Category Archives: Kerrville

Culinary Risk Taking – MSG – Root Hog or Die

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Socorro, New Mexico, isn’t long on good restaurants.  But during the several years I lived there, I had a favorite restaurant, and a favorite menu item.  The place was owned and operated by an elderly Chinese man with whom I was on friendly, bantering terms. 

This lasted until the discovery that MSG in food causes my blood pressure to skyrocket.  A few times per week I’d sit myself down, they’d bring the usual, and a couple of hours later my pulse would be visible almost anywhere a blood vessel showed.  This was accompanied by a pounding in my head, maybe audible, maybe only seemingly so.

After I figured out the connection between my favorite food item and the blood pressure problem I attempted to discuss it with the owner, though we had a language barrier.   The result was an outburst of anger and indignation.  I didn’t know yet the MSG was the cause.  Just that particular menu item.

I solved the problem by eating elsewhere, but eventually learned that Chinese restaurants, particularly, lean heavily on adding MSG to their foods, and that a surprisingly large number of people have reactions to it similar to mine. 

I also began watching the labels on food I bought to prepare at home.  What I discovered was that a person sensitive to MSG had best carry a magnifying glass in his pocket and read those labels carefully.  Almost everything a person might buy in a can is loaded with it, but especially soups and soup-bases.  If a label slips past and gets inside the vehicle it notifies the owner by the rods knocking.

But I was going to say, I love oriental food, and I was in town yesterday, so I clenched my teeth and decided it was a day for risk-taking.  There’s an Oriental buffet I’d never tried, so I pulled in.  I tried asking whether they had MSG in their food, but it was clear she didn’t understand me.  So I went root hog or die.

The food was mediocre, but I didn’t die.  I took a couple of extra blood pressure pills when the pounding in my head started, and by the time I got home my blood pressure was so low I didn’t have any business being alive.

I found myself wondering why the FDA cops who faint and revive themselves over one-in-a-billion risks to human health otherwise haven’t jumped on this like ugly on a monkey.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules: 

Historical Events Duplicated Today?

Old Jules, does any time in history correspond to what’s going on within the US today?

Wobblehead Extensions, Crowfoots and Mayan Ruins in Georgia

Good morning readers. I’m grateful you’re here reading this cold morning.

Every time we think we’ve got things figured out and can make pronouncements to one another without fear of someone making a counter-pronouncement back at us with any danger of validity this seems to happen.  Some smarty-pants academian digs around where he’s got no business being and spang finds something to cut us off at the knees.

In this instance it’s fairly solid physical evidence a Mayan city once thrived in the otherwise non-Mayan and feet-implanted-in-the-ground US state of Georgia.  The offending pointee-headed guy with the cheek to find it doesn’t even have the courtesy to be a US academian who can be bludgeoned by grant money and sneers from his peers to shut the hell up about it and not go around shaking and rattling previous pronouncements.

1,100-year-old Mayan ruins found in North Georgia

When evidence began to turn up of Mayan connections to the Georgia site, South African archeologist Johannes Loubser brought teams to the site who took soil samples and analyzed pottery shards which dated the site and indicated that it had been inhabited for many decades approximately 1000 years ago. The people who settled there were known as Itza Maya, a word that carried over into the Cherokee language of the region.

The city that is being uncovered there is believed to have been called Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto searched for unsuccessfully in 1540. So far, archeologists have unearthed “at least 154 stone masonry walls for agricultural terraces, plus evidence of a sophisticated irrigation system and ruins of several other stone structures.” Much more may still be hidden underground.

A good level-headed other good US scholar took a more level-headed approach to the finds:

UPDATE: Raw Story contacted another UGA Scientist, Dr. B. T. Thomas of the Department of Environmental Science, who indicated that, while it is unlikely that the Mayan people migrated en masse from Central America to settle in what is now the United States, he refused to characterize Thornton’s conclusions as “wrong,” stating that it is entirely possible that some Mayans and their descendants migrated north, bringing Mayan building and agricultural techniques to the Southeastern U.S. as they integrated with the existing indigenous people there.

