Please no, not my battery!

I’m watching an episode of the TV series, This is Us, when I notice that one of the female characters looks a lot like “Lily” on the ATT commercials. My Kindle Fire is at my fingertips and I decide to search it using Cast of This is Us. Several sites pop up and I pick one at random. Then it happened. I’ve seen something similar on the computer but never on a Kindle. The message read (and I’m paraphrasing here):

Warning! Your Kindle Fire Model XXX has been infected with four (4) viruses. These viruses will corrupt your device as well as destroy your battery. Click here for help. Warning! Leave this page at your own risk!

My battery? Oh, please God, not my battery. You can ravage the books, the games, any  app you want, but leave my battery alone. Wait a minute. How can a virus ruin a battery? Drain it dead? Hey, I do that all the time.

I took several deep breaths, got my courage up, tossed down a double  spooker for good measure, and…left the page.

The next morning, I find a smoldering pile of ruin in the middle of my coffee table.

Nah, just messing with ya. It’s working fine.

Hate those hackers.

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 10:38 am  Comments (1)  

JonBenet Ramsey: My theory.

Twenty-years after the horrible death of JonBenet Ramsey, the TV networks have been busy with new shows and new theories as to the killer. I’ve had a morbid fascination with this murder since the beginning. The facts of the case made no sense. The parents (or 8 year-old-brother) seemed to me to be the most unlikely of perpetrators. Here’s my theory.

The killer was a pedophile and a kidnapper. He knew, or knew of, John and Patsy Ramsey and the family. Since police records show a number of pedophiles in the vicinity, it’s quite possible one was close enough to observe the comings and goings of the Ramsey’s or knew of their plans beforehand.

On that fateful Christmas day, he watched as the family left the house to attend a party. He enters the house via the removable grate and broken window leading to the basement. This was proven possible by a detective, later brought into the vase, as he videoed himself entering the house. Boulder police stated there was no evidence of this, no footprints in the snow, therefore the killer was a family member. But later video shows there to be no snow on that side of the house.

After the killer gains entry, he makes his way through the rest of house, making sure the home is empty. He finds JonBenet’s room assuring himself that he can find it again in the dark. He comes across Patsy’s writing materials and composes the ransom note. The note is one of the biggest puzzles of the case. Why so long? And why the mention of how he admired John? Where did the odd amount of $118,000 come from, the exact amount of a bonus John had received several months ago? Police argued that no kidnapper would take the amount of time necessary to write such a note? I say, why not? He had time. The Ramsey’s weren’t due back for hours. What else was there to do? The guy might have fancied himself as an intellectual and used the note to show off his intelligence. Who knows how those people think?

Handwriting experts disagreed that the note was written by Patsy.

The guy returns to the basement to wait for the family to come home. Once the family is down for the night, the guy returns to the little girl’s room and disable’s her with a stun gun. The autopsy reveals two dots on her neck that were not there in a photo taken on the previous day. Again, experts differ on the source of the dots, but the stun gun fits my theory.

Half-conscious, the girl is carried back to the basement with little resistance. However, as the guy makes for the window exit, JonBenet wakes up and starts yelling? Fighting? The guy has to shut her up. He strikes her skull with a blunt object. (I don’t think the blunt object was ever found.) With his victim still moaning, the killer takes it to another level and chokes her with the rope, the garrote. The autopsy shows her heart was still beating at this point giving merit as to the sequence of the events. If you look at the knot, it suggests someone with a certain amount of expertise in knot tying. Would any of the Ramsey’s been able to tie such a knot under such unimaginable stress?

With JonBenet dead, kidnapping is no longer an option. The guy, now in full panic mode, pops out the window and flees.

The family? No way. John was accused of having some sort of sick sexual fetish with his daughter. But why kill her? And in such a brutal fashion? After watching several interviews with John, I can’t see it.

Patsy? One theory was that Patsy went into a rage when she discovered JonBenet had wet the bed. No. It’s one thing to lash out in sudden anger, but plot such an elaborate cover up complete with a ransom note and a garrote as a murder weapon? To watch her daughter die in such a grotesque fashion? No way. I think that little girl was Patsy’s life. Patsy didn’t do it.

