Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

Q: What did the little girl say when she had to choose between a tricycle and a candy bar?
A: “Trike or Treat”?

Q: What do you call a fat pumpkin?
A: A plumpkin.

Q: What does a witch use to keep her hair in place?
A: Scarespray!

Q. Why do demons and ghouls hang out together?
A. Because demons are a ghouls best friend!

Q. Why can't a male ghost father babies?
A. Because he has a hollow weinie.

Q. Why did the game warden arrest the ghost?
A. He didn't have a haunting license.

Q.  What do you call a dancing ghost?
A. Polka-haunt-us

Q. What did the mother ghost say to the baby ghost as they drove down the street?
A. Buckle your sheet belt!

 This Halloween, the only Candy I'm interested in swings from a pole.

 Thank goodness for Halloween. All of a sudden, the cobwebs in my house are decorations!

A few days after Halloween, Sally came home with a bad report card. Her mother asked why her grades were so low.

Sally answered, "Because everything is marked down for the holidays!"

Halloween was confusing. All my life my parents said, "Never take candy from strangers." And then they dressed me up and said, "Go beg for it." I didn't know what to do. I'd knock on people's doors and go, "Trick or treat . . . no thank you." ~ Rita Rudner

A vampire bat came flapping in from the night covered in fresh blood and parked himself on the roof of the cave to get some sleep.  Pretty soon all the other bats smelled the blood and began hassling him about where he got it.  He told them to knock it off and let him get some sleep but they persisted until finally he gave in. 

"OK, follow me," he said and flew out of the cave with hundreds of bats behind him.  Down through a valley they went, across a river and into a forest full of trees.  Finally he slowed down and all the other bats excitedly milled around him. 

"Now, do you see that tree over there?" he asked. 

"Yes, yes, yes!" the bats all screamed in a frenzy. 

"Good," said the first bat, "Because I DIDN'T!"

10 Things That Sound Dirty On Halloween, But Aren't...
1. So...What'd you get in the sack?

2. Once you get under the sheet, start moaning and groaning!!!

3. Just hop on that broomstick and ride it!

4. Those small suckers are gone in a few licks!

5. I got the best piece from that house.

6. Quit screwing around on the porch!!!

7. Stick your hand in and guess what you're feeling....

8. It was so full and heavy, I had to use TWO hands!!

9. They'll suck you dry if they get their teeth in you.

10. I bobbed and bobbed, but couldn't get my mouth around it!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2015.10.30

Given today's weather, here's an appropriate two-fer.

First, the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan performing Texas Flood live...

... followed by the Man in Black with How High's the Water Mama.

Stay dry...

Weather Update

We're getting hammered here in Central Texas. Between 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. we received 4 1/2 inches of rain. It's serious, but not as bad as this headline would lead you to believe.

Catastrophic & Historic Flooding Underway in Parts of Central Texas
It has been an incredibly busy morning across Central and South-Central Texas. Several tornadoes and catastrophic flash flooding are underway across Hays county (30 miles NE of us)... Some locations across Comal and Hays counties have recorded a foot of rain this morning. This is an extremely life-threatening situation comparable to the historic flooding we saw in May. Many roads are closed and its only going to get worse.

A level 2 possible severe weather risk remains in effect through the late afternoon hours across South Texas, Central Texas, and Southeast Texas... The primary severe weather risk will be isolated tornadoes... As a warm front makes slow progress north we could see the severe weather threat also spread into more of Central Texas... For the past hour the front has stalled out around Austin which is helping to create extreme rainfall rates.

... additional thunderstorms will form this afternoon and evening across the Big Country and Concho Valley. That activity will move east towards Interstate 35 from D/FW south through the San Antonio Metro area. Some of these storms could be severe with the possibility of damaging wind gusts and a couple tornadoes. By far the most significant threat will be flash flooding. Parts of South Austin into San Marcos and Wimberly are receiving six inches of rain an HOUR. This has been going on for a while now. This is truly going to be a catastrophic and probably historic event...
Several reported tornadoes left damage in small towns near San Antonio, Texas, on Friday morning. In those areas, as well as near Austin, a flood emergency forced people to evacuate their homes.

The flash flood emergency was in effect for much of Comal County, as well as parts of Hays and Bexar counties, according to the National Weather Service. This includes areas like northern San Antonio and New Braunfels.

