Saturday, December 27, 2014


     My Life and Welcome to It.
     I got a crock pot for Christmas.
     You see, we went to Costco. I hate Costco. To me, Costco reeks of the Coneheads' motto: Consume mass quantities. I'm kinda okay with WalMart, but I find Costco and Sam's Club abhorrent.
     In contrast, my wife loves Costco.
     She wanted to go to Costco. I did not. So we compromised and went to Costco.

This is what Costco looks like. Huge stacks of things on a concrete floor.

     The day before Christmas, we were tramping the aisles at Costco in the company of at least ten thousand other customers, and nine thousand nine hundred ninety-seven of them were between me and the exit. I counted.
     Gleefully (see Celery) my wife looked at me and said, "If you go all the way down the aisle and go through every aisle, it's the same as walking exercise." (I am not making this up.)
     A thought hit me. In Costco, that is such a rare event that I like to indulge those thoughts, to see where they lead.
     This thought held the promise of getting me out of the store faster. You know for sure I indulged this thought.
     I suggested to my wife that we split up. I would get the groceries, and she could browse the aisles. I said this arrangement would save time. She agreed to it.
     Yeah, I know now that splitting up was a mistake.
     I had collected all the grocery items and was twenty-fourth in a line of twenty-six when my cell phone sang 'Honey, Honey, Baby'. I answered. Before I could say 'Hello' or 'Yeah' or 'Wassup?' I heard, "Come quick. Corner one-one-six." Click.
     Turns out that Costco numbers those ugly, industrial shelves. (In the picture above you can see '303' high above the floor on the right-hand side.) I left the line and stumbled around until I found corner 116. There stood my wife next to a six-foot high block built of crock pot package bricks. And she spoke the (to her) magic word:
     I point to the shopping list. "It's not on the list."
     I looked at the price tag. "They knocked off only two dollars twenty cents. Not much of a . . . ."

FWIW, I offer no offense to Rival or their products. This was the first crock pot image I found.

     I don't spit into the wind and I don't order the tide not to rise. I put a crock pot in our basket.
     By the grace of God, we made it through the rest of the store without adding to our basket. This feat was a miracle. My wife not only walked every remaining aisle in her part of the store, she ambled through every aisle in my part. The promised time saving did not materialize.
* * *
     On the ride home, things got interesting.
     Trying to find uses for the crock pot, my wife asked, "You can use it to make bread, yes?"
     "You can cook rice in it, yes?"
     "You can make soup in it, yes?"
     Big smile. Gleefully (see Celery), she turned to me and said, "Merry Christmas! This is your Christmas present."
     The Ghost of Wand Mixers past had come to haunt me.
* * *
     We made it home. I unloaded everything but the crock pot. My wife grabbed that package and disappeared into the kitchen. Like the Wand Mixer, she decided that the best way for me to enjoy my gift was for her to use it.
     I had fired up my computer and was somewhere in the interwebs when I heard a ZZZT! BOOM!
     "Hmmph," said I. I flipped a light switch. Nothing.
     "Honey!?" a tiny voice said.
     I walked to the kitchen and found my wife holding the crock pot aloft. Its bottom was blackened and the table it had stood on was burned and scarred. The thing had shorted out and exploded when she plugged it in.
     At the breaker box, I found the crock pot tripped the main breaker when it blew. Took out the whole house. The main breaker saved the kitchen circuit breaker by tripping first. (I find this somewhat disturbing.)
     Me. "I guess we got a return, huh?"
     So two days after Christmas, we journeyed again to Costco to return the exploded crock pot. That was our sole purpose for going. Return the crock pot.
     Got out after spending only $143.46.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Naked Blade 0.0

