Deadliest Catch

I still remember sitting in my one bedroom apartment in Grand Prairie watching the first mini-series on crab fishing in the Bering Sea. I think it was three episodes. It was riveting, gritty, and raw. I was awed by the extents these men (and a few women) would go to catch the high-dollar crustaceans.

My fascination with the show carried on for years until kids and overseas living kept me from watching regularly. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure which season I stopped watching. I looked at the column of 18 (18!) seasons and picked the most recent one to start. I’m happy some of the same boats and captains are still there. I will say, I miss one of the early captains who was on in the early seasons. The ship was “Maverick”, I think. The captain’s wife would go out to sea with him and cook for the crew. The crew liked having someone to look after them. It made it a little bit easier to be away from home.

The show still draws me in. I’ve seen any number of times that the newbies, or greenhorns, are warned about watching their feet on deck. It’s not because they might trip over something. Occasionally, a loop of the line can wrap around the ankle of an unwary crewman as the pot weighing hundreds of pounds goes over the side and into the deep. Only a sharp knife and quick-thinking will prevent disaster. I’d never seen it, just the warnings. But this season, it has happened no less than three times and I’m not even done with the season, yet. All three times a fellow deckhand was there to save the day. What’s it like having a job where your coworker could literally save your life?

Musing on Country Music

I’ve been on a country music kick this week. Mostly the stuff that was popular when I was in college (ahem) years ago. It recalls a time when my life, and maybe life in general, was simpler. I’ve often thought of Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s ballad “Simple Life” as the theme song of my life:

“I have traveled this world far and wide, been all the way around to the other side, still there’s nothing like coming home, live the simple life”.

I’ve seen more of this globe than I ever hoped to do. Most American’s hope to make it to Europe once in their life, if that. Or just Hawaii. It’s still America, but different enough to be exotic. I’m grateful for what I’ve seen and done. I’m also ready to settle down somewhere: grow a garden, raise some chickens.

Miranda Lambert is one of my current favorites, though. She’s sassy, cute, and a good musician. I’d really love to see a collaboration with her and Amy Lee. No, wait! Hear me out.

It’s always struck me as odd that a song with the line “You never call me when you’re sober” isn’t a country song. I’d love to hear Miranda’s version of it. It might take a little rearranging because it’s not really structured like a typical country ditty. I think it would be freaking awesome, though.


A few weeks I wrote about my pair of black cats: Pinky and the Brain.

Landry found a litter of kittens three months after I adopted the Brain. They were tiny and crying. He called me and I came to get a look at them. The trio were dehydrated, but not too bad otherwise. Landry was hoping I’d be able to find a place for them to be fostered or a mama cat that was nursing. Well, those options didn’t pan out, so I had three hungry babies to feed for several weeks.

Fortunately, I’d been following the Kitten Lady online for a while, so I knew what to do: keep them warm, keep them fed, and keep their bowels moving. There were two black kittens and one tuxie in the litter. I faithfully tracked their progress as the days passed. I felt fully justified in taking them home when I saw that all three gained 50 grams in the first two days. You want kittens to gain an average of 10 grams a day. So, with that huge initial gain, I knew they’d been separated from mama for a while.

I learned that new kittens can hiss. And hiss they did, because I was a strange creature to them at first. I also learned that neonate kittens make a clicking sound as their purr. The little black girl kitty was the most adventurous, escaping the progressively bigger boxes I used to contain them.

The Brain hissed at me for weeks because I smelled like “other” cats. He stopped hissing, but still grumbled and looked at me sideways for a long time yet. I did my best to find them all homes, but Eastern Europe has lots of kittens and not many takers. At last, only one was left. Pinky was lonely down in the basement and so I let him have access to the house. I never meant to keep him, but he became part of the family.

He wasn’t smart; I’ve covered that. But he was sweet and purred a lot when he was feeling snuggly.

And you’ve noticed I’m using an awful lot of past tense here. I let him out on the evening of the 22nd of May and I haven’t seen him since. He’d been staying out late as a habit and I’d been staying up until he returned or gone looking for him. But that night, I was annoyed and decided that the weather was nice enough. I went to bed. And he’s gone.

The strangest part is not getting to say goodbye. Every other animal I’ve had, I had to the end of their natural lifespan. I could see them declining and knew that the end was near. I spoiled them and loved on them and cherished those final interactions.

