Wondering about wild grapes
Monday, January 31, 2011
Anyway, they were selling a touch screen computer. I told my wife that a touch screen was old technology and really not that convenient. When I worked a contract job with G.E. Nuclear, they had a touch screen monitor set up on a computer system that controlled a special heat treat application and that was back at the end of the 1980’s
Touch screen control over a computer is a great idea for controlling equipment or processes. They are easy to use, the commands are all visual, and the screen can be mounted on the wall or in a control panel.
As for the regular use of home computers, I don’t think it is such a good idea. I know I wouldn’t use it, and if I did, only for short commands. I now sit back in my office chair with the keyboard on my lap. The mouse is at my right hand. I sure would not want to have to reach up and keep touching the screen to operate my computer. That would be very tiring.
Yea, I know, it looks neat. Well, it is, and for non-industrial use, it is really only for show. It is like, “Hey look Ma, no mouse and no keyboard”. Kind of reminds me of, “Hey look Ma, no hands”. Right after that last statement, Ma is picking you up and dressing your wounds.
Yes, I know, I may be a little old fashioned, but I have been known to work 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, when I had a rush project to do. If I had to be reaching up and touching a screen for all those commands, my arms would have fallen off.
Don’t yell at me, I know even if you have a touch screen you can still use your mouse and keyboard. I think this time I will keep my money and pass on a “touch” screen. We did order another new electronic “toy” from QVC and it should arrive in a couple of days. Will have to tell you about that, but will wait to see how it works out, first.
Have a good week.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
We go and walk through it usually every weekend. Gives us some exercise and we get to see some unique things. Sometimes we go both Saturday and Sunday and sometimes we stop at some other smaller ones, too. Funny, we don’t seem to bring much home with us. Guess we just like to see all the unique things. You know, at my age, it is time to get rid of lot of my junk instead of adding to it.
Anyway, as we were walking back some outside isles, I spotted an old 1961 two door hard-top Buick parked off to the side. I haven’t seen one of those in years. My then to be father-in-law, bought a brand new 1961 Buick 4-door sedan and one of his pilot friends that lived close by, bought a 1961 Buick convertible. I was really impressed with those cars.
Here is a picture of the one I saw yesterday:
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Now don’t take me seriously, I am not fishing for a compliment. It just seemed strange to me that after 195 blog postings, I do one in rhymes, and no one noticed. I really did think that someone would have noticed and left a comment like “you’re a poet and don’t know it”, or some other funny remark.
I have been way wrong before. It seems I have trouble figuring out what people like or don’t. Some of my blogs that I spent a lot of time preparing and thought were really good, got hardly any comments, and then some that when I hit the “publish” button, my face would be a grimace, knowing how bad, simple, incomplete, or ill planned it was and what I thought was a bad post would get lots of comments.
I probably will never figure out what my readers like, but I do see the humor in it. So, as the man once said, “to thy own self, be true”, I will just write what I feel like writing, but you all jump on me if I get too far off course. I have already told my wife if I loose my sense of humor; please put me out of my misery. . .
I’m not a snob, Bob
That’s my plan, Frann
I’ll pick up my pen, Ben
I won’t be jaded, David
Not even a smidge, Pidge
Maybe even sassy, Kathie
Try not to be too plain, Jane
And not too grim, Jim
Stories from back when,Gwen
With chaos, ShadowMoss
Don’t be silly, Billy
I won’t be tipsy, Gypsy
Down under or beneath, Keith
He prepares, SixBears
Hope to have many, Penny
I’m not tipsy, Gypsy
I won’t be cruel, Oldfool
Will you critique, Pipsqueek
You have no lawn, John
I will not rant, Grant
About enough said, Ted
Friday, January 28, 2011
I thought that you would like to see
Our neighborhood buffalo.
He sometimes seems so lonely to me
Maybe misses his brothers so.
He is in with a whole herd of beef cows
Probably to do them service
This buffalo may not like to carouse.
Is that why he is so nervous?
To tell you the truth, I don’t even know
If he is a she or a he
I was driving by in my car real slow
But couldn’t really see
Maybe some day I can get up close
To get a better view
But I don’t want to seem to gross
Just getting a picture for you
So maybe I will leave just as it is
Not knowing for sure
Don’t want to watch it take a whiz
May end up in manure!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
It was back around 1976 that we first started thinking of an RV of some type. We figured with two kids and a dog that a camping trailer of some sort was the way to go. Tenting was fun, but we knew that we would do a lot more camping if it were a little more convenient. We decided on a pop-up type camper with the tent type sides and ends. This would give us the best of both worlds, kind of combining a tent with a travel trailer. Purchased it in the Spring of 1977 and owned this unit for many years up until a tornado flipped it end for end and completely destroyed it when we lived up north of Fort Worth, TX.
Here is a picture of our two boys back in May of 1977. They had built a two-seater cart of some kind. In the background, you can see our camper sitting under our carport.
This is a picture of the boys, the dog, me, and the camper set up at Goddard State Park in Pennsylvania.