Then the police tried to pin it on the older brother. Again, watching the interviews, the boy stayed with his story, not in the least evasive with his answers, and was totally believable.

I believe the Boulder police and the DA’s office worked from the statistic that shows whenever a child is murdered in the home, nine out of ten times, a family member is the guilty party. Unfortunately, the Ramsey’s actions, lawyering up and going back to Atlanta so soon after the killing, did little to allay their suspicions. By now, the Ramsey’s were locked in the sights of the legal authorities, and as is so often the case, the DA’s office seldom admits to being wrong.

The latest TV show on the killing introduced a new technique called Touch DNA, the ability to sample DNA from clothing from the mere touch of the fabric, a science not available at the time. Tests using JonBenet’s pajamas and panties revealed DNA that did not match anyone in the family. The theory that the DNA came from somewhere in the manufacturing process is remotely possible, but highly unlikely.

If there is any hope of finding the killer, Touch DNA may be the last chance. I feel it will never be solved, the killer dead and buried. I hope he didn’t die peacefully.




Published in: on December 26, 2016 at 11:31 am  Comments (2)  


Do you believe in omens? How about animal omens; a belief that the sighting of, or an experience with a wild animal, has meaning?

On the day when we moved into our present home, I mentioned to one of the workers that when I was scouting for an area to build, I came across a barred owl sitting on a traffic sign. The mover was an older man with furrowed brows and enough lines on his face to have seen a thing or two, good and bad, but probably mostly bad. He listened to my owl story and immediately stopped what he was doing.

“You may not put much stock in this,” he said. “But I believe that means something. It means you have chosen a good spot on this earth to build your home.”

Good to know…I guess.

Curious, I wanted to know more about animal omens. When I told a friend about it, she sent me a gift, a book appropriately titled Animal Omens written by Victoria Hunt.

Although it read a little like astrology, it was interesting nonetheless. Where am I going with this? Yesterday was not a good day for me. I was feeling depressed and discouraged and couldn’t shake the mood. I stepped out back for some fresh air.

My back yard is wooded with  several trees and a small graveled walking path. It’s my little nature trail, a place to walk and think. On the back side of the trail sits a wooden bench, a good place to pause, watch the clouds, and let the troubles drift away.

Late yesterday afternoon and long about twilight, it was chilly, but no wind to speak of. There I sat, my hoodie pulled over my head, feeling sorry for myself. I’m beginning to feel the cold seep into my legs when I see movement in the trees on the far side of the lot. A hawk! He’s hopping from branch to branch, his sharp eyes on the leaves below, probably searching for a woodland vole that the yard is known to hold. Suddenly, it takes flight, heading directly my way. I freeze. The hawk, a Red-tail, lands on a branch before me, no more than ten yards away, amazingly close and quite unusual. He looks at me. I look at him. We held eyes for only a moment before he flew…but it was enough.

Victoria Hunt writes: Hawk teaches us about balance and shows us how to release any unnecessary emotional baggage we may be carrying around.

And for that short, sweet moment, the hawk did just that.






Published in: on December 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm  Comments (2)  

The Making of a Novel: Part (I forget)

Back home and fresh out of the dentist’s chair, I lay back for a moment of recuperation, and it came to me-the details I’d been searching for to bring  all the principal characters together for the great climax. It was one slip up, one tiny mistake by my bad guy. I didn’t plan it. It just happened, as things so often do in my writing.

I’m so happy.


Published in: on October 13, 2016 at 8:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Raccoon Wars Update

To bring you up to speed, the last incident happened when Mr. Raccoon tried to chew through some very tough plastic, an ice chest that was the last line of defense for the sunflower seeds. I counter with a paste of flower, water, and red pepper flakes carefully spread over the damage. Get a taste of that pal.

