Wednesday, June 30, 2010

By Golly, It's Almost July...!


One thing I've noticed as I've become older...time flies at an alarming rate of speed!

I'm still trying to figure out just where the first 6 months of this year went, and it's already July! What happened to the last 10 or so years?

Anyway, I thought I would borrow some facts about the month of July from the Almanac! They seem to be able to keep up with all this stuff a lot better than I can, ya know?

July, the Seventh Month

Thursday is the first day of July. Julius Caesar named July after himself when he reworked the old Roman calendar. (Ironically, the change went into effect in 44 B.C., the year Caesar was assassinated.)

Although Earth is at its farthest point from the Sun this month, the sunshine comes with enough power to make July the warmest month in most of the continent.

Sweet corn—knee-high by the 4th of July, with luck—thrives now, and an attentive gardener literally can hear it growing (just listen for a creaking sound).

July is for sailboats and lemonade, thunderstorms and ripe peaches, haying and fireworks. Traditionalists eat eggs on St. Swithin’s Day (the 15th) and oysters on St. James’s Day (the 26th). The rest of us fire up our grills or head for the clam shack.

See what I mean? I couldn't remember all this information! Heck, I can barely remember how to tie my shoes!

Maybe if we get some fresh coffee or iced tea and sit out on the patio...my memory will get better! Now, which way was the patio again...?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2nd Amendment Stands The Test...!


This must be the week for good news!

This story from the Houston Chronicle shows that we may have some hope yet! This is an important piece of legal news, because it deals with not only the federal government, but could affect the local and state governments as well!

Give a read...!

Supreme Court backs up right to bear arms
Associated Press
June 28, 2010, 10:23AM

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court held Monday that the Constitution's Second Amendment restrains government's ability to significantly limit "the right to keep and bear arms," advancing a recent trend by the John Roberts-led bench to embrace gun rights.

By a narrow, 5-4 vote, the justices also signaled, however, that some limitations on the right could survive legal challenges.

Writing for the court in a case involving restrictive laws in Chicago and one of its suburbs, Justice Samuel Alito said that the Second Amendment right "applies equally to the federal government and the states."

The court was split along familiar ideological lines, with five conservative-moderate justices in favor of gun rights and four liberals opposed. Chief Justice Roberts voted with the majority.

Two years ago, the court declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess guns, at least for purposes of self-defense in the home.

That ruling applied only to federal laws. It struck down a ban on handguns and a trigger lock requirement for other guns in the District of Columbia, a federal city with a unique legal standing. At the same time, the court was careful not to cast doubt on other regulations of firearms here.

Gun rights proponents almost immediately filed a federal lawsuit challenging gun control laws in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Ill, where handguns have been banned for nearly 30 years. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says those laws appear to be the last two remaining outright bans.

Lower federal courts upheld the two laws, noting that judges on those benches were bound by Supreme Court precedent and that it would be up to the high court justices to ultimately rule on the true reach of the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court already has said that most of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights serve as a check on state and local, as well as federal, laws.

Monday's decision did not explicitly strike down the Chicago area laws, ordering a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. But it left little doubt that they would eventually fall.

Still, Alito noted that the declaration that the Second Amendment is fully binding on states and cities "limits (but by no means eliminates) their ability to devise solutions to social problems that suit local needs and values."

The case is McDonald vs. City of Chicago.


It's nice to have the higher courts finally stand up and tell the government what "we the people" have always known! That is that the right to keep and bear arms is our "legal right" and is protected from the federal and the state governments...both by law and by force, if necessary!

About time the lawful citizens caught a break, especially from the higher courts! I love it!

How about some hot coffee or iced tea in the kitchen? Raining outside, so the kitchen will have to serve this time! OK?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Good News In Bits And Pieces...!


Once in a great while, the smallest bit of good news can help to brighten the day.

For me, this was one of those bits. Enough of these bits added together could make a good day for us all, don't you think?

Maria Cheng - Jun. 25, 2010 09:09 AM
Associated Press




LONDON - Oscar the cat may have lost one of his nine lives, but his new prosthetic paws make him the world's first bionic cat.

After losing his two rear paws in a nasty encounter with a combine harvester last October, the black cat with green eyes was outfitted with metallic pegs that link the ankle to the foot and mimic the way deer antlers grow through skin. Oscar is now back on his feet and hopping over hurdles like tissue paper rolls.


After Oscar's farming accident, which happened when the 2 1/2-year-old-cat was lazing in the sun in the British Channel Isles, his owners, Kate and Mike Nolan, took him to their local veterinarian. In turn, the vet referred Oscar to Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, a neuro-orthopedic surgeon in Eashing, 35 miles southwest of London.

Together with biomedical engineering experts, Fitzpatrick gave Oscar two metal prosthetic implants that are a bit wobbly, to imitate a cat's natural walk. But first, he covered the brown implants with black tape to match Oscar's fur.

Fitzpatrick said he and biomedical engineers designed the artificial paws so that they would be fused to the bone and skin. "That allows this implant to work as a seesaw on the bottom of the animal's limbs to give him (an) effectively normal gait," he said. "Oscar can now run and jump about as cats should do."

The veterinarians then inserted the peg-like implants by drilling them into Oscar's ankle bones in his rear legs. The metal implants are attached to the bone where Oscar lost his paws and were coated with a substance that helps bone cells grow directly over them. The cat's own skin then grew over the end of the peg to form a natural seal to prevent infections.

After rehabilitation training that taught Oscar how to walk again, the cat was on all four feet in less than four months. Oscar's owners said they hoped his new paws would also further the technology for developing artificial limbs for humans.

"This is a pretty lucky cat," said Dr. Mark Johnston, a veterinarian and spokesman for the British Small Animal Veterinary Association. "Giving a cat artificial limbs is a very novel solution." Johnston said that while there are many "perfectly happy" three-legged cats and dogs, animals that lose two legs do not usually fare as well.

Dogs might cope better with some sort of animal-wheelchair for their back legs, but cats don't usually adapt to that because of their freer lifestyle, he said. "If a cat has two legs that are damaged beyond repair, it's very hard to keep him going," he said. "We would generally euthanize a cat in that situation."

He doubted the technique would be widely available due to the cost and said it was still relatively rare for animals to lose two legs at once. Gordon Blunn, head of biomedical engineering at University College London, who led the effort to make Oscar's fake paws, said they cost about 2,000 pounds ($2,996) to make, not including the cost for the operation itself.

In 2008, Fitzpatrick made an artificial knee for a cat named Missy who was struck by a hit and run driver.

Johnston said the next six months to a year would be critical for Oscar. He said veterinarians would have to closely monitor the feline to make sure no infections, sores or other movement problems crop up.

"It may not last forever, but even if you provide the cat with a few years of pain-free mobility, it may well be worth it," he said.


I could only hope that we can find a bit of pleasant news like this each and every day. I know that I could sure use more!

