Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday's Guest - Slim Randles

Here is another offering from humorist, Slim Randles, and his "Home Country" syndicated column. 

By the time we saw Dud, of course, the damage had been done.

It was Steve who spoke first.

"I don't believe it," the tall cowboy said.

We all turned then, and the full impact of the deed struck us almost simultaneously. There, on Dud's head, was a sculpture of such blasphemous proportions as would silence all of us in attendance at the Mule Barn truck stop's philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank. It was beautiful, of course, but it was also tragic.

"They call it feathered," said Dud, turning red. "A razor cut."

We just stared at the haircut without saying anything. It curved gracefully around his ears, it waved softly in sculptured layers over the top of his head. It fell in gradually decreasing thicknesses down the long back slope of his head toward its tapered termination at the neck.

"It was Anita's idea," Dud said. "She gave me the money for it and everything."

Finally, Doc spoke. "What's Kelly going to say?"

"That's the worst of it, all right," Dud said. "I know he's going to be hurt."
Kelly hadn't really worried too much about the future of his barbershop when Fantasy Fantails set up shop. He assumed it was a haircutting place for women who didn't want to take the time to go to the beauty parlor, and for guys who came to live in our small town from the city.

Kelly's has always been the stronghold of local manhood. The magazines had nothing to do with decorating a house or how your investments are working out. The magazines had everything to do with what kind of bait to use on catfish and how big an engine your pickup needed to pull a large boat. You wouldn't find a single advertisement showing a guy wearing a sweater tied around his neck. Not at Kelly's. In the past, when magazines were magazines, you could read how some guy captured Gestapo headquarters with his headhunter brides.

"Well," said Doc, shrugging. "That haircut of yours is a work of art, without a doubt. But there's at least one good thing about getting a really expensive haircut, Dud. Sooner or later, it'll grow out."
Brought to you by Slim’s new book and great stocking stuffer “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.” Learn more at

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Actually, this is Monday afternoon musings. We have been having a lot of work done on our house - a new deck and sun room - and the workers came this morning to finish it up. Just when I thought I could come back to my office to get some work done, there would be a knock at the door - another question needed an answer.

The work is all done now and the men are gone, so I thought I would get to this an hour ago, but I had to take the cats out to the new room and introduce them. Then I decided it would be a good idea to sweep out there... and....

Plus it's Cyber-Monday. While I don't participate in Black Friday sales, unless they are online, I do like to see what kind of deals can be made on Cyber-Monday. That ate up another hour, but I did get a nice chair at a good price.

Then my husband came into my office with a cat on his shoulder. Had to get this picture when the cat decided to play with the pulls on the ceiling fan. 

So here I am finally, well after noon, with only one rant to share. I read an interview with Robert Mann, author of a new book Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater and the Ad That Changed American Politics. He was asked about the ad that some people think scuttled Goldwater's run for the presidency and was the root of negative ads on TV, and he said the ad was "almost entirely about exploiting fear."

He went on to explain that the firm that developed the ad had a reputation for developing ads that were sometimes humorous and "generated emotion more than rational thinking."

While that may be a sound approach for marketing cars and computers and Cheerios, I hardly think it appropriate for marketing the next leader of the U.S. - or any other politician for that matter. I want people to use rational thinking when they consider casting a vote. Forget the spin, the good looks, the eloquent oratory, and focus on the issues and a candidate's plan to address those issues.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review - Glass Halo by Colleen Smith

Glass Halo
Colleen Smith

•  Publisher: Friday Jones Publishing (September 1, 2010)
•  Language: English

Glass Halo is a thoughtful and well-written book that deals with the relationship between Nora, a stained-glass artist and Father Vin DeMarco, a charming Catholic priest. They are literally thrown together when a tornado suddenly touches down, and he pulls her to safety in the nave of the church. When the terrible storm subsides, they emerge to discover that the wind destroyed many of the beautiful stained glass windows.

Nora was raised in a family of stained-glass artists and worked as a glazier until the terrible accident  that left her severely injured and a widow. Emotional and spiritual recovery is harder than the physical. Nora's marriage was not a good one and became worse the more Liam drank and did drugs. Nora was glad when he died, and that type of response is always fraught with guilt.

