Enter your email below to get Skinny Dippin' Updates!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Protect IP Act

It appears that my one letter failed to change any minds and "OUR" representatives are still planning to vote to support corporate interests at the expense of free communication of the people.   Perhaps if a few thousand more people write in?

Please go to www.congress.org and set up your profile there. Once you do, it makes it easy to write your reps. on any issues that you care about .... and you can hit them all with one fell swoop.

If you care about preventing censorship on the internet, here's a quick letter you can cut-n-paste and send to your reps. (lol, i promise not to sue if you copy my letter exactly): 

[www.congress.org puts the appropriate header for you]

As a citizen who you represent, I respectfully ask you to oppose the "Protect Intellectual Property Act" in all forms.

Free communication on the internet is an incredibly valuable addition to the human experience for nearly everyone. We should be very careful to protect that freedom from any form of censorship.

It is understandable that content providers have a right to protect their content, but that protection should not come at the expense of free communication for all people. When companies experience pirating losses, they should have every right to sue and attempt to recover losses. They should not, however, have the right to create censorship on the internet without due process.

Here's the eloquent response I got to explain why the interests of the people should be ignored:

Dear Friend:

     Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act.  I welcome your thoughts and comments.

     Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the PROTECT IP Act on May 12, 2011.  The legislation is in response to concerns about online copyright infringement and sale of counterfeit goods.  The bill would allow the Justice Department to seek federal court injunctions to halt online promotion of illegal activities.

     I believe copyright protection is a foundation for innovation.  Intellectual property is the creative core of the information age.  Patent and intellectual property ownership laws offer needed protection for the economic and other interests of inventors, entrepreneurs, performers, and other creative thinkers.  These protections are also important to future growth and employment in important U.S. industries.

     Protecting intellectual property is more challenging than ever before.  Among other things, high speed broadband enables access to the entire catalog of movies, music, books, television, and technology.

     Online promotion of counterfeit goods by foreign entities is also a growing concern.  How to protect copyright, patent, and intellectual property rights — and do so without infringing on consumers’ legitimate interests — requires dealing with a complex series of problems.

     The PROTECT IP Act has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Although I am not a member of that committee, please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should this bill or related legislation be reported for action by the full Senate.

     I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.

Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Wall Street -- OWS

     Sometimes you just know you're getting screwed.   You don't necessarily understand who did it or why, but one thing you are sure of, you got the short straw.  Is that why this OWS thing has gotten so popular?  A lot of people have been getting screwed for a long time.   Are they talking back and forth, "Oh really?  You got screwed too?  D@mn, I thought it was just me.  Well, we got to do something about this BS."  

     Normally, I would not agree with the OWS way of thinking.  Normally, I would say that rich people got that way because they worked hard and they deserve the fruit of their labor.  Their wealth is "honest" wealth.  The only reason that I'm siding with the OWS folks is because too many people get rich today by taking advantage of others.  Worse, they use monetary influence in the political process as one of their tools for always making sure that they get the long straw.  I hope the OWS crowd will make the distinction between "corrupt" wealth and "honest" wealth.

     Honest wealth is what we should all be striving for.  It is a natural result of the efficient production of goods and services that others want and need.  This type of productive behavior should always be freely encouraged and supported.  Unfortunately, many of the most successful people have an unfettered lust for even more wealth and power.   They see competition as a threat to their status, and so they create laws (via lobbyists and a compliant congress) to stifle competition.  They always have a more "noble" reason for the laws, but the true purpose is to secure wealth and power for the 1%.   Of course, there is a lot of outright fraud these days as well.  If it's sophisticated enough, no one can figure out "how" it was fraud, and so you just get away with it.  There certainly is plenty of "corrupt" wealth going around these days.

     I hope the the OWS folks figure out that freedom does the best job at equalizing opportunity. It's counter-intuitive, but it works.  I fear that they want to have more rules to "make" the rich people play fair.   Unfortunately, this will never work because the 1% will always buy off a congressman to slip in some clever loophole.  We have been trying to use the law to make people play fair for ages.   Complex laws don't work.  Complex laws only serve to restrict competition, and consequently the opportunity of the 99%.

