Saturday, December 31, 2005


It took a year less 18 days. I searched everywhere again and again. And again. I looked in every remaining movers' box.

When we unpacked, we cut down every box... laid all packing paper flat. Nothing would escape. But my $1000 microphone (okay, $950) was lost. LOST. Or (cue dramatic music) stolen. But it was in a box in a box when I last saw it (or remember seeing it) so who would even know what it was or want it? The PACKER! The MOVER! The weaselly assistant packer!!! Naaa. They didn't have the look. A microphone isn't a commodity - it's not like everyone wants one (or would even recognize the nondescript box.)

Planning a trip sometime later this winter, Terri had begun looking for the snorkel gear - it was MIA! This led to my bumping around the storage darkness over the garage and then in the attic, reopening all the remaining boxes (MAN I TOOK A TON OF PICTURES OVER THE YEARS!!!) My high school yearbook was spotted. My college radio stint in pictures - a favorite is the boys trying to pull my tongue out with needle nose pliers. Terri's baby dolls, her CRIB!

Found the snorkel, masks and fins. It was with her childhood stuffed animals. They weren't using them.

But no microphone.

However, by then, my adrenal-search-gland-mojo was workin', so I went through the whole house, every drawer, shelf, box... no luck!

Then I thought I'd try one more place. Of course the box LOOKED like files, but was "stuff" wrapped in paper and in the stuff... was the missing microphone.

Boy did that feel good. Perseverance paid in full!

Friday, December 30, 2005


I generally like SONY. I expect that when I replace my TV, it'll be a SONY. Still, their proposed settlement for their DRM computer-invading program strikes me as an "are you kidding?" proposal.

SONY had secreted some files (called rootkit) on millions of music CDs to ward off piracy that in fact, if played on a computer, rendered those computers very vulnerable to malware (and apparently it was VERY difficult to remove!) Read about that here.

They have put forward a proposal which, to my eye, at best gives those affected three free downloads of CDs to right the wrong. Here's that story.

Boy, if they had put me through the hell I read about, I'd feel that $100 cash wasn't enough!

And I wonder how those free downloads affect the artists involved? Do they get royalties from SONY on those 'free downloads' or do they just bite the bullet with no recourse themselves?

I see no good in any of this. What do you think?

More lawsuits to settle!

It's amazing when a corporation is so unthinking. Or so arrogant. This from the C-NET coverage of the story by Molly Wood (no relation!): "...the president of Sony BMG's global digital business division, Thomas Hesse, told National Public Radio that most people don't know what a rootkit is, so they shouldn't care that it had been secretly installed on their PCs. Mr. Hesse, they care. And they should start caring a whole lot more--on November 10, BitDefender uncovered the first Trojan horse (but possibly not the last) that takes advantage of the unpatched DRM technology to open a backdoor on a Windows PC."

Thursday, December 29, 2005


The networks typically go into the dead zone (not the show) at this time of year. What lousy programming!

This might be a great time for a new show to debut.

That new game/reality show - I don't even know what it was called - where the contestant holds what they have or goes for something better (they hope!) hosted by a dramatic bald guy took 5 of the top 15 shows last week, I believe. See?

But I hope for more. And better. I've been watching reruns and petrified crap.

Hi, my name is Bob and I'm a TiVo addict!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


There were 54 grass fires in Austin last week. We have a serious drought going on... about 50% down from normal rain amounts for the year. We also have nice warm weather with low humidity. And sun.

There's a burn ban in all Metro counties. You can't have any fire outdoors unless it's, say, a BBQ. One of THOSE burned a house down near Dallas.

So what do you think are for sale just outside Travis county? FIREWORKS!!! Oh, they are holding back the bottle rockets and aerial bombs and flying flaming things but... what the #%#$@^*!!?

Glad I cut the prairie. What was once 2 feet high is now stubble around the house.

Somebody wrote that in Texas, fireworks are like guns. I LIKE FIREWORKS. (And guns!) I like my house more! Never seen a kid with a sparkler that didn't throw it at the end.

Should be an interesting next few days.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


In doing - uh, research, on the net, I found this item which can help all those on ranches. Something you might want to try on your next visit to the farm.

