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

Sunday, December 31, 2017


It's time for the End Of the Month Meme Dump. Here's hoping for a better 2018. Trump stumbles, Dems re-take both houses of Congress, NO Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, bumper crops in the gardens, and lots of great sex!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Orville

I don't watch a whole lot of TV, but I did catch all 12 of the first season of Seth MacFarlane's sci-fi series, The Orville. It's an homage of sorts to Star Trek, with a little silly thrown in now and then. Seth created it, after all. There is so much dark TV on these days. I think we already have problems with depression in this country without being subjected to an endless stream of dark productions.

Anyway, produced a fair review of the final episode. If you only watch one episode of The Orville, make it this one. This one centers on the idea of religion, and as we know, Seth is a big atheist. A couple of snips below.

The Orville Ends on a Strong, Though Not Spectacular Note.

Adrianne Palicki as Kelly
It starts out as many episodes of The Orville (and Star Trek) do, with an anomaly in space. Not the most original set-up, but it’s a fast way of getting us to the real interesting premise. While investigating the anomaly, Kelly’s shuttle crash-lands on a planet that appears out of nowhere. She investigates a little further and finds a species currently in its bronze age. She sees a little girl trip and hit her head on a rock, and uses a medical device to heal the wound. A bunch of Bronze Age people witness this happening, and we start to get an idea of where this is all going to go. The cooler twist is that the planet is sort of an opposite Brigadoon. Its orbit takes it through two universes, appearing in this one once every 11 days. In that time, 700 years have passed on that planet. Does the science make much sense when you think about it? It doesn’t matter. It’s a fun way to explore how a simple action can have huge unintended consequences over a long period of time. When the planet returns, the crew is surprised to find that a whole religion has formed around Kelly. Parents are using her to make their kids behave. Heretics are persecuted for not believing in Kelly, and suspected criminals are killed in her name. As you might guess, Kelly is seriously freaked out by all this.

It was so cool to see The Orville explore the evolution of a religion like this, and even cooler that it didn’t try to posit that religion is inherently bad, or that everyone in the church is evil. The crew tries to dissuade the people of the notion that Kelly is a god by showing the pope equivalent that the healing is just a machine. The pope plans to tell people the truth, but a power-hungry underling kills him before he gets the chance. The plan to leave someone behind on the planet during its next cycle isn’t as big a deal as the TV spots made it out to be. (Man, FOX really doesn’t know how to advertise this show, do they?) Isaac volunteers to stay behind because it’s a huge research opportunity for him. Also, as an artificial being, 700 years doesn’t seem so long for him. The best twist of the episode is that Isaac’s presence on the planet wasn’t needed at all. In those years, the species evolved and got over their differences with one another. They don’t even look at the old Kelly religion as a bad thing. They see it as a necessary stepping stone in the path to where they are today. In that way, the episode acknowledges that for all the problems religion has caused in the world, it’s also driven humans to create art and explore the sciences. It’s a surprisingly, refreshingly nuanced take that I didn’t expect at all. This is The Orville showing its Star Trek influence in the best way. It’s optimistic, thoughtful sci-fi.

more at the link

Friday, December 29, 2017

Apple mouse

I've had it up to here, or over there, with the wireless Apple mouse that came with my computer. 

Every month or so it gives me a "low battery" warning, even if I just fucking replaced it last month! Every battery I use cannot be "low"! And then it loses its wireless connection sometimes for no fucking reason at all and I have to shake it and slam it (gently) on the desk and click click click to get it to re-connect. 

Too many competing electronic signals? Bluetooth, wireless mouse & keyboard, infrared, cellular, wireless security system, who knows? Sometimes I can get it to re-connect within a minute of losing its connection, but sometimes it just WON'T fucking re-connect, so I walk away from the computer in disgust. When I return, voila! It's re-connected. ARGH!

Maybe it's me? Is it all user error? Fuck no!

So I finally remembered that I was fed up and went to a store and bought a corded mouse, and now, WOW! I can actually move the mouse slowly and accurately every time! 

