Monday, September 17, 2018

Brain Farts IV

  • Was making a Bloody Mary the other day. Got the Tabasco, shook the bottle and added. Got the Worcestershire Sauce, shook the bottle and added. Got the V-8, shook the bottle and added. Got the Vodka, shook the bottle and added. I don't think Vodka needs shaking. Just to be safe, I also shook the pepper mill. 
  • Another drink related faux pas. Got out the booze, mixer, shot glass, and the glass with ice. Poured a shot of mixer over the rocks. No, I didn't then fill the glass with booze. Is it good or bad news that it was the first drink and I was completely sober?
  • Went to a restaurant, Tio Carlos, with my son for dinner. I forgot my reading glasses and it was a large menu with small type. He pulled the menu up on his iPhone but I couldn't zoom in far enough to read it. He then pulled it up on my Pixel phone and I could read it but could only get about one entree at a time on the screen. Not ideal, but it worked. The salmon tacos were delicious. Being old and with poor eyesight is no fun.
  • Sometimes I clean the hell out of my reading glasses only to realize it's my eyes that are blurry.
  • I've been known to drink a Greyhound cocktail on occasion. That's vodka (or gin) and grapefruit juice. It's a Salty Dog if you salt the rim. The other night I mixed one, then put the vodka in the fridge and the grapefruit juice in the cupboard. I swear it was the first of the evening. 
  • I can't count the number of times I've taken off my hat with my sunglasses still on the bill. Of course, I always do it in the entryway or kitchen which are tiled. Never in a carpeted area or out in the grass. 
  • Saving coupons is pretty much useless if you never remember to take them to the store. Thankful for those automatic digital e-coupons. 
  • Was streaming music on my Google Home speaker. Found out the TV remote volume button has little or no effect. 
  • I am good about turning the lights off when I leave a room. Didn't do it the other day when I left the kitchen. So, next time I went into the kitchen, I automatically reached for the switch and turned it off. There I was standing in a dark kitchen.
  • I sometimes compose a wonderful text and then turn off the phone instead of hitting send. Of course, I get pissed at the person I "sent" it to for not responding. 
  • Most evenings that I'm home I close the blinds of my patio sliding door at dusk and turn on the lamp next to my recliner. The other night, at dusk, I got out of the recliner, walked to the kitchen, and turned on the light. That light is way too far away to read or type on the PC and the blinds were still open.
  • The other day, I went to the bathroom to take a couple of aspirins. I opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed the toothpaste and proceeded to brush my teeth. Toothpaste is the only reason I open the medicine cabinet about 99% of the time. Guess muscle memory overrode brain memory, which gets weaker every day. Yes, I did then remember to take the aspirin with my freshly clean teeth.
  • I have timers on my Google Home, Echo, microwave, phone, watch, a tablet, and a couple of PCs. Unfortunately, you have to remember to set at least one of them to actually time something. 
  • I need a smarter oven. One that sets the temperature and turns on automatically when I insert food. Regardless of the temperature set, unless you turn the oven on it takes an eternity to bake or broil stuff.
  • For men only. Have you ever gone to a public urinal, unzipped and then been unable to find the slit in your underwear, a moment of panic? Me neither.
  • I was putting on some athletic pants the other day. They have a drawstring. I somehow managed to catch my big toe in the loop and almost fell over. Luckily I regained my balance. Maybe at my age, I should sit down to put my pants on. 
  • One early evening/late afternoon we went to a local burger joint to eat. As we pulled into an almost empty parking lot I remarked, shouldn't there be more people here on a Saturday? Then she informed me it was Tuesday. Close.
  • I've set up different ringtones and text notification tones for a few of my regular contacts. Unfortunately, I can't remember which tone goes with which person. 
  • I was watching TV on a primary election night when a political ad came on. I wondered why were they showing political ads hours after the polls closed. Then I realized it was a program I had recorded the day before. 
  • Today I got home from the grocery store, grabbed my two bags, went in the door, walked past the kitchen and proceeded to the living room. Don't know about you, but I rarely store my groceries in the living room. 
  • I have also determined that you can not fold your reusable grocery bags flat when you leave items in them. 
  • It's official, my home technology is smarter than I am. I put something in the oven and said "OK Google set alarm for 30 minutes" it replied, "OK, setting timer for 30 minutes." 
  • Stupid oven. I set the temperature to 425° but failed to turn it on to BAKE. It didn't get even warm. Shouldn't it know what I meant? This appears to be a repeat of an earlier item. Neither my oven or I am getting any smarter. 
  • I usually have a mug of hot tea in the morning. I brew it in the microwave. Today I put the teabag and water in the mug and then put it in the fridge.
  • You would think it almost impossible to misplace your reading glasses 57 times in one day. Maybe not.
  • There is at least a 50/50 chance that when I leave the house, I have forgotten something. Phone, glasses, etc.
  • Sometimes it takes multiple return trips because apparently if you forget two or more things you can only retrieve them one item at a time. 
  • When walking to the office to pay the rent, it helps if you actually take the check with you. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Bedford Blues & BBQ - 2018

A short review of another outstanding Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival. I have been going to this event for years and have never been disappointed. The food is always good, the beer is cold and reasonable and the music outstanding. It is always a fun crowd. Every year I wind up in a conversation with friendly strangers. The crowd ranges from infants to old geezers like me. 