Why don't we get some fresh coffee and sit outside? Maybe we can find some more "feel good" stories in the paper!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Want Silly ? Then Try This...!


A fine example of the government in action!

Because of actions like this, it's no wonder that people's faith in the wisdom of the fedgov is seriously questioned! Seems like you can be a domestic terrorist, even at the age of 6!

6-Year-Old Northeast Ohio Girl on 'No Fly' List

WESTLAKE, Ohio - Alyssa Thomas, 6, is a little girl who is already under the spotlight of the federal government. Her family recently discovered that Alyssa is on the "no fly" list maintained by U.S. Homeland Security.

"We were, like, puzzled," said Dr. Santhosh Thomas. "I'm like, well, she's kinda six-years-old and this is not something that should be typical."

Dr. Thomas and his wife were made aware of the listing during a recent trip from Cleveland to Minneapolis. The ticket agent at the Continental counter at Hopkins Airport notified the family. "They said, well, she's on the list. We're like, okay, what's the story? What do we have to do to get off the list? This isn't exactly the list we want to be on," said Dr. Thomas.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations in Cleveland will confirm that a list exists, but for national security reasons, no one will discuss who is on the list or why.

The Thomas family was allowed to make their trip but they were told to contact Homeland Security to clear-up the matter. Alyssa just received a letter from the government, notifying the six-year-old that nothing will be changed and they won't confirm nor deny any information they have about her or someone else with the same name.

"She's been flying since she was two-months old, so that has not been an issue," said Alyssa's dad. "In fact, we had traveled to Mexico in February and there were no issues at that time."

According to the Transportation Security Administration, Alyssa never had any problems before because the Secure Flight Program just began in June for all domestic flights. A spokesperson will only say, "the watch lists are an important layer of security to prevent individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism from flying."

Right now, Alyssa has other priorities. "My Barbies, my magic mirror and jumping on my bed!" But her name will likely stay on the list and as for the next time she flies, the FBI says they'll rely on the common sense of the security agents.

"She may have threatened her sister, but I don't think that constitutes Homeland Security triggers," said Dr. Thomas.

The Thomas family can still fly, but the check-in process will likely take much longer. They plan on making another appeal to U.S. Homeland Security.

Yaa know, if i stop and think about it...I guess this doesn't surprise me at all! It should, but it doesn't! That's pretty sad, don't you think?

Let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside for a bit. We can talk about how a 6 year old becomes so dangerous to the government!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Let Me Tell You A Great Story...!


Often when we hear a story, it seems to far fetched to be factual.

But many times, additional study proves that the story turns out to be true. This is just such a story.

It reads like a novel...full of top secret workers, secret instructions, clandestine air drops, and everyday escape plans that would stretch the imagination of most Hollywood screen writers! That's what makes it so special! Verified through Snopes...it's a story I just know you are going to like!

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape...

Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.

Someone in MI-5 (similar to America's OSS ) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were regional system). When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!

British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets.. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.

The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.

It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail' Free' card!


Man, if any story fully deserves to be made into a movie...this is it! I guess that this is truly a case of truth being stranger than fiction!

Now, my friends, let's have some fresh coffee or iced tea on the patio. I have both and, as always, it's free!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Making The Best Of What You Have...!


We have all been given special talents as gifts.

All too often, we don't recognize these gifts, allowing them to lay unused and of little or no use to us.

Likewise we all have dreams, but often don't think they are obtainable or that we are not worthy of their fulfillment! But then, on occasion, there are those of us that never give up our dream. Those that never stop working toward the happiness of realizing those dreams.

This is one of those stories! You may have heard it before, maybe not. If you have, then it's worth hearing again. If you haven't heard it before, you might enjoy it!


Let me tell you, Jesse hated this job. And you would too, I imagine, if you had to do it. Jesse was a chicken plucker. That's right!

He stood on a line in a chicken factory and spent his days pulling the feathers off dead chickens so the rest of us wouldn't have to. It wasn't much of a job.

But at the time, Jesse didn't think he was much of a person. His father was a brute of a man. His dad was actually thought to be mentally ill and treated Jesse rough all of his life.

Jesse's older brother wasn't much better. He was always picking on Jesse and beating him up. Yes, Jesse grew up in a very rough home in West Virginia .

Life was anything but easy.
And he thought life didn't hold much hope for him. That's why he was standing in this chicken line, doing a job that darn few people wanted.

In addition to all the rough treatment at home, it seems that Jesse was always sick. Sometimes it was real physical illness, but way too often it was all in his head. He was a small child, skinny and meek. That sure didn't help the situation any.

When he started to school, he was the object of every bully on the playground.

He was a hypochondriac of the first order. For Jesse, tomorrow was not always something to be looked forward to.

But, he had dreams! He wanted to be a ventriloquist!

He found books on ventriloquism. He practiced with sock puppets and saved his hard earned dollars until he could get a real ventriloquist dummy.

When he got old enough, he joined the military. And even though many of his hypochondriac symptoms persisted, the military did recognize his talents and put him in the entertainment corp.

That was when his world changed. He gained confidence.

He found that he had a talent for making people laugh, and laugh so hard they often had tears in their eyes. Yes, little Jesse had found himself.

You know, folks, the history books are full of people who overcame a handicap to go on and make a success of themselves, but Jesse is one of the few I know of who didn't overcome it. Instead he used his paranoia to make a million dollars, and become one of the best-loved characters of all time in doing it!

Yes, that little paranoid hypochondriac, who transferred his nervousness into a successful career, still holds the record for the most Emmy's given in a single category.

The wonderful, gifted, talented, and nervous comedian who brought us Barney Fife ...was Jesse Don Knotts!!

NOW YOU KNOW, "THE REST OF THE STORY!"

Well, I hope you enjoy this story. The moral of the story should not be lost! It's a simple moral...DON'T GIVE UP! Keep your dreams alive and keep working toward finalizing them!

Never doubt that you have a talent! We all have a talent of some kind, a God given way to help people, make people smile, or brighten their lives! We just have to find it! So find it, develop it, and use it to the fullest potential that you can!

Now, let's have some fresh coffee or tea on the patio. Sound good...?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Would You Say " Lucky Or Unlucky..."?


You might say that if it weren't for bad luck, this guy would have no luck at all!

You also might say that he is just plain lucky to be alive!

Either way, you'd be right!I'm sure he has his own opinion about which is which. This story from the fine folks at Snopes does make you wonder!

Man hit by lightning, then mauled by bear
by Paul A. Specht - Jun. 23, 2010 11:14 AM
McClatchy Newspapers


RALEIGH, N.C. - Some guys have all the luck.

And then there's Rick Oliver, who might be one of the unluckiest men in North Carolina, if not the world.


Oliver was mauled by a bear in his otherwise peaceful front yard a few weeks ago.

"It was like getting struck by lightning," he said.

Turns out, Oliver might be one of the few people in the world capable of accurately making the bear-lightning analogy.

