Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pipe this

Guy who sends me stuff sends me this YouTube of a Forties sister group singing an unremarkable song and then doing some unbelievable physical stuff. Makes very envious my old, unbendy self.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Way out past Langtry on my recent jaunt, I was entertained by the people on bicycles and motorcycles. The bicyclists seemed to be part of a rally or race or something. For many miles they were strung out along the opposite shoulder of the road. Chugging up hills, they showed me faces that were either in smiles of transport from all the endorphins they were generating, or maybe those were rictuses of agony. I couldn't tell the difference.
The other group of two-wheelers was middle-aged motorcyclists. Did every doofus Yuppie in the whole damn country go out and buy a Harley? These just aren't the bikers of years ago. Back in the Sixties, I worked with a guy who said he'd got a bid to join the Hell's Angels out in Fresno. He was a reliable narrator; I never knew him to improve a story. It's probably better for all the world that he rejected the invitation. Smart as he was if he'd worked at crime he woulda been a terror. In his later years he ran a tattoo shop, Painless Pablo's, out on Dyer near Ft. Bliss in El Paso.
I think the modern phenomenon of the bourgeois biker is a little creepy in the way so many modern phenomena are creepy. They come down the road in big packs, but they have the intimidation factor of the Shriner contingent in a July 4th parade. Saw one middle-aged guy all done up in black-leather everything in Marfa trying to hustle a cute little waitress about half his age by telling her all about something he'd seen in a museum in Mexico. That's just sad … that chicklet wasn't interested in museums. Some people just don't get social nuances.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Road time

I think my thousand-mile shirt's out in the garage in a storage box and all eaten up with dryrot, but I did get around some this weekend. From noon Friday to noon Sunday I made around 1100 miles, all in a little trip to look at a piece of property out in Southwest Texas.
Stayed o'night in Del Rio both going out to Valentine and coming back. Stopped by the News-Herald, place I'd worked as a Linotype operator back in '63-'65. I had a good time living in Del Rio and have good memories of the place. I went by the newspaper office to pick up a paper and noticed life inside, so I just went on in. Had a nice conversation with a very likeable and bright lady name of Karen Gleason, senior staff writer. She's a birder and funny and really enjoys writing for the paper. The paper's doing amazingly well, perhaps because of the isolation of Del Rio. They run a page of local news in Spanish, a translator right there in the newsroom. The old building downtown on Main Street is now a tony-looking restaurant called The Herald. Imagine that … Yuppies dining where I used to bang out lead type.
Couple of blocks up the street Charlie Sotelo's Val Verde Recreation, joint where we could run tabs for beer, is now abandoned, all dirty windows and desolation. Too bad. Charlie's pool hall was a neat place. I used to drink beer with railroaders and old cowboys and such.
I made the run out to Valentine on Saturday, encountering $3.20/gal gas at one point. Marfa is just incredible – arty chicks walking purebred dogs and painfully hip people all over the streets. Right out there in authentic cowboy country, the place they filmed Giant.
Valentine is 200-odd souls, no gas, no café, no groceries, but a dentist and spectacular mountains, high and dry.
I am conflicted about the house. You wanna buy a little adobe + two more lots for $8 thou? Guy owns it swears that you can keep it warm in the winter with one mesquite log in the little stove.
[Forgive the flare on the pix; I shot them with a disposable camera and then shot the shots w/the digital camera.]

Cool stuff

This site, Vintagraph, has cool old posters. Fun to look at. Just threw that one out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A little contrition for bad behavior

Chris Reichert, now nationally infamous for throwing dollar bills at the guy with Parkinson's, is quoted in the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch, as feeling genuinely bad about his behavior:
In his first comments on an incident that went viral across the Internet and was repeatedly played on cable television news shows, Reichert said he is sorry about his confrontation with Robert A. Letcher, 60, of the North Side. Letcher, a former nuclear engineer who suffers from Parkinson's, was verbally attacked as he sat before anti-health care demonstrators in front of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy's district office last week.
Read the whole thing here. I hope Reichert's for real and not just trying to make the heat go away. This screaming and browbeating of people we disagree with has become an ugly characteristic of modern politics. Apparently it's a good dodge for some politicians, calling forth donations from people who like their politicians swinish.