A chicken can be hypnotized, or put into a trance by holding its head down against the ground, and continuously drawing a line along the ground with a stick or a finger, starting at its beak and extending straight outward in front of the chicken.

If the chicken is hypnotized in this manner, it will remain immobile for somewhere between 15 seconds to 30 minutes, continuing to stare at the line.

This is not the same thing as the tequila stare I developed one night in Martinique. I am no chicken!

Monday, December 26, 2005

CSN&Y: "Our house, is a very very very fine house..."

WE LOVE OUR HOUSE. The architect/builder did a wonderful job! We like and endorse him!

Apparently some feelings were ruffled since I left this out in my Christmas-Letter attempt at humor, which was not my intention. The Christmas letter is set up to be an anti-brag letter that you get sometimes. And raving about the house would qualify as a brag.

Next year I think I'll go back to the mythical family I created years ago, and chronicle their adventures.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


So I'm not PC. Sorry. Happy Festivus then.

Every time I smell felt, I think of the green felt covering my Lionel trainboard that Santa put up under the tree when I was young. I could barely get to sleep when I'd hear him cursing loudly as he smashed his hand, or got a shock from the Plasticville interior lights that poked up from beneath the board.

We had early twinkling lights and they made little "dings" as they superheated to just below tree-torching temperatures, then would wink out. The whole tree-full made a sound like ice crystals should make when they form in the air on a cobalt sky day of sunny cold.

I would stare into the reflective balls and see the world wrap around itself. I still like shiny metal colors. I still like it when the world wraps around itself.

I'd drop a tablet into my train smokestack and the locomotive would start to puff. It would circle the tree endlessly, with my careful driving on the big transformer. Sometimes it would veer off the board at high speed and crash to the valley floor below. Luckily, it would miss the stack of presents which were on display there. I'd lean on the horn and it would remind me of the real ones I'd sometimes hear wailing into the dark, when the wind was right, off in the distance, right before I feel asleep, safe in my bed.

Sometimes I'd go back to the now 'empty' stocking hung with care and find another special toy hidden in the toe. That was great!

I loved guns. One of my favorite Christmases brought a ping pong ball gun. There was a picture of my dad showing a very young me how to shoot it. This was not my typical dad. Years later, after some drinking, he and my uncle stood in the ocean surf shooting 45s at the moon. How I wish he would have played with me that way.

Christmases are like a cavalcade of time and memory. Benchmarks for family, friends, joy, and loss. I hope they bring you peace and jubilation this year. And maybe you get your ping pong ball gun!

Friday, December 23, 2005


72 degrees. Hot sun. Nice breeze. Blue sky. Hip SoCo cafe. As I blew out the one candle on my cheesecake with carmelized bananas on macaroon crust drizzled with mango sauce, I realized, this doesn't suck. Happy Birthday to me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Letter 2005

You know, that eggnog was really strong! Glad I only had 6 cups!

Every year we send a letter along with Christmas Cards. It started out as a spoof of those brag letters you get - you know the ones... and evolved into various forms since then. Since we lost some friends' addresses over the years and they just might see this, here is this year's installment.

In previous years I would let my creativity go and it wasn't uncommon that folks would later remark, "I didn't understand all of it, but I enjoyed the part I did." This year I aimed for the whole room. Here it is:


I can’t get into the Christmas state of mind, because here in Austin, as I begin this letter (November 7) it will be 87 degrees. Still, Christmas displays are up in stores, and one of my old radio stations in Minneapolis went all-Christmas-music November 4th. Good thing I’m not still there – I’d be suicidal. You can only Rock Around the Christmas Tree so many time before you snap. We drove south on I-35 last January 14th, leaving -14 degrees in Minnesota, sub zero in Iowa, snow in Kansas, to hit the 50s in Texas: and Salvation!

The house wasn’t completely finished when we arrived, and so swarms of workers descended upon us like moths on a lightbulb, for months. My fulltime job became watching for their dirty fingerprints on freshly painted walls, finding Things That Didn’t Work… and so on. It was like CSI meets Home Depot. One day there were 24 workers here. Some of them actually worked. Few spoke English, so I’d speak and they’d pretend and nod. Pretend and nod is a construction sport in border states. I am certain some spoke English well, but were even better Pretenders.

