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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Scattershooting 03-29-15


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week


Sadly Craig is gone but the new guy starts tonight (3/23). It's the Late Late Show with James Corden. Hope he's good because Seth Meyers on NBC isn't.

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. It appears that the same three turtles were on the same log in Little Bear Creek behind Tara as last week. There was a fourth turtle too but he/she was underwater. Cardinals, blue jays and a woodpecker also by the creek. Nice walk.

I've watched the first two Late Late Shows with James Corden. He is a very likable chap. It's a little different but not in a bad way. I'll write a full review in a couple of days. The full episodes are available on the CBS website if you missed them.

Amazon just added one hour delivery in Dallas. Still limited to about 25 zip codes. Unfortunately mine is not one of them although the town and zip right next to me is.

We went to the Bedford Artsfest Saturday. Since the normal area for the festival is under construction it was held inside the gym and the parking lot behind the gym. Not a large number of artists or vendors. Definitely short on food choices which was OK because we ate lunch before going. Bands were good and they served beer. Can't remember any event at Boys Ranch ever having beer. Enjoyable afternoon but Bedford needs to step it up. Maybe it will improve when the park renovations are completed.
Spring is springing here in Texas so here is a tune that fits that for this ‪#‎SongSunday‬. It's a song from 1966 that reached #2 on the charts. It was written by John Sebastian who also performed it as leader of The Lovin' Spoonful. Here is Daydream -

wjh




Monday, March 23, 2015

And They're Off


The 2016 presidential race officially began today. I said officially, it has been going on unofficially since the polls closed in November 2012 if not before then. We now live in a 24/7, 365 (or 366) campaign cycle. There are 595 days until the 2016 election. 

Unfortunately the first one to enter the horse race is more a horse's ass than a credible candidate. That participant is the extreme right wing, Tea Party, evangelical Ted Cruz. I will start by apologizing to the country for the fact that Texas elected this man to the U.S. Senate. I didn't vote for him, but I do live in Texas so I feel partially responsible.

I watched the whole speech where Cruz announced his candidacy. It was streamed live by one of the local TV stations on their website. Outlined here is my take on that speech.

It was held at Liberty University, one of the most conservative Christian schools in the country. It was founded by Jerry Falwell. There were a reported 10,000 in attendance but it was also reported that this was part of a convocation that is mandatory for on-campus students. It was in the Vines Center which is the school's basketball venue.

There was a raised platform in the middle of the arena surrounded by the audience. The broadcast started with 15 minutes of live Christian music. Next Jerry Falwell, Jr., the chancellor and president of Liberty, introduced Cruz. While he said that Liberty does not endorse political candidates, it sure sounded like an endorsement to me. They were so glad to have Cruz there, so happy in fact that they bumped the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, who was scheduled to speak. By the way, McAuliffe is a Democrat.  Falwell went on for five minutes praising Cruz. 

Then Cruz made his entrance through the crowd to a standing ovation. The reverend Ted Cruz went into his sermon. Oh, my mistake he is not actually a preacher. He went through his whole family history. It was a stirring story of overcoming hardship but all was not good until they became a born again family. It is amazing that his disadvantaged family survived. There was a severe blood sugar spike during this part of the speech.

Cruz stated that the American dream comes from god. Why is that? Does god love Americans more than any other people on Earth? It also seems that god loves white evangelical Christians more than any others. He talked about Patrick Henry and his "Give Me Liberty..." quote. Apparently we no longer have any liberties. He decried the fact that half of born again Christians are not voting. They could fix all that is wrong with the country if they went to the polls. He forgot to mention that all centrists, liberals, Blacks and Hispanics don't vote either so be careful what you wish for Ted.

Now onto somewhat more specific planks in his platform. The word "imagine" was his hook. Imagine economic growth, imagine no net neutrality regulations, imagine energy independence, imagine ...

Cruz would repeal Obamacare, establish a flat tax, abolish the IRS, secure the borders, establish traditional marriage (one man & one woman) as the law, pro-life (anti-choice) of course, pro Israel, pro gun, eliminate Common Core curriculum, no deal with Iran and always use "Islamic" when discussing any terrorist activity. He is an Hispanic whose solution to the immigration problem is to secure the borders. It is not clear to me whether his father was a legal immigrant. He came from Cuba in 1957 but didn't become a U.S. citizen until 2005.

