Thursday, September 30, 2010


When I was younger I was a voracious reader. Sometimes perhaps a little too voracious (Six Hardy Boys books in one weekend? Get a life, kid!) Anyway, I fell out of the habit but recently I've been trying to get back into it. I have been wanting to do more reading for a long time now, but I have a very hard time staying awake when I'm sitting or lying still enough to read. However, lately (as in this week) I've been forcing myself to stay awake and read from 9PM to 10.

I am kind of taking it easy, though, and am starting out reading some short stories. So far this week I picked up a copy of some Robert Louis Stevenson shorts that I found lying around and read "Markheim." Odd little story. Now of course Treasure Island was one of my early favorites followed very closely by Kidnapped. I had an aunt who was a polio survivor and perhaps it was her disability that got her so heavily into books. Both of those books I first read from her collection. Anyway, "Markheim" could easily have been made into an episode of The Twilight Zone.

A few years before my grandmother passed away, I gave her as a Christmas gift a book of short mysteries titled Murder for Christmas. During the last year of her life, she parceled many of her earthly possessions out to her relatives (mostly her grandchildren) and gave me the book back since she had read all of it. A few years ago I read about half of it; this week I started on it again at the point I had left off--the old bookmark was still in it. The title is not entirely accurate; some of the stories deal with other crimes than murder, but all are set around Christmas-time. Thus far I have read "The Adventure of the Dauphin's Doll" by Ellery Queen; was amused to find that the following story was the aforementioned "Markheim;" then also read "The Necklace of Pearls," a Lord Peter Wimsey story by Dorothy L. Sayers. Last night I reluctantly turned off the light in the middle of an engrossing story called "Blind Man's Hood" by Carter Dickson, which seems so far to be both a murder mystery and a ghost story. This book also has the occasional cartoon/illustration by the great Gahan Wilson.

I actually have one other collection of shorts like this, which my wife found for me at a used book store, called Murder Most Merry, and which are also all set at Christmas-time. I don't think I'll read it this year, though. Once I finish the one I'm now reading, I think I'll go into something else. I have been developing quite a taste for mysteries during the past few years.

Of course there are a few other books that I've had stacked next to the bed for a long time and dip into them now and then. I have been slowly perusing through The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes for some time. I've read this one before but it's been a while and I still enjoy refreshing my memory with many of these anecdotes. For a long time this was my "truck book," that is, the book I kept in my truck so I would always have something to read just in case. It became so battered that I had to tape the covers back together with packing tape. (My current "truck book" is a book of crossword puzzles--I don't have an actual reading book out there right now).

One book that--no matter where I've lived since I bought it--I have always had by my bed is a thick tome of The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe. It's something I sometimes just pick up and open at random, reading wherever I happen to open it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cool new gadget

Blogger now has a gadget that will display your most popular posts, according to their (also fairly new) stat-keeper function. I just installed it at the bottom of the left sidebar. An interesting list of posts. I should re-create that old Hellsing post just to see if it would take everything over again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

That's an odd one...

Does anyone else think this is an odd path for a tropical depression?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More old vacation pix: U.S.S. Lexington

Word of the day: Turbinado!

Well, I found the thing I've been trying to find but every time I go look for it they're out of stock, that is: a pressure canner. Not merely a pressure cooker, but a pressure canner. My wife has been wanting one of these for a long time and I hope this helps a little in making up for me forgetting her birthday last year. [Ouch] Which reminds me, I think I know someone else who has a birthday coming up soon. Who am I forgetting?

Anyway my wife began learning to can several months ago and she's getting pretty good at it. She hasn't had much time to do it lately because of other more pressing matters, but we still have quite a few Mason jars of pinto & green beans on the shelves. I'm hoping the real pressure canner will help reduce the number of popped lids that she still gets now and then.

Still can't find any corn candy pumpkins. Only in the "mixed bag" variety, and that's not satisfactory. I want to find them in bags of NOTHING BUT PUMPKINS. My sister said they have them at Wal-Mart but none of the ones I've been to have anything but the mixed bag. By the way, those candy corns with the black ends they put in the "autumn mix" taste bad.

Also, nobody better give me any candy corn this year that's made without honey. That corn syrup-only stuff is horrid. If anyone gives me some, I'm going to meld it all into a big sticky wad and shove it down their throat.