The kids are still hoping he’ll come back. And I can’t completely rule out that possibility: cats are cats. If he doesn’t, I know I gave him four good years he wouldn’t have had otherwise. That is a small comfort.


The kids painted pumpkins at an event last Halloween. We left them on the porch for a couple of months and then I tossed them. Or so I thought. I just realized one of them is still on top of the china hutch. In May. The end of May.


Yeah, that’s getting tossed.

You’re welcome for the update. It is surprisingly intact, but still going in the garbage.

Culture Shock

If you’ve grown up and lived in one place, I envy you. On the other hand, I also feel sorry for you. One of the things I’ve learned though, is that culture shock can still happen even if you never leave the country.

In the sixth grade, I moved from central Texas (Hill Country) to northern California. It’s a horrible time in a kid’s life to move. Kids that age are vicious. Anyway, I went from a junior high that I really liked to a crappy K-8 school in NorCal. My school in Texas had been a proper junior high with lockers and rotating schedules. I’d loved the independence of memorizing my schedule, going to classes, and picking electives. The school in California was really just a one room school house with a bunch of portables around it. Oh! And an addition for the library. No cafeteria, no gym, it was just pavement and portables. You could hear the wind whistle through the roofs of the portables. Some days I half expected the roof to go flying off.

I still remember the first day. My folks took me into the office and got me registered or whatever. I was wearing a blue winter coat that was my brother’s hand-me-down. The people in the office just handed me a school map, put an X on the correct classroom, and said “go there”. I was a little stunned by that. Every other new student I’d ever seen at school was taken to their new class by an administrator. They were introduced to the class or, at the very least, the teacher. I thought to myself, “But this is middle school and I can follow a map easily enough.” Plucking up my courage, I headed out into the wind and rain.

The classroom was on the end of a row. I struggled against the wind to open the door and had it slam behind me. I looked up and dozens of eyes stared at me. The teacher looked up and said, “Can I help you?” I introduced myself and added that I was her new student.


Yeah, she said that. The office hadn’t even bothered to phone the teacher to let her know I was coming. That basically set the tone for the rest of that school year. And the older I get, the madder I get at that teacher. Like it’s not hard enough moving and starting a new school in the middle of the year. It was a rapidly growing school district and they were having a hard time making room for all the kids. I can see that. But still. And the people in the office didn’t even think of giving her a ‘head’s up’. That’s not cool, either. If they’d done that, the teacher would have had a moment to compose herself, perhaps.

So, that was my first moment of culture shock. How about you?

Working, working

Yep. I’ve been writing. It just hasn’t been here. I’m working on another short story for an anthology. It’s at the point of edits on the rough draft and kicking it out to a couple of beta readers. Landry will give it a look later. Today, hopefully.

It’s kind of scary sending my work to other people. I’m always worried I’ll be told the story doesn’t work at a basic level and needs major rewrites or that my vision is completely unworkable. Mind you, this has never happened. Writers are a nervous bunch.

In other news, it looks like I landed a job with more regular hours and a higher pay rate. Yay me! I thought I did horribly in the interview by not being adequately prepared. Then, one of the interviewers let slip the next day that she thought I did really well. My jaw fell open to hear that.

I’m hoping to blog more regularly after my rewrites are done.

16 days…

The anniversary of the collapse of the Surfside condo building in Florida is fast approaching (June 24). I’ve been following the investigation. It was just so shocking that a building could collapse suddenly and with so little warning. Now, we know there were warnings. And it seems that someone noticed something not quite right a few weeks before.

First, a bit of background. In the Miami area, buildings have to undergo inspection at the forty year mark. As the Surfside building, Champlain Towers South, approached that birthday, they hired an engineering firm to come out and do an assessment. Morabito Consultants report was alarming. For various reasons, it wasn’t acted upon immediately. Repairs and shoring were postponed. The condition of the building continued to deteriorate.

The Miami Herald reported this week, that there were new warning signs just a few weeks before the collapse. (I’d link the article, but it’s behind a paywall.). One of the planters on the pool deck had sunk and cracked. This was concerning enough that someone called Morabito again, to look at the development. Whomever it was that Morabito sent out, took some pictures, and decided the cracks were root intrusion. In reality, it was the slow-motion start of the collapse which would end 16 days later.