     There are some even more obvious solutions to making the world more fair:  for one, stop giving money away to people who are already in the 1% club.  Corporate welfare should be the first target of the OWS crowd.  Corporate welfare permeates American society now from local cities trying to get a Walmart or Home Depot to the FED bailing out Bank of America, to the CIA and US military subsidizing British Petroleum by controlling the rulers of oil producing countries. All of this must stop! 

     Large corporations already have huge advantages, yet small businesses still thrive.  If we cut the unfair flow of money, we will create more space for small businesses, green energy, and individual opportunity to grow like flowers after a spring rain. Mega corporations' profits will fall, and their CEO pay will follow.  There will still be ultra rich folks, but that's OK, if they've earned it.

     Lastly, sound money is key to individual prosperity. Average citizens need to be able to save a little money and have it hold its value. That's how people can save and start their own businesses.  That's how people can save to buy a house in cash, rather than pay a bank interest for all their life.  Sound money won't happen with the FED freely printing money and giving it away to the "already" rich and powerful 1%. 

     Please OWS, if you want a real change to empower the 99% to succeed, become a Blue Republican.  Hold your nose and register to vote in the GOP primary.  Ron Paul is the only candidate truly dedicated to help the 99% rise up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"...and I had the best answer..."

That was the last audible phrase from the Vegas GOP debate.  I'll have to give credit to Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich; they both tried to stand up for Dr. Paul when he wasn't given time to answer the last question of the debate.  Of course, both of them had to fight for a chance to answer as well.   The debate was definitely dominated by Cain, Romney, and Perry.

Unfortunately, the way the debate was structured, candidates who have lied or flip-flopped in the past got the most time to talk.  When one candidate tried to call another candidate out on a lie or hypocrisy, the candidate of questionable honesty got 30 seconds to refute and explain how they didn't actually mean that fallacy.  Consequently, Cain, Perry, and Romney got to talk the most.

It was disheartening to watch how refined Romney was ... given that I think he is a 'Yes-Man-Corporatist' and the last thing this country needs for a President.  The crowd was eating him up though.  He was perfect at saying what people want to hear, laughing off criticism of his past decisions, and in general coming off like the good guy who wants to follow the rules.  It was too much to bear for the other candidates; they couldn't help interrupting him as he convincingly recreated the truth.  It's so annoying that the mark of a good politician is that they actually believe their lies as the lies leave their mouth.  More annoying still, that such masterful lying passes the built in lie-detectors that most humans have.  One would have to have done research to know the difference between fact and fiction in such instances.

Now, here is another odd fact about human behavior; we hate it when someone is "right" all the time.  Maybe it's the way people who are right rub it in; but for some reason, we will often go with the best sounding person who says what we want to hear.  Unfortunately, this sets us up to be taken advantage of.  My only hope is that people have been lied to so much lately that they are willing to do a little extra effort to figure out what is in their best interest.

OK, I have to break here ... too funny ... Mark McGuire, hitting coach for St. Louis Cardinals, World Series ... he looks like a parrot the way he eats sun flower seeds.

Now, back to politics ... try to keep up!  What does the federal government do for you?  Seriously, what is the value of "federal" government activity to you personally?  Was it worth $11,500 to you last year?  That's what they have cost every man, woman, and child in 2010.  What do they really do for you?  I guess they spend a little on the roads, but most of that goes towards pulling us over to let us know that our front license plate is not correctly attached.  Besides that, the feds have cost anyone who has a job more than that in taxes.

Who is getting all the money that they are spending? Not me, that's for sure.  Is it you?  Well, if so, you should probably vote for either Obama or Romney.  Either of them will do for you.  But, if you are taking the time to account for the depreciation of your savings account due to inflation, perhaps you would want to give Ron Paul a second thought.   He's the only one offering to shake things up.  He's the only only one calling the shots like he sees them, and needless to say, he didn't have to spend much time explaining why he changed his mind.  Ron Paul is a grumpy old man, but like grandpa when there's big trouble, he's on your side.  Please, take the time to figure it out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Halloween

I wrote a little Halloween song, and the lyrics came out a little dark.   So, I set the story to cute pictures of kittens and that made it a little less creepy I think.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


My friend tells me that she got arrested last week.   My first thought was that she must have gotten a DUI coming home from some wild night of partying in Austin; she is here in the USA in part to party after all.   But no, she wasn't having any fun at all before she got arrested.  She was "set up" as they say.

