Foaming at the front door…

Earlier this month, we discovered a large box on our front door mat that appeared to be leaking some sticky and high viscosity clear liquid.

Upon further investigation, we determined that it had been shipped by UPS from Sam’s Club. We were pretty sure it was an order we had placed for two refill jugs of hand soap.

When we opened the box, the packing material and the sides of the box had been soaked in leaking hand soap. At first, I suspected one of the jugs had been accidentally punctured during the shipping process.

Nope, that’s not what happened. It appears that at the time it was shipped, the cap on top of one of the jugs was very loose and fell off during shipping or was simply never attached at the time it was shipped.

The offending jug, as it arrived at our home. More than 3/4 of the bottle had spilled before it got to our house.

I guess we’ll never know how the cap actually came off the jug. If it was just loose, I think a quick visual inspection of the product before it was placed in the shipping box would have prevented the spill. I guess no one had time to do that, even while stuffing packing paper around the jugs in the box.

At any rate, I think the jug began leaking almost immediately when it began its journey to our home. That means that when the UPS driver delivered it at our front door, he or she could clearly have seen that it was leaking. He or she seemed to not want to deal with the problem. However, I suspect the delivery person found a gooey mess inside the UPS delivery truck which probably got onto other packages delivered that day. It might have even dribbled all over the cargo hold of a UPS Boeing 777 aircraft before it was placed in the delivery truck. And yet, no one seemed to care. What it if had been some kind of really toxic liquid?

Once dropped off at our house, the soap leaked on to our very absorbent front door mat and I had to spray off as much as I could. It created an embarrassing sea of white foam in our front driveway which took at least half an hour to disperse. I don’t think I got all of it out, and I suspect the mat will continue foaming until we finally decide to pitch it in the trash.

I get that pushing stuff through the shipping process is a fast-moving and largely unappreciated job. But don’t you think that at least somewhere along the line, the packer or the UPS driver could have noticed that something was amiss? 

The good news is that Sam’s agreed to a refund of the entire order. So we got one full jug and one jug about 1/8th full for free. The compromised door mat, however, was not part of the refund equation. We’ll probably have many sleepless nights wondering if a white foam monster might appear at our front door when we step out to get the morning newspaper.. 

 

Cranky and slow…

Yes, that describes me these days, but I’m referring to something else. Read on…

I stumbled across a recent story about how the Union Pacific Railroad was instrumental in the development of the world’s first ski chairlift.

The chairlift was developed for use at the Sun Valley, ID, ski area which had been acquired by the Union Pacific as a destination resort along its vast east-west railroad system. The chairman of the UP at the time, Averill Harriman, thought the destination could lure more visitors by offering a safer, faster way to get skiers up the slopes. Up to that time, awkward tow ropes were the only uphill transportation at ski areas. He asked the railroad’s mechanical engineers to develop something new.

The first ski lift at Sun Valley, ID

What was interesting to me was that the actual development of the lift was done in Omaha, NE — not a place that you would expect to be the center of emerging ski technology. It was first tested in Omaha using the bed of a pickup truck to simulate the movement that a skier could expect when loading onto the chair. Even Harriman agreed to try out the design and found it acceptable.

The story made me think about the first chairlift installed in New Mexico, at Santa Fe Ski Basin in 1949 by Ernie Blake, the New Mexico skiing pioneer from Germany who later developed Taos Ski Valley.

The lift, affectionately referred to as the “Old Red Chair,” was quite a contraption and I’m glad to say I rode it many times before it was eventually retired and then dismantled sometime in the late 1960s.

Santa Fe’s Old Red Chair, with original lodge in background

Since no company was fabricating chair lifts in large quantities at the time the Santa Fe Ski Basin was being developed, Blake concluded he would have to make his own lift.

Blake discovered that there was an abandoned cable ore carrier from a mine in Silverton, CO. He was able to acquire it, along with pilot’s seats from mothballed World War II vintage B-24 bombers. The seats were welded together in pairs, then attached to one of two cables used in the ore carrier. One cable was used to support the chairs and the other was used to move the contraption as it hauled skiers up a 2,600 foot route to the top of the mountain. The cables were apparently manufactured in 1888 by a famous steel maker in Sheffield, England. When it was determined they could be repurposed for use on the Santa Fe ski lift, the rust that accumulated on them over the years was removed and they were tested for strength and safety.

