Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Fortuitous Event

Last night I tried and tried to come up with something interesting to write about for today. At midnight, I gave up and decided that everyone would probably be just fine without a day of Inside the BrierPatch.
(Barry says I post too much anyway. I love that kind of support.)

This morning we were on the back porch enjoying our coffee and the rain, when a titmouse flew right beside us with suet in her mouth. It looked at us and flew off. About a minute later, something fluttered and the dogs started chasing a baby titmouse on the ground. We got the dogs away, but the little bird was all wet and cold.  So Barry warmed the little bird up in his lap and is keeping him dry and safe.

As soon as it stops raining, the little baby bird will go to a safe place in the yard with his mom. I'm so glad we were there to save the little bird, and he was there to give me something to write.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


You know what smacks of old fart? Forgetting to write your SOOF article on time. Well better late than never. I actually have too many topics to choose from. That in itself SOOF. My latest example was not typical of me. More like something my counterpart, Pat Oler, would do. Anyway here is what happened. 
Some of you that know me know I go to the 24 hr health club a few times a week. I’m no Charles Atlas, however I am trying to stem the slide of age a little. It is as much mental health as physical for me. On Wednesdays I usually swim laps. I go from work during my lunch break. Last Wednesday I arrived at the health club on time (sometimes an issue for me) and proceeded to take my closes off and put on my bathing suit. Let me back up slightly. Wednesday morning I was running late and in my rush to get ready for work I grabbed what I though was my bathing suit in my closet. Okay back to the health club. I stripped down, put on my jockey strap, and grabbed my suit. Surprise, it wasn’t my bathing suit. It was Jan’s bathing suit. It was blue. My suit is blue. It was some type of nylon. Mine is some type of nylon. It was a woman’s bathing suit. My dilemma, do I try to swim labs in a woman’s bathing suit?? Of course not. I had to get dressed and forget my workout. 
Now, while this technically does smack of old fart I can’t take full responsibility. Jan says I never take full responsibility but I beg to differ. Why was her bathing suit in my drawer? I may be on old fart but I’m not a cross dresser. Well I have go get my weekly body wax, pedicure and highlights now so I’ll see you, or contribute again, in two weeks.


The old fart(B) didn't get his post written. I am not sure if it is because he SOOF or procrastination. Maybe both?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tech Tuesday- Camera Zoom

I am afraid that these Tech Tuesday posts are just proving to you how untechnical I am. Ever since the ios5 upgrade on the iPhone, I have not been able to zoom with my iPhone camera. As often happens with each upgrade, features change. However, I could not imagine why Apple would get rid of the zoom feature. They didn't. The zoom has been there all along, it is just now hidden. Don't ask me why.

When you have your camera open, you just pinch your fingers open as you would to enlarge anything, and the zoom slider appears.

Is this like the spice store? Am I the only one who didn't know this? 

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Spice of Life

I don't get out much. If it weren't for my family, I probably wouldn't leave the house but once a week. Well, since I do love to drive my car, I might leave a little more. But, I probably would not get out of the car.

Anyway, I am wondering, am I the only person that didn't know about this place?

This is a whole store of spices. Here is a very blurry photo of part of the inside of Penzeys.  I always move my iPhone before it finishes taking the photo. 

 The spices are grouped in categories to make your shopping easier. There are jars for you to smell the spices.  I spent a lot of time there today. I came home with a few spices, but there were so many more, I wanted to try. Barry said dinner was great, so I guess the ones I brought home were winners.

Penzey's Spices is located in the Highlands (if you haven't already found it). 

By the way, Penzey's Spices does not know me, know that I took a blurry photo of their store, or wrote this blog. It is just a neat shop. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Very Short List

This is one of those days that might have been better to say nothing at all, since I have nothing to say. But, in an effort to keep up my schedule, I made a little list.

1. The pool has warmed up enough to swim now.

2. Michelle and Cora are coming to stay with us over the weekend. Miles has to go out of town. We have the upstairs ready for them. By that I mean that I dusted, cleaned, and vacuumed it yesterday. (Joanie and Jacob- I will do that for you too!)

