The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Civic Improvement Project Completed

I spiffied up South 40 Security Checkpoint Chickie with a bit of latice work. I kinda like it but the deer and cattle are going to hate it.

As you can see on the lower right, there is still uncompleted maintenance to be done.  The drive is steeper than it looks and runoff drainage is creating a natural moat at the bottom as it erodes away that side of the drive. I've repaired it twice and it just washes out after a couple of years. I can either get another load of road base material hauled in and repair it again or I could just go with the flow and start looking for some sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads to stock the moat with.

I Really Hate This View (BONUS: The Epilogue)


Ah yes. Time once again to visit my favorite Cardiologist. Let's see if I can predict how this will go...

You need to quit smoking.
You need to lose weight.
You don't exercise enough.
Let's try this new medication your insurance doesn't cover...

Good news is I'm going all Homer Simpson on the Chinese Buffet joint when I get outa here.

EPILOGUE: It only got better. I woke up with a wicked kink in my right hip that felt like I had a Jacksboro Highway switchblade stuck in me, so I wasn't as agile as I normally am. Just for giggles Doc decides today I need a stress test on the treadmill. I've always made the 10 minute mark (it gets steeper and faster as you go), but today when it hit the 6 minute speed increase, the pain was too much and I had to bail. I was far from tired (honest!), but arthritis, lumbago, pinched nerve, trochanteric bursitis, whatever, I'm telling you the old age was hanging out.

Since I gained 10 pounds (thank you Blue Bell) and my stress test result was incomplete, now I get to go back and have a radioactive isotope injected in my blood so they can take a 3D picture of my heart after I run on the treadmill again. YAAAaaaayyy!!...

Silver lining to the dark cloud was my post-bloodtest fasting pigout at China Dragon. The buffet was awesome as ever. As an addendum to the positive, I filled the Grey Ghost for $2.41/gallon at QT on Central Dr.

I did get to share a few minutes with Doc. He's a late 50's Indian man with a very high intelligence and not much personality. But his work and record are outstanding. He's like an onion, many layers to get thru. I've been a patient long enough we have a bit of repertoire. He and I had a brief discussion on his bedside manner. His wife told him he was too clinical with his patients. 

I told him I was more interested in his job performance than his popularity.I can't even begin to imagine having that many lives juggling in my daily schedule. As long as the score keeps coming out in our favor, I'm all for not changing a damn thing.

He got a chuckle out of that.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

If You Build It, They Will Come

When you hear Kevin Costner you think about an actor slightly ahead in the hit / flop pitch count that knocked it out of the park a few times. You might imagine him doing a fundraiser to save the animals or some other celebrity self-promoting stunt for his next movie.

I'll take oil spill cleanup equipment designers for $1000, Alex.


Costner's company Ocean Therapy Solutions has built a machine (with $20 million out of his own pocket) that can process 128,000 barrels of contaminated water a day and remove 99% of the oil. Unfortunately, that 1% exceeds EPA standards so there has to be government approval before they can be used. I'm thinking 99% sounds pretty freaking good right about now.

Apparently so does British Petroleum. So far BP has ordered 32 of Costner's machines.

My only hope is that the $20M Kevin invested was the money he made off The Bodyguard. That movie has to have at least 1 redeeming quality.

Leave it to a Groover to save the Gulf. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I May Have Found My New Favorite Channel

A week or two ago I decided to browse thru my DirecTv guide and see if any new channels had been added. Sure enough I stumbled across one (channel 267), The Documentary Channel. It's exactly what the name says, nothing but documentaries.

I love it! I've always been a fan of good documentary films.

I can see me going on a docubender soon and eventually winding up in rehab...

You Want A Drink Of This?

Speaking of documentaries, there is a lot of buzz about the film Gasland currently running on HBO. It won the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year. I watched it yesterday and while director Josh Fox obviously has an agenda against the oil industry, it's still a startling look at the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas exploration and the blind eye that seems to be regulating it.

Let me just say I am absolutely a supporter of oil and gas exploration. Heck, I own oil and gas wells. I use natural gas and natural gas accessories. But, it's kinda hard to dispute some of the mind boggling things you see in this film like a man setting his kitchen faucet on fire with a Bic lighter or the guy that makes puddles of plastic appear when he puts a torch to a pool of water from his well.

Freak accidents, natural occurrences or oil companies run amuck? You decide.

All Night Long

Sorry about the lapse in posts, but to be honest there hasn't been anything to talk about lately that hasn't been talked about somewhere else.

So, you get this...

I'm working an odd overnight shift getting ready for inventory. I kinda like it. Peaceful, quiet and I have the place all to myself for a change.

