This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Have You Thought About A Government Shutdown?

I looked into what effects a government shutdown will have on this nation and its citizens.  I discovered a ton of websites and articles that list most of the effects that will result from a government shutdown.  I have not included references but Googling “government shutdown effects” easily finds all of the effects listed below.
Any government shutdown would be done in an effort to stop Obamacare.  However, that will not happen because all federal entitlements programs (“Obamacare”, Medicare, Medicaid, e.g.) are required by law to continue with mandatory spending during any government shutdown.
A shutdown will not affect members of Congress (considered “essential”) and they will continue to receive their paychecks.
·      As many as 800,000 on the nation’s 2.1 million federal workers will be laid off and may not be paid retroactively as in the past
·      Members of the active duty military, border protection, and air traffic control will continue to work but will not be paid
·      All federal contractors will be out of work, removing billions of dollars in paychecks from the economy
·      Veterans Administration services will be slowed and/or reduced
·      New applications for Veterans benefits will not be processed
·      All National Parks, Landmarks, and Monuments will close to an estimated 7 million tourists and $14.2 million in tourism dollars
·      Passport and Visa applications will not be processed, resulting in U.S. tourism and airline industries incurring millions of dollars in losses
·      All federally funded museums will close
·      All federal government websites will shutdown
·      All medical research by Health and Human Services will stop
·      The Center for Disease Control (CDC) will halt disease surveillance
·      Clean-up work at Toxic Waste Sites will halt
·      No new applications for Social Security will be processed
·      Social Security checks MAY be delayed as the federal workers who process them will be laid off
·      Loan applications for small businesses, mortgages, or college tuition will not be processed
·      All toll-free calls to government offices will go unanswered
·      The federal court system will perform only “essential work” (trials will be delayed)
·      Enforcement of delinquent child support will be suspended
·      The nation’s economic growth rate will dropThe price of oil will increase
·      The price of oil will increase
·      The stock market will fall
And, last but not least,
·      Gun permits will not be issued due to the furlough of ATF employees
A government shutdown will not necessarily save money, especially if laid off Shutting down and reopening the government costs money.  The last time the federal government was forced to shutdown was in 1995-1996 and it cost taxpayers $1.4 billion to close and then restart the government.  Clinton also handily beat Dole in that November’s election as blame for the shutdown was placed on the GOP (primarily Dole and Gingrich).

Friday, September 20, 2013


Our little East Texas town of Nacogdoches is home to yet another celebrity who joins the likes of Son Hooker, Actor in "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?"  Dr. Melba Ketchum, Nacogdoches native, is the founder, Director, and only staff member (per DNA Diagnostics, Inc’s home web page) of DNA Diagnostics, established in 1985.  The address of DNA Diagnostics, Inc. is in Timpson, TX (very close to Nacogdoches) and is the same address as that of Shelterwood Laboratories, a veterinary laboratory.

Dr. Ketchum is a veterinarian, specializing in genetics, who has just published in the new journal, DeNovo, a scientific article entitled, “Novel North American Hominins (humans or human ancestors), Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies.”  Dr. Ketchum is lead author of a group of forensic scientists who have been hard at work for the past five years proving that Sasquatch (aka “Big Foot”) actually exists.  

The article’s abstract reports that 111 samples of blood, tissue, hair, and other types of specimens (one of the samples was a clump of fur with flesh attached to a pool of blood collected after – now get this - a Sasquatch chewed on a pipe) were studied and hypothesized to be those of elusive hominins in North America commonly referred to as Sasquatch or Big Foot.   

I will spare you the boring details of mitochondrial DNA sequencing and the half dozen other genetic testing procedures employed in the study.  To cut to the chase, the published article reports that the Sasquatch mitochondrial DNA indicated that the species is a hybrid cross between a Homo sapien (human) female and an unknown hominin male progenitor that mated 13,000 years ago (the unknown make must have been an “animal” of a man, or more than likely, the human female that had sex with an “unknown hominin male progenitor” must have really been ugly!)

Not surprisingly, the DeNovo article has been the subject of much criticism from the scientific community with very few people taking it seriously.  This cold reception has prompted the authors to state that “further study is needed and is ongoing to better characterize and understand Sasquatch nuclear DNA.”  Dr. Ketchum also stated that “it has been a long and tedious battle to prove that Sasquatch exists,” and added that “we did finally pass peer review with a relatively new journal.” 

I must mention that the paper was rejected by other journals (several even refused to read the manuscript after receiving the pre-submission inquiry).   Then, after almost 2 years of attempting to find a journal that would publish the paper, the group of scientists purchased an existing scientific journal, renamed it DeNovo,  appointed Dr. Ketchum its editor, and the paper was published in DeNovo’s first edition a little more than a week later.

Apparently, the “peer review” criteria required by any respected scientific journal were met when Dr. Ketchum swithed her author’s hat for her editor’s hat.  It certainly was convenient and saved a lot of time in getting the paper published. 

If you wish to read the paper in its entirety, you may purchase a copy from Dr. Ketchum for $30.  Through Dr. Ketchum’s animal laboratory she also sells a human Paternity Testing Kit.  You may order one with a $50 deposit.  The balance is due once the sample is returned to the laboratory for testing.  Total cost for the home/self-test kit is $400.  Total cost is $500 for a legally binding test.

The laboratory is not Better Business Bureau Accredited but within the past 3 years there have been nine complaints closed by the BBB.  Five were “Delivery Issues” and four were “Problems with Product / Service.”

The BBB also reports that DNA Diagnostics has developed a pattern of complaints and has failed to correct the underlying reasons for the complaints. Consumers claim to have paid for services that have not been delivered or have not been delivered within a reasonable time. Further, they have not received a refund when services were not provided.

