Monday, December 31, 2007

Home for the holidays

Practically the whole clan was here in Austin for x-mas, which was fantastic! I won't mention any names but, even that bunch that dragged our grand baby off to another state was here, although for waaaay to short a time. Wish they would move back to Austin - HINT!

Check out our two youngest hippie grand daughters wearing Peggy's beads and glasses:





Here they are riding around Pecan Grove in Robin's Barbie Jeep:



In a few days, I suppose we will be on our way south for the winter in the Rio Grand Valley. Will post more when we are on the road.

Peggy's Garden

I think, a few months ago, I posted a photo of Peggy's elephant ears from the planet Gigantus. Just in case I am losing my mind, here they are again:





By-the-way, her Okra was over 12 feet tall this year but, that is another story. These ears were the talk of Pecan Grove and, I think, are the result of the fertile soil here along the Colorado River. Keep in mind this soil has probably never been farmed and was laid down as a result of millions of years worth of floods prior to the building of the flood control lakes along the river. She doesn't even fertilize anything here. I thought the bulbs that came from these elephant ears were pretty interesting. We dug these up just a couple of weeks ago and must have gotten 30 bulbs from under these elephant ears.


Austin's shuffle king - WC Clark

A few days before X-mas during the Amadillo Christmas Bazaar, Peggy and I had the opportunity to do one of our very favorite things; go see WC Clark play dem blues. Our friend, Gene Tankersley, went with us and we arrived early and got a seat four feet from the stage. Here is a photo of WC on stage:


If you like the blues and have never seen WC's show, you owe it to yourself to go. The man is a blues genius and, trust me, the audio experience will have you smiling from ear to ear. Check his schedule on his web site and pick a place. You will find him all around Austin and various other Texas cities every month. If in Austin, I would suggest the Saxon Pub for it's up close and personal seating and fantastic audio system.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Lucky Cap - One Year Later

If you have been reading this blog for long, you probably remember the controversy from a year ago when Peggy tried to wash my lucky jogging cap. If you don't remember, here is a link to the previous story from October, 2006: Lucky Cap - Or NOT?


---------------This is the photo of the lucky cap from Oct. 2006-----------------
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I am very happy to report that the cap managed to escape washing and has therefore, been able to protect me from any injuries during my daily run. As you can see below, it is now pretty full of salt. It can be quite uncomfortable to be caught out in the rain wearing this cap due to the salt ladden water pouring down into your eyes. Although, I am happy to report that a couple of good rain showers is the closest this cap has ever come to being washed.

------------This is the photo of the same cap taken today, Nov. 27, 2007-----------
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I feel fairly certain I can get a few more years of use out of this cap. My major worry is that the fabric is now so stiff that it doesn't stay on your head very well. Since I do my running around the lake, I am always worried that it will blow off while crossing one of the bridges and be lost in the water. I will post another photo in a year.



Friday, November 23, 2007

The South Austin Appeal

Just in case anyone was wondering why Peggy and I like living in the weird world of South Austin, why we have never taken jobs, why we like to play blues, why we tend to be a little strange and treasure our weird friends? This little tune from "Weeds" says it all:



I hope our grand kids and nieces and nephews are paying attention because I want them to have the pleasure of weirdness as well.

This little song could also be called the Austin City Council Condominium Waltz as they seem to be doing their best to have us all in ticky tacky little boxes.

Cutting through the stem cell hype

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week or so, it is impossible that you missed the media blitz regarding a new, "stem cell breakthrough" in which adult cells were turned into what appear to be embryonic stem cells (ESC). It is important to understand that, while this is great scientific achievement, it has no potential for therapeutic use within the foreseeable future. That great potential still only resides with what we know today as true ESC.

As usual the media blows this sort of thing completely out of proportion in order to grab a headline. We have heard the Bush administration cheering this new development as confirmation of their policy restricting use of ESC for research. Just another example of their manipulation of science for political purposes.