I also get to switch the XM radio over to classic rock album deep cuts instead of the Top 30 country it's always set on. No offense to country fans, but I can set my watch to what song is playing on The Highway. The Who, Allman Brothers, CS&N and Joe Walsh are a nice change of pace.

UPDATE: What's worse than staying up all night inventorying stuff? Staying up all night inventorying the WRONG stuff.

I was suppossed to inventory the freezer (my department) but for some reason I thought I was supposed to inventory the entire storeroom AND the freezer. Good news, the storeroom is done. Bad news, I didn't get to the freezer.

Guess what I get to do this weekend?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Things Are Peachy In Parker County

Just watched a news story about the infamous Parker County peaches. They have been on a downturn the past few years with availability getting limited. Altho they produce a good amount of fruit, it's not enough to get major grocery chains in the DFW area interested in buying. All that stuff is corporate planned with larger companies out of California, Florida, ect.

About the only way you are going to find a Parker County peach these days is by driving to a Parker County fruitstand. Even then, you aren't guaranteed in buying a peach from Parker County. At last year's Peach Festival they had to ship in fruit from East Texas due to a shortage.

This year that isn't a problem. Mother Nature cooperated and there is a bumper crop. But you still have to drive to get one.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CenturyLink Outage

If you're a CenturyLink DSL customer in Texas, you're reading this tomorrow. Since about 2pm all Texas customers have been without service. When you call you get a recording saying "there is an interruption in service throughout Texas".

Apparently, Sarah had to take the afternoon off down at the switchboard so she could go visit with her sister over in Mount Pilot.

You might also notice many retailers are unable to process credit cards as well.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Remember Dad

Holy cow! I almost screwed up. I thought it was on the 21rd.

Monday, June 14, 2010

When I'm Wrong I Admit It

There was a time about 10 years ago when I was so angry I fired off a protest letter. One of my favorite commercial free movie channels decided to stop being commercial free. American Movie Classics used to be like Turner Classic Movies, uncut and commercial free 'classic' films. I love that, especially if I'm paying for the service to start with.

I actually received a return letter from the President of AMC apologizing for the move, but explaining they would be developing new content with the added funds. Previously AMC had produced "Remember WENN" a show about a 1940's radio station. It was good, but it was no WKRP. I was thinking they would be doing specials on old films, award shows, biographies.

Boy was I wrong!

AMC has quickly become a powerhouse of original entertainment able to go toe-to-toe with the champs. First came the miniseries 'Broken Trail' with Robert Duval and Thomas Hayden Church. Not in the same class as Lonesome Dove, but a very good western and showed promise of the level of production AMC was aiming for. Next they took the gloves off and went to town.

Season 3 just wrapped of arguably the best show on TV, Breaking Bad. Next month the equally impressive Mad Men returns with season 4 chocked full of retrocoolness. A new series is scheduled to debut in August. Rubicon stars James Dale Badge (The Pacific) along with Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under, Mystic Pizza, Live From Baghdad, Rudy) and Miranda Richardson (Blackadder, Tom & Liv, Damage, The Evening Star, The Crying Game) They did a sneek peek after the finale of Breaking Bad, but I didn't have the DVR set to record it. Fortunately, they will give us another opportunity Tuesday night at 10pm.

Also slated for debut later this year is 'The Walking Dead' based on the black and white comic of the same name. I don't know much about this show yet but I'm told think 'Zombieland' without the laughs. Writer/producer/director Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, Mad Men, Breaking Bad) is involved so expect good things from this show.

Not everything has come up roses for AMC. Their remake of 'The Prisoner' was pretty much a flop, but the original was strange and hard to follow as well. Cult fans of the show loved it, everyone else said "Huh?".

So here's my official retraction to that letter I sent you AMC. Keep doing exactly what you're doing. I'll keep fast forwarding thru the commercials.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Hayabusa Strain?

Sounds like a sequel to a Michael Creighton novel. But it's for real. Well, part of it anyway. Let's hope the other part stays fiction.

A Japanese space probe has grabbed a chunk of an asteroid and is going to land in the Australian desert. It's the first time a spacecraft has returned with samples from an asteroid or planet other than Earth's moon.

Put Wildfire on Alert.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Eats For A Good Cause

Just a quick note to remind everyone the annual Chico Community Volunteer Fire Department Barbecue Supper Fundraiser is this Saturday afternoon at the CCVFD Fire Hall. Not only do you get to support these brave firefighters, you get a fantastic meal out of the deal!

Besides plate suppers, they also have whole briskets for sale. I can honestly say this is some of the best barbecue you'll ever eat. So pack up the whole family and head over to Chico and get you some lip smackin' shirt staining goodness.

If you don't know where the fire hall is, just roll down the window, pretend you're Toucan Sam and follow your nose.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

He Was Big For His Age

From ESPN:
An Ector County grand jury indicted Guerdwich Montimere, a 22-year-old man accused of posing as a high school student and basketball star in West Texas, on five felony counts on Monday.