When Nora finally accepts the job of restoring the Cathedral windows, she brings that guilt, as well as considerable other emotional baggage. She is as broken as those windows, and so is Father DeMarco, who drinks too much and struggles between the goodness of his priesthood and the limits.

As the work progresses on the windows, the work of putting themselves back together sometimes progresses and other times goes backward. Nora is obsessed with wanting Vin DeMarco, the man, not the priest, and he struggles to hang on to his vocation. Together they discover what is most meaningful in their lives and their relationship with each other and with God. On some levels this is a story of the romance between a woman and a priest, and on another level it is the story of a spiritual journey through the healing power of art.

Readers will enjoy the exquisite use of language and allegory. There are also rich details about the art and craft of stained glass, along with well-researched touches of history and the Roman Catholic religion. An added bonus is the use of beautiful pictures throughout the book. They could be renderings for  stained-glass pieces and the imagery depicted connects to the story.
FTC disclaimer: I bought this book of my own free will. I was not bribed or coerced in any way to buy the book or review it. The author probably doesn't even know I bought it, and while she gained the pittance of royalty from the one sale, I have not gained monetarily. I have, however, gained from the experience of reading such a terrific book.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

This will be anything but the ordinary Friday post. First of all because I'm getting to it so late in the day.  Mainly because I slept in this morning - gosh that felt good - and had a lot of other things to take care of this morning.

No Black Friday shopping for me, unless it is on my computer. I have never been a fan of this ritual for a lot of reasons. "I'm not a shopper" is probably the main one. Some people love to wander through shopping malls and can spend entire days doing that. I'd rather spend days wandering through the woods behind our property. I also really don't like the sense of desperation that seems to lead to unfortunate occurrences like shoppers getting trampled. I have not checked the news yet, so I don't know if that happened today, but I remember in happening last year. So sad.

We spent Thanksgiving at our son's house. It was his first year to host the dinner, and I was quite proud of how well he did. His older sister helped with the food preparations, but he was very much into making the stuffing and getting the turkey just right. He even asked me for my stuffing recipe, and when I arrived at his house, he had it almost finished. It was just as good as mine.

He was also a very gracious host, making sure everyone got plenty of food and responding to every request of, "Paul, do you have....?"

It is almost a three-hour drive from our place to his home in Denton, Texas, so we spent almost 6 hours driving yesterday. Now you know why I slept in.

So, how was your Thanksgiving? 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I know I don't usually post on Thursdays, but this is a special day and I couldn't let it go by without an acknowledgement.

My regular weekly blog piece for Venture expresses my sentiments about this holiday, so I won't repeat it here.  Hop over there if you have a moment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday's Guest - Tom Turkey

This time of year, turkeys are the most popular birds in the United States, so I thought I would go try to find one to see what he, or she, thinks about all this attention.

ME:  Um, excuse me. Are you a turkey?

TT:  Hey, keep it down. I'm trying to hide here.

ME:  Why?

TT:  Oh, you're not from around here, are you?

ME:  Actually, I am. Why?

TT:  Don't you know what tomorrow is?

ME:  Of course, it's Thanksgiving.

TT:  And what is the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving table? Yeah. You got it. Me. So that's why I'm hiding.

ME:  So... I'm guessing you are not too fond of the holiday.

TT:  Not unless it's being held at a vegan's house. Then I might even stop in for a bit of the corn.

ME:  Do you think they'd let you in?

TT:  It was a joke, already. As in that is the only house I'd willingly go to.

ME:  I see. I'm sensing that you would rather something else be the main dish at the Thanksgiving dinner.

TT:  You think? I'd suggest chicken, but they're my cousins. How about steak.

ME:  But a turkey was part of the first Thanksgiving dinner.

TT:  Yeah, but so was a lot of fish, and venison, and ducks, and other food. It's not fair that we are the only ones sacrificing for modern day celebrations.

ME:  You do have a good point there. Maybe you should hold a demonstration to protest.

TT:  Oh, that's a brilliant idea. Expose myself to the very people who want to eat me. Go on. Take your silly ideas and get out of here before I end up at some non-vegan house.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

The Romance Studio is having a Thanksgiving Party, with lots of prizes, a Nook and free books. Lots of authors participating and I am sharing my pumpkin pie recipe. 