Allow me to put this in perspective. This advance was achieved by inserting four genes into the genome of a skin cell by use of a retrovirus vector. Therein lies the problem. As long as viral vectors are the only way we have to insert these genes, these cells can never be used therapeutically. Why, because a virus is a very inefficient, shotgun approach for inserting genetic material. It is as likely to place the genes on chromosome 1 as on chromosome 23. As likely to place the gene in a non-coding area of the genome as it is to place it right in the middle of some other very important gene, thereby causing some other problem. Which is exactly why they are reporting about a 20% rate of cancer using these cells. That will always be a problem using a viral vector.

Someday we will surely have a restriction enzyme that will go in and clip the DNA in just the right spot and insert these genes. Or better yet, a way to chemically awaken the original genes that have been silenced in adult cells. My guess is that we are 5-10 years from either possibility. Many of those needing stem cell therapy do not have 10 years, or even 5 years, to wait. And, why should they have to wait when ESC are available now which are being discarded as medical waste?

The thing I really want to emphasize is that, while turning adult stem cells into ESC is a significant achievement, for now it is more a distraction than anything else. It gives those in the Bush administration and their supporters on the religious right ammunition to delay ESC cures for many human problems such as Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injury, etc.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Save the Bandwidth

I am sure that most who read this blog are just like us in that they love getting all the joke emails that make the rounds every day. There is something you can do to make the process much more efficient for the large files that contain a video.

When you get an email with an attachment that contains a video, you have probably noticed that the file size is huge, often running 5-10 MB. Even on a fast connection, these take some time to download. And, when you pass them on, they take even longer to send since nearly everyone's lousy ISP throttles their uploads. (I understand Verizon has started a synchronous service in a few cities - can't wait till it gets to Austin.)

Not only are these files time consuming but, many people have limited storage space on their mail server and these files can cause your friends to miss important emails that are rejected due to a full mail box. If someone on your distribution list has a dial up connection, forget about it!

Here is the solution: When you get an email containing a video file, instead of just forwarding it, go to www.youtube.com and do a simple search to find the movie. I have been doing this for months and have not gotten one yet that was not easily found on youtube. When you locate the movie on youtube, select "Send link by email" from your browser's menu and send to anyone you like. The file size will be at least one whole order of magnitude smaller and will go in the blink of an eye. And your recipient will appreciate your sending a 5 KB file with a link instead of a 5 MB file with an attachment.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Make Simpson Characters of Yourself

Here is a fun site for the rabid Simpson's fans like ourselves: Simpsonize Yourself. Have you always wondered what you would look like with yellow skin, blue hair, blue pants, three hairs on your head, and three fingers? Click the link and find out.

A little preparation is in order. Have a fairly high resolution photo of yourself, taken looking directly into the camera, and crop it pretty close to your face. Here is our result with a little tweaking:






Simpson Characters
Lloyd Morris and Peggy Morris







So sit back with a large box of multi-colored donuts and have fun. If you make a mistake while customizing your character, just give it a big "Dohhh!" and hit undo. Notice I added what has been my daily uniform for the last couple years (black t-shirt) and Peggy's funky, retro glasses.

I recommend that, if you what to get the true Homer Simpson experience from this, you should do this at work on your office computer. Then, take a good long nap after you finish.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Garmin StreetPilot c330 - Don't leave home without it!



I bought this little Garmin GPS on eBay a couple months ago and have, just now, had the chance to check it out on a long trip. It is safe to say, I am hooked! After three weeks of traveling from Austin to San Francisco, and many stops between, I can honestly say I will never again use a paper map to find my way.

How many times have you been in a strange city at night and wanted to go out to a certain restaurant or bar? You know what a hassle it is to try and read a map while struggling to see in the dark, watching for traffic, while not even knowing which way is North. Tell this little Garmin to take you to the nearest Jack in Box and your problem is solved! It will give you turn by turn directions, then tell you how to get back to your motel as well as the time you will get there.

The high points:

1. Nice display, not huge but, large enough to see clearly

2. Speaker is loud and clear enough to easily understand voice directions

3. Extensive database includes almost anything you could ask to find - hotels, food, entertainment, attractions, rest stops, etc, etc.

