Monday, May 31, 2010

Funky llamas

Not technically a work pic, because it was after work that I came across this in Wal-Mart last month, but I found it amusing.

Watched "Up" today...

And when the old man whacked the guy who had just creamed his mailbox and then wouldn't let go of it when told to, my daughter asked why he got in trouble for that.

An 11-year-old understands the concept of property rights and the wrongness of forcing so-called "help" on someone. She's already decades ahead of most so-called "adults."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sweet, sweet harmony

Someone was having some fun with this sign. I took this one last month on my regular cycle 8 route going down Silver Sands. Finally got around to re-installing my phone software after last month's computer crash. I think I figured out how to solve my computer problems. No more Windows updates. No so-called "security" fixes or anything. There's no way that I can catch any internet nasty that is worse than the updates themselves. So far, everything is humming along smoothly with updates turned totally OFF.

Saturday my son joined his Cub Scout troop to pot some live oak trees so they could be kept alive until they get around to planting them, which will probably be next month. They'll be planted pretty much anywhere they are wanted around La Vernia: the school, the park, around some city offices, etc. Possibly even some churches and private residences if we don't run out of trees. I calculated 37 of them while the kids were doing the work.

I've been re-ripping some special albums that I wanted to re-encode at a better bit rate for possible burning to CD so that I can listen to them in my truck while driving home from work. My editing skills have also improved since ripping them the first time and they are coming out better this time, I think.

While we were potting the trees Saturday morning, my wife did some weed mowing (we don't really have grass, except for some wild grass, and the area around our house can be called a "lawn" only in the loosest sense of the word), and she came across two copperheads. After the second one, she called it quits. I've told her multiple times that all she has to do is run over it with the lawn mower and it's immediately a dead snake, but she's one of those people who has been taught that snakes have mystical properties and can somehow inflict harm even when they're being chopped into mincemeat. Anyway, it's clear that we still live in copperhead country. That reminds me, next time I run across that old photo of the two dozen copperheads I slew when I was 14, I need to scan it immediately before I lose track of it again.

My dad's little tank is brimming full now that we've had all this rain, and I'm sure by now it has some mudcats and possibly those little sunfish that my dad calls "hardshell perch." I don't know what they're really called (possibly green sunfish or longear sunfish), but anyway, it should have some fish big enough to catch with a rod & line so I might take my son over there and let him fish a little tomorrow. I also want to look for my old 7-foot Shakespeare rod that I used to use for big fish. If it still exists on this earth, it should be stashed in his shed along with my home-made ultra-light rig. I made it for myself a long time ago and would use very small bass lures to fish for bluegill, which was a lot of fun. They'll take a top-water lure just like a bass will, and I'm sure that would thrill my son to no end.

His tank would be a good place for me to practice with my fly rod. I never got any good at it, but I have caught a few bluegills with it. Nothing respectable like bass or any of that, though.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A real beauty!

Just thought I'd mention that this is a pretty decent sampler of "international" music. Free download from

I forgot to mention it, but last Friday I found a coral snake in a meter box. That's the first venomous snake I've seen while working (this job) so far. It was about 13-14 inches long. It crawled down a tiny hole into the ground before I could take a picture.

Nothing else I feel much like mentioning. I recently discovered the series "River Monsters" on Animal Planet and I have three hours' worth recorded so I'm going to watch some it now before I go to sleep.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It bears linking to...

John Kovalic of Dork Tower apparently had a bear on his property last night. He posts his Twitter feed about it which is worth reading for a chuckle.
It was a black bear, which I’m told “isn’t so bad.” I’m sorry, did someone forget that “black bear” STILL HAS THE FRAKING WORD “BEAR” IN IT?

Monday, May 24, 2010

But is it as sweet as Tupelo?