And now, about 10 months later, (MaƱana to the 10th power) we still wait for the final list to be completed. We are not alone, as almost everyone here, no matter which builder, has had similar experiences. (One builder works on a property with “free ranging livestock” a.k.a. horses – he told me that the home (by then sheetrocked) was open, and that the horses went in and took a dump!)

Our community has about 36 families in and another 20 or so homes under construction (of eventually 400). The developer merged with a very upscale golf community developer and they have raised prices immediately. As early as we were, I think we qualify for “settler” status. That means we will be shunned by the rich folks, but can have a rotted wagon wheel and cow skull on display.

Local lore is that in the evenings you can hear the lions at the zoo, which sits on the next ridge about three miles away. When I ‘pass gas’ I now claim it was a lion roar. Terri gives me ‘the look.’

Good thing we don’t play golf because a golf membership costs about as much as two of my first house. On top of that are dues, caddy fees, clubhouse tips, and if I were to attempt to play, many lost balls. I figure that if I played once a week, my triple bogeys would cost $500 each. Happily, I found a local pistol/rifle range and will take some golf balls there as targets. Shoot golf? Why sure.

Austin is a neat city. The U, the state capitol, tech biz and the music scene all add up to a delightful mix. But many people have the wrong impression of Texas. Actually, Texas is such a big state (and I’ve driven almost top to bottom and east to west at one time or another over the years) that it has a wide diversity of geographies and attitudes. For example, Dallas is where you’ll find people who wear suits, Fort Worth is where people wear cowboy boots. You’ll find some of either in each, but you get the idea. Then there’s El Paso which is Hispanic for Keep Driving. And Pasadena, outside Houston, is full of chemical plants that regularly blow up. Pasadena is Hispanic for Don’t Light a Match.

Texas mythbusters:
Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy is not the state anthem. You can‘t get Longneck (a bottle of beer) in a can. Hardscrabble is dirt, not a board game. Tumbleweeds DO tumble. You often DO hear the coyote’s wail, on the trail. Willie Nelson doesn’t smoke Newports. You cannot wear spurs in a water bed. Armadillos are not battery powered. “Ahm a’fixin’ to fix the fax” is a possible sentence in these here parts.

You can get to these here parts if you drive thataway.

Terri worked at Wells Fargo for a while but prefers more interaction with realtors so has joined LAND MORTGAGE which isn’t just about land. They are affiliated with the largest realty company here. She’s the David Copperfield of Loans. That means she works magic. I just hope she doesn’t saw me in half.

There’s a bumper sticker and unofficial slogan KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD. Just doin’ my part.

Today it’s November 23rd as I write this part. 82 degrees and low humidity at 12:50PM. Some trees are showing some color. This is worth a good gloat as we put on shorts and honor our northern friends. Ice-melt dues paid in full, thank you.

Time flies. But it sits in a cramped seat with a late departure and no peanuts. And it can’t use the restroom while the “fasten Seat Belt” light is lit. But still, it flies on frequent-flier miles. New homes are popping up as if the picture is speeded up. Our community is becoming just that. We love it here.

The only downside is that so many friends are scattered all over North America. If only we could see you more often, it’d be so much better. Well, there’s always the internet, phone, etc.

We wish you a very happy holiday season and great New Year.

Bob and Terri Wood (Bob comments on anything) (Bob’s Home Theater blog) (Bob’s neighborhood blog) (Bob’s website) Soon to be Bob's new website consultation business. If you click on it before January 1 and it's up, it is a work in progress with elements missing.

Monday, December 19, 2005


A pretty good case here! With lots of show and tell

Decaf follies

"Wekatumidonkas" - translation: Welcome to McDonalds.

I speak with clear slow announcer tones into the speaker at drive thru:




The screen, mercifully, is in English. It's correct.


...Just another Manic Monday!

A sidebar, as my friend Kevin would say:
My father, in Paris, with itchy toe - I assume, athlete's foot, tried out his high school French in a drug store... and apparently tried to order cheese for his shoe.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Neighbors just put up LIONS - full size stone ones - on either side of the end of their pool. These beasts can be seen by anyone nearby. There sure wasn't anything pictured like that in the Living In Union With Nature brochure for this development.