4. Satellite locks happen quickly, usually within 30 seconds.

5. Price: about $150


Low points:

1. Slow processor but, see number 5 above. Seldomly a problem but, if satelite lock is lost for any reason, can take 15 seconds or so to recalculate the route. It is possible you might miss a turn during that time.

2. This is not really a criticism of this particular unit but, with any GPS you are likely to occasionally lose the satelite lock if in a downtown canyon with tall building on both sides of the street.

Relief From the Heat



After the long hot and humid summer of Austin, this was a welcome change. Here we are three days ago in Durango, Colorado. That white stuff all around the car is a mixture of small hail and sleet. Temperature at the time was 36 degrees.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Heading East Again

I really did not get a chance to post immediately after the second day of the San Francisco Singularity Summit. We are now back in Las Vegas and have been here for about three days now, just doing our part to support the casinos through our generous donations. As I write this, it is 2AM and we just made it back to the room.

We are leaving here in a couple of days and heading to Albuquerque, NM to spend a few days. The primary reason for going there is the University of New Mexico's Museum of Anthropology. It is just incredible and, when we visited a few years ago, we only got to spend about half a day there. We swore at the time that we would come back when we had no schedule and could stay as long as we liked.

By-the-way, the Singularity Summit was excellent and very thought provoking. I imagine we will attend again next year and, if you are interested in that sort of thing, I would highly recommend it.

After we leave Albuquerque we are planning on going to Durango, Colorado to ride the narrow gage train to Silverton. I suppose we will be in Durango for a few days, then will start heading back toward Austin. Unfortunately we will miss ACL this coming weekend in Austin.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Singularity Summit 2007 - Day One

Today, we are in San Francisco for the Singularity Summit on Artificial Intelligence and, at the moment, are sitting in the auditorium listening to one of the speakers talk about open source development software that will allow any of us to write customized algorithms to test in Advanced General Intelligence systems.

More on that later but, first a little about getting here. On the way out we spent one day in Las Vegas then went to Bishop, California on Thursday. After the hot and humid weather we have been having in Austin, it was refreshing to wake up to 38 degrees on Friday morning. Friday we left Bishop and headed for San Francisco by way of Yosemite National Park.

The Singularity Summit 2007 is a complete sell out this year and is hosting about 1,000 people who are interested in the field. Here is a phone camera photo from inside the conference room.

I have been pleasantly surprised at the speed of the Internet connection here in the conference room. They told us at the beginning that there was only one pipe in the room and, sitting here, I can see several hundred other bloggers and surfers in the audience right this minute. Must be a pretty fat pipe because it is quite speedy. :-)

More to follow tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Scottsdale, Arizona

Now, back to the West coast trip. Peggy is having one of those biggie birthday years in a few days - turning 60 on 911. I know some people don't like to disclose their age but, she can brag about it because she looks younger than her years.

Anyway, we thought it would be nice to spend her birthday in Reno and, on the way we are attending the Singularity Summit on Artificial Intelligence in San Francisco. Lots of great speakers lined up to talk about a subject in which we are very interested.

Here is a photo of about 1/1000th of 1% of energy generating wind mills in West Texas. Pulled over and took this from IH 10.


We have decided we don't much like Scottsdale, AZ. Have you ever been to Sun City - this is a whole, major city that looks exactly like a Sun City. Everything is earth tones, there are no signs, and the small business names they allow on the side of the buildings are nearly the same color as the building itself. What a boring place! If these people saw South Austin they would think they were in the Twilight Zone.

Catching Up

OK, obviously I have not been posting to the blog but, I have a pretty good excuse. It is probably no big news to anyone that when Peggy and I get an idea, we tend to jump in with both feet. About a month ago we it occurred to us that we should get a motor home and sell our place out in Lago Vista. So the next day we started moving the things we could not bare to part with and selling everything else. Plus we made a rule that those things we were keeping had to fit in a 10 X 10 storage building or they were history.

So far we have given away, or sold, 4 van loads, 6 pickup loads, and a 16 foot trailer load of stuff. Plus we have moved all the “keeping” stuff to storage. As soon as we get back from the West coast the real estate is going up for sale.

