Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hoverboards In The News

Hoverboards, those two-wheeled Segway-like devices (think skateboard going sideways), were on the fast track to become this year's must-have Christmas present.

Then a funny thing happened. They started bursting into flames.
The chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says his agency is working "non-stop" to figure out what's causing "hoverboards" to burst into flames.

"Every consumer who is riding a hoverboard, who purchased one to give as a gift during the holidays, or who is thinking about buying one deserves to know if there is a safety defect," said Elliot F. Kaye, chairman of the U.S. CPSC, in a statement.
The situation became so serious that Amazon stopped selling them before Christmas, and practically all major airlines have banned them from their flights. That didn't sit well with one spoiled celebrity.
Earlier this month, many major airlines including Delta, United and Virgin affiliates announced a blanket ban on hoverboards—the motorized, two-wheeled, skateboard-sized scooters that have quickly become this season’s must-have toy.

But apparently Russell Crowe didn’t get the memo.

On Monday, the actor was scheduled to travel on Virgin Australia but was shocked to learn that  his children's hoverboards were not permitted in the plane's cargo hold.

Crowe immediately Tweeted at the airline, expressing his frustration.
The airline swiftly replied to the actor, letting him know that the information was already available upon ticket confirmation and in pre-flight correspondence.

The full series of Tweets read: "Hi Russell, this information is outlined in the Dangerous Goods section in the booking confirmation and check in reminder emails you will have received.

"We have also communicated this on Facebook and Twitter, as well as through the media."

"We understand your frustration, however please appreciate that safety is our number one priority."
I guess big movie stars don't think they have to follow - or even be aware of - the rules that the rest of us must abide by.

Crowe isn't the only celeb having problems with a hoverboard. Mike Tyson was KO'ed by one. But give him credit. He posted a video of his fall.
It took only 91 seconds for Mike Tyson to knock out Michael Spinks in June 1988, making him the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion.

But it took even less time recently for a hoverboard to put the champ down for the count.

Tyson posted a short video on Instagram of his trial and perhaps painful error Tuesday afternoon. In the video, after executing multiple 360-degree turns smoothly, he slows down and appears to be fine. But then he suddenly skids forward — and falls flat on his back.

The video, which collected almost 90,000 likes as of early Tuesday evening, begins with an ominous warning off-camera: "Daddy," the voice says, "I don't want you to fall."
No video is available of the inevitable little-kid voice saying "Daddy, I told you so."

But my favorite hoverboard fail story is the one of the priest who was suspended by the Catholic church for riding a hoverboard during Christmas Eve Mass.
The Diocese of San Pablo on Tuesday, December 29, criticized one of its priests for using a hoverboard in a Christmas Eve Mass as seen in a video that has gone viral.

“That was wrong,” the Diocese of San Pablo, Laguna, said in a statement Tuesday.
Maybe it was wrong, but it was also funny. I'm not going to offer an opinion on whether or not God has a sense of humor, but I would like to think that He is a little more forgiving than the Catholic church higher-ups.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gold Buckles

A 'sort of' follow up to yesterday's post about folks from our home town of Boerne TX.

Gold buckles come to town
In early December, two young Boerne residents realized the highest honors offered in the professional rodeo world...

At the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas, Callie duPerier won the 2015 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Barrel Racer competition, and Jacobs Crawley came away with the 2015 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider gold buckle.
For those of you not familiar with the world of rodeo, here's some basic info about barrel racing and saddle bronc riding.

And here's videos of Callie and Jacobs.

FWIW,I have a few gold buckles of my own. They're for Team Roping.

No, I'm not a roper. I won the buckles in a Calcutta - an auction where you bid on the roping teams, and whichever team wins the event also wins the pool of auction funds for the winning bidder. In our case, we get a big gaudy western belt buckle to go along with the $$$.

Yee-haw, y'all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Wonderful Topperweins

Time for another Texas history lesson.

