Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Apparently, they've lost their minds in Denver

Well, read all about it right here -- the Denver Broncos have fired head coach Mike Shanahan.

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. After all, Shanahan hasn't achieved much -- just a couple of Super Bowl championships and a record of 130-78 over the past 14 years. That, by the way, is a winning percentage of .625, second in Broncos franchise history to Red Miller who was coach from 1977 to 1980 and compiled a winning percentage of .640.

And Shanahan's only installed one of the most potent running games in the country at a team that was notoriously inept at rushing prior to his arrival.

What did Shanahan do wrong? Apparently, missing the championships with an 8-8 record this season got him canned. Of course, it's a bit rare when the Broncos aren't in the playoffs these days and Shanahan had to deal with a slew of injuries throughout the season, but that doesn't matter much, seemingly.

Denver has canned the best coach the team has had. Period. They'll regret that decision, as will we longtime Broncos fans out there. God only knows who Denver will drag up to replace Shanahan. I shudder to think. Is there any available coach out there who will be an improvement over Shanahan? That's doubtful.

Now, I'm well aware that Broncos fans go nuts over football. Let's go back to the 1990 season for a minute. Of course, Denver got killed by San Francisco in the 1990 Super Bowl and the team simply struggled when the regular season began in the fall.

How did fans react? One lady at a home game in Mile High Stadium sprayed a bunch of opposing fans with Mace as Denver was losing. Another Denver resident, distraught after a home loss, went back to his house after the game, held his wife and kids at gunpoint and ranted for awhile until he surrendered to the police. A radio sports announcer in Denver swore he'd broadcast from on top of a billboard until Denver won a game. He was up there for a few weeks in the miserably cold Denver weather.

There's no doubt there was a lot of pressure on Denver's ownership to make a change, considering how hardcore Broncos fans tend to be. Still, firing Shanahan -- the only coach in the team's history to bring a Super Bowl title to Denver -- is a bonehead move and one team owner Pat Bowlen will regret. You're an idiot, Bowlen, and you're setting your team up to be the NFL's whipping boy next year.

If I hadn't been a Bronco's fan for over 30 years, I'd say Bowlen and his team are about to get what they deserve.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Hawg makes a New Year's resolution!

Well, it's time to make some New Year's resolutions, isn't it?

I, The Hawg, have a great one this year -- I pledge to get back into the old Christmas shopping habits my wife and I had in the past. Let me explain.

Just a few years ago, my wife and I were perpetually struggling with finances and shopped for Christmas presents through the year out of necessity. We figured it was just too hard to come up with a huge chunk of cash right before Christmas, so we'd spread our shopping out through the year.

That made things easy. If, for example, I saw the perfect movie for my dad in the middle of July, we'd buy it and stick it in a drawer. By the time December rolled around, then, the overwhelming majority of our Christmas shopping was done so we had the luxury of kicking back, enjoying the holiday season and let other people go through the agony of shopping right before Christmas.

We've fallen out of that habit a bit and the result was that Christmas came and went very quickly, leaving us with little time to enjoy holiday movies, goof off and look at lights and etc. Money's not as much of an issue as it used to be, so we put off a lot of shopping until the last minute.

Oh, we did get about half of our shopping done before December, but it wasn't enough to avoid crowds, rushing around right before Christmas and all of the other stuff we used to be able to avoid.

Christmas is my favorite holiday and I feel more than a bit robbed. It's time to get back on track.

Oh, and I figure on buying that kick butt guitar amp I've always wanted in 2009, too. I can't figure out if that's a New Year's resolution or a selfish desire, however.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Christmas wrench!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas (I did) and I'd like to share the story I'll remember from this year.

Well, there are two of them actually -- one involves a wrench and the other involves boysenberry syrup. I'll start with a little story I like to call The Christmas Wrench.

On Christmas Eve, my wife prepared sweet potatoes and ground up the peelings in our garbage disposal. The lines between the garbage disposal and the wall clogged because, as I learned from doing some research on the Internet, sweet potato peelings are hard on disposals.

So, I needed to get a plumber's wrench so I could pull the pipes apart and get rid of the clog. The problem, of course, was that it was Christmas Eve and all the stores were closed.

Fortunately, Wal-Mart was open when I headed out at about 5:55 p.m. I got to the store and was turned away by this fellow -- the store closed at 6 p.m. and I showed up right about that time.

I said, "But, the cash registers are still going!"

He said the registers would be open until 6:15 p.m. to check out everyone who was in the store. That's all I needed to know.

A lady showed up and distracted the fellow by going through some hysterical tale about how she just had to get in Wal-Mart to buy a last minute present. While he was dealing with her, I slipped into the store.

Heh, heh!

While I was running to the hardware section, I started to wonder if I was doing the right thing. I mean, I essentially sneaked into a Wal-Mart to go buy a wrench. No matter, however. I grabbed my wrench and checked out by 6:10 p.m.

I didn't make eye contact with the guy who tried to block me from coming in the store. I was able to use the wrench on the kitchen sink and get rid of the clog so my wife could keep making Christmas dinner. That was a very good thing as we had a lot of family members over for Christmas dinner.

Yes, that wrench saved Christmas. Sometimes, then, being sneaky is a good thing.

Finally, boysenberry syrup!

Last month, I posted a rant about the fact that boysenberry syrup wasn't available at the IHOP here in scenic Benton, Ark. You can't get any at the IHOPs in Little Rock, either, and I've been furious about it.

I dashed off an e-mail and got a reply from IHOP informing me that individual IHOPs could choose to carry the syrup, even though many of them don't. My little brother and his wife live in Greensboro, N.C., and the IHOP they go to does carry the wonderful syrup.

So, what did they do? They bought a gallon of the stuff and sent it to me with one of those plastic bears that usually contain honey. I got an IHOP gift card, too.

My brother and sister-in-law tell me that I'm all set up to go to IHOP and take my own syrup with me. That's a heck of a good gift, folks. I need to try harder when picking out presents for them next year. They know me well and got something that is so cool that my mind reels just thinking about it.

Thanks to my brother and his wife (Alev, you are now my favorite sister-in-law), my wife bought some pancake mix so I can enjoy my boysenberry syrup in the morning.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I came out pretty well but, more importantly, my wife was thrilled that I bought her a bunch of gifts that she absolutely wanted and adored (the sapphire and diamond ring was the top of the heap, seemingly) and the kids are ecstatic over their new Nintendo DS systems and the games that go with them. The best thing yet, however, is that we had the family over to our house for Christmas and didn't have to go anywhere this year. That, folks, was absolute bliss.

A keyless lock? Yeah, I'll be getting one of these!

My boy, God bless him, loses his house key on a regular basis.

Honestly, we buy about four of the things at a time when he's out of keys because we know he'll go through them rather fast. The problem, of course, is that he comes home from school in the afternoon and has to unlock our door to get in the house.

I've found a nifty gadget that I may well buy before long -- a keyless lock system from Axxis Biometrics. Those systems are set up so that keys are obsolete and the lock opens when it identifies a fingerprint that the system has been programed to recognize.

That's right -- just set up the keyless lock to open when select people run their fingers across the lock and the door opens. The keyless lock system can even be programmed to allow temporary access to people -- ideal for when our cleaning service drops by to visit.

The prices are low and the selection over at Axxis Biometrics is large. I may well be a customer before long. I can't make that son of mine keep up with his key, but I'm almost positive he won't lose his finger, right?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Merry Christmas!

Well, Christmas is upon us and it's pretty clear that my little The Hawglets -- Michael Wesley and Brenda SueCarol -- are excited about the holiday.

Here's a photo of them pretending to like each other -- proof that Christmas brings out the best in us, seemingly. We'll all be heading up to the scenic Benton, Ark., square tonight to visit the Nativity scene at the First United Methodist Church and the wonderful light display on the Saline County Courthouse lawn.

