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July 31, 2011

Government is the problem

Not the solution.

"I am just absolutely convinced that the best formula for giving us peace and preserving the American way of life is freedom, limited government, and minding our own business overseas."
– Ron Paul


gazump \guh-ZUHMP\,verb:

1. To cheat (a house buyer) by raising the price, at the time a contract is to be signed, over the amount originally agreed upon.
2. To swindle or overcharge
1. The act or an instance of gazumping

Wasn't familiar with this word, but I certainly am familiar with the definition. I've been gazumped many, many times, but don't think I've ever gazumped anyone...not unless you count the times when I worked nights at a convenience store and would sell the old burritos and corn dogs to the drunks who came in after the bars closed.  I wouldn't even do that unless they were being asshats and rude to me.

These days I sometimes make the clerks angry when I insist upon them not doing it to me. I always tell them I don't want a corn dog that could drive a nail into an oak plank.

I had a service station when I was a kid and had a man ask me to check under the hood. He watched me like a hawk as I checked the fluids and belts.  "You act like you don't trust me." I told him.  "I don't trust any service station attendants, son." he replied.  He then went on to tell me several dirty tricks he used to do when he worked at a station; one was "short" sticking - meaning to pull the dipstick out, wipe it off, then inserting it back in the tube but not all the way to the bottom.  He'd then show it to the customer, saying the engine needed a quart of oil.  He'd go inside the station and get the can, but it would be empty. (a collection of one of each kind ready for the scam) No one would question him bringing out a can with the spigot in it. 

The man told me another "trick" would be to take a small knife or razor blade and cut partly through a belt, then warn the customer it wasn't far from breaking.

He told me several other tricks, all of which horrified me.  I'm not the most moral person, but I do know one cannot survive long in business that way; if you're discovered cheating someone, you'll lose that customer, everyone he/she tells and most likely most of the rest of your clientele once the word gets out. 

Anyway...I got through checking under the hood, topped off his gas tank, wiped his windows, etc.  He gave me a gas company credit card, but before I "swiped" it in the imprinter (remember those?) I took out the warning pamphlet the company sent out once/month - the numbers list of cards that had been cancelled or were stolen - and checked his card against them  This annoyed the man and he had the gall to ask me:

"Don't you trust me?"

July 27, 2011

It Don't Mean Jack

I haven't been doing a lot in this blog; even though my computer is near my air conditioner, the heat wave has sapped my inspiration. As a result of fewer posts, the blog has been getting fewer visitors. It usually gets an average of 75 hits per day on the counter, but this last month the number has dropped to 50. To be honest, I enjoy having the "larger" amount of visitors, but it doesn't mean anything other than a fluctuating interest in this blog...and since I don't have any paying ads, it means even less than nothing. IOW, no jack means it don't mean jack. -grin-

Clicking on the graphic a couple of days ago, I noticed a fairly significant spike in visitors over the weekend.

It was too late to see exactly what the visitors were coming to see on the other counter, but I had a suspicion. Sure enough, checking through the TV listings for last weekend, I found that Cast Away had been shown several times over a couple of days. In fact, while waiting on another movie to start, I had watched the last fifteen minutes of Cast Away and that's when I noticed something strange.

After doing a cursory search, I found that others had noticed the same thing. When Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) visits his ex-fiancee Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt)and is driving away, Hunt runs down the driveway of her house after him, yelling - what it sounds like to me and others - "Jack....JACK!"

Since the Hanks character's name is "Chuck", I guess Hunt didn't mean Jack either.


hoary \HAWR-ee\ , adjective;
1. Tedious from familiarity; stale.
2. Gray or white with age.
3. Ancient or venerable.

The first time I remember hearing this word was in a spelling contest in the 6th grade. We were each given a word and having to stand up and spell it. We let out a few giggles when the word was said; the teacher immediately admonished us to be mature and that the word meant nothing like it sounded and that it wasn't even spelled like that. Then the girl given the word spelled it "like that":


That's when our giggles turned into out-and-out laughter.

That memory never gets hoary, even though I am.

July 20, 2011


zugzwang \TSOOK-tsvahng\
1. A situation in which a player is limited to moves that have a damaging effect.