He did. Apparently, Mr. Coonie likes his hot stuff. Probably eats jalapenos for lunch. Most of the paste was on the deck, eaten off or scraped off, who knows? Just to be sure, I made another paste, this time with plumbing caulk and pepper. The caulking, I reasoned, would stay put. Wrong.

New plan. Cut a piece of board, ten inches long, about two inches wide. Screwed it down on the plastic where the teeth marks were. That was yesterday.

Today, the board is still intact. I know he was here because the water bowl that the Missus keeps outside for the cats was filthy. Washing the hot sauce away? Soothing sore paws? Or just an UP YOURS?

The saga continues.

Watch this space.


Published in: on August 18, 2016 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  


Keeping my supply of birdseed away from the raccoons and yet handy to get to has been a problem going on… oh, all my life. As I get older and dumber the raccoons get educated and wiser, their DNA on how to steal birdseed passed down through the generations.

I thought I had it under control with an old ice chest, one of those that sits on four legs and rolls around. Before that was an aluminum trash can with a lid and a chain to hold it down. But the can was awkward to use. My back didn’t like bending over that far and the noisy chain never failed to stir up the neighbor’s dogs. What I don’t need with my morning coffee is a pack of yappers barking their asses off.

The ice chest was working great. It sat up high enough to scoop out the seeds while a single bungee cord held the lid in place. Until it didn’t. I nearly spilled my coffee when I saw where the masked bandit had forced the lid upward until the two lids came apart giving him easy access.

I studied it, had an aha moment, and found a board that I could screw to the lid thus adding longitudinal strength. Then dug around until I found a heavy duty bungee, one that could pull a car out of the mud, and strapped that baby on it. Get around that you little bastard.

He did. I don’t know how, but he did. I went back to the trash can, waiting for inspiration. It took a while, but I it finally came to me. What I could do, I reasoned, was leave the board in place on the ice chest, but instead of bungee cords, use a couple industrial strength hinges. A hasp on the front with a twisting lock would secure the other side. Easy to open yet protected from invaders. Yeah, that’ll work.

Maybe add a combination lock.

If he gets past that, I’m moving.

Watch this space.


Published in: on July 26, 2016 at 2:06 pm  Comments (2)  

The Six-Hundred Dollar Drip

It wasn’t a fast drip, only about every ten seconds or so, but it was loud and irritating. The distance from the shower head to the shower floor was at least six feet, the fall long enough to make not a drip, drip, drip, but a SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT. I’m half deaf and I could still hear it from my bedroom. Something had to be done.

The fixture was a Delta brand, a one knob affair. Turn left for hot, right for cold. Been working fine for fifteen years. No more. Got to be some kind of little O-ring, right? Cost, maybe fifty-cents. Problem is, I hate plumbing. Every plumbing job I ever attempted turned into a disaster with water everywhere ending with a call to somebody who knew what the hell they were doing.

Did I learn from the past? No. Instead, I watched a You Tube video of a guy changing the O-rings on an identical fixture. It was so simple. Turn the water off, remove a set screw, remove a lock washer, slide the fixture out, pop out the bad rings, replace, reassemble. How tough could it be?

I made it as far as Step Three. The lock washer had been installed by a gorilla. After several attempts to break it loose, I noticed a drop of water hanging from a weld on the input pipes. Not good. A closer look revealed green corrosion slowly but surely eating away at the connections, any further disturbance was just asking for trouble. I carefully put everything back together, held my breath, and turned the water on. Drip…drip…drip, not only from the shower head, but from the corroded pipe as well, dribbling directly to the slab between the wallboards. CRAP!!!

The new drip is barely dripping, so small that I can stuff towels between the walls and keep the water on, but not for long. Every plumber I call has a recording. “Leave a message.” I do. “EMERGENCY. EMERGENCY. MY HOUSE IS FLOODING. PLEASE CALL BACK IMMEDIATELY.” There was no sense being meek about it. Twenty minutes later, I get a call back. The plumber says he’s pulling off the job he’s on to help me out.

