Friday, June 30, 2006


Maybe it came from my shoe when I shook it, or from the floor or from my pants, but there was a scorpion on my ankle this morn as I dressed to go out and seek the mystery of the grinder pump alarm light. Looked dead. Wasn't.

I'm getting pretty casual. I scooped it up with only one layer of Kleenex. Maybe AFTER I get stung I'll be more respectful.

Northerners who read of these buggy nasties recoil in horror, but frankly, I'd rather deal with scorpions occasionally than that damn woodpecker that kept drilling holes in our siding in Minnesota. That bird damage was expensive!

No other insect/reptile/animal news to report except Mom and Bambi are sighted about every day and Bambi is losing her spots.

And swallows are either drinking our pool water in dive bombing /strafing runs, or eating wet insects off the surface. Nice. Just hold the crapping till over land, willya?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


When I was a kid, fireworks (illegal in Pennsylvania) were the contraband of kids. Usually someone had access to a trip to the Carolinas or some exotic state which seemed a million miles away to a 10 year old, and they'd come back with Black Cats. 1 1/2 inchers.

Every once in a while I'd have a chance to buy a firecracker from one of the other kids, and I'd pay too much and then have it hidden in my desk and take it out and smell it and imagine blowing up an ant hill, or a can. It felt awfully good to hold that power in my hand.

Maybe a few years later, we'd see the M-80s and Cherry Bombs. I don't think they make them any more. It was said the M-80 was a quarter stick of dynamite - probably urban legend, but they were VERY powerful, and caused many injuries. The Cherry Bomb was my favorite. Red with green fuse. Green WATERPROOF fuse. Really loud and quite powerful!

We made our own gunpowder back then, and other incendary devices. Life was simpler - you could buy sulfur from the drug store. Make your own charcoal or just buy some, and Potassium Nitrate could be had at a drug store or from Edmund Scientific. They used to pack it in chemistry sets, but got wise.

By the time I was in high school we moved up to rockets and even better explosives.

And what amazes me so many years later is here in the local area, just across the county lines, you can buy legal fireworks, but I haven't even been tempted. Part of the reason must be the burn bans for our two 4ths of July so far. Anything that flies is illegal. Stiff fines if they catch you. And the REASON for the ban is fires. As a homeowner, I just don't want to take a chance.

Maturity? That's a sobering thought!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Not Limpbaugh.

They don't call him Rush for nothing. Rimshot.

New SLOWER Limbaugh.

Imagine the jokes. They will surely fly tonight!

From the news: Right-wing U.S. radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, a one-time target of a prescription fraud investigation, was detained at a Florida airport when agents found a bottle of Viagra in his luggage that was not prescribed in his name, police said on Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT (for LEVITRA! No kidding! Ha!)

Under Florida law certain prescription drugs, including Pfizer's erectile dysfunction remedy Viagra, must bear the name of the person carrying them. Violation is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said Limbaugh was detained for nearly four hours but was not arrested or charged. Details of the case were passed on to the local state attorney's office for possible prosecution.

Limbaugh was returning from the Dominican Republic, according to the police spokesman. He did not know if Limbaugh was with companions.

Is Rush married? If not, and if she wasn't along, he's got some 'splainin' to do...

Leno and Letterman will nail him.

The caught him because the retractable handle on his suitcase wouldn't go down for four hours.

They detained him for 4 hours. A coincidence? Read the bottle.

Top reason you know you are flying with Rush Limbaugh sitting behind you on the plane:

Your seatback won't go down.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Nano Nano

Our friend from the post below wanted an IPod, onto which to put her 23 CDs of Spanish lessons, since she and her husband are building a place in Argentina. Ever heard of Patagonia? It's like Montana in the southern hemisphere. Mountains. Fly fishing. And Spanish. Necessito el bano? I'll wait. (Don't know how to spell it.)

We shop. She wants a non IPod. I steer her to IPod. Suggest 2 Gig. She opts for 1 Gig. To save $50.