One of the closest places we would go was Bear Run park located on Lake Arthur near Moraine State Park. My boys liked to catch bass there, and had plenty of room to run and play. Everyone seemed to have a good time, even our Basset Hound.
I pulled this unit with a 1977 Plymouth Trail-Duster. It is identical to the Dodge Ram Charger, but they just put different decals on them. It was a short wheel base 4x4 and an excellent tow vehicle. I had traded a Chevy Blazer in on it. I have always tried to own a 4x4 vehicle at all times.
The tent trailer had a 12 foot box, and when it was open it was about 20 feet long. We had all the conveniences, just hard to get into when it was folded down for traveling.
Here is picture of the boys and the interior of the camper:
And a picture of our oldest boy and our basset hound:
And one of me relaxing:
This camper went a lot of places, and not only in Pennsylvania. We spent vacations in at the beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it went with us when we moved to Michigan, and when I first moved to Texas, it came with me and I lived in it for awhile until I found a place to live. Then, when I purchased my first piece of property, we lived it until I could get home put on it.
It helped the same way when I moved to a piece of property near Justin, just north of Fort Worth. That is where it met its tragic end.
I have a lot of happy memories using it, along with a couple of not so happy ones. I did like it and it sure did serve its purpose and got lots of use. Since then, I had a travel trailer and now a class-C motor-home.
Now tell me about your first RV.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
You know, BBQ means different things to people in different states. Take North Carolina for instance, when you mention BBQ everyone there thinks of pork and I will tell you that it doesn’t get much better than and old N.C. “Pig-Picken”. But here in Texas it means beef. Of course they have many different categories at the Houston cook-off, but beef is one of the most important.
Anyway, I have a friend that made it to the rodeo cook-off one year. He finally admitted that once is enough. I thought that you may like to see his BBQ unit. He made it all himself, starting out with his old boat trailer, and a lot of ingenuity, engineering ability, welding skills, and of course a good enough imagination to be able to make something of beauty and purpose from junk. My friend is an expert at that.
Enough talking, let me show you some pictures of his unit. This first one shows the front of the unit:
Did you notice the flags and that they are in the correct order?
Here is a close up of the emblem:
This next picture shows the fire box end, or rear of it. It is hooked up to his truck to be taken to someplace where good food is needed:
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Many years ago, I watched a builder/developer start building homes on a piece of land near where I worked. He would complete a couple and put them up for sell. His big gimmick was, “no down payment and no closing costs”, just move right in. That sounded like a dream come true to many folks and this developer sold his homes as fast as he could build them and he kept building them.
Then the problems started for a few. Some people were transferred to other sites and some took new jobs and had to move. They put their “new” homes up for sell, but that is when they realized that they were in trouble. Their “new” home was used and they owed more on their mortgage loan than the house was worth new. So why would anyone want to buy a used home for more money than a brand new one just a few doors down the street that didn’t need a down payment like a bank would ask for and also didn’t ask for any closing costs?
These poor home owners, even if they had been paying on their loan for a couple of years, had not even paid off their closing costs. Even though these loans where long term, they were similar to short rate discount loans where the first payments are almost 100 percent interest.
How could that be? How could they owe more than what the house was worth, even though the original selling price was set at a fair market value? It wasn’t because of decline in the housing market. It was because of the no closing costs and no down payment. There were closing costs, and lots of them. They were not just forgotten about and erased, but they were added on to the loan.
I was told and I do believe that when purchasing a home, that you should put at least 20 percent down and pay all closing costs and take the shortest duration loan whose payments you can afford. And when you are figuring what you can afford, add in ten percent of the homes value per year for upkeep and maintenance. If you can’t afford this, then look at less expensive property or rent or lease.
This probably happened elsewhere and through out the years. If so, it makes it a lot easier to understand why so many people lost their homes when the economy got bad.
A lot of people have always tried to live above their means to show others how good they are doing. I prefer to live below my means. I sleep much better that way.
Monday, January 24, 2011
After high school, he attended the Merchant Marine Academy and sailed the seas for awhile. Then he joined the Navy and became a pilot. He once described his fist landing on an aircraft carrier. Said it looked like a postage stamp bobbing around down there. After he got out of the Navy he became a commercial pilot. That is when I lost contact with him. Now, he is living in the same house he grew up in Pennsylvania.
I was glad, and he seemed to be too, that I had called. He did mention that he was going to watch the playoff football game. Since I don’t follow sports that much anymore, (see my old blog about sports) I didn’t know who was playing. He told me that the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing New York for the championship and the winner would go to the Super Bowl. When I used to live in Pennsylvania, Terry Bradshaw led the Stealers to four Super Bowls and I watched all the games. Lynn Swann, I thought, was the best receiver I had ever seen. He had the moves of a ballet dancer and could out jump any defender. That Pittsburgh team at the time was stuffed full of great players. Remember Mean Joe Green and the Coke commercial?
The point is, I watched the game and Pittsburgh won. Now, I will have to watch the Super Bowl, that is, if it is not played the same time my Top Fuel Drag Racing is on. See one of my first blogs on the NHRA Racing.
