Tuesday, February 25, 2014


This scares me a little but take a look at the flowering trees in my neighborhood.  We could still have winter snows but right now it definitely looks like spring.

Monday, February 24, 2014

BJ and the BRD

I was not going to post today because I couldn't think of anything to say.  Then I got a photo from the BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter) of her and her Beau Jack at a black tie event last month.

I think they make a pretty darned good looking couple.

I kidded the BRD about Beau Jack apparently forgetting his "black tie" but she said "the most interesting man in the world can, or not wear anything he chooses...breaking the rules and setting trends."

Can't argue with that.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Blackwell and Muggles have different places and postures for their daily siestas.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


This is going to take some work.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Yup, it's the FRIDAY FUNNIES!!!

First off, let's deal with those folk who are living through their fourth or fifth winter season of the year.  So far.  It's only February, folks.

For you folks who may have been confined to your homes by winter weather and who have had to rely on delivery pizza, here's some good advice.

Lemmee see, Valentine's Day was almost a week ago . . did I forget it?

Oh, I can't forget the cats.

In these days of life being dominated by social media, if YOU feel mocked there is always a solution.

Have a jolly weekend, friends.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


In 1985 (Wow!  That's 29 years ago!) SWMBO and I made our first (and only, so far) trip to Europe.  We had a month, light luggage and a Eurail pass.  What I discovered early on was that every place we visited had their own personal "badge" for sale.  I began collecting on our first stop.

Every first time visitor to London must visit the Tower and so we did. The crown jewels were fantastic but I can still hear the guard (Beefeater?) repeating constantly "Move the line along, please.  Move the line along."

After a few days in London we inaugurated our Eurail pass with a train ride to Dover, then across the channel by hydrofoil to Oostende, Belgium.  Another train took us to our stop for the night - Bruges.

We loved the "Venice of the North" with its canals and we spent an extra night there before heading into Germany and a stop at Cologne. We viewed the cathedral with it's outer walls still marked with bullet holes from World War Two.  

We could have taken a Rhine river cruise but were too late for it the day we wanted to leave so another train took us to Mainz & Wiesbaden.

Walking around Wiesbaden on Easter Sunday we began hearing the bells tolling from high up in the church in front of us, then another church perhaps a mile away began.  I referred to it as "Dueling Church Bells."  

We loved Germany and spent a couple of nights at the medieval city of Rothenburg and going through the amazing Christmas shops of K├Ąthe Wohlfahrt.  Then it was on to one of our favorite stops - Munich.

We loved this huge city with it's very clean and modern U-Bahn (subway) and the absolutely amazing Viktualienmarkt . . a huge daily outdoor food market in the center of the city.  We bought meat and cheese and fruit and chocolate there for a "picnic" dinner in our room.

Next it was on to Austria.

The gorgeous city of Salzburg where we visited a Mozart museum (and yes, I did touch his piano in spite of signs warning me not to) and watched with fascination a high-class lady eating a sausage with her fingers.  Again, as all along our voyage, great chocolate everywhere. This was also the city in which one or the other of us dropped our camera and broke it on the cobbled street.  But we found a replacement in a small shop and were soon on our way on a beautiful train ride past the Alps to Innsbruck.

It was there we fell in with a happy group of Austrians in a tavern. The night of "many beers" left both of us with a terrible hangover the next day and we went to a chain hotel for two of the worst cheeseburgers we can remember.

The next train ride took us from snowy country down the mountains to Florence, Italy.

We were there in April and it was freezing cold with a gale force wind blowing.  There was no heat in our room and when we asked about it the landlady told us "It's not the right time of year for heat." We left early and headed for the Riviera, which an International edition of USA Today promised would be warm.  San Remo was and it felt glorious.  I can remember walking through the Old Town area and coming upon a local busker playing guitar and singing an Italian-accented "Hotel California."  I also remember walking on the beach and meeting a young woman who was wearing only the bottom half of her bikini!  She smiled and said "buon giorno" as we passed.

An American expatriate couple at the next table in a restaurant heard us saying we were heading for Monaco next.  The woman told us "Don't take the train, it's all through tunnels and you won't see anything.  Take the bus."  We did and it was a glorious ride along the Mediterranean.  I tried and failed to "break the bank in Monte Carlo" with a few spins in the gorgeous casino.  After walking around the harbor and noting grandstands being set up for a gran prix race we took a train to Nice, where we accidentally stumbled into a gay biker bar but we stayed for a beer.