Okay, so I'm currently reading the weekly Quotable Country post from Country California. This one has me stumped.
And then Hillary and I started talking about how honey is slow when it’s being harvested.
My dad is a beekeeper and I've helped him harvest a lot of honey. I have no idea what this guy is talking about. Apparently he's never harvested honey in the middle of July when it's 110 degrees in the shade.

Just for the record...

The use of auto-tune automatically and by default means it's not a country song. This is not my opinion, it is an immutable fact of the universe. I don't care if it's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," if auto-tune is used, it's no longer country.

I don't care if you agree or disagree with me--either way it's irrelevant, because this is just one of those things that IS.

Zombie Jazz

I don't know how it came to be, but the other day my son and I were discussing music.

Neither of my kids appreciate jazz (yet). My daughter is a big cowpop fan and my son likes Toby Keith and Deep Purple, and seems to be leaning toward metal and that ilk.

Anyhow, I made a disparaging remark about "smooth jazz." "What's wrong with it?" he asked.

"It's like jazz with all the life and soul sucked out, just lumbering around tricking the ignorant into thinking it's's zombie jazz!"

So now whenever he hears "smooth jazz" he shrieks, "Augh! Zombie jazz!"

I haven't yet told him about the king of the zombies. I don't think he's ready for that, yet.

I was reminded of this just now because I'm giving my first listen to a recent free download from, the Trippin 'N' Rhythm Sampler of smooth jazz. Well, I've heard worse. What is most disheartening are the non-stop gushing comments at Amazon, as if this is the best music any of those poor deluded shmucks have ever heard.

So if you aren't a smooth jazz fan, avoid this one at all costs. If you are, avoid it even harder and get something with some life in it, for goodness sake.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Went fishing with a small church group at a tank (that's "pond" for you non-Texans) just outside of La Vernia today. My son caught his first fish ever--a bluegill that was pretty big for a bluegill, probably around 7 inches long. I caught a smaller one and a couple of mudcats. Others there also caught small bluegill & bass, one guy caught a monster mudcat that weighed in at 6 lbs., 10 oz. Biggest one of those I've ever seen.

Lots of fun.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An incident

So on Monday I had to go out and finish all the stuff that was leftover from Friday, plus a little that was left over by someone else. I was on this unfamiliar route that someone else had done when I had a small dog attack. I shooed it away a couple of times but it just kept coming back and getting bolder and bolder. I don't know exactly what kind of dog it was, but it looked sort of like a rat terrier on steroids. Finally it got inside the radius of my hook and I started swinging. On the third swish I connected and it went yelping away on three legs.

The owner was mad.

"It doesn't bite." Let me make this clear: YOU DON'T KNOW THAT, AND NEITHER DO I. You haven't seen how your dog interacts with strangers on a regular basis. I have had to interact with thousands of strange dogs and I've picked up a few signs that help me figure out what's going on quite quickly. If a dog keeps charging me and won't scare away I'm going to escalate the situation.

"You only had to communicate with me." And how exactly am I supposed to communicate with you dog chewing on my ankle?

The bottom line is this: you must secure your dog. This is not a suggestion. This is a hard, cold fact of your life as a dog owner.

A second bottom line is this: If I'm walking in the street and your dog charges me, he has entered my territory and I can and will do whatever I have to to protect myself, and THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME.

It went into a shouting match because he was such a complete idiot. I finished it by telling him I was going to report it to my boss so his address would go on record as a "dangerous dog site" (we keep no such record) and that then I was going to report it to animal control. I did report it to my boss so she would hear from me first if he called in with a complaint, but I never intended to call animal control because I know that unless you utter the magic words "pit bull" they won't do anything. It shut him up, though.

Secure your dog. It's safer for me, and perhaps more importantly for you, it's safer for your dog.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

This time you've gone too far

I'll make it a nice, "even" five posts for the day. Here's the video for Peter Gabriel's "Digging in the Dirt." Note the woman with the long black hair riding in the car. That's Francesca Gonshaw, who played Maria in 'Allo, 'Allo. She not only appeared in this video, she also collaborated with Gabriel in its creation. She's also an accomplished artist (the painting kind).