Funny, but I did enjoy the game last night. Still don’t think that I could watch a whole game of baseball.
Now, does anyone know when the Super Bowl will be played? Isn’t it always in January? Only got one more Sunday this month.
Dang, who knows, maybe I will become a big sports fan (of drag racing, ping-pong, and football, anyway). Only time will tell.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
I defrag my two internal hard drives quite regularly. I have two, the C-drive I use only for programs and the D-drive is for files. Therefore, the C-drive can be defragmented very fast because there is hardly anything on that drive that gets fragmented. That also allows the programs to run at their maximum speed.
The D-drive is another story. Since files are being written to it, read, changed, re-written, moved, copied, deleted, etc. all the time, it gets fragmented for sure. When I run the defragmenter program, it doesn’t take all that long to complete, usually a lot less than hour.
OK, yesterday I decided to defrag my external hard drive. I use it to back up files from my D-drive. I do not back up my C-drive because it only contains programs that can be reloaded. If it would crash so bad that I couldn’t reload the programs, a new hard drive would then be purchased.
To get back to my story, I implemented my bright idea and started the defragmenter program and had it work on the external drive. That took hours and hours and hours. Now, that drive seems very fast to me, so why would it take so much longer to format than my main computer drives? Could it be the USB connection? Maybe I should do it more often, since that was the first time it was ever defragged. What do you think? Will it go faster the next time if I don’t wait long? I guess I could check that by re-running the defrag program on it now before I back up anything else. Nay, that would probably just tell me that it didn’t need it.
They say we all get wiser with age, but I may be wiser but I sure seem to be dumber. . .
Saturday, January 22, 2011
“Yea, I've wondered about that myself, up on the roof working on some piece-of-junk AC, It's 18 degrees and the wind is howling. But they need it to cool their electric panel rooms and computer rooms. Don't know why they can't crack open a window and let some of that 18 degree wind blow through and cool things off and let me go find a warm place to hide. But these industrial plants want to do things their way. Maybe when electricity costs triple, they'll think about catching excess heat from their hot spots to warm their cold spots, and vise versa. They don't have any windows, anyway.”
This got me thinking about a class I took way back a few hundred years ago when I was in college. Yep, believe it or not, I did visit a college a time or two. Anyway, the class was Stoichiometry. It basically dealt with chemical reactions but also heat preservation. It is less expensive to take waste heat from one process and use it at another that requires heat, than to waste power generating more heat. That would be what my cousin was talking about taking heat from warm spots to heat cool spots and visa versa.
Another thing that irritates me is the practice of building office, commercial, and industrial buildings without windows that open. People who work or shop in these buildings are forced to breathe in what other people breathe out. Also, all of the out-gassing of the building material and furniture, which can be a health hazard. And if the air moving equipment breaks down or stops for any reason, the interior of these building become unbearable very quickly. I like to be able to open a window and “air things out”. It refreshes the inside air. Yes, I know that AC units bring in some outside air, but only when they are running and then maybe not as much as we would like or need.
It is no wonder that flu and other ailments spread so fast among the population. Not only are commercial buildings that way, but so are schools. When I went to school you could open windows. Now, it seems, if one kid gets sick, the whole school comes down with it.
What brought this on, my writing about this subject today? It may have been getting up to 25 degrees here this morning; the coldest morning of the season. Not as cold as up north. I saw on the TV news people throwing cups of hot coffee up in the air and it would immediately turn to ice or snow. Wow, and I complain when it gets below 60 degrees. . .
Friday, January 21, 2011
What new law am I talking about, you may ask. I try to stay away from political subjects on my blog, and this is no exception. I am not talking about any new law or bill or policy.
Yesterday I talked about paper clips. Today, I am going to talk about a similar item, but one that I use so often and in so many different ways; much more than the lowly paper clip. Yes, I am talking about the “binder clip”. You already guessed that, right?
The binder clip comes in many different sizes (and colors, if that matters to you). I have them from small all the way up to large.
There use is limited only by your imagination. I carry them with me in the RV and always have them around my office and our kitchen. Most of what they do in my office is typical, like keeping related stuff clamped together, hanging notes up so I don’t forget, keeping wires our of the way, and lots of other things.
The list of uses is endless. You can use them to hold curtains back or closed, temporarily in place of a missing button, emergency arterial clamp, to keep food bags closed, money clip, hose clamp, and all sorts of things. Did you know that the handles are removable? That means you can remove the handles from one, slip them through another clip’s handles, and put it back together, giving you a double clip. This opens up a whole new field of possible uses. The sky is the limit.
Tell me, do you know any unique uses for binder clips? In what different ways do you use them?
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I just picked up a paper clip awhile ago and started wondering about its history and where it got started and what was used before it existed.
There would have not been a need for paper clips before there was paper, right? So that narrows it down somewhat. Actually, archeologists put a date of about 100 BC on paper making. The first paper clip that was patented was in 1867 by Samuel B. Fay. Here is what it looks like:
Since then there have been many designs but the one we are most used to seeing was not patented but has been advertised since 1894.
