Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

My Cousin Vinny’s Fiance

“My Cousin Vinny” is one of my favorite movies.  As a trial lawyer, I thought the courtroom scenes actually teach some good pointers both about what to do and what not to do.  It has examples of effective and ineffective cross examination.  It teaches about rules of evidence and pre-trial discovery.

I relate to the movie in another way.  My favorite character is Vinny’s fiancé, Mona Lisa Vito, because she reminds me of my wife, Sugar.  Both Lisa and Sugar are Italian women, both are cute, and both learned from their brothers about auto mechanics.  See previous post entitled Sugar’s Ford Truck Adventures  If you watch the movie and want to know what Sugar is like, imagine Mona Lisa Vito with a Texas rather than Jersey accent.

Marisa Tomei won an Academy Award for playing the part of Mona Lisa Vito.  Sugar plays herself. She is the real deal in real life.  And, to quote a line from the movie, “Cute too!”
movie star
my star

The Arrogance of Blog Advice

Peyton Manning puts on a “passing academy.”  It cannot be disputed that he has the credentials.  You probably would be better off attending his football camp than reading my tips on how to succeed in the NFL, even though I was captain of the 7th grade intramural flag football champions.

There are folks who have a lot to say about subjects on which they have little or no experience.  They are presenting themselves as experts but might not be.  Usually I don’t know the difference.

I recently read a blog written by someone I know personally.  It was about the importance of thanking those who help you.  It was good advice.  I agree completely.  The problem I have with this particular author is that my wife and I have helped her financially in significant amounts over the years and seldom been thanked by her.  Advice is more welcome from one who practices what she preaches.  Otherwise, it is hypocrisy.

It got me to thinking.  Maybe Dale Carnegie, who wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” had no friends.  Maybe his family read his book and thought he was a hypocrite.  I doubt that was true.  I expect he had incredible people skills.  However, the person who has trouble showing gratitude but writes about it made me wonder.

It also made me wonder about my own hypocrisy.  In my posts called “Suggestions from a Searcher” I write about time management techniques, yet I waste a lot of time myself.  I write about forgiveness, yet I have not forgiven a friend for a recent thing he did which I see as a wrong against me.

People are funny critters.  (I am quoting Walt Garrison).  Somebody else said, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

On the other hand, even us hypocrites can give valuable advice.  The gal who has trouble saying thanks is an excellent writer.

Sugar’s Ford Truck Adventures

We have a Ford F250 Superduty diesel pickup truck.  Sometimes it is hard to start.  Those of you who know about diesels are aware of the effect that cold temperatures have.  We have an electric plug with which to heat the engine block (whatever that is).     I plugged it in yet still had trouble starting the truck.  And this was after spending money on new glow plugs (whatever those are).

Well, Miss Sugar looked into the problem.  She is, as you know, just a girl, whereas I am a manly man.  Who do you think knows more about trucks?

So Sugar inspected the truck and reported back to me that the plug does not plug into anything.  It is just a loose electric cord hanging out of the grill, just as I suspected.  I appreciated her confirming that for me.  So I thanked her. (However, I was not sure what to do with this information).

Sugar got on the computer and researched what was lacking in the cord department.  She ordered the missing connection on-line.  In the process of doing research about diesel engines, Sugar learned about a 100 volt relay (whatever that is) which is obviously better than the factory-installed 12 volt relay.

Knowing what I do about trucks and truck parts and electricity and all, I approved Sugar’s idea of ordering one of them there 100 volt relays.  So she ordered both the cord connection thing and the relay thing.  It was kind of my idea (after she explained it all to me).

The parts arrived.  I probably could have installed them in about ten minutes (if I had the right tools).  However, I am a really busy person (and very important) so I suggested that we take the truck to Dave’s Automotive with the parts and hire him to install what I could easily install all by myself ( if only I had the time and tools).

So Sugar called Dave and explained the project.  We brought in the truck and dropped it off with the parts.  Dave called my cell phone the next day (because I, like him, am a guy, and Sugar is not, being a girl and all).  Dave left me a message that he had the cord thing-a-ma-bob installed (he did not use that term) but said he had never seen a relay like that.  He was not certain where it even went.  (It seemed that Sugar had ordered the wrong part, but, after all, she is just a girl, and what do they know about mechanical stuff?).

So I let Sugar listen to the message.  Silly girl!  Obviously, if Dave, with decades of experience operating his own auto shop, had never seen the type of relay Sugar purchased, then she must have purchased the wrong part.  Obviously!

Sugar called Dave back.  She told him where to put the part.  She explained that this particular 100 volt relay is a universal part and that is why it has more holes than the factory relay.  They talked about various diesel engine components like the mechanics that they each are.  I was not part of the conversation.  As reported to me by Sugar, Dave agreed to “give it a whirl.”

When Dave next talked to Sugar, he asked her where she got that 100 volt relay.  He wanted more.  He wanted one immediately for his wife’s truck.  He parroted what Sugar told him earlier in the day about the advantages over the 12 volt factory version.  One advantage is that it is easier on the glow plugs.  Another, related advantage is that the truck starts on the first try every time.  I would explain why in greater detail but some of you readers are just girls and it would be way over your cute little heads.

Just ask Sugar.

Ferguson Aftermath

The rioting and destruction of property by those “disappointed” by the Grand Jury’s decision to not indict Officer Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown during a confrontation that included a struggle over the officer’s gun, do not seem aimed at anyone responsible for the incident itself, nor at those who made the decision the rioters find so disappointing. As far as I know, the buildings burned did not belong to Officer Brown, nor members of the Grand Jury, nor the police department, nor the prosecution. (I do not believe violence directed at those folks would be appropriate, but the businesses being attacked were not involved).