I hope y'all have a great Christmas and expect a little something from the Hawg. Yes, I'll make extra sure to click a few ads on blogs I visit today as I've noticed some people have been hitting those Google ads of mine pretty hard lately. I appreciate that and plan on returning the favor.

I know you good folks want to visit the other Wordless Wednesday participants by clicking right here. Merry Christmas and God bless!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blogging during the Christmas season is hard

I've just about decided I should have simply kept away from my blog during December and picked things up in January.

Why? I've been fulfilling familial obligations all month long and have neglected my blog to such an extent that I'm doing things like, well, posting a picture of a dog sleeping under a blanket and resting his head on a pillow. Who the hell, other than me, really cares about that kind of nonsense?

Sadly, that's about all I've had time for lately. Frankly, I like the photo because we've got a 140-pound Saint Boxer (Saint Bernard/Boxer) under a blanket because my 12-year-old son thought he might appreciate it (it turns out that Winston the Dog does appreciate the blanket -- probably because it's about 20 degrees outside and that's unusual here in Arkansas).

Apparently, I don't even have time to set the date stamp on my digital camera. Pitiful.

If there's a point here at all, I suppose it's that December is a horrible month for blogging. However, I'll be back up to speed as soon as the holidays have ended.

And merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Auto manufacturers get bailout, Bush convinces more people to hate his guts

Go ahead and read all about it right here -- George W. Bush and his band of idiots went against the will of the American people and the Senate by coming up with a plan under which $13.4 billion will be sent to those undeserving fools at Chrysler and General Motors.

I'm very proud, of course, to live in a country that rewards incompetence and failure. If I had my way, Chrysler and G.M. would both go bankrupt as that is what terrible companies that make garbage deserve.

I'll not dwell on the details of the plan as this is old news. It's disappointing, to say the least, and I'll leave it at that.

I'd like to focus, however, on what the government should have done to help out the American auto industry. It seems clear that the government is just itching to spend money, so why not benefit the American people with it?

I'm still of the opinion that the government has lost its collective mind and I'm amazed that an alleged Republican loves spending money like a Democrat. Still, if the government is spending money like frat boys on spring vacation, I want my cut and I'm sure you do, too.

What the feds should have done is adopted my plan -- the Everybody Gets A New Car plan. Under that plan, any household with an income under, say, $250,000 would get a voucher to be spent on a new car. The voucher would be a generous $25,000, plenty for either a new car or a hefty down payment on one.

Under my plan, see, Americans could choose for themselves whether to purchase American cars and bail out the industry. I figure, however, that companies such as Honda, Toyota and Kia would get the bulk of that money because those companies make vehicles that people actually want to buy -- that's the flaw in my plan.

No, the government was out to save some union jobs and pour money into companies that were stupid enough to keep making gas-guzzling SUVs instead of focusing on fuel economy when gas was over $3.50 a gallon. Our government, in other words, is now against competition and is for robbing consumers of one of the few powers we have -- determining what products and services we want to buy and which companies deserve to thrive.

I fully expect the feds to bring back tariffs next so as to almost force us to buy junk cars made by American companies. To avoid that unpleasantness, I figure on buying at least one Toyota -- maybe two -- next year and driving them until he insanity is over. American car companies make trash and they've been given absolutely no incentive to change.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride"

Seemed appropriate, seeing how we've got ice all over the place here in scenic Arkansas.

Make sure to visit the other Wordless Wednesday participants (or submit something of your own!) by clicking right here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If you have cats, avoid this shampoo

There's at least one good thing about going bald -- I, The Hawg, can buy the cheapest shampoo on the market and not feel the least bit bad about it.

Yes, I could probably get away with washing what little hair I have left with a bar of soap. However, I go ahead and spend that $1 to get a bottle of cheap old Suave. I don't care about silky, shiny, full body or any of that rot as I don't have enough hair to bother.

Suave has never let me down. Well, almost never.

I bought a bottle of Cucumber Melon Splash shampoo from Suave's Naturals line. Who wouldn't want to wander around all day with a head that smells like a melon?

That kind of reminds me of an old joke -- "That girl is melancholy. She's got a head like a melon and a face like a collie!"

I had a roommate in college with a fiance we called Ol' Melancholy. He didn't care much for that. She ran off on him with another man to New York a few years later, got pregnant by her new man and asked my roommate to be the godfather of the kid. She was insane.

Anyway, I've had trouble with that Cucumber Melon Splash stuff. We've got a kitten around here who loves it. I don't know what they put it the shampoo but it drives the kitten out of her mind.

This morning, the shampoo-induced kitten got her paw snarled up in my hair a few times and eventually bit my head.

I don't think I'll buy that shampoo anymore. Suave makes plenty of cheap shampoo, so I'll stay away from the kitten's favorite brand in the future.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's fun to watch another dysfunctional bunch of sports fans for a change

I hope you good people took a look at that YouTube video -- that was Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs being heckled by Auburn fans.

Why was Jacobs being given such a hard time? Because the school went and hired Gene Chizik as the head football coach. Frankly, I'm not sure why they got rid of Tommy Tuberville -- a coach who went 85-40 (52-30 in the SEC) -- and replaced him with a coach who went 5-19 (2-12 in the Big 12) at Iowa State.

As I've mentioned time and time again, I'm an Arkansas Razorbacks fan. Because of that, I can't throw any stones at Auburn because we've made our share of idiotic coaching moves here in the Natural State.

The one that still makes me mad, of course, has to do with that idiot Houston Nutt, a head coach who managed to achieve a sparkling 4-7 record at Boise State before he wound up as the coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. It's fascinating to note that Tuberville was in the running for the job, but that sleazy Nutt wound up with the job somehow.

It's also worth mentioning that Boise State improved substantially after Nutt packed up his trailer, his insane wife and headed to Arkansas.

So, I feel your pain, Auburn. I just hope Chizik works out better than Nutt did here. If not, you're looking at several years of fans wearing black shirts to ball games and a coach who makes the state look bad every time he opens his mouth. Hopefully, Chizik won't be an embarrassment to Auburn.

A lot of us hated Nutt for the majority of his tenure here. Yes, he had a great first season and the program simply went to hell after that. In addition to his lack of coaching skill, his off-field shenanigans and delightfully odd behavior at press conferences during games and press conferences made fans simply loathe him. Here's hoping Chizik fares better at Auburn.

If he does turn out horribly, however, there's still hope -- Ole Miss will get sick of having Nutt around as head coach before too many more seasons and that school will apparently hire anyone.

By the way, some irate Auburn fan has already had some fun with Jacobs' entry at Wikipedia. I'll quote that here before it gets changed:

"Jay Jacobs is the current director of athletics for the Auburn Tigers athletic department.

He was named Auburn's 14th Director of Athletics on December 22, 2004, after working in almost every area of the Auburn Athletic Department for the previous 20 years. He has recently come under controversy for his hiring of Auburn's new football coach, Gene Chizik. Though Chizik had a 5-19 record as a head coach prior to the hiring, he is white and likes to drink whiskey with Pat Dye, making him the ideal candidate for continuing Auburn's historical approach of putting out marginally successful, probation-riddled football teams."

It's a nice of pace to see some SEC fans other than the ones here in Arkansas upset about a coaching hire. Still, good luck to Auburn.

Thanks, by the way, to fellow blogger Paul Eilers over at Paul's Health Blog for sending the YouTube video my way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unions and Republicans kill auto bailout?

Just when you think the country is going straight to hell, something happens to make me think maybe things will work out OK.

Tonight, that moronic $14 billion bailout plan for the inept U.S. auto manufacturers died in the Senate. Why? A few Republicans acted almost like conservatives for a change and officials from the United Auto Workers union (UAW) acted like the pigheaded, reality ignoring fools they are.

