July 31, 2012

From IRS to EX

Yesterday was unequivocally the worst day I have had in years that didn't involve someone's death.  Now, most of it was just pain-in-the-ass kinds of things, but those things stacked up along with the more intense crap and made it a toss up on whether to cry, drink or play in traffic.

My morning started with a call from the IRS.  Those three letters make you clinch up, no matter what.  The heavily accented field agent was calling to inform me that the 2010 tax records for the foundation I work for were being 'reviewed'.  I am awaiting the letter detailing the documents that she wants to see - I have nothing to fear as our record-keeping is stellar, but the IRS automatically puts me on the defensive. 

My day ended with a call from my ex-husband.  He never calls me.  Once Boom had a cell phone, he stopped communicating with me directly.  So, I wasn't expecting good news when I saw his number pop up.  What I didn't expect was such a glaring reminder of what a prick he is. His mom called last month, seething at him, thanking my husband for being the father to Boom that her son wasn't.  When the mother-in-law is disavowing you in favor of the first wife, shouldn't that be some sort of clue that you are a failure in the parenting department?

In between those two events were car repair frustrations, a near accident, a late flight, an unexpected and large dental bill, disappointed kid, large home repair issue and it was 107 degrees.

Trying hard to be thankful for a home, health, the love of my family and a well stocked liquor cabinet.

July 30, 2012

FOD - MSM hypocrisy edition

CBS hack, Mark Phillips, teeing up an interview with Michelle Obama by raising the issue of Romney's comments about London's preparedness and apparently taking a swipe at Ann Romney (because she has a horse competing?):
Phillips: This time, it’s proving to be about more than sport as well, particularly for some American politicians, perhaps their wives, so how do you think the preparations have gone so far?
Michelle: Oh my goodness, you know, the United Kingdom, they’ve had a phenomenal year, I mean, they’ve pulled off a major wedding, a diamond jubilee, and now the Olympics. They know what they’re doing.
H/T White House Dossier
I am sure Mr. Phillips is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to offer the same air time and opportunity to the Romneys.  Here are a couple of things he might like to ask about:

Hardest ticket in town?

Olympic Imposter
Olympic seats row: parents of athletes turned away from Aquatics Centre in confusion over London 2012 tickets


Widespread use of Twitter and other forms of social media by thousands of spectators lining the men’s cycling road race was to blame for poor transmission of race data, Olympic officials said.

The interference meant race officials could not keep track of timings and positions of competitors on Saturday, which also made it difficult for commentators to explain to TV viewers how the four-hour race was unfolding.

July 29, 2012

My Olympic Addiction

And so it begins...

Left to my own devices, I could go weeks without turning on the television.  I have a couple of things that I like to watch, and they are duly set to record for viewing at my leisure.  I get my news mostly online and via the radio when I am driving (I also continue to charitably support the print media with a daily newspaper subscription - I like the crosswords).

Every two years (thank you, makers of that decision) I become my husband.  Parked in front of the television, flipping channels, glued to sporting events for reasons that I can't explain.  Actually, I think it is much easier to explain away a fascination with Olympic sport - the coming together of nations, the tireless efforts of the athletes, the drama, the pageantry, the swimming attire. 

It isn't lost on my family that I was ribbing Mr. H for getting up at the crack of dawn a couple of weeks ago to watch the British Open in real time.  I haven't yet been caught - but have been watching a ridiculous amount of Olympic coverage in the middle of the night.  Any other time I would roll over and go back to sleep when the dogs, or some other noise wakes me.  Now, I think to myself, 'Hmmmm, wonder what Olympic event is on?' and turn on the TV.

In no particular order, I have watched; Swimming, gymnastics, judo, archery, handball, skeet shooting, rowing, table tennis, basketball, volleyball, beach volleyball, cycling, boxing, soccer, fencing.  All since Friday.  It is hard to believe I found time to shower and eat.  I am planning vacation activities around the Olympic event schedule. 

Gotta go - water polo is on live with badminton soon to follow.

July 28, 2012

The Porn Olympics

This, the thirtieth Summer Olympic Games, is unfortunately bestowed with the moniker 'XXX'.  I hadn't really thought about it until this morning, during a phone call with Bang, who is visiting his dad out of state.

I asked if he was going to watch the opening ceremonies, but he had his days mixed up, thinking the Olympics began tonight.  I corrected him and pointed out that there had been events already, in fact, we were watching soccer at the time.  Bang began searching through the channel guide for the NBC Sports channel.  After several minutes of frustration, I asked him what sort of television service he was using (DirecTV), and then Googled the channel guide to tell him what channel to go to.

"Mom, that says XXX," he said in hushed tones.

It took me a minute to realize his confusion, and God Bless Him, his good moral base that kept him from diving right in.

I am sure I am not the first to notice, but it was a funny situation for me and Bang.  Now I wonder how many internet filters have blocked legitimate websites due to the 'XXX" label.

I would also like some clarification on the use of Roman numerals to signify the number of Olympic contests.  They are of Greek origin, so wouldn't lambda be more fitting in this case?

Regardless of the number, we love us some Olympics around here.  It will be wall to wall viewing, trivia collecting and appreciation of people who work so hard for a few minutes competition.


July 27, 2012

Vacation Planning

As family and friends jet set around the nation and world to exotic locales, I am sitting in front of my computer comparing the rates at various chain hotels for a brief family getaway in a couple of weeks.

We hadn't been able to plan anything, as we were waiting on the dates for some of Boom's college related pre-term activities.  Now that we have the dates, it is late in the game, and we will have very little opportunity to do much before she reports to school on the 15th of August.

The youngest has been promised a trip to Schlitterbahn.  One day, that is all I can take of any water park.  From there, we have no requirements.  My kids want to see Bandera, as I wax poetic about it so often.   Boerne, Fredericksburg and Kerrville have come up as potential base locations.   Enchanted Rock is a maybe, as it will be freakin' August and none too cool.  San Antonio is okay, but we have been there and done that quite a bit.  No to Fiesta Texas and Sea World.  We would rather do activities around history, scenery and family time versus pay $50 per person to stand in line. 