Somebody please call the Ostentatious Department of the Police!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


HERE's one for the ladies The click on the orange circle. When the page opens bigger, click on it again.

Click on that link to discover the truth behind magazine covers. Also known as "what Photoshop can do" (amazing retouching!) this will help any person with poor body self-image due to the constant media barrage of "beautiful people."

And Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Apprentice

Donald Trump hired his fourth apprentice on Thursday, choosing consulting firm CEO Randal Pinkett during a live telecast of the finale of NBC's "The Apprentice."

Trump chose Pinkett over financial journalist Rebecca Jarvis THEN asked him if he should also hire Rebecca, who was as impressive as a 23 year older could possibly be. And I only mention her age because she was amazingly mature, tremendously capable, and good natured. Randal said no.

Both were outstanding.

Trump offered Pinkett, the first African-American to win the apprentice job, his choice of supervising either the construction of a luxury condo complex in Jersey City or the expansion and renovation of his three Atlantic City casinos. Pinkett, 34, chose the latter job, which will last at least one year and possibly longer.

Pinkett is a star. Trump hired a great find.

Randal answered the Donald that The Apprentice was a ONE WINNER contest and that it should stay that way; Trump then didn't hire Rebecca, but he clearly wanted to.

I hope he reconsiders.

What a classless move on Pinkett's part. He simply gave the wrong answer at the last moment.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Okay, play along with me, please.

DuPont (which admits no wrongdoing; I assume because if they did they'd be liable for damages someday) makes a toxic chemical. It's Perflourooctanoic acid (aka PFOA). It's been around for 50 years.

It's in probably in your blood as it was in 95% of Americans tested.

It persists in the environment indefinitely.

It migrates long distances in the air.

It's been found in the blood of polar bears near the North Pole.

EPA says it passes to fetuses in the womb. In animal tests it caused birth defects. DuPont knew this since 1981.

Last year DuPont agreed to pay West Virginians who had their drinking water contaminated up to #342 million.

DuPont reported $27 BILLION in net sales last year.

The EPA's fine? 16.6 million, with another 10.25 million as a civil fine.

Now shake your head with me. It just doesn't seem right. So little does.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Here’s how girls know if you’re checking them out. They yawn while looking away. Then five seconds later, they turn around and look at you. If you’re yawning, dude, you’re busted.

I read this on another blog and pass it along to any male readers for whom it can prove to be good intelligence.

When you get older, you just yawn and fart. If you can fart gold, women will smile at you. Otherwise, they give you "the look."


When I programmed a radio station in Houston, we had a good ole earth dog of an engineer. I liked his voice. He was quite the character. We also had a young gofer hanging around (he later went on to program!)

I wrote and aired a promo which still tickles me whenever I think of it. Something like this:

DAD (Almost stoned Earthdog) "SON?"
KID "Yes Dad"
DAD "You know you're gettin' older now and I think it's time you knew..."
KID "Knew what dad?"
DAD "About Christmas."
KID "Christmas?"
DAD "Yeah. See Christmas isn't about Santa Claus and gifts..."
KID "It isn't?"
DAD "No, the true meaning of Christmas is.... BIG BULBS! Just like a lot of things you'll discover later in life, BIGGER is BETTER!"

And off it went into a Christmas Light promotion. There was also a line about all the cats leaving the neighborhood because of the lazers he had put into the plastic reindeer. That's how I remember it - the guys acted it out with such fatherly advice versus boyish innocense.

The good old days. Before everything got corporate. And that radio station... in Houston, Texas, was owned by (I am not making this up) Eskimoes.


Was the headline on page A20 of today's Austin American-Statesman. Nice. I had already eaten pages A-1 through A-19 as an excellent source of fiber, to help prevent colorectal cancer! I had been shredding the paper and eating it with milk and a spoonful of brown sugar ever since they stopped using Lead-Based and switched to Soy-Based ink.

This story is from today's Journal of The American Medical Association, so you know it must be true.

So now it's a free for all in junk food land.