As we all know by now the U.S. auto industry is in trouble due to a combination of things. The Japanese are stomping Chrysler, Ford and General Motors into the ground by resorting to a remarkably unfair tactic -- building cars that people actually want to buy.

Of course, those technologically, gas guzzling piles of junk that are rolling out of Detroit are built by an incredibly overpaid labor force, thus making things even more difficult for American car makers. It seems the bailout was killed by Republicans who demanded that the UAW agree to cut salaries so they're in line with what American autoworkers working for Japanese companies make.

The union, of course, refused and the pro-bailout crowd couldn't find enough votes to ship $14 billion to an undeserving industry. That's pretty much the correct result. I do wish the bailout for the financial industry would have met with such opposition, but that's all water under the bridge (a bridge that was probably also paid for with money borrowed from China and Japan, by the way).

A few things about this whole episode bother the heck out of me. For one thing, the issue that killed this nonsense in the Senate came about because a bunch of Republicans wanted labor costs cut. It should have been killed out of the gate because governments simply don't go around bailing out rotten companies in a capitalist economy (assuming we still are capitalists, of course) and then nationalizing them. Without the stubbornness of the unions, it seems that bailout might have passed the Senate -- there simply aren't enough free market conservatives left to generate the support to block anything for purely economic reasons.

For another, we've still got George W. Bush and his filthy cronies to consider. Apparently, pushing for this bailout is part of Bush's master plan to completely piss on conservative ideals before he's sent back to Texas. A conservative president would have lobbied hard against any talk of bailouts, but Bush has proven time and time again that he has no problem with letting the government fool around in the free market.

I'd love to see this bailout die for good so that our incompetent auto manufacturers would be forced to reorganize under Chapter 11, renegotiate their ridiculous labor contracts and be under the gun to design some innovative vehicles in order to compete with the superior automobiles produced by the likes of Honda and Toyota.

However, I doubt anyone will be shocked if the Bush administration rides in to rescue a bailout that any Republican worth his salt ought to oppose.

Update -- Arkansas Senator has the right idea

According to this story from ArkansasBusiness.com, Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln said she voted against the auto bailout plan because the bill would have committed more taxpayer money to a failed business plan. Good for her. I'm glad I keep voting for Lincoln.

Lincoln, a Democrat, usually does a very good job of representing her constituents, and she's lived up to her reputation here as someone who considers her vote rather than just doing what her party tells her.

That's in direct opposition to our other senator, Mark Pryor. Pryor, of course, voted for the bailout. But who really cares what Pryor does? He's an idiot and I'm embarrassed that he is affiliated with my state.

Update -- Bush is a bastard!

Well, according to this story, Bush may well raid the $700 billion bailout fund set aside for the financial industry and give it to the crybabies in the auto industry. Why the hell is that alleged Republican going out of his way to reward failure?

Companies that can't compete deserve to die and make way for businesses that can manufacture products that consumers want to buy. That's called capitalism. That's called giving the consumers the power to determine what products and services they want and how much they are willing to pay for them. That is the way the things ought to be.

That blasted $700 billion bailout for the financial industry and this latest nonsense has set a nasty precedent. Any industry that can't hack it can turn to the government and ask for money. They may get it, too.

Thanks, Georgie! You made me regret my decision to vote against both Al Gore and John Kerry. You've almost made me look forward to four years of Barack Obama because he can't possibly hate the free market more than you do. You suck, Bush, and you're nothing more than the Republican version of Jimmy Carter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Happy Birthday, Brenda SueCarol!

My daughter, Brenda SueCarol, turns eight-years-old today (Dec. 10) at exactly 4:35 p.m. CST. My wife and I are amazed that she's growing up on us. Here are some "then and now" pictures of Brenda and me.

Be sure to visit the other Wordless Wednesday participants (or submit something of your own) by clicking right here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The American auto industry won't get another dime from me

We all knew it would happen, but it's still depressing to read -- according to this Associate Press story, the idiots in Congress have agreed in principle to give $15 billion to the failures running the U.S. auto industry.

Imagine that. Who would have imagined that our fine members of the House and Senate wouldn't want the finger pointed at them when a lot of unionized workers were tossed out of work because they are employed by morons?

That's shocking stuff, huh? If you're surprised by that, you're probably amazed that alleged Republican George W. Bush is right in the middle of this nonsense. Rather than acknowledge that he's caused enough damage and sit at his desk with a stack of coloring books and a box of crayons, Bush is seeing just how much more he can screw up the country and annoy the five or six of us in the nation who are still conservatives.

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. A mere 50 years ago, America was home to an auto industry that manufactured the finest cars on the road. Now that industry is reduced to three companies that manufacture garbage and need help from the government to survive. It used to be that companies that couldn't compete died and were replaced by businesses that developed better products and services, but those days appear to have ended.

We officially prop up losers in the U.S. now. And, yes, Chrysler, GM and Ford are all run by losers who can't hack it in the 21st century. While those mean ol' Japanese were developing hybrid vehicles and boasting about fuel economy, the Big Three in Detroit were busily churning out vehicles that achieved the same gas mileage as fully loaded 18-wheelers and would barely fit in two car garages.

They all deserve to fail for their lack of foresight, inability to read market trends and failure to compete. They deserve to fail for not producing vehicles Americans actually want to buy, for using cheap materials for interiors and churning out garbage cars that squeak, rattle and break down like they've been on the road for a couple of decades when they're brand new. They deserve to fail for handing millions of dollars to incompetent managers and absolutely refusing to develop innovative products.

Oh, and the union leaders that helped inflate wages to ridiculous levels deserve to be smacked on their noses with a rolled up newspaper, too. Let's not forget that American auto manufacturers start off at a disadvantage due to labor that is both overpaid and unwilling to budge and inch when the companies they work for are struggling.

One of the worst things about this latest round of bailouts is that the government wants to establish a "car czar" to overhaul the car industry. That makes absolutely no sense. The government is good at two things -- wasting money and ruining things. What happens when you put the government in charge of a bunch of companies that already waste money and produce garbage? You'll get companies that are even more inefficient and produce vehicles that are even more scrapyard-ready than they are now.

The problem, of course, is that Americans will likely hate what the government-run car industry produces and won't buy the junk vehicles that barely move under their own power. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see a bunch of tariffs put in place that will force us to buy the latest rust buckets coming out of Detroit.

Until the feds artificially inflate the cost of foreign cars (many of which are made in the U.S. by American labor, by the way), I'll stick with my Japanese cars. If I'm ever blessed with the income I want, I'll switch over to some German vehicles and ignore whatever the nationalized U.S. auto industry is doing.

During my lifetime, I've owned (or driven) two Oldsmobiles, two Chevrolets, a Saturn, a Subaru, a Mitsubishi and a Toyota. The Japanese cars lasted the longest and were refined and wonderful compared to their outdated, crude American counterparts. My wife wants a Toyota Highlander next year and I think she'll get one -- that vehicle just feels like it was made on another planet compared to the substandard competing vehicles slapped together in Detroit.

Besides, with the notion of tariffs lingering out there, it might be wise to grab something new next year and drive it until things return to normal.

Thank God some conservative Republicans (I didn't think there were any left) have raised a lot of hell about the $15 billion award for stupidity Congress wants to give the auto industry. I hope they manage to block this insanity, but I doubt that will happen. The government seems to have forgotten that competition and free trade made this nation an economic powerhouse once upon a time and I fear we're in for some rotten times, indeed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kim Komando is full of crap

Just yesterday I was reading this post on that dynamite Freaky Frugalite blog.

Rebecca over there was pointing out a column from Kim Komando in which the hack expressed her dislike for paid posting. I take exception to Komando's prattle for a number of reasons.