At this point, the chances of finding a 'fun' place to stay that can accommodate a family of six are slim to none, so we most likely need a town with some major chain lodging.  The Princess saw a picture on the Kerrville website of some girls sitting on a little waterfall-ish river ledge and is very interested in going there.  To that exact spot.  Help me out Kerrcarto...

So, my Texas Hill Country friends, and those familiar with the area, any ideas for a short notice, 3 or 4 day, affordable Hill Country jaunt?  Our other option is a Texas BBQ trail trip, through Giddings, Luling, Lockhart, etc.  My ass really doesn't need the extra pounds, so, help a sister out with some ideas.

July 26, 2012

When parents react like children

Several years ago we were visiting Mr. Harper's family in El Paso.  Whenever we make the trip, Mr. H always has some old haunt that he wants us to experience.  For years I heard about Chico's Tacos and now wish that all I had was the stories.  I do not get the fascination with that dingy place.  I thought it was disgusting to have a paper boat of taquitos swimming in red sauce and smothered in yellow grated cheese.  Mr H was in heaven.

On one particular occasion seven-plus years ago, we were at a Mexican restaurant.  Our family of five (at that time) was seated in a booth with a high chair on the end for The Princess who was about 11-months old.  She liked to chew on things, are babies are wont to do.  We had been keeping her occupied with a straw.  Just a normal, restaurant straw from my iced tea.  The Princess had been gnawing on the straw for several minutes, as we all finished eating.   As Mr. H got up to pay the bill, he lifted TP out of the high chair and stood her on the booth next to me.  She still had the straw and was alternately chewing, and then pulling the straw out through her clenched teeth.  One of these motions caused the giant glob of saliva that was in the straw to fly through the air and land smack between the shoulder blades of the gentleman in the neighboring booth.

It landed with enough force that his hand immediately appeared, feeling around to see what had struck him on the back.  We sat petrified, watching as his fingertips missed the spreading wet spot by mere millimeters.

I failed miserably as a parent at this point.  I set the worst example possible.  I grabbed our things, hustled the kids out of the booth and ran for the car, turning Mr. H around mid-stride and giving him the 'I'll explain later' look.

I didn't apologize.  I didn't even acknowledge that my kid flung spit at the guy.  He was just seconds away from turning around and asking his wife to see if there was something on his back.  We would have been toast at that point, and the maximum allowable time for taking responsibility and salvaging the situation had already passed.

I've been back to El Paso since, but refuse to eat at that restaurant.  I am fairly certain that any rational human would have been understanding, if not a little disgusted, by a baby getting some of her saliva on him.   It was my reaction that was irrational.  And chicken shit.  I ran.  I don't even like to drive by that place anymore.  The guilt weighs heavy on my soul.

In my nightmares I still see that man's middle finger brush within a hair's width of the glistening pool of baby spit - and I still feel the adrenaline rush as we dove into the car as if we had just robbed the place.  I recall almost wetting my pants laughing - once we were well away from the scene - laughing at both the incident and my flight reflex overreaction.

I am sure that guy finally figured out that some sort of liquid was on his back, and that it came from our table.  Sorry, dude.  I should have said something.  

July 25, 2012

What I hate about Chick-Fil-A...

I shouldn't say 'hate', so let's go with the thing I strongly dislike:  They are closed on Sunday.

I can't tell you how many times I have gotten in my car and driven to Chick-Fil-A on a Sunday, not remembering they were closed until I pulled into the empty parking lot.  

And that is the only thing I don't like.

I don't care what the owner thinks about gay marriage.  Isn't the root of tolerance the ability to tolerate and appreciate that everyone has their own opinion and belief system?   Isn't the root of community finding like-minded people to share life with? 

So why is it that every time some conservative person speaks their mind, the liberals immediately label it as intolerant hate speech?  And then when like-minded people join in with words of support, they are branded as bigots?

We are all as free as we want to be.  It is as simple as that.  Do not stand there and demand that I agree with you, or support the things you support.  Stand tall on your own, believing what you will, speaking your mind and appreciating that your ability to do so also depends on my ability to believe what I will and express those sentiments as I see fit.

Tomorrow, I am going to go to Chick-Fil-A.  Not because Dan Cathy is Baptist, closes his stores on Sunday and believes that the Bible teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman.  I will go to Chick-Fil-A because I like the food.  The people are friendly.  They give me free food (I still have one dessert left to redeem on my Mother's Day dessert card).  Once or twice a year they will give anyone in a cow costume a free meal.  They donate and deeply discount chicken sandwiches for local schools and groups.  They have carrot raisin salad.  They have awesome ketchup packets.  I love the waffle fries.

And all this press coverage has me hungry for some nuggets and an iced tea.

July 23, 2012

This made me laugh...

H/T White House Dossier


The current occupier of the Oval Office is a crass, opportunistic, pompous piece of shit.  I think it is fitting for a president to visit survivors and families of the deceased when tragedy strikes.  I do not think it is ever appropriate to head on down to the hospital lobby and give a speech to the media gathered there.  I even more fervently condemn his sharing of personal stories on behalf of those he talked to.  Those are their stories, their memories of loved ones, their tales of heroism.  The most presidential, classy thing you could do would be to duck out of the building quietly and remember to pick up the phone and - again, without media coverage - give those people a call to check up on them a time or two over the next several weeks and months.

July 22, 2012

Not my kid

Friday night my family went out to dinner.  Seated next to us was a table with a 12-14-year old boy, his grandparents and another older gentleman.  If I had to guess, I would say that the boy was in town visiting the grandparents, as he wasn't from around here.  By that I mean he had a distinctive accent, or lack thereof.  He certainly wasn't from Texas or anywhere else that a little twang normally creeps in.

The boy was wearing head to toe Lakers regalia - jersey, shorts, shoes and a hat.  A flat-brimmed, too big for his head, ugly ass hat that still had the original stickers on it and was placed so that the midline of the brim was somewhere near his right temple. (I got news for all you sideways hat thugs - the 'leave the tags and stickers on' thing has been done before.  Google Minnie Pearl and tell me how cool you feel now).