Sunday is the big night and has the top headliner. A couple of years the star has kind of coasted through. Some years the Saturday night closing act has been better than the bigger name Sunday star, sometimes it's the Sunday early evening act that shines. This year, everybody was really good. In addition to the main stage, there were several pretty good lesser known bands who perform on the secondary stage. Nonstop music from around 2:00 until close to midnight

On Saturday we got there around 6:00. Lil Ed was OK but to be honest, we were still checking out the craft and food vendors during some of his set. The laser show was something new this year. They had big smoke machines to help highlight the lasers, but it is Texas and the wind blows. Still, pretty cool. Ted Benoit did not disappoint. He did a solid set. 
I got there around 5:30 on Sunday, early enough to hear part of Buddy Whittington's performance. He is a local guy who spent 15 years playing with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, a band Eric Clapton once played with. He rejoined Mayall in 2013 at the Bedford BluesFest for Mayall's appearance. Buddy plays the festival every year and is always very good. For me, the very pleasant surprise of the weekend was Samantha Fish. I had never seen her live but had heard her music and seen some YouTube videos. I thought she was OK, a better guitarist than singer. She has certainly improved. Her voice was much stronger, more on key, and less screaming. She has also beefed up her band. It had a couple of horns, congo drums, backup singers, an organ, and a violinist in addition to the normal bass and drums. Her performance was outstanding. The song selection and execution had the crowd rocking. I was talking to a guy before her set began and we agreed that her voice and presentation needed work. Then she started and we both looked at each other in amazement. Samantha was way above expectations. The second stage band, Wallace and Branch, was good too while we waited for the headliner. Kenny Wayne Shepherd had a couple of tough acts to follow but he was up for it. The guy can sing and he can certainly play a little guitar. Go see Samantha and Kenny Wayne if you have the chance. 

So, another enjoyable weekend at Bedford's premier event. I'm already looking forward to next year. For about 10 hours of music per day, it is $10 admission, $7 in advance online, and $5/day for a weekend ticket. Beers are only $5 or $6 and decent vendor BBQ and other food is reasonable. You can also buy tasting/voting deals for BBQ samples. There were 125 entrants competing this year, mostly professionals. This is not your backyard Weber grill competition. Beat that deal.

Come join us in Bedford next Labor Day Weekend. We'll have fun.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Very Random Thoughts - August 2018

  • Why is the name Ann also spelled Anne, do we really need that E?
  • Sara and Sarah are the same deal. I'm sure you know others.
  • Who decided that the name John needs an H?
  • Why I'm at it, why is there an L in the middle of my last name?
  • Don't base your plans on a weather forecast you see on a program you recorded a week ago.
  • I often get mad at the guy in charge of gluing those foil lids onto containers. A little dab will do you. The lid should be stronger than the glue and come off in one piece, not 25. 
  • Instead of all those gas and oil pipelines, we need a network of water pipelines. Invariably, when there is a drought in one part of the country, there are floods in another part. 
  • The new Texas Live entertainment complex just opened. One of the food venues is Pudge's Pizza. The Pudge is Ivan "Pudge" Rodríguez from Puerto Rico, a place known for their pizza. Maybe he picked pizza because of the alliteration. 
  • The Little League World Series truly is a WORLD series. The MLB World Series, not so much. At best it is a ⅔ North America Series. 
  • If beauty pageants go the way of the dodo bird, where will we get the future football sideline reporters?
  • Fitted sheets are not only impossible to fold, they also hide other laundry items in their corners. 
  • A good day for MSNBC is usually a bad day for Fox News and vice versa.
  • Do people who do half-ass work not care, not know how, or not know the difference?
  • When she's gone, you really will regret not calling Mom more often. 
  • What used to be self evident isn't anymore. Now it is a conspiracy theory.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

School Safety Business

It is that time of the year again, back to school. I see one big change this year. Usually, the local TV stations are doing feel-good reports about little ones heading off to kindergarten or the first grade. The anticipation, excitement, and sometimes trauma for the kids and the parents. Maybe a story about a brand new school. Some high school football stories are usually sprinkled in. They encourage folks to send their first-day photos to the TV website or social media accounts. 