The grand jury returned two indictments against Montimere. The first contained two counts of sexual assault of a child.
Montimere was arrested on May 14 after a 16-year-old girl in Odessa told police and school district officials she had sex with him at a home in August when she thought he was 15-year-old Jerry Joseph.
The second indictment contained two counts of tampering with governmental records and one count of fraudulent use of identifying information.
Indicted for those same offenses was former teammate Jabari Caldwell as a party.
Officials said Montimere enrolled at a junior high school and later at Permian High School last year with a fake birth certificate from Haiti. The Odessa American reported in May that Montimere was enrolled at Permian by Caldwell, who was a teammate of Montimere's at Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. According to the newspaper, Caldwell signed an affidavit that "Jerry Joseph" was his half-brother. Suspicions were raised after coaches at an amateur basketball tournament said they recognized Joseph as Montimere, a 2007 graduate of Dillard and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti.
Permian High School made the state basketball playoffs with Montimere helping lead the way as a sophomore star. Questions arose after the season, and Montimere was initially cleared by immigration authorities and allowed to return to the school.
Montimer was named the District 2-5A Newcomer of the Year. That honor was stripped in recent weeks, and the Panthers forfeited their 16 wins.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Scary Crash at TMS

Slowest safety crew in the history of ever.

It was a scary sight when IRL rookie Simona deSilvestro hit the wall in Turn 3 and burst into flames. Her car slid down the banking and came to rest at the bottom of the track close to where I was sitting. The fire quickly grew larger as the safety crew rolled towards her like they were driving to WalMart.

What happened next was straight out of Keystone Cops. None of the rescuers had a fire extinguisher. Instead they fiddled with a fire hose that wouldn't work. All the while the fire was getting bigger and bigger. Those Nomex firesuits the drivers wear are great, but they have their limits. People all around me were yelling "Get her out!" while the crew struggled with the firehose.

After what seemed like an eternity, one of the men finally gave up on the hose and turned his attention to helping extract deSilvestro from the inferno. 20 seconds after they arrived, one of the guys got a bright idea and grabbed a fire extinguisher. But in his panic he couldn't pull the pin to activate it. The whole time deSilvestro is still strapped in the burning car. Most of the safety crew then gave up on the firehose and went to help extract de Silvestro.

A second safety vehicle arrived and they wisely jumped out with extinguishers in hand ready to fight the fire. They also got their firehose to work. When they finally got Simona out of the burning car she had been on fire for nearly 1 minute. Fortunately, she only suffered minor burns to her right hand.

The IRL provides the safety crews and equipment for their races. They need to take a serious look at them. That was either poor training, poor equipment or both. The driver of the first safety vehicle needs to be fired. He took his sweet time driving to the fire then never showed any urgency or effort once he was on scene. Well, he did  jog back to the safety vehicle to fiddle with the firehose some more before walking back to the burning car, so I guess he showed a miniscule amount of effort.

Why do I have a feeling he moves faster toward the buffet line than toward that fire?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Night At the Races: UPDATED

Off To TMS to watch the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race tonight.

I really enjoy watching the Truck Series. It's kinda like watching a Minor League baseball game. Those guys have something to prove so they can make it to the bigs. LOTS of action!

Action was not so much tonight. It was a runaway.

Todd Bodine won tonight's race for a record tying 6th time. He was the truck to beat from the first pitstop. Once he was out in front running in the clean air he would pull away from the pack by 8-9 seconds. Ron Hornaday gave him a serious challenge near the end, but a late flat tire put him out of the running for the win.

In a great show of sportsmanship, Ron high-5'd Todd when he came down pit road postrace.

On a side note, the national anthem performance was excellent. It was sung by two sisters that did a great harmony version. The fly-by was perfectly timed by a pair of F/A-18's from Carswell. I have to tip my hat to Eddie Gossage. He always puts on a great ceremony at TMS.

Side note 2... The Indy cars were turning in lap times of over 215MPH. That's a lap time, not top speed. They had to be running 225 - 230 on the backstretch. That my friends, is moving on!

Tune in tomorrow when we revisit The Search for Danica, Season 2.0!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Literary Corner

One of the wittier members of a BBS I frequent recently submitted a book review on of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue. For some reason Amazon removed it. But because you're a faithful South 40 reader you get an exclusive peek at what was too hot for Amazon.

Onion's Review of Going Rogue by Sarah Palin:

Hey guys, I just finished the book and thought you might like to hear my thoughts.

There are many kinds of truth. There are truths based on facts, truths based on faith, and truths based on something that sounds as if it should be true (truthiness). Then there's the kind of truth we find in Ms Palin's book: stories and concepts that become truths simply because she states them. She's a lot like our Lord and Savior, Glen Beck, in that respect.

