September 2016


Ends and Odds

Fall is finally here, which in this part of the world means a heat wave in the next three or four weeks.

Mrs. McG got her first single-line AT&T bill, and it's not as small as either of us hoped. The fact her base rate is so much higher than mine must inflate the taxes, fees, assessments and surcharges proportionally higher.

Meanwhile I've taken to keeping cell data turned off on my phone, except as needed. I expect to save some 40¢ or more over last month — and even more next month since I won't be waiting ten days or so to start this practice.

For some reason certain local drug stores started getting single-serving bags of Salsa Verde Doritos in the last few weeks, an availability that is almost unprecedented hereabouts. Once, years ago, I found them in full-size bags at Walmart but they weren't replenished the next time I went looking for them.

Well, the full-size bags are at Walmart now too — or at least at the one Mrs. McG visited yesterday. I'm hoping this keeps up, and to encourage the stores in question I intend to keep buying whenever and wherever I find either size, whether or not I'm already stocked up.

After last season I would have expected Mississippi State's football team to be embarked on a winning season while the University of Wyoming struggled. The opposite has so far proven to be the case, with the Bulldogs 1-2 and their game tomorrow against Massachusetts not being carried on any cable channel we get.

Wyoming, on the other hand, is 2-1 and their game tonight against Eastern Michigan is on our TV lineup. I hope they do as well tonight as they have against everyone except Nebraska.

Friday,  September 23, 2016  McGehee

Sometimes Cops Are Just Darwin's Messengers

I've been asked on Twitter to tell this story, but it's far too long a story for Twitter.

Years ago, when I was single and underemployed and living in my mother's mobile home in south Sacramento, the neighborhood surrounding the MH park was on a long downhill trajectory and, as a result, so was the park itself.

This place was not a stereotypical white-trash, tornado-magnet "trailer park" — at least, as intended when designed and opened in perhaps the 1970s. It was supposed to be a safe, quiet country community for retirees and decent working-class people whose only shot at home ownership in those days might be one with axles under the floor. Residents might have a house note far briefer than the typical 30-year mortgage, plus a monthly rent bill and utilities. The park had its own well and water system so that was included in the rent.

Park management had a pretty high rate of turnover and some managers were more conscientious than others. No sooner did one with good ideas for cultivating a sense of community get burned out and leave than her successor started letting in all manner of riff-raff including people who got busted for drug-dealing and prostitution.

The incident I'm going to relate, though, involved the son or nephew of someone who had already lived there when Mom moved in and a family that had moved in after, but some years before things really went bad. At some point the former son or nephew, with some friends, got into a feud with the eldest son of the latter family, and one night a brawl broke out that resulted in several sheriff's cars and a sheriff's helicopter responding to restore peace.

Later as I was talking to members of the latter family someone threw a juice bottle full of — it turned out — water against their house. The eldest son, Jason, got a baseball bat and I got a smaller, lighter club of my own making and we walked over to the other side's house to see if there was anyone around to ... ask about the juice bottle.

We stood outside the darkened mobile home and spoke amongst ourselves loudly enough to be heard if anyone was hiding inside or nearby, to remind them that they didn't have as many friends there as Jason's family had.

Soon a sheriff's car came around the corner in our direction, headlights off. I called to Jason and we walked toward the car — with our respective clubs in our hands.

The car braked and the driver threw open his door and crouched behind it with his gun pointed at us, ordering us to drop our weapons, which of course we promptly did. We got patted down, and before this deputy was finished with us another arrived and said we weren't the ones they'd been called in about. Deputy Gun agreed, but finished the procedure and put our clubs in the trunk of his car before letting us walk back to Jason's house with the other deputy.

After some conversation with Jason's parents about what had happened and what Jason and I had been up to, Deputy Gun gave us back our items, and advised me that mine especially, being smaller and lighter, would be most effective against an enemy's knees.

Later when we told the story to some of our other neighbors, one of them — a redneck from somewhere in Texas that probably went on to favor Trump over Ted Cruz in that state's 2016 GOP primary — bluntly informed us that if he'd been with us he would have told the deputy to go stuff himself, and maybe even taken his gun away from him.

It might have been doing the gene pool a favor if he'd tried.

Tuesday,  September 20, 2016  McGehee

Sheriff Longmire and Game Warden Pickett

Before the latest Longmire book came out — it turned up in my e-reader app yesterday morning and I finished it by that afternoon — I had devoured all 16 of C.J. Box's Joe Pickett books. Both are set in fictional counties in Wyoming, and both involve the named protagonist in the solving of mysteries.

Most people only know the Longmire on TV (returning soon for Season 5 on Netflix), but apart from the characters' names and the Wyoming setting (though filmed in New Mexico) the TV series is a different critter with a more troubled, less confident Walt than in the books. And the literary Henry Standing Bear makes Lou Diamond Phillips' version, however well portrayed, look like a koala.