And for Oliver, 51, the two incidents seem to go hand in hand.

Ever since he was struck by lightning in 2006, Oliver says, he's had trouble sleeping.

On restless nights, he tends to putter about his farm, checking on his chickens, working on his tractors and, as he was in the wee hours of June 3, fixing up his Chevy Malibu.

About 2 a.m., he heard a distant rustling on his 17-acre spread in an unincorporated sliver of Wake County between Cary and Raleigh.

As he turned to investigate, he was dealt a heavy blow. "I heard this strange huffing," Oliver said. "And the next thing I know I had been run over and stepped on by a bear."

The black bear's claws gouged his wrist so deep that when he first took off his bandage, blood spewed onto his farmhouse floor. "Like a hose," he said.

"That was when my daughter said, Dad we need to take you to the emergency room.' "

The biggest cut was so deep and wide that doctors at WakeMed couldn't sew it up. So doctors bandaged up Oliver and told him to keep pressure on the lacerations.

Nature 2, Oliver 0.

"He's a little unlucky," said Cameron Rhodes of Cary, who was married by Oliver at Piney Plain United Church of Christ in Cary, where Oliver is a minister. "But he's even more lucky he has survived both of them."

The chances of being attacked by a bear are rather slim, biologists say.

Between 2005 and 2009, only nine people were killed by bears in the United States, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Compare that with the 141 people who were killed by dogs during the same period, and you get the idea.

The chances of being struck by lightning are also extremely narrow. "You have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than getting killed by a bear," a report published by the U.S. Forest Service's Bear Aware program says.

So it doesn't take a math whiz to figure out the extreme unlikelihood of both happening to the same person.

"The probability is infinitesimal," said Ross Leadbetter, a statistician at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. "The closest approximation is certainly zero."

The odds get thinner still in the Triangle, where people vastly outnumber omnivorous bears. About 11,000 bears live in North Carolina. But there are very few in the Raleigh and Cary area, said Joe Folta, a wildlife biologist at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

"The ones that do pass through are the one- to one-and-a-half-year-old bears who have been chased off by the bigger bears from the eastern and northern part of the state," he said.

It's common for young bears to travel through the Piedmont region in search of food or love during mating season, said Folta, who has studied bears for 25 years. Black bears will usually run the other way when confronted with danger.

"The best thing to do with a black bear is to clap, bark or make a loud noise and make yourself look bigger to scare them away," he said. "It's not uncommon to find a bear going through your garbage, or even destroying your barbecue grill or bird feeder."

Oliver, who was on a much needed vacation in Myrtle Beach last week, admits he may have left something to attract the bear. "Leftovers," Oliver says, "from lunch in a bag up on the top step."

Sometimes it's like the saying goes...you can't win for losing!

I don't know about you, but I don't think I want to hang out with this guy very much! It might just rub off, know what I mean?

Now, I have hot coffee and iced tea on the patio this morning! Take your pick and pull up a chair!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some Sunshine Facts For You...!


Because it's been so hot as of late, I thought I would share some surprising facts about our marvelous sun!

As usual, I went to the Old Farmer's Almanac for these facts. Thanks, Almanac folks!

Did you know:

• In summer, Earth travels to its farthest point from the Sun. So, why does summer bring the warmest months for the Northern Hemisphere? Because warmth is determined by the tilt of Earth’s axis, which lets rays of sunlight hit our hemisphere more directly.

• Though we receive the most direct and longest sunlight now, the hottest days of summer aren’t typically until July or August. Why? Because it takes the oceans and Earth a while to warm up from the wintertime, so we have a “lag” of the seasons.

Even without the seasons, changes in the Sun affect Earth. We expect higher levels of solar activity in the next few years. This influences us all since 21st-century life relies more on satellites and high-tech infrastructure.


So just what does all this mean? It means that it's HOT! And it's gonna get hotter...that goes without saying!

I'm kinda dreading the Summer here in the Texas coastal area, and am NOT looking forward to the first hurricane!

Now how about some coffee on the patio? I promise we can sit in the shade, at least for now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Very Timely Quotes...!


I've always enjoyed the writings of Robert Heinlein and considered him to be an outstanding story teller!

Many of his quotes are right on the mark as far as today's political climate is concerned. Many are ironic , in regards to life in general.

Here are a few examples of what I mean!

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
Robert A. Heinlein

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.
Robert A. Heinlein

May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live.
Robert A. Heinlein

Never insult anyone by accident.
Robert A. Heinlein

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
Robert A. Heinlein

No statement should be believed because it is made by an authority.
Robert A. Heinlein

One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.
Robert A. Heinlein

Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
Robert A. Heinlein

When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.
Robert A. Heinlein

When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere.
Robert A. Heinlein

You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
Robert A. Heinlein


If you've never read any of Heinlein's work, may I suggest that you give it a try? I think you'll enjoy his work!

Would I steer ya wrong? Of course not!

Now, let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside for a bit!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pockets Filled With Treasures...!


You know, looking back on my childhood (which ended way too soon) one of the things I remember about the men I spent the most time around was the clothes they wore!

I don't ever remember thinking about it back then, and only in recent years does it even come to mind!

Most of my relatives were hard working country folk...and dressed accordingly. Most wore either khaki pants or jeans. Some wore denim bib overalls, especially the ones that farmed or ranched for a living.

Sometimes the clothes they wore were the uniform pants and shirts from what ever job they had at the time, usually with a name tag over the shirt pocket, just in case they ever forgot who they were!

Back then, permanent press wasn't even around, so nearly all the clothes smelled like sunshine and country breezes. That came from being dried on the clothes line in the yard! There's a certain smell clothes dried on the line have that's hard to explain unless you have experienced it first hand. It's a smell that I can still remember to this day!

No matter what the clothes were made of, the main thing I remember most about all of them was the many treasures that lay hidden in those pockets! I'll bet a lot of you know exactly what I'm talking about!

Walk up to any grown cousin, uncle, grandpa, or dad...ask for a piece of string or wire or a scrape of cloth or paper and someone would almost without fail have it!

Not to mention the ever-present hankie and the best treasure of all...the pocket knife! Now, the pocket knife was NOT for loaning out! It was usually worn almost smooth on the handle, and usually so sharp you could shave the hair on your arms with it. The blade was usually very much thinner than when it was new, due to the fact that it had been sharpened so many times! No dull knives in those pockets! The pocket knife was a tool, and as most tools, was cared for with much attention!

It might be just a pen knife, a single blade, a double blade, or even the occasional Swiss knife...but they were all used a lot and treated with respect!

Those wonderful knives could make toys, help in car or tractor repairs, remove splinters, gut fish, plug a water melon, deftly slice any fruit and even peel an entire apple with the peeling hanging all in one piece!

Oh, and let's not forget the other necessity! The pocket watch! Even though many of the men wore wrist watches, many, if not most relied on a good ol' pocket watch to keep the most accurate time for them. It was like the watch you took to church, or to the bank if you had business there!