He didn’t go on to say what needs saying.  Namely that the South African guy needs to go home and  tend his own affairs.  There’s plenty of digging to be done in Africa and plenty of good US academians capable of handling any digging needs doing here.  And most especially the South African guy needs to be kept away from the copper artifacts found in Florida and Georgia in other mounds that bear a strong similarity to Aztec artifacts in Mexico.

We don’t need any guys running around in pickup trucks drinking beer and talking about Mayan calendars.  Things are already complicated enough.

Which brings me to crowfoots and wobblehead extensions.  I borrowed Little Red yesterday and went into Kerrville.  I spent a goodly while hanging around in the AutoZone store picking the brains of guys in bib overalls with grease under their fingernails.

Those wobblehead extensions offer a new lease on life for the hope of getting the starter off the Communist Toyota.  The crowfoots might be helpful getting the new one back on.  Not pictured here, but also new to  the anti-Japanese engineering arsenal is a mirror that swivels at the end of a telescoping handle for looking into places nobody ever intended them to be looked into.

Old Jules

Two Big Events in One Day!

Wow.  I must be living right.

First, at the Hospice Thrift Store in Kerrville I found these gloves with no fingertips for $1.50.  When it’s cold in this cabin I go to 18 layers of longjohns and sweatsuits, Sorel snowboots and innovative headgear.  But my fingers stiffen until I can only use the computer with a lot of mistakes.

I’m thinking those gloves are going to fix that one.

But on arriving back home and tuning the computer to this frequency I found to my delight that Michael had explained the solution to another one I’ve been scratching my head over longer than I care to admit.

Thank you Michael.

Old Jules

Clean Attire, Water and Holes in Underwear – A Delicate Balance

I’ve written about some of my laundry issues here:

The Trap of ‘Wanting’

And here: Clean Underwear and Hard Times

But some new issues have come up.

A lot of sudden wear and tear showing up on my clothing.  I attribute a lot of it to this:

I picked it up at the tail-end of a garage sale in Kerrville, still in the box, evidently never used, for $7.00 US.  I thought it would make a great addition to the old Kenmore by offering a means of rinsing one load while another was being washed.  Neither of the two uses a lot of water, but this one uses a bit less than the Kenmore.  I was hugging myself with joy.

But I believe this thing wears out clothes instead of washing them.  At this rate I’ll be running around naked under my outer clothing before another change of underwear’s required. 

My current thinking is I’m going to have to figure out something to do with this thing that doesn’t involve washing clothes.

Meanwhile maybe it’s time to test a theory I’ve been chewing on for some while that nobody would notice or care if they saw a 68 year old man in town doing business, buying groceries and chicken feed, bare-assed naked.

Maybe they’d like it better than one who has plenty of cotton and chinese poly-whatchallit covering his privates, but stinks to high heaven.

Old Jules


Building A Salvage Chicken-Hilton – One Man Band

Follow-up construction details:

I’ve mentioned and shown pics of the chicken-house built from discarded shower doors, etc., several times here.

“A chicken-house fabricated entirely from salvage, discarded shower doors, camper shell roof, refrigerator shelves, whatever came to hand free”

White Trash Repairs: Throwing Down the Gauntlet

From the ground:

I said when I made the post I’d be talking more about it, but way led onto way and I never got around to doing it. 

This was a one-man-band project.  The footprint of that structure has about an inch-or-less of topsoil over hardpan caliche or limestone.  Digging holes for the uprights wasn’t something I wanted to contemplate.

I knew I wanted the pickup camper as a roof, the shower-doors as part of the walls, wanted uprights with lateral stability without digging into limestone.  But otherwise it was plan-as-you go, driven partly by material availability.

Those lower walls are two sides of a huge packing crate I picked up for $5 from a guy in Kerrville.  Bought 30# of large lag-screws [$1.00 per pound] from Habitat for Humanity Recycling Store for the project because I anticipated difficulties in the lateral stability department.  The shower doors were free.  The 4x4s were from the same guy who sold me the packing crate.

