Friday, August 28, 2015

Ashley Madison Hack an Unrighteous Act!

Have you known a person who successfully quit smoking cigarettes and goes on what can only be labeled as a righteous campaign against smoking? They become almost militant and openly complain that the mere smell of cigarette smoke over-powers their sensitive nose holes. They want everyone to stop smoking and voice this opinion every chance they get.

Never mind that just months ago they were equally indignant when anyone even suggested that their cigarette smoke was repugnant. There is often nothing more intolerant than a reformed person.

This is the only logical reason hackers would out the adults who have paid to look for extra-marital affairs on in my opinion. They must have either been the victim of adultery, or repented from it – and now they want to expose all the consenting adults who are active in what society deems immoral activity. They claim it was for poor business practices.

“The hackers who took responsibility for Ashley Madison's data breach have said they attacked the website in an effort to close it down as punishment for collecting a $19 fee without actually deleting users' data.” Yea, right. That’s why they committed this crime.

Now, extortionists are coming out of the mud like money-ravenous leeches, hungry to black-mail subscribers or they will expose the filthy-minded prurient transgressors.

“Extortionists are now sending messages to the publicized e-mail addresses, demanding a payment of several hundred dollars in bitcoin, threatening to otherwise send their personal information to their significant others.”

The hackers see themselves as righteous bastions of good, when in fact they should serve time for hacking into a secure server. Their behavior and actions are greater transgressions than those they are outing. The proof is it is not illegal to have an affair, but hacking is.

Let me go on record and say I never heard of this website before it appeared in the news.  My email address is not one of the 39 million addresses exposed. I would like to say I lead a spotless life of a born again Christian, but I have failed at it so many times, I will get into heaven by God’s grace alone. I have a saying that any man who thinks he can handle more than one woman is either deceived, an idiot, or lives in Utah.

I have a good woman I’ve loved for 38 years and I know enough about what goes on in Anytown, USA to know that if a spouse wants to fool around, you don’t need to go further than a few blocks away to find someone who thinks the same way. So why in the world would any sane person join a website, pay money, and risk ruining their marriage to fool around with a stranger online?

Beats me.  The outcome of this heinous act of server hacking will now put millions of marriages in jeopardy and do the exact opposite of a righteous deed. I used to work with a guy who had a saying that went something like this’ “I do not support what people do, but I support their right to do it.” I mulled that over for a long time as a Christian man and finally concluded he had it right.

I do not support adultery and think it is a sin against you. You will be living a lie and breaking your vows, not to mention damaging your marriage and hurting the one you claim you will go to the grave with. However, I am not God and neither are the hackers. This AshleyMadison business is for consenting adults. Consenting adults. They may be wrong, or reckless, or to many – sinners, but I support their freedom to make this choice. I ain’t going to make it, but I sure as heckfire ain’t going to play God and mentally cast them into the infernal smoking fires at their misfortune. On top of that, I am fairly certain that many of these folks are on that site out of curiosity and vicarious sexual excitement and it never will go further than that.

“There is going to be a dramatic crime wave of these types of virtual shakedowns, and they’ll evolve into spear-phishing campaigns that leverage crypto malware. And the proof, in this scenario, would be a booby-trapped attachment that deploys spyware or malware.”
Cyber attacks are something most of us will experience in the future and they need to be seen as such, whether what is hacked goes against our values or our money. Hacking is a crime and this AshleyMadison theft should be seen as a monstrous breach of freedom, nothing more.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Voting doesn’t have to be complicated

I’ve been a conservative voter for many years and still am for the most part.  If you have read my opinion on some of the more controversial subjects, you understand that in some ways, I side with the more liberal thinkers.  Blame my service record for that.

Years ago I read Lyndon: An Oral Biography and Plain Speaking an Oral Biography of Harry. S. Truman both by Merle Miller. I read 5 of John McCain’s books.  I’ve read many other books about our presidents and political figures and they have helped me understand how American politics are supposed to function. For the people, by the people, etc. Of course I am no expert and don’t want to give that impression.

The TV series House of Cards pretty much nails how it works though, with powerful politicians calling in favors and chits, often skewing the voting records of those under their lofty positions. Lyndon Johnson was possibly the best at getting things done in the White House of all the presidents and political figures this country has ever seen.

On television and before the people, he drawled on in a monotone, appearing to be this slow-talking Texan with very deliberate word choices. In reality he had almost inexhaustible energy and forced through his policies and opinions by stabbing a big index finger in his victim’s chest and then using his Texas cowboy boots, he would kick them in the shins.

I’m not making that up. Hubert Humphrey was permanently scarred by Johnson and would pull his trouser legs up to show the permanent bumps. 

Over the years the crevasse between the 2 major parties has became a so wide that neither side wants to give an inch and herein lies the problem. Whereas LBJ could push things through, through compromise, nobody on either side wants to be accused of “working with the enemy”

Take the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill for instance. It would have and still would work, but it was picked to pieces by both parties and made both politicians look foolish and like turncoats. What did we end up with when the immigration bill failed?  Nothing. The same old thing that didn’t work. Americans were carefully manipulated to thinking both of these guys were jerks for even suggesting the joint plan.

So who benefited from this failed bill? The illegal aliens, that’s who. The reason I say this is because I actually read the whole thing! Yup. Unlike idiots in high places like Nancy Pelosi, I actually read this stuff.