3. We went to the opening night of the Fort Worth Cats game. Several of us went to support our friend, Mike Stone.

4. Last weekend we went to San Antonio for a veterinarian meeting. There was time for golf too.

5. The four baby bluebirds are growing. They will leave without saying goodbye, I just know it. 

Tomorrow there may be a list of one. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Smacks of Old Fart Wednesday

You know, I was thinking the other day about the financial benefits associated with being a senior citizen.  Currently, you can start drawing your Social Security pension as early as age 62, Medicare kicks in at 65, and there are all kinds of Senior Citizen Discounts out there, at all kinds of establishments.  You can get discounts at the movies, hotels, rental cars, airlines, cruise lines, car washes, restaurants, etc., etc., etc.  All you have to do is be old enough and willing to own up to being an "Old Fart."  The latter may be the hardest part.
Shortly after moving to Tyler, in June of 2009, my wife and I went  to a local Mexican Restaurant for dinner.  While looking at the menu I noticed that Seniors were eligible for lunch portion meals, at lunch prices, anytime of the day or night.  And the qualifying age was 62.  I thought this was a really good deal.  The size of the meal was right, the price was right, and I had just turned 62 and 1/2.  (I've noticed that many Seniors, myself included, report their age in years and half years...just like young kids.  But, for different reasons.  Kids want to sound older than they really are, and Seniors want to sound younger.)
Anyway, I told our server that I was 62 and 1/2 and wanted the lunch size beef fajitas and a glass of un-sweet tea.  While he was taking my wife's order, I was fumbling through my wallet looking for my driver's license.  I was sure that he would want proof of my age.  After all the guy at the Liquor Store wanted to see my license when I was 21 before he'd sell me a six pack of beer.  If then...why not now?  But, by the time I got my license out the server had already left to turn in our order.
When he returned with our drink orders, I asked why he didn't ask to see proof that I qualified for this Senior Citizen deal.  All he did was wink and say, "I trust you."  
Needless to say, I left with a deflated ego, and he left with a deflated tip.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I went to get the car washed.  One of the car wash places in our neighborhood had started giving a $2.00 discount on any of their washes to Seniors over 65.  (If you've done the math then you know that now I'm a month shy of being 65 and 1/2.)  I drove up, told the attendant that I wanted the $12.99 full service wash.  He said, "Thank you."  Wrote what I wanted on a ticket and handed it to me.  I took the ticket to the cashier, and before I could say a word, she said, "That will be $10.99."  
If this isn't bad enough, after I left the car wash I went to a nearby Whataburger to drown my old age sorrows in a #1 What-a-meal with a large diet Coke.  I pulled up to the order point in the drive-thru line and told the "voice" over the loud speaker what I wanted.   The "voice" told me the price and asked that I pull around to the second window.  When I pulled around to the second window, I told the lady there that the "voice" had made a mistake when telling me the price.  I actually owed $0.57 more than told.  That's when she said, "Oh no sir, we gave you the Senior Citizen discount."  
How did she know?  She couldn't see me, didn't ask, and I didn't tell!  But, I did immediately feel about two weeks older than dirt.
Looking like a Senior is one thing, sounding like one is another. But, when you look AND sound like a senior...that has got to "Smack of Old Fart." 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tech Tuesday-Record It

Have you ever been out and wanted to record a thought? Maybe you need to give someone a message that is a little convoluted to type, but doesn't warrant a response or whole phone conversation. Use your QuickVoice app on your iPhone or iPad. I under use this app and wanted to remind everyone how convenient it can be.

The app looks like a microphone.

When you open it you get a screen with Record and Play.

Press Record and speak your mind or record something else. If you wish, you can title the message by touching the title button. If the message is just for your own use and you don't need to send it, you are finished. But if you want to send it, touch the box with the arrow in it and email it to your friend.

They will receive your recorded message.

I have friends that have used it in meetings and doctor visits. 

There are oodles of recording apps.  Many have better features than this one.  If you have SIRI, she probably does this all for you anyway, but I am still convinced she would not be able to understand me. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Media Monday-Podcast

Podcasts are one my favorite forms of media. A podcast is basically a digital file that you can download and listen to at anytime.