I used the crate-sides to get three of the uprights generally in place by bolting them together.  Trust me when I tell you this ought to be a 2-man job.  I fudged on a lot of things by not paying a lot of attention to right-angles because I couldn’t be two places at once and knew I wasn’t going to live forever.

I took about a week building it, but probably it could have been done in a day with two people working.

As you can see I trenched below the lower walls and dug to bedrock, only an inch or two, to level the lower walls and provide a base for the corner posts.

Before putting the camper shell on top I built an interior frame and stabilized it with a steel bed frame salvaged from a junk pile:

Once that was in place I ran the front bumper of the truck up against it from whatever angles I could get to it, hooked a chain to the uprights from other angles pushing and pulling it with the truck to test the lateral strength.  We get some high winds and I didn’t want it coming down, even if the additional strength the camper shell structure would add became fractured.

I constructed a lean-to ramp using 4 2x12s and positioned the camper shell diagonally on it, skidded it up with a come-along until I had it in place, then bolted it to the top frame.  As I was finishing, Gale dropped down to see how I was doing and helped a lot during the final positioning of the shell.

The camper shell was missing the door, so for ventilation I used salvaged refrigerator shelving.  It keeps the predators out but allows a good breeze.  But to keep out the water I added the additional planks at an angle sloping away from the roof runoff.

Other than that there wasn’t much to it.

Old Jules

Three Dog Night– One Man Band

A Few Noticings in Town

The sign and that line of people outside the building suggests the Christians in Washington mightn’t have anything in common with regular old actual Christians of the old actual Christianity faith.

I don’t know what they’re doing to help those people in there, being a non-Christian, but they must be doing something.  That line stretches all the way out into the parking lot.

I don’t need a gas grille, but if I did I’d have snapped this one up from the Salvation Army:

It’s missing the burners and regulator, cheap to add and retrofit, looks barely used, but the price is amazing:

Only thing I can figure is the Chinese have bought out Harley Davidson:

Damned thing is 200cc and has a pull starter like a lawn mower.  They charge extra for ape-hangers.

But it looks as though they’re also wanting to cash in on some of the automotive company bailouts:

Notice the suicide shift above the right fender.  You have to turn loose the steering wheel to shift gears.  Can’t imagine how they got that through Ralph Nader’s US Department of Transportation and Welfare.

Best for last, though.  Here’s a free crapper and exercycle from Habitat for Humanity:

Tempting, but I’ve already got the one, and I get my exercise just trying to stay alive.  Fact of life.

Old Jules

Loudon Wainwright– Glad To See You Got Religion

Upside Down Thrift Store Horse Trading

This 24/7 music to keep owls from killing my guineas at night  [ White Trash Repairs and Fixes – Owls and Rock ‘n Roll ] is hard on audio equipment.

A while back I was without music to confuse the owl-folk.  I’d spang worn out my Kerrville FreeCycle-donated 200 CD Sony player and was scouting around for whatever the Universe had in mind to replace it.  A couple of months had passed, to I figured the Universe was ripe.

Salvation Army Thrift Store in Kerrville was having a half-price off on electronics sale.  I nosed around among the 8 track tape players, the television sets, the wires with all kinds of connections pretending not to pay any mind to a Sony 300 CD player staring at me as though I was the abyss.  The door was open on it and it seemed a bit battered, but someone had taped, “WORKS” on it, along with a price of $65.  $32.50 with the half-price on electronics.

The guy I think must be the store manager was at the register, and we’ve done enough business over time for him to know my ways and for me to know his.   Between ringing up purchases he was watching me not lo0k at that CD player with a half-smile on his face.  I moseyed over to it scowling, making sure in the corner of my eye he was looking, and tried to mess with the door to get it closed.  Shook my head, then looked up and met his eye.

“If that thing has a door it doesn’t seem to close.”

“Bring it over here and we’ll talk about it.”

I put it on the counter and we both scowled at it.  “That’s a lot of money to have to risk for something might not work.  If I bought it could you write down something so I could bring it back if it doesn’t work?”