All over the Austinworld, all three kids who read the paper as deep as page A-20 will rejoice. Mom was wrong. No more pencil shavings for lunch! No more broccoli. (And have you ever noticed how E Coli bears a strange brotherhood with the spelling of Broccoli anyway? Mighty suspicious!)

It seems like everything is topsy turvy (which fails an SUV in Rollover Tests by the Insurance Institute of America)... what was good is usually discovered to be bad, what was bad is now good. This doesn't explain why NBC banned a video snippet of Pamela Anderson pole dancing in an Elton John video.

Me, I've been suspicious of authority ever since I didn't go blind.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Last night while watching TiVo TV, I heard just a piece of an advertisement as I hit high speed skip. It shouted "DIAMOND BRACELET for THIRTY NINE NINETY FIVE." I said, "Huh?" "They mean $3995.00? They HAVE to mean $3995! It couldn't be $39.95! Could it?" I hit the backup button. Yup. $39.95

Here's a news flash - an urban legend - It ISN'T (ALWAYS) "the thought that counts."

Give her a $39.95 diamond bracelet and prepare to eat out of a can for a while. Maybe in the snow or rain. Sleep with the dog. Write a country song: "I screwed myself for $39.95."

I fear for any man - no matter how disadvantaged or down on his luck who comes home with a $39.95 Diamond Bracelet.

Maybe it's a BAIT and SWITCH thing. You go in and say, "I'd like the $39.95 Diamond Bracelet, please." The clerk stares at you with eyes that say "Here's a guy who won't have sex except alone for a long long time." And they bring the piece out under the 4 megawatt special jeweler lighting that makes coal sparkle. You squint. There appears to be a glint. It's the $39.95 glint. The goodbye kiss in semi-preciousness.

A sidebar: diamonds aren't even precious stones. They are a strictly controlled market that drives prices up along with great marketing. Look it up. They don't want you to know it, but it's true.

So you see the glint. "Uh, what's the next size up?" "Oh, HERE'S a nice one... NINETEENNINETYFIVE." Now you get a glimmer and a sparkle. Then it dawns on you: "ONE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED NINETY FIVE dollars." "Uh, A little more than I was hoping to spend."

Run away.

Buy something so foo-foo (spelled frou-frou, but I don't think that's common) that you'd be embarrassed to buy it. You stand a much better chance bringing THAT under the Christmas tree.

Men, we must stand united. There are rules to the universe we don't all learn. Let others guide you through the maze. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I am working feverishly on a new project - a website optimization business. It's amazing how many BAD websites there are - and I'm not being Mister Designer here, I'm talking about websites which are no more than poorly constructed billboards for businesses. They languish largely unseen, either ignoring or violating the principles which determine prominence. Some are built and forgotten. "Websites don't work," is the thought that often follows. That's wrong thinking.

Meanwhile in 2004, 812 million people used the web(Source: Neilsen/NetRatings)
and Consumers spent $117 BILLION online (Source: ComScore)

Clearly this is the hot new medium. I want my piece. I see a need. Once up, I will tout the site and service here fyi. It should only be a matter of days.

I am using a different building program which is HEAD AND SHOULDERS above the one I used on It's better in every way.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I've never had luck with weed wackers. They die soon after the warranty explodes, I mean, expires. The one I have now has two states of running (admittedly intermittent and rare) - in one state the motor turns the nylon strips in a clockwise fashion, the way you'd expect. In the other, it goes back and forth, about 180 degrees one way, then reverses and goes 180 degrees the other. It shudders a lot while doing this which must be the shudder of the laws of mechanical motion being violated.

One day recently we went into the garage and smelled gas. I crawled down to critter eye level and looked for dangerous puddles under the cars. Nothing. Then Terri discovered that the weedwacker had sprung a leak.

I banished it to the outside.

Nothing looks loose, and nothing appears disconnected.

Just now I decided to try to start it and sure enough, it cranked after a few hundred pulls. Okay, I exaggerate, but I still have that spasm in my right arm from all that yanking and I tell ya it's hard to type. Or keyboard.

(You still type at keyboards? Just like CDs are records?)

Anyway, I ran the wacker all along the places that needed trimming up to a point at which it crapped out for no reason. I noticed the dripping gas was smoking. Time to call it a wacked-day and walk-away.