A couple of links

Since it seems I've been obsessed somewhat more than usual with musical things lately, here are a couple of decent things from on the subject.

Interesting: The 5 Most Famous Musicians Who Are Thieving Bastards

Hilarious: The 19 Most Hilariously Failed Attempts at Sexy Album Covers (probably NSFW)

P.S. That sure looks like Jane Fonda on #3.

On a lighter note...

Lately I have been kind of wishing they'd rerun the Britcom "May to December." I always really liked the character of Zoƫ Angel (the original one anyway--when she was replaced by that other chick I didn't really like the replacement much). Well, they're going to start rerunning it again on KLRN tonight. Cool.

The last in line...

Ronnie James Dio has passed away.

Eddie lives

I watched Eddie and the Cruisers today, first time. Not a fantastically great movie, but I enjoyed it. Made in 1984, and I was kind of amused that Eddie's ahead-of-its-time last album sounded pretty much like slick rock bands of the early-80s era such as Journey, Survivor, and dozens of others who came and went.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Various Artists - Fantastic Country Vol. 1 (LP, 1972)

This was an odd collection, and I guess they're all country, but I wouldn't go so far as to call them all "fantastic." Out of the 20 songs on it, I deleted 10 after an initial listen.

So here are the ones I deleted:
Jerry Reed - Amos Moses (because I already have a "best of" CD with this one on it)
Sammi Smith - For the Kids (one of those country songs for which have I no empathy nor sympathy)
Norman Luboff Choir - San Antonio Rose (does anyone really want to listen to a choir singing this song?)
Roger Miller - Hey Little Star (same reason as "Amos Moses")
Waylon Jennings - Lovin' Her Was Easier (nothing against Waylon and nothing against this just sounded rather uninspired and didn't do anything for me)
Porter Waggoner - Carroll County Accident (maybe okay to hear once...or twice...but then meh)
Connie Smith - You Ain't Woman Enough (a Loretta Lynn song...anyone else singing it just seems silly and redundant)
Jimmy Dean - I'll Be a Hero (from the rapper of what is now "classic" country...does nothing for me)
George Hamilton IV - Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down (great song, one of my favorites...this version makes him sound like he's apologizing to his grandmother)
Hank Snow - Honey (one of those country songs that gushes with over-sentimentality...if that's your thing, good for's not for me)

Songs I kept, which may be harder to explain:
Michael Nesmith - Silver Moon (about as country as Nesmith gets, I guess...I've never heard a song of his I didn't like...this one will go on my general favorites list)
Chet Atkins - Yakety Axe (a guitar version of Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax," fun to listen to)
Liz Anderson - Ode to Billy Joe (I don't know why I'm keeping this one...maybe because I don't have a recording of the original--that I know of so far)
John Hartford - Gentle On My Mind (already one of my favorite I'm looking forward to hearing more by Hartford...this one will also go on my favorites list)
Duane Eddy - Fireball Mail (country?...I wouldn't go that far, but it's fun to listen to)
Don Gibson - I Love You So Much it Hurts (I have sort of developed a "thing" for Gibson's voice)
Pat McKinney - Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (which was a big hit for Cher, right?...anyway I've never heard of Pat McKinney but she has an interesting voice...very cigarette & whiskey but she can still belt out a tune)
Bobby Bare - Folsom Prison Blues (I don't think many country singers could pull off covering a Johnny Cash hit, but Bare manages it quite well)
Lorne Greene - Ringo (just for the sheer novelty of it)

Just for the Nesmith and Hartford songs, this was a good score.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Night Video: John Hartford - "Gentle On My Mind"

