A Trip to My Ford Dealer


As I wrote in a previous blog, I have the good luck to own a new Ford 150 truck that I bought a few months ago. It really is a nice piece of equipment and very comfortable to drive. I tend to spend a lot of time in it just driving around and listening to Audiobooks.

It does have a few drawbacks that I wish I could do something about but somehow, I can’t see that happening. I don’t know if any of you may have noticed but the size of regular pickup trucks especially the double wide cab has increased dramatically. When I first drove it home, I did as I have done for years with my other vehicles and that was to open the garage door and drive it in. As I slowly made my way into the garage, it was obvious that this truck was going to be a tight fit if there was any fit at all. When the front of the truck was touching the far wall and the back was still sticking out beyond the overhead door, I knew I was in trouble.

I backed the truck out of the garage and from that point on, the truck has had to sit outside. The good thing about it is that I have a lot of free space in the garage now that the truck is not there. Bad news is the truck is already super heated with our Texas temperatures by the time I want to get into it for any reason and it seems to get dirty a lot quicker. The other problem that I have is in parking the darn thing. I’m not talking about the actual process of parking but about the fact that I cannot see the front of the hood and have no idea how close I am to anything in front of me. I have to park, get out and take a look and then make the necessary adjustments if they are needed. The truck is fitted with what Ford calls a “back up assist” which is essentially several cameras located in the rear bumper that show a picture on the dashboard screen. I used to have front ones installed on the Escape that I traded in but I guess I didn’t get the right model for front cameras on the truck. Oh well, I will just have to back in to all of my future parking places.

The reason for writing this particular blog is due to the fact that I keep getting a message on the little screen telling me to “Change oil very soon”. So, I am currently sitting in my Ford dealership waiting to get the truck serviced with an oil change and tire rotation. They told me when I came in that it would take at least two hours they were so busy. If you think that is a long wait for an oil change, I was here yesterday both in the morning and afternoon and both times was told there was a four hour wait to get the service work done. Needless to say, I declined both times and was about to drive on my way when one of the Service Reps came out and gave me her card and told me to call ahead next time and she would be able to tell me the estimated length of the wait. They have this flag system so that the Service Reps have a rough idea of the time. The black flag means around four hours, the green flag around two hours and the white flag means come back some other time. I had followed her instructions and gave her a call and she had told me to “Come ahead” which is Texas talk to get here as quickly as you can because the situation may change. It is a thirty minute drive from my house to the dealership and any number of vehicles could drive inline in front of me in that time.

So, I am in the waiting room sitting in front of my Surface computer and writing away hoping that the promised two hours will be a lot shorter. It does allow me time to write so it is not all bad. Wait, I hear someone calling my name. It is my service guy telling me that my truck is ready. I quickly made my way to the front desk to settle up my account very pleased that in fact, it had only taken forty five minutes and I will be on my way.

Not bad at all. Now to face the rush hour traffic which will be stop and go for a large part of the way home. I know of a Starbucks just around the corner so a Grande Latte will sure help as I sit in that traffic along with all of the hundreds of frustrated drivers.

Written 6/8/2018

Politics


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As most of you that read my blogs already know, I am a Democrat and I really don’t have too much time for the current President for many reasons. I don’t plan on going into them here but would like to comment on the American way of how Politics are run.

Being from the old country where a stiff upper lip and a gentleman’s word really meant something, at least back in the day. I was there long enough to vote in several elections and apart from flyers stuck on every pole and the occasional Town Hall Meeting, most of the aspiring politicians knocked on doors to get their message out. Of course, I am talking of the time period when TV was comparatively new and the BBC who stood for no nonsense or advertising on their programs and was at the time, the only TV and Radio available. Later on, ITV, an independent and commercialized station came on the air giving the general population a choice of watching the riffraff shows on ITV or the very British and straight laced shows on BBC.

The point is that I cannot remember for the life of me ever contributing to any of the aspiring MP’s (Member of Parliament) in their quest for election. I’m sure they must have held some sort of fundraisers if only to pay for the printing of the above mentioned flyers. Whether they got elected or re-elected certainly did not hinge on the amount of money they had raised which brings me to the point of this blog. By the way, I have no idea what English Politics is like nowadays. It could be as bad as the American Way for all I know.