The pocket watch was such an important part of a man's treasures, it had a special pocket all it's own in a lot of clothing!

Yeah, those marvelous pockets were just loaded with treasures! Might not be the same for everyone, but you can bet that the grown men of the country kind always had some version of these treasure handy. It was like they could almost anticipate what the kids might ask for or need...and have the talent to carry nearly all of those needs in their very special pockets!

Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside for a bit! We can discuss what treasures you have in your pockets!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day...!


Even though my own dad has been gone for a very long time, I still have many fond memories of him.

Like most, I can think of so many things I wish I would have said while he was here. I still say them, hoping that somehow he hears them and knows what's in my heart!

If I can be just half the man my Father was...then I would consider that to be a wonderful tribute to him. There is no way I could ever fill his shoes, but just maybe I can follow down the path he showed me while he was here in person.

I'm sure that he will always whisper in my ear and in my heart, showing me the way!



Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside for a bit! Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Little Saturday Humor...!


Once in a while, we just need a good giggle in the morning!

Sort of helps us get through the day with a smile on our face, ya know? I hope this serves that purpose!



Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit on the patio for a bit!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thoughts On Self Reliance...!


I found this essay on self reliance that I wanted to share.

It is a very timely piece, and certainly more fitting today than anything that my poor talents could put forth! Not only that, but it makes a very good read...and should be revisited often!

American Self-Reliance

by J. Ollie Edmunds

This country was not built by men who relied on somebody else to take care of them. It was built by men who relied on themselves, who dared to shape their own lives, who had enough courage to blaze new trails with enough confidence in themselves to take the necessary risks.

This self-reliance is our American legacy. It is the secret of that something which stamped Americans as Americans. Some call it individual initiative, others backbone. But whatever it is called, it is a precious ingredient in our national character, one which we must not lose.

The time has come for us to re-establish the rights for which we stand, to re-assert our inalienable rights to human dignity, self-respect, self-reliance—to be again the kind of people who once made America great.

Such a crusade for renewed independence will require a succession of inspired leaders, leaders in spirit and in knowledge of the problem, not just men with political power, but men who are militantly for the distinctive way of life that was America. We are likely to find such leaders only among those that promote self-reliance and who practice it with strict devotion and understanding.

This short essay just about sums it up, don't you think?

Now, my friends, coffee on the patio seems called for! Fresh coffee and good discussion with true friends...what could be better?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Don't Forget Father's Day...!


Father's Day is coming soon, and I figured this would be a great time to give a little history of this holiday!

For me, it just means another day...but for many it is the time to honor the father of the family! The actual holiday is newer than you think! From the pages of the Almanac, here is a brief history of this particular holiday.

Let's All Cheer for Fathers!
by Aurelia C. Scott

The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day in America. While it wasn’t made a national holiday until 1972, the efforts of one woman in Washington sparked a movement to celebrate Dad’s long before then.

Sonora Dodd and the first Father's Day

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, was inspired to create a holiday honoring fathers. William Jackson Smart, her father, was a farmer and Civil War veteran that raised Sonora and her five younger brothers by himself after his wife, Ellen, died giving birth to their youngest child in 1898. While attending a Mother’s Day church service in 1909, Sonora, then 27, came up with the idea.

Within a few months, Sonora had convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA to set aside a Sunday in June to celebrate fathers. She proposed June 5, her father’s birthday, but the ministers chose the third Sunday in June so that they would have more time after Mother’s Day (the second Sunday in May) to prepare their sermons. So it was that on June 19, 1910, Sonora delivered presents to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA decorated their lapels with fresh-cut roses (red for living fathers, white for the deceased), and the city’s ministers devoted their homilies to fatherhood.

A National Holiday

The widely publicized events in Spokane struck a chord that reached all the way to Washington, D.C., and Sonora's celebration started it's path to becoming a national holiday.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day.

Eight years later, President Calvin Coolidge signed a resolution in favor of Father’s Day “to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order that the holiday be celebrated on the third Sunday in June.

Under President Richard Nixon, in 1972, Congress passed an act officially making Father’s Day a national holiday. (Six years later, Sonora died at age 96.)

Different Days for Different Dads

North America is not the only place where Father’s Day is celebrated.

In traditionally Catholic countries such as Spain and Portugal, Father’s Day is observed on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph.

Taiwanese celebrate Father’s Day on August 8, the eighth day of the eighth month, because the Mandarin Chinese word for eight sounds like the word for “Papa.”

In Thailand, Father’s Day occurs on the king’s birthday, which for current King Bhumibol Adulyadej is December 5.


Sounds like a good time for coffee on the patio, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Redneck Repairs Save The Day...!


Here in the South, many times we make do with things on hand when we need a temporary repair done in a hurry!

Many times it's something like duct tape, some times it's spit and bailing wire...and some times just a simple rag stuffed in a hole can prevent a battleship from sinking!

Check out this story from the Houston Chronicle.

Near-sinking of Battleship Texas a 'wake-up call'

By AMANDA CASANOVA Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle June 15, 2010, 8:42PM

Millions of dollars and major repairs have kept the iconic Battleship Texas afloat over the years, but last weekend it was a pump and a rag that stopped it from sinking into the Houston Ship Channel.

On Thursday, an employee at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, where the Texas is moored, noticed the 96-year-old ship was sitting lower in the water than usual when he left the park. “The next morning when he got back, it was noticeably deeper,” said Mike Cox, spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “He and other staff went below deck and found the ship was taking on water — to use nautical speak.”

A combination of a pump failure and leaks — at least one new one — had caused the ship to take on at least 105,000 gallons of water and sink nearly three feet into the channel.


By Saturday, replacement pumps and a rag stuffed into the new leak had righted the ship, and it was stabilized on Sunday, Cox said. Tours of the ship continued throughout the weekend.


“We think it’s a wake-up call as to the importance to getting this vessel stabilized so future generations can appreciate and enjoy it,” he said.
Cox said maintenance routinely checks the ship, and while there have been leaks in the past, this was the most serious pumping ever done for the battleship.

“This worrisome incident, which we fortunately succeeded in bringing under control, underscores the importance of moving forward rapidly with plans to place the Texas in a dry-berth,” said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “I’m just glad our folks at the park showed a lot of resourcefulness in preventing the situation from getting out of hand.”


Three years ago, voters approved a bond package that included $25 million to dry-berth the ship, with another $4 million provided by the Battleship Texas Foundation. TPWD has selected an engineering firm to design the dry berth and is negotiating fees.

The dry berth is slated to be completed by 2014, the centennial of the ship’s commissioning.
In 1988, the Texas was towed to Todd Shipyards in Galveston for a $14 million restoration. The deck was replaced and the ship’s hull was repaired during the two-year project. “Given what happened recently, we are eager to proceed with this project,” Carter Smith said.