An example given was regarding chess, but it could also describe our votes for politicians. We all need to remember the lesser of two evils is still evil.

July 14, 2011

Harry Potter is Evil

The number of comments on the Harry Potter Facebook page "proves" it.


July 4, 2011

Fireworks: Fighting, Family, Foolish

*** A "bump" from '07 ***

This last 4th of July brought back some memories.

Some of my neighbors ran a firecracker stand this year and made a BUNCH of money, having to go over to Amarillo and get more stock several times. I didn't know, but bottle rockets were allowed again this year, but I believe a permanent ban is going to be applied to them and to other rockets.

When I was a kid, we used to have pop bottle rocket fights. There would be two opposing groups of boys, usually divided by age, facing off across the creek that divides the City Park in Miami. There were several methods of firing off the ammo, but the most common was to hold a pipe or glass Coke bottle, put the rocket in it, then light 'er off while aiming at the "enemy".

Another method, but not nearly as accurate, was to light the thing, wait until the fuse was nearly gone, then pitch up into the air. If the timing was right and the angle of the toss more-or-less towards the area it was intended to go, then you would sometimes get an "air burst", not dangerous, but totally spectacular and would keep your opponent's heads down while your buddies kept up the barrage.

It sometimes would, if you weren't particularly experienced with that method, come right back at you. "Friendly fire".

It's one thing to shoot bottle rockets at the other boys, but doing so while under fire from THEM... During one fireworks fight, I was looking down at the fuse of a rocket, trying to light it when someone on my team hollered "LOOK OUT MIKE!" and I glanced up just in time to see a tiny missile trailing a shower of golden sparks heading right at me.

Now, there were no "rules" that said you couldn't dodge any incoming, but the cool thing was to stand there calmly and let it zip right on by. "Courage under fire". I'd like to say that it was sheer bravado that kept me glued to the spot, but I'd be lying: I just froze.

In much less time than it took for you to read that last part of the last sentence, the bottle rocket was launched, someone hollered, and then it hit me right square in the chest. Ever had someone "frog" you in the arm or chest with their middle knuckle extended from their balled up fist? Well, that's how this rocket felt when it hit me. It hurt.

In horror I glanced down to see the rocket acting like it was on a pivot on my breastbone. The head of the rocket stayed in one spot, but the end was swivellin' around, shooting off those fiery-golden sparks. I pulled my chin up and scrunched my eyes shut just as the thing went off, feeling like someone had PUNCHED me in the chest this time.

Stunned and nearly blinded, I staggered backwards. Due to the ringing in my ears from the explosion, I could barely hear my friends asking if I was all right, but I definitely could hear the jeers of the older boys across the street. "Direct Hit!" "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" "He's a goner!" .

This was too much; chest & pride both smarting, my shirt (and chest skin) full of burn holes, I went over to my car, opened the trunk and got out the heavy artillery: some larger 6 and 8 oz. rockets, four/five times the size of the smallish pop bottle rockets. Holding a dozen in one hand and a lit cigarette with the other, I proceed to unleash hellfire upon the upperclassmen, making them yell in protest and alarm. I kept up the broadside, grabbing up another handful of rockets, lighting one, throwing it, then lighting another and throwing it as quickly as possible. It was satisfying watching them scatter like a horde of rats leaving a sinking ship.

One of my rockets, though, went off course, flew WAY farther than it seemed possible, then exploded just under the sheriff's bedroom window, a block away. I guess he wasn't too concerned about the war going on just a few hundred yards away until the bombs were bursting in HIS air. The rest of us scattered as he angrily made his way towards the swimming pool parking lot, "our territory", clad only in his boxers, cowboy boots and official lawman's straw hat . We surrendered our lands without a fight, I guess one might say.

(hey, playing with bottle rockets is dumb, but I never said we all were STUPID)

It's probably a good thing I was never President and had access to "the button", y'know?

Another 4th comes to mind: My paternal grandparents were out at our house to celebrate the holiday. We were having a cookout, the watermelon was chilling atop the cellar roof with a garden hose running cold, deep well water over it and we were waiting for the sun to set and darkness to fall so we could set off our several sacks full of fireworks, safely nestled under a lawn chair.