Well, Joe Pickett is a game warden, employed (in most of the books) by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. He's not supposed to solve crimes unless they're committed against elk, sage grouse, or cutthroat trout. And the first time we meet him in "Open Season," he's trying to cite a poacher who ends up taking Pickett's gun and stopping just short of blowing the game warden's brains out.

Similar mishaps befall him in most of the books, but even before this incident he was already famous for citing the Governor for fishing without a license — something most of his colleagues consider a damn fool stunt.

Thing is, a few months later the man who grabbed his gun is found murdered in Pickett's home woodpile, and the mystery of why he's there doesn't seem to interest Twelve Sleep County's sheriff as much as it does Pickett.

After having immersed myself in sixteen years worth of Box's Wyoming — the Pickett books come out every March like clockwork; I wish I had his discipline — the new Longmire book, "An Obvious Fact," was a chance to revisit Johnson's. It's less political than Box's stories — heck, it's even less political than the "Longmire" TV series — and also more comfortably masculine.

Well, part of that is because Walt Longmire is a widower and his best friend is tall, dark and savagely noble. Joe Pickett, on the other hand, is married and he and his wife Marybeth have spent the book years raising three girls on a paltry state salary and whatever his wife can earn at the local library or as a free-lance business manager. And while Walt approaches his job philosophically, Joe is kind of a stickler (hence the ticket he wrote against the Governor) for whom his occasional acts of badassery, demanded by exigent circumstances (nearly always to protect his wife and daughters), are departures he prefers not to let become habitual.

I like Longmire because he's an example. I like Pickett because he's the kind of guy Longmire would be an example for. And I'm looking forward to next March to find out what happens to him next.

Wednesday,  September 14, 2016  McGehee

Legends of the Autumn, 2

Meanwhile on the home acres here in subtropical west Georgia I am actually seeing some first fall color on certain trees. I don't mean the poplars — apparently they start dropping leaves in midsummer — but others that I wouldn't expect to see turn before October.

Our highs are staying in the mid to upper 80s, so I don't know what's up.

Monday,  September 12, 2016  McGehee

Twelve Years Ago, the DMV...

Back in 2004 I bought the second of my two Ford Broncos — the one I traded to a rent-a-car outfit in 2013 for The Hippo — and set about arranging to get tags, insurance and title.

I got tags and insurance okay, but for the heinous crime of putting the correct odometer reading on the title application I was told to get the seller's notarized signature attesting that the odometer figure I had entered was correct. Once I had persuaded the seller to meet with me for that and submitted the paperwork, the DMV (or whatever it was called then; its name has changed since) told me to find the person who sold it to the seller and get their notarized signature.

As you might imagine, I told them no. I also told my state senator and state representative. And the governor. In the end it was the letter I'd sent the governor that won that battle for me. I got my title without any further field trips.

Flash forward to 2016, when the county water agency replaced the water meter here at the home acres. Two months later our new high-tech water meter began showing such spikes in the flow rate that a water agency technician brought a notice to our door about it, and upon further investigation our best suggestion from the agency was to check around the house for leaking faucets or toilets.

Right at the beginning I told them we had no leaks that would explain these spikes, and pointed out the apparent coincidence of their leak report coming so soon after a new meter was installed. The response was that no, if that were the cause it would not have taken two months for the leak to appear, nor would it happen in spikes as the meter was showing.

When after some weeks of this I finally photographed water running across the edge of our front field and into the ditch, it having risen right at the meter, they finally sent a technician to check it out.

He tightened a nut near the meter — apparently left slack during the installation months previous — and fixed the leak. And we're getting almost our entire current water bill credited back to us.

When will these government agencies learn not to mess with me?

Tuesday,  September 6, 2016  McGehee

We Pay More Than That For Dinner, Some Places

My Google Project Fi phone bill this time around, including a credit of over nine bucks for cellular data (I used 77 megabytes of my 1-gigabyte budget) and the various taxes, fees, assessments and surcharges came to less than $25.

It wasn't all that long ago, with three lines on our AT&T account, that we could find ourselves spending over $200 a month.

Of course, Mrs. McG is still on AT&T but her next phone bill should be south of $60, depending on how Ma Bell calculates those taxes, fees, assessments and surcharges. She's paying a flat monthly charge for data, with unused data being rolled over for one month, after which time she will have paid for data she didn't use. I like the plan I'm on better.

I'd like to see if I could keep my data usage even lower this month, just for the heck. It may not work out that way though.

One thing bothering me is, my very-much-not-new Nexus tablet has already upgraded to the next version of Android; my much newer Nexus phone hasn't, yet. There's no reason for the delay, either.

Monday,  September 5, 2016  McGehee



September 2016


Original content and design © 2016 Kevin McGehee. Images and excerpts are © their respective owners.