“We’re not going to let the passage of time do what two world wars could not do, which is scuttle the Battleship Texas.”
amanda.casanova@chron.com

Stories like this make you proud to be a genuine, dyed in the wool, problem solving redneck! After all, this is the battleship Texas we're talking about, ya know?

Now, my friends, to celebrate we'll have some fresh coffee on the patio! Maybe some fresh baked cookies on the side...!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Hero Gone...!


I guess that it's just a sign of the times...and a reminder that we all are getting no younger.

I personally was big fan of Jimmy Dean. Mainly because he was one of the first people I can remember standing up on national television and proclaiming "I am a proud, flag waving American and always will be!"


DENA POTTER, Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. --

Jimmy Dean, a country music legend for his smash hit about a workingman hero, "Big Bad John," and an entrepreneur known for his sausage brand, died on Sunday. He was 81.

His wife, Donna Meade Dean, said her husband died at their Henrico County, Va., home.

She told The Associated Press that he had some health problems but was still functioning well, so his death came as a shock. She said he was eating in front of the television. She left the room for a time and came back and he was unresponsive. She said he was pronounced dead at 7:54 p.m.

"He was amazing," she said. "He had a lot of talents."

Born in 1928, Dean was raised in poverty in Plainview, Texas, and dropped out of high school after the ninth grade. He went on to a successful entertainment career in the 1950s and '60s that included the nationally televised "The Jimmy Dean Show."

In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in his hometown. He sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.

Dean lived in semiretirement with his wife, who is a songwriter and recording artist, on their 200-acre estate just outside Richmond, where he enjoyed investing, boating and watching the sun set over the James River.

In 2009 a fire gutted their home, but his Grammy for "Big Bad John," a puppet made by Muppets creator Jim Henson, a clock that had belonged to Prince Charles and Princess Diana and other valuables were saved. Lost were a collection of celebrity-autographed books, posters of Dean with Elvis Presley and other prized possessions.

Donna Meade Dean said the couple had just moved back into their reconstructed home.

With his drawled wisecracks and quick wit, Dean charmed many fans. But in both entertainment and business circles, he was also known for his tough hide. He fired bandmate Roy Clark, who went onto "Hee Haw" fame, for showing up late for gigs.

More recently, a scrap with Sara Lee led to national headlines.

The Chicago-based company let him go as spokesman in 2003, inciting Dean's wrath. He issued a statement titled "Somebody doesn't like Sara Lee," claiming he was dumped because he got old.

"The company told me that they were trying to attract the younger housewife, and they didn't think I was the one to do that," Dean told The Associated Press in January 2004. "I think it's the dumbest thing. But you know, what do I know?"

Sara Lee has said that it chose not to renew Dean's contract because the "brand was going in a new direction" that demanded a shift in marketing.

Dean grew up in a musical household. His mother showed him how to play his first chord on the piano. His father, who left the family, was a songwriter and singer. Dean taught himself to play the accordion and the harmonica.

His start in the music business came as an accordionist at a tavern near Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., where he was stationed in the 1940s. After leaving the Air Force in 1948, he fronted his band, the Texas Wildcats, and drew a strong local following through appearances on Washington-area radio.

By the early 1950s, Dean's band had its first national hit in "Bummin' Around."

"Big Bad John," which is about a coal miner who saves fellow workers when a mine roof collapses, became a big hit in 1961 and won a Grammy. The star wrote it in less than two hours.

His fame led him to a string of television shows, including "The Jimmy Dean Show" on CBS. Dean's last big TV stint was ABC's version of "The Jimmy Dean Show" from 1963 to 1966.

Dean in February was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was to be inducted in October and his wife said she thinks he was looking forward to it.

Dean became a headliner at venues like Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl and became the first country star to play on the Las Vegas strip. He was the first guest host on "The Tonight Show," and also was an actor with parts in television and the movies, including the role of James Bond's ally Willard Whyte in the 1971 film "Diamonds Are Forever."

Besides his wife, Dean is survived by three children and two grandchildren, Donna Meade Dean said. Arrangements have not be made, but it will be a private service, she said.

In the late '60s, Dean entered the hog business -- something he knew well. His family had butchered hogs, with the young Dean whacking them over the head with the blunt end of an ax. The Dean brothers -- Jimmy and Don -- ground the meat and their mother seasoned it.

The Jimmy Dean Meat Co. opened with a plant in Plainview. After six months, the company was profitable.

His fortune was estimated at $75 million in the early '90s.

Having watched other stars fritter away their fortunes, Dean said he learned to be careful with his money.

"I've seen so many people in this business that made a fortune," he told the AP. "They get old and broke and can't make any money. ... I tell you something, ... no one's going to play a benefit for Jimmy Dean."

Dean said then that he was at peace at his estate and that he had picked a spot near the river where he wanted to be buried.

"It's the sweetest piece of property in the world, we think," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "It sure is peaceful here."
___

AP Entertainment Writer Chris Talbott in Nashville contributed to this report.


Seems to me that every day we lose another good and patriotic friend! That's pretty sad, but I guess it's all a part of the life cycle. Still, it's a sad thing!

Now, my friends, how about some fresh coffee on the patio? I'll put on some Jimmy Dean on the record player...!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day...2010 !


Today, as I'm sure that most of you know, is Flag Day!

In times as troubled as those we face now, it is important to continue to uphold and carry on the old traditions. I'm sure that nearly everyone reading this is aware of the history of the flag and the traditions surrounding it, but let's just go over it one more time, OK?

What we know fondly as the “Stars and Stripes” was adopted by the Continental Congress as the official American flag on June 14, 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War. Colonial troops fought under many different flags with various symbols and slogans—rattlesnakes, pine trees, eagles, “Don’t Tread on Me,” “Liberty or Death,” and “Conquer or Die,” to name a few.

The first flag had 13 stars on a blue field and 13 alternating red and white stripes for the 13 original colonies. Now there are 50 stars, one for each state in the Union, but the 13 stripes remain. Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877, on the flag’s 100th birthday.

Here are some Dos and Don'ts regarding the flag, just in case!


Now, my friends, there is fresh coffee on the patio if you would like some. Always free...!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Some Random Thoughts For Sunday...!


None of these quotes are earth shattering, but they all make a lot of sense!

Isn't it funny how sometimes other folks can say just what we are thinking, but do so better? This is one of those cases, in my humble opinion!

Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
Kurt Vonnegut

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.
Kurt Vonnegut

I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.
Kurt Vonnegut

I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it's a very poor scheme for survival.
Kurt Vonnegut

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
Kurt Vonnegut

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.
Kurt Vonnegut

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
Kurt Vonnegut

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.
Kurt Vonnegut


They may not seem too deep, but to me they are so full of common wisdom! Wise things said in a way that everyone can understand! You just gotta love that!

Now, my friends, how about some coffee on the patio this morning? Sounds good to me!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Remember Carl Sagan...?