There seem to be plenty of weird people in this world who actually do believe that Sasquatch is real.  The Global Sasquatch Foundation (Dr. Ketchum serves as a science director of the foundation), located in North Carolina, has a goal “to protect the people known as Sasquatch.”

The foundation has published a FAQ to answer common questions about Sasquatch.  Included in this FAQ are the following:

What are Sasquatch?  The Sasquatch are an indigenous, aboriginal people

Are Sasquatch dangerous?  Not usually.  However, each has its own personality.  Some are more aggressive than others and their rights to self-protection and the protection of their loved ones should be respected.  One should greet a strange Sasquatch with the same caution one would greet a strange human (I suppose that means if you happen to know the Sasquatch its OK to slap him on the back and ask how he has been).

Do I need to stay out of the forest?  No, that is not necessary.  There are far more dangerous things in the woods than Sasquatch.

Is hunting Sasquatch legal?  The Sasquatch are people, not animals.  Killing one is murder.

What if I see a Sasquatch?  Keep your distance.  Do not follow or chase them.  If they hold their ground, leave calmly.  Do not be surprised if they escort you out of the area (escort?  really?)

What if I see a Sasquatch child?  Do not attempt to interact with the child.  Calmly leave the area.  The parents are very protective.

If you wish to go out and search for Sasquatch, the Foundation offers guidance in the following ten steps:
1.    Meet the requirements to be an intrepid researcher
a.     Have patience (tracking a Sasquatch is a slow and painful process)
b.     Be physically fit
c.      Have a basic background in biology
d.     Be capable of taking photographs

2.    Research reported sightings before setting out
a.     Sasquatch has been sighted 2,000 – 6,000 times in North America and over 400 times in China (the rest of the world is sane?)
b.     Pay attention to the times, dates, and weather from these sightings to determine the best time to search
c.      Consider whether this is a location that you’re happy to head off to and spend time exploring

3.    Assemble the right equipment
a.     Warm and layered clothing, sturdy shoes, hats, sunscreen, etc.  Avoid wearing anything scented, as this might attract not only Sasquatch, but wild animals (Sasquatch is tame?)
b.     Insect repellent
c.      Adequate food and water
d.     Arrange for a place to sleep (such as a motel)
e.     First aid kit, communications gear, compass or GPS
f.      Bear spray (just in case you piss the Sasquatch off)
g.     Flashlights, and headlamps (Sasquatch is nocturnal and have excellent night vision)
h.     At least one good camera and consider a second camera with telephoto lenses and maybe a video camera

4.    Set up a location where you hope to have a Sasquatch sighting
a.     This may include a camera or bait station (I wonder what you use for bait?)
b.     Consider setting up a base camp

5.    Know what you are looking for (sightings have built up various pictures of what to look for)
a.     Tall, ranging between 6 and 10 feet, covered in hair from head to toe.  Hair color from black or dark brown to gray or reddish
b.     Walks upright
c.      Weighs in excess of 500 pounds
d.     Large eyes, pronounced brow ridge, and a large, low-set forehead
e.     Malodorous (stinks like shit)
f.      Feet are up to 2 feet long and 8 inches wide

6.    Wait patiently for your glimpse of Sasquatch
a.     Make notes about your location
b.     Read more about Sasquatch sightings and lore (contact Dr. Ketchum for a recommended reading list)
c.      Write your own theories about Sasquatch for possible publication as a journal article (like Dr. Ketchum?)

7.    Know what to do if you see Sasquatch
a.     Remain calm, do not panic (its probably just a figment of your imagination)
b.     Remember to use your camera and record the sighting
c.      Make as little noise as possible

8.    Know how to respond if Sasquatch sees you
a.     Avert your gaze.  Meeting his gaze may be interpreted as a challenge to fight.  Watch him with your peripheral vision (or take a periscope with you)
b.     Keep quiet and move slowly without any sudden gesticulations
c.      Restrain your dog if you brought one (and clean up after him)
d.     Appear as non-threatening as possible.  Slowly sit down and pretend that you are grooming or eating something (unless there are witnesses that might have you committed)
e.     Don’t run.  Sasquatch is faster than any human (was he timed in the 100 meter dash?)

9.    Record your memories of the event
a.     What he/she looked, sounded, or smelled like (just make something up)
b.     Exact date and time
c.      Exact location with a description of the environment
d.     Weather
e.     Any witnesses present (if so, be sure to not 8. d. above)
f.      What you were doing at the time of the sighting (hallucinating)
g.     Anything else noteworthy (such as how much you’ve been drinking)

10. Report the incident to the local park ranger, conservation officer, or other authorities
a.     Consider contacting the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization with your report (check with Dr. Ketchum for the address).

In closing, I will leave you with a quote from Dr. Ketchum.

 “Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a “license” to hunt, trap, or kill them.”

(I would offer the following advice to Sasquatch.   Put on sunglasses and a baseball cap so as not to be recognized and visit a local a gun show.  Purchase a large caliber handgun with a high-capacity magazine and get yourself a concealed weapon permit.  It should be easy.  There are plenty of other fat, hairy, smelly, illiterate, and unintelligible people “carrying” and had no trouble obtaining the permit. Then, when some nutcase sits down in front of you and pretends to eat and groom himself or doesn't avert his gaze, do us all a favor and blow his shit away!)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Computer, Heal Thyself

You should recall from my last post that after the completion of my 48-hour computer backup process an error ocurred, the resolution which, according to the step by step troubleshooting instructions, would result in the destruction of my backup file.  Not something that I was real happy about so I decided to wait, and while waiting, my computer healed itself!  This doesn’t surprise me at all.  Stuff just happens.  Even though there was no “laying on of hands”, to some it would seem as if a minor miracle had occurred.  But I have always known that computers work by magic anyway.