Apple seems to be fucking up all over the place lately. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

lost George Carlin

I had never seen this clip of the Tavis Smiley show featuring George Carlin. Oh, where are the comics even close to George today? Nowhere! 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Hugh Ramsey Park

Hugh Ramsey Park in Harlingen is yet another of the vast outdoor opportunities here in the Rio Grande Valley. Over our first full year here, I estimate that we have visited perhaps 5% of the outdoor locations here in the Valley. I think I'm going to need to have a more systematic approach for 2018. Now, if the weather will only cooperate. People here tell me that this winter has been much colder than usual. Figures! After all, we are here!

Guided Walks at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park

By ANITA WESTERVELT Special to the Parade
Harlingen’s Hugh Ramsey Nature Park boasts 250 some species of Rio Grande Valley native plants, shrubs, trees, cactus and the untold numbers of birds, butterflies and critters that use this native habitat. 

Many of the plants are highlighted in specialty gardens around the park’s Ebony Loop and the path is lined with many different species of trees native to the Valley. 

Rio Grande Valley Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist volunteers maintain these gardens and trails, working as a team every Thursday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. Many Winter Texans and local residents work alongside the naturalists. Volunteers are always welcome. 

In addition to the Thursday morning volunteer opportunity, Texas master naturalist native plant experts provide free guided nature walks on the first Friday and third Saturday each month through May 2018. 

There’s always something blooming around Ebony Loop. You’re probably familiar with a hummingbird favorite, the native wild olive, Cordia boissieri, that blooms its big white, bell-shaped blossoms in all seasons here in the Valley. Mexican caesalpinia, Caesalpiniamexicana, is showy most of the year, too, and into the winter. Large clusters of bright yellow blooms also are a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Considered the rarest of all trees in Texas, Runyon’s Esenbeckia, Esenbeckia berlandieri [E. runyonii] is showcased in the Loop’s recently rejuvenated Robert Runyon Garden. Also called limoncillo (little lemon), it is in the Rutaceae family, as are lemons. The tree was first reported in the Lower Rio Grande Valley by Robert Runyon. 

Runyon was a photographer and self-taught botanist in Brownsville in the early 1900s. He later was involved in local politics and served as Brownsville city manager and mayor. Runyon is responsible for naming several cactus and succulents including Coryphantharobertii, Echeveria runyonii, Echinocereus runyonii Orcutt, other native plants and grasses, and the curious phenomenon called Runyon’s Dodder, Cuscuta runyonii. 

While renovating Runyon Garden, the Thursday morning volunteers populated much of the center garden with Runyon’s Violet Wild Petunia, Ruellia nudiflora var. runyonii, and developed a side garden dedicated to Runyon’s Water Willow, Justicia runyonii. Both plants are a host to the malachite butterfly. Runyon’s granddaughter donated funds for the revamping of the garden that was dedicated to the works of her grandfather. 

One of the mysteries of our native trees is that many of them bloom after rain. With the recent rains, it’s a good opportunity to see which trees will begin pushing out winter blooms. 

Ebony Loop is an easy quarter mile level caliche trail. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water and bug spray for yourself if desired. Restrooms are located at the park entrance. 

Hugh Ramsey Nature Park is at 1000 S. Loop 499, just two miles south of Harlingen’s Valley International Airport or Ed Carey Drive, just north of the Arroyo Colorado River Bridge. 

Meet up with the guides in the parking lot where the two-hour tour begins at 9 a.m. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Trump propaganda

FOX News has always sucked, from its first days in the 1990's after the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine, right up to the current day. But things are different now.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Trump will never be able to silence the media. And we must hope that our institutions are strong enough to withstand this tyrant wannabe.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ask An Atheist

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is now producing a weekly video/TV show called, "Ask An Atheist." It appears each week on their YouTube channel. They are also now producing a shorter weekly "Newsbite" show. Every year, the "nones" are growing bigger and stronger.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

stay home!

Apparently so many people have enough expendable cash and leisure time to travel these days that some of the more-popular destinations are getting overcrowded.