     For personal reasons, I want to use a straight razor to shave. Have wanted for years. I have owned a straight razor like the one above for years but never used it because it was dull, and I could not get it sharp. 
     Finally, I took it to John Stewart in Boyd, Texas, who put a good edge on my blade. (To find Mr Stewart, go to the Bluebonnet Cleaners in Boyd. Mr Stewart works in a corner of the shop next to the front door. Sorry, I have no picture of him.) Talked to Mr Stewart a bit and found out what I was doing wrong in my honing. Maybe now I will do it right and not need others to sharpen for me. 
     There are those on YouTube -- Dr Matt most prominent among them -- who can tell you more about sharpening and honing your blade . . .  if that's what interests you. And it should. At least a little. It interests Dr Matt. He gets excited about it. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
     There is much to know about the art of shaving with a straight razor: 
1. The razor;
2. The associated tools: strop, brush, soap (or cream), cup, and scuttle (maybe);
3. Stropping;
4. Preparation; 
5. Grip; 
6. Shaving technique; and
7. After shave face care. 
     I am learning to shave with a straight razor, but already I have something to say about grip. But not today. Next time I do a Naked Blade post, I will say something about the grip.

     (FWIW, my wife opposes my use of a straight razor. Actually her exact words were "Are you crazy? You want to cut up your face?") 

Saturday, December 13, 2014


      Did some traveling over Thanksgiving and stayed to attend my nephew's wedding. (My wife was hot to see the wedding. Burned through two cell phone batteries making videos.) This is the tale of my traveling troubles and tribulations. 

     Let's start this post off right: 

     Everybody sing! "That Dallas airport sucks!" 
     I'm not talking about Love Field. No. Love Field has one way in, one way out, and one terminal. Everything works the way you expect it to. Easy. I ♥ Love Field. 

     DFW? That's another story. 

     My wife booked the flights. Anybody who knows how my wife goes ditzy at the mention of SALE! knows she booked the cheapest flights possible. That meant two changes of planes to wing it back to Texas. 
     Delta was our carrier, and they played games with the flight schedule right up until we boarded the first flight. The first flight was late taking off. That means we missed our connection in Seattle. A lot of people did. Delta put us on a later flight to LAX and upgraded us to First Class on our flight from LAX to DFW. An upgrade in an Embraer 170 is not much, but it is what the Delta agent could do for us and she did it. Missed flight and all, we arrived on time at DFW. 
     To understand my troubles and tribulations at DFW, you must know the lay-out of the airport:
     This diagram does not well represent how big the terminals are. That outer terminal ring in blue? It is a mile from end to end. And some terminals are partitioned so that you cannot walk from one end to the other. No. Gotta go down to the basement level (Arrivals), walk along the sidewalk until you come to your gate (hundreds of yards), and take the escalator or elevator up to ground level (Departures). 
     The DFW architecture was based on a FAILED idea of airport design. AFAIK, it is the only airport in the world whose architecture was based on this FAILED idea. (You understand that when I say FAILED I actually mean FYCKED UP, right?) 
     Other airports get it right. Here is the plan of the Orlando Airport:
     It is not obvious at first, but this is a brilliant layout. All ground traffic goes through the Main Terminal. Coming or going, you go to the same place. Going, you find your gate and get on a monorail shuttle to go from the Main Terminal to your gate concourse. Coming, reverse the process. 
     The key is that ground traffic and airplane traffic are separated. Going, you drop off at one place and one place only. Coming, your ride meets you at one place and one place only. No confusion. No confusion possible.
     Compare that to the DFW airport architecture. Go back up and look at it. You have five - 5 - terminals to drop off or pick up at. To make matters worse, each terminal has multiple entrances and exits. My best guess is that each terminal has 8 entrances and 8 exits. Could be more. And, yes, the entrances are separate from the exits. On different levels, even. 
     This means that at DFW, you have 80 frelling choices for drop off and pick up. The odds are against you getting it right. 
     And get this. Even you get the terminal right, even if you get the gate right, you can still be wrong. Departures are on one level (below ground) and arrivals are on another (ground level). Everything about the design of DFW makes me glad the Air Force taught me to swear and swear big time. 
     Oh, yeah. DFW is not in Texas. Hell, it is not even in the United States. DFW is in England. (Or maybe the Australian outback, given the heat that rages there all year long.) 
     Outside DFW, all vehicular traffic exits and entrances are on the right. Inside DFW, all exits and entrances are on the left side. 
     But, but, but, they saved the day by marking all the exits clearly and with preparatory warnings (Terminal D Exit/500 Yards), right? Oh, hell, no. 
     For many -- no, too many -- exits the ONLY sign is the one right on it. Some exits are not marked at all. And all the signs are blue. Blue. Every highway sign in the state of Texas is white on green. Why did DFW choose BLUE? It's as if the bastards who designed this abomination of an airport chose to make it as difficult as they could for people to find their way around. 
     Tell you what. From this point on, I'm not going to refer to that airport as DFW. From this point on, I'm going to call it HELL. 
     So there we were in HELL, having deplaned, collected our bags (my wife got on the plane with no bags and got off with one and how she magicked a full bag into existence I'll never know), and made our way to the curb. That's when it dawned on me . . . our original itinerary -- the one my sister had -- had us coming in on American Airlines. But at the last minute Delta changed us to fly Delta. Anywhere but HELL this would be a minor problem. In HELL, it is catastrophic. 
     We are not just at a different gate. We are at a different terminal. We are miles away from where my sister thinks we are. 
     I did not have my phone (forgot it). My wife had hers. Luckily, she also had a text message with my sister's cell phone number. She dialed that and shoved the phone at me. Also lucky, my sister has call waiting. She put her husband on hold while she answered our call. 
     First thing my sister said to me, "Where are you?" In HELL, obviously. 
     Turns out she was at home, prepping for Thanksgiving. She sent my brother-in-law to pick us up. He went to the American Airlines terminal and waited there until the terminal emptied. 
     (When my wife booked our flights, Delta handed off our last leg to Alaska Airlines, 'cause they got a deal with Alaska Airlines to handle their overbookings. Alaska Airlines does not fly to HELL, but they got a deal with American Airlines who does. In fact, American Airlines has its headquarters in HELL. Anyway, that is why my sister expected us to arrive in HELL via American Airlines.) 
     For the last half hour, my brother-in-law had been frantically driving around HELL trying to find us. My sister gave us his cell number, we called him, and he headed our way. 
     He never made it. 
     He got close, but a traffic cop directed him down to the underground level. HELL was dead silent everywhere but Terminal E and that was a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. Where were we? Terminal E. Bro-in-law called us and told us he was below ground. I said, "Stay there. We'll come to you." 
     We went back inside, found the escalator down to Departures, and rode it to the subterranean vaults of HELL. Found bro-in-law a few yards away, put the bags in, and fell in the car. 
     You might think the torture had ended, but you would be wrong. 
     They make you pay to exit HELL. We stopped at a toll gate to pay to get out of HELL. Bro-in-law started to dig for money, but I handed him the ransom. 
     SIX BUCKS! 
     That's right. The toll to get out of HELL is $6.00.