There is a website located here:

It is where you can see how a politician actually voted on major issues. Now bear in mind, that on some of this stuff, they were coerced into voting against their desire so they could get their own stuff passed. That is important to remember.

At the bottom of each politician’s page is a matrix that shows how they rate as far as Liberal versus Conservative, etc. You may believe that the far left or far right truly reflects your views, but understand that any of these representatives whose mark is in the extreme, has more intention of pushing their parties policies over what the voters want.

They no longer represent YOU. They represent their party and their party knows what you need or want or deserve more than you do. As a Conservative with Libertarian leanings I do not want anyone in the White House who is against returning this nation back to the way the Constitution and Bill of Rights initially declared.

Think about that. You should feel the same way. Our freedoms are disappearing and all for our own good according to them. They have massive benefits while ours are vanishing. The do not call list is an tiny example of their self-serving privilege. They voted to exempt themselves so they can call you while you and your family eat supper.

Our political system has been allowed to morph into a government that is parasitical and has little to do with the voter’s wishes.  Whether you love or hate marijuana 68% of the population of this country believe it is time for marijuana law reform. When Jeb Bush votes “No medical marijuana; it's just a guise toward legalization”, he ceases to be anything to me but a Party hack out of touch with 7 out of 10 voters.

I’m expressing marijuana here to prove a point. Look at above website. Forget what is coming out of their mouths and see how they vote. Every once in a while one of them will speak the truth though. Bravo to Joe Biden for calling the Chattanooga shooter who killed our Marines and one sailor, a “perverted jihadist”. As far as I know, he’s the first person in the Obama Administration to call the guy a terrorist.

Our few good politician’s are made villains by other politicians and we lemmings sit back and let them. Look at Sarah Palin’s voting record. She was ridiculed to the point that she became a laughing stock. Her voting record is clean and reasonable. If all I could see was her voting record, I would vote for her.

The Presidency is serious business folks. Choose carefully. We can only support so many people who don’t and won’t work. We can only give so many anti-American countries 150 billion dollars – thank you Obama. Our country has to make the correct choices and our leaders need to find a way to work together.

Donald Trump is not the villain he is being portrayed as. He is an uber-threat to the 2 established ultra-partisan parties and both parties are scared to death, so they are demonizing him. He knows this and is forcing both parties to actually declare what they are going to do on real issues.

That may be the only reason he is running and I say bravo. Research how these people vote before you punch out that chad.

Friday, August 14, 2015

If I won the lottery

I guess at one time or another, everyone dreams about inheriting or winning a huge sum of money and I am no exception. However, how much money you might win is in question.  How much is enough to fulfill your vision? That question deserves an answer and I am determined to find it.  Now (I hate to add this caveat) there is math involved… yes, the dreaded conversation stopper.

Let’s say you would be happy with Texas two-step’s initial lotto winnings of $200,000.00. Well, right off the bat, the gov-ment is going to take about $70,000, leaving a piddley $130,000 which equates to purchasing 2 large 4X4 ¾ ton diesel pickem-up trucks with over-sized bumpers and accouterments (One for you and one for your lady).  Blam, you are out of lotto money!

You won’t even have money to MAXX-out your truck on Massey-Tompkins and put them big ol tares and cool 24 inch rims on them trucks, so Texas two-step is out (in my book). Well, at the initial offering stage anyway.

One time over in Channelview when this subject came up, one fellow exuberantly declared he would buy his wife a brand new “Esplanade!” I looked down his street and thought to myself, well, that would be an improvement on a grand scale.

I’ve seen that program where they followed up on people who have won a couple hundred million bucks and the resulting “buys” have been amusing or sad, and flabbergasting most of the time. One fellow and his wife bought this gigantic water fountain with all kinds of cement statues and placed it right in the middle of their front yard next to a broken down truck. It was an incredible view from the trashed-out deck of their mobile home.

It appears that most of my friends want to win a modest amount, say 2 million or in some cases less and they would do incredibly noble things with it, like build a house for a crippled lady, or pay for 1200 kids lunches.  A great deal said they would tithe to their church, which is very honorable (this usually came about 10 minutes later with a second reply).  Giving money away is very easy when you don’t have it. I pray if I ever do come into a great deal, I can be as generous as these people.

My Channelview buddy was way more expansive and a bit greedy in his wishes. “I would have a whole fleet of Ka-ma-rows; the ones with the big ol stripes on the hood and all and I would park them all in the front yard so’s people could admire them. They’d all be top of the line!” He made no mention of getting dentures and every time he ended a word with an “S” he whistled.

Me? I would like to win about 20 million after taxes, tithe on that, plus a goodly offering and then build my bride a real nice house. I wouldn’t move away, buy a log cabin in Montana, or a desert isle in Pago-Pago. If I did buy one of those big ol 4X4 ¾ ton King Ranch chicken trucks, I would probably leave it parked and drive my Jeep.

I could raise my Jeep higher and put bigger tires on it, but they’re already real big and the vehicle can go anywhere I point it. Its named Tha Choppa, as in Schwarzenegger’s “Get to the Choppa!” It is my vehicle of choice and having more money won’t change that.