15 Places Telling Tourists to Stay Home
Tourism can provide an incredible economic boost, sure, but some locals say it can also be harmful to the environment and negatively impact local populations. With such considerations in mind, several destinations around the world have proposed—or put into place—measures restricting the annual number of visitors.
This post was originally published in June 2015. It has been updated with new information.

some of the 15:
Zion National Park
Utah's Zion is expecting a record four million visitors this year, and not everyone is happy about it: to combat increased land erosion and "overwhelmed facilities," park officials are considering putting a daily cap on visitor numbers via a new reservation system. Inside the park, Zion Canyon has suffered the most in recent years, but Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, the Narrows, and Angels Landing could face new restrictions, too. Interested in viewing all of the possibilities? Visit the plan proposalsThe park is aiming to have settled on a concrete strategy by 2018.

Santorini, the famed blue-and-white darling of the Cyclades, isn't shunning tourists altogether, but it is making some significant changes in the coming months: Hoping to stem the tide of cruise tourists, which reached 10,000 per day during peak season (May-September) last year, the island will in 2017 begin limiting the number of cruise ship visitors to 8,000 a day. (Fliers, take note: At present, there aren't any plans to limit the number of people who come to Santorini by air, since the number is significantly smaller.) Not entirely interested in Santorini? Here's where Greek locals think you should go instead.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau made headlines in June 2015 when she discussed implementing an entry cap on the Spanish city. In order to keep Barcelona from reaching its "saturation limit," Colau's administration is developing plans to balance the tourism sector's interests with those of local residents; potentially putting a city-wide freeze on the development of new hotels and creating a preventative policy before things "get out of hand." As of May 2016, the city was considering a new tourist tax, which would charge travelers entering the city who don't stay overnight—think day-trippers, and those in town on a cruise.
Machu Pichu
Mt Everest (no worries there!)
others at the link

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tomb of Newgrange

I'm so glad to see National Geographic being purchased AWAY FROM Rupert Murdoch's vile grip.

Friday, December 15, 2017

two hands

So what's with our "president" so often using two hands to drink from a glass of water? That don't look like no tough guy to me.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bernie Sanders

As the Republicans barrel forward with their tax scam, I mean tax plan, it seems only Bernie Sanders is still talking about the serious issues of the day. 

How in God's name?  A bit more cynicism, please.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


If I ever get a boat down here, I'll need to remember to Life, Drift, Pole or Troll.

Why should you Lift, Drift, Pole and Troll?
Submerged seagrass meadows are a dominant, unique subtropical habitat in many Texas bays and estuaries. These marine plants play critical roles in the coastal environment, including nursery habitat for estuarine fisheries, a major source of organic biomass for coastal food webs, effective agents for stabilizing coastal erosion and sedimentation, and major biological agents in nutrient cycling and water quality processes.
As of September 1, 2013, it is illegal to cause or allow any rooted seagrass plant to be uprooted or dug out from the bay or saltwater bottom by a submerged propeller within the coastal waters of the state of Texas. Violation is a Class C Misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $500.

Basic Techniques for Lift, Drift, Pole and Troll  

When shallow waters are encountered, you should LIFT your motor...
boat drifting through shallow water
DRIFT your boat through seagrass beds...
boat being poled through shallow water
POLE it through the shallow water or...
boat with trolling motor
TROLL the boat with a trolling motor.
as found on the Texas Parks & Wildlife site.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

piano pedals

I recently was able to play on a grand piano and the question of how exactly the pedals work came up again. Now, we have the internet! Hopefully the loss of Net Neutrality and the growing Trumpian Nightmare will not put a clamp on the seeking and finding of knowledge.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Yule Log

If you are a DISH subscriber, you can tune in the Yule Log on channel 198 through January 2. It's a nice change of pace from the talking heads and the bullshit that dominates television.

Solstice Greetings!

Sunday, December 10, 2017


We are going to plant at least a couple of avocado trees on our lot on South Padre Island. They are plentiful, usually, in stores in this area, but they are subject to supply and demand, of course. For a short while about a month ago, they all DOUBLED in price, but now the price is back down.

Apparently, due to the increasing popularity of avocados, a lot of people are showing up at emergency rooms with severe cuts to their hands while cutting an avocado. Really?

Avocado Hand Injuries Are Real. Is A Seedless Fruit The Answer?