The Wonderful Topperweins: Sharpshooters traveled Texas and the world with their amazing antics
The Toepperweins, Adolph and Elizabeth, were the trigger-happiest couple in Texas history. After tying the knot in 1903, the “Wonderful Topperweins, World’s Greatest Shooting Team” (the first “e” dropped to make the name more readable) traveled the country for nearly half a century. Along the way, they presented exhibitions of marksmanship, sponsored by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

Although Elizabeth Servaty was working at the Winchester factory in New Haven, Connecticut, when she first met Adolph, she had never fired a gun. After instruction from her new husband (she called him “Ad”), she was expert enough to perform for crowds. Adolph described her as “a natural.” She also acquired the nickname “Plinky.” When she first began shooting tin cans, she described the sound of a strike by saying, “I plinked it!” The word “plink” is found today in many dictionaries.

Adolph, on the other hand, had marksmanship in his blood. Born in Boerne in 1869, he grew up shooting under the tutelage of his gunsmith father in Leon Springs. After observing some fancy trigger work in a Wild West show that starred Dr. W.F. Carver, “the shooting dentist,” Adolph began to dream about a career as a showman and practiced target shooting intensely.
(Note: One reason I find this interesting is because we live about 15 miles outside the small Texas town of Boerne where Adolph Topperwein was born. It was founded by Germans back around 1850. Topperwein is an old German name/family that settled in these parts back then. Leon Springs, where Adolph grew up, is just a few miles away from Boerne.)
Adolph exhibited his shooting skills for hometown crowds. A local promoter took him to New York, where Adolph recalled years later, trick shooters were “a dime a dozen.” All shooters had vaudeville booking agents, but they rated, at least in Adolph’s mind, somewhere “below banjo players and buck-and-wing dancers and only a mite above the trained dog acts.”

The promoter convinced a New York agent to accompany Adolph to Coney Island. Adolph said, “We breezed through those gaudy shooting galleries, with me bustin’ every clay pipe, duck and glass ball.” The impressed agent signed Adolph to a contract, and soon he was starring on the vaudeville circuit.

The first public appearance of the “Wonderful Topperweins” was at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, according to Dick Baldwin, former director of the Trapshooting Hall of Fame in Vandalia, Ohio. There, Elizabeth bagged her first women’s trapshooting world record by breaking 967 out of 1,000 clay disks thrown into the air. A few years later, in San Antonio, Adolph spent 10 days shooting 72,491 of 72,500 flying targets to establish one of his own 14 world records.
If I hit half of the 'clay pigeons' I shoot at it's a good day for me. The Topperwein's accuracy is staggering.
“Seeing the Topperwein shooting exhibition,” promised a Winchester brochure, “is like going to a circus—a rapid succession of thrills and exciting feats, each more unbelievable than the one before, presented to you by this marvelous pair of shooters with rifle, pistol and shotgun.”

So beloved was the couple in the Lone Star State that during a tour of East Texas, a murder trial was postponed so that the community could witness Adolph and Elizabeth’s shooting exhibition.

When storied sure-shot Annie Oakley caught Elizabeth’s act, she reportedly exclaimed, “Mrs. Topp, you’re the greatest shooter I’ve ever seen!”

The Topperweins are remembered today for the “unstudied grace and ease” of their shooting styles. And Elizabeth was proud to say that, in spite of her proven marksmanship, she never shot an animal. The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum on Alamo Plaza in San Antonio displays a gallery of Topperwein photos, guns and other artifacts from the couple’s shooting career.

San Antonio newsman Fred Mosebach reported in 1930 that one of Adolph’s stunts even made President Calvin Coolidge laugh. The marksman placed his rifle on the ground, threw two eggs into the air, ran and somersaulted, then grabbed his rifle and shot the eggs before they hit the ground. “The president not only laughed,” Adolph told Mosebach, “he threw up his arms, clapped his hands and roared.”
Ad and Plinky Topperwein

A more detailed story on the Topperweins can be found here. Check it out if you have a few spare minutes.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Catching Up On The News

Here's a few stories you may have missed during the Christmas hubbub.