     How much opprobrium falls on DELTA for my troubles and tribulations? 
     I have given this much thought. Much thought. 
     At first I blamed DELTA for all my troubles. Then I laid all the blame on HELL. Given perspective, I can say -- with evidence -- that DELTA shares the blame. 
     The massive confusion arose because DELTA played games with our ticketing RIGHT UP TO THE TIME WE GOT ON THE FIRST PLANE. At the first airport, this earned my wife a questioning and a pat-down search. 
     Officer: "Why did you change flights on the day of departure?" 
     Me (screaming): "We didn't! DELTA changed our fycking flights! Go question the president of DELTA. Pat him down." 
     Officer: "Our computer shows you paid for your flights today."
     Me (screaming): "Your computer is fycking wrong! My wife paid for these flights last fycking month." Wife diddles with her phone and calls up her bank's payment to DELTA dated 29 October. I shove this in the agent's face. "SEE! I have independent confirmation of payment. Your fycking computer believes the fycking lies fycking DELTA tells it." 
     They let us go. 
    (Like I said, the Air Force taught me to swear and swear big time. Swearing a little is useless. Some people say you should never swear. Those people are fycking wrong.) 
     Besides playing reindeer games with our flight schedule, every DELTA flight we had business with coming to HELL took off late -- except the one we missed. That one was on time. Which is why we missed it. 
     Returning, our first flight was 'delayed' -- that is, late -- taking off, but the next two were on time. Of the six flights we were on, four took off late. Is that any way to run an airline? 
     Last, but most important, it is my judgment that the ground personnel at DELTA are ill-trained. 
     If nobody else told you, I'm telling you now: Your little blue smock does not entitle you to call me 'Baby'. As in 'How can I help you, baby?' 
     It certainly does not entitle you to be short and disrespectful with passengers who have come to you for service. (Did not happen to me but to the passenger next to me.) 
     And don't pick up my bags and fycking throw them onto the conveyor. I think that as compensation I should be given your fycking purse with the liberty to fling that mytherfycker as far and as hard as I can. What? Do I have to slap FRAGILE on every bag for you to place it on the conveyor instead of throw it? 
     For all that DELTA did right (and that last landing in the 747-400 was feather soft), the things they did wrong convince me that DELTA's management has its head up its ass. They are missing the details. 
     Choices I got. Fooled me once. I shall not fly DELTA again. 
     Returning home, once again we had to pass through HELL. The traffic to the airport was bad enough, but we arrived at 8:30 for a 9:45 flight. Bro-in-law dropped us off at the first Terminal E entrance that was not marked CLOSED. (Stop with the fycking construction already. You cannot make HELL better. The only thing you can do is dynamite the whole bitch into dust and start over and do it right. Give the fycking contract to Disney like the boys at the Orlando Airport did, and you'll have something that works instead of that half-assed abortion you call an airport.) 
     Well, of course, that was not the right gate. Well, of course, we could not just walk through the terminal to our gate, 'cause there was a fycking wall between this gate and that gate. 
     So we went back down to the subterranean reaches of HELL. We walked 500 fycking yards to get to our gate. It was marked CLOSED, but it wasn't. Went up to the ticketing counter. They had automated check-in. Of course, my documents did not not scan. An unsmiling DELTA agent directed us to Special Services. 
     Special Services in HELL. As tedious and rude as we can possibly make it. 
     Finally, bags checked, TSA passed (HELL is the only place TSA did not ask us to take off our shoes), we made it to our gate. 'Delayed.'
     This 'delay' worked to my benefit. Gave me time to go to the nearest bar and slam down two Bloody Marys. 