My friend is this adorable 24 year old girl from Mexico.  She's here in the USA, working at a restaurant here in my town.  Before you go there, no, she's not an illegal.  She actually comes from a wealthy family in Mexico, and she's here in part to help this new restaurant get started, and in part for the adventure of working abroad.  She is the sweetest person I've met in a long time, the kind of person that puts others first.  At 24, I'd have to say she is still a little naive and innocent, certainly about how malicious other people can be.  I couldn't believe the jackassery that led to her night in jail.

The day started simply enough with her and her roommate moving from a duplex to an apartment.  The duplex had been sold, so her neighbor was also moving.  Their duplex opens to a common front porch, and they were both using it to stage boxes as they were loading up.   Have you figured out what happened yet?   Yep, she ended up with not one, but two of her neighbor's boxes.  Ya know, those damn illegals, ya can't trust 'em, right.  So, the neighbor figures out she has his boxes and he takes his stoned ass up to her work and demands them back.  Of course, he takes the opportunity to accuse her of being a dirty illegal in the process.   I can totally understand how violated this stoner dude must have felt when she refused to leave her job that very moment to go home and find his boxes and get them back to him.  Heaven forbid he should have to wait 'til she got off work or the next day even.

So, you might have figured out by now that stoner dude calls the police on her.  Two of Jarrell's finest show up to sort out this mess.   I don't even feel like taking the time to explain the back story of Jarrell city politics, but if you've ever seen the Dukes of Hazard, you don't need me to.   Anyway, the police side with the white stoner dude and haul my friend off to jail.  She said she cried for 5 hours straight there.  "People are mean to me...(there)", as she said.  Her friend didn't get arrested but got so scared that she left.  Her boss did bail her out, but now she is pretty much alone, scared, and stuck in the USA until she can get a court date.

We sometimes like to get on our high horse and rant about this or that, like illegals for example.   Certainly we hear on the news all the time about how bad illegals are and how we need to build a fence ... excuse me, I believe "secure our borders" is the proper phrase now.  Well, when you're listening to a scared shitless kid tell you about her 1st night in jail, you start to see how those attitudes affect real people.  That's just wrong.  I hate to think what would have happened to her if she were poor and/or illegal.  People are people, and were all in this life together.  Come on now, let's stop hatin' on each other.   Can't we all just get along?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Texas Millionaire Supports Rick Perry for President

I picked up the local newspaper for my town the other day, and the front page story was about a local businessman.  The article was about his efforts to promote Rick Perry for president.  The paper had a nice picture of him next to the "Support Rick Perry for President" bumper stickers he was putting on all of his company trucks.

Because of that evil FaceBook phenomenon, any time I see the name "Rick Perry" these days, the first thing I have to do is shake this image out of my head:

But in all seriousness, I agree with the guy for trying to help get Governor Perry on up to the White House.  Governor Perry would be a heap better than the other guy with the pretty hair ... that New England-er Romney.

There is another GOP presidential hopeful from Texas though.  His initials happen to be R.P. also, but his ideas are quite different.   Anyway, just in case their are a few folks out there who aren't multi-bazillionaires, perhaps you want to check out what the other R.P. stands for.

If you've ever been annoyed that you can't buy a candy bar for a nickel anymore, the other R.P. from Texas is the guy that can explain why.  He's also the only one to stand up and say that you have a right to keep what you earn.   That's a handy concept for those of us who are a little lower on the totem pole.

Liberty is good and freedom works!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why it is always good to try something new

I had more fun shopping at the grocery store today than at any other time in recent memory.   Happiness really is contagious!  It started in the produce section with a pair of young adult women.  They were working together to fill up their cart with healthy vegetables.   Their enthusiasm was subtle, but there was a definite glow of joy and excitement on their faces.   I noticed because grocery shopping is just one of those normally mundane sort of chores that I just have to do.   So, their slightly giddy behavior did seem a little out of place.

Imagine my surprise before I got to the cheese section:  there went another happy pair of young ladies doing their grocery shopping.   You'd think they were on an episode of "The Amazing Race" or something.  Well, more subtle than that, but they were chipper enough to make me ask myself, "OK, what gives with the happy chics in the store today?"