Because the lift was not originally designed to haul people, it had its share of idiosyncrasies.

To begin with, it was very slow and clunky. Many times the hauling cable would slide off its tracks, requiring those on the lift to be lowered down by ropes. The width of the cable tracks was very narrow, requiring some corrugated tin guards to be placed next to each lift tower so riders would not catch the tips of their skis in the open framework.

As a skier in my college days, I remember rides up the chairlift. You’d always expect multiple stops and starts as it moved you slowly up the mountain. I can remember the clunky noises it would make as it passed over the support towers. I remember how close you’d come to the towers on the way up and how you’d always try to get the outside seat of the two chairs so you’d avoid any accidental contact with structures. And you always breathed a sigh of relief when you had made it successfully to the top of the mountain.

The original lodge at Santa Fe, now midway up the mountain, still has a set of the original red bomber seat chairs. They’re great to sit in while sipping a beer after your last run down the mountain. But because there is no padding (there was never any to begin with), your butt can get kind of cold while you’re taking in the scenery.

You can find a story about the Old Red Chair and other early chairlifts in New Mexico on the Ski New Mexico website. I’ve posted a link below.

https://skinewmexico.com/?s=santa+fe+red+chair#

Only pedigreed tigers need apply…

I’m sure many of you have read or seen stories in the last couple of weeks about a real Bengal tiger cub that was found in a mobile home in Albuquerque during a drug investigation.

Although cute and cuddly for now, the wild animal will need to be placed somewhere safer and more appropriate as it grows into its natural wild animal persona.

Not your usual mobile home indoor pet…

When first discovered by Albuquerque police, the New Mexico Game and Fish Department was contacted about keeping the cub. As far as I know, there are no naturally occurring tigers in New Mexico, so it’s doubtful that the Game and Fish department had a lot of expertise in taking care of such an animal.

The next call was made to the Albuquerque Zoo, which had a temporary place for the cub.

But when asked if it could be placed permanently at the Albuquerque Zoo or some other zoo, officials at that facility said that “because the genetic lineage of the animal is unknown, it will not be placed in a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.”

That makes it sound like it might be easier for the critter to get into Harvard Law School than to find a safe place to live in one of hundreds of zoos across the United States.

There is an addendum to the story. Albuquerque police were tipped off about a tiger living in an apartment in the city last summer but could never find it. Based on the information they had at that time, police do not feel the cat found earlier this month is the same animal. That means, Albuquerque residents, that a tiger may still be lurking around your neighborhood.

In the meantime, I hope the still missing tiger is working on perfecting its genetic lineage record, its resume and other credentials so that it might have an easier time getting into an “accredited” zoo if and when it is captured.

Waiting for Nicholas Cage to appear…

On our morning walk with our dog last week, I came across this odd posting in a concrete culvert that is part of our local irrigation canal network.

“NIC WAS HERE” and what appears to be a photograph of actor Nicholas Cage

It appears to suggest that actor Nicholas Cage was somewhere in our neighborhood and posted a picture of himself on the concrete wall of the irrigation ditch box. The picture was attached to the concrete with what appeared to be black electrical tape. A closeup is below. 

Closeup of the photograph taped on the concrete wall

We’ve found weird things in our neighborhood in the past, some of which I’ve written about in this blog. There was an abandoned pair of serviceable cowboy boots along an irrigation ditch beside a rock wall about three years ago. That same year, there was a 1977 Camaro that had been stripped in broad daylight in a field just off a busy road. We’ve found a sea of sparkling glitter along another section of the ditch road. 

Those might be explained fairly easily. This one, however, is not so easy to decipher. As far as I know, Cage has never been to Las Cruces to film a movie. He might have passed through on Interstate 10 on his way from somewhere down south to Hollywood, but I really doubt he stopped long enough to post pictures of himself around town — especially in an irrigation ditch. 

I Googled “Nicholas Cage in Las Cruces, NM,” but got nothing.

I did check to see if he has filmed anything in New Mexico and came across a May 2018 article in the Albuquerque Business First publication saying he was scheduled to film a movie entitled “Running with the Devil” in the Albuquerque area later that year. The movie, released in 2019, co-starred Laurence Fishburne in a plot involving a drug smuggling operation. 

