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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WHY BOTHER?

Hooray!  I got a check in the mail today.  It was my share of the settlement in the lawsuit of Brice Yingling d/b/a Alamo Auto Sports and Andy Scott vs. eBay, Inc.

Before I go any further let me say that I have no idea who Brice Yingling, Alamo Auto Sports or Andy Scott are.  I do know who eBay is, though, and I used to sell books there.  According to the letter accompanying the check my payment was calculated on fees I paid between April 21, 2005 and August 26, 2009. 

I do remember selling some old auto magazines on eBay and it probably was during that time period.

At any rate, I'm glad it's finally over.  Here's my check amount:


Just in case you can't figure that out, here is the amount in the corner of the check.


You've got it - nine cents. 

I got a check for nine cents.

In the mail.

In an envelope with a "First-Class Mail, Presorted" designation printed on it. 

According to the GOOGLE, that cost 39 cents.

To send me a nine cent check.

What a country!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

BATMAN!!!

All right, due to popular demand and a din rising to a roar of shouts for the story of the bat, here it comes.

As I said in my previous post, I had bought a couch (used) at a thrift store.  My girlfriend at the time, in spite of the scorn she heaped on me for bargaining the price down at a store run by a religious organization, deigned to join me on the bargain couch from time to time.

But this particular night, only a couple of days later,  she was nowhere to be seen.  I had been out at a pub slaking my thirst and trying to recover from a long day at work.  As I opened the door of my darkened apartment, I sensed rather than saw something flit through the air.  I quickly closed the door and switched on the overhead light.  That made the being intensely crazy.  I now recognized it as a bat as it flew frantically from one side of the room to the other.  I backed into my tiny kitchen and seized the first item to come to hand, a large cast iron frying pan.

As the bat flew near, I tried to bring it down by swinging the frying pan at it.  Well.  As anyone who has ever had one of those big black pans in his hand knows - they're damned heavy.  So my attacks on the bat appeared to be in slow motion while the bat was going full tilt boogie.  After a couple of futile swings, I determined that this was not going to work.  So I looked for something lighter to attack with.

Let's see.  The big black frying pan wouldn't work.  So what do I need?  A broom? NO!  What I then went in search of was . . . a smaller, lighter frying pan!  Makes sense, doesn't it?  If the big pan is too heavy, get a smaller pan.

Now, you may be laughing by now.  But my fear of the bat coupled with a certain heightened blood sugar level from my night at the pub had me rising to the frantic level of the bat.

Eventually I brought him down with a lucky swing.  But as I examined him on the floor I discovered that he was only stunned.  (After the saga was over, I was reminded of the comment by the petshop owner in a famous Monty Python skit about a dead parrot:  "He's not dead . . he's only sleeping!")

Well, good creature that I am, I managed to scoop the bat into something with a cover, carry it carefully outdoors and release the bat to the night sky.

Returning to my abode, I tried to figure out how that bat had happened to be in my apartment.  As I looked around my gaze fell on that bargain thrift store couch and . . . whether it was true or not . . . the couch took the blame for harboring the bat.  And I told my girlfriend, that was why I had bargained the price down.  Without knowing of the presence of the nocturnal creature, my sixth sense had intuited that something was strange about that couch.

And that's the story of the bat.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

MAGPIE TALES - I'M BACK!


This is a true story.

Way, way back in time . . so long ago that I can now remember the story . . . I needed a couch for my new, dusty, crusty apartment.  But I had little funds and so I found myself at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.  And there I found a couch.  A big, red, velvety couch.  They had it listed at $11.  I offered six.  They accepted and I took my couch home.

Later, I exhultantly called my Roman Catholic girlfriend and said "I've got a couch!"  I then told her the story about the purchase.

I expected her to be thrilled with my bargaining power.  She had criticized me in the past for paying whatever price was demanded, usually far in excess of what I should have been paying.  So I was thrilled.  And I expected her to be thrilled.

Instead, she said something like "you did what?"  I replied that they had asked for $11 and I bargained them down to $6.  "Wasn't that great?", I implored.

Her reply.  "You cheated the St. Vincent de Paul charity organization out of five dollars?"

Ice hung on her words.

I had failed again.

Later, I came home one night and found a bat flying around my apartment.  Apparently it came free with the couch.

But that's another story.

==================================

Read more Magpie Tales at this site.