     I'm all for posting a sign over the entrance to the Dallas airport (not Love Field):


     Everybody sing! "That Dal-las air-port sucks!"

Movie reviews: Edge of Tomorrow and Guardians of the Galaxy

1.1. Edge of Tomorrow - Short review:  

1.2. Long review: Groundhog Day meets Skyline

1.2.1. What I liked: The story, the action, and the characters were just good enough to hang together till the end. Well, almost.

1.2.2. What I did not like:
     Tom Cruise plays Marine Major William Cage, a PR guy who avoids combat. A Marine? Marines are famed for the saying 'Every man, a rifleman.' I found this premise unbelievable.
     Cage lives and dies and lives and dies and, along the way, finds out that everything the United Defense Force knows about the invading Mimics is a lie. So when Doctor Carter infodumps his working theory of who the Mimics are and how they do what they do and a thousand other little factoids, why should Cage (or we) believe him? Everything else was a lie; why not this? But like a horse pill, we have to swallow it whole. (I thought this was bloody stupid writing. In the middle of the movie, I thought this. While Carter was speaking, I thought this. Bloody stupid writing.)

1.2.3. Who I think is the audience: Tom Cruise fans.

1.2.4. Is the movie appropriate for children to see? I dunno. Maybe. Movie deaths but no gore. No sex.

1.2.5. On the basis of viewing this movie, will I pay to see the sequel? Oh, God, no.

1.2.6. Rating and the plot in a nutshell: How I rate movies:

 -- I want my money back.
 -- Worth a rental, not more.
 -- Worth first-run theater price once. <-- Edge of Tomorrow
 -- I will pay first-run theater price to see it again.

Running time: 113 minutes. The plot in a nutshell.

1.2.7. Other:

      For the action and the special effects, yeah, this was worth seeing once.
      If this seems like a luke-warm review, that's because it is.

1.2.8. Links:
IMDb review
Rotten Tomatoes review

2.1. Guardians of the Galaxy - Short review:   *:D big grin

2.2. Long review:
2.2.1. What I liked: The dialog. The characters. The over-the-top action. The music. Absolutely the most fun I've had with my clothes on this year.

2.2.2. What I did not like: 
     I don't know who  did the makeup for Zoe Saldana, but this guy has a rare talent. He took one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood and made her unattractive. 