First of all, the post I mentioned is packed full of Google ads, a bunch of other ads and links inviting hapless visitors to advertise on her site. Apparently, in Komando's world, selling ad space to the highest bidder is just fine.

Well, it's fine as long as you're not taking money to write a bit of an advertorial for something, of course. Phooey on that.

Hey, I avoided paid posts for some time until I discovered they were a way to make some easy money. I signed up for an account at Blogvertise and have been happily making money since then. I don't feel a bit bad about it, either.

Why? Advertising is common as sin on blogs. I figure, then, there's nothing wrong with finding something that makes money for us. Some people sign up with, say, Google Ads and have found great success with that service.

More power to them. Google Ads haven't worked worth a damn for me as those targeted ads work out horribly for me. If I gripe about lawyers, I wind up with a bunch of ads for area shysters. If I call Barack Obama a goon, I get targeted ads selling commemorative coins with his likeness on them. If I mention the American car industry deserves to fail because they produce garbage, ads pop up sending visitors to the Hummer Internet site.

Komando seems to approve of Google Ads (God knows she uses enough of them on her site), but hates paid posts. Shut the hell up, Kim. Your site is swimming in ads so you've got absolutely no room to talk.

Besides, have you ever listened to Komando's radio show? It's full of advice that anyone with access to a search engine can find. She's all about marketing and her radio shows comes across as a blasted infomercial. At least people can scroll right through my paid posts, whereas anyone listening to Komando's show has to put up with plug after plug for whatever crap she's selling.

Enough of that.

Something that really does bother me about blogs

Of course, everyone has something that annoys the hell out of them about blogs. In my case, I'm sick to death of java script. A little java script is fine, but some folks out there obviously subscribe to the idea that there's nothing wrong with overkill.

The latest annoying thing out there is illustrated by the photo I posted in this section. You've got some dancing guy that seems to slow down both my Firefox and Google Chrome browsers whenever he appears. I don't know what it is about that particular animated GIF, but my system absolutely hates it (and I don't have a bad computer -- 64 bit with plenty of RAM under the hood).

Clicking on that dancing fool will lead you to yet another social networking site. I'm not going to mention the site because I don't want to give them any free publicity. You'll see that dancing idiot pop up regularly, however, so look around a bit if you want to see what he's selling.

My blog isn't the fastest loading thing in the world, of course, but I have tried to speed it up by getting rid of the stuff that makes my site load too slowly. I hope to attract visitors rather than drive them off because they're annoyed.

Again, there's nothing wrong with a script here and there, but I can't help but wonder whether people actually take the time to see how quickly their sites load. If they did, I have a feeling we'd see a lot fewer dancing goofs, widgets that tell us where visitors are coming from, revolving content clouds and other things that just slow browsers down to a crawl.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Golden Boot

I was reading this post earlier today over at Paul's Health Blog.

Yes, it seems Paul was excited that his beloved East Carolina Pirates were playing in the Conference USA championship against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (yes, we know how fierce those hurricanes are in landlocked states like Oklahoma, don't we?) Paul must really be excited because his team won, 27-24, and is headed for the Liberty Bowl.

Good for them. There's an East Carolina connection in that Skip Holtz is the head coach. He's the son of Lou Holtz, a man who had some success here in Arkansas as the head coach of the Razorbacks and even more success at Notre Dame. There's an Arkansas connection at Tulsa, too -- Gus Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for a season before Houston Nutt and his flunkies ran him out of the state.

Malzahn, of course, is in his second year as an offensive coordinator over at Tulsa and has been doing relatively well. Apparently, we didn't send Nutt and his sideshow packing to Ole Miss early enough.

At any rate, there's not a whole lot we Razorbacks fans can do these days but follow teams with Arkansas connections and hope they do well. The Razorbacks, after a miserable 5-7 season (2-6 in the SEC), are going nowhere. We're also hoping the rumors that our head coach, Bobby Petrino, won't be heading off to Auburn to take the open job over there.

I won't dwell on the whole Auburn rumor as we seem to get pounded with such talk at the end of every season.

At any rate, at least Arkansas won the Golden Boot this year. What's the Golden Boot? It's the trophy awarded every year to the winner of the Arkansas-LSU game. The trophy was first awarded in 1996 in an attempt to manufacture a rivalry for Arkansas (I'll talk about that in a bit).

Arkansas and LSU play the day after Thanksgiving every year and, for the second year in a row, Arkansas won that game. So, the Golden Boot is something, I suppose. It's also worth mentioning that the team improved consistently throughout the year, so it appears everything will be fine with Bobby Petrino at the helm. This was his first year and Nutt didn't leave him with much to work with, sadly.

Now, I mentioned something about manufacturing a rivalry. Let me explain. In 1991, Arkansas left the old Southwest Conference and joined the SEC. Regardless of what anyone says, the SEC has been a terrible fit for Arkansas since the day the Hogs joined.

The main problem, of course, is that Arkansas isn't exactly in the Southeastern part of the country. Go ahead and take a look at a map and you'll find something fascinating -- every team in the SEC is east of the Mississippi River with the glaring exception of Arkansas.

Actually, this is Big 12 Conference territory and I don't care what anyone says. We've got more in common with Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas than we've ever had with the likes of Alabama, Georgia and Florida and ought to be competing for recruits in our region of the country.

Besides, Arkansas had a rivalry with Texas for years and a lot of fans still nurse a lingering hatred for the Longhorns (I'm odd in that I've always respected that team -- I've got a lot of kin in Texas, so perhaps that explains it).

Arkansas hasn't had a good rivalry since leaving the Southwest Conference and losing that guaranteed, annual game with Texas. It looks like the Hogs are in the SEC for better or worse, of course. Besides, we may be revamping a long-dormant rivalry with Ole Miss.

That is an historical rivalry that both schools kind of put an end to after too many fights were breaking out during the annual game between the two teams. Ole Miss has our old coach now, so perhaps our statewide hatred of Nutt will transfer to the team.

Meanwhile, I figure we'll still be playing for that Golden Boot annually.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two parades and a lawyer joke

Over the past week, I've been to two Christmas parades here in Saline County, Ark., and we didn't get any decent pictures of them at all.

The one I posted here is grainy but it's not half bad. I took it with the new cell phone I got after I smashed my old one. I'll mention more about my daughter's photo in a bit.

On Monday, we had the annual Christmas parade here in Benton. That was great fun and, like every year, I came close to freezing to death before it was over. Watching Santa Claus waving to the crowd from a fire engine is always a thrill, and the classic cars in the parade were fantastic (I can't figure out why a brand new Ford F-150 came right after a 1967 Pontiac Firebird, however).

Sadly, my daughter wasn't in that one, but she was in the parade in Bryant. Yes, this year marked the first for the Bryant parade and my daughter's Brownie troop was in that one. They were dressed up as cookies and young Brenda had the privilege of portraying the superior lemon cookie.

The girls rode in a trailer and spent all night chanting before launching into Christmas carols.

Are we proud to be Girl Scouts?
Yes we are!
Are you going to buy some cookies?
Yes you are!

Great stuff. Yes, cookie sales start next month and my daughter is excited. I didn't have much to do with cookie sales last time around and I probably won't this year, either. In fact, I do believe I've been pretty well prohibited from giving her any advice at all when it comes to selling anything.

Why? Young Brenda had to sell nuts and candy this fall and I had a brilliant marketing scheme worked out for her. I was going to have her knock on doors and say, "My daddy says if I don't sell more stuff, I won't get a Christmas."

Who could resist that pitch? My wife told me I was terrible.

So my wife forgot her camera for the Benton parade and the batteries went dead for the Bryant one. Thank goodness for the rotten little camera on my new (and equally rotten) cell phone, I suppose.