Perhaps we should revisit him and listen again to his magical way of putting things.

Most of what he describes is becoming more true as we progress daily, especially in talking about the delicate balance of technology and the dangers that come with all the strides forward we make!

He was a brilliant man and I believe that he may have sensed much of what we are going through, and are going to go through.



Maybe we need another man like Sagan around again! Sure couldn't hurt!

Coffee on the patio this morning. That OK with you, my friend?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Holiday, Hawaii...!


Never let it be said that the Hermit doesn't recognize the special holidays of other states!

Hawaii is celebrating a very special date in their history today...and I just wanted to let you know about it, just in case you wanted to join in the celebration!

King Kamehameha I Day (Hawaii)

Hawaii is the only American state that was once a kingdom with its own monarchy. One of the greatest kings was King Kamehameha I, also called, appropriately, Kamehameha the Great. His name means "the very lonely one" or "the one set apart." A statue of him can be found in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

King Kamehameha I probably was born some time around 1758, the year when Halley's comet became visible over Hawaii. A courageous warrior, the king conquered and united the entire Hawaiian islands into one kingdom. During his reign, which lasted from 1782 to 1819, Hawaii became an important center in the fur and sandalwood trades.

The last king in the Kamehameha dynasty was King Kamehameha V, who ruled from 1863 to 1872. During this time, the king proclaimed June 11 as a day to honor his grandfather, King Kamehameha I. Nowadays, King Kamehameha I Day is celebrated with parades, singing, and feasts.

King Kamehameha V was succeeded by King Lunalilo, King Kalakaua, and finally, the much beloved Queen Lili'uokalani. It was she who wrote the famous song, "Aloha Oe."

See? We don't play favorites here at the Hermit's place! The way I see it, if it's important enough to you to throw a statewide party, then it's certainly important enough to talk about here!

After all, even a Hermit likes a good party, ya know?

Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit on the patio for a bit! Bring on the Hula Dancers!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Texas Compromise of 1850...!


The government just couldn't stand it, even then!

The Compromise of 1850 allowed Texas to sell off about 1/3 of her claimed territory. I have a feeling that maybe the sheer size of Texas at that time was bothersome to the government! For what ever reason, the state was broken up and this is what happened back then!

9 September 1850

During its early years of statehood, Texas claimed territory about fifty percent larger than its present boundary, including parts of the present states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming (see graphic below). Much of this land was contested by other groups, with the result that emotions on both sides of the issue reached the point of hostility by 1850.

BREAKUP OF TEXAS:

Of the land claimed by Texas after annexation , about 1/3 was ceded to the U. S. in exchange for $10 million in the Compromise of 1850. Four different plans for the breakup were proposed in the boundary dispute.



Plans for settling the dispute were discussed in the U. S. Congress beginning in early 1850. At least four of these plans gained serious attention (identified by their congressional sponsors):

* Thomas Benton Plan (January 16) -- would divest Texas of its northern and western territory and later split Texas into two states.
* John Bell Plan (February 28) -- similar to Benton's Plan, but would split Texas into three states.
* Henry Clay Plan, representing a committee of thirteen (April 17) -- reduced the size of Texas by about the same amount, but with no provision for further subdivision.
* James Pearce Plan (August 5) -- similar to Clay's Plan, but set the boundaries known today.



The Pearce Plan was adopted on September 9, 1850. Although Texas lost almost one-third of its territory under this plan, the settlement also included compensation of $10,000,000, which provided much needed funding for Texas to pay its pre-statehood debts. The plan defined the familiar boundaries known by all Texans today.

The resolution of this boundary dispute, along with other national legislation related to sectional and slavery issues, became known collectively as the Compromise of 1850.


We may have been reduced in size, but never in attitude! At least, not in my opinion!

Now, my friends, how about some coffee on the patio this morning!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Now This Really Blows...!


As if you didn't already have enough to worry about, I thought I had better bring you this update from the Almanac!

While it doesn't affect every one, it does become a big concern for many of us! Especially those of us that live in the coastal areas!

Now don't think that just because you live pretty far inland that this is not a problem for you...because history has shown us that it can indeed affect the northern states as well!

2010 Hurricane Forecast

Summary of Forecast

As of June 2, the 2010 Atlantic Basin hurricane forecast has been revised upward. "We anticipate a well above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall," say meteorology experts Colorado State University. "All factors are lining up for a very active 2010 hurricane season."

El NiƱo has undergone a transition from moderate conditions to the currently observed neutral conditions. Presently, the tropical Atlantic has an unusually warm sea surface temperature, which is expected to remain throughout the 2010 hurricane season. The combination of these two factors create conditions that are favorable for the formation and intensification of hurricanes.

2010 Hurricane Forecast

Forecast Parameter (1950-2000 Climatology) 2010 Forecast
Named tropical storms (9.6) 18
Named tropical storm days (49.1) 90
Hurricanes (5.9) 10
Hurricane days (24.5) 40
Major hurricanes (2.3) 5
Intense hurricane days (5) 13
Net tropical cyclone activity (100%) 195%

Note: Forecasts cover the Atlantic Basin—the area encompassing the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. See up-to-the-moment weather maps at The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

2010 Hurricane Landfall Probabilities

Though individual hurricane landfall can not be accurately forecast for an individual year, the following shows the probability for at least one major hurricane (category 3-4-5) landfall on each of the following coastal areas. Averages for the last century are shown in parenthesis.

  • Entire US Coastline: 76% (52%)
  • US East Coast including Peninsula Florida: 51% (31%)
  • Gulf Coast from Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville: 50% (30%)
  • Tracking into the Caribbean: 65% (42%)

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale Average Wind (mph) Representative Hurricanes
Category One 74 - 95 Danny; 1997
Category Two 96 - 110 Bonnie & Georges; 1998
Category Three 111 - 130 Rita; 2005
Category Four 131 - 155 Charley; 2004
Category Five 156 + Andrew; 1992



My suggestion? Make sure you have plenty of food, water, and alternative lighting available...you know, just in case! That goes double for the coffee and maybe just an extra bottle or two of the ol' "snake bite" medicine! Know what I mean?

Just could be you'll need it all this year!

Now, how about some fresh coffee and conversation in the kitchen? Raining again outside!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You Need To Know This...!


This story from the Houston Chronicle shows just how worried we should be...and how crooked the folks at the top are!

This will make you ill, believe me!

Federal inspectors collect only 16 fines in nearly 400 investigations

By LISE OLSEN and ERIC NALDER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
June 6, 2010, 11:14PM

In the five years before the Deepwater Horizon exploded, federal investigators documented nearly 200 safety and environmental violations in accidents on platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, describing a stunning array of hazards that resulted in few penalties.

Workers plunged dozens of feet through open unmarked holes. Welding sparked flash fires. Overloaded cranes dropped heavy loads that smashed equipment and pinned workers. Oil and drilling mud fouled Gulf waters. Compressors exploded. Wells blew out.