2.2.3. Who I think is the audience: Everybody. 

2.2.4. Is the movie appropriate for children to see? Sure. One bad word. Okay, eight bad words. Maybe five, 'cause two of 'em are repeated. Movie deaths but no gore. No sex. 

2.2.5. On the basis of viewing this movie, will I pay to see the sequel? Yes. The sequel cannot come soon enough. Here, take my money. 

2.2.6. Rating and the plot in a nutshell: How I rate movies:
 -- I want my money back.
 -- Worth a rental, not more. 
 -- Worth first-run theater price once. 
 -- I will pay first-run theater price to see it again. <-- Guardians of the Galaxy 

Running time: 122 minutes. The plot in a nutshell.

     What? There was a plot, too? Yeah, kind of. 
     1988. Peter Quill's mother is dying. He hides from his grief by playing his Sony Walkman loud. When she dies, he runs from the hospital and -- get this -- is abducted by aliens. 
     Fast forward 26 years. 
     Peter Jason Quill, now a Ravager, combs a dead world for a valuable Orb. Finds it. Others find him. Big fight. Big escape. Big laughs. "I forgot you're here." 
     Quill tries to fence the Orb on Xandar. His buyer nixes the deal. Gamora, working for Ronan (but secretly betraying him), steals the Orb. Quill steals it back. 89P13, aka Rocket (a genetically modified and cybernetically enhanced raccoon), and Groot, a humanoid tree, intervene. Everybody goes to jailworld, aka Kyln. "Not helping!"
     At Kyln, the foursome meet Drax, who has no sense of sarcasm or metaphor. The foursome becomes a fivesome. And they escape. "That was a pretty good plan." 
     Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ronan meets with Thanos. They spend a few minutes insulting each other, and Ronan takes off to get the Orb. Personally. "That is true."
     The fivesome go to Knowhere, a hive of scum and villainy in the severed head of a celestial being. (Is this over the top or what?) They meet the Collector, who wants to buy the Orb for four billion Units. The Collector tells them that before the universe was, there were six Singularities. Blah, blah, blah. The universe started, and the Orb is really the Philosopher's Stone. Nope, nope, nope. Wrong movie. It is the Infinity Stone. The Collector says it has the power to destroy worlds. "This vermin speaks of affairs he knows nothing about."
     Meanwhile, Drax drunk dials Ronan and challenges him to a duel. Can you say "Bad idea"? Yondu, the Ravager captain, comes to Knowhere. This ain't good for Quill. Ronan comes to Knowhere. This ain't good for anybody. Fight, fight, fight. Ronan's minion Nebula takes the Orb from Gamora and leaves her to die in space. Quill saves Gamora and surrenders to Yondu. "That is also true."
     Everybody heads for Xandar. Quill messages ahead and gets the Xandar constabulary to come to his aid, because when you are a Xandar cop and a life-long outlaw calls you up to say "Hey, big baddie is coming to spoil your day forever, so let's join forces" of course you say yes. Fight, fight, fight. Fall, fall, fall. Crash, crash, crash. "We are Groot."
     Ronan is THAT close to doing the dirty deed that will turn Xandar to toast when Quill challenges him to a dance-off. (I am not making this up.) More than once Ronan asks Quill "What are you doing?" when what he shoulda done was pull his pistol and shoot the sword swinging Arab. Oops! Wrong movie. "Subtle."
     Quill grabs the Orb, er, Infinity Stone, which shoulda killed him. Gamora takes some of the pain. Drax takes some of the pain. So out of character it works, Rocket takes some of the pain. Groot takes . . . well, Groot ain't there. One for all and all for one, Quill tells Ronan they are the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and blows Ronan apart. "You said it yourself."
     In gratitude, Xandar pardons their crimes and expunges their criminal records. This is a mistake. Kinda The End. "Break it down hard."

2.2.7. Other:

     I saw this movie the day before Thanksgiving. Since then, I have seen it three more times and had a ton of fun each time.
     This movie has plot holes big enough to pass supertankers, and I don't care. The dialog is wicked funny. The characters are likable. The whole circus rambles along at light speed. And the music never ends.
     Guardians of the Galaxy is a comic book, and it never forgets that. Not for one second. Great movie. 

2.2.8. Links: