Saturday, March 28, 2009

Watch This!

No, those aren't the words that come right after "Shux, this truck can jump that ditch -- here, hold my beer ..."

It's what we Christian men need to do.

Friday, March 27, 2009


A colleague of mine named Mike retired recently. Mike, as a lifelong resident of Terrell (locally known as "Turl", a town 30 miles east of downtown Dallas), is (owing to his unique elocution and frequent malapropisms) one of those unintentionally hilarious people.

But more than being a funny guy, Mike is a good guy. For years he dealt with the progressive ravages of Alzheimer's on his wife Kathy (or as Mike always called her "Kaffy"). The tongue-tied hero of this story held things together pretty well, but every once in a while he'd share some insight into what he was dealing with. "It's gotten where Kaffy just screams alla time. She cain't speak -- she makes noise, but she don't say nuffin. I'm the only one she'll quiet down for and let feed her." And the nursing home expenses were a terrible financial drain. About a year before Mike retired, Kathy finally died. Sad relief, but a relief nonetheless.

Now all that is just to put the rest of this story in context: Mike is the kind of guy you laugh with, not at. He has his quirks, but he's someone you have to respect.

So, as I was saying, Mike is one of the most unintentionally funny guys you'll ever meet. He can butcher the English language like no one else. After Kathy died, he decided he needed to buy that brand new Corvette he's always wanted. He reported after he got the car: "That Corvette has to be the stupidest car around. It come with this fancy speech recka-nition that's supposed to let you do all kindsa jiffy thangs jes by tellin the car wucha wan it t'do: change radio stations, call summon on the built-in cell phone, change the tempercher settin. But that car is so stupid; it don' unnerstan nuthin."

Unfortunately General Motors, in programming the speech recognition, didn't take into account rural Texas dialects. Mike reported, "Lack I say, that car don' unnerstan nuthin. It thinks everthang I say is, 'Turn up the radio!'" Poor Mike destroyed the eardrums of half the population of Turl before he figured out how to get the radio to turn itself back down.

So as a public service to the all the engineers at General Motors who program speech recognition devices, I offer (as a recurring feature of this blog) ... "The Turlese Word of the Day":

saskatchewan -- noun: "hairy humanoid creature reported to live in the northwestern U.S., said to be a primate between 6 and 15 feet tall, perhaps related to the indomitable snowman"; Synonyms: "Bigfoot", "Sasquatch".

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gladys and Flatus (almost) Rhyme

This story is a scream.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Andy's PCS

If you read Joyce's blog, you already know that our oldest son Andy has been notified that his next PCS (permanent change of station) will be in August. They're headed to Alaska -- Elmendorf AFB. I was curious about Elmendorf so I did a quick web search and found this picture of the control tower.

Looks rather foreboding.

Student Discipline

Wow! This school is so strict. I'd have been constantly having to explain the difference between what what preconceived and what was just relieved.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chuck Shared

My old colleague Chuck emails me junk all the time. (Count yourselves blessed that I don't share 99% of what Chuck sends.) Nonetheless, here's one that's just too good not to share.

My first-grade students are learning to read. Yesterday one of them pointed at a picture in a zoo book and said, "Look at this! It's a frickin' elephant!"

I took a deep breath, then asked ... "What did you call it?"

"It's a frickin' elephant! It says so on the picture!"

And so it does...

Hooked on phonics! Ain't it wonderful?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Amazing Insight!

Evan Sayet speaks truth:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Novel Graphics

Joyce sent me a link to this site featuring lots of interesting graphs. As someone who works in the power industry and often does statistical analysis of causes for power outages, I found this one particularly instructive.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pi Day

Of course celebrating Pi Day is irrational. Everyone knows Π is irrational.

And how about this for irrational? It's an image of the first 10,000 digits (past the decimal) of Π. Each digit has been assigned a spectral color: red=0, blue=9.

Somehow I fail to see Our Lady of Guadalupe, but parts of the picture do resemble a Mexican flag.

And here are those first 10,000 digits.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I used to work in Fort Worth, but a couple of years ago the company decided our department needed to operate out of downtown Dallas. The manager over our group held a slogan contest, and (in an effort to put a positive spin on this move) we were each asked to submit a pithy epithet. I think the winning entry was something like: "Moving Up". I was, of course, disappointed that my entry didn't win the bobblehead doll, but I have to acknowledge it was a bit long.

{Sung to the tune of Petula Clark's hit: "Downtown"

When you're a clone
Your cube is making you lonely,
There's a brand new low ... downtown.
In those environs,
All the noise of the sirens
Seem to stop ... you know ... downtown.

Just listen to the cursing of the streetfolk in the city,
Feces on the sidewalk where a bum just begged for pity ...
Barfing his booze.

Your odds are much slighter there
You can hear the bums mumble, hear 'em all swear and blow ...
Downtown, life is a waste while you're ...
Downtown, bums in your face for sure ...
Downtown, everything's waiting for you.

Don't hang around
And let the darkness surround you
There are crackhead hos ... downtown.
Maybe you've seen
That little guy in a trenchcoat
Likes to show his hose ... downtown.

And there's someone who looks a lot like Anna Kournikova,
And she'll be dancing on the bar before the night is over ...
She is a guy.

Her cheeks are much tighter there
You then'll see her beard stubble, see her pit hair and blow ...
Downtown, life is a waste while you're ...
Downtown, queers in your face for sure ...
Downtown, everything's waiting for you.
(Downtown ... downtown)


And you may find that you don't mind the stench that overwhelms you,
Dodging poo is okay too, but draw the line at those who ...
Preach on the train.

At end of day leave it there.
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and blow ...
Downtown, life is a waste while you're ...
Downtown, scum in your face for sure ...
Downtown, everything's fading from view.

Downtown (downtown) downtown (downtown)
Downtown (downtown) downtown (downtown)
(repeat and fade out)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting the Vision

Years ago, I worked on a massive GIS (geographic information system) data conversion project. It occasionally meant working round the clock over weekends, but the work itself was fun for a geek like me. However, there is a downside to working at a company big enough to in-source a large project like that. A company that big is also big enough to require its employees to genuflect before whatever self-actualization / motivational / empowerment / diversity scheme happens to be in vogue.

Back then, it was all the rage for Fortune 500 companies to send their senior management off to seminars where they'd hash out corporate "Vision Statements". Obvious visions like "We Sell Electricity!" were deprecated in favor more fanciful visions that used words like "synergy", "world-class" and "matrix" (especially when used as a verb).

So during one of those all-nighters, we (as the misfits among the misfits, the five-man data-conversion team) felt it behooved us to get with the program and develop our own "vision statement". Such a task is not to be taken lightly since one must remain true to the corporate "vision" and any subordinate visions that have been promulgated to support that great vision. Hence one is constrained by the hierarchy of visions one supports. So ... we figured plagiarism was the best policy.

In the corporate vision statement, we read "BAC (big-ass company) will enhance shareholder value by..." Thus, we figured mentioning "shareholders" in our vision would be particularly visionary of us. We also noted that the Information Technology Vision Statement said: "I/T will be an enabling partner within BAC in providing high-quality information technology solutions which contribute to successful company performance." Being seized by the words "enabling partner" and "information technology", and remembering that we'd been recently baptized into the gospel of "diversity", along about 2:00 or 3:00 AM we managed to craft the following vision statement for our data conversion team:

Conversions -R- Us
"Diversely Enabling Each Partner and Share-Holder with Information Technology"
6-million features converted; 11-million to go!

Mighty proud we were of our handywork -- so proud we used one of the company's big 36-inch plotters to print a bold banner, emblazoned with our new motto, and hung it over our section of cubicles. Later that week the banner even drew compliments from management, "That's a good idea to show the data conversion progress like that."

Henceforth, after each conversion weekend, we'd re-print our banner with updated statistics. (We also used this as an opportunity to incrementally upsize the font on the initial letter of each word of our vision statement.)

We got all the way to "14-million features converted; 3-million to go!" before middle management noticed the real import of our vision statement:
Holder with

Our banner was ripped down and we were told to grow up. Shux, I guess management at BAC just aren't visionaries like us.

Friday, March 6, 2009

You Don't Say

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright recently pointed out that Barack Obama is not Jesus Christ, to which I reply, "No shit, Sherlock."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Broken Car

Last Sunday Joyce and I were cruising down a freeway in Fort Worth. I was traveling slightly over the speed limit (though I prefer the expression "staying with the flow") when a tiny car (a Yaris I think) zipped past us on the right. I looked over and noticed that its four passengers probably outweighed the car itself. The sight immediately brought back memories of a story Henry (Enrique) Soto once shared about him and his three brothers (Monche, Chato and Miguel) who were all 5'-8" or less but who each tipped the scales at 200 pounds plus.

I've already posted a story about the Soto brothers' misadventures in real estate, so that tale may give you some sense of the Soto family's cavalier disregard for causation. Anyway, Henry showed up on the construction job one Monday morning and informed everyone, "Jesterday we broke our car."

I answered, "Okay, I'll bite. In what sense did you 'break' your car? Did you blow the engine?"

"No, the engine runs good -- we broke the car. Ees one of them leetle VW bugs -- me 'n my brothers, we was driving down Missouri Street toward downtown when we come to the railroad track..."

"Let me get this right -- all four of you were crammed into a VW bug?"

"Yeah ... so we was traveling kind fast when we come up on the track just b'fore jou get to Cotton Street. The street is kinda like a ramp there. We was going maybe fifty miles an hour, so when we hit the track the car sorta went all Evel Knevel on us. When we landed, it broke."

"You mean the car literally broke in two?"

"Well, almost -- more like it just folded up. I mean, the car we was already low-ridin even before we took the jump, but afterwards, eet was reeeeeally a-draggin its belly."

So as that itty-bitty clown car zipped past Joyce and me this past Sunday, I smiled and thought to myself, Won't be long and Mister Yaris here will be entertaining his colleagues with, "Jesterday we broke our car."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Release Button

We drove to Lawton Oklahoma today to visit with James. When we said goodbye, Joyce gave James a long hug. I mean a very loooong hug. So long that (after a while) James began poking Joyce on the top of the head, on the ear, on the shoulder,...

Joyce said, "What are you doing poking me?"

James replied, "Trying to find the 'release' button."

I laugh -- Joyce was less amused.

Then as we drove away, Joyce lamented, "He was trying to find my 'release' button. {sniff}"

"Sorry dear, I guess the umbilical cord got stretched so thin between Arlington and Fort Sill, it must have finally snapped."