This was back when my Granddad smoked cigars and he was kicked back on a lawn chair, enjoying a cigar after consuming some great bbq. The only problem was that Gramps was sitting right on top of all those fireworks. The next thing I know, there are rockets and roman candles going off, firecrackers exploding and silver stars going in every direction and I watch my grandpa running for his life, the still-lit stogie in his mouth.

It wasn't funny then, having my fireworks show ruined, but as I grow older, it's one of the funniest things I can remember from my childhood.

Some of the first money I ever earned went to buy a big sack of fireworks. The 4th that year fell right in the middle of a drought, though and the night of the holiday was very, VERY windy. My dad pleaded with me to wait a day or two until the wind calmed down, but I was adamant and wanted to set them off that night.

The entire family loaded up in Dad's work truck and we went out near one of the wells he pumped, surrounded by a freshly plowed wheat field. Dad was worried about setting the countryside on fire, but he chose the safest place to set them off, no vegetation or grass to burn.

The wind was blowing so fiercely though, that none of my rockets or other aerial fireworks went over a dozen feet in the air, the wind catching them and forcing them out into the bare dirt where they exploded with less-than-spectacular results.

That was probably one of the best life's lessons I ever learned, to have patience, esp. when it involves money and recreation. I still don't like to fish, though.

July 3, 2011


chow \CHOU\ , noun;
1. Food, especially hearty dishes or a meal.
verb phrase:
1. "Chow down:" to eat; eat a meal, especially the main meal of the day.

I know this word. Boy, do I ever.

A Titanic Gripe

I just got through watching the last of Titanic; I didn't watch the entire thing because I was watching Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World which ended fifteen minutes before Titanic. It's a movie I've seen about the same number of times as I have Titanic although I could watch Master and Commander again sometime soon in the future, I've had just about all I want from Titanic, even though I could look at Kate Winslet a thousand hours and never grow tired of her face.

I've got a huge gripe with Titanic; two of them actually, but one is much larger than the other.  My lessor gripe first:

How did Gloria Stuart get nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the movie? Her part was tiny, even though she did the narration during the cutaways back to the salvage ship. I don't think she did all that good of a job - I felt she said her lines rather woodenly and without much believability.  Surely there was some other movie that year that had a better supporting actress nominee. Kathy Bates in her role as Molly Brown did a much better job than did Stuart in Titanic.

Which directly leads me to my main gripe: Why did Stuart's character Rose DeWitt Bukater throw the "The Heart of the Ocean" blue diamond necklace overboard? It seemed such a selfish thing to do. She could have given it to Brock Lovett, the man trying to find it (played by Bill Paxton). After all, he had invested millions in his salvage effort, spent more to bring the old bag woman out to the ship and if anyone deserved it, he did. Why didn't she give it to her daughter? The sale of the gem would be enough to pay college tuition for several generations after she passed away.

I know it's just a movie, but sometimes these things really piss me off. I had so much emotion and sympathy invested in the Rose character as an old lady only to have her do such a selfish and senseless act as throwing the priceless diamond into the sea. Even though the salvage ship was positioned directly over the Titanic, the currents probably would have carried the necklace miles away from the ship. It really is the single thing that nearly ruined the movie for me and one of the reasons I don't care to watch it again. If I had been Lovett and saw her doing it, I'd have tied a chain to her wrinkly old ass and chucked her overboard after the diamond.

July 1, 2011

For Conservatives the Word is "Hee"

haw \HAW\

1. To utter a sound representing a hesitation or pause in speech.
2. To turn or make a turn to the left.
1. A sound or pause of hesitation.
2. The fruit of the Old World hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata, or of other species of the same genus.
1. Used as a word of command to a horse or other draft animal, usually directing it to turn to the left.

The two-party system in this country will certainly bring about "gloom, despair and agony" on everyone.

July Trivia Tournament

The previous monthly tournament for ToTG Trivia Tournament has ended and a new one starts today!

Play the quiz!

The top 5 scores from last month have been recorded in the Hall of Fame.