Yesterday I pulled on the lawnmower so many times I think I'm permanently crooked. It was only after rigor-armis set in that I discovered the spark plug cap had come off.

I tell ya, Steve Martin will play me in the movie.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Gas leak. (Excuse me.)

I'd like to think Steve Martin would play me in a movie of my life.

Yesterday was COLD. Texas cold. Cars were swerving off roads by the scores. Many workplaces and schools shut down. We had a quarter inch of ice. The psychological damage is as great as the fender bending.

We declared it time to light the gas logs.

After years of real wood, my namesake, after all, years of being ripped off by the traveling log salesmen - "got this load of oak in the truck... $80 a cord." (That's a face cord, half the size of a cord. A reduction like that would blow a drug deal up in gunfire!) Well, the oak would turn into pine just below where you could see it. Or it'd be pungent toxic chemical-smell tree, direct from Love Canal or any other EPA skull and crossbone forrest. I also bought cords of won'tburn logs.

So when we moved to these here parts, we opted for a gas fireplace. No wood salesmen, no termites in the woodpile, no spiders to torch, no snakes a-hiding.

Yessiree, got us a two sided wide baby. Got the upgraded ceramic logs with texture and even the ember glow pieces (sold by the GRAM). All went well upon install, last winter. Thursday, I fired it up again. Make that, turned the handle. Lit the lighter. Probed for the pilot. It would light, then go out. I actually read the instructions.

Our knob is upside down. That's confusing.

Finally, I called the guy who sold it. He came by today - nice guy - and lit it right up. See, I was lighting the GAS LEAK, not the pilot.

Long story short, he replaced the explosion-in-your-face part and got it going.

The living room and kitchen are about 95 degrees now. I don't want to turn it off till Terri sees flame (and warms her work-weary butt cheeks on our hearth.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Frost and frozen rain in Our Part of Texas. Are we haunted? I swear I smell Minneapolis in the north wind.

If you have trouble getting into the Christmas Spirit, this may be why:

RE: Organizational Changes at the North Pole

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.
Streamlining was necessary due to the North Pole's loss of dominance
of the season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels
and mail order catalogs have diminished Santa's market share.
He could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of
a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity
from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School,
is anticipated. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental
emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press. I am
pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition
still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the
strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way,
not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was
into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate
comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time
of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

As a further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole
to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately,
the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas"

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out
to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging
plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance;

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective.
In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned.
The positions are therefore eliminated;

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French;

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a
call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been
calling, how often and how long they talked;

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors.
Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative
implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious
metals as well as a mix of T-bills and high technology stocks appear to be in order;

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded.
It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is
an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and
an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that
from now on every goose it gets will be a good one;

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times.
The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order.
The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore
enhance their outplacement;

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy
scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought.
The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility.
Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching;

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be
phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps;

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of
international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest
replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability
may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we expect
an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year;

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the
band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music
and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line;

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals,
and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching
deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day,
service levels will be improved. Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney's
association seeking expansion to include the legal profession
("thirteen lawyers-a-suing) action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary
in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request
management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs
is the right number.

Not my writing, but so right! Don't know who gets the credit, but they probably will be the ones with coal in their stocking. My ex-boss - a hard working, really good man, was fired this past week by a greedy company which will remain nameless (their initials are both Cs). I dedicate this post to him.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Revenge of the Blue North

I knew I KNEW I shouldn't have mentioned the cold in Minnesota. It's like antagonizing the guy holding the shotgun aimed at your face. Where does the cold air go? It goes south.

Today the pool was steaming. And, no, the heat isn't on.

FROST has struck!

And... shudder... a WINTER STORM WARNING. Hysterical weather stooges have the look of grandma at a prune store after 3 days of constipation.

It was 84 on Saturday and now this reminder of the last 12 years comes sliding through Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and into Texas. Our border is NOT secure.

It even made us drag out the Christmas Tree. Our Christmas Tree is the yule equivalent of a stuffed dear. Lots of lights, even ones that don't work, are sewn by Malaysian factory slaves into the green plastic of the 1024 branches and tips.