There are so many options available in your iTunes podcast library. For starters, through podcasts you can be entertained, listen to the news, or even learn a language.

Here is the iTunes list of top downloaded podcasts at this time.

If you don't want to listen to podcasts through your iTunes library you can use the free app Stitcher.

After you download this app,you just search for the titles you want and listen away. The advantage to the iTunes podcast library over Stitcher is that it has all the past podcasts from your favorite sources.

My five favorite podcasts in no particular order are:

1. Stuff You Missed in History Class
2. Wait Wait Don't Tell Me
3. Stuff You Should Know
4. Get It Done Guys Quick and Easy Tips to Work Less and Do More
5. Satellite Sisters

There are so many podcasts out there that I am positive you can find one that interest you. Give it a try and share your favorites.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, May 18, 2012


Cora Kaye came over for a visit yesterday. First she slept in my arms, then she slept in Poppy's arms.

Bingo and Magic slept together.

Our second set of baby bluebirds have hatched. They are cute.

But not as cute as little Cora.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Sixties are Over, Men!

One of the things, I like about being a member of Walnut Creek Country Club, is the members. We have a lot of really nice members. There are very active tennis and golf associations. So, there is usually a lot going on. 
Tuesday and Wednesday, that something going on was the annual Nutty Buddy Ladies Golf Association Tournament. This is our Member-Member tournament, and it is filled with a fun theme, charitable donations to a good cause (Indigent Mammography — Texas Health Fort Worth), and golf.  
This year’s theme had a bling theme and members brought it! 

Don’t be fooled by the outfits though. The golf is serious. Fun, but serious. So imagine our surprise when we ran into a group of men trying to get on the course that were not happy that “woman were all over it” and just plain rude to us. This doesn’t happen a lot here. Most of the men are very nice and many of the men golfers are married to the women golfers. But, right now one of our courses is being renovated, and tee times are a little harder to get. Apparently that fact had put these guys in a bad mood. I'm not sure, but after seeing these sunglasses, they may have left in disbelief. 

Or it could have been that the Marshall made them leave. 
And, here’s a big thank you to the good guys out there. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Smacks Of Old Fart Wednesday

Smacks Of Old Fart Wednesday
(I lost count of Volume & Issue)
Maybe it is because I just had a birthday. I’m not sure. The one thing I do know is it has become apparent to me that my impression of what I look like and what I really look like  are completely different. I think I have dark brown hair. My drivers license says so. Therefore you can understand my surprise when I accidentally see my image in a mirror and think I am seeing my Dad. For the last ten years when I was in this situation I thought I was seeing my brother, Bobby. He is 6.5 years older than me. That was hard enough to take. But, Dad. OMG I’m getting old. Talking with some of my old fart friends experiencing the same phenomena makes me believe this does, in fact, smack of old fart. To prove my point I took a picture of myself in the mirror. (That alone might SOOF.) 

I also will include a picture of my Dad. 

In honor of Mother’s Day I’ll include Mom’s picture in the photo too. I think they were even younger than I am now when this photo was taken. Anyway, compare the picture of me in the mirror and my Dad’s picture. Let me know if there is any resemblance.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tech Tuesday- Etiquette and Keyboard Tips

A request was received last week about some email etiquette for forwarding emails and replies.