Near (South Austin), Onion Creek quickly rose to a new record level. Before noon Friday, water levels at that part of the creek were already above the previous record of 25.1 feet, and the waterway was expected to continue its rise.

More than 10 inches of rain fell in a two-hour span near the creek Friday morning. Multiple people were rescued from floodwaters in Travis County earlier Friday morning.
South Austin (US 183 from the TX 71 overpass for those of you familiar with the area)
The rainfall became so extreme that the airfield of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport had to be closed late Friday morning, the airport announced.
Evacuations were ongoing in the Wimberley area Friday morning, as a bridge over Cypress Creek may be threatened by rising floodwaters. Rain was falling at rates of up to 6 inches per hour Friday morning in Texas, storm reports showed.

In Austin, boats were being deployed by the Austin Fire Department to help with water rescues.

Areas near the Blanco River were also being evacuated Friday morning, and the bridge over the river at RR 12 in Wimberley was closed.

San Antonio officials reported more than a dozen road closures Friday morning as heavy rain caused flooding. In eastern Bexar County, a school bus with children inside got stuck in high water, and crews were able to successfully remove everyone inside, the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said via Twitter.

New Braunfels officials warned residents to take flooding seriously and get to safety. A civil emergency message was issued for Comal County, warning residents that river flooding along the Comal and Guadalupe rivers was imminent, and residents in low-lying areas should evacuate...
The towns of D'Hanis and Floresville took the hardest hit from the early Friday suspected tornadoes. There were also reports of damage near San Marcos as the severe weather pushed northeast.
I truly feel for the poor folks living along the Blanco River in Blanco and Wimberly. They're still dealing with the aftermath of the Memorial Day flood that killed at least nine people (nine bodies have been recovered - two people are still missing). Now they're facing that same nightmare again.

We're located approximately 25 miles NW of San Antonio, and about 70 miles SW of Austin, so we're pretty much in the middle of all that stuff. Our property slopes from front to back. When I got up this morning the runoff had pooled in front of the house and was about 6 inches from our front door. We have drains in place to channel the runoff around the house, but they were clogged with debris, so I had the pleasure of cleaning them out while being pelted with rain. On the bright side, I didn't need to take a shower this morning.  :-)

The back of our property slopes down to a dry wash. In the 15 years we've lived here it's only had running water a handful of times. This morning there was a good-sized stream running down the wash, complete with whitecaps.

The heavy rain stopped a couple of hours ago, but we're still getting off-and-on showers. The forecast is for continued rain through today and tonight, with it tapering off tomorrow.

Overall, however, we're in good shape. It'll take rain of Biblical proportions to flood us out. We may get isolated by high water and road closures, but we've got enough food and adult beverages stockpiled to last us for quite a while.

Of course, all this rain comes on the heels of a historic multi-year drought. But that's Texas weather for you. Kind of like life in general, you either get too much of something, or not enough.


The Comal River flooding under the IH 35 bridge in New Braunfels.

The Comal River in New Braunfels as seen from my son's back yard. The rock walkway extends for several more feet (now underwater) before what is usually a five foot dropoff to the river. In other words, the water level is approximately ten feet above normal.

Full Of Hot Air

No, I'm not talking about the GOP debate, although that generated enough hot air to float a fleet of blimps. Instead, this post's title refers to the Army blimp that broke loose from its moorings and wreaked havoc in Pennsylvania.
The blimp broke away from its mooring near Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and came down in Pennsylvania, but not before its heavy tethering cables dragged on the ground for 20 miles, bringing down power lines and cutting electricity.

The U.S. military has two giant, unmanned surveillance blimps it uses to watch the East Coast from a base in Maryland. And one of them escaped its tethers Wednesday and floated aimlessly over Pennsylvania, downing power lines and cutting off electricity for tens of thousands of residents.

The incident started shortly after noon, when the blimp became detached from its anchor, NORAD said. Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to ensure it didn’t collide with other aircraft. By late afternoon, the dirigible had come down to the ground near Moreland Township in Pennsylvania — after drifting more than 100 miles — but not before leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

...the blimp’s heavy tether dragged for 20 miles across his county. There were no injuries within county borders, but the damage caused 35,000 to lose electricity, he said. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania canceled classes as a result; 911 phone lines were overwhelmed.