If he somehow snuck down here to post his picture and graffiti tag an irrigation ditch box at that time, I doubt it would have survived almost four years of harsh weather. My wife said she and our son had spotted the “posting” on the ditch box around Christmas, so it’s weathered a few rainstorms since then.

I am at a loss about what to think about this. Is it the work of a deranged stalker fan who wishes Cage would actually come here? Is Cage just trying to randomly goof on people in Las Cruces.? Was he the guy who left his cowboy boots on the irrigation ditch road a couple of years back and is now wanting them back?

I’ll leave this for you, dear readers, to offer a suggestion. 

 

I’ll pick my own words, thank you…

When spell check first appeared on the scene of electronically enabled writing, there were some major learning hurdles that the programs had to sort out.

Local or regional words were especially confusing to the programs. For example, when I would type in the word Mogollon, the program would offer such corrections as “Mongolian,” “moron” or “moose gallon.” For my street, Capri Road, I once got “Carp River.” And of course, this one still comes up: when you type in the name of the most famous New Mexico Christmas decoration, luminarias, the word processor always wants to change it to “luminaries, ” a word that I doubt many people use these days.

Now, Word Press, my platform for my web page and blog has started filling in entire words for what it thinks I should write next. For example, it just wanted me to say “for example” three times when I started this sentence. And it wanted “me to” use the word “sentence.”

Aaarrrgh!!! (No suggestion for that word, thank you, Word Press).

I suspect there is a toggle somewhere in the system that allows me to turn off that feature. It’s becoming more and more intrusive as I write. I suppose I could just ask it to write an entire blog for me, starting with a single word: “annoying.”

In the meantime, it makes me worry that we are all being dumbed down by technology. We don’t have to know how to spell any more. We don’t have to go to reference books in libraries to find information. We can just mumble some generic words into our TV remote or watch to find something that we want to see or hear, even if an Artificial Intelligence algorithm completely misses our intention.

Andy Rooney, of the CBS 60 Minutes TV show

I know, I sound like a current day Andy Rooney, who was notorious on his TV segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes” for speaking his mind on a variety of subjects in a populist kind of way. He got in trouble for some of the things he said, but many of them rang true.

In my opinion, his best comment, especially pertinent today was:

“People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.”

I wish he was still around. I think he’d have some interesting things to say about what is going on in politics these days. And I wish Word Press would stop trying to tell me how to write.

Ay Chihuahua!!!

Let me begin this post by saying I am not a fan of Chihuahua dogs. I’ve been bitten, barked at, charged, herded and growled at many times by the breed. A friend of ours in the neighborhood once told me that the canine breed most likely to bite a human is a Chihuahua. They just seem to have been born grumpy.

And to prove my point, this story showed up yesterday in the Hartford (CT) Courant newspaper. The local animal shelter is waiving an adoption fee for an ill-tempered four-pound Chihuahua named “Pixie” who “doesn’t like men, children or affection except on her own terms.” A Facebook post about the dog said: “She will hate you AND expect her dinner to be served on time.”

But it was sad to read in last week’s Albuquerque Journal about 64 Chihuahua dogs who had been rescued after a van transporting them had collided with a large truck near Vaughn, NM. Police said they believed as many of 110 of the dogs were in the van. Of those, 18 were killed outright, 64 were rescued and the others escaped, no doubt to become snacks for area coyotes.

Police said it was likely the dogs were coming from a “puppy mill” because of the poor condition of many of the animals. My hope is that the operators of the Chihuahua puppy mill, along with the people who were transporting them, get arrested, convicted and sentenced with cleaning up dog poop in animal shelters for the rest of their lives. In the meantime, the East Mountain Companion Animal Project has set up a GoFundMe account to help the animals and arrange for their adoption. You can go to the site at:
https://gofund.me/8cfa0b77

I think certain people like Chihuahuas because they are small and easily portable, fiercely loyal to their owners and provide some degree of protection.

Bruiser Woods, Reese Witherspoon’s Chihuahua in the movie ” Legally Blonde”

Unlike Reese Witherspoon’s pet Chihuahua, Bruiser Woods (real name Moondoggie) in the movie “Legally Blonde,” our dog Chester is not “easily transportable.” And he’d just as soon beg for a treat from an intruder than protect us.