A lawyer joke

It appears that winter has finally reached Arkansas. I hate winter because I wind up doing things like freezing during parades. It it gets much below 50 degrees, I tend to want to just stay indoors. I'm Southern and, as such, hot and humid summers don't phase me but I can't stand cold weather.

I've got the perfect lawyer joke and I'll share that with you good folks right now. Here it goes:

The Hawg: It's cold out there.

You: How cold is it?

The Hawg: So cold that I went uptown and the lawyers had their hands in their own pockets!

Go tell that one to your friends. Tell it to a lawyer you love (or loathe), too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- The Undertones

Here's one I loved as a teen. Enjoy!

Go ahead and visit the other Wordless Wednesday participants (or submit something of your own) by clicking right here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

They're up to something in Springdale

As I've griped about before, I turn 40-years-old next year and I'm not happy about it.

Oddly, I'd prefer to skip right over middle age and get right into being old. That's where the fun begins, folks. I'm convinced of it. Don't tell me I'm wrong.

I figure that when I do reach my golden years, I can be as cranky and unreasonable as I want and no one will say a thing.

I'm going to take advantage of that and spend a fair amount of time tormenting people with conspiracy theories. There are a lot of things in this world that annoy me, so why not come up with solid conspiracy theories about them?

One of my favorite targets will be corporate America. I've worked for a couple of them and I've hated almost every minute of it. Corporations have, after all, come up with such soul-sucking, degrading devices such as cubicles, time clocks those irritating, automated answering systems that require you to punch a bunch of numbers on your phone before you can talk to a real human being. Worse yet, corporations have inspired smaller companies to adopt some of their boneheaded ideas, all in the name of efficiency.

Now, of course, corporations are absolutely essential if you want to build an economy based on something other than hand-woven blankets, hemp grocery bags and other such nonsense. I tend to avoid them and hate their influence on small businesses, but I've got to cut them some slack -- without them around, we'd be living in the third world and existing as cheap labor sources for successful corporations (it's all circular, huh?)

One corporation that drives me up the wall is Tyson Foods in Springdale, Ark. That's the largest poultry producer in the U.S. and may become the largest one in the world if Pilgrim's Pride takes a nosedive in the wake of that Chapter 11 bankruptcy the company filed this week.

A huge problem with that, of course, is that Tyson Foods produces chicken that tastes terrible. When I was a kid, chicken wasn't so bland, dry and horrible as the stuff Tyson sells these days.

There's only one conclusion that can be drawn from this -- Tyson does something to that chicken. How's that for a conspiracy theory?

Ah, but there's more. Every good conspiracy theory has to be backed up with enough facts to make the tormented listener think, "You know? He might have a point!"

In Tyson's case, it is an absolute fact that the company has knocked two weeks off the maturation cycle of a chicken. They claim it's due to improved nutrition, but I know the truth! Tyson does something to that chicken. Something insidious and foul (pun intended), to be sure.

Knocking two weeks off the maturation cycle of a chicken just isn't natural. If I figured out a way to make my kids grow up a couple of years earlier, it's a safe bet that would be the result of some kind of unnatural tampering, right? The same has to be true of chicken.

How do they do it? Is it genetic engineering? Steroids? Some freaky antibiotics?

It would be great if Tyson pumped a lot of antibiotics in chickens, of course. Kid got strep throat? Why pay for a bottle of fancy antibiotics from a pharmacy when you could pick up a couple of Tyson chicken breasts?

At any rate, it's not the job of the conspiracy theorist to come up with any definite answers. It is the job of the theorist to merely raise enough questions to make people wonder. And that, folks, is exactly what I'll do for fun when I'm older and even more cynical than I am now.

By the way, Cornish game hens are for suckers. That's just a young chicken in spite of what the price tag might suggests. Those birds are cheaper to raise yet cost more than your average chicken. That's brilliant! It's evil, but brilliant.

Yes, I can't wait until I'm a cranky old coot hurling conspiracy theories at anyone within earshot. Heh, heh.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Take that, you bastard!

I hate cell phones. I've always hated cell phones and resent having to use them.

Now, there are times when they are very useful, but usually they're just annoying. I hate the way mine rings four times before slipping into voice mail, thus not giving me enough time to find the thing and answer it. I hate voice mail, too, and I rarely listen to it.

I hate how my voice mails stack up and I have to wade through 15 of the things to get to one that I want. I hate the fact that anyone can reach me at any time through my cell and I hate the fact that I can't bring myself to turn the cell phone off because I might miss an important call.

I hate the fact that 80 percent of the calls I get are ones I don't want and that more than one peaceful drive has been shattered by that blasted thing ringing while I'm trying to listen to KISS' Love Gun album or something equally inspirational.

So, my cell phone got the hell beaten out of it today. Yeah, look at it in that picture. The LCD screen is a mess because it's too flimsy to hold up to the shock of being thrown against a wall. The battery on that thing has been going out for some time, and the blasted thing cut off on me during the middle of an important conversation tonight. So I threw it. Three times. Kicked it at least twice and stomped it once, too. I put the pieces back together after I threw my fit and the damn thing still works.

Sadly, it appears I'll be getting a new one in the morning. I've had my phone for over three years and my office has a contract under which I can get a new cell every two years. I was warming up to the idea of living without a cell phone, but it looks like I'll have another one of the damned things to seethe at and despise. Alas!

I think I might actually miss my phone because it's pretty basic. It pretty much allows me to store phone numbers and make phone calls. That's about it. You can't take photos with it, there's no blue tooth connectivity so you can't grab annoying snippets of music out of the air and use them for ring tones and one of those obnoxious blue tooth headsets is out of the question, too.

I hate those blue tooth headsets, you know? There's nothing worse than someone who walks around talking in one of those things constantly. Are they on the phone? Talking to me? Crazy as hell and talking to no one? It's often hard to tell. I hate text messaging, too, primarily because of the idiotic "shorthand" that has become common with that junk. Messages like "C U l8er" and "What r u doing?" make me want to find the person sending that junk, put his phone through a wall and send him to a remedial English class. Here's one for you, text boy -- "U R A GD dick." Heh, heh.

I fear I'll get one of those awful flip phones like my wife has. Yes, they come in "custom" colors, take horrible little photos and allows her to customize ring tones for everyone. It does a lot of other junk I'm not interested in, too.

I really just want something I dial numbers with and will take being thrown against a wall. With all the crap they stuff in phones these days, you'd think they'd make at least one that was hate resistant and could take being stomped, thrown off a three-story building or kicked across a parking lot, wouldn't you? No, it seems the phone companies are more interested in catering to people who are too cheap to buy a laptop than building a phone that can take a good, honest beating.

Take the iPhone, for example. It just feels like it could be destroyed with one, weak blow from a baseball bat. A friend of mine at work got an iPhone and he can't stop talking about it. I'd destroy one of those in about five minutes. They are thin and flat, however -- perfect for skipping across a pond.

I once paid $400 for a phone that was pretty flimsy. It didn't survive being thrown out of my car window when I was driving down the interstate at 80 miles per hour. Piece of junk. Must have been made in China. Another one didn't survive a trip through a washing machine. Garbage.

I actually got away with not carrying a cell phone from about 1997 (the time I tossed one out of my car window) until around 2000. My wife decided I needed one and she made me carry a cell. My office requires me to carry one, too. Thank goodness they pay the bill. I might "forget" to do that.

Someone asked an idiotic question not long ago -- "What did we do without cell phones?" We talked to each other during lunch without being interrupted, could actually get away from the office and were generally happier. Those blasted cell phones are evil, even if they are convenient and useful about once every couple of months. The devil came up with those things. I'm convinced of it.

Now, that I've ranted and raved a bit, I'll reward you folks who have read through this mess with a soothing picture of The Kitten trying to figure out how to approach the train we've got running around the base of one of our Christmas trees. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas means The Hawg is put to work

My wife, Marci, just loves decorating the fool out of the house for Christmas.