The plumber’s name is Steve. Steve examines my barely damp towels. I got the feeling his definition of emergency was different than mine. He delivers the bad news. “This faucet is no longer made and will have to be replaced. I will need to go through the wallboard to repair the pipe. I can do it for, oh… (long pause while he figures out the cost of the faucet, his time, and how much penalty money to assess for dragging him off the previous job), $650. My response: “You gotta be shittin’ me.” He wasn’t. I got him down to $525, but that was it.

That was last September, eight months ago. I wake up when Minnie the cat jumps on my belly at five a.m. indicating, “I’m hungry.” And then I hear it, drip…drip…drip. CRAP!!!

I wait till working hours and call Steve. I make no mention of an emergency. Steve says he’ll be out the next day. A different guy shows up. He takes everything apart again and finds a couple miniscule grains of debris inside the works. He wipes it clean and turns the water on. Fixed. “Seventy-five dollars please.”

I kind of thank the man and wave goodbye. Ten minutes later, drip…drip…drip.

I stab the guy’s cell phone number. Voice mail. I wanted so bad to say EMERGENCY, but instead, left a message in certain measured tones that I was not happy and the problem still exists.

Three days later, I’m still waiting for a call back.

Found an easy fix. Buy a shower head with a hose. Lay shower head in bottom of shower at night. Can’t hear the drip. Hey, simple solutions to complex problems.









Published in: on May 25, 2016 at 12:54 pm  Comments (1)  

Is it just me?

Am I the only one that can’t communicate with tech support? I thought it was because I’m hearing impaired, deaf as a stump, and didn’t understand what the techies were telling me. Of course the accent of many of them doesn’t help. But today, I got U.S. help from the great state of Georgia no less (I asked). Finally, I thought, someone who can understand Okie. And I can talk South all day.

The device in question is a call blocker. Its soul function is to block those never-ending, pull your hair out, irritating, morning to night, calls that come only when you’re sleeping, eating, or watching the ending of the most suspenseful movie ever made. It was getting ridiculous.

The gadget seemed simple enough. It had four buttons; Block List, Call List, Block Now, and Delete. You simply scroll through your recent calls and if you see a bad boy in there, mash that big red BLOCK NOW and that sob will never call you during happy hour again. It worked great…for three days. Then the first glitch shows up.

The IRS guy called. You know him, the one who says they never received your tax payment and please send it to a P.O. Box in Camden, New Jersey. That guy. I couldn’t get to the block button fast enough. I scroll the call list, but instead of the IRS guy, I get a jumble of numbers, some with only three digits, others with five or six.

That’s when I called the gal in Georgia. No really, she was there. She had the accent and everything. Talked like molasses runs. The real deal.

She asks my full name, my email address, my phone number, what the model number is, and even what state I’m in. I ask you, what possible difference does it make what state I’m in to get a couple questions answered? She needs none of that, well, maybe the model number, but that’s all.

What’s more, she couldn’t answer my question. “Did you check our web site?” she asks.

“Do you mean the one that has pages and pages of stupid questions. The one where your search box shows ZERO results for my inquiry? That one?”

“Sir, you mentioned you have another question. Maybe I can help you with that one.’

“Your device has a Delete button as well as instructions on how to delete an accidental blocked number by entering a series of pounds, stars, and numbers. Doesn’t the Delete button do the same thing?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

Did I mention this thing has only four buttons? It’s not like the cockpit of a 747 for Pete’s sake. It was obvious that her brain was running the same speed as her Georgia drawl.

“I’ll pass this on to tech support,” she says. “But isn’t this the number for tech support?” “Yes, she explains, but I’m moving you to another level.”

Repeat, four buttons. I guess her level only covers two buttons.

The boys in India have never looked so good.





Published in: on May 5, 2016 at 3:53 pm  Comments (1)  

The First Time


No, not sex, get your lecherous mind out of the gutter. I’m speaking of your first taste of alcohol; demon rum, the devil’s elixir, spirits of the gods, rotgut, suds, brewskies, whatever label you wish. Oh, I can hear a few of you now, your noses high, lips prim and tight.