I have quit sweetening tea with artificial sweetener. I don't sweeten it much anyway, and in fact in restaurants I typically drink it unsweetened. I just sweeten it a little when I make it at home to give it a little smoothness without actually making it taste sweet. I've begun sweetening it with that "Sugar in the Raw" that I discovered at the coffee counter of a Tiger Mart a few months ago. I'm not doing this under any belief that it's healthier or anything--I just use it because I discovered that I like the flavor.*

Finally got hold of some of that Dr. Pepper made with sugar instead of corn syrup. H.E.B. was stocking some special 125th anniversary DP that was made that way. I bought a 12-pack, when it was gone I went back for more and haven't been able to find any. I'm still running into the odd bottle of Mountain Dew Throwback in convenience stores, but at $1.39 a pop I can't bring myself to really stock up on it.

I didn't get to do any music editing last week due to being just too worn out to do much of anything even when it required only sitting at the computer and listening attentively. I'm hoping this week will be easier. I need to put in a couple of Saturdays of overtime but we're so far ahead of schedule that we had to stop working any OT. Looks like we're going to have cooler temps and no rain this week, so that's a plus. Our regular contingent of meter readers are now backed up with 5 or 6 temps who are really helping to take the pressure off. We'll have them until the end of the year. I'm hoping that at least one of them (a former co-worker of mine from another job) will get to be made permanent by year's end. A new employee has to jump through so much red tape to get hired where I work that it actually streamlines the process of they're a temporary employee first.

*I knew someone once who acted like if you used regular salt instead of sea salt, you were basically trying to kill yourself.

Separated by birth and about 500 years

James at Hell in a Handbasket has noticed a striking similarity. I post this because it regards one of my favorite pipe-smoking actors.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rule #2: Double-Tap

Just wanted to mention that I finally got around to watching Zombieland today. I generally tend to avoid movies with Woody Harrelson but I gotta say this was a great zombie movie. Zombie purists may decry it because all four main protagonists survived. I think the narrator's rules were also good and could be applied to just about any emergency situation.

Also the Bill Murray scenes were just hilarious.

More pix from Mission San José

I'll try to keep all my directions correct. The chapel and other structures are mostly on the (roughly) northeast corner of the grounds. This is a shot of the bell tower framed by a mesquite tree. The tower is on the south end of the chapel entrance, the shot taken from the southern part of the grounds.

This is a shot of the chapel entrance facing pretty much directly east. That is, I was facing east. The entrance faces west. There's the unusual oval window I mentioned in the old post.

This is around the back side of the chapel. Around back here, the buildings have gone mostly into ruin.

The chapel and some ruins to the rear taken from a point southeast of the chapel, facing northwest.

Another shot of the bell tower from a southwestish direction.

Album promotional stickers, part 5

Yes, Classic Yes; Miles Davis, Tutu; Julee Cruise, Floating Into the Night (cassette); Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. "Factory Sealed," unknown, but evidence that the record companies were protecting us from the terrorists, even back in the 80s.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Long overdue photographs

It's been a little more than 2 years since we made the tour of all the missions with the kids, and when I wrote that old post I just grabbed some photos that were available on the internet, at that time saying that when I got my own photos developed I could post some better pictures that showed the vastness of the inner grounds of Missions San José. Well, we finally got around to getting 5 rolls of film developed so I now have some photos. It will take me a while to upload these so I'm not going to do it all at once. This won't be new to locals--unless you're a local who has never visited the missions, and if you are, what are you waiting for? Seriously.

Click on all images to enlarge.

This is the only shot I took at Mission Concepción. It's just the cross overlooking the entrance.

Some of the photos look very yellow, and I don't know enough about photography to know why. I do recall the sky was very overcast that day, and it did rain a couple hours after I took these photos. This is along the east wall, I think, looking back toward the chapel.

This is from a path along the south wall looking back toward the chapel and other buildings. In the old post linked above I had mentioned how most people had a hard time grasping how big the Alamo grounds were during the famous battle because there's really almost nothing left of it now. This and the following photo might help you to get a better idea of how big the Alamo grounds were.

This is from the far southwest corner of the grounds looking back toward all the buildings. This is the same kind of wide open space the Alamo defenders on the walls had at their backs. They had nowhere at all to go once the battle began and the walls were overrun.

More later.

I am still here

This week was the week when I should have finished my usual hardest routes for the month and everything got much easier. It didn't happen. I have been hit with bad route after bad route and have just been exhausted every day when I finally made it home. I haven't been doing anything but checking my email--most days didn't even bother opening Firefox.

Oh yeah, and on Thursday we had our annual meeting where a bunch of beggars come and tell us all how great it would be if we had them automatically deduct charitable contributions from our paycheck. Screw that. It just means an hour and a half wasted in the morning and makes the day run all that much longer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Street boarding

My mom, who lives in Port Aransas, sent in a couple of pix to KENS that she took yesterday during heavy rains there. Check it out.

