Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Monday, April 30, 2012


I think we have seen so far that Mitt Romney is willing to say just ANYthing to get an advantage, truth be damned.  You can read a chronicle of Mitt's mendacity at the (Rachel) Maddow Blog.  He lies so often that they publish a new updated version practically every week.

The latest whopper is that Mitt Romney is claiming that the auto bailout was HIS idea!  What really bothers me is that those Republicans who exclusively watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh (hi Daddy!) will hear this revisionist history, and after enough reiterations, they will start to believe it.  Freakin' sad.

Click this pic if you cannot read it very well.

Bohemian Rhapsody

One of the highlights of the family visit was Saturday night when we did some karaoke.  

My father is 85 years old and he STILL is playing the trumpet in a couple of bands where he lives.  He may not have much memory left, and he's pretty damn deaf, even with two hearing aids, but he can still play his horn.

He was rather stupified when we did some karaoke in between the songs I'd collected for him to play.  We spent a couple of hours previewing some old classic karaoke tunes and picking several out.  But when it got time to play them for the family, he insisted on playing solo.  

My nephew suggested we do Bohemian Rhapsody for karaoke, and he gave it the old college try.  Not bad, actually, especially for a guy that can't sing!  Heh heh, just kidding, nef.

His rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody was pretty good, but it paled in comparison to this version that he found for me on the net.

Rodrigo y Gabriela

Yes, we had much of my family invade us for several days for a "reunion" of sorts.  We survived, but on very little sleep.

One of the good things about getting the family together is to find out what they're into lately.  In this case, I got turned onto Rodrigo y Gabriela, an acoustic guitar duo that met while the both of them were playing in thrash metal bands.  

So naturally, they'd come up with something like this ...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Texas Beer Fest

The TxBF is about showcasing quality made craft beer from around the world, but especially our home state of Texas. We are a Texan run organization that is simply interested in promoting the craft beer industry through a series of events, particularly the Texas Beer Festival, that are carefully designed to promote quality beer. We hand pick all of our participants and choose them principally on the quality of product that they produce. We will not succumb to having large sums of money thrown at us to promote an inferior product, nor will we allow brands that we feel are dangerous to the public.
Is it "worth" it?  That's subjective.  

This Saturday, April 28, from 1p-7p will be the first time the Texas Beer Fest will be held at Discovery Green downtown.  Last year it was in Humble, and we didn't go.  Drive to Humble?  Eh!   

Figures please:  

They charge $27 (advance sale) or $30 (day of event) just to walk in the gate (the "Entrance Ticket").  If you want, that's all you have to pay for admission, but that would include no beers.  Why would you go to the Texas Beer Festival and not buy any beers?  That's a tough one.  Maybe you like the musical artists that will be at the Festival.  I haven't heard a one of them, but that's not surprising.

Once at the event, if you want a beer (see paragraph above), you would buy "Food and Drink" tickets.  1 ticket for $1.  That 1 ticket will get you $1 of food or 2 ounces of beer.   You have the option of buying 12 Food and Drink tickets at the same time you purchase your Entrance Ticket.  What's the big deal about that option?  Why not just wait to get Food and Drink tickets while at the event, for $1 apiece.  That way, if you only want, say, 4 ounces of beer, it would cost you $2 in Food and Drink tickets.

So ... the more Food and Drink tickets you buy, the lower the overall cost per ounce of beer.  

So ... let's say you buy your Entrance Ticket the day of the event ($30):
  • If you only drink 2 ounces of beer, it will cost you $31 total.  That's an expensive 2 ounces of beer.
  • If you drink 20 ounces of beer, it will cost you $40 total.  That's $2 per ounce.  More like it, but that's still a rate of $24 per 12 ounce beer.  Ouch.
  • If you drink 40 ounces of beer, it would cost you $50 total.  That's $1.25 per ounce and $15 per 12 ounce beer.  And you'd better not drive home. 
Et cetera.  Et cetera.

Is it worth it?  That's subjective.  If the beer sucks, no way.  If the beer is awesome, well, maybe.

Hey, isn't WAR playing at the iFest downtown this Saturday around 6pm?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Well, it looks like I won't be needing a pacemaker after all.  (Call off the wake!)  I took a treadmill stress test and an ultrasound of my ... heart ... this past Tuesday, and Friday I saw my cardiologist to discuss the results.