The next day it was the TGV (high speed train) to Paris, where we spent the final four days of our tour.  The Louvre was amazing.  I had planned on spending my birthday in Paris.  (April in Paris, y'know.)  We had a disappointing experience with a cafe we chose for dinner but the next day we had a great meal on a riverboat on the Seine and decided THAT was my birthday celebration.

So finally our visit to Europe ended and we headed for home, flying from Orly Airport directly to Dallas, Texas and a connecting flight home to Phoenix.

Guess what.  They sell those badges in our country, too.

We have talked many times about our Grand Tour.  We decided that was our exploratory trip and the next time we would go to just one country and take our time.

We've never been back.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


(I have to thank one of my old pals from radio days - Danny Bananas - for sending me this.  There was a lot more but I excerpted it.)

Arizona has 3,928 mountain peaks and summits, more mountains than any one of the other Mountain States (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.)

Arizona's climate can yield both the highest temperature in the nation and the lowest temperature in the nation in the same day.

The hottest temperature recorded in Arizona was 128 degrees at Lake Havasu City on June 29, 1994.  The coldest temperature recorded in Arizona was 40 degrees below zero at Hawley Lake on January 7, 1971.

The world's largest solar telescope is located at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Sells, Arizona.

In 1912, President William Howard Taft was ready to make Arizona a state on February 12, but it was Lincoln's birthday.  The next day, the 13th, was considered bad luck so he waited until the following day. That's how Arizona became known as the Valentine State.

Mount Lemmon, in the Santa Catalina Mountains, is the southernmost ski resort in the United States.

If you cut down a protected species of cactus in Arizona, you could spend more than a year in prison.

Located on Arizona's western border, Parker Dam is the deepest dam in the world at 320 feet.

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, located about 55 miles west of Phoenix, generates more electricity than any other U.S. power plant.

Oraibi, a Hopi village located in Navajo County, dates back to before 1200 A.D. and is reputed to be the oldest continously inhabited community in America.

Many of the founders of San Francisco in 1776 were Spanish colonists from Tubac, Arizona.

Rainfall averages for Arizona range from less than three inches in the deserts to more than 30 inches per year in the mountains.

The amount of copper used to make the copper dome atop Arizona's capitol building is equivalent to the amount used in 4.8 million pennies.

You could pile four 1,300-foot skyscrapers on top of each other and they still would not reach the rim of the Grand Canyon.

The westernmost battle of the Civil War was fought at Picacho Pass near Picacho Peak in Pinal County on April 15, 1862.

There are 11.2 million acres of National Forest in Arizona and one-fourth of the state is forested.

The longest remaining intact section of Route 66 can be found in Arizona and runs from Seligman to Topock, a total of 157 unbroken miles.

Kartchner Caverns, near Benson, is a massive limestone cave with 13,000 feet of passages, two rooms as long as football fields, and one of the world's longest soda straw stalactites: measuring 21 feet 3 inches.

You can carry a loaded firearm on your person in Arizona with no permit required.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I added a weather gadget to my blog the other day.  It's over to the right just above my picture.  When you first come to Oddball, you can check to see what the weather is at that moment.  Then I won't have to brag tell you about it.  Nobody has mentioned it so I wasn't sure anyone had noticed it or if they just weren't going to give me the satisfaction of continuing to grin.

= = = = = = = = = =

One of the advantages of moving is having stuff in boxes that you hadn't seen in a long time.  And, in my case, having lost a really nice compass in the deluge of boxes.  Somewhere that dang-blasted compass is hiding but so far I haven't been able to find it.  What I DID find was a collection of QSL (confirmation) cards from my second ham radio career.  I got my first amateur radio license when I was 15.  I held it for about 11 or 12 years before I let it lapse during a divorce.

15 years later I got interested in the hobby again and re-tested and got my license again with a new call.  That lasted for about 15 years until SWMBO and I opened a bookstore and I just didn't have time for the hobby anymore.  But in that second stage of my amateur radio career I "worked" (made contact with) other "hams" in over a hundred countries on every continent in the world.

QSL cards are personally styled postcards with your call letters, location and pertinent information about the contact which the hams exchange.  I didn't quite get to 100 countries confirmed but I came pretty darn close.

Well I ran across those foreign cards I'd received last night and I went through them today.  I no longer found any reason to keep them but I just didn't want to throw them away.  So I contacted a local ham radio club and they've agreed to take them.  Maybe someday they'll become an exhibit on QSL'ing.

Here's my card from back in the day.