Sometimes you receive an email that you want to share with your friends. That is all well and good, but there are some guidelines to follow. Rather than just clicking on the Forward icon, you need to take a moment and clean that email up. (and if you are not willing to clean the email up before you send it-don’t forward it)
Subject- make sure it doesn’t just say Re: In fact, it is best in all emails that you send to put detailed information in the subject line. This will save your readers time. What if they have received that funny cat video five times already? This way they will know and won’t have to spend time opening the email.
Remove old addresses and any text you don’t need.- After you click on forward all the addresses are in the body of your email. Sometimes pages of addresses from all the forwards are in your email. Delete all that information. It does become a privacy issue when these addresses are forwarded on and on. 
Files- Be careful what you forward and the size. Again, you don’t want to send on any viruses. The size of your attachments can be a problem. On videos, it might be better to just send the URL rather than the video for size sake. Also, note that the IPhone and IPad do not open Flash Player. Flash Player has issues with the operating systems on these devices and will not work properly. Apple will not use it on the IPhone and Ipad until Flash Player addresses those issues.
Reply All Button- Before you use this button, ask yourself, “Does everyone need to read this?” Probably not. So either don’t reply or email the one person that needs your input. 
If someone does a favor for the group, email that person personally. Everyone does not need to see your thank you. This is the same in texting. If you receive a group text either answer back to the group the info they need to know or just the person asking the questions. Do not start a new conversation with a person in the group text and have the group wondering what the heck you are saying. It is best to use Reply All and Group Text very, very sparingly. I have learned this the hard way.
Now that you are ready to type your etiquette ready emails with your IPhone or Ipad, here is a video with some good keyboard tips to make that task easier. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Media Monday- It's a Little Bit of a Rant

(It is important to preface this post with the reminder that I love animals. I do not want to see any animal harmed. For goodness sake, I am married to a veterinarian, and an animal's well being is our life. So this post is in no way in disregard about the animals in this article.) 

The news media drives me insane with their sensationalism. I have written about that before, and the fact that I don't like reading or listening to their bad reporting makes a varied Media Monday hard.

However, last week, I saw this article on the front page of the Tarrant section of the Star-Telegram and I had to comment. Just for your information, the byline is not even in the online version.  So, if you were just reading the headlines online, you would not even know a child was involved.

I was appalled that the by-line was not the headline in this article. This tells me that the mistreatment of dogs has become a bigger sale of papers than the fact that a one year old child was found "amid squalid conditions". 

Seriously, people? Have we honestly become a nation that doesn't care about the children? This brought me back to the Penn State scandal, which is also in the news. I still have not wrapped my head around the idea that a grown man, McQueary, could observe a child being hurt and not say "Stop it", and get that child out of harms way. That should have been step one in that whole horrible situation.

 Isn't it our duty to protect the ones that can't protect themselves? Personally, I feel our media needs to stand up for what is right also, not just what sells papers or gets them top ratings. 

Rant over. 
Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Moving and Dancing

Although, Joanie and family were not in Mansfield for Barry's birthday, I was with them in Houston on Friday. Joanie and Jacob were moving into the house that they recently purchased. They have been renting in the neighborhood where they wished to live for two years, waiting patiently to find the perfect house. It was worth the wait.

My job was to keep Ava and Lucy out of their way over the weekend so they could get the move accomplished. I have to say that I did an excellent job, because they were all moved in, had the rent house cleaned up, and were unpacking boxes by 3:30pm. Actually, they had everything organized for the move and good movers, so I couldn't take all the credit even though I tried.

Sometime before 8:00am, Lucy, Ava, and I went to breakfast. Then, we headed to the Splash Park. Since it was 9:00am on a Friday morning, we were the only ones there for a while. I think Lucy liked the Splash Park best.

At 11:00am we went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. One of Ava's preschool classmates came in with his two sisters (triplets) and their nanny. We managed to kill two more hours at Chick-Fil-A. Woo-Hoo!

Then, I put the girls back in the car and drove around for an hour while they took a nap. I know that was not very "green" of me, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Lastly, we went to the toy store and played for a while. We bought two toy brooms which in hind site was a mistake, because Lucy and Ava pretty much just hit stuff with them while they are trying to sweep. 

As if moving wasn't enough for the weekend, Ava had her first dance recital on Saturday morning. 
She had missed her dress rehearsal because they were here for Cora's birth. Things did not go well backstage. Joanie kept texting us that Ava was freaking out. The other mothers kept asking, "Wasn't she at the dress rehearsal?" But, when Ava's class went onstage, she was just smiling and doing her dance. When she got off stage, and Joanie met back up with her to change her costume, Ava said she "loved it." A star was born.

Her grandparents showered her with flowers and kisses. One took photographs.