Peggy and I are on our way to San Francisco and, today, are cruising along IH 10 between Las Cruces and Scottsdale. More to follow ....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

After the Flood

A couple days ago the bottom fell out over the Texas Hill Country. One gauge at Marble Falls recorded 19.5 inches over night. Lake Travis now stands at about 700 MSL which is 19 feet over what is considered full. Just a few weeks ago it was 45 feet low. Four flood gates are open on Mansfield Dam and the photo below is the result of all that water coming through Austin and Town Lake.

We took this photo this morning during our walk on the Town Lake trail. Keep in mind, this is the dammed up portion of the Colorado River which forms Town Lake in downtown Austin. Normally you would not even be able to see the current moving. In fact, right out there in those rapids is where you are likely to see the UT rowing teams practicing in their long, slender rowing sculls.

Here is a link to a whole gallery of photos of the flood, including the open flood gates at Mansfield Dam.

Friday, June 15, 2007

TA-65 Conference Call

Just a quick post to let you know about an important event coming up next month on July 7th. TA Sciences will be having a conference call regarding developments in Geron's telomerase promoter molecule which they have licensed.

Go here: TA Sciences and register to receive your log in number for the conference. You will be able to access the conference on the web or by phone and, will be able to ask questions if you like.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Where's my data?

I think you will like this short video. If you have ever wondered what, exactly, was making that clicking noise when your computer was reading it's hard drive, now you will know.





Keep in mind, while you watch this, that the disk is probably rotating about 120 revolutions every second. It really is kind of amazing that the read head can locate and read data at such speed. Equally amazing that these drives are now manufacured at such low cost. Half a terabyte now around $150.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I had a Brain Storm

I know, some of you think that storm may have been a category 5 tornado. Fortunately, I suffered no dane brammage what-so-ever! I did come across this very interesting video during my daily reading today and I think you will enjoy it too. It explains what is going on at the molecular level when we use our brains.



The plan was for this post to be a follow up on the full clinical trail on TA-65. However, the complete trial, which was supposed to be posted April 30th, was something less than I was expecting. An expanded study was posted on the TA Sciences web site but, it is conspicuously missing the Appendices which are essential for a full understanding. So far, no explanation for the omission. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ponce de Leon was a little too early

First, appologies for taking so long to get this post up but, I have been thinking about how to say this. I want to tell our readers about something that you definitely need to know about but, that being said, you should take what I am about to tell you with a healthy degree of skepticism, just as I do.

As many of you know, I have been interested in, and studying, molecular biology for nearly 10 years now. There are many companies around the world working on finding a way to slow, or reverse, aging. Some are more open about their goals than others but, regardless of their public position, from a profit prospective, aging reversal is the holy grail.

It has been my opinion for the last 4-5 years that the one company with the most potential to solve the problem was Geron. Although Geron is involved in many areas regarding the diseases associated with aging, the diseases of aging and aging itself are almost one and the same. There is not room here for me to get into exactly why I think Geron's approach to anti-aging is superior to anyone else's but, you can read all about the science on their web site or many other places.

Here is the real point of this post and the thing I want our readers to know about: Geron recently licensed a company called TA Sciences which, within the last month, has opened an office in New York. The purpose of TA Sciences is to market an anti-aging therapy developed over the last several years by Geron.

Why did Geron choose to market the product through TA Sciences instead of their own name? I think there are at least two reasons. One, companies that openly profess to be engaged in the emerging field of anti-aging research are often not taken seriously by the investment or the scientific communities. This method keeps the product at arms length for them. Secondly, it gives liability protection in the event that this turns out to be an absolute disaster and, that could happen, which is why I warned you to be skeptical of this, for now.

Now, most importantly, why do I think TA Sciences in not just another snake oil sales company? It very well could be but, the association with Geron, the MOA stem cell companies, gives it a certain credibility, in my mind, plus, they are taking the approach to the problem that I have always considered to be the most promising. On the 30th of this month, the full results of the human trials of the product are supposed to be published on the web site of TA Sciences. I am really looking forward to seeing that!