Sometimes, she states truths that would be considered ludicrous if uttered by someone else. Her claim that the McCain campaign forced her to spend $150,000 in RNC funds to dress her family in designer clothes is one example of that. Although it might be easier to believe that she acted like a trailer park Zsa Zsa who'd found a credit card left behind at a possum feed, she blames McCain staffers. That's good enough for us, because we have faith; we want to believe her truths.

But the book isn't perfect. As much as I enjoyed the few short paragraphs in which Mrs Palin laid out her policy objectives, she could have condensed it all into one sentence: "I'm going to grab an Oxo Good Grips Stainless Serving Spatula and go all mavericky on your non-white, non-Christian and non-heterosexual butts."

The book also fails to expose Mrs. Palin's intellectual brilliance and keen grasp of foreign policy issues. Why wasn't the text of her recent speech in Hong Kong included? Although it remains secret, it's rumored that she viciously rebuked the Vietcong king for his assault on the Empire State Building. That's a speech we've been waiting for nearly 75 years to hear. It's big news and should have been included.

As you read other reviews of this book, please remember that Mrs. Palin has many enemies who are eager to pan her work. The Palin family's most potent nemesis, Levi's johnston, is no doubt fully erect and ready to spew globs of misfortune upon them for a third time. And reason-adoring intellectuals are certain to point out that an interview on Good Morning Topeka doesn't qualify as a policy summit in the Far East.

But a few bad reviews won't stop her. She's seen much worse from her kitchen window. It can't be pleasant to gaze upon Antichristograd every morning as you brew your coffee.

My review isn't complete, but I think I'll quit anyway, because writing reviews, like governing, is just too darned hard to finish.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mercury Blues

From The AP:

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. will cease production of its 72-year-old Mercury brand by the end of 2010 after years of declining sales.
Mercury's death is the latest in a string of casualties as Detroit carmakers try to cut costs and invest more heavily in fewer offerings. By shedding a mid-range brand that was more and more irrelevant to buyers, the automaker can focus on accelerating sales of Ford and beefing up its luxury Lincoln brand.
Ford plans to expand its Lincoln lineup to make up for lost Mercury sales and support Lincoln-Mercury dealers who will suddenly be without a brand. Derrick Kuzak, Ford's product development chief, said Lincoln will have seven new or revamped vehicles in the next four years, including the brand's first compact car.
The automaker's board of directors approved ending the brand Wednesday morning. Ford Americas President Mark Fields said the decision was made this spring as part of an annual business review. He said Mercury's sales make up such a small percentage of North American market share — less than 1 percent, compared with Ford brand's 16 percent — and that the profile of Ford and Mercury shoppers is so similar, it makes more sense to focus on Ford and Lincoln.
What a sad day for me. I've always loved Mercurys. I've owned a few and they were great cars. 

There was one that will always hold a special place in my heart. A blue 1968 Montego MX  that I bought while stationed in Seattle. It was identical to the middle car in the picture. I bought it with 40,000 miles on it for $500. It was a one owner car and in pristine condition. It belonged to the late father of the guy I bought it from and his Dad took excellent care of it. I'm sure the original owner would have disowned his son if he knew what lay in store for that fine piece of Detroit steel.

My buddies named it The MPU (Mobile Party Unit). I put that car thru mortal hell and it just wouldn't die. Roadtrips to Denver, Portland and several Mt. Rainer ski trips just to name a few. I lost count of how many weekend parties we had in it. OK, I never counted, but there was one every weekend I didn't have duty. It always got me back to base every single time without fail. The MPU was nearly indestructible. It faced every challenge a bunch of drunken sailors could throw at it and came out ready for more.

It's one weakness? A Seattle parking cop. 

Due to a minor bit of youthful indiscretion on my part (see: doing burnouts on the base parking lot) I lost my on base parking privileges right before we got underway for a 4 month ALPAT patrol in The Bering Sea. Turns out you can't leave a car parked across the street from the base for 4 months with tags that expired after we got underway.

When we returned from patrol The MPU had been towed, impounded, auctioned and crushed into little teeny tiny Montego MX bits. 

I miss that car...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blind Drunk

(Language Warning)
I did some stupid stuff when I was young, but I think these guys have taken it to a whole new level.

There is a fad from Europe that has caught on in the US. Beer bong, move aside and make way for Vodka Eyeballing. Apparently it's become the "cool" way to get buzzed among young partiers.

Medical professionals and anyone with any sense at all say this can cause permanent vision damage.

The irritation from the vodka is bad enough, but when you add the olives, a twist of lemon and a swizzle stick it can really do some serious damage.