My expectation was not good.  When the guy was running my ultrasound, my heart was bouncing off its walls.  The treadmill test was pretty short.  Too short, really, because I reached the max heart rate of 165 awfully quickly.  Because of my heart rate bouncing between 80 to 225 on the meter, it took no longer than 6 minutes to reach the max and end the test.  Hell, I hardly got winded at all.

So Friday I met with my cardiodoc and, armed with much more info than he had before, told me to quit the Multaq and start up on amiodarone, one of the most-reliable drugs at treating my condition.  Amiodarone is an anti-arrhythmic, which basically, somehow, gets the heart to start beating at a normal rhythm again.  

Systematic (IUPAC) name

(The wife also has a history of A-fibs, but hers is treated with a rate-reducing drug, Toprol.  Those are the two primary types of drugs to treat A-fibs: an anti-arrhythmic (mine) and a rate-reducer (hers).  Ain't we a pair!)

The doc felt very confident that, considering my test results, and considering the very detailed recent bloodwork I had just happened to have done by my G.P., that this drug, amiodarone, would do the trick.  He did give me one major caveat: do NOT pay attention to what the internet has to say about this drug.   Said it would just freak me out for no reason.  

He knows that I cruise the net for this, that, and whatever, and he said that I WILL NOT TURN BLUE!  Well, after that, I had to check out the net, and woah!  Go here, among others. He wasn't kidding.   

After just a couple of days on this drug, I'm feeling much, much better.  No racing pulse.  No wildly erratic heart rhythms.  No dizzy spells.  No euphoria (dammit)!  

Now, if I could just purge from my body all of the built-up toxins from living in the modern industrial food and technology era, I may eventually be able to get off of this drug.  Maybe.  But no pacemaker!!  Yea!!  Once again, I narrowly avert that Siberian Tiger out to get my ass.  

Secret "Service"

So, the Colombian hookers wanted $800, and the Secret Service fuck-up paid them $30.  They sound like true Republicans, don't they?  Want something on the sly, but don't want to pay for it.

The only thing that surprises me about this is that it hasn't been pinned on Obama.  Yet.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Water Defense

Can't we do better than fracking?  Yes, we can.  I should know.  I work for an oil company that does a TON of fracking.  AND oil extraction from oil "sands."  Both of these methods take prodigious amounts of fresh water, leaving behind massive amounts of pollution.  Fresh water that we can't really afford to waste on these two extraction methods.  

If the oil companies didn't have such a stranglehold on Congress, we might be able to get somewhere with alternative fuels.  Hell, Congress can't even bring themselves to stop the massive oil subsidies, despite enormous profits by oil companies.  It's shameful, if they could feel shame.  

Mark Ruffalo is putting his mouth where his fame is.  Good man.  I'd sure let the wife do him.

Water is our most precious resource. It’s also one of the scarcest. Less than one tenth of one percent of all the water on earth is safe and available for us to use. One in five people worldwide doesn’t have safe drinking water. One in two don’t have water for sanitation. 
Here in America, the fossil fuel industry has brought the water crisis to our doorstep. Mining and drilling have poisoned countless communities' drinking water with methane, benzene, lead, and thousands of other known carcinogens and deadly toxins, leaving parents helpless to protect their children from what comes out of the tap.
What we get in exchange for those billions of gallons of poisoned water is a warming planet. Today, as global carbon emissions continue to rise and we careen towards climate tipping points, humanity faces the most serious crisis in our history. If we don’t dramatically reduce carbon emissions soon, we’ll pass the point of no return. 

America has a choice between dirty fossil fuels that poison water and clean energy that rebuilds our economy. Water Defense's mission is to make sure that America makes the right choice. Co-founded by actor Mark Ruffalo, Water Defense works to create a world where water is safe to drink, a world where the oceans don't rise and the economy is powered by clean, sustainable sources of energy like wind, water and solar.
Do you are about having fresh water to drink?  Go here, and do something about it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Perpetual Ocean

Produced by the Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio, a unit of NASA.

Speaking of cool shit, check out this Wind Map.

An invisible, ancient source of energy surrounds us—energy that powered the first explorations of the world, and that may be a key to the future. 

This map shows you the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US. 

Read more about wind and about wind power

Atrial fibrillations

Oh boy, here we go.  About 10 days ago I began experiencing what I could only describe as heart flutters.  The wife put her ear to my chest and reported a lot of irregular sounds:  fast, slow, unsyncopated, flutters, all sorts of non-regular rhythms.  I felt pretty weak.

