Friday, December 25, 2009

Texas Rio Grande Valley

I've got to get back to posting this blog on a more regular basis. It seems that lately I have just been posting so much on facebook, there was nothing left to say. Anyway, here we are in the Rio Grande Valley for the winter. This is our 10th year to come down here and we have not grown tired of it yet - go figure. Nothing ever holds our attention that long! Here we are stopped for a few days on the way down:


We have actually been here for a month now, even though I am just now getting around to posting. We have been staying busy working at the homeless shelter in Harlingen during the day and playing music at night. Beginning January 4th we will be volunteer teachers 4 days per week at the Pharr Literacy Project. Lloyd will be teaching Math and Science GED classes and Peggy will be teaching English. The semester ends March 12th and we should be back to Austin right after that.

Here is a photo of one of our gigs from a few days ago: The other guitar picker is Shannon Phillips. The lady standing between us, whose name escapes me, was one of the dancers that came up to pose for a photo with us.


I just thought of something else I wanted to post about here but, I will wait until tomorrow. By-the-way, I hope everyone is following Jessica Watson's blog. She is the 16 year old Australian girl who is doing a solo circumnavigation by sail boat. Click here for the site.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One more monkey off my back

Last Tuesday I arose with a long list of items on my list that I hoped to accomplish. Walked up to my shop and was sitting there checking email when Peggy walks in with the bad news, the washing machine had stopped working. So I now had a new, more urgent, thing on my list and all the items I really wanted to do got moved down in priority.

This is a Splendide washer/dryer combo like you would find in a motor home. As with most things packed full of electronics today, you just can not diagnose the problem unless you have a repair manual that gives you the expected voltages and resistances at various points on the circuit boards. A search of the manufacturers web site reveals nothing more than a list of service technicians. So, I spent an hour searching the internet and, in some forum, finally came across this repairman training manual that did the trick.

Turned out to be a DC Motor Control Module that cost about $240 with shipping. Expensive, but better than the $1,200 it would take to replace the machine. The part arrived Friday and everything is working fine again.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Would all you sick people, please die?

It sounds pretty harsh when you just say it but, apparently, many secretly feel that way. I can't quit thinking about an address to a group of people given by Senator Franken. One man in the audience commented to the Senator that, "If we let all these uninsured into the system, there will not be enough doctors to go around." No doubt, this selfish S.O.B. would prefer they just die! His attitude is, I've got mine and I don't want you sick people causing any problems. By-the-way, I could tell from looking at him that he was on Medicare and already getting government health care.

I've heard the arguments against "socialized" medicine. Let me tell you, I and many other ex-military members, are on the only true socialistic medical program in the U.S., the Veteran's Health Care system and, it works quite well. Many privately insured people would love to have the level of care we receive through the VA at virtually no cost, and it is truly a socialistic system. The facilities are government owned and all the doctors and nurses are paid by the government. On top of that, they offer us great care in friendly, modern facilities, with a level of efficiency that will never be matched by any private system. One of the smartest moves I ever made was serving a few years in the military although, I admit, I didn't know it was smart at the time.

Is Medicare socialized medicine? Only to a point - it is paid for with tax dollars but, uses private sector providers so, lets just say it is half socialistic. Even so, I don't think you are going find many seniors ready to give it up.

How about the so-called "Government Option" talked about in the current health reform bills. That is not socialized medicine in any way, shape, or form. It is a self funded insurance option that is forced to pay for itself in the same way as the USPS is forced to pay it's own way through revenues it generates.

Look, no other country on earth treats it's poor or uninsured the way this country does and, make no mistake, all the uninsured are not even close to poor. Many, many, working families can not afford the $1,400 per month it takes to buy private insurance if their employer does not provide it. It is a crime against humanity that these people are being forced to die or go bankrupt if they get sick or injured. And, just don't give me any of that crap about how anyone can get health care at the emergency room. Sure, by law, they have to treat the immediate emergency, then they will shuffle them out the door with instructions to go see their doctor, which they can not afford to do. Then the emergency hospital will come after them so aggressively for collection that they have to file bankrupcy. So, you say, why don't they just get on some government program for the poor? That is fine, if they truly are poverty stricken and have nothing. Does not work for most working poor who might have a fairly good job, a little savings, or maybe a little equity in a home. These people have to lose everything they own before they would qualify for assistance.

It is time for everyone to wake up and admit we have a serious problem. People need to quit worrying so much about what it might cost them, or whether they might be inconvenienced, and look at this as a national crisis that we have to solve.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dallas Nightclub reopens

Well, Peggy and I have a whole new attitude this morning. This has been one long, hot, dry summer here in Austin and, after a while, 105 degrees for two months straight just starts to PISS you off! Last night, not only did it rain (2/10 but we will take it) but, our favorite hang out for the last 28 years, The Dallas Nightclub reopened after being closed for over a year.