I know the emails are coming that will ask if we are going to take this treatment ourselves. We are still in our 50's, barely, but in good health. I think we can afford to wait a year or so and get more data. If I was 70 you can bet I would be thinking very seriously about giving it a go. If I was 80, I would already be on my way to New York simply based upon what I know about Geron and the science behind it.

This could very well be the first of many real anti-aging therapies that will come along over the next several years. In a later post I plan to discuss some of the socio-economic implications we are all going to face over the next few decades as a result of radical life extension. There will, no doubt, be huge issues but, we are just going to have to deal with them as a society because, this is coming sooner than most realize. This treatment from Geron and TA Sciences may not be the perfect solution but, there will be others right behind them.

If you are interested in following the research, I think you should start reading and learn the science inside and out. Understand that there could be serious risks at this stage. Here are some additional links that you might want to follow up on if you want to learn more:

Advanced Cell Technology
Sierra Sciences
Telomolecular

Monday, April 09, 2007

Words Cause Real Harm

It is not often that I agree with Al Sharpton but, today we are definitely of like mind. I am referring to Sharpton's comments regarding the asinine statements made on the radio by Don Imus where he referred to the Rutger's Women's Basketball team as "Nappy headed hos".

I second Sharpton's statement that enough is enough! "Somewhere we must draw the line in what is tolerable in mainstream media," Sharpton said Sunday. "We cannot keep going through offending us and then apologizing and then acting like it never happened. Somewhere we've got to stop this."

The Imuses, the Richards, the Gibsons, and all the rest of the morons who have not figured out there are others in this world besides white Christians need to wake up and realize this is 2007, not 1907 - although, I doubt being an ass was any nicer in 1907 than today.

Of course, Imus did the standard celebrity apology the next day and said, "I am not a bad person, I just said a bad thing." Well, that is total bull shit because anyone who can verbalize those words, is a bad person, in at least one respect. I suspect, with many celebrities, this is a calculated move based upon the belief that any publicity is good publicity regardless of who gets hurt. Imus needs to wake his dumb ass up and join the present century. It is never too late to start the evolutionary process.

If you would like to delve a little deeper into the very serious damage these stupid, public comments cause, take a look at this short, eight minute, film by seventeen year old Kiri Davis. Let me warn you, it is hard to watch.

On a lighter note, if you would like to see some great wildflower photos from this year, take a look at our friend, Jo's blog, here. She has updated it just in the last couple of days and, trust me, you will like it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mobile Phone GPS Tracking

I found a very cool web site our readers might be interested in. It just makes my day when someone comes up with this kind of technology, then makes it freely available on the internet! Do you want to know where your kids are; now you can track their cell phone in real time. Did someone steal your cell phone; track it and see where it is right now, then call the police.

One thing I really like about this site is that it uses the Google Maps Satelite Images with a street map overlay to pinpoint the location of any cell phone. I think it must be using more than just simple GPS data because it seems to find all phones, even ones that are not GPS enabled. It must triangulate off the nearby towers as well.

Here is the link: Cell Phone Tracking

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Million Musician March for Peace

Yesterday, Peggy and I and two of our friends from here at Pecan Grove walked over to the Capitol to participate in the Million Musician March for Peace. This was a nationwide event to mark the 4th anniversary of the President's illegal war in Iraq.

This first photo shows the marchers forming up in front of the State Capitol, where the 45 minute march to City Hall began. I suppose there were a few thousand marchers in the Austin event.

The march was noisy and the crowd was very vocal but, completely non-violent in every way. This group was united in a common message to bring our military forces home, now! I have to say it was quite a moving experience to be among this large group of free thinkers who see right through the haze of fear and intimidation this administration has constructed. Bushy's message of "support the troops", "better to fight in Iraq than here", is falling on more and more deaf ears today. However, enough bought into his BS in 2004 to get the him re-elected.

There were a number of floats that said volumes in their messages, including one by residents of Crawford, Texas. Camp Casey was represented although Cindy Sheehan was not present and, I assume was at the Washington DC march.

Arriving at City Hall we were greeted by an amazing concert featuring Carolyn Wonderland and Guy Foresyth. Notable speakers included Liz Carpenter and US Representative Lloyd Doggett.