With a cool 20 mil in the bank, I would probably still buy 2 gallons of Ug-Lee’s gumbo and their beans an Andouille sausage each month. About once a month, my bride and I would still drive down to San Leon and eat at Bubba’s Shrimp Palace. The gym named after the clock would still be our morning ritual 4-5 times a week.

Some folks told me they would create a giant pet asylum and spay and neuter all the animals for free. Others would send all their kids through college, or buy their Mom or sister a new home. Another said they would launch out on a world tour and stay gone until they came back.

I guess the biggest revelation for me was that the big money wouldn’t really change what I want and am already doing, so in one sense… I’ve already won the lotto.

Friday, August 07, 2015

It’s an outrage I say!

We have come to a time in space where people are cocked, locked, and ready to angrily fire at an instant. We are modern day Minutemen/women ready to be outraged and by sweet fancy Moses, we are armed to the teeth with righteous indignation. It’s ultimately righteous because it is coming from us. Those other fools are uneducated morons.

Someone said, you do well to win an argument with a learned person, but no one wins an argument with an idiot. This is true and if you happen to like to lock horns over something passionate, you will encounter this torch-carrying passionate activist who moments before was entirely rational. Now understand I have my tongue firmly planted in my cheek as I write this.

The reason I say this, is other than one of the deep philosophical discussions (read jujitsu wrestling matches) I get into with Jared Eikhoff, I can stand clear of passion and emotion and pretty much be open-minded. It’s not so with Jared because he’s like one of my kids and he’s well-educated, albeit still defining what to believe. I wrestle his brain trying to get some of the stuff he learned from Professor Cummings out of there and into the open so he can decide if the liberal stuff she teaches is fact or fiction.

I like and appreciate Professor Susan Cummings, the liberal phenom of Lee College and like to believe my 5 years in high school badgering the teacher have qualified me to take her on in civil debate. Years ago we agreed to disagree and I would sit down with the scholar and enjoy talking about most anything and even pick up the tab. Both she and I can separate passion from being civil in debate and that is very important if you want to verbally sword fight over ideals and remain friendly.

It’s simply not so when dealing with an unbridled passionate activist. Suddenly Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde before your very eyes and vitriolic babblings overtake all sense of logic and opportunity to offer a comeback.  Why, because they can no longer hear anything except their heartfelt passion towards everything from animal rights to “God” being removed from everything.

Passion is good when it comes to causes.  Sure, if someone abuses a child or leaves a pet locked in a hot car this is cause for alarm and I’m not talking common sense items here.  What I am referring to is extremism and with the politically correct movement firmly established, this lends to a self-appointed righteous air to the subject.

For instance, take the recent interest in a 13 year old lion being killed in Africa.  One fellow declared the dentist should be fined a million dollars. A million dollars?  Seriously? Another angrily wrote he should have his head cut off.  I find this so absurd, it’s laughable. Lions in the wild live 10-14 years. This was a very old animal, so a million bucks seems extreme. How about $5000?

Some passion is earned by blood and a smart person knows not to provoke a cobra snake. When I encounter a Marine I also say “Semper Fi” which translates as “Always faithful” and call them Devil Dogs. I’m not stupid and insultingly say jarheads. They’ve earned the moniker on both ends, but Devil Dog is a compliment. Marines are passionate about being Marines all their life and I understand that.

Other rabid subjects include the Confederate flag, the right to bear arms, eating meat, the environment (on 17 levels) and my most recent discovery is… where Vidalia onions were developed!  Yup, boy did I open up a can of whoop bunns on that subject.

I have many dear friends from my Georgia days and I recently enlightened – read baited Allyce Lankford on the less known fact that the present day cherished Georgia Vidalia onion is actually a Texas onion. Holy smokeski’s, talk about an instant eruption of passion! I of course acted as innocent as a nun and shocked that she would take offense.

Being me, I had to poke her with a fact stick on Facebook and this simply fanned the flames. You see, the Vidalia onion can only be grown in a certain area of Georgia due to the soil and is a state treasure. “Them’s fightin’ words, suh!” Now having lived in Georgia, them Georgians take their onions very seriously and I am guilty of igniting this passion, I admit.

The ultimate smack down was when I claimed the 1015 (also a Texas A&M invention) was sweeter and I only buy Vidalia’s when the 1015’s are out of season. The truth is other than the size difference, I really can’t tell all that much difference. 

Not to let facts get in the way of a good argument, onions are so good for your heart that you should eat them with every meal. The harsher the onion is on your eyes, the better it is for your heart and both of these onions are very mild. I love them both and eat onions every day, and I am guilty of provoking this good woman to see her reaction and give me fodder for this column.

Folks, if you feel very strong emotions about a certain subject, do your best to keep it in check around your friends who do not share the same views or you may find them becoming strangely mute when you go off on your righteous tangent. Also beware of passion baiters like myself. We can be real irrational.

Friday, July 31, 2015

It is so hot outside…

 “It's so hot; farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs!”

I looked at the thermometer on my patio, which incidentally is in the shade, and it read 100 degrees. The thought hit me that if I were to light a fire, I might actually cool off.  That’s when I realized I was unbearably hot and not exactly thinking straight.

I love sunshine; I really do. In fact I thrive on it, but can’t we get it without the waffle iron? I remember an old Beetle Bailey cartoon where the colonel paid a visit to the mess hall and asked the cook (Cookie) why he wasn’t in full uniform. Cookie replied that it was too hot to wear all those clothes. The colonel in his wisdom had no choice but to order an investigation into the actual temperature.