Cocktail avocados: adorable, seedless —
safer for those who can't cut the kind with a pit?
Behold, the cocktail avocado. No, that's not a weird cucumber. It's the latest in avocado innovation, on offer at British retail chain Marks & Spencer.
According to an Instagram post from M&S itself, "It's the avocado you never knew you needed." That may be because the British press are promoting them as the answer to "avocado hand," the name surgeons have given to the particular body of injuries sustained while pitting an avocado.
As avocados grow increasingly popular, more and more people are apparently cutting themselves. While there aren't any official, global figures on how many people accidentally hurt themselves this way, anecdotal reports abound.
In the U.K., surgeons report increasing numbers of avocado-related injuries. And emergency rooms in London have reported surges in such accidents. "It's a heavy price to pay for an Instagrammable brunch," notes the Independent.
David Ward, president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, tells NPR: " 'Avocado hand' can result in surgery as a result of people causing serious nerve and tendon injuries. Such is the extent of this injury, it can require specialist reconstructive surgery, and at worse can leave you without full use of your hand, so it is a particularly concerning public health trend."
Ward says it is a more common problem than you'd think, with plastic surgery units regularly treating patients with these injuries.
It's a big enough deal that earlier this year, Ward's group called for simple warning labels on avocados that advise people on how to cut them safely. Simon Eccles, secretary of the association and former president of the plastic surgery section of the Royal Society of Medicine, told the Times of London: "Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?"
In New Zealand, the Accident Compensation Corporation — a government body that provides financial compensation for citizens who've been injured — apparently paid out more than $53,000 to people hurt in avocado-related incidents.
And so the cocktail avocado comes to the rescue. These mini-miracles are the result of un-pollinated avocado blossoms, which develop into seedless fruit.
Unfortunately, they only grow in Spain, and they're only available in December. In a press release, M&S says the cocktail avocado is usually reserved for "chefs, to be used in top-end restaurants. This year M&S has been able to source a small number of the avocados exclusively."
I was one of the few, lucky non-chefs who was able to purchase a pack of six for £2 ($2.67). According to M&S, the whole fruit is edible, including the skin.
The verdict? Maybe avoid the skin unless you also enjoy the taste of orange pith or grass. It peels off easily by hand. The rest of it tastes pretty good — just like a regular avocado, minus the tinny taste of blood.
If you're unable to get your hands on a cocktail avocado, see here for a good tutorial on how to cut up a regular one without slicing through your hand.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Trump is unfit

Trump sets "firsts" in all the wrong directions. The "Reign of Error" of Trump will be viewed as one of the darkest days of our democracy. Geez, even USA Today has turned on the chump.

Will Trump's Lows Ever Reach Rock Bottom?

USA Today
With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.

And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.

More at the original

Friday, December 8, 2017

fuck the poor

It does seem to be the attitude of most of the wealthy and powerful in this country. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


I think all we will be needing down here is an electric (or solar-powered) golf cart. And perhaps a boat.

Most electric cars look essentially the same as gas-powered cars have for decades, with a battery swapped in place of an internal combustion engine. But a Swedish electric car startup argues that in the context of modern city life, the entire idea of a car needs more of a reinvention.
Uniti, which launched a prototype of its tiny electric car today, started by rethinking size: If most people living in cities commute to work alone, over short distances, it doesn’t make sense to make an oversized, overpowered vehicle.
“The shift to electric cars is a positive one,” Lewis Horne, Uniti CEO and founder, tells Fast Company. “But it’s clear that we still make them in the same way that traditional combustion engine vehicles are made. With large heavy bodies, in which the battery is not really moving the passengers around, but is moving itself and the vehicle’s heavy frame with it.”
Though the new car comes in models with four and five seats, it also offers a model with only two seats, which will retail at prices starting around $17,000. (Smart Car also makes a small electric model, though it’s slightly more expensive) The frame, made from carbon fiber, is much lighter than a traditional metal frame. The battery is small, at 22 kilowatt-hours versus 100 kWh in some Tesla models, but can last around 186 miles, much farther than a typical round-trip commute. An additional battery, which can be plugged into a regular outlet at home or a cafe, can be added to the car on rarer occasions when it’s needed.