This photo to the right is 86 year old Liz Carpenter speaking from her wheel chair. She gave a very entertaining and enlightening talk. The key point I took away in her words was, "If you can write about this, then get after it!" So that is what I am doing today.

Lloyd Doggett, who has always been our friend and a cut above the mealy mouthed, poll watching, double talking Washington bunch, gave a great talk where he minced no words. He pointed out how this President had dragged this country into war with a country which was no threat to us, had lied and manipulated intelligence, cost 3200 American lives, found no weapons of mass destruction, declared "Mission Accomplished", sent an under-manned and under-equiped force, ignored all advice of the Iraq Study Report, is spending 10 billion per month on this foolish endeavor, and wants to be called "The Decider". Well, it is time for Congress to start doing "The Deciding" and bringing our troops home with the only means at their disposal, cutting funding!

The photo on the left is of Rep. Doggett at the podium.



Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ina Marie Hill 1921 - 2007

Peggy and I are, at the moment, on the road en route to the funeral of my Aunt Ina who died last week. I pretty much stayed up all of last night thinking about my aunt and, this morning, decided I would like to make a blog post regarding my recollections. This first photo is Aunt Ina taken, I am guessing, right around 1950 shortly after moving to Texas from Ohio.

As a child I remember always being happy to visit my Aunt Ina and Uncle Dill and recall my aunt as a very nice, fun person. I liked it even better when they came to visit us in Greenville.


When you really sit and try to think back 50 years to when you were a kid, it is odd the silly things that pop into your head. One goofy thing I have never forgotten was that Aunt Ina had some of these aluminum glasses that used to be popular back in the 50's. Totally impractical inventions that, if you put something cold inside, would condense rivers of water on the outside. Of course, that means nothing to a six year old and I could not wait to get to Aunt Ina's and get a drink out of that wonderful anodized aluminum container.


I also saw my first remote control TV at my Aunt Ina's house and thought it was just incredible. This was probably in the late 50's and the remote had only two buttons, if I remember correctly. One, through a series of gears and belts, rotated the channel tuner clockwise and you can guess what the other one did. Of course you really needed a remote control living right in the heart of the Metroplex and being able to pick up 8 or 9 stations! TV at my Aunt Ina's house was quite an adventure for a young boy from Greenville used to, maybe, three and half stations on a good day. I wonder if women, in those days, understood the male's absolute right to ownership, and sole possession of the remote control?


As a child I saw my aunt as a nice, fun person but, I did not gain a full appreciation for her until well after I became an adult. This is when I learned what an intelligent, opinionated, interesting person she really was. In stark contrast to the vast majority which are meek, compliant sheep willing to be lead around by, so called, political or religious leaders, my Aunt Ina had a mind of her own and was not afraid to express herself, and I loved this about her. In fact, I have noticed that is a characteristic common to most of her brothers and sisters as well. Is that trait learned or genetic? I prefer to think genetic, and hope I inherited some of those genes through the Joneses.


And, speaking of those genes, here are my Grandparents (my aunt's parents), Cliff and Marie Jones. I think this photo is from about 1915 in Cameron, Ohio.


As someone who despises laziness, practically the highest compliment I can give someone is to say they worked hard. My Aunt Ina was one of the hardest working people I have ever known. She raised a large family and I know she worked many overtime hours at General Dynamics and, worked many years longer than financial need required. She was a bundle of energy!


Here is a photo of Aunt Ina and her oldest daughter, Barbara from around 1954. I wish I also had a digital image of Ina and Uncle Dill together to post but, we are driving down the interstate with no way scan a snap shot. And, thank you to Wally and Ruth Ann for the photos that are posted here today.


I am going to miss my Aunt Ina and think the world is probably a little less interesting place this week than it was last.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Austin Intel Bites the Dust

About 7:30 AM last Sunday the unfinished Intel building in downtown Austin was reduced to a heap of concrete and steel with the help of over 700 pounds of explosives. The demolition makes way for the new Federal Court House to be built on the site between 4th and 5th streets.
This old shell has stood on this location for many years as a visual reminder of the tech bust. Seems a shame just to implode it, as it looks like it could have been finished as Class A office space.