Friday, November 25, 2011

VARIETY

I was looking at the paper the other day and I noticed a "brief" about gasoline prices. They are all listed as . . for example . . $3.16 per gallon.  But the actual price is $3.169 per gallon.  Which is, effictevely, $3.17 per gallon.  So why do the media lie to us.  If it's $3.16 that's one thing.  But if it's really $3.17 per gallon, then why not tell us?  Damn them.

O.K.  Change of topics.

This is about the small percentage of people who still smoke.  Now, truth be told, I smoked for 33 years.  I smoked heavily.  3 to 4 packs a day.  I always try to slack that off by saying I had an  ashtray on my desk and a lot of those cigarettes just burned out in the ashtray.

But, truth be told, I smoked a lot of cigarettes.  And some dope.  Though not much of that.

But now, after 20 years of not smoking, I can afford to become self-righteous.  I see people smoking . . not often . . but men and women with a cigarette in their hand while they're driving . . and I think . . "don't they know what they're doing?"

I think I want to become one of those LOUD performers who try to tell smokers to quit.

But I won't.

They'll just have to learn on their own.

If they do.

Before they . . . .

RANDOM THOUGHTS


I think that path will take you all the way around Watson Lake but I've never found out for sure and probably never will.  Never will walk it, anyway.

I like our Mimosa tree in the front yard although since it always puts out leaves later than the Globe Willow, I kid SWMBO every spring, saying it's nothing but a dead stick and I should cut it down.  But when it finally does get its leaves I think it looks kind of Oriental and I love it.  Until this time of year when it drops all of its leaves in our front yard and across our driveway.  So, because SWMBO told me to, I've just swept the driveway and deposited the leaves in our trash can, nearly filling it.  And I'm beat.

So that's about it for me today.  See you tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

THANKSGIVING MEMORIES

I have to give credit where credit is due and this time that goes to The Chubby Chatterbox who has posted today on the best turkey he ever ate.

It brought to mind a Thanksgiving tale of our own.  Back in the 1980's we lived in Mexico for several years.  There were many other expatriate Americans living in the area at that time and a bunch of us would gather for parties, probably more frequently than was good for our health.  One Thanksgiving, our good friend L decided to have a party at her house.  She went to a local market and bought about a 15 pound turkey, paying some exhorbitant fee like $2.00 a pound for it.  Only problem: she didn't have an oven.  SWMBO volunteered to cook the turkey for the party.

So, came the big day.  She put the turkey in the oven and turned it on to 475 degrees.  She always does this for the first 15 minutes to sort of sear in the juices.  Then the oven temperature goes down to between 325 and 350 for the rest of the cooking.  So the turkey goes in.  Oven goes on to 475.  SWMBO says "I'll just take a quick shower."

I helpfully poured the first Margaritas of the day.  SWMBO came out of the shower, took a Margarita, sat down, leaned back, and completely forgot about the oven.  Until about an hour later.  She suddenly and violently remembered it and ran to the kitchen.  Pulling the turkey out, it was appearing completely done, very brown.  She tented it with foil and put it back in the oven, now at the much lower temperature.  When it was finally done, she covered it with foil and nestled it into a box with newspapers packed around it.  And we left to cross town to L's.

When we got there, the crowd was pretty much assembled and everyone was enjoying their drinks.  And enjoying their drinks.  And enjoying their drinks.

Judy fretted but what could she do?  Finally it came time for the meal.  The turkey was unwrapped, still plenty warm, and carved.  A miracle!  It was moist and marvelous.  Like the Chubby Chatterbox's memory, probably the best turkey ever.

There's an old expression that says God watches out for fools and drunks.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THANKSGIVING 2011

So we're finally getting some real autumnal color.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DARK AND LIGHT

There was something of a light show on the rocks in the Granite Dells yesterday afternoon.  As the sun peeped out of some angry clouds to the south, a shaft of light would illuminate sections of the rocks while the rest were dark.  Imagine an early prospector seeing this as a sign of where to look for riches.


And here's the sky filled with clouds that occasionally allowed a bit of light to peep through.


It looks promising for moisture but as far as I know only a bit of rain came down.  Nice view, though.

Monday, November 21, 2011

TJ'S UPDATE

Since I happened to be in the area this morning, I thought I'd take a couple of pictures and give you an update on the construction of the Prescott area's first Trader Joe's store.  The view is from behind and above.



And in case you have any doubt, there are now a couple of signs decorating the property.


A construction sign further up the road says the store is opening in 2012.  Other spaces in the mini-strip are available for lease.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MY WHISKER THEORY

I had my big black boy-cat on my lap the other day and I was admiring his whiskers.  They seem to be very, very long to me. 