Last night was really a lot of fun and all the TV stations were there and we saw many of our old friends. Here is a link to the KVUE Channel 24 story. Watch and you will probably see someone you recognize, wink.

The new owners should be pleased with their opening. When we left, the place was already packed and people were just pouring in, on a Wednesday night. If you have never been to Dallas, and we know people in Austin who have not, you just owe it to yourself to go. Peggy and I dance in nightclubs all over the US and can say, without hesitation, that nondescript building up on Burnet Road known as The Dallas Nightclub is the best in the country. It may not be the biggest, and may not have the greatest floor, but you will see the best dancers ANYWHERE right there at Dallas and that floor flows like a whitewater river. Trust me, the tourists go clog up the floor at the Broken Spoke - the dancers go to Dallas. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lake Travis water level causing problems

In case you have not heard, Lake Travis is getting very low and this is causing headaches for some dock owners. In fact, the lake is now about 50 feet below it's normal pool elevation and only lacks about 17 feet reaching it's all time low set back in 1952. It is losing about 1.5 feet per week and today is our 60th day this summer of triple digit temperatures.

In spite of the problems we had a great time about a week ago helping our friends, Bill and Jean Dunham, lower their dock which had reached the bottom of their stairs. Our job was to disengage the ramp from the stairs and allow the dock to float free so it could continue on down with the lake. Fortunately, they still have deep water under the dock.

Here is the crew, left to right: Bill (the rock climber and rope man), Jean (supervisor), Peggy (official worrier), Cliff (the only one with a clue), and taking the picture is Lloyd (the winch man). Oh, my job does not refer to anything shown in this photo, in case you were wondering.

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This shows us getting ready to lower. You can see the ramp connecting the dock to the stairs is now very close to the end.

  

This next photo shows the ramp in the water. It was pretty exciting since the cable broke and it dropped the last 6 or 7 feet and landed with a big splash, but no damage. You can see the end of the broken cable hanging down from the stairs.

  

And here is the solution for getting down to dock until the lake drops to the point that the ladder will no longer reach. Come on tropical storm!!

 

All in all, it was a pretty easy job and everyone left with all the fingers and toes they arrived with. Plus, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I hink I need a new compuer!

M 10 ear old lapop is beginning o show i's age. Can ou guess which 2 kes have jus sopped working? I have acuall been hoping his slow piece of crap would craer for he las five ears so I could jusif a new one. I hink I jus go m wish.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Look what the cat dragged up

A few days ago our cat, Lucille, comes walking out of the woods with this baby deer right behind her so, we grabbed our camera and started recording. Of course, we were careful not to touch the deer and, a few minutes later, led it back into the woods and left it where it laid down.



Here is a link to our YouTube channel in case you want to see more of our videos, or subscribe: Our YouTube Channel

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Following up on the fasting thing

We made a blog post on about four and a half months ago about the benefits of periodic fasting with regard to life extension: Here is a link. It has now been about six months since we started this routine of fasting two days each week and we just wanted to do a quick follow up in case anyone was wondering if we stuck to it.

It has been surprisingly easy to keep it going and we have not missed a single day since we started. Lloyd has lost a couple of pounds although, the intent of this was not to lose weight. We still do the fast each Monday and Thursday and have no plans to stop. One thing we have noticed is that it helps to stay busy on the fasting day because you don't think about being hungry if you are continuously occupied. Feeling hungry has really not been that big a deal anyway.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Remembering Neda Soltan

 If you have not done so already, you might consider viewing the video of Neda's murder by the Iranian government. We are not leaving a link here but, you can easily find it online if you are interested. It is very graphic and you should only watch it if you really want to understand what the protesters in Iran are going through. Seeing it is very hard but gives some hope that this senseless act will be the undoing of this repressive regime.

We have been watching events unfold in Iran with great interest over the last week or so. Normally I would expect to refer such events as "student protests" but, in this case, it has come to involve all aspects of Iranian society. These protesters deserve the world's help in the only practical way it can be offered, moral support. And, that is why we are blogging about this today.

How an educated society such as Iran ended up with their theocratic mess of a government is something we have trouble understanding but, we think they now regret their mistake. Since the protest began, we have been messmorized by the ham fisted way in which the Iranian government has handled the problem.

Today President Sarkozy stated that the Burka had no place in France. He is absolutely right, this symbol of oppression of women has no righful place in any country.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We are back in business!

