Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Prostate Health? Drink 17 Beers a Day.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Beer is the proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Now there's research in many parts of the world that shows that beer can also make us more healthy. From cardiovascular health to prostate health to reducing hot flashes in menopausal women.

Ah beer. I know lots of folks who will welcome.. embrace this news. Of course, the Farkers were all over this one.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Look Before You Litigate!

New Math Geography.

Here's something to ponder.

Nearly every day, the twirling globe widget on the sidebar records a visitor from yet another country. It's now up to 229 countries. So, as I was changing the header, yet again, I wondered aloud to Margaret, "How many countries are there?" She said, "Good question, why don't you Google it". So I did.

195 is the answer. Hmmmm.

I think the discrepancy can be explained in the last paragraph:

"However...
Recognize that there are dozens of territories and colonies that are sometimes erroneously called "countries" but don't count at all - they're governed by other countries. Places commonly confused as being countries include
Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Greenland, Palestine, Western Sahara, and even the components of the United Kingdom (such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England - they're not fully independent countries, states, or nation-states)."

So, I'll be changing the header to better reflect the reality.
Unfortunately, I don't know all the countries and territories that are
represented there, as it only lists the 30 most popular. The rest are all
bundled under "Other countries". Whoever they are, 229 is still a lot!

Convenience... At a Price, Of Course.

As we left the lure coursing trial in Hutto, TX last Sunday, I decided I wanted to avoid the usual glut of traffic we would encounter on US79 and I35. Bad nearly all the time, it's worse on Sunday afternoons and Fridays. I hopped on the toll road (130). This was only the second time we've traveled this highway, because the first time we were put off by paying $4.50 for a roughly 6 mile trip. This time, however, we weren't pulling the car, and we would be going about 20 miles or so. The nice thing about the toll roads is that Texans rarely use them, so traffic is very light.

As we approached the toll plaza, I noticed that in addition to the "TXTag" lane, (a prepaid option, similar to that used on toll roads all over the country), there was also a sign for "Pay by Mail". That's different, I thought. I wondered how that worked. Could it be as simple as it sounds? Camera takes a picture of your plate and mails you a bill? So, when we paid the lady in the toll booth I asked. And that's exactly how it works.

What a great idea, even though there's a dollar charge added to the bill. I use almost that much in gas to slow and stop, then idle while we exchange cash (an item we're occasionally low on) for a receipt, then have to accelerate back to freeway speeds. What convenience to just.. keep.. going. I like it. Wish they did that in Chicago, and Oklahoma, among other places.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Outtakes.

By now you've all seen the viral video of Governor Palin pardoning a turkey while other turkeys are being whacked in the background. But have you seen the outtakes? SlateV has them here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We Hit the Big Time

When you blog, at least on the level that we here at the old Hare-Brained Express Tour blog, you expect to be read by your friends, acquaintances, customers, family, (I'm not sure even my family reads this... maybe Margaret's does), and that's about it. We get visited to the tune of around 30 visitors a day.

Then you write something like my satellite radio rant the other day, and suddenly you get linked by Rolling Stone online. Yeah... that Rolling Stone. How cool is that?

I bet that's never happened to Patrick... or Steve... or.. or.. Todd. :-)

"Clown Face"


Another image from our "Summer Vacation". We've already posted a picture of the largest bird we saw at Pinnacles National Monument. Here are some smaller, but no less unique birds.

These are Acorn Woodpeckers. Quite tame, so they posed patiently for the cameras. Note the "clown face".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Team Beige at the Shore.

Specifically, Cayucos, CA on Estero Bay... a short drive from Paso Robles. This is the beginnig of where we start catching up on image postings. There's a new slide show of great "beach sport" on the sidebar. Don't miss the UFO!

And while I'm mentioning new stuff on the blog, here's a few more things of note:
  • "Reactions" ... these are the boxes at the bottom of each post. If you're too shy to comment, or too lazy, just tick an appropriate box. Lets us know we're on the right track, blogwise.
  • "Comments"... are now embedded in the post. No need to open a new window.
  • "Follow"... this is for bloggers. Allows you to follow your favorite blog. Located on the sidebar, you can see we now have 5 "followers". Find the edit tools on your Blogger dashboard.
  • "Subscribe"... other ways to keep track of this blog.. by email or, more commonly, in a "reader". Click through for information.
  • Worldwide... we've now been visited from 224 countries!
  • "Library Thing"... it's been there a while, but I don't think we've mentioned it. Just a fun widget that helps you keep track of the books on your shelf. Click on it and see what I've (Dan only) been reading. See if you can detect any patterns :)

Lure Coursing?