I know many a parent that is guilty of letting their kids display a misguided sense of independence through their clothing, speech and activities.  When a kid is four and wants to wear his Superman costume to the grocery store, that is cute.  When your upper middle class white kid wants to dress and talk like a thug, sporting his Metta World Peace jersey, show some parenting skills.
I am never really surprised at the outfits and attitudes that I see on teenage kids out in public.  I am thankful that I seem to have instilled some sense of modesty and decorum in my oldest kids (the others are too young to know for sure).  Boom wonders aloud if girls know or care that their ass is hanging out of their Daisy Dukes.  We laugh at the muffin tops and outrageous attempts to display teenage cleavage.

When Bang tries to throw out some youthful attempt at sounding tough or ghetto cool - like, 'You mad bro?' - our family busts out laughing.  That is never going to fly in this house - and acknowledging that isn't going to harm Bang's psyche or cause him to start dressing all in black.

When are parents going to start taking a stand?  What has the past 40+ years of indulgent parenting gotten us?  Baby daddies, childhood obesity, gangs, drugs, thugs and the biggest welfare class our country has ever seen.  There is no sense of personal responsibility or accountability, no work ethic, no moral foundation.

July 21, 2012

My life is a sitcom v.837.

Boom inches toward actually taking her driver's license road test.  She is a competent, if still a bit under-confident, driver.  Twice she has driven the 200+ mile stretch between home and college.  She has driven in Dallas rush hour, in bad weather, at night and her straight-in parking is sufficient.  The only thing left is the ever popular parallel parking.

Last night, we happened to be near the DPS station where Boom will take her test.  Mr. Harper had met us for dinner, so we had two cars, offering up a sterling opportunity for one of the parents to take Boom to practice parallel parking in the space where she will be tested on it.  Mr. Harper's SUV is three feet shorter than mine, so he opted to take her for a practice round.

The other kids and I headed home to take care of pet and yard chores.  I was watering a drought-stressed Redbud tree when Boom and Mr. H pulled in.  Boom excitedly recounted how awesomely she did for her first time trying to parallel park.  She told me how nervous she was as she had apparently arrived at State Trooper shift change, and that a couple of the troopers sat in their cars and watched her.

Another car pulled in to the lot, waiting for their turn to practice and literally applauded her parking prowess.  She was going on and on, and then mentioned 'the picture'.  She had texted me a picture, but my phone was in the house. 
Boom:  You have to go look mom, I was so close to the curb.  My door was just inches from the curb.
Me:  What?  You mean dad's door.
Boom:  No, but I think it will be harder when I try to park with the passenger side toward the curb.
Me:  Wait.  What?  What do you mean?  When would you not park with the passenger side to the curb? 
Boom:  Well, that is how their practice spot is, you pull in and it is on the left.
Me:  No, you go around the building and enter the drive from the rear.
Boom:  *blink.blink*  DAAaaaaaaaad!

Not just the teenager, mind you, but the grown man.  The one that has had a license for over 30 years.  The one tiny little bit of practice time I ask my husband to oversee and they parallel parked with the driver's door to the curb.  Oh, sweet Jesus.  I don't know if it has sunk in yet that the troopers were likely picking their jaws up off the floor, praying that they didn't have to give the road test to this brain trust - and the other driver waiting was either equally as confused, or clapping sarcastically.

I should probably check YouTube for dashcam video...in the meantime, here is the photo Boom was so proud of:

July 20, 2012

Prayers for Colorado

Some idiot shattered the lives of an untold number of families, friends and witnesses.  Praying for everyone but the shooter, 'cause I'm just not that good of a Christian.

July 19, 2012

John Kass nails it

When President Barack Obama hauled off and slapped American small-business owners in the mouth the other day, I wanted to dream of my father. But I didn’t have to close my eyes to see my dad. I could do it with my eyes open.

All I had to do was think of the driveway of our home, and my dad’s car gone before dawn, that old white Chrysler with a push-button transmission. It always started, but there was a hole in the floor and his feet got wet in the rain. So he patched it with concrete mix and kept on driving it to the little supermarket he ran with my Uncle George.

He’d return home long after dark, physically and mentally exhausted, take a plate of food, talk with us for a few minutes, then flop in that big chair in front of the TV. Even before his cigarette was out, he’d begin to snore.

The next day he’d wake up and do it again. Day after day, decade after decade. Weekdays and weekends, no vacations, no time to see our games, no money for extras, not even for McDonald’s. My dad and Uncle George, and my mom and my late Aunt Mary, killing themselves in their small supermarket on the South Side of Chicago.

There was no federal bailout money for us. No Republican corporate welfare. No Democratic handouts. No bipartisan lobbyists working the angles. No Tony Rezkos. No offshore accounts. No Obama bucks.

Just two immigrant brothers and their families risking everything, balancing on the economic high wire, building a business in America. They sacrificed, paid their bills, counted pennies to pay rent and purchase health care and food and not much else. And for their troubles they were muscled by the politicos, by the city inspectors and the chiselers and the weasels, all those smiling extortionists who held the government hammer over all of our heads.

I thought about this after I heard what Obama told a campaign crowd the other day, speaking about business owners and why they were successful.

“You didn’t get there on your own,” Obama said.

“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that? Somebody else made that happen?

Somebody else, Mr. President? Who, exactly? Government?

One of my earliest memories as a boy at the store was that of the government men coming from City Hall. One was tall and beefy. The other was wiry. They wanted steaks.

We didn’t eat red steaks at home or yellow bananas. We took home the brown bananas and the brown steaks because we couldn’t sell them. But the government men liked the big, red steaks, the fat rib-eyes two to a shrink-wrapped package. You could put 20 or so in a shopping bag.

“Thanks, Greek,” they’d say. That was government.

We didn’t go to movies or out to restaurants. Everything went into the business. Uncle George and dad never bought what they could not afford. The store employed people, and the workers fed their families and educated their children and put them through college. They were good people, all of them. We worked together and worked hard, but none worked harder than the bosses.

It’s the same story with so many other businesses in America, immigrants and native-born.

The entrepreneurs risk everything, their homes, their children’s college funds, their hearts, all for a chance at the dream: independence, and a small business of their own.

When I was grown and gone from home, my parents finally managed to save a little money. After all those years of hard work and denying themselves things, they had enough to buy a place in Florida. Dad died only a few years later. You wouldn’t call them rich. But Obama might.