Well, apparently those happy celebrations are so 2017. This year almost all I'm seeing and reading about is school safety. What new safety equipment and procedures has your school district put in place? How much safety stuff has been purchased and at what cost? What training have the teachers and staff received? 

There have been stories about school safety seminars and conventions. The school safety business has become a $2.5 billion industry almost overnight. Metal detectors, locks, alarms, bulletproof desks, whiteboards, glass, and a hundred other items. There are also notification apps and equipment. Of course, there is no shortage of "experts" who will be happy to come to your school to provide a safety assessment and/or conduct training sessions. 

The "experts" that I've seen interviewed are deadly serious and make it sound as if every school will be invaded by a crazed gunman within the next few days. But, if the school district follows their advice and purchases their prevention equipment, all will be safe.

I know the local news outlets love a sensational story that they can hype. I wonder what effect all this dire and sensational reporting about school safety will have on the kids and parents. 

Wednesday, 8/15/18, was the first day of the school year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It is the site of last year's horrific school shooting where 17 students and staff were killed. That dominated the news. There were stories about the trauma the survivors have endured, the new security measures, the increase in armed security personnel, and ongoing counseling. More stuff to scare the kids.

Still, not one photo of little kids on the first day of classes. 

I know, news is news and it is mostly about bad stuff. I understand that the return of Stoneman Douglas students is newsworthy. A few stories about new safety procedures and measures are warranted. Students and parents need to know what backpacks are acceptable, what any new dropoff and pickup procedures have been implemented, that student IDs are required to be displayed at all times, etc. What we don't need are the furrowed brows and dire tones of the reporters, anchors, school officials, and security personnel. It is up to adults to protect our children, not scare the hell out of them. 

I wonder, with all the emphasis on school safety, the active shooter drills, the classes and seminars on the dangers, and the graphic news stories, what will be the results? Will kids be afraid to go to school, will they be nervous and scared all day every day, will grades suffer, will we have a generation of kids with PTSD? 

As usual, we go overboard after a tragedy. We did it after 9-11 and now we are doing it because of school shootings. As usual, the con artists come out of the woodwork to take advantage. The government officials cave to public pressure and pass laws and spend money on perceived solutions. Many of these so-called solutions have no history of actually working. There are no federal guidelines for what constitutes school safety. None of the new products like locks, cameras, bulletproof items, fencing or building design have any kind of certification. Whoever has the best salesmen and marketing gets the contract. 

Let's tap the breaks, quit scaring the students, staff, and parents. Do some real studies about how schools work and how to stop invaders or malicious students. 

Summer is over. Let's have a fun, productive and safe 2018-2019 school year. 


Monday, August 13, 2018

Recycling Famous Brands

I've touched on this subject before but the trend just keeps getting more ridiculous. That is the recycling of our famous brands. Apparently, the creative and marketing folks can's come up with new concepts. They now just slightly modify a well-known name or brand. Almost every trip to the grocery store, there is a new version or flavor of an old time product. 

TV and the movies are notorious for doing sequels, spinoffs, and revivals. This coming TV series, we have a new version of Magnum PI. Based on the previews I've seen, it looks like only the Hawiaan location and red Ferrari remain from the original. CBS already has the reboot of Hawaii Five-O. That same network also has the Young Sheldon spinoff of The Big Bang Theory. There are three versions of the NCIS franchise. There used to be several versions of Law and Order and CSI. This is not new, we have had numerous versions of Star Trek for the last 50 years. In the Movies, we have the Star Wars franchise and several other superhero sequels. The Ocean's series has used numbers between 8 and 13 to designate the films. How about The Fast and the Furious movies How many have there been? And all with the same script, just different cars and locales.

It is not just the entertainment industry. Food is a particularly derivative industry. There used to be one flavor of Cheerios, Oreos, Triscuits, Corn Flakes, 3 Musketeers, etc. Buying Triscuits, Wheat Thins or even Cheese-Itz is now a major decision point. They all have multiple flavors, sizes, and textures. Sea Salt, low sodium, gluten-free, no GMO, organic, and a thousand other descriptive adjectives. Some real, many complete marketing BS. Candy is and has always been gluten-free, but now it is trendy to put that on the label. Remember when yogurt was a small section in the dairy aisle? Now it takes up more room than milk. Is it really fair to call two vanilla cookies with a chocolate filling an Oreo? According to Nabisco, now almost every sandwich type cookie is an Oreo. There are dozens of flavors and combinations. While spinoffs and variations have always been around, the changes have come far more quickly of late. Oreos were mostly only available in the original flavor from 1912 until the 1970s when different shapes and sizes emerged. New flavors finally came about after 2000. 