The next frame showed the old sergeant cooking in the buff. That’s the way it is here. It is so hot; I can’t seem to get cool when I am outside. We thank the Lawd for air conditioning and curse the de-bil if we lose power. We are slaves to A/C and make no apology.

I’ve witnessed people out walking on the trail system behind my house wearing a plastic suit or a lot of clothing. They are operating in a pre-1980 mentality that they need to sweat to lose weight. Well, here is a PSA (public service announcement). Don’t do this! You will stress your heart to a ridiculous level.

Instead, carry a bottle of water and wear wicking material to allow your skin to breathe and get rid of moisture. When wearing “sweats” all you do is elevate your blood pressure and endanger yourself. You will gain back whatever you lost when you gulp down the water you will ultimately crave.

It was so hot that corn popped in the field and the mules saw it and thought it was snow. 14 dropped dead from hypothermia!”

Too much heat real or imagined is not good, but I’ll take it over freezing any day.  Two winters in Montana taught me that. Being hot is uncomfortable. Being cold is painful. I went straight from Great Falls, Montana to Southeast Asia in 1972. From freezing weather to tropic heat closer to the equator. One word can describe both extremes: brutal.

It was hot there, but not really any hotter than we are experiencing right now.  It is dangerously hot right now.  Just this week I rode my bike down Blue Heron Parkway and into Jenkins Park to do maintenance on the many geocaches I own there. Even on the bike, I was totally soaked by the time I return 2 hours later. I imagine I lost two pounds of water weight in that 2 hours and I was riding most of the time.

“It is so hot, the local fire hydrant was asking dogs for a visit.”

If you have an inground pool, the sun is sucking an inch of water out of it a day. There is no telling what it is doing to our skin. I imagine it is radiantly cooking us. The good news is we are almost into August and maybe 3 weeks away from when it doesn’t beat down on us so hard. It’s bizarre in that suddenly it won’t feel as oppressive. It’ll be the same sun, but it just won’t have that blow torch scorching feel.

By the time we make it into delightful October, we will experience one of the two times a year that we have wonderfully pleasant weather and that is right around the blessed corner.

“It is so hot; I put crimson charcoal briquettes in my ice tea to chill it down.”

Like it or not, we never get used to it and this question has been raised a million times by travelers visiting the area. That welcoming smell at the airport is indeed mildew – get used to it! I guess the answer to it all if you must venture outside is to hydrate and stay in the shade as much as possible. My sweaty visor cap is off to garbage collectors, roofers, lawn care folks, and the Parks department workers who labor in it all day.

Now, where’s my sweet tea?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Exercise is not just for athletes

 I hang out with a pretty tough crowd at the gym. What? Another column about exercising? Geeze, BB can’t you write about food, or maybe give us an update on that danged bacon-luring dog catcher again? We do have an animal control problem here fella! What is your obsession with exercise?

Believe it or not, almost on a daily basis I question not only my motives, and goals, but my own sanity. Here’s how I roll; I do a Boot camp on Monday, Spin class on Tuesday, and Body Pump on Wednesday. I try to convince myself to take Thursday’s off for rest and recuperation – and am partially successful. Friday’s are a run day and since the temp has jumped into the 80’s at daybreak, this has turned my 5K run into something quite embarrassing.

Let’s break this down further and if you are still reading, there is a direct correlation between working your body with boosting your mental health. A good solid push of your muscles equates to a positive state of mind. I love to ask other seniors if they “got your money’s worth” as the exit the gym and 100% report they did, often with a weary grin.

At the gym named after the clock, our Boot camp instructor is a young personal trainer named Chelsea. Last Monday, Chelsea with her sweet demeanor and semi-soft commands nearly “killed off” the entire class of hardcore trainees. I use that term to define a point where people walk out prematurely or collapse at the home-20 and take a good nap in a coma state. Boot camp is a series of exercises that vary week to week designed to challenge ordinary work-out routines.

“I can’t feel my legs, Forrest!” I yelled out at one point and my peeps giggled. You see, working out in a group is fun and sometimes the classes take on a near monkey cage cacophony of squeals and grunts – and laughter as we all go into muscle fail mode. Fail mode is the point where your muscles are strenuously objecting to what your mind has told them they must do.

Our Spin instructor is a lithe cycling gynoid named Page and I swear she is a literal sadist at times. Her sweet smile belies the fact that she routinely tries to break everyone in the class. My friend Elaine came to her first Spin class Monday and I warned her to try and make it through the class by NOT doing what the rest of us do and I watched her grin the entire class as she peddled slowly behind us. In her mind I am sure she thought we were all nuts. The driving music in these classes helps us to get through and I often close my eyes and just peddle like a lunatic. I won’t lie and say it’s easy.

I’ve had a lot of instructors over the years, both in exercise and karate and our Body Pump instructor is the most incredible trainer I’ve ever had the pleasure of training with. Her name is Clarissa and she is indeed an apex instructor and a totally delightful person. Body Pump is a very organized and engineered weight lifting program designed to fatigue every major muscle group in sets of threes or more. Just when your muscles scream for relief, you change to something else. At the end of the class, you are exhausted and for some strange reason, there is a lot of water on the floor around you.

Clarissa knows and sees all and misses nothing. Her commands are as exact as her movements and you immediately are aware that she really cares not only about your safety, but your development. On top of everything else, she will remember your name after the first class. Her instruction is mixed with philosophy, positivity, and encouragement. I am truly impressed by this instructor as you can tell.

The crowd I train with are tough. They have endurance and stamina and take their training seriously. I cannot hang with their schedule though. They often meet at 6am and run for an hour, or come to the gym 2 hours early to lift weights and then take one or more classes. Most are in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s too – like me, but I just can’t hang like that.

Those dang women are something else!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The secret to a happy marriage - Part two

I got such great response to last week’s column (high five to GS for her corrections to my obvious misunderstand of the facts) that I simply must further expound on this important subject. I owe it to every man out there that desires to make their marriage work. I cannot and will not attempt to council a single woman, so if you are of the gentler persuasion, put down the paper and work on your honey-do list.  By the way, I’m not proficient at cat-herding either.

Men, pay attention to what I write next.  Contrary to popular myth, we really do want to be the ideal husband and be that imaginary knight in shining armor. We just fail because we bulldoze our way through life. We are men and frankly, I personally am not disposed to apologizing because I am.

Our idea of what is expected in a marriage is pretty much what we’ve learned watching our parents, neighbors, and the television. On all counts a lot of it is wrong. Add in two or three step parents and the infighting that goes on with ex’s, and you pretty much enter marriage with all the wrong info and as soon as the gushiness wears off, the flaws in your thinking are pointed out.

The real secret here is finding a woman who wants you to be this awesome guy and is willing to hang with you while they help you develop. This can take the patience of Job by the way. You see, what she sees in marriage is nothing more than a prototype (full-scale working model of something built for study, testing or display); a block of malleable clay soft enough to mold into that perfect shape of a husband.  Most – no all men believe the girl/woman they wed is the woman of their dreams. They fully expect her to be what they married ten years down the road.

Surprise! Women have endurance and can be exceedingly difficult to read. They rarely are honest when it comes to revealing what they really expect and fully expect you to clairvoyantly see this. Tomes have been written on this phenomenon and I won’t repeat it.

“She attracts him like a bee to a flower and her allure is in her affection and sole commitment to him as her everything,” one fellow opined. Oh my goodness is he in for a major surprise. This is true of course; she is all of that, but the total package is elusive and must be earned again and again at her discretion. If he can endure, as she is surely worth it, he will get rewarded, albeit in carefully scripted measure.

It is a fact written in stone that wives meter out affection as a reward for jobs well done and this is one thing that can be a major contention in marriage. The sooner the husband understands that this is simply the way it is, the quicker he can begin playing the game for the prize. Any other way in, makes him as a burglar and a bumbler and doomed to be a thug or a joke.

I love my Bride. I married her when she was 17 and me?  25. I was a worldly man with experience – or so I thought. I give her my all; my soul, my heart and after all these years, she still guards her inner sanctum. I tell her she is my soul mate and she won’t commit. It took a long time for me to figure out this intricate puzzle to a reasonable conclusion.

Vulnerability. In my clumsy man-ways, I have no problem exposing my underbelly to her. She’s worth it to me to expose my weaknesses. She plays her cards closer to her heart. There’s a bit of her she reserves for herself and maybe Jesus, but even after all these years, I am still held at half length.

That’s women for you. I understand and that is one of the secrets of a happy marriage. As a man, you can’t give 50, 60, or even 80% to her. You have to give all. What you get in return is what she will is willing to give you. Now I’m not talking about being walked on; not even a little bit. I am talking about two people in a committed relationship who are faithful to each other and actually love each other.

My commitment to my Bride has always been one of a provider of security.  This goes far further than having a shiny car, or cool walk. I have provided a safe avenue for my Bride to raise our children and not worry about where the next meal will come from. I have been there for her during times of stress and worry. I have enjoyed her company more than being with my friends. She is my best friend and that my friends, is the real secret to a happy marriage.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The secret to a happy marriage

 In 2015, marriage is as disposable a commodity as that HP bargain desktop computer you got at Best Buy. When the warranty runs out after two years, it goes in the trash can, or recycle place if you are green to the bone (God bless you Al Gore – you saint of a man!).

Let’s start where the man hangs his head… the home. The house belongs to the woman. You get half the garage, one closet, and your night stand. The rest belongs to her. That is written in stone. The sooner you connect the dots, the quicker you can begin trying to stop the invasion of your 3 spaces. Don’t bother to suggest color schemes, furniture replacement, or anything other than kitchen stuff you personally will use. It is perfectly okay to take over all cooking chores, just clean it all up afterward.

Shopping to the female side of your marriage is like hunting or fishing to the male side. Understand this compulsion to shop and honor it and she will reward you by saving you tons of money on the incredibly clever deals she made. Always marvel and compliment her amazing shopping skills. Avoid shopping with her, as you don’t know a good deal from a bad one and the experience is negative for her and you on at least 5 levels.

A common conversation will go something like this, “Honey, guess how much I paid for this?” She will hold up a garment of some sort and frankly I have no idea what it is or what it costs. However, because I am a man who knows his limits, I will automatically say something inflated, like: “110 dollars?”

“No!” She says this with as much melodrama as an Academy Award nominee. “The label was for $129 and you know how much I paid for it (and subsequently saved me money)?