It’s so agonizing to know that crisis could have been averted even then. But I think the Morabito representative just couldn’t grasp the meaning behind what he/she was seeing. No one wants to think the worst is imminent. I wonder now how that person is coping. It’s really a perfect recipe for guilt.

Most of this information comes from the YouTube channel “Building Integrity”. I’m linking the video on this specific part of the collapse below. The entire series on Surfside is well worth watching. The channel host, Josh, is an amazing teacher who can break down technical concepts and explain them in Layman.

A burning need to know: bamboo v. rayon

Just lovely. It seems that a couple of big name stores were mislabeling some of their textile products. If you happened to buy something labeled as bamboo from Walmart or Kohls in the last 10 years or so, you might want to check if it’s actually bamboo or not.

And how, pray tell, you ask might one discern without a microscope and your very own Abby Sciuto? You do a burn test. I first heard about these when we played in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). In the SCA, you try to make your costumes/garb as close to period as possible. Some folks take this more seriously than others. But generally, if you can use natural fiber cloth, the look is much more believable, whether you used a sewing machine or sewed by hand.

Medieval clothing can take up a lot of yardage, so to save money, it’s not unusual to buy up unmarked bolts or household linens at thrift shops. But to double-check the fiber content, people can ask for a swatch, take it outside and burn that sucker. Natural vs. synthetic is an easy determination. The natural fiber will smell of hair (woolens) or burning paper. Synthetics smell acrid and frequently melt.

So, yes, you can figure out if that garment or tablecloth is actually bamboo. You’re going to need to snip off a piece from a discrete area of the garment and burn it in a safe place. What you do from there, is entirely up to you.

Run, baby, run

Do girls still go through a horse crazy phase? It used to be a right of passage. I think the typical run of things was all things horsey until the girls start to become women and then it’s boy-crazy. Except, I never really went through the boy-crazy phase. Don’t get me wrong; I liked boys, just not the boys I knew. There were only a few I would have considered dating out of 400 in my high school class. In result, I stayed horse crazy longer than most.

I’ll admit to being rather conflicted about horse racing. The horses are really started too young. If you’re not in the know, you usually wait until a horse is between two and four years before you ever think of getting on their back. It takes that long for the muscles and bones to mature enough for the load.

Racehorses are competing at two years old (or less). The Triple Crown (Derby, Preakness, and Belmont) is for three year old horses. They’re competing at a top level when most other horses are just getting trained to carry a rider. And I get that there is going to be some natural selection/breeding going on that favors Thoroughbreds that mature early. But I think training them so early leads to more injuries and fractures which can result in death.

That all said, I usually watch the Kentucky Derby. I missed watching it live this year, I’m sorry to say, because it was a heck of a race. The biggest long shot, who was dead last near the Clubhouse turn, made the best closing sprint I think I have ever seen. He churned through the field, weaving through traffic without a stutter or check in stride. I can’t believe the stamina he had to still be pouring it on as they passed under the wire. Simply amazing stuff. I can’t wait to see him run again in a couple of weeks.

Hopefully, in a couple of years, he’ll be retired and enjoy standing at stud for a decade or more.

See no evil…

Ah, yes. Strange news stories. My favorite part of the Jay Leno Tonight Show was Monday night “Headlines”. People would send him funny headlines or poor product placements from their local newspaper. I always meant to send in a box of Midol (you know, medicine for periods). On the back it says “do not take if you have difficulty in urination due to enlargement of a prostate gland”. Hmmm. If you have a prostate, you’re not going to bleed once a month.

Anywho. It seems some evidence disappeared from police custody in a murder trial in India. The evidence envelope with several items from the scene, including the murder weapon (!) was stolen. And that’s not SO strange. But the police say it was stolen by a monkey. Monkeys are little thieves. We were warned when we visited Thailand, not to trust the little kleptos.

Reading that far into the article, I assumed that a monkey got into the station somehow, raised unholy hell, and skipped off with a bag of loot. Nope. Not even close. Apparently, the police had no room for it at the station and were storing evidence under a tree. As in, outside. Are there no storage units in India?? I don’t know what the justice system is like in India, but I have to assume, they’re going to have to drop the charges.