OK, what was used before the paper clip? Many things, but straight pins were used the most. Other ways included punching holes and tying with ribbon, yarn, etc., using hot wax, and probably in many other ingenious ways.
If you are wondering why it took so long to invent such a useful item, well, the answer is simple. It had to wait on development of inexpensive wire that was right for the easy and cheap making of the paper clip.
I suggest that you look at the site whose address is shown below. Not only does it give a history of the paper clip, but it shows many pictures of some of the unique designs. Some make a lot of sense, but some are ridiculous. Go take a look and let us know which ones you like the best and which ones you think are crazy.
Here is the Link to Paper Clips
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Since I grew up in the cold country, large leafed plants like this were very rare. The closest thing to that size would be skunk cabbage. Here is a picture I found on the internet:
Elephant ears get a lot bigger and don’t smell bad. We had the plants around for a few years and then one of them surprised me; it bloomed. Now, I had never seen an elephant ear bloom before. They must have to reach a certain size, or the weather must be just right, or something. Here is a picture of our plant blooming:
Now, about woodpeckers. My favorite by far is the Pileated Woodpecker. Here is a picture I took a couple of years ago of one on one of my trees:
Maybe it is always a coincidence, but it seems that they always show up in a group of three. Could it be momma, papa, and child? They have a very distinctive call and sure do make some noise when searching for bugs and larvae that have bored into the trees. Last year was the first year that I didn’t see them. That doesn’t mean that they were not around, but just not when I was outside to see or hear them.
Have any of you watched these magnificent large birds?
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The white dot in this next picture must have been from the flash going off and catching a water droplet in the air:
What was the thickest that you ever saw fog? I remember three times when I was in fog so thick, if you stuck your arm straight out in front of you, you couldn’t see your hand!! Well, almost.
Yep, you guessed it; I am going to bore you with the three stories. I will tell them in chronological order.
The first was when I was a young teenager and out deer hunting in the woods behind my parents’ home. There were still patches of snow left after a warm spell melted most of it and then the temperature dropped quickly to the dew point and the fog got so thick that I couldn’t see to get home. It was the strangest and spookiest thing I had ever seen. It happened so fast and it was so thick that you couldn’t see more than two or three feet. I just had to lean against a tree and wait until the fog lifted to find my way home, and I knew that woods like the back of my hand. It was unbelievable.
The second time was when my date (my future wife) and I were returning from a school basketball game. We got into such a thick fog that we couldn’t see the road. In fact, we couldn’t see the hood ornament. Being on a narrow country road, and knowing that no one could see to drive in this, I drove over to the left side of the road, opened my door and looked straight down to see the edge of the road, and drove on that way. Had my future wife watching for headlights or anything that might show up in front of us. We crept along until we got to where the fog was lifting and then all was well.
OK, I have covered driving and walking; now I will tell you about boating. Anyone who has spent any time at all boating in fresh or salt water has been in bad fog a time or two or so. It can be very confusing. Back before GPS systems, it could get dang right scary. Even if you had navigation equipment back then, depending on how many radio signal sources you could receive, you could only get a general location. Usually it was not good enough to find an inlet in thick fog.
When I was working a project on the East Coast, a neighbor had a small 18 or 19 foot boat with one outboard motor. He would ask me to go along when he wanted to go offshore fishing. Since I loved offshore fishing, I gladly went along, even though I knew that was not the safest boat to be out 20 or more miles from shore.
We were only out about 10 miles or so one day and spotted a strange dark mass moving up the coast. At first we thought that it was a storm and after observing it with binoculars, it was determined to be a very large and thick fog bank and it was heading straight for the inlet; strange thing for the middle of the day. My neighbor headed straight for the inlet as fast as his little boat could go. We didn’t make it. Fog got there first.
He got us to where he believed the inlet was and headed slowly into the fog. You couldn’t see the front of the boat from the rear. I was sent to the bow to watch for breakers. He didn’t want to run up on the beach. The boat would then be swamped from the breaking waves. I hung over the bow trying to see. It all sounded like surf, but until I saw the water start to break away under the bow, I didn’t realize just how close we were. I yelled for him to reverse and fast.
Whee yooo, we just made it out of there, barely. We did make it in, but not without a few close calls.
Fog makes for some beautiful pictures. It can be real pretty but at the same time, it can be real deadly. It is also amazing that when you can not see anything, you loose all sense of direction.
How is the fog in your area today, and do you have any good fog stories to tell?
Monday, January 17, 2011
Maybe I didn’t do a blog about it. Maybe I just made up a big email explaining it and sent it off to someone. I don’t want to repeat a blog; I already bore you enough without doing that.
What is wrong with my memory?? No, don’t tell me. I know I am getting old. Hey, I can remember what I did when I was kid, just forget where I laid my pencil down or put my keys. Or, what was I saying?? I will look a little closer to make sure I didn’t write about it and if not, I will do a blog about it later.
On the lighter side. A friend of mine sent me an email with a list of things to ponder. I will not list them all here, but will give you an example.
Ever wonder about those people who spend $2.00 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backwards: NAIVE
Isn't making a smoking section in a restaurant like making a peeing section in a swimming pool?