“$89?” I wisely say, raising my shoulders in question to show I am deeply involved in solving this masterful example of shrewd horse trading.

“NO!  I paid just $37.12 and I got two of them!” Blam! Now comes the kicker and I am well trained. “You realize how much money I saved you?” My grin at her exuberance could only be larger if I was intoxicated.

The female side of your relationship needs constant affirmation of commitment and fidelity, but will adamantly deny this. Tell her you love her often and prove it by doing all the stuff she dreams up for you to do. Do not expect to collect on this, even though all women swear they award their husbands lavishly after they do home improvement. Play the lotto instead for rewards, as your odds are often better.

This has always puzzled me; this bizarre phenomenon of tasks in the queue. I never, ever have something lined up for my Bride to do, but there is a never ending list of things I am supposed to accomplish to make her world more perfect.  Here is an example of such goings on: “Lowe’s has bark mulch on right now 10 bags for $10.”

Translation? Go to Lowe’s as many times as is needed and each time come home with 10 bags.  The sooner the better or you will hear this until the sale is off and then it will be, “We should have bought that bark mulch while it was on sale.”  Never mind that the trunk of her vehicle will hold 10 bags.

Our yard is a National Wildlife and Texas State Wildscape and has been since applying for it 20 years ago.  We have a lot of stuff growing in our yard and this provides copious fodder for trimming I need to do.  I usually put it off until I’ve heard about it at least 5 times. This means I only have to do major shrub trimming 3 times a year instead of 4 or more.

The Texas Wildscape sign was made of plastic and it was so badly warped, I broke it up and put it in the recycle bin, but left behind 4 screws which were promptly pointed out to me. Now I could live with those 4 screws just fine and if they bothered my Bride that much, she could get the cordless screwdriver and remove them, but then again how could she pass up an opportunity to have something for me to do if she did it herself?

My oft reply to her list of honey-do’s goes something like this, “When I was taking specialty classes on how to install (insert whatever here), they didn’t cover that aspect.”  In other words, I have no education on said task, so why am I being singled out for a project she is just as capable of participating in and accomplishing?

“The toilet is running again. The electrical wall socket in the bathroom is all wiggly. The bulb is burned out in my closet.” All require the attention of someone else and the sooner he gets it, the smoother his life will be.  Resistance is futile, as all it does is cause a rerun of the same strategy.  I want to qualify my assertions here. I will soon be married for 38 years and everything I’ve written is the truth and the sooner the male side of the partnership plugs in, the better the chances are of staying happily married.

Friday, July 03, 2015

What does freedom mean to you?

Is this your idea of what freedom should be like in America?

A friend once told me “you would rather disagree with something or someone, than just go along. Can’t you just be agreeable for a change?” Uh, probably not, as I disagreed with his assessment. First off, I guard my tongue and a high percentage of the time I say exactly what I mean.  In other words, I am not prone to saying things I haven’t thought through. If I do, I usually have had an experience to shape an opinion instead of just “shooting off at the mouth.”

When the subject of freedom comes up especially concerning our government, I have a very simple take on it. I will obey the many laws and in exchange, I do not want the government interfering in my life. I fully expect the government to protect me from despots, criminals, and terrorists. I expect them to provide an environment stable enough that I can accomplish life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In a time of contagion, or extreme weather event, or some other catastrophe, I fully expect my government to reestablish law and order and provide aid if I need it. They simply must or looters and criminals will prey on us law-abiding citizens. I also believe that stealing or attacking my family is an extremely risky offering if I can prevent it. I call that freedom the second amendment.

Remember when George W. Bush (who I fully supported along with everyone else including Hillary and John Kerry) posed the heartfelt question about the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan, “who wouldn’t want freedom?” What about this was inherently wrong? It sounds, well, sound. Sound in logic yes, but it wasn’t then and it isn’t now and I will explain.  When I heard it, the alarm bells went off in my head due to my witnessing the Vietnam War up close and personal.

On the surface the question is easy to answer. Everyone wants freedom. Everyone. However, when you talk about replacing a regime and turning it into our idea of freedom, it never works. Never – ever. By tearing down thousands of years of tradition and ideology and building an American version in its place, you destroy a culture and bastardize it. What is left in the wake of this “freedom” is alienation and that always leads to discord.

Didn’t we learn this when the Shah was deposed from Iran in 1979? He became so progressive in his thinking that he caused his country to take a leap backwards into extremism. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein fomented something even more diabolical and freedom restricting than his tyranny.  In some ways, many believe our country is heading towards this same end.  Too many broad changes too fast and the Internet bloggers are all screaming it.

The many new freedoms our lawmakers are pumping out are alienating a large part of our population even as I write this. Almost no one is happy about the state of affairs in our free country both here and abroad. I swear to God, it feels like the tumultuous 1960’s and anyone who remembers that, remembers how scary those last 7 years were of that decade.

Recently on Face book, I took my handsome face, removed all color from it and pasted a faint American flag across it, then made it my profile photo. It has been quite popular and I’ve had the honor to help others do it. My point is by removing my skin color and draping the American flag across it is to show that I am first an American. Skin color should not matter – creed should. 

After I did that, I copy and pasted the Pledge of Allegiance below my portrait. I don’t care who comes to this country if they do it the right way and embrace what this flag stands for. It makes us stronger. I take exception for Americans who ignorantly try to erase our history by marking themselves as dash-Americans and constantly stirring up trouble.