I got to the checkout, and two dudes put their cart in line behind me.  I'm not surprised to see a look of shear joy plastered on their faces at this point.  Heck, I was feeling pretty good myself by this time.   Finally, I figured out what was going on.   So, if anyone has it figured out, leave a comment.   I'll tell you if you get it right.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The "wood" police got hard for Gibson Guitars

Just in case you live under a rock and somehow found this blog entry before you read any other news in world, here is a run down of what happened:

Gibson, a guitar manufacturer based in Tennessee, was suspected of breaking a law.   It is speculated that the law in question had something to do with wood that was imported from India.  The government has not released a specific violation at this time.

Federal agents raided the the manufacturing plant like it was a Branch Davidian compound, brandishing full swat gear and weapons.   They shut the plant down, sent the workers home, and confiscated all items they deemed necessary for their investigation.  

The owner of the company claims that he was not given any warning on violation of law or given the chance to correct any issues related to complex import laws.  See this long video if you like:

Of course we understand the need for the government to use deadly force against crazy militia types.  Eventually, those Branch Davidians would have screwed up the whole country.  Police raids on citizens in their homes is needed as well to protect us from illegal drugs.  We accept this as necessary even if the police bust into someone's home, shoot them 70 times in front of their wife and child, lie that the homeowner shot first, and then say it was justified because of evidence which cannot be disclosed:

So, why should we be surprised that the government will now raid reputable businesses?   I'm sure the people they sent home can apply for mortgage assistance so they don't lose their homes while they try to find another job making guitars.  And, if at some point in a future raid, something pops in the production line, and the police think they are being fired on ... well, I suppose the greater good of the law is justified.  

After all, it is completely unreasonable to expect the government to explain a 10,000 page law to a company, give them a chance to comply, and fine them if they continue to circumvent the law.  Imagine how expensive that would be for the government to explain all those laws.   It's saving us billions in tax dollars for the government to rule by fear, and get other businesses to comply by showing how ruthless a raid can be to their bottom line.   I'm sure this is the type of freedom our founding fathers envisioned when they formed this country.

Somebody's dream for the world is alive, but not mine.   Please support political candidates like Ron Paul who will be on your side.  Few of the people in power today care about you or your plight to make a way in this world.  You are a servant to them at best, and a nuisance at worst.  It's time to stand up.  A vote for the status quo is a vote for tyranny.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great News!!! Wages in China are on the rise.

With all the wage increases going on in China, multinational corporations are now looking to move their manufacturing facilities to virgin areas of human population.  Some are looking to move to the interior of China while others consider Africa and other Asian countries.  Keep on moving; that's what they have to do to find people who will work on the cheap.

It's pretty rough how people in China get a raise though.  When enough overworked employees commit suicide because they can't afford to live, the government takes notice and forces wage increases.   So, I figure we only have to wait 30 or 40 more years for manufacturing to reach every corner of the earth and come 'round to America again.  Then maybe we'll have the opportunity to commit suicide so our friends can get a raise.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Vote Your Heart

Have you ever thought, "I really like what Joe Notachance stands for.  I think it would be great if he could win, but I don't want to waste my vote on a candidate that doesn't have much of a chance."  

Here's a little list of reasons to go for it, and vote your heart anyway:

10. The more votes Joe gets,  the more the guy with the pretty hair has to pay attention to what Joe said.

9.  Your vote might not tip the election, but it might tip Joe's confidence enough to run again in the next cycle.  Times may change, and Joe might have a better last name by then ... like Joe Slimtonone for example.

8.  Joe is usually a regular kind of guy, and he probably lives in a neighborhood like yours.  Just think how cool you'd be if you could say, "I almost backed over Joe, the presidential candidate, while he was out riding his bike yesterday!"

7.  Heck, Joe might even answer you personally if you sent him an email with your ideas on how to make the world a better place.

6.  Your support might encourage Joe's son, Jand Possiblecontender, to carry the torch for ol' dad.

5.  You never know when everyone else is going to say, "What the heck, let's do it."  Then you'd already be on Joe's bandwagon when everyone else is ready to get on.