Hawaii Declines To Name Anything After obama
Obama’s return to the place of his birth [for the Christmas holiday season] calls to mind an embarrassing record of legislative stumbles: Since 2009, Hawaii’s politicos have sought to name two schools, an abandoned lot, a scenic overlook and two state holidays after Obama. An effort to put the 1960s-era cinder-block apartment building — where he lived — on the National Historic registry also fell short.
Perhaps one reason there is such a lack of support for naming anything after barry is because of crap like this.

obama Administration Sides With Iran Over Congress
The Obama administration’s controversial nuclear deal with Iran has generated a diplomatic kerfuffle that could limit Congress’s latitude in addressing unrelated security issues.

Senior administration officials have advised congress that a law passed on Friday, which tightens rules of the Visa Waiver program to make it more difficult for potential terrorists to gain entry into the U.S., could violate the Iran nuclear agreement.

Under the revised law, foreign travelers who hold citizenship or have traveled to Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan in the last five years would be prohibited from visa-free travel to the United States.

Iranian officials claim that this violates the nuclear agreement because the United States pledged not to take any action that would harm Iran’s economic relations with other states.
I'm not sure how requiring visitors from the world's leading sponsor of terrorism to get a visa before entering the U.S. harm's Iran's economic relations with us, but evidently John Kerry is much smarter than me.
Kerry wrote a letter to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in which he noted that the administration had the authority to protect Iran from the consequences of the new law:

“[W]e have a number of potential tools available to us, including multiple entry ten-year business visas, programs for expediting business visas, and the waiver authority provided under the new legislation.”
Nice to know that barry and kerry place a higher priority of placating Iran than on enhancing our national security.

Here's an example of what we need protection from.

Woman falsely accused of burning Koran ripped apart by mob
A woman falsely accused of burning a Koran was ripped to pieces by a mob in Afghanistan...

The tormented final hours of Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27-year-old aspiring student of Islam who was [falsely] accused of burning a Quran in a Muslim shrine, shocked Afghans across the country. That is because many of her killers filmed one another beating her and posted clips of her broken body on social media. Hundreds of other men watched, holding their phones aloft to try to get a glimpse of the violence, but never making a move to intervene. Those standing by included several police officers.
Based on the next story, however, it may not be too long before tragedies like that occur here.

Circus atmosphere as judge sworn in on Quran
A week ago Carolyn Walker-Diallo was sworn in as a judge in Brooklyn’s 7th Municipal District. She placed her hand on the Quran and swore to uphold the constitution.
What's so bad about that?
     The Koran forbids allegiance to non-Muslim authority, so isn’t this Muslima’s vow worthless? How can she serve two masters at once? In Islam, sharia supersedes all manmade laws. It is the law of Allah.

     The Koran dictates that Islam is in a perpetual war against all infidels until a sharia-dominant world is established. Which master will she serve in this conflict?
Here's the answer to that question.
This year she was one of three guest speakers at a CAIR banquet in Brooklyn. The other two speakers were Hassan Shibly and Imam Siraj Wahhaj. Here’s a bit about these fellows:

...Shibly “has a track record of defending terrorist groups.” Following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War, Shibly characterized Hezb’allah as a “resistance movement,” claiming they were “absolutely not a terrorist organization” and that “any war against them is illegitimate.” Shibly also went so far as to express his desire to join their war effort.

...some of Siraj Wahhaj credentials include being named as a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, inviting the leader of a terror organization to address his congregation several times, advocating for the replacement of the U.S. government with an Islamic Caliphate, and supporting violent Islamic jihad.
Carolyn Walker-Diallo, muslim judge, swearing to be false to either the quran or the U.S. Constitution.
She can't be true to both.