Her parents were pretty proud too. I think Lucy thought the Splash Park was more fun.

Oh, to be three and adorable.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Belated Birthday Post

Last Friday was Barry's birthday. We celebrated early, because I was going to Houston and would not be in town on the actual day. Here is the abridged version of the earlier lost post.

Shannon was kind enough to fix Barry's birthday dinner and have us over to their house.

Michelle was there because she is free to move around now!

Miles and Baby Cora were there too. Doesn't Miles look like a "natural" holding his little girl?

Ben and Scarlett gave Poppy some golf equipment. I think he likes his shirt!

Shannon made Barry banana pudding, one of his favorite desserts. I think he likes that too.

Ben and Scarlett spent some quality cousin time with Cora. Michelle is trying to figure out how she can get Scarlett to skip kindergarten and keep Cora for her when she goes back to work. Scarlett just doesn't realize how hard it would be to "craft" while holding the baby all day. 

Barry ponders Cora's little feet as Scarlett watches like the good baby whisperer that she is. 

Shannon, Brett, and I were there also. We did not make it in any of the photographs. Something must be done about that. I will speak with the photographer. 

Except for the fact that Joanie and her family were not there, I think it was a pretty perfect birthday. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Smacks of Old Fart

I hate to "break bad" on my sweet, loving, and beautiful wife of almost 43 years, but here of late she has been a virtual fount of old fart fodder. 
For example, our morning routine (except for the days that I go to the office...aka the golf course for 18 holes with my buddies) consists of Jennifer (wife) reading the paper and doing the paper's daily puzzles, and me playing a mindless game on the computer and watching Fox News in my "Man Cave." At some point, normally after my second cup of coffee, I'll say, "Hey, I'm going to make some toast...want any?" 
Usually Jennifer says she doesn't because I like my toast fixed in a toaster (go figure) and she likes hers prepared in the oven. You know...oven turned to high broil, bread lightly buttered on one side, then placed on a cookie sheet, and the cookie sheet slid onto the middle rack of the oven. Half way through the cooking portion of the preparation process, the cookie sheet is removed from the oven, the bread turned over, the cookie sheet placed back on the middle rack of the oven, and cooking continued until the toast just starts to turn brown. Next the oven is turned off and the toast allowed to dry out from the oven's residual heat. She claims this method renders perfect toast. (Feel free to add this to your recipe files.)
Well, just the other day, Jennifer decided she wanted toast made her way. She went to the kitchen, turned on the oven, opened the storage drawer directly below the oven, retrieved a cookie sheet, got bread from the pantry and began the preparation process
A few minutes later she returned to the kitchen to check on the progress of her toast. She turned on the oven light and opened the oven door. You can imagine her surprise when all she saw was an empty hot oven. After a few minutes of intense freaking out, she opened the storage drawer below the oven and....yep, there it was, one cookie sheet with two slices of bread, lightly buttered on one side.
I laughingly told this story to our daughter Erin, who immediately asked, "Dad, do you need to be concerned about Mom misplacing things?" I told her no, that I wasn't concerned. I'm just attributing it to the company she's been keeping. 
You see, our neighbor and good friend, Sue, spent hours one day looking for her purse. She finally decided to give up the search, convincing herself the purse would eventually turn up. After all, it couldn't have just walked off. A little while later, Sue went to the kitchen to start supper. She opened the refrigerator to get out some meat that had been marinating, and there it was, sitting right next to a half gallon of milk--one, no longer missing, purse. 
I don't know if Jennifer and Sue would agree, but I'm pretty sure that both of these stories "Smack of Old Fart." Its either that or our subdivision was built on an old Indian Burial Ground and angry evil spirits are out for revenge. Naw...they just "Smack of Old Fart." 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Here it is Tech Tuesday, and I have to begin with a confession. I have failed computer 101. I believe that my post Friday did not appear due to writer error. I am afraid I may not have saved the post before trying to post it. There is a little loop hole, though, in that I was using my iPad with an app, not my computer with the regular program. I would like to think that I possibly surpassed the maximum usage of the app with photos and my snappy post. We will never know, so let me begin this Tech Tuesday with a very important reminder:

Always SAVE your work. Whether that is backing up to an external hard drive, the cloud, or whatever, always save anything that you wish to keep. 