I’ve never tasted the stuff and never will.

Let me tell you a short story of the time a friend of mine went to visit his dying grandfather at the local hospital. Grandpa’s favorite beverage throughout his many years had remained the same, the simple beer, Budweiser by name. The grandson felt it only fitting to sneak a Bud to the bedside as it might be grandpa’s last. The old man’s eyes lit up at the sight of the brown bottle and the familiar logo, the condensation still cold on the glass. He tipped it up, took a pull, and smiled. But it was a shared room. The patient in the other bed took one look at the little ceremony and snorted, “Liquor has never passed my lips.” Grandpa replied, “Well then, you old fart, you got something to look forward to.” True story.

I think I was around ten years old, maybe eleven, living on a rented farm in northeast Kansas. We had a couple milk cows, a horse, pigs, two dogs, and multiple cats. Dad spent all day in the field working the corn, the wheat, the oats, whatever would grow. Mom cooked of course, sewed clothes, tended to the garden, and tried to keep the house clean from the ever present Kansas dust.

We were poor by most standards, but I didn’t know it. We had plenty to eat. We had a radio where we listened to Fibber McGee and Molly, The Inner Sanctum, and my favorite, The Shadow. We went to town every Saturday. While my folks bought supplies and visited with the other farmers on the street corner, I went to the movie matinee to watch Gene Autry or Roy Rogers or sometimes, Hopalong Cassidy. From there it was a short walk to the newsstand where they sold “funny” books. I was allowed only one. The decision was agonizing; Batman, Superman, or Donald Duck. You couldn’t go wrong with Superman. The cost of this extravagance? Movie, 15 cents, funny book, 10 cents. Total: one quarter. That was my allowance. And I was happy with it.

With money so tight, imagine my surprise on the day I found the bottle of whiskey in the storage shed. I couldn’t believe my dad would squander what little cash we had on such things. I had never seen my dad drink, not even a beer. So what was this pint sized bottle of amber liquid doing there in the shadows, tucked behind a wall stud, hidden from view to all but the devilishly curious such as myself.

The brand name was Four Roses, never forget it. It was the top selling brand at the time. I didn’t know that of course. All I knew was that this particular bottle with the colorful flowers on the label was hidden for good reason, one of which was to keep it away from prying eyes, small children, and most likely…mom. I took it out in the sunshine for a closer look and found it to be covered with dust. Obviously, my dad wasn’t a heavy drinker.

Perhaps the bourbon was there for the days when the tractor broke down, or a cow had wandered off, or it was too wet to plow. In my imagination I could kinda see my dad sneaking in the shed, casting a glance at the kitchen window to be sure mom wasn’t watching, and then slipping the bottle outside to sit on a hay bale and watch the sun go down while he took a sip or two.

The more I thought on it, the more my young head full of mush approved of the idea. I too took a furtive look around, making sure I was not under observation, and loosened the cap. A tentative sniff was not quite the aroma I was expecting. Whiskey had to be good, had to be. Heck, the bad guys in the western bars all sat around drinking the stuff, laughing, and having a grand ‘ol time before Gene or Roy or Hopalong came in and cleared them all out.

Took me a swallow of it. Bad idea. I can’t remember if I knew any curse words at that age, but if I did, I probably said ‘em. More accurately, I would have tried and failed as air was suddenly in short supply. My throat constricted like someone had poured some of mom’s homemade lye soap down there. I gasped, I choked, my belly began to bounce and squirm or as one of my rascally relatives might describe it, lookin’ like a dog shittin’ peach seeds.

I didn’t heave. That was the only good part of the experience. I wiped the tears from my eyes and returned that bottle of fire water to its rightful place in the shed, never to be tampered with again. I might have tried to cover my tracks with a leafy tree limb ala Gene and Roy, but I’m a little hazy on that part of it.