4.  It feels good to join a rebel cause that was started by a regular Joe.

3.  There are so many good ways to waste a vote these days, why not waste it on a Joe you actually like?

2.  A vote for Joe might make the Uncle Sam's in there now think twice about voting in another raise for themselves. 

1. When that big bucket of poo in the sky hits those rotating blades of everyone's favorite cooling device, and "shhhtuff" flies everywhere, you can say: "Told ya so, I voted for Joe!"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Be A Rebel

I'm such a rebel, with my 'non-tinted' windows. I swear, the govt. is way too involved in our lives. Building codes say I have to put tinted windows in my house to make it more energy efficient. Well, screw you Mr. Sam, I happen to like to see out my windows. Besides, I have shade trees, and the only windows that even get direct sunlight are the ones that face south. You know, the ones that let more light in when the sun drops to the south in the winter ... when it's cold, and people want some extra heat from the sun.

Damn govt. regulations, won't somebody save us from idiocy ... oh yeah, Ron Paul. Please win!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ron Paul 2012 - Free Magnetic Bumper Stickers

I'm giving away free magnetic bumper stickers.  If you want one, please email me: jdat747 [at] yahoo [dot] com    All I need is your mailing address.  

If I do get a large response to this offer, I will put a donate button on this blog page, but I won't harass you via email.  Each bumper sticker costs $2.44 but I'm happy to give away as many as I can afford to.

The magnetic bumper stickers are great because you can remove them when you wash your car, or when you go to a party with a bunch of Bush or Obama fans, or later when the election cycle is over.   That's a pet peeve of mine; trashy, worn out, out of date bumper stickers.  The magnetic ones are also easy to adjust and get straight.

What I'm getting at here - if you really believe in balancing our budget and bringing our troops home - you got no excuse for failing to help spread the vision.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ever get a wild hair in the kitchen?

Have you ever just happened to have some ingredient just sitting on the counter when you were cooking supper?  And did you ever find the urge to throw some of it in the pot overwhelming ... lol, only to cringe with regret the moment after it was too late to do anything about it?

Well, I did.  It was black eyed peas.  I seasoned them up the way I usually do with plain ol' salt and pepper.  But, I just happened to have a jar of honey sitting on the counter!  "I wonder how a scoop of honey might go with some peas," I thought.   So, I put about half a teaspoon in there with my cup of peas.   Then I thought, "honey and pepper doesn't sound like such a good combination.  Grrrrr, what'd I do that for."

Too late for regrets so I just made sure to stir that honey in so it wouldn't scorch to the bottom of the pan while the peas boiled.  It smelled good, and usually that's a good sign.  If kitchen experiments smell funky, they probably taste funky too.  Of course, there's no guarantee that the lack of funk smell equals a gourmet delight.

Actually, my peas turned out pretty good, as far as peas go.  Certainly they were good enough that if you need some extra incentive to eat more vegetables, you should try it.  A small amount of honey adds a hint of new flavor, a slight exotic kind of sweet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mitchem Deodorant, Right Lanes, and Ned Fleming

...and yes, that's Right Lanes, not Right Guard.  I'll admit, a bit of a random title for today's post, but it's a fitting title for a similarly random hodge podge of thoughts.

I saw a brand new commercial for Mitchem today.  It was so strange because I haven't seen anything about that product for 30 years ... lol, "Mitchem, so effective you can even skip a day!"  And the funniest thing is that their 48 hour protection from "un-nosely" experiences is still their claim to fame.

Ok, a bit of a rant, but the right lane on the interstate is practically worthless these days.  Somebody should just paint chevrons there, and parking spaces on the shoulder for people to pull into while they get their tickets.  What the heck, we may as well erect kiosks in the grass with credit card swipers so folks can pay up in real time.  If the government needs more revenue, maybe they could charge parking fees along the interstate while the police search our cars.

I'm getting old and I often forget people's names among other things.  Oddly, Ned Flemings' name popped into my head today.  He was just some guy I used to work with about 12 years ago, but I remember that he was oddly enthusiastic about freakin' everything.  One thing he said that I thought was funny though:  "You're not really a parent until you have two kids ... no wait, three kids ... when they've got you outnumbered, that's when you have to be real parents."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Top 10 reader comments on the Strauss-Kahn sex scandal:

10. It was Clinton's fault

9. $3000.00 per night suites come with hot and cold running maids.