As like most people, my inbox is bombarded with emails from the different would be politicians all asking me to vote for them and “oh by the way, It would be really great if you could chip in yet another dollar or ten as my opponent is currently beating us in raising funds”. Now I am not averse to making the occasional contribution understanding the need to cover some of the outlandish expenses that running for any office seems to generate but I have to admit that I am really sick and tired of every email requesting such funds. They all start with, “My Opponent is outspending me by…”

When I look at the vast amount of funds that it takes to run for most political office on the National and State level, the mind boggles. It seems that it doesn’t matter what message you are trying to get out, unless you plaster it all over the media, your chances of success are very limited. Gone are the days when a persons personality and the ability to appeal to the general public would get them into office. Now it is based on whatever the spin doctors can get out there.

There is something majorly wrong with the American Election System when Politicians are already bought and in the pockets of the various groups and organizations and lobbyists from the first minute they take office. What chance does Democracy have for the average Joe when the almighty buck rules the day and that many working class Americans pay the price either indirectly or otherwise.

One thing I do know is that nowadays when I read an email requesting money for a political cause or get something in the mail, I just ignore them. I have figured out that I can’t change things for the better as the system is now too corrupt so I might as well keep my money in my pocket, vote for my candidates of choice when the time comes and hope that somewhere and some when, the country will wake up and the average Joe will realize that he is being made a complete and utter fool, used for someone else’s benefit.

Maybe I should become a Politician and get me some of the cash…

Written May 31, 2018

Life is Only Temporary



I sat here thinking about life and how it is constantly changing
nothing stays the same for very long as time marches on
what is currently the in thing today is tomorrow’s news
as time passes by.

Friends come and friends go as time dictates
here today and gone tomorrow in this never ending flow
we are here just for an instant in the grand scheme of things
but we think we are important.

Important enough to dictate how Nature will change
in the never ending search for wealth
destroying everything in the path of success
to attain our goals.

There is no turning back from our chosen goal
and that is to ruin the Earth and all that live on it
until Mother Nature feels the pain
that we inflict on her.

She may lose a few battles along the way
and not all life will succeed
but to be sure we are so small and insignificant
that we cannot win.

When she has had enough of the damage that we wreak
suddenly life will become intolerable as we know it
and the Wonders of Nature will take a vicious turn
and we will be the victims.

When she has cleaned our earthly traces away
in a few thousand years life will begin again
as it has in the past and this time with no man
just the animals and plants.

And she will never make the same mistake again…

Written 5/8/2018

The Snakes are on the Move…


I recently wrote a blog outlining the steps that I have taken to keep the dogs out from under the shed. I continued with that by sealing off the underside of the main deck to keep the dogs out of there as well.

One reason was because of the loud barking of the, “We found an animal/snake kind” which I determined to be coming from a corner under the deck by the house where I happened to have installed a trapdoor to get to the septic system drains. I pulled it up and below me was the usual scene. The snake backed into a corner rearing and striking at anything that came within range and two little dogs screaming their fool heads off in a vain attempt to get at the snake. Theirs was a lot of barking but not really trying too hard to actually make contact.

This corner just happened to have a water faucet and hose pipe within very easy reach which I turned on the dogs first to get them to quit and then on the snake in an attempt to drive it off in the opposite direction which appeared to succeed on both counts as the snake disappeared from view and the dogs were busy trying to shake themselves dry. This episode did it for me and a quick trip to Lowes to buy the material I needed and then back to work sealing off the far side of the deck. The work was not very difficult and I had it finished in a couple of hours.

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The snake under the deck was a Texas Rat Snake that can grow to be six feet long, The are relatively harmless and very useful for keeping the rat and mice population down. They would bite if attacked or harassed but are non poisonous. This particular one was about four feet long and beautifully marked and colored.

Thinking that I could relax a bit as far as the snakes go, I turned my attention to cleaning up the mess that I created the other day when I cleaned the ponds of leaves and debris and thinned out some of the many plants growing in them. I moved an existing tub that was on the walkway which contained a large growth of Lizards Tail, to the other side to make more room on the path and then decided to pull the weeds by hand that had accumulated in that area.