It is analogous to me burning down my neighbor’s garage because my wife got a speeding ticket and I really love my wife and am upset that a stinkin’ cop gave her a ticket. My innocent neighbor would be punished for my “disappointment” about the cop giving a ticket to my wife. It would be unlikely that the neighbor would get the connection and respond by somehow fixing the world so that my wife gets no more tickets because, after all, I am sick of tickets being issued to people I care about. While we are on the subject, my cousin Bob has gotten tickets too. I wonder if my family is being targeted. No garage is safe as long as members of my family are being ticketed. And, don’t try to persuade me by telling me that eye witnesses saw my wife and cousin speeding. I don’t want the evidence. I just want to be angry and my neighbor’s garage is in the world that has disappointed me so.

I hope this teaching moment has clarified the lesson which rioting teaches as a method of making the world a better place. The logical connection between rioting and justice is very subtle. Some of us don’t see it at all. I am in that group.

Ferguson Irony

I am pretty unbiased on the issue of the grand jury deciding whether to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown.

Here is why:  I don’t live in Ferguson, Missouri; I don’t know Officer Darren Wilson; I did not know Michael Brown; and I am not serving on the Grand Jury for this case.

Further, the Grand Jury process has not been concluded.  I have confidence in the legal system.  Some folks do not.

I would like to say something about the expectation of rioting by people who will be disappointed if the Officer is not indicted.  They are not on the Grand Jury either.  Consequently, they are not hearing the evidence.  Therefore, a decision to riot would be based on something other than the evidence.  It would be based on a judgment that such persons have already made about the only result acceptable to them.  That is, by definition, “pre-judging.”

That is the essence of prejudice.

So, the irony is that the officer is accused of killing Michael Brown for racially prejudiced reasons and the people threatening to riot are prejudiced about what the outcome of legal proceedings should be — based on race.  Officer Wilson is white.  Michael Brown is black.  Would race be an issue if they were both the same race?  This is about racists accusing others of being racists.

On the playground this is addressed by the old mindless comeback, “I know you are but what am I?”  Remember, whatever the other person calls you, just say that back.  It creates a standoff.

On the playground that is very immature.

When adults engage in this same behavior, it is different.  It is dangerous as well as immature.

Keeping Up with Me

Some of you readers are familiar with the concept of one-upsmanship.

Today I was one-upped.  Actually I was two-upped.  But it don’t make me no nevermind.


My friend Rodney invited me over to see his new gun.  Rodney frequently attends gun shows.  He frequently makes purchases at gun shows.  He has a nice collection of firearms.  They are all cowboy-type weapons.  In fact, it was Rodney who told me about the Single Action Shooting Society, commonly known as SASS.  I joined up.  See photo below of me at the Hell on Wheels event in Cheyenne.


photo rodney and al

Rodney’s new shotgun has three barrels.  I had never seen one like it.  Heck, my shotgun doesn’t even have two barrels, just the one.  I suppose it is for cowboys who don’t always hit what they are shooting at with the first shot.  Personally, I don’t have no use for more than one barrel but I told Rodney that I am glad he gets a couple more chances to try to keep up with me.  You know, to make it more fair.

Spoiled Cats

cats on hike

Miss Sugar goes overboard in every endeavor.  Most recently, she provided to our barn cats what no other barn cat in the history of the world has ever possessed — a heated blanket in a box, which is elevated on a platform, which is accessed by a ramp, which is in a stall in the barn, and because it is in a stall, requires an extension cord from the electric blanket in the stall to a GFI plug twenty feet away.  Also on the platform, which prevents trespassing by dogs, who cannot go up the narrow ramp, nor under the stall door, there are food bowls, in which she puts formerly dry food which has warm water added to make it more appealing.

Sometimes I feed the cats.  Unlike Sugar, I put some dog food in their bowls.  No, I do not bring warm water from the house to the barn.  So call the Humane Society.  They will give Sugar an award and me a citation which I will vigorously defend by calling as defense witnesses several neighboring ranchers who will describe that I am complying with the standard of care for barn cats.

Trans-species Identification

The setting:  Miss Sugar and I are relaxing in the hot-tub.  A cat, Jigsy, is walking around the edge, purring.  A dog, Beau, is barking at something on the opposite side of the courtyard fence.  Now we are not relaxing.

Sugar asks, “Do you think he is barking at a snake?”  (We have not seen a snake all summer, but she fears a dog will be bitten, as Sadie was two summers ago.)

“I think it is too cold.  Should I check, though, so you don’t worry?”

“No, I am going to get out.”

She got out.

Then I heard, “EEK!”

That is correct — an actual EEK just like in the cartoons.


“Beau has a mouse.  It is alive.”

The cat went over to look.  Beau showed the cat by holding the mouse by the tail, hanging out of his mouth.  Very nonchalant.

The cat watched for awhile after Beau dropped the mouse.  Beau put his front paw on the mouse to prevent escape, a little trick he picked up from the cats.

Miss Sugar went into the house.  The cat walked away.  Beau picked up the mouse again to show me.  I did not ask him to bring it to me.  I prefer that he fetch balls which I can throw.  Mice are difficult to grip, so I passed.  I went inside too.

It is apparent to me that Beau is a cat trapped in a dog’s body.  I guess we better look into trans-species surgery so he can be his true self.

Somber Stats

More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died of Ebola.

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