8. I doubt he flagged a yellow cab and schlepped out to the airport with Achmed like the rest of us

7. Sounds like its time to bring in Kobe Bryant's lawyer

6. The proof is in the pudding

5. The report will prove fellatious even if she comes up with a blue dress and a cigar

4. Because of his age, Strauss-Kahn lawyers seek reduced charges of Assult With a Dead Weapon.

3. Ah...The ole' lunch with a daughter alibi.

2. Ouch... he should have borrowed Elliot Spitzer's little black book

1. He was in the United States and heard that Congress allows bankers to screw everyone here!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guerilla art in Austin, TX

What's cooler than to discover something that only a few people know about?  Maybe it's just me, always looking for a little treasure, but it totally perks me up when I find one.  No one knows who a guerilla artist is, or why they choose to place their work in a quite out of the way kind of place.  But then who cares, it's art.

First stop on this tour of non-sanctioned urban art is a very sad angel.  She is carved into a limestone rock that was placed with others to prevent cars from driving down a road that leads to an abandoned home site.  More often than not, she is mostly covered with sand that washes down from the hill every time it rains.   I had to dig her out a little just to get the picture.  Wow, and is she ever sad.  It would be totally cool to find the artist and ask why she is so distraught, but maybe it is better for each of us to have our own meaning.

One thing that I'm really curious about now is how it came to be that another artist has left behind a work in the same area.  Which begs the question, do I have even more little treasures to look forward too?  Anyway, just a few hundred feet along this forbidden road lies a more recent work.  Only a small painting on a concrete bridge, but I like it.   I call it: "dudes in trees"  Hopefully the artist doesn't take offense if he or she should ever read this blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't push my buttons Patty!!!

...to quote from a grumpy looking lady as she stepped out of her pickup truck to go by some cigs.   I couldn't help but think what I would say if I were Patty ... in an innocent, child-like voice:  "OK, OK, please don't hurt me.  I promise to stop pushing your buttons." And switching to an ornery voice with raised eyebrow,  "Can I turn your dials?"

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Coolest Gift

There is at least one other person that enjoys my secret garden.  He's retired and has some free-time on his hands.  I've met him out there a couple of times over the last year, and I've noticed that he likes the place so much that he keeps the trash picked up around there.  We were talking one day and I mentioned how I've been finding and collecting golf balls to sell.  So now, whenever he finds a golf ball, he puts it out where I can see it.  I think that is so cool to have a stranger leave a little present like that.  It makes me want to take the time to find out what someone else might like and leave a little present for them.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lessons on being sick

I learned two things when I was sick with the flu last week:

1.  Buy a new mattress before you get sick and have to spend a week in bed.

2.  Sometimes you crave weird stuff to eat when you've been sick.  If that happens to be cinnamon graham crackers, and the only ones you have are stale, there's an easy fix.  Put a cracker, one at a time, in a toaster oven for about 30 seconds.  Then eat it just as soon as it comes out.  They are hot and soft as though they just came out of the oven.  When they do cool, they're not as good, but still better than when stale.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I ain't afraid uh no snake...

It was amazing to go out in early March with clear skies and no wind. What a bummer for all the kite festival folks who got up early to beat the crowds parking. For the lucky ones like us, the winds did pick up enough around lunch time for a few hundred kites to get up.

Of course, the 'people watching' is the most interesting part of an event like this, and thank goodness for pictures.  I didn't even notice the expression on the ladies' faces in the background of this shot until now:

Double click to enlarge the pics...

There was a lady with a pet pig there as well, but we elected for some good shots with the Austin skyline and kites instead.

...and a nice lady took a picture of all of us.  Emma and Clayton are much better photo subject than me, but one of these days I'll get the "junk-yard-owner" look down.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Who needs cabinets...

Whew. A weeks worth of dirty dishes, piled up in the kitchen sink, fit perfectly into the dishwasher. I was so proud. Then I had to laugh when I remembered how I never put the clean ones away. I just grabbed 'em out of the dishwasher, used 'em, and put 'em in the sink until the sink was full and the dishwasher was empty. Now that's efficiency!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do people spoil as easily as me?

I never thought of myself as "easily spoiled" before. But, I'm soooo spoiled at my current job.

The other day I was "in a tither" ... "had my underwear in a bunch" ... "all worked up" ... "p1$$3d 044" ... "you name it" ... because my allergies were bad and the supply room was out of tissues. How terrible, I had to use those itchy hand paper towel sheets from one of the bathrooms! What a crumby place to work!