I had difficulty sleeping at night, especially on my left side (a classic symptom, unbeknownst to me), and the symptoms persisted all day Saturday and Sunday.  Definitely not good.  One of the most accurate descriptions I can think of is that some symptoms feel like you just took a hit of amyl nitrate.  Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, and a loud ringing in the ears.  Sit down immediately!

Naturally, I began searching the internet for info on heart flutters and stroke.  Fortunately, I had only one of the symptoms of a stroke, a little dizziness.  So I ruled that out.  But there were a few tense moments when I considered dialing 9-1-1.  

I called up my cardiologist (yes, everyone should have one) on Monday morning and they squeezed me right in.  The doc did a quick EKG and sure enough, atrial fibrillations all over the place.  He gave me some samples of Multaq, which is the brand name for the generic dronedarone (dro-NEE-da-rone), and I began feeling better immediately.

I'll save you the search on Wikileaks:  atrial fibrillations...

Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). It may cause no symptoms, but it is often associated with palpitationsfaintingchest pain, or congestive heart failure. AF increases the risk of stroke; the degree of stroke risk can be up to seven times that of the average population, depending on the presence of additional risk factors (such as high blood pressure). It may be identified clinically when taking a pulse, and the presence of AF can be confirmed with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) which demonstrates the absence of P waves together with an irregular ventricular rate.
In AF, the normal regular electrical impulses generated by the sinoatrial node are overwhelmed by disorganized electrical impulses usually originating in the roots of the pulmonary veins, leading to irregular conduction of impulses to the ventricles which generate the heartbeat. AF may occur in episodes lasting from minutes to days ("paroxysmal"), or be permanent in nature. A number of medical conditions increase the risk of AF, particularly mitral stenosis (narrowing of the mitral valve of the heart).
Atrial fibrillation may be treated with medications to either slow the heart rate to a normal range ("rate control") or revert the heart rhythm back to normal ("rhythm control"). Synchronized electrical cardioversion can be used to convert AF to a normal heart rhythm. Surgical and catheter-based therapies may be used to prevent recurrence of AF in certain individuals. People with AF often take anticoagulants such aswarfarin to protect them from stroke, depending on the calculated risk. The prevalence of AF in a population increases with age, with 8% of people over 80 having AF. Chronic AF leads to a small increase in the risk of death. A third of all strokes are caused by AF.

More here.

For most of this past week, I was feeling pretty good.  Went to work.  This past Tuesday I took a treadmill stress test and an ultrasound of my chest.  I will get the results this Friday, and I anticipate trouble.  

But during this week I had no problem climbing stairs (we have THREE flights of stairs in the house) and no problem sleeping, although laying on the left side still produced some flutters.  

Until last night.  I think I simply stood up too fast and swooned a little, so I sat back down and reclined in the recliner.  After a moment, my body, now in the prone position, got the message that I wanted to sleep, so I began to yawn deeply.  You know how some yawns are so strong that you just can't stop them, you can't talk, and you'll pull a jaw muscle if you're not careful?

Well, after each yawn, I got to feeling worse and worse.  Another yawn and I could feel my blood pressure rising.  We took a few readings:  150/112, 166/99, 152/92, and 159/88.  My pulse readings were bouncing around from 80 to 120, and I felt like shit.  

I didn't even want to chance climbing the stairs to bed, so I slept in the chair.  The wife, so worried, brought some pillows down and stretched out on the couch.  Around midnight I woke, feeling better and we climbed up the stairs to bed. 

So here I am, 55 years old, a family history of high blood pressure and stroke, and it appears that things have gone haywire.  I have a feeling that I am headed towards implanting a pacemaker.  

These recent "events" have indeed made me think about my mortality and all of the things that I have done and have not done.  I feel like I still have a lot of things to do.  I haven't been a religious person since quitting going to Sunday School as a young teenager, and I am not inclined to suddenly begin going to church.  Either science will save me or it won't, and I feel that no amount of prayer will do any good.

Is this the end of my road?  Time will tell.  Until then, vote Democratic!  And try to enjoy life.  As frustrating as it is, it's a beautiful world, and it's the only one we've got.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The War on ...

My readers are brilliant people.

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This Week in God

Steve Benen carries on the "This Week in God" concept.  I can only shake my head.  It's 2012, and people are still pushing Jesus all over the map.  Or Muhammed.  Or Jehovah.   It's a mass hysteria;  a malignant collective mental illness that is deeply ingrained in the culture.   Oy.