Been working on ripping an old sampler LP from RCA called Fantastic Country Vol 1. It's one of those old samplers that my mother-in-law seemed to collect on which many (half or so) of the songs are famous songs but these versions are not sung by the ones who made them famous. For example, "Folsom Prison Blues" by Bobby Bare instead of Johnny Cash. Others are by the ones who made them famous, for example "Ringo" by Lorne Greene. (P.S. Would anyone else ever want to do this "song"?) Anyhow, my musical knowledge has increased slightly by cluing me in to the original version of one of my favorite songs, "Gentle On My Mind," which was a big hit for Glen Campbell. The version on this record is the original studio version by the song's writer, John Hartford. Here's a video of Hartford performing the song live with nothing but a banjo and accompanying himself on rhythm by clogging, or shuffle-tapping on an amplified piece of plywood.

This version sounds like it's pitched a step or so higher than the studio version on my record.

Seriously dangerous weather today

Well, I didn't get the route I expected. This time I skipped it and went straight to cycle 12--a combination motor/foot route. When the storm finally hit, it was so ferocious that we had to stop working. I picked up the guy on foot, we went to an Exxon and got some food & drink, called in and told the boss the rain was too heavy and the lightning too close for us to work, and sat there for about an hour. It seemed to be slacking off so we went back to where he had left off, and just as I was about to leave him there, it started again. So we parked on the street and sat there another 30 minutes, I called in again and said we still hadn't been able to do anything, we sat there about another 30 minutes and they told us to just come in. My immediate supervisor doesn't have the authority to call us in. Neither does her boss. It takes her boss's boss--the head honcho of customer service--to call us in. Fortunately he was a meter reader many years ago so it sometimes works in our favor.

So we actually worked about 3 hours and sat in the truck for 2 hours. We heard a tornado touched down somewhere along 1604 to the north of us. We were in the Nacogdoches/Thousand Oaks area.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Forty percent, shmorty percent

It WILL rain tomorrow. I know this because tomorrow is Cycle 11.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

June Carter Cash - Press On (1999, CD)

I'm pretty sure that at one point in my life, if anyone had asked, I would have said--and believed it at the time--that I would never buy a June Carter Cash album. Boy, was I wrong.

I'm five songs into this one and man, it's fantastic. This is real country music. Real pared-down, honest and unpretentious. Much of it so far sounds like it was recorded in one shot with only a few seconds break between songs for her to say a few words about the next song.

Totally recommended.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A post about nothing

Here's what I'm listening to tonight. A big star from the 80s who I still like to hear now and then. First five in the list:
1. Sara
2. No Spoken Word
3. Wild Heart
4. Some Become Strangers
5. How Still My Love

The last couple of days at work were pretty rough, due mostly to a bone-headed management decision. Today was easy, however, got home today about 1:00. Took a long nap, ripped some CDs, paid some bills, ate supper, caught up the checkbook, now working on my second pipe.

Last night I noticed a movie on Sci-Fi with Bruce Campbell called My Name is Bruce. I tried to record it but they were running 3 1/2 minutes late so I missed the ending, therefore didn't watch any of it. Netflix to the rescue. This staggering their schedule so that shows never actually begin on the hour for which they are scheduled really annoys me. One of these days I'm going to tell them where to stick their satellite dish and watch nothing but DVDs from then on.

Anyway, it reminded me of another old movie called They Call Me Bruce? Anyone remember that one? I remember renting the videotape back in the 80s because my sister had seen it at the theater and said it was really stupid. I have learned that if my sister says a movie is stupid, I'm very likely to think it's very funny. I remember being quite amused at this one, so to Netflix I went. For lack of anything better to post, here's my current Netflix queue.

'Allo, 'Allo: The whole series. I'm currently on season 3 and have 13 more discs to go for the whole series. They showed this on KLRN a long time ago, but they never showed the whole series. I always preferred Maria over Yvette.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: A hilarious movie.

The Great Dictator, To Be or Not to Be (original and remake): I don't remember where I read about these, or maybe I saw something about them on TV, but I added them all at the same time. The first with Charlie Chaplin, the second with Jack Benny and the third with Mel Brooks; all comedies.