And here's one that I was particularly proud of.  It's the QSL card of the late Tom Christian from Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific.  He was one of the descendants of Fletcher Christian, who led the mutineers of the Bounty episode to settle on the island, scuttling the ship so they could never escape.  Tom was the "Voice of Pitcairn" for decades with his ham radio setup.

Another card I'm especially proud of is this one, of another of the most well-known amateur radio operators in the world.

The owner of that card, posing jauntily by the sports car, is none other than the late U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater.  Pictures of his "ham shacks" in Washington, Scottsdale and Newport Beach are displayed as well.  I never talked to Barry on the radio but I did handle a lot of get well messages for him when he was in a Phoenix hospital recovering from a surgery.  And, in my professional career as a television newsman, I interviewed him on numerous occasions.

But that's another story for another day.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


It's the middle of February.  Much of the United States and many other parts of the world are struggling with fierce winter storms of ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain and flooding.

Meanwhile, my former neighbor and his new dog are relaxing in Phoenix.

(His wife told me the pool heater wasn't turned on and the water was freezing.  But what does he know.  He's from Edmonton, Alberta, and when the temperature gets above 40 F. he puts on shorts and a t-shirt.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The first photo was taken the day before the full moon.  The waxing gibbous moon . . 99% of it . . can be seen faintly high up.

X marks the spot.

Well not really.  These were just a couple of random jet contrails marking the sky.

O.K.  Now comes the full moon and some of the worst photos ever taken of it.

This was taken through a window from my desk.  Kinda looks like a reflected 60 watt ceiling bulb, doesn't it?  But it's the moon.  I swear it.

Then I went outside armed with my mighty Nikon Coolpix 1.22 and my smartphone camera.  The first three photos are from the smartphone.

And the last one is from the Mighty Nikon.

About the only thing you can tell from my excellent photography is that the moon is round (full).  I've tried to photograph it before with the same results.

If you really want to see good pictures of the moon, go to to Dr. M's blog.  He has more sophisticated cameras AND knowledge of how to use them.  He gets photos like this.

Not too shabby, eh?

Friday, February 14, 2014


You didn't think I'd forget what day it is, did you?

Happy Valentine's Day!

And Happy Birthday, Arizona!  102 years old today.

But back to the subject at hand.

Oooohh, that was rough, wasn't it?  And today of all days.  Oh, well. Onward!

Today's quiz . .

And finally (as one of the anchormen I used to write for said before the last story of every newscast) . . .

Have a great day, folks, and be nice to your mates!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


O.K. In response to thousands* of calls for the recipe for the pie I made today, here it is.


2 cups milk
1 cup shredded coconut
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
8 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place all ingredients except nutmeg in a blender and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured pie plate.  Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (more or less).

I baked mine for an extra 8 or 9 minutes because it looked really loose after the initial 45.  Center was still loose when I took it out but it solidified upon cooling.  And it sank down, too.

And like I said to another recipe requester, you men who may decide to make this might not want to show the recipe to your significant other.  She might be horrified at the amount of sugar and butter.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

(* - two, actually.  So far)


I've been trying out a new recipe I found on the Internet.  It's called Impossible Pie, I guess because all the ingredients are mixed in a blender.  Here's the picture that sold me on making it.

I don't know enough about baking to know if I should have changed some amounts of ingredients because of being at a higher elevation (5,100 feet) but mine went crazy in the oven.  Here it is right after I took it out.

As you can see, the sucker rose very high and some of it went over one side and dripped onto the bottom of the oven.  

By the way it's kind of a coconut cream pie.  The recipe says it will have a coconut vanilla flavor.  Two of my favorites!  So I'm looking forward to what will happen when I cut into it.

As you can see by this picture mine didn't get that nice even crust, probably because it rose so much in the baking.

SWMBO says mine looks like a macaroon.

(To be continued once I taste it.)

O.K.  Here's an update.  I took some of the pie that overflowed the edge of the pie plate.  It's DELICIOUS!  Tastes just like it should and a little crunchy because of the overflow.  I will, however, have to do some research to figure out how to keep it from rising so much.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


When I first moved to Arizona, many years ago, I got a great kick out of telling my friends and relatives still living in North Dakota about our great winter weather.  One year I sent a photo of myself on Christmas Day with a big smile on my face, a wreath on my head, holding a glass of champagne . . . in a swimming pool.

After awhile my friends and relatives were unanimous in saying they didn't want to hear about the weather anymore.  So I stopped.

This year, with the growth of social media and the television networks enthralled with the terrible winter in probably three-fourths of the nation, I resumed.  You see the weather in Arizona this winter has been wonderful.  At least for someone like me who got all the snow, ice and cold weather he ever wanted during my first 29 years in the Dakotas.  (I spent one year living in South Dakota, all the rest were in Nor'-Dakota, as the natives sometimes call it.)