I was working away and not paying much attention to what I was doing and I nearly grabbed a handful of a very large snake that was already coiled and had its mouth open in a very threatening posture. This quickly brought me back into focus as I slowly stood up with no sudden movements. The snake was within easy striking distance of originally my face and then as I stood, my bare legs. I looked at it trying to determine just what type it was and although it looked for all the world like a rattlesnake with the right size, markings and color, apart from the aggressive posture, it made no attempt to strike me which it could easily have done as I was well within its range. I could not see a rattle on the tail neither did I hear anything vaguely familiar. Not wanting to take any chances as two of the dogs were on the deck and had not realized what was going on, I called them to come indoors, grabbed my camera and stepped back out. I was too late as the snake had already disappeared and although I searched around, came to the conclusion that it was probably under the deck which at the time was only a couple of feet away. The more I think about it, I think it too was a Rat snake even though it was not as brightly marked at the other one. This one was probably longer then the other and looked like it had recently consumed a Dove as there were a lot of new dove feathers littered about. It was also much bigger around the girth than the first one which may have been due to its recent meal.

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I considered this to be getting a bit much with two different and very large snakes in two days but the story is not over yet as far as snakes go. It is a bit anticlimactic as the next snake that I saw as I went out to check on the dogs who again were doing there barking routine, was a two feet long either Western Coachwhip or a Texas Brown Snake. I was very brave confronting this one as I shooed it away where it disappeared into the underbrush.

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Texas Brown Snake
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Western Coachwhip

I decided that this was all too much of a coincidence and the next day, I took Mikey into the vets to get a anti rattlesnake shot and then Gizmo in to have his follow up shot. Turns out that Ginnie had a rattlesnake shot and booster last year and is not due for another until August. After losing Richie, I can’t afford to take chances.

In retrospect, maybe I am the one that needs the shot as I couldn’t have gotten much closer to the one yesterday and if it had been so inclined and was a Rattler, could have easily bit me. One thing for sure, no more hand pulling the weeds. I’ll use a hoe in the future. If I had recognized it as a Rattlesnake, would I have killed it if I had something available? I honestly don’t believe that I would have unless it was in self defence prefering to try to drive them away back out of the yard. After all, they can’t help what they are and as frightening as they may be, it’s man’s inherent fear of snakes that makes the situation worse than what it really is.

Written 5/14/2018

Rattlesnake Deterrent

Rattlesnake Deterrent?



Mikey in front and Gizmo behind.

I had reason to take one of my latest adoptees, Gizmo, to the vets both as an introductory event and also to treat him for what appeared to be blindness in his left eye. He had woken up that morning with the eye totally covered just as though he had cataracts which immediately had me hit the panic button.

A quick phone call and I was on my way to the Vet’s fearing the worst. My particular Vet is a younger guy who has been attending to my animals ever since he joined the Clinic several years ago. We have developed a good relationship and he is never too busy to chat to me about this and that regarding the pets. He has also been the bearer of bad news several times over these past few years when when one or the other has passed on, usually overnight. He is well used to my crying into the phone as I always get upset. The last of these was Petey who died of Heartworm that affected his heart.

The last addition, Pete

On this particular occasion he did not think it a very big deal and explained that for some reason, Gizzy had a pus build up in his eye. He ran a few tests and came back and explained to me what he thought it was and then disappeared to complete his diagnosis. Before he went, I talked to him about an Anti Rattlesnake Injection and he reappeared with the required syringe and phial and proceeded to give Gizzy a shot. I paid for the visit and the prescribed medicines and was reminded to bring Gizzy back in five weeks for a Anti Rattlesnake booster shot.

This was one of the nicer times when I came home with the dog I took in, alive and kicking but it got me thinking about Rattlesnakes. Those of you that follow my stories are well aware of how we lost Richie to a Rattlesnake in my own backyard and worse yet, from under the workshop, last August. I blamed myself following that incident for not cleaning out all of the junk that had accumulated under the shed or at the very least blocking it off to prevent the dogs from getting under there. As usual hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Time passed and being the great healer that it is, plus acquiring two more dogs to keep Ginnie company, blocking off the shed sort of slipped to a back burner and was added to the never ending list of projects, real or imagined. However, it was brought back into focus really quickly when I went out to investigate what all of the ruckus was about with Gizmo and Mikey both under the shed and barking up a storm. Their barks however, were not of the panicky kind that Richie displayed whenever he accosted an animal or snake in his backyard and was hell bent on eradicating them from his world. These were the sort of barks reserved for the discovery usually by scent, of a mouse or a rat that they knew were there but were out of reach. When I lay on the ground to take a look for myself, I could not see anything that was cause for alarm.