We load 23 CDS into my computer and I discover, to my geeky amazement, that there's a disconnect between the way I think instructions should be written and Apple's. And I thought Apple was the model of simplicity. No, I am.

Back and forth back and forth. As usual (with me) the circumstances aren't clearly covered in the manual. WHAT AM I - MISTER GODDAMN LOOPHOLE? I wrestle with this tiny (nano) sliver of metal, which IS impressively cool.

We get the program to load into my computer, register the IPod, but don't WANT ITunes, since all she wants is the Spanish Speakity CDs on the darn thing. (Yes we do, but we don't realize it.)

But how to get the audio into the IPod? Here I am think all along you send stuff direct, passing through your computer, ripping merrily along. Turns out it's INTO your hard drive, then from there into your IPod. A big duh for - what - 85 million IPoders, but to Me, in my loopy way of thinking, it adds a step. (Now that I've completed the job I GET it, but before then I didn't.) And no, I don't read directions, not enough of them, anyway. I thought Apple meant NO DIRECTIONS. Ha!

So we load the 23 CDs. All 1.2 something Gig of them MP3s. Uh oh. 1 gig IPod.

Back to Best Buy.

Now she decides to get TWO 2 gig IPods, one for her and for her husband. Argentina, you know.

Happily, loading each with - what - 15 or 17 hours of language CDs took less than 5 minutes for both (done at once.)

And I think the IPod is damn cool.

But I don't need one. I don't like the mp3 sound, and don't like headphones.

Technology is really seductive when you want something you don't like.

(Note - I realize you can put better fidelity onto the IPod but then you need better headphones and larger memory and I'll just skip it for now thankyouverymuch!)


A friend from Minneapolis came down to visit this weekend. She's a very busy businesswoman who travels all the time. Since Best Buy is just a mile or so up the road (a piece) she asked if we could stop in for two things - an IPod (more in another post) and to pick up a new cell phone. Hers was years old and broken. After a browse and some questions asked, she settled on a free phone.

The helpless sales woman turned to a colleague for help.

The cell phone would be in the company name - "how do I do that?"

The saga begins. LOTS of confusion, form filling, calling for help and transfer of number from one phone to the other.

Years later (okay, a little exaggeration) the clerk asked for her credit card and rang up $205.

"Two HUNDRED five dollars? For a free phone?"

Guess what - it isn't free. Only if you open a new account.

(Note: This makes no sense to me - if, after the two years standard run of contract, you want a new free phone - cheaper model, not a Razer - they should give it to you. If not, why wouldn't you just cancel the service, switch carriers, pick up a new free - really free - phone and be done with it? Anybody know how they keep customers? This was Verizon, in case it matters. I thought you got a free phone (cheaper one) every two years. So did the neophyte sales girl.) Wrong.

Now we have to get the number back into the old phone because our friend doesn't WANT to pay $200 for a FREE phone and is cheesed off. I don't blame her.

But then the salesfolks couldn't get the right person at Verizon to authorize the decommission of the new phone old number to get it back into the old phone. They tried and tried.

We left the store and returned later. Still working on it.

And later. FINALLY done.

As our friend says, and as you think about it, it's true in today's world - there's no "JUST" (as in, "Just pick up a new phone.") There are complications (try to collect a rebate then get back to me!), forms, circumstances, time limits, fine print and general crap to fight through. Nothing is simple. Read the blog on the IPod if you haven't.

Friday, June 23, 2006


"What's that? On the Wood's landscaping (if you can call it that!)"
"Everywhere! It's like orange waves..."
"Oh yeah, I see it now. What IS that?"
"Looks like somebody painted the grass with some orange stuff."
"Not exactly BURNT orange is it?"
"No, but the grass looks burnt."
"It looks like a road map seen from space... except the road is ORANGE."

Okay, so after pulling more weeds with more pulling power than a boys' high school dorm, and after ANOTHER round of pulling, the weeds came back.