We both knew the answer to that one.  It’s sold as is.  “I can’t do that.  But I’d sure hate for someone to buy it and get stuck with it not working.  What do you think it’s worth risk-wise?”

He and I have been through this enough times before to know how we play the game.  “I couldn’t pay more than $20 for it.”

No,” shaking his head, “I’d rather give it to you free than let you pay that much.”

“I’m not taking that out of here free.  I’m not begging.  I’m just trying to find a price we can agree on.  How about $15?”

“How about a buck?”

$10?  I’m not sure I can go any lower than 10.  A man has to live with his conscience.”  I feigned away from the counter as though about to walk off.

“Noo, no, no!”  Him acting frantic.  “How about $5?  Could you go $5?”


He carried it across the counter to the register and started figuring the tax.  “It’s half-price for electronics today.  But you probably don’t want to use that, do you?”

“Naw.  Just ring it up at the full price we agreed to.  I’m not looking for any bargain.”

Old Jules

Steve Goodman- The Auctioneer

Fire Ants, Dishwashing and Drought

Having to haul water offers up a rare challenge insofar as cooking and cleaning up afterward.   Before the drought became so severe I’d mitigated the problem by putting my dirty dishes into potato or grapefruit bags and placing them on imported fireant beds.  A day later, voila!  Clean clean clean!

All I had to do is pull them out of the bags and wipe them down with a moist towel or cloth and they were ready to use.

But as the summer progressed and the soil dried the fire ant beds became more difficult to locate.  Without moisture in it the soil here has no structure.  The beds became invisible, and concurrently the ants seemed just to go underground.   Imported fire ants,  common name: red imported fire ant
scientific name: Solenopsis invicta Buren (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) are eating machines.  They’ll eat anything.

“Mounds are built of soil and are seldom larger than 46 cm (18 in) in diameter. When a mound is disturbed, ants emerge aggressively to bite and sting the intruder. A white pustule usually appears the next day at the site of the sting (Cohen 1992).

I looked for other alternatives with other ant species, no joy.  What I discovered is that good American fire ants just don’t want to do that kind of work.  I tried it with every kind of ant bed I could find, dishes stacking up in the sink, me gradually being forced to use hauled water and scouring pads to clean up dishes and utensils.

If I couldn’t find some good American fireants willing to work or some way to locate illegal imported fireants for the job I was going to be reduced to hauling water a lot more, or get a dog to lick that stuff off the eatingware.

Luckily that 24/7 September 13, moonbows and canned thunder outdoor canned thunder brought in the first measurable rainfall in 100+ days here, just as you thought it would.  There’s enough moisture in the soil now to let the fire ant mounds get some altitude so’s I’ll be able to locate them for my dishwashing.

On the other hand, the rain proved my chimney-fix didn’t entirely accomplish what was intended.

Water was hitting the chimney outside, intruding and running down the stovepipe as far as the elbow, then dripping in.

Hard to think of a good quote to sum up all this.  “It’s an ill wind that blows no good?”

But it’s all good.  I just have to cut that oversized chimney-pipe and put it on there as a sleeve over the old chimney soon.  Better knowing it now than discovering it when Mr. Bullgoose Daddy-Longlegs storm comes in.

Old Jules

Curiouser and curiouser

Notice that hash marking of diagonal sunspots.

Then have a look at the positions of the three weirdest spin axis / magnetic fields in the solar system.  Saturn, Uranus and Neptune:

SimSolar v2.0  Planetary position simulation

Old Jules

8:30 AM – Just for those who think a blog entry ought to have something for everyone.

Tired of buying compressed air to blow the dirt out of your computer, watching the prices on it rise to simulate gold?

60# of pressure that doesn’t run out.  Cost was $2 in a thrift store.

Computer gurus will tell you it might cause moisture to condense on the important components of your comp.  Physics says they ought to be maybe right because of the venturi created when the air expands leaving the pressurized tube.

I’ve been using this one inside and outside my comps for about two years.  Haven’t seen any signs of condensation, haven’t experienced any damage to the comps, haven’t spent a penny on compressed air, don’t have a bunch of empty cans lying around wondering what to do with themselves.