Unlike the “old fart” in the grandpa story, never again could I make the claim that alcohol had never passed my lips. In fact, quite the contrary. A smart fella would have learned his lesson that day in the old dusty shed…but no. Although I never drank Four Roses again in my life, not one sip. There’s that.

 four roses



Published in: on April 30, 2016 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the course with Jack

With the Masters playing this weekend and every time one of the major golf tournaments rolls around, I reminisce about my little incident at Southern Hill C.C. Feel free to move on if you’ve heard the story before.

It was either the U.S. Open or the PGA (my memory on that specific fails me), but what I do remember is my small part in one of the biggest events in the world of golf.

I was working for Ma Bell at the time. Back then no one had satellite systems to relay sports programs form the venue to the viewer or much techy equipment of any kind. I’m sure the youngsters of today don’t even remember what vacuum tubes were, but that’s what our transmitters used to get the TV signal from point A to point B. The transistor was still a gleam in the eye of the scientists at Bell Labs.

Ma Bell was the intermediary between the network production trucks, usually ABC or CBS, and the AT&T Television distribution system known as the Backbone. In this case, the job of transmitting the program feed from Southern Hills to the ATT building in downtown Tulsa, fell to our little five-man crew. In order to do that, we had to establish a line-of-sight transmission path between the two locations in order to send the signal. With the terrain as it was, the only way to do that was with the use of a tower to raise the transmitting antenna high enough to clear the trees and buildings in the way.

The tower was of the portable type. It was made kind of like Tinker Toys (you kids probably don’t remember those either). You stacked the six foot square sections, one on top of the other, until you reached the desired height. In this case, about 80 ft. I can assure you that standing of top of that sucker with a 25 mph Oklahoma wind blowing was not for the faint of heart.

As the tournament went on the air, all was going well. Our signal was strong and steady. Millions of viewers watching. Our whole crew was tense, hoping no tubes failed and there would be no interruptions, no dreaded SORRY, WE ARE HAVING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. I remember feeling confident enough to leave my station long enough to watch the great Jack Nickolas tee off. He stood over the ball, rock solid, and took a deep breath. He swelled up like a big old bullfrog, cocked his head, and uncoiled. WHACK! The ball, long, straight, and true. Never forget it.

Showtime was over. Next came the part the public never saw, the tearing down and packing up of the miles of cables, temporary huts, racks full of electronics, and of course, the tower. R. Bubba Bennett and I were sent to the top to unbolt the sections a piece at a time while the ground crew consisting of the boss, Jack Mills, J. Burns, and new guy by the name of Odell Robertson, attended to the ropes and cables to lower the apparatus to solid terra firma.

The way it worked was Bubba and I would break a section loose, then maneuver it clear of the tower by way of something called a davit, a pulley-like lowering device to reduce the strain of the weight. Odell was on the rope. Down it came, section by section, removing the steel guy wires that held the tower steady as we went. There was just one little problem. We removed the last of the guy wires without making provisions to keep the remaining sections upright. Temporary lines would have worked nicely, but nooooo.

I swung another section outward. Odell heaved on the rope. I heard someone say, “It’s falling.”

The big Tinker Toy was made of industrial strength aluminum tubing, but I can assure you it was a heavy SOB, quite capable of crushing ribs and craniums. On the way down, I had a thought: If I can just space my body between the tubes, it’ll fall right around me. I’ll be fine!

I had a death grip on a tube to the left and a similar grip on a tube to my right. It was a great plan, one with merit, except for the fact that I forgot to let go of the tubes at the appropriate moment. That little oversight caused my knees (now at a stop and firmly on the golf course) to connect with my teeth (still traveling at roughly the speed of sound). The knees won that battle of course. My front teeth ended up somewhere near the fairway where Jack Nicklaus had walked just hours before. R. Bubba, it was later determined, had strained back muscles, but was otherwise okay.

My recovery was a long and painful process with multiple trips to oral surgeons and dentists, but it could have been worse, much worse.

As I watched big Jack at the ceremonial first tee at the Masters this weekend. I will always wonder if he heard me screaming on the way down. It would be my only connection to greatness.


Published in: on April 9, 2016 at 7:57 pm  Comments (1)