Well.... yeah. From the ASFA Region 3 Invitational in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago. Didn't I tell you the field was way cool? Looks very much like another activity I enjoy in New Mexico.
But, of course, it couldn't be, could it?
I've got a shit-ton of images to post going back to this Summer. This is just the start. It is, after all, primarily a photography blog...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We Find Good Food Again.

Someday, some university or culinary institute with time and money on their hands will fund research on why little, itty-bitty villages are homes to such great eateries.

Last weekend we were shooting a lure coursing event in Chickasha, OK. The trial was in conjunction with a dog show, so when we were looking to get something to eat on Saturday evening, we were hoping to avoid any place glutted with "show people".

Thanks to the sleuthing skills of our friend Elizabeth Lane, we found ourselves driving ten miles north to the little town of Amber, (pop. 521), home of Ken's Steaks and Ribs.

As we approached the establishment on Main St. (no traffic signals or blinkers, just stop signs), we first noticed Ken's Gas Station, and Ken's Convenience Store, and finally, at the end of a long building, Ken's Steaks and Ribs. There were a few cars and trucks parked in front. Then we saw the rest of the parking lot. A very packed parking lot! The place was apparently very popular.

Fortunately for us, Elizabeth and our other 3 dining partners were already at the head of the line for our table, and so was Ken himself, dressed in white from head to toe, with red suspenders (and belt). He looked like a cross between Colonel Sanders and Arthur Fiedler. He whacked Margaret on the arm in friendly greeting as we approached.

Down to business. Ken's serves only the basics, so there's no menu. Ribs (3 or 5), Sirloin (5oz or 8oz), Prime Rib, or Chicken. The salad bar is constantly kept fresh, with Romaine not iceberg! If you've never been there before (which Ken ascertains when you arrive), there's a basket of ribs on your table when you get back from the salad bar- one for each person at the table.

Our table was split between ribs (the best I've ever had, with a great dry rub that needed no sauce), and prime rib. The sirloin wasn't missed, though. As we were eating our salads, Ken approached the table and asked how we like to order steaks... we were pretty much together in the medium/medium rare camp. So Ken says, he's going to have the cook do up a medium rare sirloin for us to try. I'm trying not to use so many superlatives in this review, but by god that was the best tasting sirloin I've ever had.. seriously. Lean but juicy, with an almost buttery flavor. And really, really tender.

Based on this dining experience, we'll make the Chickasha trials a regular part of our Fall shooting schedule. It's not to be missed, even though....

...there's no bar or alcohol
...no credit cards, cash only
...only open Thursday through Saturday, 4-9:30

...at least our group comprised the only "show folk" in attendance.

Are You Sitting Down?

Before I forget, we need to return to the story of that clunker Pontiac Tempest I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. The question I posted was, "What would you pay for it?" To review, it's 45 years old, and has no motor or transmission.

We had a pretty spirited conversation going on in the comments section (check it out if you weren't one of the commenters), so we know what you'd pay. What did someone actually pay last month? Well, before I let you know, I should point out that at one time that clunker looked very much like the car above. In fact, after reading the history of these vehicles, there's a 99% chance I saw that very same clunker running at the Detroit Dragway back in the early 60's!

OK.. you've read the history. Sit down. Here's the real deal. It's fun to read through the posts where the seller kept adding information as he began to realize just what he had on his hands for sale. Moral?: If it's rare, it's worth it, no matter what it looks like. Now wasn't that fun?

A Sirius Rant.

If you're a subscriber to satellite radio... either Sirius or XM, you already know what this is about. Like me you woke up last Wednesday, turned on your radio, got the message "Updating streams... this may take a few minutes". OK, this has happened before, no big..... WTF?!?!?!?!? Sirius Disorder, the station I listened to about 60% of the time, was gone. In its place, something called "The Bridge". I have no idea what format "The Bridge" is, because it's currently the home of "Led Zeppelin Radio" for a limited engagement.