Chester (at a fluffy70 pounds) can’t be easily hoisted into a handbag. Not only is he big, but his legs flail around wildly when anyone tries to pick him up. He also takes up the entire back seat of our pickup truck or the back of our SUV when we travel and commandeers our entire couch when he wants to relax — which is a good part of his every day routine.

Chester, in one of his favorite locations in our house

Even so, I’d take him over a Chihuahua any day. But I do hope the Chihuahuas from the traffic accident near Vaughn find happy homes — even if they love to hate their new owners.

Gators in Lake Mead…

I read, with equal doses of amusement and astonishment, an op-ed piece in the Albuquerque Journal a few weeks ago about one man’s idea to build a pipeline from Lousiana to Lake Mead to transport water from the Mississippi to the Colorado River basin.

The plan, put forward by a retired engineer from California, suggested water could be piped almost 1,500 miles across Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada to fill up Lake Mead in just 254 days. Since the water would come from an old river control structure intended to reduce flooding risk in the Mississippi delta, no one — except a lot of migratory birds — would really miss the water.

The pipeline would be tasked with pumping 250,00 gallons of water per second through an elevation gain of at least 5,000 feet (my conservative estimate) to get from a spot about 200 miles north of New Orleans to Lake Mead. In my estimation, that would be a large enough section of pipe that could suck lots of alligators — not to mention jillions of crawdads, water moccasins and other slimy swamp critters — into a hugely popular recreational lake on the Colorado River.

Environmentalists who have heard of the plan are immediately calling “fowl,” since it would displace a lot of migratory bird habitat. Maybe those birds could divert their winter route and end up spending time on the shores of Lake Mead while occasionally making a trip to the Flamingo Hotel in nearby Las Vegas for R & R.

Then, of course, there’s the big question of how much it would cost, who is going to pay for it and how long it would take. One story I read suggested that the litigation involved in securing a right of way for the pipeline, disputes over water rights, challenges by environmental group and just general public grumpiness could take 30 years to resolve. By that time, Lake Mead probably would likely have deteriorated into a big stinky mud put — but at least without alligators.

So here’s my alternative. We’ve read recently about the impending separation of a big chunk of shelf ice from Antartica. Maybe we could employ fracking techniques used by oil producers to bust up the ice shelf in manageable chunks, load them aboard a fleet of aging Boeing 747s (they’ve stopped making new ones and there bunches of them mothballed in the Arizona desert) and then fly to Lake Mead and drop the mini-iceburgs into what’s left of the reservoir. I estimate it would take 3,769 flights to raise the level of the lake by 10 feet (okay, I wasn’t a whiz in math at school).

The only danger I see is that you might end up with colonies of penguins waddling along the shore of the lake.

Cow chips and Dave Barry…

I always look forward to the Albuquerque Journal’s annual “Cow Chip” awards for humorous things that have happened in New Mexico during the past year. I’ve used the awards for fodder for several of my blogs in the past.

Many of this year’s Cow Chips had a political angle, which could be expected given that it was an election year. I’ll pass on commenting on those, given my desire to remain mostly apolitical in my blogging.

There were some non-political good ones, however. One was about a Southwest Airlines flight that made an unscheduled stop in Albuquerque because a passenger on a flight from Texas to California couldn’t wait for a turn in the on-board restroom and took the option of whizzing in a corner at the back of the plane. The Journal reports that the “pee-pertrator” became hostile when confronted by flight attendants, requiring the unscheduled landing in Albuquerque.

Another story involved a bank robbery in which a man entered a financial institution carrying a gas can and demanding a teller to hand over cash — apparently thinking he couldn’t afford gasoline for his motorized escape.

I’ll keep looking for more of my “why I love New Mexico” treasures in the newspapers and on my travels around the state.

In the meantime, I also encourage you to read Dave Barry’s annual “Year in Review,” which I found online in the Boston Globe. Barry equally skewers everyone — regardless of political affiliation or perceived self-importance — for stupid things they’ve done or said during the year. I look forward to it every year. Here’s the link and I hope you enjoy it too:

https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bostonglobe.com%2F2022%2F12%2F25%2Fmagazine%2Fdave-barrys-2022-year-review%2F%3Fcamp%3Dbg%3Abrief%3Arss%3AMSN%26rss_id%3DMSN_rss_brief&data=05%7C01%7C%7Cab9e22f70af84fe9bba708daec165b86%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C638081878007205647%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=X24b0WuE5x3kESfJOdDKgc%2FLqJnRN0ndxfeony4lMNI%3D&reserved=0

Hope your 2023 is off to a good start. Keep me in mind to send me information if you stumble across — maybe that’s not the best choice of words — your own Cow Chip discoveries during the year.