And on the lighter side, we had the whole Steve Harvey - Miss Universe brouhaha. (Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week, you probably know that Steve Harvey hosted the Miss Universe pageant, and announced the wrong winner.)

Predictably, social media reaction was swift and brutal. Here's a few of my favorites.

But you've got to give the guy credit. He poked fun at himself on his twitter feed.

It sure was nice to be so involved with Christmas activities that I lost touch with reality for a short while. I'm going to do my best to repeat that during the lead-in to the New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Funnies 2015.12.27

Christmas has come and gone. Now it's on to the New Year!

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.
Middle age is when you're forced to.
Old age is when you try to, but don't make it past the weather report on the nightly news.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

As the new year begins, there are so many resolutions to be made and forgotten

My New Years resolution is 1024x768.

I was going to quit all my bad habits for the new year, but then I remembered that nobody likes a quitter.

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.

I have only one resolution: To rediscover the difference between wants and needs. May I have all I need and want all I have.

Last, but not least, one leftover Christmas cartoon.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas From The Family

Well, that was certainly an interesting Christmas.

We hosted the family Christmas this year. There's 16 of us who generally come to these things: me and my wife; our two younger kids (21 and 19); my oldest son, his wife and their two kids;  my sister and her husband, plus their two kids and their kid's (1) spouse, and (2) girl; the girlfriend's mother; and my 98 year old father.

They came, they ate, they drank, and thankfully they left. The refrigerator is empty, my beer stash has been seriously depleted, the wine rack is in shambles, and the liquor cabinet is barren.

Less than one week before Christmas, my older son's wife left him. It wasn't a total surprise. She's not a bad person, but it was a bad match. She's one of those people who thinks income is made to be spent. She'd make a great congresscritter, but a not-so-great responsible adult. My son, on the other hand, looks to the future. Think of a beer-drinking Dave Ramsey. He's not perfect, but he does his best to provide for his family, both today and tomorrow. Anyway, like I said, the split was not unexpected, but the timing sure sucked.

My sister and her husband are both dyed in the wool liberals. After many years, and many arguments, we've learned not to discuss politics. They're good-hearted folks, but that doesn't mean they both aren't brain-dead no-common-sense people.

My 98-year-old father has limited mobility. He can walk for short distance, but needs help standing and sitting. The majority of the time he uses a wheelchair to get around. He uses his feet to propel the chair most of the time, but occasionally he lets someone push him. He does have pretty good strength in his quads, because he doesn't use the folding footrests on the chair. Instead, he will lift his feet off the ground while he's being rolled around.

So my brother-in-law (my sister's husband) was pushing him down the hall faster than he's used to. Dad lowered his feet to the ground to slow the chair down. His feet snagged on the throw rug, the chair ground to a halt, and Dad pitched forward and hit his head on the coffee table. No serious damage, but the wound did bleed copiously, and our carpet has a few new stains.

Then we have my sister's sons - my nephews. The oldest one (mid-20s) thought it would be funny to tell off-color jokes to my 15-y-o granddaughter. The younger one (early 20s) is one of those hipster types - fedora, scruffy beard, man bun, etc. To show how cool he is he spent most of the day making snarky remarks about everyone and everything.

Thanks, sis.

We do a White Elephant Gift Exchange for Christmas. The gifts are a mix of nice presents ($25 is our family limit) and gag gifts. For example, the hit present this year was a flying screaming monkey. After several hours of eating and drinking, the spectacle of a monkey sailing across the room and screaming like a porn star orgasming resulted in gales of laughter.

Hey, I never said we were a high class family.

Bottom line - no one sustained serious damage, no one left mad at any one else, and a good time was had by all. I hope your Christmas was as enjoyable as ours.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

As always, my sincere wish for everyone this Christmas season:

Peace on Earth. Good Will towards Men.