The demolition company that brought it down said it was particularly difficult because it was designed to support 10 stories but, only four were complete, which meant they did not have the weight of these upper floors to help flatten everything. I think this was a first for Austin.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Longest Embrace

The BBC story below has been in the news lately but, here it is in case you missed it. To me, it is one of the most touching photos I have ever seen. The human skeleton normally evokes images of violence, murder, B-grade horror movies, or Halloween. Here we have a beautiful image of a young couple locked in a 5,000 year embrace. Maybe I am outing myself as a sentimental old fool but, to me, it is just nice.

I find myself torn between a scientific curiosity to know what happened to these two, and desire to simply leave this image intact. Knowing they are just bones, and having no superstitious, spiritual beliefs, why would I care? I would prefer to say I don't but, for some reason, I do - shrug.


Ancient skeletons embracing
Archaeologists in Italy discovered a pair of 5000-6000 year old skeletons embracing.
The pair, almost certainly a man and a woman, are thought to have died young as their teeth were mostly intact, said chief archaeologist Elena Menotti...
"It's an extraordinary case," said Ms Menotti. "There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging - and they really are hugging," she told Reuters news agency.
Flint tools, including arrowheads and a knife, were also found alongside the couple. Link to the full BBC story.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Guitar Town Austin

Today, I mainly wanted to let everyone know about a something very cool going on in Austin, as well as, remind you of the blog belonging to some of our friends here in Austin. First, Guitar Town Austin which is sponsored by Gibson Guitars. Ten foot tall, artistically decorated Gibson Guitars are displayed all over Austin. These will later be auctioned off to benefit four Austin charities. Check out the web site and see all the designs - some are amazing. Here are a couple we snapped with the phone cam down on the hike and bike trail:
















In a previous post, I pointed you to the blog of our friends from the UK, Jo and Alan Hunter who have some really great photos which Jo updates regularly. There are some new photos posted today, as well as some observations they have made of the differences in life between the US and the UK. They are interesting to read and, if you go back in the archives a little way, see what they had to go through trying to set up housekeeping here with no Social Security Number! Life is tough until you get that SSN!

On an unrelated subject, I wonder how many of the "Ditto Heads" have pulled their heads out of the sand now that the climate reports have made it official that global warming is real and caused by man? I know a few I need to ask.

Until next time -

Here's to you Molly, we already miss you.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Yo, Dawg!!

Bumped into this very cool dude out on the Town Lake Trail a couple of days ago. This photo is taken on the Lamar Street foot bridge over Town Lake. It is like he is saying, "I'm just way too cool to actually look into the camera."

This sign is on the door of the passport office in the 6th Street Post Office. Looks like Tony Soprano might have some competition with executions only running $30 here in Austin.


Is anyone else tired of the tangle of wires around your computer. Snaking across my desk are power cords for a computer, monitor, router, printer, plus a couple of ethernet cables and several usb cables. Until today, there were also cords to a mouse and keyboard. Of course, it is all hanging down in a huge tangle at the side of the desk.

I have been thinking about getting a wireless mouse and keyboard for a while and finally found one at Walmart yesterday, at a price I was willing to take a chance on; $16, which shows you how much of a gambler I am.

After using it for a day, I can honestly say, I am about ready to go back to the wire. Keyboard is a little difficult and misses a letter here and there. Plus, the mouse does not have enough resolution. Maybe if I paid $70 for one, it would work better. Anyone have any ideas on that? Also not all that happy with a mouse that contains two AA batteries. Makes it a little heavy and bulky.

Big cold front due in this weekend. Super Bowl party to go to on Sunday, then we are out of here for the Rio Grande Valley until it warms up a little.

By-the-way, anyone reading this in the Austin area might want to consider Carolyn Wonderland at the Saxon Pub on Thurday. It is pretty amazing to see her show in a room with only fifty other people. If you have never seen her, she reminds me of a mix of Joplin and SRV. If I am not mistaken, this is her last week at the Saxon. We have gone the last two Thursdays and will be there this Thursday.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

And it Continues

It has been four days since the peak of the big ice storm here in Austin and, while the ice has now melted, the unseasonably cold weather continues. If you would like to see some more photos of the Austin ice, Jo Hunter has some new photos on her blog that are very nice.