Today I'm over at the Blood Red Pencil with a post about thankfulness. Hop over if you have a moment and let me know what you are thankful for.

An update from last Monday's musings. The Stock Act bill first introduced by Brian Baird and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter which would make it illegal for members of Congress to trade stocks on non-public information and require them to report their stock trades every 90 days instead of once a year has gained momentum. It was reported on Sixty Minutes last night that the bill now  has 25 sponsors and is scheduled to go to the Senate floor.

A study for MIT states that "the environmental record of shale gas wells is for the most part a good one." In one of his columns, David Brooks interpreted that to mean the the risks of fracking can be managed if there are reasonable regulations and if the "general public has a balanced and realistic sense of the costs and benefits."

So, according to Brooks, all we need  to do to ensure that fracking is safe and environmentally okay is to buy into all the PR from companies doing the fracking as well as those who benefit from selling the gas. While we are at it, we should ignore the fact that the downside of the fracking method of extracting gas from shale is still being investigated.

People in Texas and Oklahoma, where a lot of the gas is being extracted, have been experiencing earthquakes at increasing rates, and there is a link between the drilling method and this increase. Even the companies doing the drilling admit it.  That report is from a company in the UK, and here in the States it appears that people are ignoring the dangers. A recent ruling in West Virginia allows fracking in and around one of the major cities in that state.

An article on, not only shows the connection between fracking and earthquakes, it has an alarming report that the recent quake in Oklahoma occurred on the proposed path of the XL Pipeline.

These are serious issues and energy companies and car companies need to be moving us away from our dependence on oil and gas as swiftly as possible. Instead of playing chicken with our safety and our planet, we need to put our best efforts into finding alternatives to fossil fuels.

And consumers need to do their part, too. Car pool. Consolidate shopping and errands and try not to drive every day unless you absolutely have to. Keep thermostats low in winter and high in the summer.

What are you doing to save on energy?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday's Odds and Ends

Getting a late start in my office this morning. The burn bans that have been in effect all summer and into fall here in East Texas have been lifted, and I had piles of dead brush and other things that needed to be burned, so I played with fire this morning. Felt good to get at least one big brush pile burned. Didn't roast marshmallows or hot dogs, though. Too early for that. Maybe next time I'll burn closer to evening and have supper, while I'm out there enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

According to a column I read about three weeks ago by Joe Nocera of the New York Times, Jon Corzine, CEO of MF Global Holdings, is primarily responsible for "running the firm into the ground." Yet Corzine stood to get  up to $12 million in severance if he managed to sell the firm before it went bankrupt. The sale never happened, and MF did go under on October 31, laying off nearly half its staff, including more than 1,000 employees of the company's broker-dealer unit.

For a while it looked like Corzine and J. Randy MacDonald, head of global retail for MF Global Holdings, might still get nice severance packages, but the latest report from Nick Brown and Jonathan Stempel states that the two have left the company without severance in hand. That is one bright spot in this mess that seems to be repeated endlessly in big business. 

In another bright spot, yesterday, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of assests for MF Global won court permission to distribute $520 million of cash to customers.  Customers won, top executives lost. Finally someone is getting it right. 

I'm all for safety, and I know we have had this discussion about airport screening before, but the process of protecting us from possible terrorist threats can get absurd at times. In a recent trip from New Orleans to Dallas, Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd set off alarms at the screening. She was wearing a skirt that had a series of snaps down the front and around the waistband that trigered the alarm. "The screener said, "I can't clear this. You'll need a full body search."

When Floyd tried to show the snaps, which could hardly be large enough to contain explosives, the lady  simply repeated her statement. That's when Floyd admittedly "lost it." Rather than go through the indignity of a body search, and in a moment of pique, she decided to drop her skirt and send it through the conveyor belt to be X-rayed. She figured standing there in her tights and long shirt was less humiliating than having a full body pat down that includes someone touching her breasts to check around her bra.

That was a good plan until something went wrong with the conveyer belt, and Floyd ended up having to stand in the screening area without her skirt for much too long until the problem got solved and her skirt came through.

This is a good example of why I have not been on a plane in almost ten years, and may never get on one again. That, and the absurd fees for everything that used to be part of the ticket price..