May it come true this year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sing Your Heart Out

Today is Christmas Eve. In the spirit of the season, go out and sing a few Christmas carols. Not only will it put you in the holiday spirit, it will make you healthier.

Sing your heart out this Christmas – it’s good for you
The Christmas holidays are a busy time for choirs and carol singers who are busy hitting all the right notes and not just for the benefit of the audience – it’s good for the singers too.

A recent study from Oxford Brookes University concluded that singing was the “most cost-effective way to improve people’s wellbeing” and that choir singing encouraged bonding in a group.

Previous studies have shown singing in a group could be a boost because breathing in synchrony triggers feel-good chemicals in the brain. It’s even thought to help strengthen the immune system and early studies show benefits for people with Alzheimer’s.

Dermot O’Callaghan, chief executive of the Association of Irish Choirs, says the benefits of singing are multifaceted. He encourages everyone, regardless of tone, to belt out a few lines whenever possible.

“Singing is good for mental, emotional and physical health,” he says. “Some of the obvious direct results of singing are elevated mood, improved memory and increased concentration. Stress and anxiety have also been proven to be significantly reduced after singing.

“All too often people have been told their singing voices are ‘not good’ or they may have developed that perception themselves. Obviously, like in all activities, some are more naturally gifted than others . . . but the benefits of singing are the same regardless of the level of accomplishment.”
So even if you're like me and can't carry a tune in a bucket, cast aside your inhibitions and let loose with a few carols. You'll feel better for it, both spiritually and physically (and if you're like me, your singing will improve dramatically with a wee bit o' whiskey).

Of course, not everyone is as mentally stable as you and I. Here's some Christmas carols for the mentally disturbed.

And what collection of Christmas carols would be complete without one dedicated to my family:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tripped And Fell My Ass

When I saw this story a few days ago I couldn't believe it. But it seems to be legitimate. I guess it's true that rich guys never get convicted.

Millionaire found not guilty of rape after claiming he tripped and fell on woman
Ehsan Abdulaziz, 46, was initially accused of forcing himself on the 18-year-old as she slept on a couch at his London flat after a night of drinking.

The Saudi property developer said he had already had sex with the young woman’s 24-year-old friend and it was possible his penis may have been poking out of his underwear when he tripped.

The 18-year-old claimed that after a number of drinks at Abdulaziz’s north London home, she went to sleep on the couch.

She said she woke up to find him on top of her, forcing himself on her.

 “She woke up with the defendant kissing her and his penis in her vagina,” prosecutor Jonathan Davies told the Southwark Crown Court.

Abdulaziz said he had accidentally fallen on the teenager ... and that was how his DNA got onto her vagina.

The jury acquitted Abdulaziz after just 30 minutes of deliberations.
There has got to be more to the story than this. Even if the guy was wandering around with his you-know-what hanging out, what are the odds that he would trip and fall with enough precision to achieve coitus?

Pretty damn small, I'd say - about the same odds as my wife believing this story if she found me 'tripping and falling' on another woman.

"Tripped and fell, huh? I'll show you tripped and fell!"

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Sobering Dose Of Reality

Yesterday I went to a memorial service for a bright, beautiful, wonderful young lady. She had just turned 21. She had just graduated from college. She had just started a new job that she loved.

Then, one day last week, for no reason that anyone can fathom, she committed suicide.

There was no warning, no inkling, no clues. She was bubbly and happy, at least on the outside. She left no note. No one has any idea why.

Please, please, if you have the slightest idea someone you know might be considering such a drastic step, reach out to them. A kind word, a quiet conversation, a pat on the back ... any one of those things might have made a difference.

Now her friends and family are devastated. They will never be able to approach the Christmas season the same. Every year will be a brutal reminder of the loss of this fine young woman.

God Bless her, and all those affected by this.

And God help us all to prevent future incidents like this.

Sorry for the downer in the midst of the holiday season, but sometimes Reality intrudes...