I bought the stuff that warns if it touches your flesh you become a Wes Craven horror movie. I put on the surplus radioactivity-proof gloves. Wore long pants. Held my breath. Kept upwind.

And squiggled the sprayer into every weed hideout I could find. I won't be surprised:

a- if it doesn't work

b- if it does work and takes out legitimate growth like a dmz

c- giant grasshoppers breed here

"There's another there's another there's another there's another there's another..." My weed killer brain signaled my sprayer trigger finger which perhaps was a bit too enthusiastic.

Time will tell.

------------------------- 4 days later ----------------------

...And only several of the weeds look like dead. The rest are proudly waving their green heads into the sunlight as if to say, "Boy, that was good!" I reread the instructions (something I am loathe to do) and mix up another vat of toxic cesspool o' death. I suit up. Rubber gloves. Long pants. And have at it again. I drench the little weeds. All twelve million of them. One by one.

No agent-orange-trails are visible yet, but there are a few bare spots starting to smoke. I bought the $23 CONCENTRATE and have enough to go for another few rounds. Yes, there might eventually be collateral damage but that's the way it goes/grows.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Ah the great mystery of most men. There are some, however, who have that mystery figured out. They romp from one beauty to another, with what appears from the outside to be complete immunity. Mere mortals can't comprehend. I sure can't.

In my travels across the country and into Canada I came to believe that each geographic entity has a certain look. Recently a friend sent me this picture of the new Miss Minnesota. You may not know it, but there's a team working with each woman and my friend is on the winner's team.

The Nordic blond look is common to Minnesota. Not bad at all. Since I worked downtown in a mall I actually did some, uh, research: about every 20 seconds on a busy day, a looker would breeze by. And the lingering presence/scent/glow would keep a standard male in high spirits with a persistence effect, till the next.

Montreal was similarly impressive, though not with a Minnesota look, as Montreal was more haute couture, and less blond. (Is it blonde or blond? Spell check has no clu or clue!) The wimmins there have style and you know it. I remember seeing a woman in a gauzy thing crossing the street in delicate shoes, stepping over the frozen slush as if invincible to the cold. All for fashion, I guess. Even the older wimmins have it: Style.

Here in Texas they grow them differently. I haven't figured it quite out. It's no coincidence there have been so many Miss Americas from this state. But the look in Austin is different from Houston and certainly from Dallas and El Paso is a hard dose of hardscrabble reality to my eye. A state this wide surely has variations.

And of course I must sneak a look for my pure research while blinded by Terri.

Miss Texas USA 2006 Lauren Lanning *

See what I mean?

* Apparently they haven't held the Miss Texas (going to compete for Miss America) pageant yet, so I did the best I could. There are competing pageants. I think Miss USA goes to Miss World. I also thinks Donald Trump owns all of that and regularly restocks his wife-bar from the contestants. Says Donald, "Don't think of it as a lot of hair plastered like a wing on my head... think that every hair is a million dollars. How's it look now?"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I have seen the new low of television programming, and that's saying something!

America's Got Talent, created by Simon Cowell and hosted by Regis Philbin, is the old gong show without the humor. This must be Simon's revenge for some reason. It also must be programming to the QVC callers, many of whom appeared to be in the audience of hopefuls, geeks, and crazies. This is like Karoake night for the double digit IQ personality challenged. Like The Price is Right hopefuls on fairy dust.

And what's even more amazing is that the show has no flow, no good structure, no sense of drama; it's a total zero. They couldn't even package it well.

Which could mean it's a hit.

They sure hyped it heavily. It must be a sign of the apocalypse. It's embarrassing to be human.

Regis is competent. He's a pro. But he's got to have enough money by NOW. Even with editing it's clear he's embarrassed.

And the 'judges' pass the horn honker and oldest male stripper and the juggler with dropsy through to the 'next round.' Like tryouts for a bad circus sideshow.

No, I didn't watch very long.