Then I remembered how, at ever other job, people would come to my desk because I was the only one who had tissues. No other company supplied them, but I always bought a box for myself. I almost forgot that I'm perfectly capable of going to the grocery and buying my own box of tissues. Oh well, life goes on.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Slopes are open in Jarrell, Texas

I got some funny looks as I walked to the nearest hill with a snowboard under my arm.  Of course, I thought the few drivers on the road were crazy too.  How dare they pack all my fresh snow in their tire tracks!  Well, as it turned out, the packed snow was better for snowboarding anyway.  I could actually get all the way down the hill as long as I stayed in the middle of the road.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Burn bans keep falling on my head...

... no wait, that's raindrops ... oh, burn ban too, huh?  It was kinda funny actually, watching the firetruck get stuck in the mud on the way across my property to the burning brush pile.  Not enough time has passed for me to laugh about it yet though.

  One might think that great "brush-pile-burning" conditions exist when: the winds are calm, the ground is saturated with moisture, and a light persistent drizzle is forecast for the rest of the weekend.  Apparently the county commissioners of Williamson county don't agree.  They meet once a week to extend the burn ban for as much as 60 days into the future.  The decision for a burn ban, or the lifting thereof, is made as if conditions are ever either completely safe, or completely not safe throughout the county to have a fire.  That is rarely true to begin with.   Now, if someone is going to take on the responsibility of declaring county wide "safe fire windows", their decision times should at least be dictated by changing weather conditions, not by some arbitrary schedule.

  Kudos to the Bell county commissioners.  They responded to the weather and lifted their burn ban over that same rainy weekend.  It is especially important to allow property owners, who most likely work all week, to get their brush piles taken care of on weekends that are particularly safe for open fires, i.e. rainy weekends.  They won't have huge piles built up later in the year, and won't have to burn them in perhaps less ideal conditions when the burn ban just happens to be lifted.

   The most important take away here is that no one should assume that it IS safe to have a fire whenever the burn bans are NOT in effect.  The people making these decisions do not meet often enough to adjust for the rapidly changing weather conditions in Texas.  As a land owner, you are always the one responsible if your fire damages someone else's property.  So, pick a safe day for your circumstances, and then call your local fire dept. to make sure there is no burn ban in effect.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recycling that Christmas Tree

  If you light your Christmas tree this long after Christmas, you might be a redneck!!!  Seriously, its time to take it down already.  That's what I've been telling myself every night when I get home lately.  My excuse for leaving it up is that I'm recycling it one branch at a time.

  The tree is no longer giving off that fresh pine scent that made my whole house smell good last month, but there is a way to get that smell a little longer.  Just break off three or four 6" branches and put them in an old pot that you don't care much about.  Fill the pot with water and boil it lightly on the stove for an hour or two.  Not only will you release the wonderful scent of a spruce forest, but you'll also add some much needed humidity to the air on these dry, cold nights.

  Lol, set a timer though.  Those branches start smelling funky if you cook them for more than a couple hours.  Of course, you don't want the pot to go dry either.  Final warning, this process does leave a brown gooey residue behind, so only use an old pot you don't really need anymore.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The 28 Hundred Mile Vacation

  Ski trip with the kids, year two.  This year Clayton wanted to learn to snowboard.  He was a natural on skis, but snowboarding is soooo much cooler, right?  We did our first day on Sugar Mountain in Banner Elk, NC and day 2 was at the Cataloochee ski resort near Maggie Valley, NC.  Of course by day 2 he's going to start pushing the limits a little.  I was behind him for his first major wipe out.   As soon as his butt hit the snow he went into a spin and looked like a little helicopter spinning sideways in the air.  That is until he hit the snow again in a cloud of flying snow.   I went down to check on him, but he was fine so I said, "Let's go then."  He couldn't because he was stuck like a pig.  Like a good dad, my first reaction was "photo op".

  Emma got the hang of skiing this year, and she liked Cataloochee much better than Sugar Mt.  The green lifts  were easier to get on and off, and the slopes were very friendly to beginners.

  For Texans, it is quite a drive up to North Carolina, 13 hours making good time from Houston to Cataloochee, but it can be done in a long day.