Monday, December 21, 2015

FOD 2015.12.21

If you blinked, you probably missed this extremely rare instance of the New York Times actually reporting something critical of barack hussein obama.

NY Times Stealth-Edits Article to Remove Embarrassing Obama Admission
If you read The New York Times‘ story on President Barack Obama‘s private meeting with news columnists Friday morning, you may have caught one quote that made the President look particularly bad:
In his meeting with the columnists, Mr. Obama indicated that he did not see enough cable television to fully appreciate the anxiety after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and made clear that he plans to step up his public arguments.
The President of the United States failed to understand that Americans were anxious after two major terrorist attacks in Western cities because he doesn’t watch TV? It’s an admission that opponents are sure to use to make the president seem out-of-touch at best, and unconcerned about a serious threat at worst.

But just as the quote was beginning to make the rounds, it disappeared entirely from the the Times piece, without a correction or any indication that the piece had been updated.
Pathetic all the way around, from a POTUS who gets his intelligence about terrorism from cable news, to a liberal rag that runs around covering up obama's numerous messes.

Here's a few responses from the Twittersphere.

Following up on the last one, maybe if obama did watch cable news he'd get an inkling of how we feel about him.
Fox News analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters did not mince words when expressing his displeasure with President Barack Obama Monday morning, saying on Fox Business’ Varney & Co. that he was a “total pussy.”

“Mr. President we’re not afraid, we’re angry, we’re pissed off, we’re furious! We want you to react, we want you to do something!” Peters said.

“You’re afraid!” he continued. “This guy is such a total pussy, it’s stunning.”
No argument from this corner.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Funnies 2015.12.20

Only a few more days ... Christmas will be here before you know it!

It was a few days before Christmas and Clarence Johnson was ready to travel. The airport was decorated with tacky red and green, and loudspeakers blared irritating elevator renditions of well known Christmas carols.

Being someone who took Christmas very seriously, and being slightly tired, Clarence was not in a particularly good mood. Going to check his luggage, he saw some mistletoe hanging over the ticket counter. Not real mistletoe, but very cheap imitation with red paint on the rounder parts and green paint on the flatter and pointier parts, that could be taken for mistletoe only in a very Picasso sort of way.

With a considerable degree of annoyance and nowhere else to vent it, he said to the ticket agent, "Even if I were not married, I would not want to kiss you under such a gross mockery of mistletoe."

"Sir, look more closely at where the mistletoe is hanging," replied the agent.

"Okay, I see that it's above the luggage scale, which is the place you'd have to step forward for a kiss," responded Clarence.

The agent answered, "That's not why it's there."

"Okay, I give up," muttered the annoyed man. "Then why is it there?"

To which the attendant replied, "It's there so you can kiss your luggage goodbye."

Good King Wenceslas phoned Domino's for a pizza.

The salesgirl asked him, "Do you want your usual?  Deep pan, crisp and even?"

American intelligence has discovered that ISIS is planning Christmas attacks in the U.S.

The obama administration immediately sprang into action and told ISIS, "Hey, you cannot call them Christmas attacks. You have to call them holiday attacks."

One Christmas, Joe and Peter built a skating rink in the middle of a field.

A shepherd leading his flock decided to take a shortcut across the rink. The sheep, however, were afraid of the ice and wouldn't cross it. Desperate, the shepherd began tugging them to the other side.

"Look at that," remarked Peter to Joe, "That guy is trying to pull the wool over our ice!"

Q: Why is Christmas like just another day at work?

A: You do all the work and the fat guy in the suit gets all the credit.

Last but not least, an oldie, but a goodie:

Why wasn't Jesus born in Washington D.C.?

They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.

As if we needed another reason to look forward to Christmas, this year we get to experience a rare event (no joke).

Ho Ho Ho!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Random Sample

Busy time of the year ... enjoy this random sample of random stuff...

Click to embiggen.