The gift that keeps on giving…

By that, I mean a visit from your grandchildren.

We were fortunate to have all four of our grandchildren visiting us over the holidays. They are ages nine, eight, seven and three. They kept us busy and I’m hoping we will recover from exhaustion by sometime next June.

In what all of us could see coming, I managed to catch a nasty cold from one or all of them. No, it wasn’t Covid, it wasn’t strep throat or the flu. Just the common crud. I’m almost recovered. All four of them, along with my son, had experienced cold-like symptoms before coming here.

Here’s your Christmas gift, Grandpa!

I have not been sick since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, so being sick with a cold was a somewhat perverted reminder of how nice it felt not to be sick for the past three years. My wife and I have been particularly careful during the pandemic, still wearing masks in indoor places where lots of people gather, getting all of our vaccines and limiting our social visits. But in a home stuffed with nine people and two dogs for almost two weeks, you’ve pretty much lost any advantage of avoiding cooties.

And in addition to the cold, we had two additional cherries on top of our Christmas experience. One involved the discovery of three particularly putrid piles of dog poop and the remnants of a puddle of pee on the carpet near our Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Unless we resort to DNA sampling of what we discovered on our carpet, I doubt we’ll be able to identify which one of the two dogs left us the Christmas morning present.

The second was a red blotch on our carpet from dye that came with a fancy microscope kit given to one of our grandsons. He apparently did not make the connection that dyes probably should not be slathered on microscope slides then placed on freshly cleaned carpet. We’re slowly getting it removed.

Although each grandchild had meltdown moments during the visit, we were pleased that they all got along and enjoyed playing with eachother, despite the wide range of their ages.

Like my cold, anything that was briefly unpleasant will all fade into forgotten memories soon. But we did enjoy the visit and look forward to seeing them again this coming summer on a trip we’ve been putting off for the last three years to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

And I hope your Christmas and New Year’s holidays were enjoyable.

An Aero-Cordero Christmas…

I wrote this for my grandchildren last year, but I can’t take complete credit for all of it. I borrowed some wording and thoughts from similar New Mexico interpretations of “The Night Before Christmas.”  At any rate, it makes me realize how fortunate we are to live in a place that has so many multi-cultural traditions, especially around Christmas.  Hope you enjoy this and Margo and I (and Chester) wish you a happy holiday season.

Image result for Pancho Claus Clip Art

Twas the night before Christmas in Nuevo Mexico

And everywhere luminarias were starting to glow.

The stockings were hung by the horno with care

In hopes that Pancho Claus soon would be there,

Outside on the porch, ristras swayed in the breeze

And as the sun dipped down, it was starting to freeze

Los ninos were dreaming, all warm in their beds

And swung at pinatas that danced in their heads

Mamma and Chester (our dog) were snoozing away

In a bed that left me no room to lay

So I sat in a chair watching the pinon fire die

When I heard a strange noise coming down from the sky.

I ran to the back door to look out on the lawn

Which was soft and white from a snowfall at dawn

We don’t get much snow in the desert, you see

So the view outside was exciting to me.

Then suddenly I spotted something that was even more to behold

It was pack of coyotes with a wooden cart in tow

In front of the coyotes with a beak that was red

Was Rudy the roadrunner, who was always ahead.

And driving the cart was a fat jolly man

Wearing a sombrero and a waving his hand

It was Pancho Clause, of that I was sure

And he called to his coyotes as they ran in a blur.

“Now Pedro, now Carlos, Jose and Miguel,

On Cisco, Jesus, Juan and Manuel

Over the mesquite bush, don’t linger and stall

Through cactus and sand dunes, now dash away all.”

So up on my casa the coyotes flew

With a cart full of toys and Pancho Claus too

And a noise from above gave me a start

Coyotes howling as he stepped off his cart

He slid down the chimney with his bag full of toys

And began his work without any noise.

He wore a pony tail at the back of his head

And his velvet Navajo shirt was a cheery red.

His shirt was laced up with fine goatskin leather

And his face was rugged from the Southwestern weather

His eyes were like turquoise, his dimples so sweet

His nose and his cheeks were like red chile heat.

The steam from from a pot of posole in la cocina

Formed a shape over his head that looked like a Zia

He was a true Land of Enchantment elf

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

But seeing his smile, I knew I had nothing to dread

Knowing that soon I would be back in my bed

He said “Ya-ta-hey” to me as he started to work

Filling up the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

He’d noticed biscochitos we’d left him for a snack

And stuffed a few of them for later in his pack

Then before I could blink, back up the chimney he went

Leaving only the smell of a sweet pinon scent,

He sprang into his cart, gave his coyotes a shout

And was gone just like that, to the next hacienda, no doubt

But I heard him call as his cart flew away

“Feliz Navidad, In New Mexico we say.”

Follow-ups…

You might recall a blog I wrote recently about the cannabis store in Las Cruces that has plans to be open 24 hours a day. I lamented that you couldn’t get a flat tire fixed at 3 in the morning, but you could get pot at that time.

Well, I discovered a new twist on pot sales earlier this week. A new drive-in pot dispensary has opened up on Valley Drive. It’s called “High Horse Cannibis Co,” which is a guess a pretty descriptive name if you are graining your buckskin mare and mix in some pot with it.

The most interesting thing about this store is that it is right next to a very popular frozen custard location called Caliche’s, which also has a drive-up lane. In theory, you could hit the drive-in window at High Horse, then just as you get the munchies, drive over to Caliche’s without going on a city street to order a Gizmo sundae. Then you could loop back to High Horse — again without going on a public road — and start the sequence all over and keep going until you run out of gas.

_________________________

On another topic, I wrote recently about a homeless man named Keith who had visited our church and filled out the guest book and listed his address as “under the bridge.” He even left his phone number in the column for that information.

Well, Keith came back and signed the guest book again, but this time in the column for phone number, he left this sad note:

“My phone got stolen.”

So I guess if our church is planning to track down Keith encouraging him to come back, we’ll be out of luck — unless we go checking out the space under the bridge.

_________________________

And finally, there was sad news today about the death of Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach. He was, but all accounts, a truly innovative and well-respected expert on the game — particularly his passing offense.

But what I think a lot of people will remember is his off-beat comments about everything from aliens to weddings to team mascots to candy corn. The best interview I ever heard him give was about one of his daughters quizzing him about the style of wedding invitation she should send out. I couldn’t find it on the internet, but I’ll keep trying.

In the meantime, here’s a link from USA today about some of his most memorable quotes. I hope you’ll get a chuckle out of it.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2022/12/13/mike-leach-best-quotes-candy-wedding-advice/10886994002/

You aint nothin’ but a hound dog (of an airplane)…

Yes, this sad looking Lockheed Jetstar that is wasting away on the tarmac of the Roswell Industrial Air Center airport, was once owned by “The King” — Elvis Presley.

But it could be yours, for the right amount of money — probably lots of it. Here’s the story.

In my previous life as a bank executive, I flew in and out of the Roswell airport many times after our banking group acquired a failing Roswell bank that we were hoping to resuscitate. As our company’s spiffy twin-engined Cessna 414 taxied toward the terminal, we would always pass by this once proud by now fading red corporate jet. I was told by our pilot that the plane once belonged to Elvis and had been left there — along with other mothballed aircraft — awaiting sale to a new owner. I was skeptical of the story, but I recently found news about the plane on the internet.

It was, in fact, purchased by Elvis in 1976 and added to his fleet of aircraft. The sale price on the plane when he bought it was about $840,000. He only owned it for about a year before re-selling it to another party. How many times he actually flew in it is not something I could determine. It is not also clear how the jet ended up in Roswell, although that facility has been a storage place for many larger aircraft over the years.

The 1962 Jetstar was considered the first “corporate jet.” It had four engines, was heavy and extremely thirsty for fuel. It was quickly upstaged by Learjets, Cessna Citations, Gulfstream G20s and the like and fell into disfavor among the “jet set.”

But before he sold it, Elvis tricked out his plane with the garish red paint job and a full red velvet interior, giving new meaning to the phrase “velvet Elvis.” It even had an on-board microwave oven, TV and VCR.