I am not gay and don’t understand it entirely, but if it doesn’t violate the law, then have at it.  I have enough of my own accountability to worry about.  I’ve never had a gay person try to “convert” me anyway and know a number of good folks who are gay.  On the Confederate flag issue, I figure the rest of the country can fist-fight over it.   I’m an American flag guy and a Texas flag second and like Davy Crockett told those folks, “ may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.”

I may not want to do a lot of culturally based things, like paint my house hot pink, or run 24 inch wheels on my slammed SUV, but I support a citizens right to do it and if it doesn’t violate the law or some HOA rule, have at it.  Just give me my space, be considerate of your neighbors, love this country above others, and we can get along just fine – oh!  If an emergency happens, I will be the first to come to your aid.  Isn’t that what we freedom loving Americans do?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Standing or falling is still your choice

"If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything" is a quote possibly going back a couple of hundred years, but is just as true today as when it was initially penned.

Maybe I am just hyper-aware of national and State news, but it appears we are all over the road in our current mission to attack anything and everything as being politically/socially offensive. In short, we are less tolerant than just about anytime in our country’s short history. Geeze, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this the land of the free?

I think not. We are becoming a country of bondage. We now have a law protecting preachers so they can preach? Seriously? Why was this right ever encroached upon in the first place? Never mind that pesky 1st Amendment. I was always under the impression that if you disagreed with what was delivered over the pulpit, you just went somewhere else.

The Confederate flag issue is one I understand, but am I going to get all in a rabid state over it? Nope. To be honest, I would rather someone identify themselves as a bigot than try and guess if they are or not. When it comes to flying this historic banner over a state capitol, all I have to say is this: it is the deep south – duh! 

To join in the over-eager PC goose-stepping is Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sears, and eBay. All are stopping the sale of evil and heinous offensive Confederate merchandise. What? It causes me to shake my head, especially when I consider Amazon will sell you Nazi memorabilia with a giddy gladness reminiscent of a street corner vendor. If I shake my head any harder, the agitator ball will break loose.

Opportunist bottom feeding faux social activists like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has decided the American flag is next on the list of offensive symbols. "Who are we fighting today? It’s the people that carry the American flag,” Farrakhan continued. “What flag do the police have? What flag flies over the non-Justice Department? What flag flies over the White House?” More head shaking and mainly because people actually think this cursing bigot is a man of God.

I believe in the freedom this country set in motion and I do understand that initially we held people as possessions (like many other countries) in direct contradiction to said freedoms, but that changed under Abraham Lincoln. It continues on in other countries to this very day. Each of us has the moral and ethical responsibility to express our freedoms inside our laws – and to not walk around looking for a fight or a cause to get upset over.

On top of that statement, I resent anyone trying to coerce me into getting upset over an issue I would rather ignore.

If this current trend toward hostility over the failed Confederacy escalates, mark my words, it won’t be long before we rename Robert E. Lee high school to something more Pablumy.  Nothing offensive mind you. Wait?  Everything is offensive to someone.  Maybe we could just paint our school buildings solid white and in big black letters stencil the words “High School” on the side? Wait!  Why do the colors have to be black and white?  I am outraged!

The word on the street is because Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner; we need to tear down the Jefferson Memorial. George Washington, Andrew Jackson and James Madison also owned slaves, so we had better buy a bunch of bulldozers (on credit from the Chinese so we can afford Michelle’s travel money) and get busy knocking them down.

Surely I jest about Michelle’s $100,000 a day for her Italy/England trip.  It’s only 6 days honey. Don’t be jealous because you can’t afford a weekend trip to the riverwalk and you make 6 figures. She’s special and so are her kids. That $600,000 was worth it, but wait, what does this have to do with real issues, like than danged offensive piece of fabric you can no longer buy on Amazon? No, not the Nazi flag; the offensive one.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Passion versus Reality

Most of us early on in life believe we are going to grow up and go into a career field that is going to bring us massive amounts of satisfaction. Simply stated, we want to do what our passions dictate and this is perfectly normal. Many professional athletes, singers, and entertainers enjoy this for a spell, but unless they keep employed, sooner or later they are going to have to find a real job. That job will pay the bills, but most likely will just be a job.

I guess my first understanding that I wasn’t going to have a passionate job was when I didn’t get an opening into photography school in the Air Force. After I got out of Basic Training I just knew I was going to be a photographer.  In my immature mind it was a done deal and I survived the vigorous training and adjustment into military life knowing it was simply so.

When the day came when the job offerings were displayed, I was like so many other young men in my flight, totally clueless what the militarized names of the job openings meant. The military uses the word “nomenclature” to describe their words. I had never heard the word nomenclature, let alone understood that the job I ended up choosing (Material facilities specialist) was nothing more than a warehouseman.

Talk about unglamorous! I wasn’t the only one in my flight either. Almost none of the 60 of them knew what they had picked either. In our 18 year old un-military nomenclature understanding minds, we just chose something. This is absolutely bizarre now that I reflect on it. You go in believing in all your heart that you are going to get exactly what you want and on that great day you find out you are going to be a box stacker. There is a correlation here to most all of us at that same age. I can imagine how many of have similar experiences.