This Week in God


As "This Week in God" settles in on Saturday mornings, the God Machine has plenty to offer again this week.
First up is a look back, now that the race for the Republican presidential nomination is over, at all the candidates who seemed rather certain that their campaigns were the result of divine inspiration. Herman Cain, for example, said a year ago that God told him in 2006, "I've got something else for you to do." He was referring, of course, to running for president. Similarly, Rick Santorum said of his campaign, "We believe with all our hearts that this is what God wants." Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry made similar comments.
It led Dan Amira to make an amusing observation. (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip)
The end -- sorry, um, suspension -- of Rick Santorum's presidential campaign is a major milestone in the primary race, clearing the way, as it does, for Mitt Romney to cruise here on out to the nomination essentially unchallenged.
But Santorum's withdrawal is also a major milestone for God, the beloved all-powerful deity whose personal endorsement somehow failed to secure the nomination for any of the numerous Republicans -- SantorumHerman Cain,Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry -- whom he reportedly encouraged to run for president. It is unclear at this point whether God will even bother to offer anyone his apparently useless endorsement in the general election.
For the record, Mitt Romney was one of the only competitive Republican candidates who didn't say God inspired and/or motivated his campaign, and he won by a wide margin.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* In the wake of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) assertion that his right-wing budget plan was shaped by his Catholic faith, nearly 60 prominent theologians, priests, nuns, and national Catholic social justice leaders released a statement yesterday rejecting the claim. "If Rep. Ryan thinks a budget that takes food and healthcare away from millions of vulnerable people upholds Catholic values, then he also probably believes Jesus was a Tea Partier who lectured the poor to stop being so lazy and work harder," said John Gehring, Catholic Outreach Coordinator at Faith in Public Life. "This budget turns centuries of Catholic social teaching on its head. These Catholic leaders and many Catholics in the pews are tired of faith being misused to bless an immoral agenda."
* The nation's Roman Catholic bishops issued a proclamation on Thursday, warning that religious liberty is "under attack, both at home and abroad." It's not just about contraception -- the bishops also noted several state immigration laws that make it illegal to care for undocumented immigrants.
* The anti-gay Truth in Action Ministries noted the anniversary of the Titanic disaster by producing an unintentionally-funny video, comparing the LGBT "lifestyle" with icebergs.
* And finally, Pat Robertson, demon hunter.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Art in the Park

The wife and I attended the 6th Annual Midtown Art in the Park this past Saturday, April 14 in Baldwin Park in Houston.  We got lucky and had a great weather day.  (Click each pic to get a larger image.)

There were probably more artists booths at this event than any previous event....

but there is still a lot of space left in Baldwin Park to house more artists.  

The park has several massive oak trees.  It's a really nice park.

There was some really great art and crafts on display.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  We didn't buy anything this time around.  

Next year, the wife & I might just opt for a booth and display some of her (and my?) stuff.  You know, I think I said that last year around this time too.

This year, they invited a few local Art Car's to hang out in the Park for the day.  The Zebra Car is an eye-catcher.

....why stop with just the outside??

Here's an odd one, and not exactly a "car."

...and here's one of my favorites.  No, not the Hen.  I have no idea what it's called ...."overload?"

front view...

side view....


rear view ...

from ... somewhere ...

Yes, of course there is an Art Car Museum in Houston.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Worm invasion!

We found some armyworms on our tomato plants today!  Noooooooo!  They ate through some of the largest tomatoes on the plant, but they didn't get them all.

The closer we looked, the more armyworms we found.  The pic at the top of the blog was taken after we had found THREE of them on one plant.

But before we were through, we found a DOZEN armyworms on two plants.  Big ones.  Small ones.  What looked like eggs.  They were all crushed, mercilessly.  Bastards.  They don't call them armyworms for nothing.  We got INVADED by a battalion!   

Fortunately, we still have a TON of flowers on the plants and there is a lot of fruit that is still good, but I have a feeling that we haven't seen the last of the armyworms.  The ravenous little freaks.

Strangely enough, or not, we've only had armyworms show up on the tomato plants on the roof.  All of the plants on the ground level have been bug-free.  

C'est le vie.  Sometimes the bugs get you.  Sometimes you get the bugs.

Hmmmm .... I wonder what North Dakota has to say about the armyworm.  Click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


This video is rather kind to Romney.  After all, he comes off as a rather coherent politician.   I've never seen as blatant and fearless a liar as Romney.   In addition to the callousness and dishonesty, the guy has been all over the map on so many issues.  He's become such a flip-flopper that I expect the Republicans to soon proclaim that a non-commitment to any fixed positions is a virtue.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chuckles and Groans

Don't forget, you might need to click on the pic if you have trouble reading it.