But then I was thinking as I was uploading this photo . . a cat has whiskers for a reason - to warn him when he's getting too close to something or heading into a hole that's too small for him.  They are, in essence, curb feelers.  Now Blackwell has become a very big cat, though as I was trying to weigh him the other day he seemed to be only 17 pounds, which isn't really all that big, I guess.  But if he's pretty wide, he probably needs extra long curb feelers.  I wonder if whisker length varies from cat to cat to accomodate their different sizes.

I didn't come to a real conclusion on that.  But I think my theory may be correct.  The whiskers have to be sort of like what people are saying is wrong with our economy - too big to fail.


Friday, November 18, 2011

FRIDAY NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS

(Check the calendar.)

Yup!  It's Friday night!  Yay!  Hoorah!  Pour me another!  Tequila shots!  Yeahhh!

Back when I was working for a living, Friday nights were time for unrestricted bacchannalia.  (Stop.  Check the dictionary.  Yup.  Spelled that last word correctly.  Proceed full speed ahead.)

Where was I?  Oh, yeah, Friday nights.  As many of us as were left around the t.v. station where I worked and could be convinced that this was the proper way to celebrate the end of a week would head to a bar.  First it was the Mardi Gras.  On to the Playboy Club.  Then the Spaghetti Company.  Later a place our well paid weatherman from the station was a partner in.  Can't remember the name but they poured very healthy (or unhealthy) drinks.  Then it was the Tavern on the Green.  All along Central Avenue in midtown Phoenix.  I think only the Spaghetti Company still exists.

In spite of the fact that we were the responsible journalists and television technocrats in town, we always drank just one more.  One too many in many cases.  Wow!  If I could calculate the gallons of booze that we disposed of in those days, I think even the Guinness folks might be interested.

Of course, there were some flirty Friday nights that sometimes developed into more serious encounters.  I think I'm one of only a few of that long ago gang that is still married to the same woman.

Heady times.  We ruled.  Well that was a long time ago now and since I've been fully retired, I frequently don't even remember when it is Friday night. 

When a gal at the pharmacy asked me last Monday "how was your weekend?", I was stuck for awhile for an answer.  I finally told her "y'know every day is the weekend for me these days."



You know, somethin' tells me old Jerry Lee didn't have too many Lonely Weekends.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

PACEMAKER BLUES


I had a pacemaker installed after I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation a few years ago.  Since then I've had it replaced once.  Actually what I have just under the skin and above my heart is called an Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator.  But everyone just calls it a pacemaker. 

About every three months a guy from the manufacturing company runs a check on it to make sure it's still operational.  That happened today.  No problems.  Everything intact and working correctly.  He did say that the machine indicated I had no natural heartbeat.  I responded to that with "let's be sure we keep that pacemaker working then."

Frequently the medics ask me if I feel better.  I always say the same thing.  I never even knew I had the atrial fibrillation before it was diagnosed and nothing has made me feel any better. 

The guy who checked me today said "in this business, no news is good news."

So I keep on (artificially) beating along.

All of which reminded me of this band.



I don't know whether any of those young men have ever had heart problems that caused them to have pacemakers installed. 

But they sure have gotten older.

Same band, same song . . . different era.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BIRD(S) ON A WIRE


I know I've used this image before.  Not this exact one.  I just snapped this one today.  But a similar one.  Or maybe even "ones".  I may keep returning to this theme.  It's just that a flock of birds . . and they're not all the same kind . . gathered on wires like this just fascinates me.

When I was a little kid, there was a big tree in an alley about a half a block from my home.  It was called "the Big Tree."  I don't remember what kind of tree it was but it was huge and was easily climbed by a young squiggler such as myself.  I could get high in the tree and not be seen from the ground because of the leaves.  And there were places where the branches formed hollows and resting places, where I could lie back and contemplate the universe.  Or maybe the hurts and insults I had been dealt on any given day.  It was my hiding place.  I can remember that there were some wires that ran through the very top of the tree.  Probably telephone wires.  But I can remember one particularly dark day when I climbed to where I could easily reach those wires and I leaned forward and took one of them into my mouth.  I had no idea what would happen.  I assumed maybe instant death.

That must have been a particularly dark day.  But what happened?  Nothing.  I think there was only about a voltage of 9 volts in those wires and low amperage.  Had they been electrical wires, I think I would have had to have instant contact with two of them at the same exact instant to do any harm.