Surprisingly Cruz quoted FDR's the only thing we have to fear... line. Guess Ted forgot that FDR is hated by conservatives for the New Deal. He also talked about Reagan and the Cold War. It was the grace of god that ended the Cold War.

Finally 30 minutes into the speech Cruz announced that he is running for president. What a surprise. Shortly after that the Reverend Cruz ended his speech to another standing ovation. He brought his family onstage and there was more Christian music.

Falwell, Jr. ended the festivities with a prayer for the courageous Ted Cruz and his family. Of course, Liberty University does not endorse political candidates. 

It was a well orchestrated announcement in a very friendly venue. Cruz is articulate in a preacher kind of style. No doubt he is smart, he graduated from Princeton and then Harvard Law School. He has argued cases several times before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Unfortunately Cruz's ideas are from a time past. He seems way too far to the right to be a serious contender in a national election. His ideas will play well with some segments of the Republican party during the primaries, especially where the Tea Party is strong. He is a first term U.S. Senator who has only been through one election. He lacks experience. His reputation, even among Republican colleagues, is that of an uncompromising, grandstanding diva. He has little support among the Republican establishment and big money. Even Fox News is not really thrilled about him.

My hope is that Cruz will flame out early. Better yet would be that he says or does something stupid that ruins his public future. Maybe he will be exposed as a charleton. He is now squarely in the sights of the national media, presidential opponents and every Democrat. Oh, Donald Trump, please demand that we see Cruz's birth certificate then doubt it's authenticity for the next eight years. Ted was born in Canada to an American mother and Cuban father. Sound familiar. Let the race begin. I thinks Cruz's ideas are backwards, dangerous, naive, unrealistic, exclusionary, racist, intolerant plus a few more unpleasant things.

Here is the speech -

Make up your own mind. Thoughtful comments are always welcomed.

wjh

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Scattershooting 03-22-15


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

OK folks, here is the news you were all waiting for, Richie Porte, an Australian, for Team Sky won the Paris-Nice cycling race.



Great morning for a walk (3/16). Actually got a little warm. I'll have to take off my big boy pants and change into shorts for the bike ride. There were two of the eight pieces of equipment in use today at Boys Ranch. Only four supervisors standing next to the hole. The only real progress I have seen over the past couple of weeks is this new sign. It's always important to have a sign.

The Tuesday report this week is mostly from Colleyville. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, temps in the 70's in the morning and mid 80's by the afternoon. My bike thermometer reached 91° in the sun. Walked around Tara this morning. It's nice to see flowing water in Little Bear Creek. At one point I came across a turtle train on a log. The ponds on the big house lots are full too. The old ranch style house at Stafford & Oak Knoll is gone, probably to make way for a new McMansion. There are no houses yet in the new development on Bluebonnet but the road, walls and gates are all in place. There was a bulldozer moving lots of dirt at Riverwalk & Church in front of Lifetime Fitness. They are making a career out of the traffic circle project at Cheek-Sparger & Central/Jackson. What a mess. It is really nice to have a touch of Spring.

We got a little early jump on St. Patrick's Day. I cooked the corned beef, cabbage and potatoes Sunday night and we ate it for last night's supper. There was also some wine and Guinness involved. There are leftovers, do I have the same thing tonight or should I make a Reuben? Guinness will probably be involved again either way. Decisions, decisions, decisions...


Wow, up to $13 million for one year. Wonder how much he would have gotten if he wasn't a thug. Once again the NFL cracks down on domestic violence.

I love Pandora. It plays the songs I like and reminds me of ones I don't have in my own collection. Today a song came on that I haven't heard in years. It was released in 1965, which was a pivotal year in my life. The song reached #7 on the Hot 100 in August '65. The group is The Fortunes. Unfortunately three of the original five members are dead and there are no originals in the current lineup. Here is You've Got Your Troubles -

Went for a long walk this morning. It was a foggy, misty, 100% humidity kind of day but no rain and temp around 60°. Went around Chisholm Park to see the progress on the new water park. Lotsa activity but a long way to go. It doesn't look like it will be ready for the start of summer. Closer to home, the temporary fence around Carousel Park is down but the park is still closed. It has been over two years since they closed the park to drill a new water well, then used it as a staging area for water pipe construction in the neighborhood. That is still in progress. Spring Valley is torn up now.





Unfortunately the Cinderella team from Thursday fell today. It's very hard to play basketball in those glass slippers. Georgia State loses to Xavier. Nice story though.