Peggy and I went to the monthly dance in Lago Vista last night and had a great time, as usual. I learned something last night that I don't quite know how to take. Our friend Joy, who works for the State of Texas, gave me the URL of a web site that features a publicly searchable national database of all driver's license records. It includes a digital image of your actual driver's license, with photo. You do have the ability to opt out of the public search and only have it available to law enforcement which, to me, makes sense. If you want to remove your record from the public search, here is the link: National Driver's Licence Records. Just pull up your record and click the button labled "Make Private."

Well, I just had a couple of things I wanted to mention today, so I will sign off and see if I can go for a run without freezing my lungs in this cold air. Ahh, what the heck, I should probably, at least, throw in one gratuitous photo of a grand kid. How about two for the price of one; this is Allysa and Robin taken at xmas. Aren't they cute!?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Austin Blizzard!

Can not remember when the last time was that I saw traffic this light on 183. Last time was probably around 3:00 in the morning. As you can see from this TX DOT traffic camera, we are having quite an ice storm here in Austin.

If I remember correctly, the last major ice storm we saw here was in 1985. I remember it so well because Peggy and I thought we HAD to drive in it that day. Little did we know! We were living in Leander at the time and had a closing that day at Stewart Title in Austin. Rather than call first, we drove all the way in at a top speed of about 20 MPH and found the title company closed, sooooooo, we turned around and made the hour and a half drive back home and waited for the thaw.

Today, we are riding out the blizzard downtown at Pecan Grove in our RV, and staying warm most of the time. Just returned from a three mile walk around the lake and got a little chilled. One of our propane bottles ran out this morning. It was nice that it waited until after we got up to do that.

Even though we have another full bottle of propane, I decided to go fill the empty one at the propane dealer just up the street. Got there just as they were locking up at just after noon. They filled my bottle anyway but, I was the last one to get propane from them today. These Austin propane dealers are not as dedicated as the ones in Arlen, Texas. Hank Hill would never abandon Strickling Propane on a day like this. Hank would consider this a propane emergency and probably spend the night on duty.

Just spending a lazy day playing some music and watching the TV on mute. I got a new guitar and Peggy is learning to play keyboard. Looks like we are in for a lot of snow tonight. If it happens, I will post some photos of it tomorrow. Today, I took the lazy way and captured a photo off a web cam.

Actually, here is a better idea for some good weather photos, just check our friend Jo's blog here. She is a professional photographer and you will find better photos than I could ever produce. In fact, I would suggest you should check her blog every week or so.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I imagine I am doing something now that a lot of other bloggers are doing today, saying Happy New Year to our readers. Peggy and I want to wish you the very best 2007 you can dream up.

Last night Peggy and I saw in the New Year in a very calm (for us) manner. I can't tell you how much we love living downtown at Pecan Grove. It makes everything so easy. We had dinner at Manuel's over on Congress with our neighbor, Karen. While we ate the First Night parade was coming down Congress. Then we all walked around downtown for the many First Night events which were going on.

Later, Peggy and I walked over to Sixth Street and stopped in at Friends where we heard just a kick ass blues band. If you get a chance to go see Walter Higgs and the Shuffle Pigs, you owe it to yourself to go. They are great and I can't wait for them to show up Antone's where there is a pretty good dance floor for Whip and West Coast Swing. The whole time I was listening to them at Friends, I was thinking to myself, "It just goes to show how many fine musicians live in Austin (the live music capitol of the world) that a band of this caliber is here playing for tips."

Here is another photo I have been anxious to get posted in the blog. Below is another Pecan Grove neighbor and good friend, Jim, the Balloonatic, Dickson. I get the biggest kick out of the many unusual ways folks here at Pecan Grove make their livings. Jim has one of the most unusual I have come across in that he makes balloon animals. Be sure and check out the link above to his web site. This photo is in front of our trailer and features Jim on his new electric bicycle with Loose Lucy riding in the basket.