I avoided death by attic Brown Recluse Spider. I avoided sticking my toe into the attic mousetraps. I missed falling down the stairs, and the impaling by aluminum tree spike as I fell.

Is that the Christmas spirit I feel? Or a dust allergy?

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Today Terri said "It looks like snow," It does, except it's 50 degrees (and cloudy.)

One reason we picked Austin was climate - it's nicely Sunny a LOT and almost never snows. It's warmer than Minneapolis by a good 20 degrees at worst.

In Minneapolis we had -60 Fahrenheit one day one winter. Not wind chill. That was the record. For highs, I think we were just under 110. This ravages the paint on your home. Every three years you need fresh paint. In five years, you were the neighborhood disgrace!

Salt ravages the car.

The plows would ravage my front yard grass, plowing the whole cul-de-sac onto it. Every spring there'd be 6 feet or so of piled, compacted, salt-laden BERG, rotting my grass and killing any hopes of good spring green. Spring = May. March gives hope, but it's false. April is a tease like a sexy co-ed. May would be spring, then summer. Part of the resilience of the folks up north is their optimism. End of February - 'we're almost out of it.' End of March: 'here she comes.' April: 'any day now.'

I do kind of miss the Christmas light wars, though.

If you haven't seen this video of these Christmas lights you should - watch the whole thing though! Click here and feel for the neighbors!The Today Show just featured that Christmas house with all the lights and music!

The guy’s an engineer (obviously), and works for GE. They’re in Ohio.

In order not to bother the neighbors with the sound, he broadcasts the music on a low power FM “station”, and people listen in their cars, when they get in the neighborhood.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like SUM-mer

Predicted high today in Austin - 84. 60 degrees warmer than our old home.

To be fair to the blue northers, it will be much cooler this week... down to 48 as a high later in the week.

Funny how your perspective changes. That would be GREAT in Minnesota, but is chilly here, because our blood is thin.

I realize that without hearing constant Christmas music (on the radio station I programmed) and without working in a mall full of decorations, and having no kids, the spirit hasn't moved me yet.

However, it probably has you in its grasp, so here:


1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup of granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups of dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or raisins
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila (silver or gold, as desired)

Sample the Cuervo to check quality.
Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the
highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer...Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy
bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again.
At this point it's best to make sure the Cuervo is still OK, try
another cup ... just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and
chuck in the cup of dried fruit, Pick the frigging fruit off floor...
Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck
in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the
Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Check the Jose Cuervo.

Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a
spoon of sugar, or
somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to
beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, FINISH
the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.

Friday, December 02, 2005

CHRISTMAS 2005 Part One

A local food chain wanted to do something special for Christmas. Or the holiday season, to be more PC. (Sorry, to me it will always be CHRISTMAS. You can keep Kwanza or June Teenth or Festivus or whatever you want and enjoy that all for celebratin' self... it's CHRISTMAS to me. No shame in it. It's okay with Hallmark. Blame it and everything else on my parents. Mr. Shegog, the next door neighbor, pretended to be Santa. I believed. To this day, whenever I smell felt - the green on my Lionel train board that went under the tree... or see a sparkle - the twinkling lights and reflective wondrous ornaments... or hear really good cursing - my dad putting up the tree on the train board and getting a shock or two from the lights, while I was tucked away in bed with visions of CHRISTMAS, I think of Santa, Bethlehem, Stocking hung with care, wrapping paper, pine smell and my lost innocence.

Where was I?

The food chain wanted to do something special. They put up an ice skating rink on their roof. It's about 40 x 60. Saturday it will be 84 degrees here. Guess where all the TV stations will do their remote shot?

I once staged a snow storm on the hottest day of a hot spell in Montreal... it was in the 90s (before metrification, thank you.) We got coverage in 5 of the then 6 daily papers. Front page on 4, full front page on one (in color!) Local and network news (twice.) This was for the radio station for which I worked.

Years later I wanted to get my morning show to drive a refrigerated truck full of snow 'for the children' somewhere south... but couldn't arrange.

Know what? I can't get into the Christmas spirit... can't drag the tree out of hiding yet. Must be the weather. Or the lack of REAL cold. Displaced in time and space, that's me!

I give Terri credit for the joke below. I chuckle everytime I see it or think about it.