If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea does that mean that one enjoys it?
Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?
If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?
Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?
At income tax time, did you ever notice: When you put the two words 'The' and 'IRS' together it spells ...'THEIRS'?
Ok, I hope that you got a chuckle out of them and that you don’t spend the rest of the day pondering or wondering about them.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I guess I am not talking about the song, but the song that was recorded by a particular person who used a unique arrangement and executed it so well.
The first is Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date”. I bought the 45 rpm record and wore it out. I would play it over and over again and lay on the couch with my eyes closed feeling so warm and relaxed. This has to be my favorite (non-gospel) recording of all time.
A close second is also an instrumental but done by James Alan Shelton, who is a bluegrass guitarist and singer. His instrumental version of an old Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “Sounds of Silence”, is another one that I can listen to over and over and it never gets old and it, too, relaxes me. My wife and my cousin’s wife do not like blue grass, but they like this song. It can be found on his album “Walking Down The Line” along with a lot of other good songs.
I love a lot of different songs, but only a few affect me like the above two. There are only a few other songs that come real close to these, but these two have to be best.
By the way, the U-tube clip of Shelton playing Sounds of Silence is not as good a quality as on the CD album. But this is all I could find. Here is a link to Shelton's webpage-LINK
Now, let me hear about your favorite recording, one that relaxes you and puts you in a state of euphoria.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I love astronomy, and that word (infinity) comes up quite often. I think that scientists use it when they don’t comprehend something. It is sort of a cop-out. It still makes me dizzy thinking about it.
Speaking of astronomy, there are things out there in space that really make me dizzy when I try to understand them. You know, like black holes. Of course I am not alone there. Another thing is pulsars.
I remember when I was a kid in grade school, they had a science guy come in and do a show. The auditorium was filled with all us kids, and we didn’t know what to expect. Sort of hoped he would saw a few teachers in half or show us how to be invisible. Nah, he just demonstrated science things. He put out a candle using only sound waves and other neat things that I can’t remember right now, except for one other thing he did. He put discs of different materials on a motor driven rotary shaft. These things, paper was one I can remember, would explode when a fast enough rpm was reached. Bang, there would be pieces flying everywhere. This taught us that any object, if it rotated fast enough, the centrifugal force will exceed the forces that hold the object together and it will suddenly come apart – BANG.
OK, I learned my grade school science lesson well. That is why pulsars are so hard for me to understand. You see, I have a real simple mind that runs on simple, straight forward rules. Pulsars blow my mind and in turn make me dizzy.
In case you don’t know what a pulsar is, let me give you a brief explanation. A pulsar is an extremely fast spinning neutron star that has such an extremely high magnetic field that it sends out highly energetic beams. As these beams go past earth, it appears as if the neutron star pulses, thus the term “pulsar”.
Ok, you ask, what is a neutron star? A neutron star is formed when a large star collapses and goes supernova. A neutron star can be about 12 miles in diameter and have a mass of almost a half million Earths. Nothing is more compact, except for black holes.
Now, back to the pulsar, as it collapses, it must conserve the angular momentum of the original star, so like a spinning skater pulls his/her arms in to increase the spin, the stars spin increases to fantastic speeds. The fastest one detected so far spins more than 700 spins per second. That is 42000 rpms and at 12 miles in diameter, the surface speed at its equator would be over 8 million miles per hour. My math says it would be 8,143,008 mph, check and see if I am right.
Now, what the heck holds this thing together? Now, not only that, but can you imagine something that large spinning that fast? Now my head is really spinning and like my name, I am really Dizzy.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Now, not being an expert on mistletoe (or under it), I don’t know where all it does grow. I do know it grows on the trees here on my property. It is hard to spot most of the year when the trees are in full foliage, but for the month or so when the trees are bare, it can be spotted easily.
Just yesterday when I was carrying the garbage cans back from the road, I noticed some in a tree next to my gate.
OK, I know most of you are bored with this because you have a lot of it growing around your home, too. So, here is a test for you bored folks. On this first picture, can you tell which ones are mistletoe and which are squirrels’ nests? (you should be able to enlarge all of the pictures)
Here is a labeled picture. Where you correct?
It “blends in” (or should I say “into”) in other, more devious ways. Mistletoe is a parasite that lives completely off the host trees fluids and nutrients. It permanently attaches itself to the tree with roots that drill into the tree. Mistletoe seeds are spread mostly by birds when the sticky seeds hitch a ride on their feet.
Someday, maybe, I will take a big truck load of the stuff up to Pennsylvania just before the Christmas holidays and sell it off at half the price that the stores have it for, and make a fortune. Yea, right, that will never happen.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
OK, “Self”, I said, “You can do this”. Right? Wrong. I am so used to taking that big book of forms and instructions and sitting at a table with all my last year’s information, like receipts, business mileage, expenses, and of course records of all income. Everything was at my fingertips. If I had a question, I could hold the page I was working on with one hand and leaf through the information part with the other. Wasn’t a big deal, and if I needed a form that wasn’t included, I could get it at the Post Office or “on line”.