Monday, March 22, 2010


We had brush pickup today. Had to cut down a kaffir lime tree that I'd raised from a pup. It got to be maybe ten feet tall. We're hoping that it will make a comeback from the roots. Kaffir lime leaf – Thai name makrut or maybe magroot – is that funny double-leaf you'll find floating in some savory Thai soups. It has a wonderful citrusy aroma. I made some bogus limoncello or maybe kaffircello with kaffir lime fruits and leaves. Used cheap vodka and sugar syrup and steeped the stuff for a week or so. An oddly appealing flavor, at once sweet and peppery. Censusing on the other side of the county I noticed a guy had a couple of kaffir lime trees in his yard. Turned out he was ex-military with, as I surmised, a Thai wife. His trees survived the winter freezes.
You could collect a pie's worth of blackbirds with one shot from a twelve-gauge out under the bird feeder these days. They're that thick that four-and-twenty are easily packed in shoulder to shoulder.
Wife reported that our resident great horned owl high up on a utility pole was checking out the pups during a late walk this week. Now and again you'll spot it silhouetted against the night sky. So damn big it just kinda makes you shake your head in amazement. I like to hear it and the smaller ones whooooing away late at night. The great horned is known to pick up skunks for a snack, and I hold hopes that they could go for cats, too. My Mexican students, even those who should've known better, were frightened to death of owls. Owls are supposed to be harbingers of death in Mexico. Harbinger of death in Mexico is a big SUV with tinted windows, not some nocturnal bird trying to scuffle up a mouse.
The owls ask simply Who? The whitewings ask Who cooks for you?, and they're asking it all around town. Noticed a lot of Eurasian collared doves on the east side of the county. We have a few over here, but not nearly so many.
Our neighborhood bull-of-the-woods tomcat seems to have disappeared, no doubt a victim of his many years and old war wounds. He was a tough old hide … ate from everyone's porch and allowed nobody to touch him. The power vacuum left by his absence has a lot of obnoxious toms wandering around truculent and marking, so the garage reeks with that nasty cat-pee odor.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sad story + PSA

We went to a memorial service tonight for a friend, a guy who'd done considerable remodeling work for us. He was a wonderful teller of tales, some dubious but all entertaining, and a meticulous craftsman. I was sorry to see him shuffle off the old coil. His absence will take a little of the spice out of life. We were assigned the meat dish in the dinner lottery, so I made a meatloaf that I'm sure our deceased friend, a cook himself, would have enjoyed.
This recipe came to me a month or so back from an old-and-dear who shares my enthusiasm for food. Its particular genius is that it takes all the ingredients for a bacon cheeseburger and puts them together in a different way to make a fantastic meatloaf. So, Jan's meatloaf:
4 slices bacon
1 1/2 pounds lean ground chuck or ground round
1 cup firm fresh white bread crumbs
1 cup coarsely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped
2 tablespoons regular or low-far mayonnaise
2 tablespoons India or other sweet pickle relish
2 teaspoons dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup ketchup
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over
medium heat until it is limp and some of the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes,
Remove the bacon from the skillet and reserve it.
2. In a large mixing bowl, use your hands to gently but thoroughly mix together the meat, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of the cheese, onion, mayonnaise, relish, mustard, salt, pepper and egg. Pat the mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking pan.
Spread the top of the loaf with the ketchup, then lay the bacon strips over the
3. Bake until the loaf is firm and the bacon is crisp, 45 to 50 minutes, sprinkling
the top of the loaf with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese to melt during the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. Internal temperature should be 155 degrees.
4. Let the meatloaf stand in the baking dish for 10 minutes, then cut into squares to serve.
Dunno where she got it, but it's aces. Try it; you'll like it. Good as a reheated leftover or in a sandwich.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Onward into spring

We got bee-loud jasmine on the front porch and yucca about to pop blooms in the back yard. And, better yet, I got to put on a pair of khaki shorts one day this week. Must be spring. Try This place for some spectacular English garden scenery.
And stirrings on the border. From My San Antonio site:
BROWNSVILLE — The Zapata County sheriff Thursday was questioning why a Mexican military helicopter was hovering over homes on the Texas side of the Rio Grande.

then further along in the story:
(Sigifredo) Gonzalez, the Zapata sheriff, said he couldn't confirm reports that the helicopter was scoping out the home of a drug criminal. He said the incursion about a mile over the border took place over a neighborhood populated by many U.S. Customs officers who work at area border crossings — and that they knew what they were seeing.