Shrinking the battery helps reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing an electric car. Using carbon fiber makes the car easier to manufacture, and streamlining that process also improves sustainability. While carbon fiber itself isn’t particularly sustainable, it can be recycled, and the company says bio-based carbon fiber may be an option in the future. Inside the car, the company already uses bio-based composite materials. Uniti estimates that the car will emit 75% less carbon across its lifecycle compared to other electric cars.
Swedish customers (and soon, those in other countries) will also be able to charge Uniti cars for free at home, for five years, through a partnership that uses solar electricity, so the cars will have an even smaller carbon footprint. E.On, a European energy company, will buy solar energy to offset home charging, and the average cost of charging will be rebated from electric bills.
more at Original.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Google Translate

One of the better apps I have found for translating multiple languages into English, and vice versa, is Google Translate. I think I've learned more Spanish just from using this app than any other method. You can also have the program speak your translations so you can really hear how it is supposed to sound. 

You can get Google Translate on your computer or your smartphone. Probably a bunch of other ways too, but having it in your pocket is hard to beat. 104 languages and counting!

Safe travels!  Google Translate.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mission Blue

Living on a barrier island off the south coast of Texas, I am getting a newfound respect for the mighty ocean at our door.

Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots
Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Google Earth. 
Mission Blue also embarks on regular oceanic expeditions that shed light on these vital ecosystems and build support for their protection. Currently, the Mission Blue alliance includes more than 200 respected ocean conservation groups and like-minded organizations, from large multinational companies to individual scientific teams doing important research. Additionally, Mission Blue supports the work of conservation NGOs around the world that share the mission of building public support for ocean protection. 
With the concerted effort and passion of people and organizations around the world, Hope Spots can become a reality and form a global network of marine protected areas large enough to restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

smart bags

Heads up, travelers. Airlines don't want to check your smart bags. I guess it's a good thing I don't have one. Yet. Uber! Call my bag!

Most U.S. airlines set to limit use of 'smart bags'

"Smart bags, also known as smart luggage, have become more popular over the last few months, and they are expected to be a popular gift this holiday season," said American Airlines(AAL). "However, smart bags contain lithium battery power banks, which pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft."
The bags generally have USB ports where customers can recharge their phones and other devices. They might also have GPS to track the bag's location in case it gets lost, electronic locks and a weight scale to prevent overpacking. Some even a motor to propel the bags so that they can double as a scooter or just follow their owner around the airport.

Airlines are worried that the batteries could cause a fire in the cargo hold that would goundetected. Most of the bans will allow fliers to check the bags if the battery can be removed and carried by the passenger in the cabin. But many of the bags already on the market have batteries that can't be removed.
American was the first U.S. carrier to announce a new policy Friday to require passengers checking smart luggage to remove the lithium ion batteries. If the bag will be traveling in the cabin, the battery can remain installed as long as it is powered off.
Now Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Alaska Airlines (ALK) have announced similar policies set to take effect on Jan. 15. Both airlines will requiring that even carry on bags must have the batteries that removed.
In addition, spokespeople for United Continental (UAL) and Southwest Airlines (LUV) said both airlines also plan to announce new smart bag policies soon. Between them, those five airlines handle more than 80% of U.S. air traffic.
One of the smart bag manufacturers, Bluesmart, says that it has sold 65,000 of them,and that it most recent version has sold out. The problem is, its lithium batteries can not be removed.
"We are saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and feel it is a step back not only for travel technology, but that it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel," said a statement from Bluesmart. It said it is arranging meetings with the airlines to demonstrate their bags' safety and hopes to have them exempt from the restrictions.
Bluesmart also says its bags comply with the current federal regulations from the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission. The TSA said the bags are not on its list of prohibited items. But Delta points out that regulators have not specifically approved any company's smart bags.
The FAA is already concerned with lithium batteries in the cargo hold. While it allows things like laptops to be checked, it suggests they be placed in carry-on bags instead. It also requires that any spare lithium batteries travel only in carry-on baggage with passengers.
"The airlines' action is consistent with our guidance to not carry lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. The concern about the bag was first cited by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group that issues guidance but does not regulate policy.