I did give it a quick try and it took for ever to find one of the forms and information sheet I was looking for. (I down-loaded it to my computer) The IRS.gov site is like all government; too much crap to sort through. It would cost a fortune in printer ink and paper to print everything out, if I could even find everything.
Why don’t they give you a place on line that has the book and all forms in a down-loadable zip file? And, of course, an easy way to find any additional forms and information that may be needed. Don’t they say that they will figure your tax for you? Maybe I will just dump all my receipts, income information, 1099 forms, and a wad of money into a box and mail it to them. Let them figure it all out.
OK, I got to say that the IRS isn’t all bad. Last year I got a letter from them. I opened it and said “Oh No!” as I read the first sentence that said that I had made a mistake in my taxes. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read further and they said that I had paid a couple of grand too much and would be getting a much larger refund than I expected. They had corrected my return for me by using a form I didn’t know about.
Now, don’t you just love the IRS?
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
We had young, wet-behind-the-ears, Yankee that came down from Philadelphia to work in the office of a Forging Shop here in Cut and Shoot where I was manager of engineering. He even thought that peanuts grew on trees and didn’t understand me when I was telling someone that I had dug up a batch of peanuts the evening before. Being a Yankee isn’t all that bad, heck, even I am a Yankee. But the worst thing was he was a city kid, from Philly, and not a country boy.
Anyway, one morning he was extremely late coming to work. He lived in an apartment above a garage with an outside stairway for access. It was only about a mile from the forge plant; very convenient for him. He came out that one morning heading for work and started down the steps only to see a large tiger lying at the bottom of the steps. He dashed back in the house and called 911. The operator didn’t seem to believe him, but put him in touch with the police, who intern gave him the number of the animal control officer (dog catcher). Seems everyone thought he was exaggerating. Well let me tell you, that dog catcher guy was really surprised and sent for a lot of help. Turns out the guy just a couple of houses down the road kept big cats of all kinds and this one had escaped. This story ended happily for all, even the big kitty. But it or one of its roommates escaped a few years later and the rednecks hunted it down and shot it.
OK, back to “different”, not “exotic”, pets that originate from this country. I have known people who had raccoons, armadillos, squirrels, rabbits, deer, snakes, lizards, and almost every critter imaginable that inhabits our woods and fields. Back awhile ago; my Mother’s family had a groundhog (or woodchuck) for a pet.
If you are not a Yankee, you may not know what they are. They are a rodent about the size of coon or possum that live in holes they dig in the ground. In fact, when I first came to Texas, a friend and I were walking a piece of property that I eventually purchased. I came across this large hole in the ground and said, “I see you have groundhogs down here, too”. My buddy didn’t know what a groundhog was but said that it was an armadillo hole. OK, that is when I realized I was in a different world (grin).
Here is a picture of my Dad (on the left) and my Mom’s brother Milton (Bub) on the right feeding the groundhog with their cat and dog looking on.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
What is a “habitable zone”? Scientists describe it as a zone that allows liquid water to exist on a planet. Or words to that affect. I would just say that it is the area around a star that life can survive.
Now that doesn’t mean that we will always be safe. Notice that I said “just” inside the habitable zone? We are very close to the hottest edge of the “zone” and we better hope that nothing makes us move to a tighter orbit or that the sun doesn’t speed up its slow expansion. Yes, the sun is now slowly expanding and getting brighter. The key word here is “slowly”.
Here is a picture that was taken from “Astronomy” magazine showing the sun, the habitable zone, and the orbits of the four planets that are closest to the sun:
As you can see, Earth is the only planet that stays within the zone for its complete orbit. But notice that the orbit is close to the hot side and at part of its orbit, it gets very close to leaving the zone. That would put us in a very precarious position, especially since the sun is growing larger.
All sorts of things can happen to change orbits. Although space is almost empty, it does contain matter and other things like the solar wind, cosmic radiation, and other forces that act ever so slightly on the earth. This orbital friction can slow a planet and decrease its orbit which will, in turn, allow it to keep its momentum. The moon is moving away from us, and we are constantly being bombarded with stuff from space, hopefully all small stuff and hopefully not enough to change our velocity or mass.
Of course, we are also lucky that we are on the hot side of the zone. Just think how cold this winter would have been if we were way out there on the cold side?!?!
Monday, January 10, 2011
This reminded me of all my tornado experiences. My very first experience was when I was a young boy in Pennsylvania. One skipped over our house and came down and damaged homes and rolled over a mobile home which came apart as it rolled, side-roof-side-bottom, all lying beside each other. I looked up in it as it passed overhead, and could see all the swirling clouds, different shades of tan, brown, and black; beautiful but very frightening.
Had other minor experiences until I moved to Texas and they came more often and more severe. When I lived north of Fort Worth, I saw more tornadoes than I ever thought I would. At a distance in the evening they can be a unique sight with lightning lighting them up. Actually, a pretty sight at a distance, it is when they get up close and personal that they get ugly.
One came past my home and put an end to my first RV (a pop up camper that was closed up) by flipping it end over end. My neighbor had just put in a new septic system and that same tornado pulled the septic tank out of the ground along with the attached piping. Well that shoots down the advice to get in a ditch (grin).