After four years of stacking boxes and 2 tours in Southeast Asia, I left the Air Force and moved to Baytown to join my family. It was as if I exited Basic Training all over again in the fact that I was at the point where I would choose a career path. Looking back to every time in my life I came there, I realize I could have made a better choice except when it came to choosing my mate. As my dad was wont to say, “You did good, Bubba.”

What I should have done is took a side job and used the G.I. Bill to get a 4 year degree. Pretty much all of my family except my Mom were working at Mobay for Brown  & Root (wasn’t everyone?). What I did was join them as a pipefitter’s helper making an astound lavish $4.25 per hour. It doesn’t sound like much but when I left the Air Force in late November, 1974 I had made a total of just over $2000 for the year and I had 3 stripes.

My plan became to go to college, but did I follow through? A little bit. That’s all. Later on I took more classes, but never got a degree except in martial arts. Sure, I’ve had many successes along the way with accomplishments, but for 37 years I worked shift work in a chemical plant and although it paid the bills, it never was a passion for me.

I suspect you can relate to where this is all going in your own life. Rarely does passion and reality align in a career.  If it did, then you are most blessed. My Dad surprised me a few years back. He had an incredible understanding of math and was a tool and die maker by trade and very good at what he did. He told me all the years he worked in those shops, he hated every second of it. I guess that’s why he always dreamed of finding sunken treasure, or a gold nugget in a mountain stream.

I didn’t hate every second I was a warehouseman, pipefitter’s helper, or process operator, but I sure as the Dickens didn’t want to be there. You see folks; passion is for off the job. You find it with your family, your church, and your hobbies. You work your job and strive for an excellent work ethic, but you get your kicks on Route 66.

Friday, June 12, 2015

People need to be informed, challenged

For many years now I’ve had a mantra which goes something like this: “Anyone who challenges you to define what you believe is your friend.” As my brother in law is wont to say, “in other words”, they have done you a favor by making you think about what you believe and possibly learn a thing or two in the process.

In 2015 most all of us are bombarded with catchphrases, slogans, politically correct goose steps, and stultifying quotes by the likes of Kanye West and his new mother-in-law Lola Jenner.  Along that same vein, Jerry Seinfeld was recently quoted as saying he doesn’t do college campus gigs because he believes college kids simply repeat politically correct nonsense their liberal instructors teach instead of actually deducing the facts for themselves.

I don’t claim my slogan is totally original, but I’ve made it my own because I believe it.  It sometimes comes back on me too. Like you, it is important for me to be right and I attempt to research a subject (sometimes too much) so I can give an educated reply. I am not ashamed to say I don’t know (sometimes a little to energetically).

When some well-meaning friend sends me a news item, I like to read up on it before I offer an opinion, but more times than not, I already know a good deal about a lot of things, especially if it involves freedom or ethics. Like you I categorize subjects by how they relate to me and sort of triage whether a reply is worth the energy it takes to research it. Other news like which MMA fighter will win, or how the Houston Aeros are doing goes in one ear and doesn’t leave a trail as it exits the other.

There is a website which is very good for researching whether Bill Clinton has asked Lola for a date or not and I suggest you become a regular reader of the site before you forward that juicy email to 250 other friends and further pollute the Internet.

Back 10 years or so, the Baytown Sun hosted an online forum titled Baytown Talks. After it Mike Kercher ran Both online forums were notorious rumor mills and I say that kindly and in no way slander Mike or the Sun. It was the Wild West and that is why when Mike shutdown, I was remiss to take over the job. I don’t like the drama or the proliferation of speculation, cyber fighting, trolling posts, and hyperbole.

Most of all I was very weary of self-appointed experts arguing or pushing agendas. Fortunately the newest iteration is and is running as smooth as baby feet. We have real experts, such as BPD assistant chief David Alford, Public Affairs Coordinator Patti Jett, Tourism Director Anna Enderli, Judge Don Coffey and many others to dispel rumors and dispel them they do.
Patti Jett
Many of us post ideas which we believe to be fact and different opinions are offered and it is all done cordially, as true debate allows. Facebook is my favorite place to post controversial subjects and I invite friends to comment. There is an occasional virtual fist fight and I delete the thread, maybe to start it again the next day after folks have calmed down.  I use civil discussion to help write this column and along the way either teach or learn.

Back in Abraham Lincoln’s political days people talked about issues, sometimes punching each other, but along the way they defined their beliefs. Now we just listen to Jon Stewart, or The View to find out what we believe. It’s a danged shame too.  Believe it or not Louis L’aMour, the famed writer of Western novelettes helped me define a sort of code to live by many years ago. His hero, often times operating very close to the edge, lived by a defined sense of justice.

The trouble with our current way of learning is many people do not read. I would wager to say most people on my Facebook friends list do not take the time to read my usual 8-900 word column.  It’s just too long.  Anything more than three sentences taxes modern readers.  The old 100 must read books before college entry is a thing of the past. Young people used to have a pretty good idea of how it is supposed to go before they left high school because of this list.

The only hope may just be what these days is “conversating”, a term I avoid.  People need to be informed and challenged in a civil manner and dared to define what they truly believe.  Otherwise, we all need to line up and run and jump off a cliff into the ocean. I blame the state-regulated school testing for a lot of this. Everyone learns the same thing. Beware the clones my friends.  Study different sources. Make up your own mind. Learn.