Who knows why kids in their moments of despair . . now long forgotten . . do the things they do?

Well.  I know this.  This photo I took today and these dark thoughts gave me a reason to introduce the great K.D. Lang in a bravura performance.  Bird On A Wire.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SING THAT SONG!

During the short time that I lived in Austin, Texas, I found a huge number of talented songwriters and performers.  Many of them I discovered after hearing them on some of the many great radio programs at KUT, the station at the University of Texas.  They have one announcer who does a program of nothing but Brazilian music on Friday afternoon, another guy who does a '50's doo-wop show, and the incredible musical programming of John Aielli and his program Eklektikos.  Aieilli has been doing his panorama of music mornings for decades, featuring everything from opera to punk rock.  He also has live music at times in the studio.  It's a great show and you can tune it in on the Internet.

One of the performers I first heard in Texas and learned to love was Jimmie Dale Gilmore.  He was born in Amarillo, grew up in Lubbock, the home of Buddy Holly.  Gilmore's early influence was Hank Williams.  He's known for saying "Here's another one of my songs.  Hank Williams just happened to write it."

Jimmie has one of the most unique voices I've heard in popular music.  Give a listen as he joins Nancy Griffith on stage.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NOVEMBER RAIN

Sunday dawned a wet morning.  But it wasn't raining hard.  Just a steady mist, like something on the Oregon coast.  I wonder if bamboo grows in Oregon.



 Whether it does or not, it makes a good pallette for my Arizona raindrops.

As I said, it didn't rain hard, just enough to make the ground damp and leave some pearlescent raindrops clinging to leaves.


With that kind of dark, Holmesian day . . it was better to retreat inside to the Sunday paper.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

HIPPIES!

Yup.  AZ is absolutely correct.  Yesterday's picture showed a close-up of a rosehip.  It's what is left over from the bloom of a rose and, yes, Steve, some people make tea from them.



I guess it's time for me to realize that you gentle readers are too smart for me!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

QUIZ TIME


Do you have any idea what this is?

I'll tell you tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

VETERANS' DAY - 11/11/11

It's a day to remember all of the young men and women, many of them now older, who have served their country in the Armed Forces.  I had two uncles who were in World War Two.  One came home, one didn't.  In more recent times, a veteran in our family is our grandson Rusty, known as Sergeant Russell Milburn II, shown here with his fiancee, Kayla.


After several hitches in the Army and tours of duty in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Sarge has decided to opt out of future service.  He may be a full-time civilian now but we thank him for his service.

To him and all the others - you done good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE AMAZING "IL VOLO"

The BRD sent me the following video and I had to share it with you.  These three Italian teenagers are absolutely fantastic!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

IT'S ALL POLITICS

Yesterday being off-year election day in America I thought we should have some politics on Oddball Observations today.


And then there's . . .


Hope you didn't forget to vote!

A SIMPLE REQUEST


Come on guys . . . this is not funny anymore . . . let me in!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NABLOPOMO

What is it?

National Blog Posting Month.  November.  Every year.  Participants are supposed to blog at least once each day during the month.  I had a mind to try it this year but I missed November 3rd because my previous Internet Service Provider (which shall not be named) was down for 14 or 15 hours and I couldn't get on line.

So this is a bonus post, just for arrogant guys like me.  Enjoy!



AN (EARLY) WINTRY DAY

Just to take a little joy out of yesterday's photos, here's another one that I also shot yesterday.  Looking west toward Prescott is a near white-out.


But, as the old expression goes, if you don't like the weather just wait ten minutes and it will change.  This, also, was taken yesterday.


That's Glassford Hill in the distance, the Granville subdivision in the foreground.

It was 32 degrees when I got up this morning but the sun is once again shining, the temperature is climbing and all this snow is either gone or should be before the day is out.  Thank goodness for small favors, eh?

In other news, I have a new internet service provider as of late yesterday afternoon.  Whereas my old provider promised me 1.5 megabytes per second but rarely delivered it, my new one comes to me at between 40 and 50 Mbs.  Quite a difference.  But I'm finding it has caused a problem for me.  What used to take me 4 or 5 hours is now over and done with in about an hour.  What am I supposed to do with all this extra time?

Monday, November 7, 2011

WHAT A DIFFERENCE . . .

I had planned on showing this photo, taken Saturday, on my blog this morning.

 

Or maybe this one.




But instead here's what I found outside my window today.



