Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I have honestly read some of these

20 Books You Pretend to Have Read

A couple of things on this list I'm surprised by.  I guess movie fangrrls might pretend they've really read LotR.

3.  Moby-Dick:  Most definitely.  I remember being surprised by how interesting and "readable" this book was.  I know there are a lot of so-called "classics" that are just an onerous chore to plow through, but this is not one of those.  If you haven't read it, don't waste any more time and just do it.

5.  The Bible:  Okay, I have not ever read the Bible cover to cover.  I did listen to it on CD completely through, which took me several months, a little at a time, because the CD collection I have runs about 75 hours.  But I was exhaustively taught the Bible through many years of church Bible classes when I was growing up.  I'm one of the few who would actually want a Bible category on Jeopardy, because I'm always surprised at how ignorant the contestants are on this topic.

6.  1984:  Yes, I read it, on my own, not because of an assignment, although I was still in high school.  The second most depressing book I've ever read.  The most depressing book was We the Living by Ayn Rand.

7.  The Lord of the Rings:  Good grief.  I might even say...well, duh!

10.  Catcher in the Rye:  Didn't read this one until I was a grown-up, more or less.

19.  Harry Potter:  Only the first three.  I'll read the rest someday when I get around to buying them all.

20.  A Tale of Two Cities:  Because it was a high school reading assignment.  This was one of those so-called classics that was an onerous chore to plow through.

I've always wanted to read Catch-22.  Just never got around to it.  I've never even seen the movie, except for little bits here and there (somehow).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I hate it when people ask me for directions.  It happens often, because a lot of lost people assume I know the entire city like the proverbial back of my hand because I'm a meter reader or something.  But that's not why I hate it.  The reason I hate it is because the vast majority of people don't know how to take directions.  There seem to be a lot of people who want to hear directions like:  go to where the Best Buy is across from the Wal-Mart and then find the Pizza Hut next to the green house.  My wife is one of these.  Recently we were going somewhere, with her driving, and she asked where she should exit.  I told her the exact exit number.  "Is that where that Mexican restaurant is?" she asked.  "I don't know," I screeched, "just take exit number so-and-so."  I don't remember the number now.

By the way this is another flat tire story.

So today I was doing my regular cycle 17.  This is actually two routes bundled together, and it is usually done by two people.  However, the other guy is on vacation this week, so they gave it to me to do in 2 days instead of one.  So yesterday I did pretty much all the hard stuff and left all the easier stuff for today.  This is a common tactic.  You have to work longer and harder the first day but it means you have a really easy day coming up the next day.

This route starts way down on South Presa, south of Berg's Mill, then goes down Southton Road to Shane Road, where it does a couple of neighborhoods and finishes up on Villamain about where the "haunted" tracks are.  Somewhere on S. Presa I must have hit something with my right rear tire.  About the time I turned onto Southton, the low tire pressure idiot light came on but it wasn't a fast leak so I kept going until I could park in a good spot on Bobbie Allen Way, where I could walk the neighborhoods.  I called the office and they dispatched the tire guy--this was at 7 AM (I got an early start, read my first meter at 6:30)--and he said he'd be there "within the hour."  I knew this was b*******, but I hoped for the best.  I did the neighborhood on the south side of Shane Road because the houses there are very densely packed and I could (and did) do close to 200 meters per hour, which pretty much finishes it off.  So at 8 AM, the tire guy still wasn't there.  I called in and told them that he wasn't there yet.  So they sent one of our "team leads" or whatever they call them now with another truck that I could take, and he was going to sit there with my truck until the tire guy fixed it, then drive it back to the office.  So he called me and asked where I was.

This is where I groaned aloud.  I knew this was going to be a cluster****.

Knowing that he was leaving from the office, I told him, "Go south on South Presa until you get to Southton Road, then turn right and call me for more directions."

So he asked, "Is that off of 410 down there?"

"Uh, yeah," I answered.  "Just go south on South Presa until you get to Southton Road, then turn right and call me for more directions."

Well, although that neighborhood on the south side of Shane is very dense, the neighborhood on the north side of Shane is not.  In fact, it is so not-dense that I always motor it ("motor" in this case being a verb that means I drive through it).  The difference is that although I can do 200 meters per hour on the south side, there are only about 70 meters on the north side and it also takes a whole hour.  So I knew I was going to be stuck walking that side.  I drank some water from my truck and took off.  About 30 minutes later I came back within close enough sight of my truck that I could see it was still flat.  I called in again and told them the tire guy still wasn't there.  About that time the team lead guy called me again and asked if I was over there in the place back behind Stinson Field.  Holy...

It is true that I was in the same general area of Stinson Field, in the same way that the Alamodome is in the same general area as the AT&T Center.  I said, "Well, I never come from that direction.  Just go south on South Presa until you get to Southton Road, then turn right and call me for more directions."

I should mention here that ALL EMPLOYEES ARE ISSUED MAPSCO MAP BOOKS, which old-timers still refer to as "the Ferguson."