Avoid this stinker if you can.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


We've been having problems with water - rain runoff has been exposing the utilities boxes and gear at the end of our driveway at the street. (See pictures below!) The HOA here decided it was really a problem they should address. And they did. (Yes, the workers showed up - almost a week late, but they did show.) They put in mitigation which is... appreciated but inappropriate. I doubt if the design review committee would approve the long white rows of rip rap the crew put in to slow the water down. One spans our property line and the one next door and looks to be 150 feet long. That's hard to ignore, especially in an area where they tout the natural look.

Now what? Good question. Other than to say we don't think it's appropriate we don't know what action we might take.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Tonight for dinner, Terri roasted a chicken. The scent played be hungry with me for what seemed like hours while I watched the US Open as Phil Mickelson blew it badly.

Then we got the chicken up on the table for carving. NO BREASTS. I start to think about odd pesticide deformities as I carve away... no breast meat. NONE. So I cut up the legs.

Then Terri has a hunch.

Which turned out to be correct.

This here chicken was roasted UPSIDE DOWN.

One flip to breast meat, and a happy ending. Not for the chicken, not for Phil, but for us - we had a delicious meal.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


"What happened taya core?"
"Hail damage."
"Hail damage?"
"Yeah, mah waf had a wreck and they's a hail ofa lota damage."

Friday, June 16, 2006


We have a flood problem, not that we've had much rain on Stately Wood Acre-and-a-half. There's a gradual slope that feeds water to where the utilities live. When we do have a gully washer, the water does what the Colorado river has done so nicely on the grand canyon, i.e.: it erodes what it can. Since our ground slope is on very hard soil and rock, or rock just below the hard surface, or rock'n'dirt called caliche, it runs as if on concrete.

So the development landscaper has decided slowing down the water will give it time to... and this is where it gets hazy to me... penetrate the rock or slip into another dimension or just go away.

Well, they missed the first day we were promised the work, then rescheduled and missed that too. Supposed to dump rocks just about now and work tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted. You can share in my amazement as the mitigation workers work their... miti-magic?


The next day.

No, they didn't come.

Yes, it rained.

Yes, the wall started to come down again.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Rumors posted here suggest that if Hillary Clinton runs for and wins the presidency, she'd change the name of our armed forces to the "Hillitary." Many vets are displeased with that thought, as are all with any ability to reason.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


We were sitting watching TV. The carpets freshly steam cleaned today - wet this evening still, so the room fan was running full speed. Not much on TV, just a decompression thing at the end of the day.

Suddenly Terri says, "WHAT WAS THAT?" Me, brilliantly: "What?" She, "Something just flew across the room." She looks where it landed/hit.

Seems a Scorpion somehow got onto the fan and enjoyed a flight. Then he got the bonus - a whack with the bottom of a tv remote and then the waterbahn ride (flush.)

How it got there is a mystery. As luck would have it, we are scheduled for bugman on Monday.


A report out today shows how wasteful and incomprehensibly irresponsible FEMA was in giving away money post-Hurricane Katrina.

The improper payments, which a Governmental Accountability Office report estimated ranged from $600 million to $1.4 billion, included funds sent to people who used United Parcel Service stores, post-office boxes and cemeteries as their addresses. FEMA also provided millions of dollars of housing aid to prison inmates, the GAO says in the report.

``We expected it, but we didn't expect it on this magnitude,'' Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of a House homeland security investigations panel, said yesterday. ``It's an assault on the American taxpayer.''

Nice. Bet they don't follow through on catching the bad guys, replacing the unworkable system, or making amends.

The stages of awareness of government ineptitude:


Where are you? I am at RAGE.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Saturday I bought a chisel. The chisel was apparently made improperly (forged?) as the blade is uneven and unusable. Does that mean I was chiseled? I need to inspect things before I buy them!


And how's this - I can't find a replacement rechargeable battery for my drill for under $40 and I can buy a NEW drill with TWO batteries and flashlight for $50? Something odd going on here.


