy ("stated income") purchase money loans and liberalized equity lending helped the income statements of home builders, construction materials and home furnishings companies, lenders, car companies, and the economy in general.
  • But we had simply traded one bubble for another. The real estate chicaneries came home to roost in 2007-2009.  But where to turn?
  • With no shining beacon to guide the way, government attempted to shore up the economy by plugging leaks in the dike, and institutionalizing denial of financial realities (automaker and bank bailouts, extension of unemployment benefits) at great expense.  Quantitative Easing (QE) aimed to keep the economy afloat by providing cheap debt to fuel consumer spending - but even as borrowing rates hit record lows, many Americans decided (or had bankrupted themselves) to stop digging the hole further.  On the flip side, older Americans saw their CD nest eggs earning sub 1% APY for shorter term maturities.
Returning to the article, which states that U.S. banks have started lending again.  Yes, American financial institutions are lending.  But [qualified] borrowers are scarce.  With razor-thin - or in some cases negative - 
margins, even with competitive rates, the financial industry is seeing widespread diminution of loan portfolios in the form of early paydowns/payoffs.  Simply put, responsible borrowers are trying to shed, not increase, their debt loads.  Credit standards, already about as lax as they can be, can't be lowered any more without resulting in the collapse of the financial system.

The article also points to the roaring stock market, which just enthusiastically (exuberantly?) broke through the 17,000 level.  I believe this due not to the fundamental health of the equities comprising the indices, but an inflationary spiral resulting from deposit dollars seeking a higher return than what can be obtained in CDs. As the last of the longer term 'high rate' CDs are now matured or maturing, and no additional liquidity added into the mix, irrationality becomes the only explanation for a stable or increasing stock market index.

It's a subject of considerable debate whether there's validity in this comparison.

Well, that's my 2¢ worth for the morning.  For the record, I do not own, nor have I short sold, any securities mentioned in this post (I didn't mention any).

Is it any wonder?

Despite a lingering economic downturn, some people apparently still have either too much time on their hands, or are so enamored by fame, that they'll part with huge fortunes for what amounts to filth.

We are living in interesting times indeed.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Ephemeral requiem

The incomparable Roy Clark sings a Bill Anderson classic.  The song launched Clark's career in 1963 as his first to chart.  I have wonderful memories of this song from a well-worn 8-track that played in my Dad's '66 Scout 800, on weekends at the deer lease, or just trips to the hardware store.

While not part of the narrowly defined 'purist' years of the "Nashville Sound", the strings and overdone choruses (in the original release) fit the standard definition of the genre. The "Bakersfield Sound" was a backlash and influenced not just country artists (Merle Haggard, Buck Owens), but also the sounds of artists/acts such as the FBBs, early Eagles, CCR, the Byrds, and the Grateful Dead.  The 'Outlaw Country' of the '70s also nudged musical styles in a different direction (personal note:  Good Hearted Woman was the song that caused me to actually pull that black plastic button on the in-dash radio to pre-set a CM station, KSCS, on my car radio).

Dig those 'burns!

   Here's another version, embedding disabled.  Just look at all the talent in that room, including Bill Anderson!

   Contrary to a rumor (started here), the song is not a paean to a kidnapped Charlie McCarthy from his partner Edgar Bergen - not, I guess, that there's anything wrong with that.  Bergen always seemed to be upfront regarding his relationship with McCarthy.