And yet, in their investigations of nearly 400 offshore incidents, Minerals Management Service officials failed to travel to one-third of the accident scenes, collected only 16 fines and did not investigate every blowout as their own rules require.

BP, the region's leading offshore oil producer, reported more accidents and blowouts than any other oil company operating in Gulf waters, followed by Chevron, the region's third largest off-shore oil producer.

BP has had at least 47 since 2005; Chevron 46, based on a Houston Chronicle review of accidents investigated by MMS in the last five years and a decade of government reports on blowouts of oil wells.

Each major oil company paid only a single fine related to violations linked to those incidents. Both Chevron and BP spokesmen defended their companies' safety records and said their employee injury rates are low.

Toby Ordone, a BP spokesman, said the high number of accidents “is presumably because we have the highest number of (drilling) licenses.”

Chevron spokeswoman Margaret J. Cooper said the company has won several recent safety awards from MMS and has a policy of proactively reporting “every incident, regardless of size or impact.”

The Gulf's second-ranked producer, Shell, had 22 reported accidents and has paid no related fines.

Rare to pay fines

It was rare for any oil company to pay penalties for problems found in accidents investigated by the MMS, records show. The agency can charge $35,000 per day per violation. But many proposed violations get reduced or dropped during behind-the-scenes reviews. Records show that most final payments were small and took a year or more to collect.

One of the biggest delays in fine collections involved BP. The company took five years to pay a fine associated with a 2002 debacle where two oil well blowouts struck the same drilling rig in three months.

MMS officials did not respond to repeated requests for information and comment for this story.

The federal agency, charged with overseeing offshore oil operations and enforcing safety and environmental rules, routinely collects more penalties for violations found in routine inspections than they do after investigations into similar problems that caused injuries, major damage or oil spills, records show.

Several companies have been fined for leaving unmarked open holes, yet others were not penalized after workers got hurt falling through improperly barricaded gaps in elevated platforms. Only three of about 30 companies identified as polluters in MMS reports have so far paid related penalties, records show.

The MMS manual, its rule book of sorts, says investigations are meant to prevent reoccurrences, rather than to punish.

A former veteran agency official agreed that fines are an important enforcement tool. But he also argued that investigators tend to learn more safety lessons from accident investigations than from inspections — and that companies tend to cooperate more fully if they don't fear being fined.

“To me investigations are a lot more beneficial than inspections,” said Elmer “Bud” Danenberger, former chief of Offshore Regulatory Programs for MMS. “You learn much more because they are showing you things that can go wrong in the system.”

After the fiery explosion that nearly destroyed a BP rig in 2002, investigators discovered critical safety equipment alterations made without MMS approval. Because of those alterations, explosive blowout gases weren't diverted safely out to sea, the agency concluded. BP declined comment.

5 blowouts in 18 months

Accident reports show that deepwater well blowouts also have become more common: Five were reported in the last 18 months in the Gulf of Mexico alone.

Those and other accident reports on previous blowouts show that problems found by investigators included difficulties with blowout preventers, safety valves, drilling mud and cement jobs. All are issues that resurfaced with the deadly Macondo well disaster in April that killed 11 aboard the Deepwater Horizon and spawned a spill considered the nation's worst environmental disaster.

During the investigation of a November 2008 accident, Chevron raised a concern about special deep-water risks after a well blew out, spewing tons of mud across the ocean floor 7,000 feet below the drill ship. Their comments, contained in the six-page MMS investigation, focused on a lack of “established guidelines” to protect equipment from the forces of deep water drilling.

More importantly, they suggested guidelines for the use of a special barrier against blowouts known as a “tieback string” – a special safety device not used in the Deepwater Horizon.

But in January 2009, the MMS district supervisor in Houma, La., closed the investigation without recommending any related safety alert, a tool the agency uses to inform all Gulf oil operators about issues uncovered in accident investigations.

The lack of a tieback string was a “root cause” of the April 2010 BP blowout and Deepwater Horizon disaster, believes Gene Beck, a well-known drilling expert who has examined BP well diagrams.

BP felt at the time that the system used was “acceptable”, and there was no industry standard for tiebacks, said spokesman Odone in an e-mail.

The MMS rules require investigations of all blowouts.

Yet, the Chronicle could find no proof that the agency did any formal investigation in at least nine of 28 blowouts reported to the MMS in the last five years. Known as “loss of well control” incidents, some might seem harmless, like gas bubbling from a shutdown well. But the consequences can be deadly.

In fact, agency records also show no evidence that MMS investigators visited the scene in about one-third of offshore accidents reported since 2005. In other cases, long delays in site visits were caused by unsafe conditions aboard damaged rigs, bad weather or hurricanes. But most delays and failures to go to accident sites are unexplained in reports.

Delays can undermine investigations since conditions and personnel change rapidly in offshore installations, attorneys and consultants who regularly review offshore accidents said.

Tom Mosele, a Houston-based attorney and engineer who frequently represents divers injured offshore, said delays give company officials the opportunity to destroy or remove records, including audio or video tapes, or send away important witnesses or victims.

A long history of lackluster reviews also has undermined confidence in the agency, attorneys and consultants told the Chronicle.

“I can't ever recall seeing a MMS investigation, or even a report to the MMS,” said Tony Buzbee, a busy Houston-based maritime attorney involved in the Deepwater Horizon and other cases. “I've handled literally hundreds of offshore injuries, including death, fires, rig collapses, etc.”

Nearly all investigations are handled by one or two investigators working in coastal district offices in Louisiana and Texas.

District MMS supervisors — overseen by a regional manager in New Orleans — review and generally sign reports for accidents in their territories and review fines, according to records and the agency manual. The same officials also oversee the government's oil leases.

Reforms promised

Since the Deepwater Horizon accident, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed to revamp the agency, perhaps separating investigators and inspectors from officials who issue leases and collect federal oil royalties.

The move might give regulators more independence. The question, though, is whether the changes would address offshore standards and investigative procedures that seem to fall short of those imposed on land by agencies like OSHA and the EPA.

The government's own archive of accident reports show unaddressed mistakes are repeated — sometimes by the same company. Reports also show that some companies simply fail to report accidents as required — though it's not clear how many get punished or fined for failing to report.

In 2005, the death of an offshore worker prompted a major MMS probe into how a worker aboard a liftboat was killed as he conducted repairs at a hurricane-damaged platform operated by Forest Oil company. That investigation prompted a 33-page report with photos, diagrams and comprehensive suggestions.

Yet, when a contract diver lost his foot in an accident in 2007 while working aboard the same liftboat at another offshore location, the accident was not promptly reported and the MMS did no formal investigation, MMS and federal court records show.

lise.olsen@chron.com
ericnalder@hearst.com


Still believe the lies being told by BP reps? Still believe that the government will do the right thing...or that they have EVER done the right thing with regards to the oil companies?