See that look on Bud's face at 1:08?  That's how I looked most of this morning.  There are always a couple of spare books kept in the office for occasions exactly like this.  Also, if you walk in the front door of our office, go straight ahead until you either have to hit the wall or turn right, and turn right, you will see sweepingly huge maps of our entire service area covering the hallway walls.  Or, for the rest of you, it's at that place where the women's restroom is across from those big offices that are empty all day.  If I had been this team lead, I would have asked what street the guy was on and he wouldn't have heard from me again until I was pulling up next to him.  But then, I am apparently not an idiot.

Another 30 minutes went by, which made it 9 o'clock.  I finished everything that I could possibly walk, and then dead-walked (walking a long distance without reading any meters) back to my truck.  Lo and behold! there was the tire guy.  I stood there for less than 10 minutes while he finished up, and as I was signing the receipt for the job, the team lead guy drove up.  "Man, I've never been down here before.  I was lost!"  I just shrugged, but what I really wanted to do was scream, "That's because you didn't go south on South Presa until you get to Southton Road, then turn right and call me for more directions, you ******* imbecile!!!"

It wasn't a big deal, because I had an easy day anyway and I only lost about 30 minutes from having to walk instead of drive.  But still, when I give someone explicit directions, why can't they just follow them instead of driving all over the frikkin south side for an hour trying to figure out where I am?  Sheesh.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weird voice mail

Just thought I'd share this one.  I can't understand all of it, but apparently a French/German evil villainess wants my social security number and two large pepperoni pizzas.  I can just see her sitting there stroking her little white dog.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Top 10 Most Dangerous Vocations

Top 10 Most Dangerous Vocations

I didn't expect to see roofer at #10, but I won't argue with it.  I've never done roofing--not professionally--but I did spend a little while installing alarm systems in houses under construction, and I had some fairly precarious times climbing through rafters running wires.  I was always confident about it, though, and never felt worried while doing it.  The only time I got scared was when I was at the top of an extremely high ladder putting a motion sensor at the peak of a cathedral ceiling.  I thought that ladder was going to flip over at any second.

The real reason I mention this is because once when I was reading meters in an alley I came upon a house that was being re-roofed.  One of the roofers looked down at me and said, "I don't envy you your job."  It struck me as odd, because I thought surely he had a rougher job than I did.  I replied, "I don't envy you yours either."

My recent flat tire experience

Dave of Living Out Here recently said something on FB about a flat tire experience.  I recently had one, too, which was quite annoying.

When I bought my current vehicle, I looked under the seat to see where the jack was, and saw it was there.  Unfortunately--and this was entirely my own fault for being assumptive--I did not remove it to verify that every piece was included.

So I had a flat tire.  It wasn't totally flat yet, but getting there.  I went to change the tire and discovered that two pieces of the jack handle were missing--one of the extension pieces and the handle/lug wrench.  So I managed to, shall we say, acquire an extension piece and a handle/lug wrench that would fit the existing pieces so that I could change the tire.  The handle/lug wrench I acquired did fit the lug nuts on all the tires.

Except the spare.  Whoever had this vehicle before I did had, for some reason, changed the nuts on the spare to a different size (larger), so I couldn't remove the spare from its mount.  WTF?!

So I drove to that big tire-fixin' place on Rigsby which I can't remember the name of just now and found that my going-flat tire was pretty well worn out anyway, and I bought a used tire to replace it.  I didn't feel to bad about this; it's par for the course with tires.  They all have to be replaced eventually and if this was an original, it had over 100,000 miles on it.

I asked the tire guy if they could sell me a couple of new lug nuts for my spare.  He said yes.  But he had a hard time finding the right size.  It took him four tries before he finally got the right ones.

So, the new tire cost me $35 and the two new lug nuts for the spare were $1.50 each (I splurged for the more expensive lug nuts).  I had no problem with the expense.  I think I got off easy.

But those missing jack pieces and the odd-sized lug nuts?  I say again, WTF?!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

On the topic of that Bigfoot allegedly shot in San Antonio

I have just spent a while watching this full playlist:  The Man Who Cried Bigfoot.  It's a home-made, from-the-ground "documentary" about that spot in S.A. where Rick Dyer claims to have shot a Bigfoot.  I find it interesting.  Some of the homeless people who are living here are interviewed.  You can take or leave whatever they say.

I would like to point out that in the first clip he points out large clumps of "scat" lying around and says that they are old but there are no cattle there.  I can conclusively state that there were cattle there up to about 2 years ago, long before any of the people living there now where there.  I know because I read the water meter at this property every month and I used to see cattle there all the time.  I didn't see many, maybe only 3 or 4 head.  The water service that was installed there was for the sole purpose of filling a cow trough.  After the cattle were removed, the trough was also removed, but the hydrant is still there (it hasn't used any water since the trough was removed).  If you watch closely in the video below you can see a white pipe sticking up out of the grass to the right of center at about the 2:50 to 2:53 mark; that's the hydrant.  [Correction:  it's visible in my original video, but after uploading too much resolution is lost; you can't see it.]