That means a couple of things. First of all, the first weekend after Thanksgiving is spent decorating. Second, the kids (12-year-old Michael and 7-year-old Brenda SueCarol) and I wind up doing a lot of work.

We pretty much spent the entire day following Marci's order and I've got to say the house looks pretty great. We've been married long enough at this point to have accumulated quite a few Christmas ornaments.

This year, then, we put up three Christmas trees. threw a garland on the mantle, put those blue, hanging icicle light thingies on the front of the house. It was a busy day, indeed, but Marci is happy and that just makes life easier around here. So why not?

My day started at 9:30 a.m. when Marci got my out of bed (I may have gotten up on my own, but I can't remember -- I have trouble recalling how I get out of bed in the morning as I'm usually in a haze). I had a little breakfast, took a shower, got dressed and then headed up to the attic.

We've got one of those wooden, folding ladders leading up to the attic and I'm amazed every year when I don't fall off of it while hauling down trees, the ornaments that go on them and everything else that's stored up there. I only smashed my finger once this year. That's pretty good.

I then headed outside to put up the hanging icicle light thingies. We did that for the first time last year and it was a chore as I had to screw a bunch of hooks into the awnings to hold the lights. Naturally, those were already in place so all I had to do was hang the lights.

That was easy enough until I realized that I put the lights on backward and wouldn't be able to plug them into the outlet in the garage. I cussed, threw a couple of things, went inside, got some water, cussed some more and headed back outside. My neighbor across the street asked me if I needed a ladder to reach the hooks easier.

I told her I had a ladder, but I was too tall and too stubborn to use it. The job got a lot easier after I pulled the ladder out of the garage.

We always wind up forgetting something and have to go to the store on the day we put up Christmas decorations. This year, we only had to go to the store twice for supplies this year. That's a record. The fact we had enough hooks for ornaments this year is a first, too.

Another first for us is a train I bought back in October to go around the base of one of our trees. That's a nifty addition and I'm proud that my son put an Army man on it.

Why? My little brother and I used to hide Army men in our Christmas trees when we were growing up, so I'm glad to see that tradition continue.

In the end, we got the house decorated and can enjoy the season. What's even better is the fact that most of our Christmas shopping is already done, so there will be no last minute rushing and stewing over finances (a common condition back years ago when my wife and I were struggling financially).

It appears that we'll have a great Christmas season and I hope the same is true of you folks. Thank goodness for trees that come with the lights already installed. That's the only way to go.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Back from Thanksgiving

My wife, our kids and I traveled from our home in central Arkansas to the northwest corner of the state for Thanksgiving and had a great time.

The trip back was rainy, a bit cold and everyone was tired. We made it back just fine, however, and it's great to be home.

We always go to northwest Arkansas for Thanksgiving because that's the holiday when my wife's family all gets together. Some of them come from the Fort Worth, Texas, area for the holiday, in fact, and we always have a great time.

My family, on the other hand, tends to wander all over the place for Thanksgiving. Sadly, the holiday used to be a big deal in my family, but that's no longer the case. We all get together for Christmas, however.

I had a few random thoughts while away for the holiday, and I'll torment you good people with those right now:

1. Seeing old friends is great. We had dinner with a couple of old friends of mine and their families while in northwest Arkansas. One of them is with a company exploring oil and gas fields in the north central part of the state, while another is a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. I knew both of those fellows back when we all lived in Fayetteville and two of us were practicing law. The three of us drank like fish and raised a lot of hell back then. When on earth did we all get so responsible? It seems like just yesterday that we were up to no good. Now I'm married with two children, another one is married and the third has a wedding set for May.

Hitting our 30s seems to have forced all of us to settle down, get real jobs and stay out of bars. That's probably a good thing.

2. Family is important. On Thanksgiving, the emphasis is on visiting with family members, some of whom we don't see but once a year. I enjoy that "low pressure" holiday quite a bit. Yes, Christmas is still my favorite holiday, but there's something to be said for a day that's set aside when there are no presents to give and the only thing we're required to do is bring a pie and an appetite.

3. My brother-in-law makes the best smoked turkey in the world. That's no lie. I start craving that stuff around Halloween.

4. People who wake up at 3:30 a.m. to go shopping are insane. My wife, her mother, her sister and our niece all hit the black Friday sales. That's crazy. We got home to Benton around 4 p.m. that day and my wife was so tired that she went to bed after we had dinner and bought a few groceries for the week. What did I do? I stayed in bed until 9:30 a.m. while those maniacs went out shopping and I feel great.

5. Northwest Arkansas has grown a hell of a lot. I left northwest Arkansas and moved back home to Benton in 2004 and I barely recognize the area of the state where I lived for 13 years. A lot of the population growth is due to a boom in the Hispanic population. A lot of people gripe about the Hispanics in northwest Arkansas, but many of them fail to mention those folks were invited -- Tyson Foods (the largest poultry producer in the nation) starting looking to Mexico and beyond for their labor force almost two decades ago. The results were pretty predictable.

Besides, most of the Hispanics in the area work hard and want nothing more than to provide for their families. What in the world is wrong with that? Besides, northwest Arkansas is now home to some of the best Mexican restaurants outside of Texas. Hot dog!

6. There's a liquor store on U.S. 412 in Springdale that sells Lone Star Beer! That wonderful brew is hard to find in central Arkansas. I've got about half a case of the "National Beer of Texas" chilling in my refrigerator right now because I made sure to grab some beer on my way out of northwest Arkansas. I couldn't be happier.

7. Sometimes, the absolute wrong people get those "pro life" license plates. I was dealing with a jerk in a Ford Expedition that appeared to be intent on causing a wreck. He honestly drove like he was stinking drunk and barely knew where he was. I turned off the cruise control, let him get safely in front of me and noticed he had one of those Arkansas "Choose Life" license plates. Don't get a pro life license plate if your driving causes fellow motorists to wish your mother had aborted you. That's just stupid.

8. Wednesday and Saturday are the worst times to travel during the week of Thanksgiving. We traveled to northwest Arkansas on Tuesday and came back home on Friday. My wife planned it that way. I do adore that woman.

9. There really is no place like home. We had a great trip, but now I'm home sucking down a cold Lone Star, watching an old episode of Baa Baa Black Sheep and I've got one of my dogs cuddled up next to me. That, folks, is living.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We're going to get a jump on the Christmas season in the morning by putting some lights on the house and three Christmas trees inside. We'll be busy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, a pig farmer and Black Friday

Yes, indeed! In just a couple of hours I, The Hawg, will be heading up to northwest Arkansas with the wife, the kids and our incredibly spoiled dog to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws.

What does that mean? Well it means I'll be offline for a few days. I won't be dropping Entrecards on this blog or The All Arkie Army, either (hopefully, some of my fellow Army members will be posting some new stuff over there, however).

I'll be back with my usual nonsense this weekend. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and I have just the joke that will make each and every one of you a hit at your family gatherings for the holiday.

Before I begin the joke, I should mention it's partially visual -- when you get to the point about the pig farmer and his kid weighing a swine, make sure to act like you're clinching the tail of the pig between your teeth, spread your arms out and act all scale-like. So, without further ado:

Pork for Thanksgiving

Once upon a time, a fellow decided he would have pork instead of turkey for Thanksgiving one year. Wanted fresh pork, so he went to a pig farm to purchase his swine.

The pig farmer greeted him at the farm and the fellow told him that he thought a 40-pound pig would suit his needs perfectly. The pig farmer looked around his farm a bit and grabbed a pig. The farmer put the pig's tale between his teeth, spread his arms out and weighed the pig.

"Mister, that's about a 40-pound pig right there," the pig farmer said.