But that’s just me.   I’m a risk taker.

It also serves as a great, compact bellows for starting fires in a wood stove.

INTERIM UPDATE to September 13, moonbows and canned thunder

Mama Nature after two days of brainwashing with canned thunder:

Old Jules

5:00 PM – Decided I needed to go to Kerrville for necessaries.  Ended up getting a couple of watermelons from an old guy brings them up from the valley.  He says it’s his last watermelon trip for the year, says they’ve gotten too high in cost down there to allow him any profit after hauling costs.  I told him he needs to buy another truck and make up the difference in volume.  Some jokes have been dead long enough for reincarnating them.  This one fell on deaf ears.  Only drew a puzzled look, as though he was considering the entrepreneural aspects.

This was hard to resist.  All those foam ice chests could have kept my chickens pooping foam plastic until spring.

Those shower doors are still coming in for them I reckons, with nobody buying them.  I got 20 free for building my chicken house out of, but I’m betting you’d have to pay $5 for all these until they’re ready to put them in the dumpster.

Those have collected dust, been around a while.  I’m guessing a person could have them all at a righteous price as low as your conscience would allow you to offer.

Next stop:

Not much going on here.

Next stop:

A guy surely needs one of those, eh?

Didn’t buy nuffin there though.  Eventually did pick off a $3 electric 6 cup rice steamer never been out of the box at Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Cornering the Umbrella Market in a Drought

Compulsive personality.  That’s the only possible explanation I can think of for this recurring pattern in my life.

Today I had to go into Harper to pay a bill due tomorrow.  I hate to make a trip in without getting full value for the gasoline expended getting there, so after I’d taken care of business I drove around the several back streets.  I was craning my neck, straining my eyes, looking into the back yards of abandoned houses for a cab-over camper or camper trailer I might be able to pick up cheap as a potential way to give myself an escape route if something goes sour here.

I’ll be posting about some of that Harper thing another time.  But after I finished nosing the back streets I went to the Harper Library Resale Store just because it was there.  Picked up $6.00 worth of used books at 25 cents each, moseyed around and eyeballed a wireless weather station with rain gauge, anemometer, all manner of goodies for $20.  But the box was open and there was dust on it.

My computer-like mind registered this and concluded it had been sitting there a while, nobody willing to pay $20 for it.  So I carried my books to the register and while she counted them, “That weather station back there looks as though it’s been here a while.”

She stopped counting and looked at me grinning.  They know me there.  “You want to bargain about it?”

“Wulll. Actually, I’m not sure I want it.  I couldn’t pay more than $10.”

She grinned and pointed to the room where it was located, started walking back there.  “You’re going to TAKE $10?  You ought not take $10.”  Sheeze.  We don’t get any weather here and who cares how fast the wind is blowing?  When we got there she picked it up out of the box, frowning.

“The wind direction doesn’t work is the only thing.”

“Bobby Dylan and I decided a long time ago we didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

So back to the register.  $16.00.  She holds up an orange card.  “Do you have one of these yet?”  No, I nods.  “Every time you buy $10 worth of anything we stamp it.  When you’ve got $10 stamped 10 times you get $10 off your next purchase.”

“Whoah!  You’re telling me if I spent $4 more I’d have gotten two stamps on there?”

Smile.  “Yes.”

“Okay.  Let me wander around in here a little longer.”

I found four copies of the Texas Historical Review from the 1990s for 50 cents each.  Then I found a pair of good sneakers that fit marked $3.  I carried them back to the register.  “Okay.  $2 for the Historical Reviews and $3 for the shoes.  Give me another stamp on that card.”

She starts adding, mutters, “Men shoes are half price today.  You’re 50 cents short.  26 cents even if we count the sales tax.”

Deep breath.  “I want to donate 26 cents to the library.  Stamp the card.”

Speedometer cable was making noise on the Toyota when it went Communist.  Maybe if the cable breaks I can attach that anemometer to the top of the truck and use the wind speed for a speedometer if I ever get the 4Runner running on pavement again.

Old Jules

Steve Goodman– Vegematic