I'm not going to say that Bigfoot exists or not.  As a true skeptic (not an active disbeliever), I have seen no proof either way so I won't draw any conclusions.  However, in spite of everything the interviewees state, I think that Bigfeet (Bigfoots?) living in this little patch of forest is highly unlikely, given the amount of food and water a pair of Sasquatches would probably require.

I made this collection of video clips with my phone the last time I read this route, primarily for the purpose of showing how much activity is going on around here.  How on earth could a pair of Bigfeet(?) live here and not get hit by cars out on 1604 or 151?  They would have to roam to find enough food.  For that matter, I would think that there would be a lot more sightings just because they would have to be scavenging in people's garbage, and a lot of people live around here.

By the way, when they say that they've seen mountain lions here, I completely believe them.

I would also add that if I were the owner of this property, and someone was going around claiming to have shot a Bigfoot on it, they would be in a hellish nightmare of legal trouble.

Anyway, here are a bunch of short clips from around the area that I took with my phone and patched all together into one video.  On the subject of that, I used the software Avidemux and it's a pretty cool tool.  I think I might have to make more little videos like just for fun.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Debunk this

I came across this graphic at Who Forted, a blog about strange (Fortean) phenomena.  I was going to post it at FB, but I know that many of my FB "friends" would find Bigfoot's implied gesture to be offensive, so I'll just post it here because it's too funny not to share somehow.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


I'm on vacation this week.  Well, last Friday the A/C bit the dust.  Someone came out by Saturday afternoon and made enough minor repairs to get it cooling again, so we only went about 24 hours without it, but what a bad 24 hours it was!  It was the hottest day of the year so far, with outside temps hitting somewhere around 110 here.  The digital thermometer in my bedroom got up to 99.7 by the time he got cold air blowing about 3:00 PM.  About 9:00 that night when I was ready to go to bed, the inside temp had dropped to about 86.  Yesterday a couple of other guys came out and made all the more extensive repairs required to keep it running indefinitely.  Fortunately I was able to get it financed so I don't have to pay for it all at once.

My wife is still working this week, but she has an irregular schedule and is off today and tomorrow.  So today we took a trip to the Texas Snake Farm and Exotic Animal Park in New Braunfels.  For those who don't live around here, back when I was a kid this place was just called the Snake Farm--they had mainly snakes plus some other reptiles.  It was recently bought by a new owner and has been expanding, so that they now have quite a lot of other stuff, both various birds and mammals, and the new owner has also bought 30 additional acres behind the current park which he is going to expand into even further, so we'll have to go back again in a few years and see what's been added.

Unfortunately, I found it just about impossible to get any decent photos of the snakes because of the wire frames that kept people away from their cages plus the glass fronts of said cages.  What few good pix I took I'll be adding to my photo blog With Camera Eye later on, but I'll upload some here that didn't make the cut for the photo blog.  Click all images for larger versions.

Of all the snakes around here, the copperhead is the one I've seen most often in the wild and is the one I'm most familiar with.  They had this magnificent specimen which is one of the largest I've ever seen.  Of the dozens I've encountered in the wild, I've probably seen only one or two the size of this one.  I'd say it was probably around 30 inches long.  I can say that the longest copperhead I ever actually went to the trouble of measuring after I'd killed it was 28 inches long.  I know they can get much larger than that in other parts of the country, but that's pretty big for around here.  They also had a coachwhip, another snake I'm very familiar with from encounters in the wild, but conversely it was the smallest--even tiniest--coachwhip I'd ever seen.  I couldn't get a good photo of it.

Some kind of rattlesnake.

I think this was some kind of cobra.  You can see that he had looped back over himself a few times.  He was quite long.

A black mamba.

This is "the snake pit."  Those are all rattlesnakes coiled up down there.  Sometimes you can see them get fed, but not today.

By the way, they have three mountain lions but I just couldn't get a decent photo of them because of the fences.  One of the females was in heat, and was getting a lot of unwanted attention from the male.  On the plus side, we all got to hear what a mountain lions sounds like.  Plenty of vocalizations going on with that one female.

One of their two gray wolves.  This looks blue because I forgot to switch over to outdoor lighting and still had it set on tungsten for the snake shots.  It was the only good, clear shot I got of her face. 

An African serval.  The guy who worked there said it was kind of like the African version of the bobcat.

And this is my daughter holding a ball python.  My son couldn't summon up the courage to actually hold it, but he did at least touch it.

After we left there, we went up the highway to San Marcos and went to the Aquarena Center, which used to be a theme park called Aquarena Springs.  Pretty much all the old fun stuff is gone now.  I had been to it twice before when it was still a theme park, once when my wife and I were first married, and once on a school trip when I was in fourth grade.  The biggest thing they have there now is the glass bottom boat ride.  They also have a small aquarium and a floating wetlands boardwalk.  So we weren't there for very long, but the kids thought the boat ride was pretty cool.

Another by-the-way, they also have two hyenas at the Snake Farm.  I got some pretty good video of them being fed, but the file turned out quite large, around 500 MB, so I might try to upload it later on.  It will take me a while to upload even with my fairly-high-speed service.  I also got an excellent shot of a capybara, but I'm saving that one for the photo blog.