Now you should be aware of the extent of my knowledge. Tech Tuesday, may not last long.

I am going to start fairly basic and will focus on Apple products (because that's all I know). But, if you are one of my friends that has asked me a question, this is for you.

Today I am going to review adding new bookmarks on your iPad and iPhone. To let you know what my desktops look like, I have an original iPad and an iPhone 4.

Let's say you have a website that you would like to bookmark. While you are on the web page, touch the icon that is a rectangle with a right pointing arrow in it. On the iPad it is on the top of the page to the left of the web page address. On the iPhone it is at the bottom center of the screen.

On the iPad you will see this pop up window. You can choose Add Bookmark.

 Then you can choose where this bookmark goes. On this example, I have Bookmark Bar chosen. This will place the bookmark below the address box. You can touch that box and it will give you other folders or places in bookmarks to save the webpage.

Another alternative is to save the webpage directly to your Home Screen. (on a regular computer, we would just call this our desktop). 

This is what my Home Screen looks like with some websites saved to it. 
You can organize these also, but we will save that for another day. 

 The iPhone works basically the same way. The icons to do so are just in a different place. Notice the rectangle with the arrow is in at the center, bottom of the screen.

When you touch that icon the same screen pops up as on the iPad. 

When you select the Add Bookmark or Add to Home Screen, you will get the same screen as above.
Go ahead and save your favorite website, so you don't have to search for them. Share your favorites with the rest of us!

Now for an app review. Your iPhone and iPad should have the app Reminders on it. Not only can you write yourself reminders, you can set the app to remind you of your task as you leave your house or arrive at your destination. Of course, if you are using the 4S, you have Siri to do this for you.

Is this too basic? Let me know!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Media Monday

First, I do realize that Friday's post contained no content. More on that tomorrow (Tech Tuesday).

Now for Media Monday. I actually thought this would be easy to write since I spend a lot of time with magazines, television, movies, podcast, etc. Plus, I have Joe to pitch in whenever he can. However, for the past several days I have spent very little time with "media".

So, I will review the only movie besides Hunger Games, that I have seen. If you haven't read, seen or heard all about Hunger Games, then you probably don't care about this sort of post anyway.

I recently went to see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I heard about it through some of my close friends, the Satellite Sisters. (Trust me, I really wanted to write about their podcast, but I think I've mentioned it enough.)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a British romantic comedy. Yes, there are salmon and some fly fishing, but it is more of a love story. The director is Lasse Halstrom and these are some of his films.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is more fluffy than the above movies from this director, but it is a nice, entertaining film.

Harriet played by Emily Blunt works for a Sheik, who is an avid fly fisherman, and wishes to bring the sport to his home place of Yemen. The Sheik is played by Amr Waked.  Ewan McGregor, plays Dr. Jones, who is enlisted to bring the salmon to the Sheik's reservoir, even though he feels it is an impossible task.

Both Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor are very good in this film. Ewan McGregor fits the role of a Fisheries Department expert very well. I actually liked him in this understated role better than his other movie roles. In my opinion, he should take more parts like this. I am an Emily Blunt fan and, she did not let me down. I will say, though, that when she turns sideways, she is about two inches wide. Eat a cheese square, Emily. (From which film is that line?) Waked plays the part of a handsome, rich, wise sheik well.

Kristin Scott Thomas is the Secretary to the Prime Minister.  From other reviews I have read, her part is more true to the sarcasm and biting tone of the book. But, I have not read the book, so I can't really validate that fact. However, she plays the part of a tough woman in the political world to a tee.

The movie is entertaining and sweet. The humor is what one reviewer called "gentle" and I couldn't come up with a better description for the humor. If you don't see this movie during its limited showings in the theater, (Angelika Film Center and Cafe in Dallas or Cinemark West in Plano), catch it on pay for view when it appears. It is not a blockbuster, just a nice film and definitely worth the price of home entertainment.