Obama’s changed. Gone is that young knight drawing the sword from the stone, selling Hopium to the adoring media, preaching an end to the broken politics of the past. These days, he wears a new persona: the multimillionaire with the Chicago clout, playing the class warrior, fighting for that second term.

And he offers an American dream much different from my father’s. Open your eyes and you can see it too. He stands there at the front of the mob, in his shirt sleeves, swinging that government hammer, exhorting the crowd to use its votes and take what it wants.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.  Column from here.

Breeding a new generation of stupid

I met some incredibly smart and talented young people this week at my daughter's college orientation.  On the other hand, I was shocked at the number of complete imbeciles that are taking up space in a highly competitive freshman class.

Now, I have had my say about Texas' top ten percent rule, a ridiculous law that grants automatic admission to the top ten percent of each high school's senior class.  Clearly there are schools in Texas that are graduating people who would still be in middle school in more competitive districts.  You may think I am exaggerating, but I am not.

There are, I am sure, kids who succeeded because they were propped up by parents and tutors that did most of the work for them.  These would be the same parents that ignore the 'students only' signs during key sections of the college orientation process.  The ones screaming bloody murder about the FERPA regulations that, as any common sense person could deduct, give their children - who are over eighteen years of age and legal adults, the right to restrict their grade and attendance records from their parent's prying eyes. 

Advisers tell stories about parents that have hijacked their child's university email account and used it to correspond with professors and advisers, posing as their child.  This is college, for goodness sake!

Since acceptance letters started coming out in the fall, we have been bombarded with letters and emails with checklists of the things that needed to be done to complete college admittance.  There are websites, Twitters and Facebook pages for each college department that also serve to remind students of what they should be doing at each step of the way.  I can't tell you how many people are wasting oxygen on this planet, unable to do anything on their own, without someone walking them through it step by step.

Note to the young man sitting behind us at the adviser overview - if you have to ask your mother if you took any AP or dual credit courses, you probably didn't.  And, to that boy who wasn't aware that he would have to actually register for classes on his own (assuming that the school would assign him a schedule) - you are in way over your head. 

I sincerely hope that some of these kids are poised to flourish once they are out from under the control of their stupid parents.  On the other hand, some of these kids are nothing more than an occupier of a seat that should have gone to a smart kid that wants an education not a spoiled brat that wants a college experience.

July 18, 2012


This isn't one of those 'reveal-your-darkets-secrets' sorts of blogs, but I have one that I need to get off my chest. 

I smuggled an illegal product into the United States.  Intentionally and illicitly.  I have also knowingly been the recipient of the same product, smuggled by others at my request.  I am not alone...
Two Seattle men say they spent more than two hours in a detention center at the Canadian border after U.S. border agents discovered illegal chocolate eggs in their car.
Brandon Loo and Christopher Sweeney told KOMO-TV they decided to bring home some treats for friends and family during a recent trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. They bought Kinder Eggs -- chocolate eggs with a toy inside.
The two men say border guards searched their car and said the eggs are illegal in the United States because young children could choke on the small plastic toys. Importing them can lead to a potentially hefty fine.
When we lived in Germany, my kids loved Kinder Eggs.  They are simply an average-size plastic egg covered in a thin layer of white and milk chocolate.  After eating the chocolate (or taking it off for later), there is a toy inside the egg.  They toys often come in a set or series, thus encouraging further purchases to collect each model.  Yes, the toys are small.  In fact, many of them require assembly, so the individual parts are quite small.
I Googled and Googled, but couldn't find any alarming statistics on the number of choking injuries and deaths suffered by children outside the United States that don't have the Consumer Product and Safety Commission to ban toys for them.  It is entertaining to note that most of our Kinder Eggs were purchased at the base commissary.  I wonder if the CPSC's long arm has put a stop to that yet?
Near our home is the headquarters and retail outlet of a wonderful place called The German Deli.  They are the go-to place for former military jonesing for the products they came to love while stationed in Deutschland.  When we first returned to the area, they were able to import Kinder Eggs, but they had to add a huge warning sticker about the choking hazard.  Within months, they could no longer do that, and Kinder Eggs have been contraband ever since.  Luckily for my kids, we know lots of folks that travel through, or are stationed in, places where they can buy Kinder Eggs.
While this isn't a new story, or a very interesting one, think about the costs for a moment.  The review and testing of products, the report writing, the regulations, the dissemination of information, the training of agents.  Take any one little product that Big Brother has decided we can't take personal responsibility for buying and consuming, and try to put a number on how many government employees are responsible for keeping us from it.  Is it any wonder we are broke?

July 17, 2012

College Daze

What part of Texas is this anyway?  College Station isn't north, or south, east or west.  It is kind of southeastern middle, I guess.  It isn't Houston, which is good enough for me.  Or Amarillo.  Or Lubbock.  No offense, but if my kid had decided to go to school in any of those towns, it would have been with minimal parental visitation. 

Here I am again, getting orientated.  More accurately, Boom is getting the info and I am getting hit up for the money.  Tuition, fees, books, dorm and dining was expected.  Sports pass, uniforms and dues have been added.  Parking permit. Lab fees.  Foundation membership. 

Of course, the tuition and living expenses are the biggest.   People keep looking at me cross-eyed when I mention that we have saved money for Boom's college education.  No, I don't want a Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan at 6.8% interest with a 1% origination fee.  I have credit cards at lower rates, for goodness sake.   But, they say, you don't have to repay until after graduation.  Yeah, but interest accrues immediately.  No wonder people aren't paying back student loans, they never understood the terms to begin with.

The absence of common sense in our world constantly infuriates me.  The politically correct, nanny state, everyone gets a fair shake mentality is WRONG.  I drove to this town in my ten year old vehicle, clutching my folder of documents showing seventeen years of financial planning for this part of Boom's life.  I want to walk into the financial aid office and point out that the number of iPhones in the kids' hands would pay for, at least, a couple of four year degrees.  These kids don't deserve 'need based' aid, they deserve a real education, one they work toward and for.  One that requires them to sacrifice the wants in their lives.

What did I expect?  People in our country illegally get admitted to state colleges - and they get aid.  It seems being a hard-working white American-born kid is a detriment.   Bang has high cheek bones, maybe our family has some native American blood that I forgot about...

July 16, 2012


Saturday, Obama explained that the American dream is flawed.  Hard work and dedication don't lend themselves to success, only reliance on the government does.
...if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  (Applause.)
     If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet...
Oh, okay.  Then what about all those things you have taken credit for, Blowie?  Care to spread the love and admit that nothing you have accomplished was because you are smart or worked hard?

I guess Blowie has to play the groupthink card to explain away all of the things he promised but didn't accomplish.  He needs another four years, 'cause he tries real hard...

Granny Jan and Jihad Kitty supplied the video.  Excellent work on this and other subjects at their site.

July 15, 2012

Walking Disaster

Last night there were some storms to our east which resulted in a rather severe outflow boundary that caused some gusty winds as it moved through.  Woke up this morning to find a tree toppled in the yard.  It was a dead tree, and its falling only hastened the cutting and removal of the wood.

I am still hobbling around from my double-fall week, and am now sporting a bandaged finger from a knife accident in the kitchen yesterday.  I probably should have gotten stitches, but, in the grand scheme of things, I just couldn't stomach an emergency room bill.  There is no apparent nerve damage, I got the bleeding stopped and steri-stripped the edges back together, good as new.  As long as I keep my hand above my heart, the throbbing is manageable.  Makes it hard to type, though.

Mr. H is at work this morning, and that tree is lying out there in the yard, mocking me, reminding me that it is only getting hotter with each passing moment.  I have to go to College Station (again) tomorrow morning, so time is of the essence. 

I just can't seem to convince any of the kids to come help me with the chain saw...

Feeling Old

My oldest child turned 18 this week.  In a month she will be headed to college as my youngest starts kindergarten.  Boom waxed poetic about 'milestone' birthdays, kindly stopping at 30, as not to remind me that milestone birthdays aren't as much fun on the downside of the hill.

I don't feel especially old because I still enjoy my life.  I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who that middle aged woman is and what happened to her waistline. I have fun.  I have normal worries but nothing that causes me daily concern.  My family is healthy and mostly happy - my kids keep me active and feeling young.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to hang out with some younger and much better looking folks in Bandera.  Is 'hang out' even the appropriate verbiage these days?

In the course of a conversation, there was a misunderstanding - a couple of us well-seasoned lady-folks were talking to some nice looking twenty-something year old young men (NLYM).  One of the NLYM gave a quick, and quite politically correct answer to a question about me, to which I replied...

Me:  Oh, you're good.  You'll go far.

NLYM: I'm a good f*ck.

ME:  *blink*

I don't remember the rest of the conversation after that comment, we kind of laughed it off and moved on, I think.  A minute or two later it was brought to our attention that NLYM was not making a statement, he was repeating what he thought I said to him. 

Oh crap!  I panicked.  I demanded that we track down NLYM and fix it.  I was mortified.  How do the Demi Moores and Mariah Careys of the world not feel like pedophiles?  I was just misunderstood by a drunk guy and I wanted to bury my head in the sand.

In hindsight, I doubt the NLYM even remembered the incident the next morning.  Unfortunately for me, there was a cell phone video recording of the event, replayed several times for the amusement of those who had missed it the night before. 

Just call me Mrs. Robinson.  

July 14, 2012

This kid's got talent

When I was 3-years old I demonstrated a talent for playing piano by ear.  Ten or so years of lessons later, I have a very formal musical education that lacks a lot of creative influence.  I wonder what might have been, had I just been allowed to go my own way a bit.  This kid joins the other YouTube greats, that kid with the ukelele, that Japanese kid that shreds 'Crazy Train' and this other kid that drums.  I gotta hand it to young Jaxson, though, he wins on cuteness points.

July 13, 2012

I do all my own stunts

A couple of days ago I fell down.  Twice.  These weren't little falls.  Both were spectacular.  Either of them on video would be going viral right now.

The first resulted when my cell phone rang.  I had been waiting on an important call and it finally came when I was at the other end of the house.  I sprinted down the hallway toward the phone and Crash rounded the corner right in front of me.  There was no way to avoid a collision, but the mom in me did all that I could to minimize the damage to the child. 

I put my hands on his head as we met, trying to jump up and to the left, as I directed him to the right.  It worked out well for him, as he spun around and fell to his knees, rather than being knocked flat with a head injury.  I didn't fare so well.

I  landed on my knee first, then hip, then cartwheeled over into the vacuum.  The girls heard the crash and the cussing, and found me writhing in agony on the dining room floor.  Everything hurt, but there was no blood, so I was thankful.  Crash didn't have a mark on him.

Later that afternoon, Boom and I had just returned from the feed store.  When we put hay away, we let Clara (the horse) graze in the backyard, so she doesn't molest us trying to get at her new food.  We had also stopped to get a few items at the grocery store, so I headed in to put them away.  Clara was near the back door as I came through the detached garage.  She is known for trying to follow people in the house or garage, and since my hands were full of grocery bags, I knew I should hurry to avoid getting cornered by the horse. 

I don't know what I tripped on, if anything other than my own feet, but I found myself falling face first down the two concrete steps from the garage to the back patio.  I am not even sure how I landed, as my brain was screaming at me to get up lest I be trampled by a horse.  In fact, my crash, and the resultant colorful language, startled the horse and she was kicking and running across the yard when Boom came running. 

I gathered up the groceries that had gone flying and limped into the house.  This fall did result in blood, my knee, shin, foot and toes were scraped and bleeding.  I think my upper body landed on the grocery bags, as there were no scrapes or cuts, just pain and bruising.  Half the eggs survived the crash. 

In both cases, my hands being occupied probably saved me from breaking a hand or wrist.  I won't even begin to pretend that I am such a ninja that I would have remembered to not try to break my fall with them.  Two days later I look, and feel, like I was in a car wreck.  Everything is out of whack, my left leg from hip to toe is painful, swollen, bruised, scabbed.  One toe is likely fractured.  Left elbow is quite sore.  Pride deflated. 

My kids are treating me like a tottering old person.  They aren't excited about the prospect of me driving anywhere in my accident prone phase, but we have places to go today.  I probably shouldn't remind them that it is Friday the 13th...

July 12, 2012


Every August I get a major case of the ass, when presented with the annual school supply list.  Today I am not bitching about the ridiculous demands, the quantities, the specificity or the cost (though each is worthy of their own post).

As discount chains and office supply stores gear up for the shopping season, I like to have our lists at the ready, so I don't miss out on a key consumer savings opportunity.  Yesterday, I shuffled through the 'back-to-school' packet that was given out at the end of the school year.  I pulled out The List.

Among the usual suspects was this:
Crayola Washable Multicultural Markers, 8 count
Multicultural markers?  WTF? Needless to say, I ain't buying them.

Behold, 'ethnically sensitive' markers, 'specialty markers represent skin tone, hair colors and eye colors.  Represents the diversity of our world.  Includes tan, beige, tawny, golden beige, terra cotta, mahogany and sienna.'.  GMAFB. 

Mr Harper is a fair-skinned redhead with hazel eyes.  None of those colors are represented in the multicultural pack.  They got something against Irish guys?  None of my family's eye colors are represented, for that matter.  Don't try to tell me that the standard blue and green in the Classic marker pack is supposed to suffice - those colors are no more accurate than using black to draw Obama.

Why is it that caucasian isn't a culture or heritage worth recognition or special products?  And why is it that pointing it out makes me a racist?

July 11, 2012

Bad Timing

I have been shopping for a vehicle for Boom for months.  In fact, I have been casually looking to replace my car and/or Mr Harper's car for nearly two years.  A couple of different car salesmen have my number and vehicle preferences to let me know if one becomes available.  I am not asking for the moon, basically the same vehicle I have, just newer.

The savvy consumer and concerned mother in me wants to buy Boom a 'certified pre-owned' car.  Someone else can take the initial depreciation hit while she gets a slightly used car with new car perks like a warranty and roadside assistance as she leaves home for the first time. 

Four years ago, giving your phone number to a car salesman was a guarantee of endless phone calls and annoying sales pitches.  Oh, they still call occasionally, only to say that they haven't found what I am looking for and encourage me to come see the other choices they have on their lot.

During the recession, 19 million fewer new cars were sold between 2008 and 2011 than in the previous four years.  And let's not forget the nearly 700,000 used cars permanently decommissioned during Cash for Clunkers.  That makes supplies scarce.  When the supply contracts, the price goes up - and used car prices are at all-time highs. 

In fact, certain models of used cars are very near the price of a new model.  It is hard to justify buying a two year old car with 30,000-40,000 miles on it when the new version is less than 20% more.  I think the whole certified pre-owned slant has turned into quite a racket that allows dealerships to inflate prices.  The local Ford house salesman told me that they can certify any car within a certain year and mileage range.  It is essentially the same thing as buying the old fashioned extended warranty - they are just adding it upfront and claiming they did some 200-point inspection. 

This car search for the kid is driving me to distraction.  I blame Obama.

July 10, 2012

Free Speech Death by Lynch Mob

The true erosion of Free Speech isn't in the restrictions and dampers placed by big government.  The death of our right to speak our minds is a slow one, played out on the Internet and on editorial pages across the nation.

The most venomous diatribes and threats come from those groups of people that have long screamed for equal treatment and for everyone to appreciate individual choice and the freedoms that support it.

Case in point: Brad Pitts' mother wrote a rebuttal opinion letter to her local paper (refuting another letter writer's assertion that Christians cannot vote for a Mormon), noting that Obama (among other things):
...did not hold a public ceremony to mark the National Day of Prayer and is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage."
Those are all factually true statements.  Momma Pitt's point was that Christians should not dismiss Romney due to his Mormonism, but should prayerfully consider the candidates' positions on those fundamental moral issues.  Enter the screaming minority, which Twitchy aptly described thusly:
“Time for the left’s self-proclaimed arbiters of tolerance to teach her a lesson with their hateful, misogynist slurs and death wishes.”
Some of the social media comments they gathered relating to the Pitts story include:
“Brad Pitt’s mom, die,” wrote Twitter-poster Sandy Kownacka.
A tweet from “I Bleed Gaga” echoed similar sentiments, saying, “Brad Pitt’s mom wrote an anti-gay pro-Romney editorial. Kill the b—-.”
Other comments included, “F— you, brad pitt’s mom, the gay community made your kid a star, you whacko,” and, “Brad Pitt’s mom is a dumb c—.”
Can't you just feel the love and acceptance of the gay community?  I know, I know, these shitheads don't speak for everyone, but, unfortunately, they are speaking the loudest and getting the most media coverage.

P.S.  That Twitchy is fun to click around.  Check out this story and collection of Tweets about #OverheardatObamaFundraiser.

July 9, 2012

FOD 2nd Amendment Attack

Larry Bell, in Forbes, writes:
It may not come as surprising news to many of you that the United Nations doesn’t approve of our Second Amendment. Not one bit. And they very much hope to do something about it with help from some powerful American friends. Under the guise of a proposed global “Small Arms Treaty” premised to fight “terrorism”, “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates” you can be quite certain that an even more insidious threat is being targeted – our Constitutional right for law-abiding citizens to own and bear arms.
In 2010, the United States joined 152 other countries, agreeing to draft gun controls in our country, as part of something called the U.N. Arms Treaty Resolution.
While the terms have yet to be made public, if passed by the U.N. and ratified by our Senate, it will almost certainly force the U.S. to:
  1. Enact tougher licensing requirements, creating additional bureaucratic red tape for legal firearms ownership.
  2. Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms (exempting those owned by our government of course).
  3. Ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons (any that have magazines even though they still operate in the same one trigger pull – one single “bang” manner as revolvers, a simple fact the ant-gun media never seem to grasp).
  4. Create an international gun registry, clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.
  5. In short, overriding our national sovereignty, and in the process, providing license for the federal government to assert preemptive powers over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment in addition to our Second Amendment rights.
In municipal and state government there are things that cannot be done without the citizens voting to ratify - in Texas, many budget measures, taxing issues and changes to our State Constitution need voter approval before becoming law.

I get how a representative government is supposed to work, but there should be mechanisms in place that give a bigger voice to the citizens of this country.  A representative government, to me, is electing people you trust to make the day-to-day decisions about operating our country, while taking more controversial, expensive and/or foundational issues to the people for a vote.

No one, not the president, not the Secretary of State, nor Congressional representatives should have the power to unilaterally change our Constitution without allowing the people to voice their wishes at the polls.

There was a time when our entire nation would have been up in arms about such a change - not because of their stance on owning guns, but because our nation was established with these core rights and freedoms, and, once upon a time, every American was willing to stand up for the sanctity and preservation of those rights, whether it personally affected them or not.

I want to live in that America.

July 8, 2012

Able Archer?

As I type this, the lead story on major news sites is about the heat wave across the United States.  As a child of the Cold War era, I can't believe that this chilling story isn't making headlines across the nation:
Russian nuclear-capable bombers intercepted near West Coast in second U.S. air defense zone intrusion in two weeks.
Holy Crap!
Two Russian strategic nuclear bombers entered the U.S. air defense zone near the Pacific coast on Wednesday and were met by U.S. interceptor jets, defense officials told the Free Beacon.
It was the second time Moscow dispatched nuclear-capable bombers into the 200-mile zone surrounding U.S. territory in the past two weeks.
An earlier intrusion by two Tu-95 Bear H bombers took place near Alaska as part of arctic war games that a Russian military spokesman said included simulated attacks on “enemy” air defenses and strategic facilities.
A defense official said the Pacific coast intrusion came close to the U.S. coast but did not enter the 12-mile area that the U.S. military considers sovereign airspace.
The bomber flights near the Pacific and earlier flights near Alaska appear to be signs Moscow is practicing the targeting of its long-range air-launched cruise missiles on two strategic missile defense sites, one at Fort Greely, Alaska and a second site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Since when does the United States sit idly by as Russia uses our own coast for target practice?  Oh yeah, since Obama decided that placating Putin was the best Russian foreign policy.

NORAD and some Canadian military official claim that Ruskie bombers in the 200-mile Air Defense Identification Zone is not out of the ordinary.  Happens all the time, has been happening for 50 years, nothing at all to worry about, look away, look away.

The first of these two incidents saw Russian Tu-95MS bombers (greeted by U.S. F-15s and Canadian CF-18s), on the same day that Obama and Putin were meeting in Mexico.  The second incursion was on the 4th of July.  Coincidence or Russian bravado?  And Russian military isn't downplaying the flights in the same manner:
Russian Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Vladimir Deryabin, told reporters in Moscow last month that the arctic strategic war games “practice destruction of enemy air defenses and strategic facilities.”
I have often struggled to explain the Cold War to my kids.  The civil defense drills, the ever-present threat of nuclear war, the emotions, the preparations, the paranoia.  We were talking just the other day, about how when I was a kid at play, the bad guys were always Russians - how lucky my kids are to have to use comic book villains and aliens as their imaginary threats.  I forgot to knock on wood.

I remember Able Archer in 1983 and can't help but worry that we are ignoring an imminent threat.

July 7, 2012

Blaming Clinton?

Alan Krueger, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, in a post on the White House blog, reacting to the June jobs report:
There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making.
More than a decade?  To be quite literal, 'more than a decade' would have to be, what, eleven years?  But, 'more than a decade', for me, indicates 11-15 years - even up to 19 years (at which point you would say, 'nearly two decades').  I can't figure out if this is a continuation of the 'blame Bush' mentality, or if Krueger is reaching back even further to the Clinton administration.  It would seem ridiculous, by any means, but there is no love lost between the Clintons and Obamas, so I wouldn't put it past Blowie to throw some heat Bill's way.

While we are left to wonder how many years 'more than a decade' is intended to cover, should we take a shot at the length of time indicated by the word 'quick'?   Clearly, three years is 'quick', in the context of 'there are no quick fixes'.

Who are the people that believe this tripe?  Obama has occupied the Oval for three and a half years.  Name any other job that would be satisfied with a manager who, 42 months into the job, was still blaming the decisions of his predecessors, 11 years removed.

July 6, 2012

Animal hugger

I love my animals.  The recent loss of my oldest dog still catches me off-guard.  The leash that we used when we took him to the vet for the last time was still in the back of my car when I was preparing for my Bandera road trip last week.  Mr. H took it out for me - a silly little thing, but having it there made it seem as if it were any other time that we had left Woody at the vet and we would be headed back to get him soon.

My grandparents were farmers.  Farm animals, as well as the dogs and cats, came and went with regularity - for obvious reasons, as well as the hardships of life in the country.  I think I was probably fifteen before I realized that the bird dog, 'Spot', was not the same dog year after year.  My granddad always got brown and white bird dogs and he always named them 'Spot'.  Saved me some heartache as a kid, I am sure, but I still wonder how many dogs came and went while I thought it was just the one.

I have always tried to make the best decisions for my animals - thankfully, we have never been put in a position that we couldn't afford to provide care or treatment that was deemed necessary.  Thankfully, we live in an area with great veterinarians that still hold the animal's quality of life above all other considerations, including their ability to make a buck.

This story broke my heart.  Not the story, so much, because it is a sad fact of our lives that animals are euthanized every day, but the photographs are haunting.
Tou Chih-kang captures expressions, personality. He creates the kind of photos that any pet owner would love to have.
This puppy has no owner and will not get one. Once its photo shoot is over, it will be taken away by vets to be put down.
Tou has been recording the last moments of canines at the Taoyuan Animal Shelter for two years. He has captured the images of some 400 dogs, most of which were pets abandoned by their owners. To him the work is distressing, but he's trying to spread a message of responsibility.
"I believe something should not be told but should be felt," says Tou, a thick-bodied 37-year-old with an air of quiet confidence. "And I hope these images will arouse the viewers to contemplate and feel for these unfortunate lives, and understand the inhumanity we the society are putting them through."
I certainly could not do what this man is doing - I would become the crazy lady with all the animals when Hoarders came knocking.  I would take every one of them home with me...

Photo taken one hour before 'merciful death' by

Tou Chih-kang

July 5, 2012

Premature Ignition

I missed out on seeing any fireworks displays yesterday, opting to go see 'Magic Mike' after the day's pool and grill-related festivities wrapped up.  The movie wasn't as funny as I expected, but the scenery was enough to make me feel like I got my ten bucks worth. 

The people of San Diego probably aren't feeling as satisfied this morning.  A reported five hundred thousand people were expected to gather for San Diego's 'Big Day Boom' fireworks show.  That's a lot of disappointed people:
 The "Big Bay Boom" fireworks show at the Port of San Diego went bust in a spectacular way Wednesday night, as the rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air all went off at once.

Statistically, at least half of the spectators were female, so it wasn't the first (or last) time that they were promised twenty minutes and only got 28 seconds.

July 4, 2012

July 4

...we mutually pledge to each other our Lives,
our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

July 3, 2012

Double edged swords

I had to do a double take this evening as I put gas in the monster SUV...it was $2.99 a gallon.  I can't remember the last time gas was under three bucks.  I enjoyed the moment for about two heartbeats before thinking that declining gas prices play well for Obama.  That's bad.  I would rather take the hit for a few more months, if it means moving day for Blowie come January.

I needn't have worried.  I was just a couple of miles down the road when this story hit my news feed:
Oil prices shot up Tuesday on fresh tensions over Iran, where lawmakers threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for oil sanctions, and after a strike shuttered production in Norway.
I guess I owe the Iranians and striking Norwegians a bit of thanks.

It makes me giggle, quite a bit, seeing all these things that are clearly part of the Obama master plan getting knocked down.  Blowie's opinion on gay marriage 'emerged', yet his big announcement didn't lead to the bump in the polls, or a pile of campaign donations.  Blowie granted amnesty to illegal aliens, yet his poll numbers don't show a bump from Hispanics.  In fact, farmers are clamoring for help to harvest their crops, but can't get enough workers.
A crackdown on illegal immigration, more job opportunities in Mexico and rising fees charged by smugglers are reducing the number of workers who cross the U.S. border illegally each year to help make up more than 60 percent of U.S. farmworkers.
The American Farm Bureau Federation projects $5 billion to $9 billion in annual produce-industry losses because of the labor shortages, which have become commonplace for farmers such as Torrey, who said there were 10 applicants for every job five years ago.
I am sure that, if he had the ability, Blowie had been keeping gas prices artificially high, and right when he decides to ease up, Iran goes and launches some missiles.  I would love to see the look on Blowie's face during those briefings.

And, while not his fault, nor germaine to the campaign topic, this little gem made my day and highlights the ineptitude of the left:
A veteran lawmaker in North Carolina says she pushed the wrong button late Monday night  in a marathon legislative session and accidentally opened up the state to fracking.
Rep. Becky Carney, a five-term Democrat from Charlotte, burst into tears after mistakenly voting with Republicans to override Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the contentious legislation. The measure lifts the ban on hydraulic fracturing as a means for mining for natural gas.
I am sure those tears were for all the trees that will die and water that will be poisoned by the job creating evil oil and gas companies.

Blownstar 2012 - You're good. You'll go far...

I love Bandera in June.  The weather was perfect, not too hot, a couple of brief rain showers to wash away the dust, a little breeze and plenty of sunshine.

While there were some noticeable absences, a good time was had by all.  There was no high drama, not that the Blownstar gang has ever had much to begin with.  It was nice to catch up with everyone, as most are now multi-year repeat offenders attenders.

GOC made it in good shape.  None of us would have worried much, except that he said he was worried about his first road trip since having a stroke in December.  We watched the clock and waited anxiously for a few hours until we saw his car winding its way up the hill.

CenTexTim was able to join for a few hours on Friday.  While his company would have been welcome for the entire time, his margarita recipe left quite a wake, and it was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise that he had family obligations to get back to. 

Charlie Delta really missed out this year, as we spent a fair amount of time emptying ammo into the far banks of the lake each afternoon.  I texted CD picture after picture of the women of Blownstar with an impressive array of firearms, just to get under his skin.  Alas, I didn't get a photo or video of the hot piece of brass that went down Georgia's bikini top, resulting in a pants-wetting hilarious dance and excited vocalizations as she tried to rid herself of the searing casing.

The other usual suspects deserve mentioning - but for the sake of privacy, I won't call them out by name.  I would like to thank my friends from Louisiana for the lovely gift.  Your time will come.

There was, of course, much talk of current events and politics - it is so refreshing to share conversation with intelligent people.  Even when we disagree, we do it amicably and with fact based dissension.  Except for that sidewalk argument about pyramid schemes.  The instigator left before I had a chance to check for pink Cadillac tread marks on his back.

It was fun to hang with a bunch of younger folks, friends of the family that owns the ranch.  Georgia earned the nickname 'Earth Mother', as she held court encircled by ten or twelve 18 - 20-somethings sitting on the grass around her, enthralled by her tales.  I am sure the kiddos thought us all boring old folks, but we out-partied them, before and after, and still have money in the bank despite our debauchery.
Our resident party planners did a great job again this year, I hope they know how much they are appreciated.  Can't wait to do it again next year.    

July 2, 2012


The Washington region scrambled Saturday to recover from a sudden and violent storm that killed at least five people, uprooted thousands of trees and left more than 1.3 million homes and businesses without power in Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District.
Virginia, D.C. and Maryland officials declared a state of emergency as power companies across the region warned that it might take as long as a week to fully restore electricity.
Loss of life, loss of property, a state of emergency in our nation's capital, and the president is showing his care and concern by staying the hell out of the way...he's been at Camp David since Saturday, returning tomorrow to preside over Fourth of July festivities before heading back out on the campaign trail. 

I think I would skip town, too, if a Supreme Court justice seemingly changed his vote to uphold my trademark legislation, my attorney general was held in contempt of Congress and I was getting my ass kicked in fundraising all of a sudden.

July 1, 2012

Not gone or forgotten

There was an unexpected, unresolved and unconcerning lack of internet access at Blownstar.  While many, if not most, of the bloggers in attendance intended to post - the siren call of relaxation, sport, company and Shiner made it easy to forget about the rest. 

Hope your weekend was as enjoyable as mine.