The plane has been on the market for years and has passed through the hands of several speculators who assumed it would be worth more, but never got a good offer. It continues to sit sadly at the airport in Roswell, wasting away in the high desert sun. It has been stripped of its original four jet engines and many of its instruments and avionics. The pilot seats are tattered but the interior is still in somewhat good condition.

But in January, Mecum Auto Auctions will offer the plane for sale in an auction in Kissimmee, Florida. Bidders will have to just look at pictures of the plane, since the aircraft is far from airworthy. The company or individual offering up the plane has said that it will have to be disassembled in order to be transported to the new owner — if someone comes forward.

Are you ready to make a bid? It might make a swell conversation piece in your back yard.

Just send numbers for your bank account, credit card and Social Security and they’ll split the $9.87 million with you…

My wife received a letter last week from a law firm claiming to be from Toronto, Canada, saying it had discovered an unclaimed $9.87 million life insurance policy. And guess what, my wife might be entitled to it since she has a long-lost relative named Adrianna Lamb who “died in an accident” in Montreal. Never mind that my wife’s maiden name was not “Lamb.”

But since the unclaimed policy is in Canada, the letter stipulates that my wife would need to partner up with the law firm and when the policy is paid out, split 90 percent between her and the lawyer and give the remaining 10 percent “among charity organizations.”

“This is 100% risk free; I do have all necessary documentation to expedite the process in a highly professional and confidential manner,” attorney Glen M. Roy claims in his letter.

Yeah, you bet.

I looked online and, as you might suspect, I could not find a “Norman, Michael and Glen Law Firm” anywhere in Canada.

Upon further investigation, I ran across a story from a television station in Raleigh, NC, that said one of their viewers had received a similar letter. Their investigation found no evidence of such a law firm and when a reporter called a number listed on the letter, a person answered the phone and nervously said “call me back in an hour.” When the reporter called back in an hour, a recording said that an answering system had not been set up.” Repeated calls over the next few days resulted in the same non-response.

The television station also discovered that a similar letter had showed up in Louisiana.

” The Louisiana State Bar Association says when the origins of the letter were investigated, it appeared to be a phishing scam aimed at getting personal information,” the TV story said.

So sorry, Margo, you won’t be able to buy that ranch in Montana or a Learjet. But if you’ll just give me your credit card number, I can get some new fly fishing equipment.

A fish out of water…

So I walked into a business last week with my wife and immediately felt out of place. I guess it was sort of a sexist response, but I would have expected to feel that way at other locations where I’ve accompanied my wife.

No, it wasn’t the women’s intimate apparel section of Victoria’s Secret.

No, it wasn’t waiting in the lobby of an OB/GYN doctor’s office.

No, it wasn’t shopping for cutesy holiday nick-nacks at Hobby Lobby.

No, it wasn’t waiting at the cosmetics counter at Dillard’s.

It was — wait for it — the fabric store.

There were two other men in the store when I was there, both looking as out of place as I’m sure I looked.

I tried to be helpful, looking through the hundreds of bolts for the kind of fabric my wife wanted for a banner she is making for our grandchildren. I actually found several options, one of which she liked, along with helping select the perfect color of thread for the project and some fringe.

I’ve gone to fabric stores before looking for specific types of fabric or accessories for one of my projects. For example, I found netting for a mini soccer goal that I made out of PVC pipe for our granddaughter a few years ago. I’ve purchased fabric for some vehicle-related projects as well.

But in those episodes, I went in looking for a specific thing, found it, then hurried out without wandering through the aisles of fabric and other sewing accoutrements and also avoiding eye contact with the women there.

Appearing as if I was actually shopping at a fabric store last week was what I guess made me feel that I was outside of my “guy zone.” I know — it’s probably a sexist attitude.

I actually did know a guy who did sewing professionally. He worked in a hot air balloon repair shop, operating a heavy-duty, industrial strength sewing machine that could stitch giant panels of nylon rip-stop or Dacron taffeta together. He later went to work sewing giant swaths of canvas together to create parts of cargo containers that are stashed in the belly of commercial aircraft. He was very good at what he did.

But I’m almost certain he never had to experience walking down aisles of fabric with women peering at him wondering why the heck he was in a fabric store that was clearly out of his domain.

I think I have to go back to the fabric store this week. We forgot to pick up some braided rope to hang the banners. I’ll try to adopt a manly and purposeful look while avoiding eye contact when I go back. Wish me luck.