First panic, then relief and finally joy. Made a beer run to Kroger today. When I turned onto the beer aisle I didn't see any Pabst. There was some Mexican beer in it's usual place. Upon further investigation I saw the Pabst in a new location. When I got there I noticed that they have doubled the space allocated over the old shelf space. It is about time. Ever since they remodeled the store last summer and move the beer they have been running out of Pabst. Maybe now they can keep it in stock. I would like to think that I had something to do with this change.


Misty walk through Boys Ranch this morning. I discovered that the ducks in that lake are Irish. Had some Irish soda bread left over from St. Patrick's Day so I took it to the park. They loved it. Some of the ducks may have a little Asian in them also. Had a few wasabi/soy Triscuits in the mix too. Probably Peking ducks.



This week for ‪#‎SongSunday‬ we look at the difference an arrangement and artist can make to a song. This song was a #1 hit for the Supremes in 1966 and #6 for Vanilla Fudge in '68. Same song, two entirely different interpretations. One upbeat and happy, the other dramatic and sad. I personally liked the Vanilla Fudge version better. Here is You Keep Me Hangin' On -

Here is The Supremes version along with a bonus song -

wjh

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Scattershooting 03-15-15


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

Installed the Vivaldi browser preview today just to give it a look. On the home page of their community page was this message -
"Hey pals,
for some yet unknown reason, our bug report wizard is currently inoperable.
It looks like it's working, but doesn't actually submit your bugs. So please abstain from using it right now until we've fixed this.
We'll let you know right here as soon as it's up and running again.
Your Vivaldi Team"
Doesn't exactly instill confidence in the product.

This is the kind of forward looking, in touch person I want governing our country. BTW, this guy is on the Technology Subcommittee. 

Lindsey Graham: I've Never Sent an Email


Another dreary day in the neighborhood. Here's a ‪#‎MusicMonday‬ selection to fit the day since it is both rainy and Monday. This song co-written by Paul Williams and performed by Carpenters reached #2 in 1971. Here is Rainy Days and Mondays -

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck...
It appears that the OU chapter of ΣΑΕ is a racist duck.

Went to La Bistro tonight (3/10) to break the cabin fever. This has been the goto Italian restaurant in the area for 25 years. Good food and service, quiet atmosphere conducive to conversation. Tonight's entrees were the two specials, salmon and lamb. Both delicious. Even better was the company. Bet we'll be back again.


Here is the view early this morning (3/12) from the 6th floor of the WinStar hotel. The other photo is what $100 looks like after a day at the slots. While it wasn't financially rewarding, we had fun as always. Just wait til next time.


Good news for news junkies in D/FW. Al Jazeera America has recently been added to U-verse. It's on channels 219/1219. I have kept up with Al Jazeera on the web for a long time, this just makes it easier. Give it a try, they offer a different perspective on the news. I expect some blowback from some friends on this post. As background, I watch news on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, msNBC, PBS, the internet and others. We all need to digest the news from multiple viewpoints and spins before we form our opinions. Al Jazeera is a valid news organization that deserves a look. Much more watchable than the unadulterated biased crap on Fox and msNBC and the bombastic, over the top hype of CNN.

A rather unique view on why to pick one political party over another. Still begs the question, if Republicans have less stress, why are all the Fox News talking heads so damn angry?

Oh great, just what we need, drivers who are even more distracted. We really need those self driving cars.


This is not my song selection for this Sunday, this is my ‪#‎EarWorm‬ selection from the past week. Somebody posted/shared the video of this song (thanks a lot) from Shania's Caesars Palace show where she enters on a horse. It is a beautiful horse, a beautiful song and a beautiful woman. That video is a short version of the song, this is the full version. It is still not nearly as long as the earworm version that has been playing in my head for the past few days. It was written by Shania Twain and her then husband Mutt Lange and reached #2 on the Hot 100, #1 on the country charts in 1998. You're Still The One -

Here is the version with the horse - 

Here is my ‪#‎SongSunday‬ entry for this week. It is a song that I always stop to listen to. Mark is not much of a singer, but he sure can play guitar. The group was huge in the late 70's and 80's but are now just a memory. The song is Sultans Of Swing and the group is Dire Straits. This guitar centric song reached #4 on the Hot 100 chart in 1978. It was written and sung by Mark Knopfler. This is a long live version -

Here is the recorded version - 


Have a happy and safe St. Patrick's Day. Éirinn go Brách.

wjh

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Very Random Thoughts - February 2015