This same tornado took my storage shed apart and scattered my stuff for just over a mile down its path. Funny thing, I had just finished cooking chicken on one of those cheap three legged charcoal grills that was within a few feet of the storage shed, and it was still standing there smoking away like nothing happened.
I have told you that I have Jeep Liberty 4x4 that I tow behind my RV. Well, I had trouble getting it in the first place. The local dealer didn’t have what I wanted and was to have one brought in for us the next day. Just as we were leaving the house, the phone rang and it was the car salesman saying that the Jeep was not delivered because of death at the other dealership.
OK, no problem. A few days later he called and said to come on in, it was sitting here and the papers were ready to be signed. We went in and it was sitting in front of the showroom and it was exactly what we wanted. We went inside and sat down and went over the paperwork. I picked up a pen and signed it and then all “H” broke out. Seems a tornado was about to hit. They ushered us all into a back room away from all the plate glass windows.
That tornado took the tile roof off the neighboring hotel/motel building and dumped most of it inside that new Jeep. Busted out all the windows and crumpled it all up. Dang near completely demolished it, and I had just signed for it!!! One good thing, my pick-up was parked two spots nearer that hotel/motel but didn’t even get a scratch. And guess what, the sales guy was nice enough to tear up the agreement. Said that they would try to find another one somewhere. They did, one was being shipped to Austin and they said after it got delivered and unloaded that they would have someone ferry it over to Conroe. Third time was a charm, but since then tornadoes that have passed right by my place dumped hail on it a couple of times. Had to have the dents removed twice and the skylights and vents replaced on the RV.
Been close to many more, but I just don’t want to bore you with any more stories of them. I do suggest that the next time tornado warnings are posted, you stay as far away from me and my Jeep as possible. . .
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Muffy (or more correctly Ginger Muffin) is the oldest female and has a very thick undercoat. Here is an older picture of her:
Chang Le is the next oldest and has almost no undercoat at all. Here is an older picture of him:
Gizzy was a rescue from an RV park, and the youngest. Here is a picture of her when she was still a puppy:
Now I will show you the pictures taken the other day after they got back from grooming. Poor Muffy was just so tangled from tussling with and playing with Gizzy, that she had to be shaved. Didn’t recognize her. Must be a different dog. Are you sure, Mr. Groomer, that this is the dog we left for grooming?
She just acted so sad and ashamed (and cold) that we had to put her cheery red sweat shirt on her:
Now she feels more like herself and can relax:
The groomer tells us that Muffy gives him a hard time, but will lick his face when he is done. She doesn’t hold a grudge.
Now, let’s talk about Gizzy. She doesn’t like any part of it and is really happy to get home. The groomer said that back when we first started bringing her to him, that she refused to stand up, but now she does just fine.
She looks happy on the way home:
And after getting home:
And out in the yard:
Saturday, January 8, 2011
In fact, this coming week will be the coldest I can remember for a long time, definitely the coldest of this year, that is for sure. Here is the local Fox 7 day weather predictions:
Now, don’t all you who live way the heck up north just feel so sorry for me? Poor little old me who is used to temperatures in the 70’s and 80’ will have to endure a whole week of cold weather.
I do remember way back quite a few years ago when we actually had a long spell of cold. Lasted several weeks; sure wouldn’t want that to happen again!
Project for today: dig out some clothes to add extra layers when needed. Cover the well, pump, and pressure tanks with tarps and put a light bulb under the tarps to prevent any freezing. Maybe even turn on some heat and the “Arctic Pack” in the RV during the cold nights.
The one thing I will not do is turn the thermostat up to a higher setting. 70 to 72 degrees is plenty warm enough for inside the house, no matter how cold it gets outside. My biggest beef about the winter time when I lived up north was that people kept their homes way to warm. Not mine, like I said, 70 to 72 degrees is sufficient.
When up north, the cold outside air couldn’t hold much moisture and when heated for the inside, it dried it out even more. Didn’t like that either. Ran humidifies, then the windows would steam up, and freeze over, and when it melted, would make a mess. So now you know why every time that I start thinking about maybe moving back up there, I slap myself on the face to get back my common sense. . . I guess I have lived in the South too long (about 30 years) to go back up north now. The north is a great place to visit, but. . .
Friday, January 7, 2011
You know what I mean. If not, let me give you some examples. When I was a young boy, I can only remember one time when my Dad spanked me. I don’t remember what I did, but I remember when he slapped my behind I went and opened my big mouth and said, “That didn’t hurt”. Dang, I really should have kept my mouth shut!!
Has your wife ever asked you, “Does this dress make me look fat?”. Now please don’t open your mouth and say that even without the dress she looks fat. . . that, my friend, would be very, very bad. It is a lot safer just to say “no”. That way she is pleased and you didn’t lie. You see, it usually isn’t the dress that makes someone look fat. So you really didn’t lie. Now, I am very lucky to have a beautiful and thin wife who has no bad features at all, and she reads my blog. . .