Welcome to "Sirius XM"... the future of satellite radio. We know the merger was approved in the congress last Summer. We knew there were probably going to be some changes coming. We knew ...thought... there would be some time before the changes took effect that we would be sent an email, or got some kind of notice about what the changes would entail. Un-uh. I listened to Sirius all the way across New Mexico, and a hunk of Texas driving back to Oklahoma last Tuesday. Not a word was mentioned on any of the stations I listened to. Larry Kirwan spoke as if he'd be there the next day, and the day after that.

Wednesday morning some time.. probably right in the middle of a song on some channel, it all changed. I was pretty sure I knew what happened, but until I got an email, hours after the fact, from Sirius, trumpeting their wonderful new channel lineup, I could only guess. It took a lot of online time to ferret out the true nature of the beast. Indeed, Disorder was gone. As was the classic jazz channel I listened to, replaced by something lighter weight from XM. Left of Center.. the alternative, "college format" channel was replaced by "Sirius XM U". And on and on it goes.

Most media sources I Googled, agreed this transition was not handled well by the corporate brain-dead. (Read the article, but also the comments). While almost no one, in or out of the media, knew what the changes would be, or when, save this site, which let its readers in on it. It's now bookmarked on my computer, as I don't want to be, as The Who sang, fooled again.

Writing this one week after the fact, I can now say that this would be much more blistering had I responded immediately. But now I've got a week under my belt... or between my ears. Things may not be as bad as they seemed at first. The Loft, a station recommended by Sirius for folks who liked Disorder, is loading up with some of my favorite shows- "Vin Scelsa's Idiot's Delight", David Johansen's Mansion of Fun (perhaps the most eclectic bit of programming in the history of broadcasting), Lou Reed's New York Shuffle, and perhaps most importantly, Meg Griffin- the brains behind the Disorder channel will return December 1st with a program called..... Disorder.

I'll still miss Larry Kirwan's Celtic Crush, and The Kennedys' Dharma Cafe on Saturday mornings, but on the plus side- Outlaw Country remains, anchored by wild man Mojo Nixon, and it's been complemented by a new channel, Willie's Place, featuring Texas Honky Tonk music! All the NPR channels are untouched, and in December we'll also get a channel for movie soundtracks, so maybe things arent as dire as they seemed last week. Time will tell. It appears maybe our emails did some good.

Tell us about your transitory experiences last week when your favorite channels disappeared.. do it in the comments section.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Real "Deal".

Time for one of those fun quizzes we like to do around here... this one is automotive related.

Question: What would you pay for this 1963 Pontiac Tempest? Oh.. it has no motor. Or much of anything else... except dents and rust. Oh.. the windshield is plexiglass. (Hmmm. That must be a hint.)
Send your guesses to comments section below. (Googlers are cheaters!) I'll post the answer in a day or two.

Traveling Light.

Last Friday morning I packed up my cameras, a laptop, a suitcase, and one male Galgo EspaƱol into the Escape. Leaving the Express, (not to mention Margaret, four dogs and a cat), in Boswell, Oklahoma, I headed West. My destination: The ASFA Region 3 Invitational in Stanley, NM.

It's been a long, long time since I've made a 650 mile road trip in a car. I've forgotten how hard it is, which is to say I re-learned to respect those of you who travel great distances to events every week, or even every other month.

I had to get used to using public restrooms! And filling the tank at the auto pumps at the Flying J's instead of the RV lanes. (There was good news at the pumps, however. Flying J in Wichita Falls, TX: $1.93/gal for unleaded- $1.85 with my frequent fueler discount!). Not traveling with all of our possessions meant I had to constantly worry that I hadn't left anything important behind. In fact, I did. We didn't load our dwindling inventory of "I'd Rather Be Coursing" bumper stickers. A minor inconvenience, I guess, in the grand scheme of things. Would have been worse to forget the camera, or memory cards.

I arrived exhausted, about 10 hours later. The last 250 miles, or so, being much faster than the first 400, as I finally got on the Interstate in Amarillo. I hate slowing down for all the little burghs in Texas. Other states have found a cure for this: they're called bypasses.

My hosts, Steve and Joan Garth, (whom you may remember from our Summer trip to California), were waiting with wine, and a comfort-food dinner. I tried to keep up with the conversation and be sociable, while I attempted to shake off the sensation 2 hours after I parked in their driveway, that I was still sitting in a speeding vehicle. At 7:30 I said I needed to put my head on a pillow for a minute. My minute ended when I got up the next morning to go to the trials.