Sunday in Port Aransas

My air horn goes BANG
"I don't think it's overkill," said Carrie Budke, who was picking up her 6-year-old daughter , Emma. "Right now screaming isn't helping. An air horn would scare any animal away — even a sick one."
Or in other words, if it doesn't work, do it LOUDER.

If a coyote is so sick--rabid--that the illness has overcome thousands of generations of instinct to avoid contact with humans...

I don't know which is more insane, a rabid coyote or a human who thinks an air horn will scare it away. Once again, I am stunned at the stupidity of these people. There is only one way to deal with a rabid animal. There is a loud noise involved, but it's only a side-effect.

Album promotional stickers, part 4

The Doors, Classics and Alive She Cried; The Sugarcubes, Life's Too Good (cassette); REO Speedwagon, Wheels are Turnin'; Kate Bush, Aspects of the Sensual World.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Strange on East Pyron

From my regular cycle 17. There's a part of E. Pyron that branches off S. Presa, crosses a train track, goes a couple hundred yards or so, curves and goes another couple hundred yards until it dead-ends up against the San Antonio River. This sign appeared last month after they had done some kind of "construction" work on the river bank.

I have no idea what they're talking about with the "boat ramp." I can't see anything that I would call a boat ramp anywhere near. I do have to actually go out onto the river bank off the end of the road to read one meter--I have no idea what it's supposed to go to and it doesn't get used anymore, it's just there (this is not unusual). This sign is in the first section of that road, before you get to the curve, and at least a good 200 yards from the river.

The first thing I noticed was that I'd never seen a sign prohibiting digging for fish bait before. The second thing I noticed were the cameras. WTF? Note: There is no way these cameras could see anyone using the alleged boat ramp or digging for fish bait on the river bank.

Possibly worthy of a strange designation? Perhaps.

Paper CD display boxes, part 3

REO Speedwagon, The Hits; Marillion, Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other; Kate Bush, Hounds of Love.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ian Matthews - Valley Hi (1973, mp3 download)

So I finally finished downloading this album from Amazon today and I gotta say this is a really excellent Americana album, in spite of it being released some 20 years before that term came into use.

Ian Matthews--or as he has returned to the original spelling of his name, Iain--was a member of the 60s group Fairport Convention. This album shows heavy influence from American folk-rock and country, although Matthews himself was born and raised in England. Three of the songs were written by him, with other songs written by such as Jackson Browne ("These Days"), Steve Young ("Seven Bridges Road"), Randy Newman, Michael Nesmith and Don Gibson. One of the most country-sounding songs is "Shady Lies," which is interesting because it was written by Richard Thompson, another Brit.

This album is from 1973, and it may seem pointless to even bother mentioning such an old album, but hey, it's new to me and that what counts. Favorite tracks are "Old Man at the Mill," "These Days" (better than Jackson Browne's original, in my opinion), "Seven Bridges Road" (vastly superior to the Eagles' version), and "Propinquity" (by Michael Nesmith). Nesmith also produced and played guitar on this album.

I've already burned this one to audio CD for listening in the truck. Amazon doesn't have any hardcopy versions of this for sale new, although there are used and collectible versions. They do, however, have it as a digital download for a reasonable price.

Album promotional stickers, part 3

Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery; Deep Purple, Perfect Strangers; Clannad, Macalla; Boston, Boston; Alan Parsons Project, Vulture Culture.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Propaganda - A Secret Wish (1985, LP)

NOTE: Not to be confused with a Serbian band of the same name.

This is another one I've mentioned before, but I list it again now because I've finished ripping it from the vinyl instead of just my old dupe tape of it.

As I said before, a single copy of this record turned up at the Hastings in Seguin and it sat there on the rack tantalizing me for a while before I broke down and bought it. After I bought it, it never showed up again. So apparently I bought the only one they had in the store. They never had the CD version there, either.

This is another one that I will put on my list of favorite albums if I ever get around to making one. It's German synth-pop, so YMMV. It has a great rendition of Poe's "A Dream Within a Dream" and the whole album is just great.

Interesting reading about them at Wikipedia. It's a real shame that their fame was possibly eclipsed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood--what a waste. "They" later made one other album but it really had only one original member on it, and without Claudia Brücken singing it just wouldn't be the same, so I'm not interested in it. I would be interested in hearing some of her stuff after she left this group.