The petunias seemed to be collapsed in tears.


Most of it is gone now.  But a couple of hours ago . . .



Still, there was beauty to be found.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

MYSTERY CLOUDS


I thought at first it was what is called a "buttermilk sky."  But when I checked Google, I found a totally different image.  So I don't know if these cirrostratus (Ha! I'll bet that impressed you!) clouds have a common name or not.

Actually I'm not even sure they are cirrostratus though that's the closest image Google shows me.  Any cloud experts out there?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A LITTLE BIT OF SNOW

The BRD sent over this photo of her front yard this morning.


No snow at our house, though.  A little spatter of rain but that's all.  Once again the weather predictors fail in accuracy.

But that's o.k. with me.  I'm not eager for snow and cold weather to arrive.


Friday, November 4, 2011

PIE TIME


We have reached that time of year when it is all right to rhapsodize about food.  I love November.  Actually, I'm cheating.  This pumpkin pie was made by my blushing bride in late October and I had the last piece, smothered in whipped cream, for breakfast yesterday.

Some years ago, when SWMBO was married to someone else, she and her husband and their three kids used to travel from near Indianapolis to Detroit to visit his parents.  The kids always delighted in the fact that their grandfather would eat cookies with his coffee for breakfast.

But back to November.  It's not just Thanksgiving.  With family spread here and there it's a pretty low key holiday for us.  SWMBO still feels an obligation to make a pretty expansive (in more ways than one) meal for the day, even if it's just the two of us.  But she's not a big fan of turkey and she absolutely refuses to deal with the carcass.  So she's been doing a turkey breast for years.  (Not the same one.)  It's only white meat, which we both prefer, and it's a lot less mess.  Occasionally in recent years, I have bought a whole chicken and roasted it in the oven.  But I have to promise to pick the carcass, and I do.  (Just more for me.)

But pie.  Especially pumpkin pie, is one of my true pleasures.  We had the BRD and her Beau Jack over for brunch recently and SWMBO planned on serving lemon tart for dessert.  For some reason she didn't seem sure of it so we made, and devoured, two of them prior to the big day and the third tart.  As several people told me the other day, "Bruce, you are a lucky man!"

Now here's the kicker.  I don't really pay any attention to my weight other than to grieve when I'm looking in a mirror after a shower.  I don't diet, don't really watch what I eat and I ignore most of the wife (and chief nag's) comments on what I'm stuffing in my face.  I rarely weigh myself but the other day I was going to the doctor and decided to weigh myself at home before I left the house.  I HAD LOST 15 POUNDS!  Just in the last couple of months and I have no idea how it happened.  The doctor was very complimentary as I told him, oh, yes, I exercise, I'd been lifting weights, etc.  (That's another one karma, if it truly works, will bite me for some day.) 

SWMBO was happy but jealous.  She's the one who tries so hard to lose weight and usually has no luck at it.

But I felt so good about it that after I left the doctor's office I went straight to Jack in the Box to celebrate!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

I had forgotten that today, November 2nd, is the Day of the Dead.  That's kind of strange, since I lived in Mexico for nearly 5 years back in the '80's.

And even more so because I have this picture hanging on the wall of my den.



I bought in an art gallery several years ago.  I'm a big fan of Day of the Dead art and Frida Kahlo.  My wife (see previous post) does not like this artwork.  Just a couple of days ago she was sitting in here and said, out of the blue, "Y'know, I really hate that thing."  Well, it's my art and my room and it's staying.  But if you look at the lower right corner of the frame, you'll see it's added some panache.  That's a product of not enough dusting but I think it fits right in.

Here's a closer look.



Looks kind ghosty, doesn't it?

By the way, I discovered something as I was cruising the web today.  Today is also a palindrome day:  11-02-2011.  See it reads the same left to right or right to left, when you take out the hyphens.  Some guy says there will be only 4 eight-digit palindrome dates in the entire century.

So there you are.

SWMBO

I teasingly call her SWMBO, which stands for "She Who Must Be Obeyed."  That term comes from an English television show of some years back "Rumpole of the Bailey".  It was how the rumpled British barrister, Horace Rumpole, referred to his own dear wife.


She is difficult to photograph, mainly because she hates photos of herself.  But I got lucky the other day, in part because the new digital cameras allow one to take shot after shot after shot until you get one right.  She has a flicker of a smile . . possibly anticipating that much-ballyhooed tiramisu.

I think she's beautiful and she is the love of my life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011