  • How come in all those Facebook quizzes the results are always a good one? You never see where somebody is Hitler in a prior life or the animal they are like is a rat or they have a single digit IQ. Seems a little bogus to me.
  • Does anybody still pay attention to the doomsday weather forecasts? Anytime it drizzles we will be flooded, anytime it snows it is a blizzard, Jim Cantore has an orgasm when there is thunder snow, etc., etc., etc.
  • Oh shit, I just realized that I am now the older generation. Seems I've been a member for quite some time.
  • I'm curious as to why many people don't appear to be at all curious?
  • If you own or manage an apartment complex you do not want to see the local TV news reporter. It's never good. No water, no heat, no AC, bedbugs, rats...?
  • A hot shower on a cold day is one of life's true pleasures.
  • Can "breaking news" on the 5 o'clock news still be breaking news at 6 if there are no new developments?
  • When did ignorance become a desirable characteristic?
  • Tolerance and acceptance are not the same as agreement and approval.
  • While real journalists appearing on dramatic programs and movies might make the presentation more realistic, I think it diminishes their credibility. Seems they can read made up news just as convincingly as they do supposedly real news. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.
  • Superlative adjectives and adverbs have lost their meaning and impact. 
  • Literally and virtually have morphed into the same meaning through misuse of both words. They are now literally indistinguishable from each other or are they virtually indistinguishable?
  • Why are all FBI agents "special agents"? Don't they have any ordinary agents or even crappy agents too?
wjh

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bosch

On Friday night I finished watching the last couple of episodes of the original Amazon TV program Bosch. It is a police drama about a maverick cop, Harry Bosch, who pretty much stays sideways with the police department bureaucracy and the press. Not exactly a new premise. This particular procedural concentrates its attention on a couple of cases that are threaded through all ten episodes. None of that instant gratification in 52 minutes like from most network shows where even the toughest cases are solved by the end of the hour. The series and characters are based on three novels by Michael Connelly. There are no big name stars in the series although I'm sure you will recognize some of the actors. Titus Welliver plays Bosch. 

One case is a 25 year old child abuse and murder. The other is a serial killer who takes a personal interest in Bosch. Several side stories are also in play. There are the usual severe character flaws, fractured relationships, illicit romances, political wheeling and dealing, corruption, personal grudges and a few more. I won't give away the ending.

In other words there is nothing extraordinary about the premise or plot. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed the series. I liked the characters, I liked the actors, I was interested in the twists and turns of the various story lines. 

One warning is that I found the first couple of episodes a little slow. I almost gave up but thanks to our crappy winter weather I hung in there. Also there is no feel good ending. Stick it out and I think you will be rewarded.

This first season ended with resolution of one of the major plot lines and with Harry being suspended. There were plenty of issues left unresolved, more than enough for a second season. So far I haven't seen any word on that, hopefully it will be renewed. I would give this series a solid B+.

Like Netflix, Amazon releases all episodes of their original series at once. It makes it easy to watch on your schedule, not that of some network programming executive. The down side is that if you get involved it is way too easy to binge watch four or five episodes in one sitting. The next episode even starts automatically unless you change the default settings. 

If you are an Amazon Prime member, Bosch is included for free in their streaming service. 

wjh

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Scattershooting 03-08-15


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

A message on the Bar Louie menu -
Once again our weather prima donnas are all excited because we have more -

Did anybody else see the premiere of CSI: Cyber? What a mess. Mediocre story/script, mostly bad acting, unbelievable computer stuff and a few other annoyances. This is not "must see TV', more like "must avoid TV".

This is what we have early this morning (3/5). Seems we got more snow than predicted. It is also a balmy 25° with 30 mph wind gust. That translates to a wind chill of 10°. All the schools are closed so there should be some snow men and snow angels later today.


Another new TV series premiere, this time American Crime on ABC. This one is pretty dark. It has gotten good reviews and seems to be an interesting story. It doesn't look like there are any clear cut good guys to root for. I'll watch another episode or two before deciding if it's worth the time investment.

These guys were on a rerun of Letterman tonight (3/5). Never heard of Grizfolk, but I like this song. Hymnals is not like any song we had in our hymnals -



The good news is that sunset on Sunday will be at 7:30 PM. Bad new is that sunrise is not until almost 8 o'clock. Do you know where all your clocks, watches and other timepieces are hiding? Don't forget or you will be late all day Sunday.