Idoits. Complete &^%$#@! idiots.
An Alachua County sheriff’s deputy who wanted to put a deer that had been hit by a car out of its misery Wednesday morning fired 17 shots into its stomach before the animal finally died, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

As a result of the incident, patrol staff now will receive training on how to quickly kill an animal that is critically injured, Lt. Steve Maynard said.

“The deputy didn’t know where to shoot it. He calls the sergeant, and the sergeant says to shoot it right behind the shoulder, which is the location of the heart,” Maynard said. Instead, the deputy shot the deer in the stomach.

The deer eventually died, Maynard said, adding that the deputy was “horrified” by the incident.
This kind of crap just sickens me. And these are the "only ones" who are supposed to be (cough) "experts" with their firearms. I knew before I was 10 years old how to kill an animal with one shot--especially one that was immobilized. But then I guess our heroic deputy had never helped his dad butcher a pig when he was a kid, or learned how to take out a coyote with a .22 and a single shot to the head.

Worthless punk.

via The War On Guns

Paper CD display boxes, part 2

Marillion, Seasons End; Fish, Internal Exile.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The heat has really been beating me down. Man, I can't wait for cooler weather.

So...the Cub Scouts now trust my son with a pocket knife. But do I? I need to find him a halfway-decent multi-function pocket knife that works but won't be a tragedy if he loses it. He spent a couple of hours last weekend trying to whittle a point onto a broken-off tree limb about the size of a thick pencil. I finally gave up and let him use one of my knives because I just couldn't get a decent edge on any of those Chinese knives I have laying around. U.S. knives and Japanese knives are good; Chinese knives...pfft. He also spent a couple of hours disassembling an old laptop that I bought cheap at a ham radio meet back in the early 90s. Not good for anything anymore, so I let him have at it. We put all the parts in a box so he can continue tearing it apart until he gets it down to discrete components. "You know you have to put all that back together," I told him. The look on his face was priceless. And then we both laughed. Another good question was, "But Daddy, where's the hard drive?" "When they made that computer, they didn't put hard drives in them. They were too big and too expensive." The wonders of obsolete technology. During the knife process, I found both of my old butterfly knives. Been a long time since I played with them, but the muscle memory is still there.

We had a torrential downpour here last night around 7:30-8:00. I checked the radar and it was a single tiny but super-intense cell that just zipped across our corner of Wilson County and then evaporated.

Lots of hurricane-related activity in the Atlantic right now. The NHC has posted 105 updates since I last checked yesterday. Igor is going to cream Bermuda.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Since Bloglines is about to disappear, I'm going to have to reconstruct the blogrolls. It was really easy to create several different lists as long as Bloglines was operating, but now I guess I'll just have to do it the old-fashioned way. So...I'm not going to have all those different link lists anymore. I'll only be listing the blogs that I actually read regularly and that's it.

There are still numerous blogs that I read irregularly, and they are all in my Google Reader subscriptions, which I imported from Bloglines. Yes, I decided on using GR unless I can find something better; it works about the same as Bloglines.

So if your link disappears from this page, and by some miracle you actually notice it, it doesn't mean I've completely forsaken you. It just means I'm too lazy to create a bunch of different lists.

UPDATE: Okay, the list in the sidebar now is a temporary one until I get around to creating sets of more complete lists. I discovered that I can import Google Reader into Blogger so I don't have to enter everything manually, but...there are some that I don't wish to show up so I'm still going to have to check them off so they don't import. Yes, I still have some secrets.

Album promotional stickers, part 2

More "vintage" stickers.

From top:

Alan Parsons Project: Ammonia Avenue (the MTV sticker also came from this album) and The Turn of a Friendly Card; Petra, Beat the System; Propaganda, A Secret Wish; Psychedelic Furs, Midnight to Midnight.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So much for that

I saw a TV commercial (I think) about this website called by the Oxford English Dictionary. You "adopt" an obscure word and try to use it as often as possible. Sounded like a fun idea so I went to check out the website. It is an horrifically over-bloated flash site. I still thinks it's a cool idea, but their website is a total failure. I couldn't do anything with it.

Album promotional stickers

Another item of musical ephemera from the old box that holds the paper CD display boxes. I never read anywhere--or thought--they might become collectible. I just saved these on my own whim. These are promo stickers that were affixed to the shrinkwrap. All of these cames from LPs. Click to view larger versions; if your monitor is set to 1024x728 you will see them actual size.

I don't know why exactly I saved these things. If I recall correctly, I had a vague idea way back then of eventually creating a big collage of these things to hang on my wall over my stereo system. I never did that, but I still have a bunch of these promo stickers.