“It was a lot of chaos, initially,” Hunsinger said. “It pulled down power lines and utility poles.”
I'm operating in my usual day-late-and-a-dollar-short mode. I'm sure you've all heard about this by now, but here's some background that you may have missed.
The largest known mammal is the blue whale, which typically grows to 110 feet long. A JLENS aerostat is 243 feet long. Raytheon says it has to be that huge to support its powerful radar system, which is designed to monitor an area the size of Texas.

The blimp isn't JLENS — JLENS is two blimps. One blimp carries surveillance radar, and the other carries a separate targeting radar in case something needs to be shot down. The actual shooting would be done by any of several other weapons systems that JLENS can integrate with.

You can't just stick a pin in a JLENS blimp and pop it. At optimal altitude of 10,000 feet, the internal pressure of the helium is about the same as that of the outside atmosphere — so even if you were to puncture it with thousands of holes, the helium would leak out slowly.

The mile-long tether that's supposed to anchor the blimps to the ground is made of 1-inch-plus-thick super-strong Kevlar.

It's supposed to be strong enough to withstand 100-mph winds, Raytheon says. But winds at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, where the system is based, were in the single digits Wednesday, leaving the blimp's escape a mystery for now.

The tether does more than just anchor the blimp. It's stuffed with electric cables powering the radar systems and with fiber-optic wires ferrying data to and from computers on the ground.
IMO it is also analogous to most other government programs. It takes a simple concept - a blimp - and transforms into something unnecessarily complex.
The contraption — one of two tethered airships that make up the inconveniently named Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS — isn't really a blimp, according to its manufacturer, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems of Waltham, Massachusetts.

It's an "aerostat" filled with helium...
Its effectiveness is open to debate.
The Defense Department's own testers have raised doubts about JLENS. A 2013 assessment by the Office of Operational Test and Evaluation (PDF), the most recent available, found that "system-level reliability is not meeting program growth goals" and that "the system does not meet the requirements for Operational Availability, Mean Time to Repair, or Mean Time Between System Abort."

"Both software and hardware reliability problems contribute to low system reliability and availability," according to the assessment.
It's controversial.
Outside critics have also opposed it on privacy grounds.

In January 2013, Raytheon said it successfully tested a potential system to "observe surface moving targets" — that is, people on the ground, like a terrorist planting an improvised explosive device — in real time.

 Amid objections from privacy advocates, the Army last year promised that it wouldn't put cameras on JLENS systems.

But the documents in which the Army made that promise were so heavily redacted that groups like the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, say there was no guarantee it wouldn't add cameras in the future.
Its implementation leads to unintended - and unpleasant - consequences. Just ask the 35,000+ people without power.

Of course, that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the 300,000,000+ people who have lost power to other government programs and agencies.

At least the blimp is being put out of its misery.
Defense officials report that National Guard forces are preparing to fire bullets into an unmanned Army surveillance blimp that crashed in Pennsylvania to speed its deflation.

Now if we could just do that to other government programs...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Spooky Halloween

As we all know, Halloween is approaching. It's a night of scary fun. But something even more scary than witches and goblins (or even democrats in power) is also happening that night.

'Spooky' the asteroid due to give Earth a Halloween fright
A Halloween asteroid is due to scream past the Earth on the last day of the month, missing the planet by just 300,000 miles – frighteningly close by astronomical standards.

The asteroid, nicknamed “the Great Pumpkin” and “Spooky” but technically known as TB145, is an estimated 1,300ft wide – 20 times bigger than the meteorite that tore across the Russian sky and exploded over Chelyabinsk in 2013, shattering windows with shock waves and debris that injured more than a thousand people.
Perhaps the scariest aspect of Spooky is that is went undiscovered until only two weeks ago.
TB145 was spotted by astronomers in Hawaii on 10 October. It is due to fly past Earth at around 5pm UK time, on 31 October.
How on earth can something that big sneak up on us? After all, it's not like the obamacare disaster. Any thinking person could see that coming.
Dr Detlef Koschny, who heads the agency’s NEO tracking team said asteroid emphasised the need for vigilance: “The fact that such a large near-Earth object, capable of doing significant damage if it were to strike our planet, was discovered only 21 days before closest approach demonstrates the necessity for keeping daily watch of the night sky.”
There is some good news, sort of...
...scientists say there is no need to be scared, even on Halloween. The space rock, travelling at around 22 miles per second, will remain further away than the moon.

There is no chance of the asteroid hitting the Earth for the next 100 years at least...
More Spooky info can be found here.