Sometimes the new flavor or shape has absolutely no relationship to the original. It's the same for TV and movies. The current Mission: Impossible movie franchise has very little to do with the original TV series. The original was about a tight team of professionals who worked together to outsmart the adversary. Little or no violence or gunplay was necessary. Tom Cruise is a lone wolf who displays superhuman abilities and has an impressive arsenal of weapons. A low-key, brainy TV original vs an over the top bombastic movie series reboot. I'll take Peter Graves over Tom Cruise. 

There is at least one more disturbing area of this recycling trend. That is the reviving of a once iconic brand name for a new, usually crappy, product. I have seen late night infomercials that tout the Bell & Howell or Polaroid name. It's usually for some $19.99 plus shipping and handling, we'll double it for the next 10 minutes, product. Buyer beware.

I know this trend will continue and probably accelerate. In fact, I may recycle this bitch in the future.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Very Random Thoughts - July 2018

  • Pro teams now have a special uniform for every holiday or cause. Sell more stuff.
  • Not sure if I have defective technology or I don't speak clearly. I told my Google Home to set a reminder to do laundry. At the appointed time it said I'm hungry.
  • It is often not so much what we did that we regret but rather what we didn't do. 
  • If you only watch one TV news network, be it Fox News or MSNBC, you are not really informed.
  • When someone says "this is not who we are" what they really mean is "this is not who we want to be". We already proved who we are. 
  • Are any legitimate products or services advertised on TV at 2:00 AM or later?
  • Saw an old episode of The Fugitive. Made me wonder, was he the unluckiest guy ever for almost getting caught every week or the luckiest for escaping? 
  • If politicians and lawyers wrote software, none of our technology would work reliably. 
  • Seems almost every retailer now has a Christmas in July promotion. 
  • When it comes to marketing slogans, UNLIMITED rarely actually means unlimited. See unlimited phone plans to prove this point.
  • It's amazing to me how many people apparently don't have access to Google and 60 seconds to spare to check on outrageous crap on social media. 
  • Don't you hate it when the artistic designers get so cute with graphics and fancy script that you can't actually read it?
  • Local TV news continues to shrink the sports segment and expand the weather segment. How long does it take to tell us it is going to be hot or rainy or cold tomorrow?
  • We now have 4K HDR 70" TVs with Dolby surround sound speakers yet we watch movies and TV on a 5" phone with a crappy speaker. 
  • Seems every news anchor and reporter was in Helsinki for a one day, closed door, one on one meeting between Trump and Putin. For what purpose? 
  • Are The Rolling Stones the most dehydrated/drawn looking band ever? 
  • When I was growing up no adults had first names except for aunts and uncles. Everyone was Mr., Mrs., or Miss.
  • Wouldn't it be nice if all TV stations were approximately the same volume?
  • It occurs to me that the Mission: Impossible movies are the exact opposite of the Mission: Impossible original TV show. The TV show had very little violence, they outsmarted their adversaries. The movies are all action and violence and carnage. 
  • Where do they find those idiots on infomercials? They can't slice, dice, grate, paint, nail, etc. 
  • We have tea bags, how come there aren't coffee bags?
  • In many TV commercials for drugs, the announcer or disclaimers say "Do not take super drug if you are allergic to it. First, how would you know you are allergic? Second, if you do know, why would you take it?
  • In government, the personnel director's title is "chief component human capital officer". Seems a little too overblown and confusing.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Equalizer 2

We went to see The Equalizer 2 on an early Saturday evening. It was either this or Mama Mia 2 on a very hot afternoon. The theater was over half full for a 4:30 showing on the movie's opening weekend. A diverse crowd. 

We enjoyed the movie, so that part is out of the way. This is a kickass movie and Denzel Washington does almost all the ass kicking. The first few minutes establish Denzel as a complete hard ass at least in the past as a government agent. He takes no prisoners and four to one or five to one odds are no problem. You do not want to mess with this dude.

Then the movie slows down. Denzel is "retired" and living a quiet life as a Lyft driver. There are a couple of side stories, some of which really contributed little or nothing to the main thread. Those stories needed some development and it took time. It was well into the movie before the main theme began to evolve, slowly.

I don't want to do any spoilers. It is basically Denzel's old government team has turned mercenary and needs to be stopped.

The last third of the movie depicts how that comes about. Then the tangent stories are also tied up. Maybe happily ever after, maybe not. Denzel survives so there could be an Equalizer 3 in our future. I'd go see it.

The acting, particularly Denzel, is better than the story and script. That is not surprising. He is damn good. This movie is worth the two-hour investment. I rate this a solid B