"Wait a minute," the shopper replied. "There's no way you can weigh a pig like that!"

"If you don't believe me, I'll get my son over here. He can weigh this pig, too."

The pig farmer's son was raking leaves just a bit away.

"Boy! Get over here and weigh this pig for this fella!"

"Yes, dad," the kid said as he ran over to the farmer and the shopper.

The kid picked up the pig (he struggled a bit with it because he was a little fellow), stuck the tail between his teeth, spread his arms out and weighed the pig.

"That pig weighs 40 pounds and 5 ounces," the kid said.

"You see? It works," the pig farmer said. "The boy's a little more accurate than I am, though."

The shopper still wasn't convinced.

"I still say no one can weigh a pig like that."

"OK, mister. My wife can do it, too. Boy, go get your mother and tell her to come down here and weigh this pig," the pig farmer said.

The boy ran up the path to the farmhouse and then ran back -- without his mother.

"Where's your mother, boy?"

"She's busy, pa."

"Busy doing what?"

"She's weighing the milkman!"

Y'all have a great Thanksgiving and, if you're traveling, be safe!

Black Friday Sales

The day after Thanksgiving, my wife and her mother will get up far to early and head out to all the Black Friday sales. I, The Hawg, hope to still be sleeping soundly as I hate crowds, particularly when they're full of angry shoppers.

You can avoid all that wildness, too, and still save money by shopping over at Amazon.com during their Black Friday Sales zaniness.

If you want to vote on what items should be sold for insane prices, go right here and take part in that promotion through Dec. 4. I've voted. My wife has voted, too. I'll never pass up the chance to save money.

Good luck!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What the heck is a dachsador?

We are fortunate enough to have a cleaning company come in every couple of weeks and keep Casa de Hawg from getting filthy.

Why? Because the house needs to be cleaned and I'm not going to do it. My wife works as hard as I do and she doesn't want to clean house, either. The kids? It would be less effort to clean it ourselves than fight with them until they did what needed to be done.

So, a cleaning service is a great investment. Now, they were scheduled to show up the day after Thanksgiving, but that's not a good plan for obvious reasons -- most people prefer not to work on that day, and who can blame them?

The cleaning service folks, then, showed up on Saturday. It was a different team than the one that usually comes by and the husband in that team went nuts over our dog, Bella. She's a dachshund/black Labrador retriever. That's her at the top of this post doing what she does best -- catching some rest after chasing cats through the house.

We all know that people have been going crazy over the past few years by creating mutts and selling them as desirable breeds. One of those "designer mutts" ("hybrid breed" seems to be the preferred term) is called a dachsador -- go ahead and look at some great photos of the "breed" by clicking right here. It seems the breed is sometimes referred to as doxador. So cute. I think I'm going to be ill.

The fellow who liked Bella so well told us he's been looking for a dog like her, but hasn't been able to find one around here for less than $500. He didn't even care that she only has three good legs due to a birth defect.

Folks, this whole thing is nuts to me. Bella is a great dog, to be sure, but she's a mutt. We got her from the pound for $50 because she's a sweet dog who needed a home. When did people start breeding mutts and selling them for a lot of money?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Bottled water sounded like an insane idea, too, but people loved it.

I guess I need to get with the times and breed my registered rat terrier, Cobb, to something and develop a hybrid breed of my own. Here are a few ideas:

1. A rat terrier plus a beagle = a Reagle (or, a "Brat" as FeeFiFoto observed)

2. A rat terrier plus a Scottish terrier = a Scottish Rat

3. A rat terrier plus a Labrador retriever = a Rat Retriever or a Labrator Retriever (just call it a Lab Rat for short)

4. A rat terrier plus a great Dane = a Great Rat

5. A rat terrier plus a catahoula = a Ratahoula

6. A rat terrier plus a blue tick hound = a Blue Tick Rat or a Blue Rat Hound

7. A rat terrier plus a boxer = a Box Rat (that one is from my seven-year-old daughter!)

8. A rat terrier plus a Saint Bernard = a Saint Rat

9. A rat terrier plus a rottweiler = a Rattweiler (that one was obvious, yeah?)

10. A rat terrier plus a poodle = a Rattle (or, as Soge Shirts has suggested, a Rat Poo)

11. A rat terrier plus a dachshund = a Drat (another suggestion from the glib FeeFiFoto!)

12. A rat terrier plus a Shih-Tzu = a Rat-Shiht (thanks, HebsFarm!)

13. A rat terrier and any mutt = a Rat Bastard (thanks, again, to HebsFarm)

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

King of the stump and dad wrote a book

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that our huge pine tree, Ol' Coney, was getting cut down because it had been struck by lightning a couple of times and was dying.

When I say Ol' Coney was a huge tree, I mean it. Here's the stump with Winston, our boxer/St. Bernard mix, standing on it.

That dog weighs around 140 pounds and he looked small while playing "King of the Stump." He loves to stand on the stump and bark. Perhaps he figures his voice projects farther due to the elevation. Who knows?

The company that cut down Ol' Coney also took out another huge pine tree and accidentally took out a black walnut tree and a mimosa while they were at it. Several of our bushes were "accidnetally" ruined, too.

I was mad about all that until that same company dropped a tree on top of my parents' house, causing $100,000 in damages. Mom and dad, fortunately, are fine and the maniacs that crushed their home were insured. My parents have a great house to stay in until the damage is repaired.

The whole incident bothered me to the core. Mom and dad live across town from me and I grew up in that house. What a mess.

Dad wrote a book!

My mom and dad, understandably, have been irate since their house got crushed by a tree. So, I've been trying to buy some unusual, fun Christmas gifts that they might enjoy -- kind of keep their minds off of things, right?

In dad's case, I found a great MP3 player and a bunch of old time radio shows from the fantastic OTRCat.com. However, it occurs to me that something that would really make my dad happy is if more people bought his book, Poems from a Baseball Fan by Howard A. Nobles.

Now, dad's retired and he's set for money, so there are no problems there. He's been a baseball nut all of his life and published poems about the sport he's put together for about the past 40 years. This book, then, is something he regards as a hobby that he'd like to share with other folks.

So, if you know a baseball fan who might like something unique, why not click the Amazon.com ad up there and pick up a copy of my dad's book? Come on, folks! Make a retired educator's day!

The Razorbacks fail ... again

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Hawg's plan to stimulate the economy

It seems that everyone and their dog has been wanting a big pile of free money from the government these days.

Companies in the financial sector have been getting a bailout lately and the auto industry is begging for money, too.

Here's the thing -- most of those companies claiming they need a bailout are doing so because they did something stupid that got them into trouble.

What about those of us who have avoided being idiotic with our money and are in pretty good shape? Shouldn't we be rewarded for our responsible behavior?

I sure think so. Therefore, I plan on asking the government for $10 million. Hey, everyone else wants free money from the feds, so where's my cut? I can get by just fine on my own, but perhaps I need some of that bailout money, too. I could greatly improve my standard of living for $10 million, so why not?

Besides, I could stimulate the economy like nobody's business. When I go to Washington and start begging for money, I'll tell them exactly how that $10 million will be spend and how any bailout money I receive can help the economy:

1. I'll help out the airlines. I'll start helping the U.S. economy even before I get any free government money. Yes, I'll buy a round-trip ticket from an airline, thereby sending some cash to an American business. There will be no private jets for me. And, hell, it just looks bad to take a private jet when you're heading off to Washington to beg for cash, right?

2. I'll help provide jobs to unemployed Americans. Should I get $10 million, neither my wife nor I will have to go to work anymore. So we'll promptly quit our jobs, thus freeing them up for people who are unemployed and want to go to work. What's wrong with that?