What a great location for a lure coursing trial. I'll have pictures in a coming post. Not big trial... most of them in the West are smaller than what we normally see in the East, but the people are friendly, the dogs run as well as they do everywhere, and the lunches were good. Not to spoil the suspense, but a trial here leaves one hard pressed to separate reality from fantasy. As you'll see.

Saturday night, a large group had dinner at The Buford Steak House in Moriarty, NM. My filet was good, but I think many in attendance would have been more impressed had they not been out of many of the things they would have wanted: Merlot, Cobblers of any kind, certain side dishes, etc. Kind of inexcusable for early on a Saturday night. But like I said.. the meat was as advertised.

Sunday was the Regional Invitational trial. A little different from what we're used to, as Saturdays are the normal day in other ASFA regions. But their reasoning goes back to the small trial thing. Having a regular all-breed trial on Saturday gives dogs who don't get out much a chance to get the point they need to run in the Regional.

I should mention the weather. Fabulous. Saturday was sunny and 70's, and very, very dry. Sunday started the same, with some clouds coming in around lunchtime, followed by an increase in wind, and finally, as the trial was ending, a precipitous drop in temperature. We got out of there just in time. Many of the Coloradans left in somewhat of a panic as there was bad weather threatening the Raton Pass between New Mexico and Colorado.

It was raining Sunday night as I went to bed, but rain was forecast for Monday. "light showers... 30%" is what the Weather Channel said. No problem. I'd brought my rain gear. Sandia and I were going to chase some Jackrabbits today, along with a couple of his litter mates, so it was rather disappointing to look out the window this morning and see.... white. Blowing... white. Whiskey.. Tango... Foxtrot? As the locals are fond of saying to visitors in times like this: "Welcome to the East Mountains".
Snow on South Mountain

The snow wasn't going to stay on the ground for very long, but the wind wasn't going to let up either, and that effectively scotched our planned hunt. Dogs can get disoriented and lost when running in the desert in high winds. The forecast for tomorrow looks much improved, so we're going to hit the desert before I head back East to Oklahoma. I owe Sandia that much for being cooped up in the car, and in a house full of strange dogs and people all weekend.
Besides, we need to get back and keep Margaret in line. When I called her this morning, she was in Paris!!!
...
...
...
Texas. ;)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Answer: Hang On!

Question: What do you do if your dog is an extreme flight risk?

(Images from the LGRA and NOTRA Other Breed National Race Meets, Windyglen Ranch, Boswell, OK; Nov 1-2, 2008. More on the Shot On Site website.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Last Post on BarkObamaBlog.

Assuming there is not another election theft in the offing, Bark Obama Blog will go off the air on Wednesday, having outlived its usefulness, and served its purpose. I gotta say, it was fun being a small part of it. I didn't post much, but I hope I did my share.

Since not everyone who reads this blog reads Bark Obama, (and shame on you!), I thought I'd reprise my final pre-election post there. It's entitled:


Last Minute Advice for All My Republican Friends.

Both of you. You're uncomfortable with the McPain/Calin ticket. I know... I can read your body language. But you just can't bring yourself to vote for Obama/Biden. I understand. I once voted for John Anderson. If you're truly conflicted, I have just the ticket for you: Bob Barr. Saw him on PBS NewsHour a couple of weeks ago.. he's just the guy for you. In fact, if you've got friends with the same hesitations about the 'Cainster let 'em know that a vote for Bob Barr will make them feel oh-so-good. The more the better. Really. Do it. Do it tomorrow. Lots and lots of Republican votes for Bob Barr. Ignore for a moment he's a friend of Al Franken's. So is Gordon Liddy, and we don't hold that against Al. (Although, we might should...).

Better than not voting.

I was listening to Radio Times last week, and the discussion was with a panel of three non-voters. These guys not only don't vote for President; they don't vote for anything. One guy's wife was an elected school board official and he didn't even vote for her! Their reasoning was the usual nonsense: Not happy with the choices. It doesn't make any difference, I don't live in a battleground state, yada yada yada.

I've only heard one person give a compelling reason for not voting: (Warning- Not work-safe, and definitely not for the little ones...)



And he's dead.

So get out there and do it tomorrow.. (if you weren't smart-as-whips like some of us were and already voted!)