I hear you ... some are saying you haven't seen us do anything productive in the last decade so what business are you talking about? I am talking about the business of ending my horrible neglect of this blog. You notice I didn't say one word about the business being "productive", although that could change at any second. We now happen to be bringing in about $1.00 per month off this blog, and it is all profit!! Wooo Hoooo!!!! Cha Ching!

We actually have quite a few things to update about. Been videoing the Grand Daughter while teaching her to ride her bike. Happy to say, she has it down pat now. Of course, I've been going through my workout routine (clearing cedar off this land) everyday. Peggy and I have been working on our music every day and looking forward to playing the jam sessions next winter in the Rio Grande Valley. We have trips planned for the Dallas area, Abilene, and Rio Grande Valley over the next month or so.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grand daughter tells about the Wooly Booger!

What is the point in having grand kids if you can't fill their heads with a bunch of crazy stories that will make their imaginations run wild? I figure I have maybe two years, at best, before this one has me figured out, so I am not wasting any time. Here is Peggy interviewing one of our six year olds about the Wooly Booger, Bigfoot, etc.:




Here is a link to our YouTube Channel in case you are really, really, really bored and want to see our other videos. You can "subscribe" or "friend" us over there and make us so happy we might just pop.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Blacktop (hot mix) driveway paving

Well, we decided to do our part to stimulate the economy, whether we could afford it or not! The contractor, M. Carroll Blacktop Service was here in the North Lake Travis area doing a much larger job and had a few truck loads of hot mix left over and made us deal we couldn't refuse. He stopped by our place about 1:00 PM and by 5:00 PM we had 450 feet of driveway installed and they did a very nice job. You can see the whole process in the video below:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour - tonight - March 28, 2009 - 8:30 PM local time

Here is a symbolic gesture you can make tonight that is, essentially, casting your vote in favor of a more sustainable energy consumption policy. Tonight, beginning at 8:30 PM local time simply turn off everything in your home that is electrically powered; TV's, computers, lights, etc. and leave them off for one hour.

Some background from the Earth Hour web site: "Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday."

Our plan is to put the hour to good use by teaching our granddaughter about the need for all of us to try to do our part to reduce energy consumption. Get our your candles and make a fun event and learning experience of Earth Hour for your children and grandchildren. Teach them about fuel economy, overly large houses, dangers of imported oil, global warming, excessive consumerism, polution, etc.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Make yourself into a Simpson character

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 Make a Character of Yourself!

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:
Lloyd and Peggy Morris as Simpson Characters

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, March 26, 2009

A Milestone for This Blog - 10,000 visitors

Yesterday's hail storm created a pretty good surge in traffic to this blog and carried us past a significant milestone. Today we recorded our 10,000th visitor! We were very happy about that, especially in light of the fact that we recently changed our hosting domain from blogger to our own domain, austinweird.net. That change caused our google search rank to suffer for a few weeks until the web crawlers caught up with us. Actually, it is still down somewhat after nearly a month at the new domain.

Austin Hail Storm 3/25/2009

We had a pretty major storm pass through the area yesterday. It was actually a lot of fun since the hail really dumped! We didn't get much damage here but there were some windows knocked out all around the area. The fun part was our six year old grand daughter who was here with us when it hit. She had never seen anything like this and the noise on our metal roof was just incredible! She was running around screaming, "This is the most fun day of my life!" Next, she wanted to know if school would be canceled the next day so she could play in the ice all day?

Here is a video we did during the storm.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

New Approach to Life Extension

Here is a little something to consider for those of us wishing to live as long and healthy a life as possible. No doubt, you have seen dozens of products that claim to make you live longer. The fact is, for now at least, they are all either snake oil or claims with no scientific basis. The only proven method of extending life, possibly as much as 20 - 25 %, is calorie restriction. This has been proven in studies beginning with C. Elegans (a small 1mm worm) all the way up through primate studies, now on going for nearly two decades.

Calorie restriction (eating about 30% less than your body needs) works, we know it works but, it is extremely difficult and not something most people will ever do for an entire lifetime. However, there is probably an alternative that is not too terribly difficult. In the last couple of years there have been some animal studies that suggest that intermittent fasting works just as well, if not better than, full time calorie restriction. In other words, stop eating one or two days each week.

Peggy and I decided to give this a try about two months ago and have found it to be very easy. The way we do it is to take two 24 hour periods (Monday and Thurday) each week and do nothing but drink water on those days. We start the 24 hours after breakfast and go to breakfast the next day. Admittedly, we feel a little hungry around dinner time but, it is no big deal and, by breakfast the next morning, we are really not even hungry. This is something, unlike calorie restriction, we can realistically do for years and years until something better comes along. And, rest assured, there are many things in the works that are going to completely change the equation on aging. The idea is to be around long enough to benefit from them so, intermittent fasting is something you might want to consider as an easier alternative to calorie restriction.