Judgement at Nuremburg: Must have been added at the same time as the previous. I think I had just seen something about the Nazis that mentioned these movies.

Smilla's Sense of Snow: Don't remember why I added this one, but it looks like a decent movie.

Lidsville: The complete series, 3 discs. Just to see what it's like now that I'm not a kid, and also because I'm sure my own kids will like it.

The Lost Boys: Haven't seen it in a while, and it's still one of my favorite vampire movies. My son will probably totally dig it.

Danger Mouse: The whole series, 9 discs. This was a great show.

Ergo Proxy: The whole series, 7 discs. Anime. Saw some previews on another anime DVD I rented.

Black Lagoon: 4 discs. More anime, same as above.

Witch Hunter Robin: 6 discs. Yet more anime which I've heard good things about but never seen.

Dead Snow: A relatively new zombie movie that looks good.

She's the Man: I'm pretty sure I added this one for my wife, but I'll watch anything with Amanda Bynes.

Nosferatu the Vampyre: Another version of Nosteratu which is supposed to be pretty lame, but I want to see it for myself.

The Simpsons Movie: Never seen it.

Fire and Ice: Did you know this movie is finally on DVD? It had vanished from the video market for many years because of some kind of copyrighting conflict or something. Another great one from Ralph Bakshi.

Frazetta: Painting with Fire: A documentary about Frank Frazetta.

Mighty Mouse: the complete series, 3 discs. This is the remake from the 80s by Ralph Bakshi.

My Name is Bruce, They Call Me Bruce?: As mentioned above.

The Adventures of Pete & Pete: the whole series, 4 discs. I saw a few of these when we first got satellite TV and thought they were great. I'm getting them for myself and because I'm sure the kids will love them.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The alphabet of eldritch doom

I actually tried to do this once. This is as far as I got.

Azathoth, the Daemon Sultan,
An atomic chaos, seething and molten;
It dwells beyond all time and space,
Where amorphous flautists around it pace.

Up Hatheg-Kla wise Barzai climbed,
To see the realms of gods sublime;
But Barzai vanished, because he found
That what goes up might not come down.

Cthulhu, in his submarine night,
Awaits the day with malicious delight,
When he will rise from his aqueous tomb
And bring the Earth a diluvial doom.

Deep Ones, born of the Innsmouth clan--
Not quite fish, but not quite man;
Uncouth, unkempt, and thoroughly crude,
In the ocean depths they spawn and brood.

When twilight over Inquanok falls,
The great bell rings and the viols call.
The tales are silenced, and the singers go dumb;
The rites must be kept, lest a strange doom come.

What curious secrets must hidden be
With no mouth to speak, nor eyes to see.
Only silently clutch, and tickle, and taunt,
And fly from Ngranek, the dreaded Nightgaunt.

In Ulthar, a strange thing happened one day:
None of the cats wanted to play.
They only slept in the houses, and dozed in the parks,
And the house 'neath the oaks remained quiet and dark.

Something I just noticed. The directory that this file is kept in his been migrated from computer to computer for so long, many of the files still have only 8-character file names!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Monday, May 03, 2010

You forgot "songs about my Mexican girlfriend"


Yeah, I'm still around. Had a great school choir concert tonight, my daughter being in the youngest group. The high-schoolers were awesome, even though that last piece seemed to last at least 17 minutes.* NOTE: It's rude to bail out just because your kid's group is finished. Stay for the whole thing, or stay away. Although I must admit it was nice when all the riff-raff left before the last group. Made it a lot roomier and quieter for the rest of us.

Here's a very cool song in two versions by Indonesian musician Anggun (Anggun Cipta Sasmi). First in English, then in French. The videos are also completely different. The last one fits my "hot chick singing in French" niche quite nicely.

*Obscure classic rock reference alert.