Enjoy your Halloween...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Dismal Science

One of the ways the left is winning the war is in the way they frame the debate. Here's a great example, courtesy of two of my favorite, and IMO two of the best, economists and political commentators out there.

First, the quote from Thomas Sowell:
Among the many other questions raised by the nebulous concept of “greed” is why it is a term applied almost exclusively to those who want to earn more money or to keep what they have already earned—never to those wanting to take other people’s money in taxes or to those wishing to live on the largess dispensed from such taxation. No amount of taxation is ever described by the anointed as “greed” on the part of government or the clientele of government. . . .
Think about that for a minute. When's the last time you heard about a government tax grab described as greedy? Excessive, perhaps, or unwise, but never the pejorative "greedy."

BTW - how's this for a biography?
Sowell was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Harlem, New York. He dropped out of high school and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1958 and a Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1959. In 1968, he earned his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Chicago.
Just to make things tougher, Sowell is black. Can you imagine how tough it was for a black man in the 1950's to graduate from, much less get admitted to, three of the premier academic institutions in this country. But since he is a conservative, he receives very little notice, not to mention acclaim, from the media. He has the credentials that obama, Paul Krugman, and the rest of the media/leftist darlings lack.

Mark Perry is another of my go-to economic guys. He authors a blog that provides a sound economic basis for debunking the propaganda spewed by the left. Unlike Krugman, who is long on opinion and short on facts, Perry starts with facts and builds from there. Here's his take on Sowell's 'greed' quote.

Not bad, huh?

Anyway, if you're interested in an economic perspective on current events, I encourage you to follow Sowell here, or Perry here. If you do so, you will be much more informed, educated, and entertained.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This Will Be Fun To Watch

I can't wait to see how this plays out.

The sheriff in Dallas County (TX) is running for re-election. She is a 68-year-old Latina who is seeking her fourth term. She has recently - and unilaterally - implemented a 'sanctuary city' policy.
(The sheriff) recently changed policies on holding immigrants in the Dallas County jail for federal immigration officials once the person is past his or her release date. People who committed minor offenses won’t be held for up to an additional 48 hours for agents of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement...
That didn't sit well with Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Texas governor Greg Abbott invoked the memory of murder victim Kate Steinle to lay down the law with the Dallas sheriff who’s announced an illegal alien ‘sanctuary city’ policy.

Abbott sent a letter to Sheriff Lupe Valdez, saying it was “unacceptable for a Texas Sheriff” to ignore Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests to detain criminal aliens:
“‘Sanctuary City’ policies like those promoted by your recent decision to implement your own case-by-case immigration detention plan will no longer be tolerated in Texas..."
Getting to the point, Abbott threatened to hit her where it hurts - in the pocketbook - by withholding state funds to her office, and by revoking the 'limited liability' shield from her county, making it fully liable for any and all legal awards resulting from the new policy.

Full letter below.

Click to embiggen.

Abbott is nicer than me. I'd arrest or impeach her (whichever is appropriate) for dereliction of duty. I have never understood how public officials can pick and choose which laws to enforce. If they can decide which ones to obey, why can't we peasants?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mellow Jihadi Update

Those of you who follow The Mellow Jihadi blog have undoubtedly noticed that it is no more. Here's the latest.

The good news: everyone involved is alive and well - no personal problems, illnesses, brig time, etc.

The bad news: everyone involved has new commitments that preclude active blog authorship.

Backstory: the original founder of the blog is an active US Navy officer. A little over a year ago he was deployed at sea, which made it difficult for him to regularly contribute.

His stand-in, a retired UK Royal Marines Commando, performed admirably in his stead.

Current Events: the original founder has completed his sea tour. However, his new assignment is one requiring a substantial commitment of time. Furthermore, it comes with a degree of sensitivity and confidentiality that makes it impractical for him to resume his blogging activities.

His replacement has likewise undertaken an additional workload that reduces his free time and makes continued blogging unfeasible.

Bottom Line: The Mellow Jihadi has passed on to that great blogroll in the sky. There is a slight possibility that a future version of it may come to pass sometime around Spring 2016, but that is uncertain.