However, that did remind me that I needed to make that area more secure and prevent the dogs from getting under the shed. I knew I could not stop the snakes or any other small wildlife from doing whatever they wanted to do and going wherever they could get and my easiest course of action was to prevent the dogs from getting where I did not want them.

I really didn’t want to enclose all around the entire shed as it was a lot of work. I know as I had just replaced the skirt boards on three sides. I got me thinking about the best way to handle the situation and then it occurred to me that I already had the sides blocked off and all I had to do was block off the front area under the small deck. On the left facing the shed, I already have a pair of wooden doors that shuts off that side of the shed completely. On the right, I have the fenced in area that I use for storage and the compost heap. Both of these are absolutely small dog proof and even Mikey who is a prodigious jumper can’t clear the fence or gate to get in.

Without further ado, I unscrewed several of the deck boards attached to the workshop so that I could get to the area and proceeded to get to work. I had several pieces of the plastic lattice which is easy to work and cut and fitted the stuff in and around the different obstructions that always seem to be in the way on any of these sort of projects. I was in no hurry and spread the work out over a couple of days stopping for a cuppa when I felt like it or even making a fuss of the dogs as they came by. Mikey likes to help which mostly consists of just getting in the way but I do relish his company. Gives me someone to talk to and reminds me a little of Richie.

I finished the project and feel much better that we have shut off one of the several different areas around the garden that snakes and such can crawl (or is the word slither?). That does give the dogs a fighting chance of at least sighting the snake before it strikes which was not the case with Richie. Whether they will run away or stand and bark remains to be seen and of course, it all depends on the snakes. A hot dry summer and they may well be in because of the proximity of the water in the ponds. BTW, I do not kill the snakes but try to “persuade” them to leave usually with the use of a water hose. Whether I would have killed the snake that got Richie, I don’t know how to answer that as I don’t know what my reactions would have been. As it was, I was more concerned in getting him to the Vet’s. I didn’t see that Rattler and to date have yet to see one either in the garden or in the wild even on all of the hikes that I do. Plenty of Tree snakes and Water snakes but no Rattlers or any others of the poisonous variety.

Oh yes, when I take Gizzie back for the booster shot, the other two dogs will also go with him to start their Anti Rattlesnake Series. Such is the life of a dog owner in Texas.

Written 5/9/2018

Working on the shed
Richie and the Snake.
More Sadness

 

Austin Pond Society May 2018 Meeting


The Austin Pond Society tried something different with this May Meeting and held it at one of our Sponsors Store, namely Aqua-Dome located just off Ben White in Austin, Texas.

Aqua-Dome Meeting May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was held outdoors with the weather cooperating, a nice breeze and not too hot. The first part of the meeting was as usual the Business Section and although the idea was unique, the soundtrack left a lot to be desired due to external traffic sounds. The second part of the meeting in which the owner, Gary Coffman, gave a demonstration on repotting water lilies was held in a different part of the large yard and the sound is much better.

Another of our Sponsors, Jet’s Pizza located in Brodie Lane, supplied the hungry group with a grand selection of different pizzas for us to devour which we proceeded to do at a rapid rate. There were about 40 members that had showed up and they listened intently as Gary showed us how he repots his water lilies. He also discussed Lotus and all of the other freshwater bog plants that he has for sale.

The meeting was over by 7:45 pm and I am quite sure that many of the members learned a bit about repotting water lilies. Thanks to Gary Coffman and Aqua-Dome for giving us something different.

This is the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting May 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Gary Coffman demonstrating on “How to repot Water Lilies”.

Austin Aqua-Dome 2018 Repotting from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 5/22/2018

A Drive in the Country 2018


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I was on my way to my Vets to take in one of my dogs for a check up and to get a Rattlesnake shot and couldn’t help but wonder at the beauty of the wildflowers. There was a lot of yellow and I suppose there is a reason for that although I am not smart enough to even guess what that may be.

I came back with my camera after taking my little dog, Gizzie back home and took as many pictures as I could, marvelling at the beauty all around me. I put together a slideshow to music for your enjoyment. These flowers are all in one area and if I had walked an 100 yards, would have found another such area just like the first. The flowers are in abundance this year.

A Drive in the Country from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written
5/4/2018