But watching the news last night with another couple of ice and snow storms bearing down on Atlanta and other parts of the Southeast unaccustomed to such brutal weather, I resolved to shut up again.  Hold me to this, folks, I will not brag on our sunny days with temperatures in the 60's and 70's while most of the rest of my country is suffering.

So this is it.  A photo I took the other day of the sky over our new home.

If you look carefully you can see a tiny wisp of cloud in the upper left corner.  But that was it.  

So I'll enjoy my paradisaical winter weather in silence.  (But still with a big grin on my face.)

Monday, February 10, 2014


My blogger friend (whom I've never actually met) Judy has done a fine job of documenting a "big man" in Prescott.  Take a look.

Now that you have the history, here's an update.  I think the Big Cowboy originally advertised a muffler shop and he held a big muffler in his hands.  

But in later reincarnations, his hands were empty.

I drove by today and stopped to take a picture.  Lo and behold, someone has a different idea.  Take a look at what he has in his right hand.

Like any good gambler, he's holding the cards so I can't see what they are but from the smile on his face, I think Big Johnson has four aces!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


I viewed with shock this remarkable photo recently.

I was disturbed at first, wondering if a sinkhole had developed under this lovely apartment home.  

But then I looked at the caption again.  Something about San Francisco having very steep hilly streets.  And I realized the photo had been manipulated.

So I manipulated it back to what I think is normal, though it still seems like hazardous parking conditions.

I don't know about you but I certainly wouldn't want to come home a bit tipsy.  One mis-step while getting out of my car might involve a roll down the hill!  And walking back up would be a killer.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


News came today that Alex Rodriguez has dropped his lawsuits against Major League Baseball, the players' union and the commissioner.  That means he will accept his 162 day suspension and will not be able to play in the 2014 season or the postseason games.  My opinion: it's about time and his punishment is not enough.  I think anyone found to have used performance enhancing drugs or steroids or anything else that is banned by the game should be kicked out of that game.  Forever. And they shouldn't be eligible for the Hall of Fame either.

Even without such a rule, Pete Rose has never been able to make it into the Hall.  But that is decided by sports writers and some of them have been hinting that they might vote for him in the future.  So let's take it out of their hands and just make these cheaters ineligible.

. . . . .

Now I haven't ranted about politics for quite awhile but you can't keep a good man quiet forever.  So, let me take on the Senator from Kansas, Pat Roberts, who is running for reelection.  He was first elected to the House in 1981 (33 years ago).  He kept getting reelected every two years until 1997 when he ran successfully for the U.S. Senate.  He's been ensconced there ever since.  Only thing wrong with this picture? He doesn't have a home in Kansas.  He lists his official voting address as the home of a couple of friends and supporters.  Roberts says he stays there when he goes "home" but many Kansans say they haven't seen him for years.  The Senator is making many more visits to Kansas now because of a Tea Party challenger.  Let's face it, if he spends most of his time in Washington it makes sense for him to have a home nearby, like Virginia, where he and his wife actually live.  But seems like he ought to also have at least an apartment in the state whose voters sent him to Washington.

Longtime Indiana U.S. Senator Richard Lugar got into this same mess when he was defeated in a Republican primary a couple of years ago. People said when he came to Indiana he stayed in hotels. 

So let's require these pols to maintain a real legal residence in their home state.  Okay?

. . . .

Then there's the case of Allan Levene.  He's running for the House in four states at once.  Georgia (where he lives), Michigan, Minnesota and Hawaii.  Apparently if he wins in the primary election in any of those states, he'll then move to that state and establish an official voting residence before the general election. This seems like politics at its most crass.  I suppose we can forgive Levene.  After all he was born in London (England) and didn't come to the U.S. until he was 21.  He eventually became a naturalized citizen.  I was just wondering what he'd do if he wins the primary in MORE than one state.  I guess he'd pick one and pull out of his campaign in the other(s).  Politics just gets curiouser and curiouser.

. . . .

Finally a different subject.  Rudeness.  I know a woman who had a dinner party for several guests.  When the meal was served one guest said she couldn't eat that, she was allergic to this, etc.  Now this person hadn't said anything about her food problems when the invitations went out or when she first arrived.  Just when the food was served.

Is that rude to the hosts of the meal?  I think so.  I think I'd just say to her "How are you with water?"

O.K.  My ranting is over for today.  Your turn.