If I hear anything else I'll pass it along.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Funnies 2015.10.25

The week from Hell continued yesterday. My wife was changing bulbs in the light fixture above our kitchen island. One of them broke off at the stem, leaving the metal screw-in base stuck in the socket. I tried everything I could think of - needle nose pliers, a piece of rubber hose, a potato - and nothing worked. That sucker is well and truly stuck. (The inside of the socket has corroded so badly it has fused itself with the bulb's base. I even tried spraying solvent on it. No joy.) It looks like we'll be calling an electrician Monday.

So much for do-it-yourself...

A dyslexic carpenter wrote a self-help book on carpentry. However, its main buyers were not apprentice carpenters, but aspiring pick-up artists.

It was titled The Beginner's Guide to Nailing Broads.

A man contracted to paint a church. He noticed that he had not bought enough paint, it was Friday and he couldn't possibly get the additional paint he needed before the big event at the church. He had promised it would be done, so he decided to thin the paint so it would spread further.

Sunday came and the membership was seriously disappointed with the paint job. There were places where it was so thin you could see right through it. There were other places where it ran and dripped on the sidewalks and steps. The congregation called an emergency meeting.

They decided to have the man come back and redo the paint. The job fell on the pastor to go tell the painter. He went to the man's home Monday morning and knocked on the door.

The painter opened the door, looking haggard and dishelved. His eyes were bloodshot, he was unshaven, and he reeked of stale alcohol. Shocked at the sight of the preacher, he blurted out "Excuse me preacher, I don't feel very well. This hangover is killing me."

The preacher immediately knew what to say:

"Repaint, and thin no more!"

I was at my local home improvement store yesterday. As I was looking at shutters and panes of glass, an employee came over and asked if I needed any help.

I responded "No thanks, I'm just window shopping."

“If only I had the right tool!”
That’s my DIY cry, as a rule,
I usually try a fix
Composed of my custom mix
Of chewing gum, tape, and some drool.


I let it sit overnight, then tried again the next day. Evidently the solvent just needed some time to work, because I was able to get it out without too much trouble. Thank goodness!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Catching Up

The past few days have been ... interesting. I had to take a quick unexpected out-of-town trip Tues. through Thurs. Between travel and dealing with the issues that necessitated the trip I had little free time. I got home Thursday evening.

Friday I spent half the day in the ER, thanks to that trip. As a man of that certain age, I have for several years gotten up in the middle of the night to answer the call of nature.

I have the routine down pat - at least, at home. I can roll out of bed, stumble into the bathroom, and take care of business without fully awakening and without turning on the light. That's all well and good at home, but when one goes on the road that routine becomes treacherous.

In the middle of Wednesday night my subconscious roused me per usual. However, the floor plan of the hotel I was staying in differs from the floor plan of our bedroom at home. The consequences - face, meet door. Door, meet face.

Final outcome - Door 1, Face 0.

I ended up with a huge shiner, a swollen cheekbone and forehead, and a disturbing tendency to spit up the occasional mouthful of blood. In true guy fashion I washed down a couple of ibuprofen with a cold beer and went back to bed.

I finished up what I needed to do on Thursday. The swelling and bruising wasn't too bad, and the blood-spitting lessened, so I headed home.

Friday morning I woke up looking like I'd just gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. My wife took one look at me and ordered me to the ER. Of course, her compassion didn't extend to taking me there. She said something along the lines of 'you did it to yourself, now go take care of it.'

The milk of human kindness would curdle within that woman.

Anyway, after several hours of tests and a CAT scan, the verdict came back. Cosmetic damage only - structurally everything is sound. The only thing hurt was my pride.

And my wallet. Thanks to obamacare, my medical insurance co-pay for ER visits jumped from $35 to $150. Adding insult to injury (literally) the ER doc is a contract worker. His fee is not covered by the ER. Instead, he will submit a separate bill to the insurance company and whatever they don't cover will be billed to yours truly.

Thanks again, barry.

All in all, though, things could have been worse. I really clobbered myself, and am lucky to escape with, and I quote from the ER Discharge Summary. "Facial and scalp contusions. Head injury - no wake up."

I'm not sure what that last phrase means...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Still Busy

Still busy, so more visuals today. This time our theme is stupid criminals.

Sometimes, however, non-criminals can be just as stupid.

I don't know who's stupider - the counterfeiter who made a $4 bill, or the cashier who took it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Busy Again

Lots of stuff happening - cuts into my blogging/commenting time. So in lieu of a real post here's some visual commentary on how modern technology has changed the lives of 'mature' people like me...