3. I'll help the U.S. auto industry. My wife wants one of those new Ford Mustangs. Should the government makes us stinking rich, she can buy one. Furthermore, I'll purchase a Pontiac Solstice (because I've always wanted a roadster) and a Dodge Caravan (so we'll have a vehicle to haul our kids around in).

So, there are three purchases we'll make, and you'll notice that we'll spread the wealth around to all three major U.S. auto manufacturers.

Ah, but it gets even better -- we'll help out specialty car salesmen and the parts business, too. How? I'll purchase that 1969 Oldsmobile 442 I've always wanted. I have no practical skills so finding and Olds somewhere and restoring it myself is out of the question. I'd have to find it from one of those individuals or car lots that specialize in old muscle cars. So, there's some money for them. Also, 40-year-old cars generally need a lot of parts -- that's particularly true when we're talking about a car that I would drive like a bat out of hell. So, there's some money for the parts industry, too.

Oh, and let's not forget that the 455 V8 that comes in the 442 burns gas like crazy. The convenience store owner down the street would love me because I'd always be stopping by there to buy some more fuel for that gas-guzzler. So, I'd help her business out, too.

4. I'd help out the financial industry. I've got a mortgage on my house, so I'd pay that off immediately. Furthermore, I'd have to keep my money in some bank somewhere, so the lucky bank (or group of them) would benefit from my largess. Also, I'd probably want to invest that money somewhere, so I'd help out a financial advisor, too.

5. I'd help out the construction industry. I could finally afford that "man room" I've always wanted, so I'd have that build onto the house. It would be a pretty big room, of course, and would be packed with essentials such as pool tables, a refrigerator for my beer (American beer, of course) and etc. The retail industry would benefit as I went spend happy, of course, and I'd also try to buy as many American-made products as I could for my man room (we don't make much in this country anymore, but I'd got out of my way to pick up those items that are manufactured here).

6. The recreation industry in central Arkansas would love The Hawg. After I've selflessly given up my job so that someone else could have it, I'd be stuck with a lot of free time on my hands. So, I'd throw the clubs in the Olds and head out to play golf. A lot of golf. Tennis, too.

Oh, and I'd be able to better support my hobby of banging on guitars until my wife tells me to stop it. Dillion Guitars would make a killing off of me. That's a fantastic, American company. A lot of their guitars are made in the U.S., they make a great copy of the rosewood Telecaster (the "Rosie") that George Harrison played on the Beatles' Let it Be album (very cool). Also, I know from experience that the owner of the company will e-mail you back when you send in questions. There's something to be said for solid customer service, right?

They've got some great stuff over at Dillion and I'd probably be tempted to buy one of everything. I could afford it, so why not? I'd need to pick up a new amplifier or two and you'd better believe I'd be buying American. That Fender Twin Reverb I've always wanted would have a prominent place in my new man room

So, there's my plan. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Norris and The Nuge for president?

When I'm driving to my office in Little Rock from my home in Benton, I generally listen to our local news radio station, KARN 102.9 FM/AM 920.

That's about a 30-minute commute, so I've got plenty of time to listen to the news of the day. While I was listening yesterday, I heard a live phone interview with Chuck Norris in which he talked about all things political and mentioned his new book, Black Belt Patriotism.

Yes, Norris went and wrote a book in which he discusses the problems facing the country and offered up some solutions for them. Have I read the book yet? No, but rest assured that I will (and I'll write all about it when I do). I did check out the description on Amazon.com, and here's what I found:

"Martial arts master, actor, and political activist--there is no job Chuck Norris can't do. Now the original tough guy is at it again, stepping back into the role of bestselling author with his new book, Black Belt Patriotism. In Black Belt Patriotism Norris gives a no-holds-barred assessment of American culture, tackling everything from family values to national security. More than a cultural critique of what's wrong with our nation, Black Belt Patriotism provides real solutions for solving our problems, moving our country forward, and changing our nation's course for the better. Chuck Norris--the hero, icon, and legend--is back, packing a political and cultural punch, as only he can deliver."

Who could resist that, right? I looked around and noticed that none other than that wild Ted Nugent had also written a right-leaning political book called Ted White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto:

"Straight from the Motor-City Madman comes the wildest, most politically incorrect book yet. In The Nugent Manifesto, rocker/hunter extraordinaire Ted Nugent is taking aim and setting his sights on our country. In his trademark unapologetic style, Nugent will praise God, guns, and red-blooded, full-throated Americanism against pantywaist politicians, nanny-state judges, and tofu-eating Obamamaniacs, calling on readers to 'Roll up your damn sleeves, sharpen your crowbars, and think hardcore.' The Nugent Manifesto follows up his New York Times bestseller God, Guns, and Rock 'N' Roll and his wildly successful cookbook, Kill It & Grill It. Look out America, 'The Nuge' is back--and with a whole new arsenal of 'Tedisms' ready for launch!"

"Full-throated Americanism?" Yeah, I'll probably pick that one up, too. Expect a review. One of these days.

Why would I want to pick those books up? Because I'm willing to bet they're both a hoot, that's why. Yes, there are some that might argue that both of those books are "anti intellectual" and should be avoided. However, the people who would make those arguments are probably among the people who made that moron Michael Moore rich and don't flinch when that dunderheaded Al Gore files all over the planet preaching his gospel that suggests that the world is being ruined by people who do things like hopping in jets and flying all over the planet (let's see you row boats and hop on bicycles if you want us to take you seriously, Al). So screw 'em.

At any rate, both of those books got me thinking. They were both written and published prior to the election so I'll assume that both Norris and Nugent could tell there were a lot of disgruntled conservatives out there because we really didn't have a candidate this year -- Barack Obama is, well, Barack Obama and John McCain simply isn't a small government, fiscal conservative (pushing for that $700 billion bailout for the financial industry is proof of that).

I've noticed, too, that Norris did endorse Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and an alleged Republican. I won't hold that against old Chuck as he's been pretty solid the rest of the time.

Norris has also spent a lot of time advocating for the formation of a populist third party. I love the idea of a third party as I'm convinced neither Republicans or Democrats are worth a damn at representing the bulk of the electorate.

That got me to thinking. How about the Chuck Norris/Ted Nugent dream ticket in 2012? They couldn't make things any worse than they already are or how they will be when Obama and his miscreants are done. Besides, Norris' wacky calls to return to the vision of the nation's founding fathers and pay attention to what the Constitution says from time to time might do a lot of good.

A Norris/Nugent ticket may sound nuts on the surface, but think about it. That's the kind of thing that could happen in today's political climate. After all, we just put a man in office because he taught a bunch of angry voters whipped into a frenzy with vacuous slogans like "we want change," "we want hope," "we want to realize our dreams" and (my favorite) "yes we can!"

You want slogans? Try this on for size -- "Vote for Norris/Nugent if you want to see your country swagger rather than swish." Ah, yeah! How do you like them apples, bucko?

Also, we learned from the Obama campaign that distributing posters which featured the prospective leader looking eerily like Latin American Marxist Che Guevara generated plenty of excitement.

Want some propaganda to inspire the masses? How about a poster featuring Nugent radiating with energy and bravely triumphing over a dragon (or something both terrifying and cool) that represents an economic recession? The slogan could be something along the lines of "The Nuge vs. The Economy." Yeah, that'll pack them in.

What got me thinking along these lines? That Norris interview on KARN and a conversation I had with a friend of mine about 15 years ago. He said he should run for office and base his campaign around a single slogan -- "Free booze and hookers!" That would be his answer to every question and he'd plaster that slogan all over billboards. In the case of a debate, he would simply let his opponent make a detailed argument, then he'd walk up to the microphone, yell his slogan and watch the crowd go nuts.

I told him he was crazy. After this year's set of elections, it's become pretty obvious that getting attention by offering people something they want -- however vague that might be -- translates into votes. Furthermore, celebrity appeal is important. If you happen to be a rock star, that might be even better.