My big ole mouth has gotten me into lots of trouble over the years. You would think that I would learn, but I just love to come up with quick (and hopefully) funny remarks. They are not always perceived as funny.
How about you, has your mouth ever got you into trouble? Bet it has. No one is immune from a case of “foot in the mouth”. Now, let me hear about some of your “wish I had kept my mouth shut” times. I’m waiting. . . .
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Would it be Microsoft Office with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, etc? You can do a lot with that suit of programs, but what if you had to pick just one? Which one would it be? Or would you have some other choice?
OK, I suppose you want me to go first, right? OK, I will, but I did really want to hear your choices first.
My choice is AutoCAD. Now over the years I have owned every AutoCAD since about 1988 and when Mechanical Desktop came out I added it to my yearly software purchases, and then it was replaced by Inventor, so have added that every year since it came out.
Inventor design information can be listed in Excel, and just by changing a value in Excel the Inventor drawing file will change to suit. That means that a secretary or salesperson can change the drawings to suit a customer or situation without the assistance of an engineer or draftsman. Some Inventor programs can also do simple FEA (finite element analysis). It is a great solid modeling program, but I have found that I can do almost everything it can do, except tie it to Excel nor make videos of the design in operation, in plain old AutoCAD.
Like I said, I have all the AutoCAD programs up through release 2011. But, the one I like and use the most is release 2007. Why, I dunno, maybe I am weird or something?? Actually, I had to use it the most because most of my customers only had that release. You see, release 2007 will not open a file made with release 2011 or any in between, but release 2011 will open a release 2007 file.
As I said, I would choose AutoCAD, if I could only have one major program. The reason is that it can do everything all the others can do. I have used it to make greeting cards that contained lots of pictures, to make text that has to fit into unique places, and of course to create designs and drawings. It is a word processor (with a spelling checker), a pallet for creating pictures and designs, a photo album maker, it will resize any photograph and rotated multiple photos to make a design with pictures, and of course engineering work. It can export to almost any file format including .jpg, .bmp, .stl, and others.
Name one other program that even comes close to the versatility of the AutoCAD program. I don’t have time to list all it can do if you know how to use all of its functions. It does both 2D and 3D work.
OK, now what would your pick be?
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I like to paint a picture or two now and then, and I needed a place to put my brushes, paints, etc. We purchased a couple of nice folding tables and thought that we would use them in the RV. We do use them when on a trip, but have found out that they come in real handy for everyday use in the house.
I am working (off and on) on a painting of one of the ruins at Terlingua. Of course I am using a little imagination and putting mountains where a ravine should be, but other than that, it should be close to accurate. I took pictures and am working off a quick sketch I made. Here is the sketch:
Anyway, here is a picture of my painting work table. I use acrylics because my wife can’t stand the smell of oils in the house.
And one with my oldest dog checking me out:
And I will leave you with a little trivia. Months that begin with a Sunday will always have a Friday the 13th.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Well now, I can’t stand for that, can I? But how do you fight back against your own brain? Doesn’t it control all you do? Well now, the devious part of me found a part, the brain stem, that does things without the main brain knowing about it. So now I got a plan (He He Snicker Snicker).
We are going to threaten the brain by letting it know that the brain stem controls the heart and blood flow and will shut off the supply of blood to the brain if it doesn’t shape up immediately.
Not a good idea. Now, as you know, the brain stem acts on its own, and now I have it fighting with the brain. What if it goes through with its threat to shut the blood supply off to the brain? Oh my, I am starting to get dizzy (not because it is part of my name).
By the way, my cousin sent me an email asking if I had ever heard of Dizzy-Dick Beer? I had not. He said it was a beer from Yorkshire, England. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this:
Monday, January 3, 2011
Some things sound strange but when tried, we find out that they are really good tasting. When I was a kid, my favorite sandwich was peanut butter and sweet pickles, especially candied dill strips. I suppose the strangest combination that I ate (learned it from my Dad) was prepared horseradish (horseradish with vinegar) on chocolate cake. Yum, Yum. No icing, just horseradish.
I may have mentioned in some past posts that my wife has been making cards and I have been writing the rhymes to go with them and we send them to my Aunt who broke her hip. We feel it gives her something to look forward to and may help keep her spirits up.
Well, I decided to make a few. I made one that was hilarious, it least I thought so. Didn’t scan it or take a picture of it so can not show it to you. I made up a couple over this weekend to send to her this week. Now, don’t you tell her about them, you hear?
The first thing I did was to alter some pictures of my Aunt and her family (and me), resize them to fit, cut them out, and paste them on play money where a presidents picture is suppose to be. Already sent them to her.
Found some pictures of old cars, so scanned a couple of them and resized them to fit on our blank card stock that fits into the envelopes that came with it. Then I found appropriate pictures of my Aunt and her family, selected and clipped the part I wanted from the original, resized them to be proportional to the car size, and placed them in and on the car. Then I scanned it and pasted it on the blank card. Wrote a poem and put it on the front of the card. This first one was simple and fairly easy to make. Here, see for yourselves:
Note: I decreased the picture sizes for this blog, so they may not enlarge very much.