Yesterday (3/6) was the first bike ride in several days, today(3/7) it was a walk. With all the snow/sleet/rain lately, the Boys Ranch lake is full again. It also means that little or no work has been done on the renovations. Don't know if the full lake hurts those efforts. The ducks and gulls like it though. Seems to be a little mating going on. Still a handful of snow here and there but all the streets are clear.

I would like to meet the genius who is in charge of scheduling work at the parks in Bedford. They waited until recently to start major work at Boys Ranch which means there will be construction all through spring and summer, peak usage times. The playground and beach volley ball courts are gone. Baseball and softball seasons are about to begin so there is a new trench in left field of one of the t-ball fields. No visible work done in weeks. The trench is deep enough to lose a t-ball outfielder in. Just last week they started renovations at the Meadow Park softball fields. The outfield fences by the parking lot are gone. Shouldn't this kind of stuff be started around October? Government, when you want it done wrong.

Somehow this song seemed appropriate for this ‪#‎SongSunday‬ time transition day. It's a number done by one of the most successful musical groups of all time. This particular song was released in 1970 and reached #7 on the US charts. It was written and sung by Robert Lamm, the keyboardist and a founding member of Chicago (AKA Chicago Transit Authority). Robert is still with the group. Here is the song that asks the question we are all asking today, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? -

If you have the time (pun intended) you may want to listen to this longer version which is closer to the original album cut. Much less polished. I like it better. It's also fun to see how the guys looked in 1970.

wjh


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Scattershooting 03-01-15


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the great

Sunday's Summary

My incomplete recap of the week

As of 7:00 PM (2/22) we officially hit freezing and began the freezing rain/sleet. It will be below 32° until sometime Tuesday afternoon. Might have to put the chains on my bike tires.

Oops! Joey Logano, winner of the 2015 Daytona 500, was on Letterman. Dave said something about the NASCARs weighing a ton. Joey said "no they don't weigh that much, they are about 3,100 lb." Just a tad over a ton. In fact NASCARs weigh 3,400 lb. which is also over a ton. He wasn't sure about the banking angle at Daytona either. Apparently there is no weights and measures test required to be a driver.

Today (2/25) is the last day of the February TV Sweeps period. That means the cliffhangers, crossovers, extra special guest stars and other gimmicks are over until May. It also means the local TV station investigative reporters can go into hiding for awhile. You know, those hard hitting journalists who give us an overhyped, over-teased and overpromoted story about how a brand or two of toilet paper is shorting us by ½ square per roll. Get ready for more reruns and lotsa TV folks taking vacation time during the next two months.


The local channels all have extra reporters and weather folks out this morning (2/25) because it's supposed to snow. Right now they are all just wet and cold because it is raining, not snowing. The weather dude is breathlessly telling us that it will change over to snow soon, he promises. Outside reporters are just making up stuff when the anchors cut to them. Very funny.

I was able to survive and dig out from our blizzard this morning (2/25). Snow drifts up to ⅒ inch. It turned out to be a nice day this afternoon despite the gloom and doom by the weather idiots this morning. So nice that I went for a bike ride this afternoon. It was close to 60° in the sun around 4:00.

Sad day. RIP Leonard.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Regardless of the weather I'll have something good to watch.

Damn, got my swimsuit and flip flops on only to find that the hot tub is closed. Nobody grilling either.


I'm so glad that the Pachyderm family with their two young Pachyderms have fully moved in upstairs.

House of Cards picked a great day to roll out season three. There was absolutely nothing worth watching on cable tonight and it's snowing. I watched the first three episodes. Still damn good. Spoiler alert, Frank hasn't killed anybody yet but there are plenty of potential victims. He is not having a great tenure as president so far.

Last ‪#‎SongSunday‬ I mentioned that during the Grammy's "those we lost last year" segment I realized I had missed the deaths of two artists whose music I enjoy. We did Tim Houser of Manhattan Transfer last week. The other lost musician was Jack Bruce. If you are not familiar with the name, you surely know the group. It was the 60's supergroup Cream. Jack was the lead vocalist and bassist and probably the least known member. Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker were better known. Jack died in October 2014 but he left us with this hit that rose to #5 in 1968. He co-wrote, sang and played bass on the recording. Thanks Jack and RIP. Here is White Room -

Amazingly Cream had only two top ten singles although their albums did better. Here is the other top ten single again co-written and sung by Jack that also peaked at #5. From 1968 Sunshine of Your Love -

wjh