And to those who think there is no objective reality, that we're all in some holographic hallucination (The Matrix?) I ask: then what would dreams be?


My new weedwacker has a "bump and go" feature - you bump it on the reel when the cord gets short, and it auto-feeds more. Except it doesn't. My last one didn't either. Don't these things ever work? Maybe I am simply and totally inept.


We had some woodworking grifter not deliver on some tables he was supposed to make for us. We were out our $500 deposit. It wasn't the money as much as feeling had that led us to take the guy to court. Or to magistrate. Small town. We won. He didn't even show or respond. Now what? Justice is on our side, after all. NOTHING - that's what. We "won," but to collect we'd have to hire an attorney and attach a lien to the guy's property then auction it off.

I expected a "pay up or got to jail." Man, am I ever naive.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Today I am away from the computer to accompany Terri to the hospital where she will have a minor surgery. It's also a minor hospital. Should be interesting for some observations.

I don't like hospitals. Bad memories.

I'll post more below when we return.

..... Back now .....

Terri's just fine, thank you for asking.
Her operation took about 15 minutes! Under a local.

The hospital was a wonder! Flowing waterfalls (symbollizing the flow of money from patient to doctor.) - Tropical fish, many plants, comfortable seating, an expresso bar, music in the parking garage... this is as good a stairway to heaven as I've seen.

No antiseptic smell. Radar toilets and wash water. The only thing that seemed strange was the staff didn't seem that happy. Just a vibe, but that's what I noticed. Of course the surgeon was god-like, but you expect that.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Terri found three scorpions in her underwear drawer. Two were dead but had smiles on their faces. One was crossdressing and alive.

... the next day ...

And Lo! A baby gecko was seen running across a wall inside the house! I caught it and introduced it to Mister Grim Reaper. I wonder 1- how it got in, 2- If Mom got in and there's a family.

Geckos are the bottle rocket of lizards.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I pulled them for days and days. For ten minutes all was good.

Then they grew back. And I thought I got most of them by the roots.

I'm putting the fighting gloves back ON. Today I will spray with a chemical that kills 300 weeds and leaves lawns unaffected. Want to bet?

I'll try to keep the collateral damage down. I'll let you know what happens. It's always something!

Oh - there's some irony - these weeds look a little like Pot. They aren't, but if I could get some bad bad people to think they ARE, maybe I'd get weeded for free? Naaa.

..... Later ther same day .....

The deed is done. I only thought my sneakers were smoking as I sprayed. The Ortho stuff is MAX level. Advertising or truth?

I am tempted to run out and buy more gallons and spread it everywhere but know I should wait a while to see if the grass bursts into flames first.

..... Later .....

The weeds still look healthy. Why don't I just pour something on them that will take them out immediately, like battery acid?

..... A Day Later .....

I think maybe the weeds die of OLD AGE, that's what happens. One or two look a little like an actress with no makeup, but that's it. I may have been had. And I did drench them.

..... Another Day later .....

It ain't working.

..... another day gone by .....

Still no real change. Would a giant chemical company LIE?

Friday, June 02, 2006


We have a 300 foot driveway. I'd say at least 200 feet of it lead up to my office window, where I spend about 8 hours a day, at work on my various ventures.

We live on an acre and a half. There's no one beside our lot on either side, or behind us yet. We live at the end of the road, just before a gate leads into an enclave of another 14 homes or so... so there's not very much traffic, and we are in a gated community ourselves. With only 40 residents spread out.

Yesterday I am on a conference call, as we were engaged in training our website optimization and marketing sellers. In fact, graduating them. We use SKYPE, which is a broadband VOIP service.

Imagine my surprise when motion catches my eye by the window... and it's a head. A HEAD goes right by, outside the window 6 feet from where I sit. By the time I get a good look, it's gone. Nonetheless, a head.

But the driveway is about 15 feet from the window. Why would a head go right by and I mean RIGHT by the window? I have not lost my mind. Not about that, anyway.