Read it all here. My wife suggests it may be time to call the troops back from the Middle East and put them on the border.
The Vicad has had some real local news of late, including an incomprehensible but intriguing tale of hospital hankypankery. Wouldn't you love to know the real and true story behind that story?
The Victoria Master Gardeners have their annual plant sale Saturday morning. It's an event worth the trip out to the airport.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


They're cutting up in Berkeley again. One pic I saw had a guy in it who would've looked right at home in news coverage of the Sixties riots. Guy named Michael Shedlock who runs a blog called Global Economic Analysis has some cogent remarks on the protests against budget cuts for the Cal universities:
Pray tell what is someone going to do with a degree in English literature, social science, journalism, history, French, political science, or math?
Exactly how many jobs are available in those areas compared to the number of students getting such degrees?

Read all of Mish's comments here. He's got some to say on the student-loan racket. It is approaching fraudulent to take students' money for classes in many subjects and downright criminal to encourage big-buck loans to finance degrees in those subjects. People are convinced that they have to have college degrees or that everyone is capable of doing university-level work; they beggar themselves and waste four years in fruitless effort, coming out yoked with debt and little better informed than they went in.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Couple, three days ago I was sitting reading and smoking a morning stogie when I became aware of a loud RRRrrrrrr, RRRrrrrrr, coming from the bay, a boat engine straining and not succeeding. I looked up and saw this scene between the trees on the corner.

Our harbor is full of boats homeported in other places. They're here for the oysters, and some of the captains may not understand just how shallow our bay is, especially with the low tides and north winds skinnying up the water. Local boats are built with shallow drafts. This poor out-of-towner put himself aground just a little way off the seawall and had to labor long to get disagrounded.

Sorry I haven't written

Been waist-deep in the Census work that we trained for last week, and it leaves me a little stupid. I wonder how we manage to get up and go to work every blessed day for decades. This little old patch of work leaves me too pressed for time and too tired to enjoy much of anything.
So, to clear off a little backlog, first this video, shot for a commercial, of slo-mo dogs catching a treat from the air. It's cool; you'll like it.
Then, the terremoto in Chile. It is a marker of my profound humanity that the first thing I thought wasn't, 'Oh, no … what'll this do to my supply of Carmenere?' (Carmenere is the lovely Chilean red that we favor, and the quake hit near the wine country.) However, the second thing I thought was just that. And now it appears that there will be an interruption in the Concha y Toro supply lines.
And from from True/Slant blog, a hope that the religious right in the U.S. not find a moral lesson in the quake: 'I’m sure Robertson can find some holy poop to throw against the wall and make stick in this case. Heck, if the tsunami that’s branching out kills anyone in Hawaii, I’m sure Pat will argue that it’s because they sent us President Obama.' You can read all that here. I haven't yet heard any of the bloody-minded holy imply that the quake was punishment for transgressions rather than unlucky geography.
And then for comparison to a historic American quake, the 1906 San Francisco quake, from a history site:
Scientists are still trying to accurately calculate the magnitude of the quake. Since the scientific instruments used to measure the earthquake weren't as reliable as more modern ones, scientists have yet to agree on the size of the magnitude, but most place it between 7.7 and 7.9 on the Richter scale (a few have said as high as 8.3).

Read all that here. So, at an est. 8.8, the Chilean quake was likely ten times worse than the San Fran quake. I read a lot on Chile a few years ago. I was gonna move to Chile after the time I was gonna move to Yucatán and before the time that San Rafael, Argentina, was my chosen destination. These day I'm moving to Uruguay. Next week, who knows? I never made to to Chile, but a friend who did says it's fine country.