Time to take of the rose colored glasses, folks! If you really believe that the health and well being of the average people affected by this are of any concern to the PTB...then I don't know what else to say!

Now, my friends, let's get some fresh coffee and sit in the kitchen. We can think about the future that's being taken from all future generations along the Gulf Coast!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sometimes Words Aren't Necessary...!


Many of us know that between friends, lover's and partners...words are not always necessary!

A touch, a look, or even some closeness is often enough. Life's funny that way!






Despite all our differences, we can indeed get along. We can even learn to overlook the things that separate us and make us afraid of one another...but only if we truly want it!

Like I said...life's funny that way!

Now how about some coffee in the kitchen this morning? Rainy outside!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Now This Is A Pickle...!


I don't know how this big boy managed to hide from me for so long, but he did!

Mother Nature can really hid those veggies, can't she? I go to the garden and get okra every day and always look at the other plants while I'm there. Finally today I spotted this bad boy hiding under a vine on the ground!

At first I thought I must have found a small watermelon, but then I remembered I didn't plant any! Anyway, it's just a little too big for my quart canning jars, don't you think?


It's about 18 inches long and weighs just at 1.5 pounds...if my scale is right! Feels heavier than that! How could I miss it for so long?


When placed next to a banana at Mom's house...you can get a feel for just how large this thing is!



I was going to leave it in Mom's fruit bowl on the table...but for some reason, it wouldn't fit! Can't imagine why...!



Anyway, if the squash and tomatoes catch up to the cukes...I'll be overwhelmed! Might have to rethink the whole canning thing, and just eat a lot of stuff from the garden. I can see a LOT of salad and bread and butter pickles in my future!

Gotta love it when a plan comes together! Now, how about some fresh coffee on the patio? Want salad with that?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Milestone Of Sorts...!


I noticed that I have somehow garnered 200 followers now!

That's pretty amazing to me, that such a following would find the time to sign up and be subjected to the (almost) daily ramblings of an old Hermit type such as myself!

I just wanted to say a great big "THANK YOU" to each and every one of you! Makes Blogging just a little more fun, if you know what I mean!

Sometimes this weekend, I'm going to be doing a little house keeping on the ol' blog, and I may remove some folks from the blogs list that seem to have gone inactive. If you notice your blog has been removed, don't take it personal, OK? Just let me know if you want to remain on the roll and I'll put you right back on...!

Again, I appreciate all the followers, and also all the folks that come by just to visit...followers or not! It means a lot to me!

That's all I had, but I invite all my friends, new and old, to come in for a cup of coffee! Just pull up a chair...and don't mind the cats, OK? OK!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Be ""Water Wise" This Summer...!


If your home place is like mine right now, you don't have an immediate problem with watering the garden.

However, the hot and dry weather is coming...and sooner or later, this information from the Old Farmer's Almanac just might come in handy!

Now, some of you may know all of this. I knew quite a bit of it, but there was some things here that I didn't! Goes to show, we can all learn something every day!

The Water-Wise Garden

Plants drink their food. If your soil dries out, your plants will starve—or wilt. Take these steps to keep your garden moist and water wisely:

Improve the Soil

Rainwater sluices through pure sand at the rate of 20 inches per hour or even faster, taking with it everything plants need to survive. Soil with lots of organic matter slows the transition of water from the soil to the subsoil, giving plants a chance to take in what they need. To help retain moisture, mix lots of peat moss and compost into the soil at planting time.

Plan a Smaller Garden

Take stock of what you really need to grow and don't exceed your calculations. For example, two or three hills of zucchini and cucumbers will easily meet the needs of a family of four.

Choose Bush Varieties

Plants that grow low to the soil will lose less water through transpiration than those that spread rampantly (Hubbard squash) or twine up to the sky (pole beans). Check descriptions in seed catalogs for varieties that need little space and can tolerate dry conditions.

Place Plants Close Together

Leaves from neighboring plants will shade the soil, helping to conserve surface moisture and reduce weed growth. Plant beans about an inch apart, tomatoes about 18 inches apart.

Mulch Well


Mulch prevents moisture from evaporating directly from the soil surface, and it can greatly reduce weeds. Use whatever you have at hand—newspaper; black plastic; old carpet; large, flat stones—and apply it when the soil is wet. (Don't mulch with peat moss; it dries out and forms a mat on the top of the soil that easily sheds water. Instead, work peat moss well into the soil.)

Weed Diligently

Smother weeds or pull them out—roots and all. Don't make your plants compete with weeds for moisture.

Reduce Evaporation


Water your garden in the late afternoon or early in the morning--times when the least amount of water will evaporate from the leaves. To encourage roots to develop, soak the garden thoroughly rather than watering it lightly several times.

Use a Drip System

Drip irrigation provides greater water savings than sprinklers. (Consult your county extension agent for tips on setting up drip irrigation.) If you install a drip system, allow for different beds or separate parts of the garden to be on separate sets of commands. The water needs of plants differ widely, and a system that delivers one rate of water to your entire plot can be wasteful.

Strip Off Leaves

Large, bushy tomato plants lose a lot of water through their leaves. Once the green tomatoes reach their full size, strip off most of the leaves to reduce evaporation and keep water going to the ripening fruit.

Harvest at Once


As soon as a fruit or vegetable is ripe, remove it from the plant. Pull up any plants that aren't productive or that are past their prime.

Now, you'll notice that I use the Almanac quite a bit and there's a good reason for that! I learn a ton of information that I didn't know before...and i am reminded of a myriad of things I had forgotten.

If you don't have a copy of the Farmer's Almanac, may I suggest that you get one? If you want, you can just go on-line to read and enjoy the almanac. Just drop in to Almanac.com and open the door to tons of excellent reading!

Now, let's get some fresh coffee and sit in the kitchen for a bit! We can listen to Mother Nature water my little garden for me...!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Got A Spare $15,000...?


You all know that I love my cats, right?

However, there are limits as to what I'll do or how much I'd spend on them. I just ran across some folks that have a lot of money to throw away...and a very twisted idea of what looks good on their cats!

Now, I'm as patriotic as the next guy...but I can't help thinking this is just a tad over the edge!



I'm not sure exactly what this painting is supposed to be, but I do know that judging from the look on this kitty's face...he does NOT like it!



While I would be the first to admit that this paint job would be appropriate around Halloween, I don't want to run into this critter around my house in the dark! In fact, not in the daylight either!



Now the fool that had the Gaul to do this to a poor, defenseless pet should just be taken out and shot! Better yet, maybe they should just have this tattooed on their body...ya think?



Some of the paint jobs cost $15,000 and had to be repeated every 3 months as the cat's hair grows out. Must be nice to have $60,000 a year just to keep your cat painted!!!!

My guess is that the main reason for the grin on the next one is because he's so glad that he didn't get painted like his buddy in the last picture!



Now how about some fresh coffee in the kitchen? Raining outside this morning!