Thursday, September 20, 2018

Capitalism yes, Socialism no

I am not an expert on political systems or governments, but I like my freedom to choose by voting. I wish I would have paid closer attention in government class. My real school memories were the 1960's and as has been pointed out before, this was a time in our country of great change and strife. In the 60's, Communism & Socialism spread across the planet with many feeling the USA should join the giddy melee to convert.

I enlisted in the military to fight to stop the spread of this ill-conceived attempt to replace Capitalism. As proof it failed, only a few countries now exist as Communist and truthfully they are not much more than thinly-veiled hybridized Capitalists. The governments of this type of structure had to come to grips with the work/reward system of Capitalism. It works and their form of strict Socialistic guidance... doesn't. It doesn't, so why oh why are these newcomers to our political arena think it will?

Are they just visionaries or are they significantly in denial, wishing for a Socialistic system where everything is rosy? To be honest, I think they are ignorant of history. Wow. Really? Its actually the only sound explanation for their insistence that our country move in this direction. Sure, on paper, Socialism and Communism look great, so why hasn't it worked the many times various countries have adopted it?

The basic goal of Socialism sounds great: " Socialism is a movement of both the worker and middle-class, all for a common democratic goal." This would work if the system rewarded incentive and hard work, both a foundation to Capitalism. What it would amount to eventually and I'm sure detractors and political system experts will scream foul, is that it is the equivalent of everyone being on welfare. It encourages the loss of freedom with the promise of more security.

I guess you remember the debacle where the US government stepped in and took over a cat house in Nevada and within a short amount of time, it folded. It had been very successful before the government got its hand wet. As a Cold Warrior with a certificate of recognition on my wall, I find the push in this direction to be both astounding and repugnant.

I also want to tie in that many university students who rally against (fill in the blank), ultimately embrace the "injustice" later in life because they want to "make a lot of bucks" and pay for the nice house they've borrowed against. The next wave of university activists will attack them as the evil bourgeois base establishment, regardless of what they do or say. I find it ironic in the extreme that the filthy rich are some of the advocates for Socialism. Are they really this brain dead concerning history and the redistribution of their own wealth?

I'm not talking Robin Hood stealing from the rich; I'm talking the government stealing everything and doing it legally. Do you believe for a second that countries who embrace this form of government actually all live at the same economic level? No. They don't. The chasm between the lower/middle and upper class is just as wide as it is under our form of government.

I am voting against any attempt to expand government or give them more power over my life than they already have. As I've said before, I will obey the laws and pay my taxes and the only time I want to see the government in my business is when we have a crisis. I would rather have a 2 party constantly arguing circus, than a hammer and sickle Politburo locking me into a role where I have no incentive to produce.

Our local curmudgeons can have a field day explaining away the wonderful economy while they feverishly try to figure out how to give the last president credit. Poor characters lick their wounds and wish for a day when the government tucks them in at night. I pity them for their blindness and poor memory, but I applaud their First Amendment right to spew their version of two minutes hate. After all, I can be civil, as I believe in freedom of speech and don't care if they are politically correct or not.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Living in amazing Baytown Texas!

 FLASH/CRACK/BANG! My bride and I both stood in shock realizing the bolt of lightning hit way too close for comfort. We were in our living room and I cautiously walked over and looked through my front door window. I was sure I would see destructive evidence of the bolt of electricity, but no. Nothing. No fire, no confusion... no confirmation, or so I thought.

Back about 25 years or so ago, I transplanted 5 Kenefick area loblolly pine trees in my yard and anywhere else I could put a tree. Back then Chaparral Village had an rental exodus, as homes here sold and the street I live on had a lot of foliage-free lots and many vacancies. I began offering trees to anyone who would plant one. Some I dug up in the forest around Livingston and others I got from the city's free tree give away program. Needless to say, I planted close to 30 trees here in Chaparral Village.

Imagine my surprise when talking to my neighbor Jerry LeCompte, when he pointed at his loblolly and there is a great lightning bolt groove down the trunk of the tree almost 2 inches wide. He explained he was just opening the door on his Jeep when the instantaneous blast of electricity went through the tree next to him. If I remember right, the power intrusion knocked out some stuff in his house and maybe his Jeep. It goes without saying that Jerry came very close to being incinerated. What a memory he has to pass along.

I recently rescued an Eastern box turtle while participating in the memorial walk for Sam Wingate. It was in the middle of El Chaco Drive and I don't think for one second a resident there would harm it, but someone not paying attention could run over it, so I intervened. I took it about a mile and turned it over to the local turtle whisperer. Yes, he now has 4 in his spacious backyard and as amazing as it sounds, he calls to them with breakfast and they all come to the patio to feed.

This all began a few years ago when his pet dog died and his bride asked that it be their last dog. I can't imagine life without dogs, but he did the next best thing when a lone box turtle crawled under his fence. Well, since this day, 2 more have came along and he had a wooden fence installed. Some would claim this was cruel, but these turtles are living in relative safety and security and each have been named. I asked what he would call it and he said his granddaughter would get the honor. I'll have to get back to you on what she chose.

Walking the Blue Heron Park trail has became a staple for many and isn't without the sharing of information and the gradual mitigation of constant litter and the group slowly catches on that picking up trash not only gives you ab work, but makes the trail and street look nicer. Baytown Parks Super Dustin Schubert has agreed we need a trash can at Barkuloo and Blue Heron Parkway and it will probably be installed at the end of the trail coming behind Chaparral Village. Stick-carrying Mike Williams not only paid a couple of grand to have 2 benches installed, but he is out and about like clockwork each morning at an estimated pace of 4 miles per hour. We exchange information about litter and the current number of walkers and move on.

Jose is a colorful Hispanic man of about 70 who jogs from Baker Road to JC Holloway Park and back nearly every day and is a walking/talking/jogging machine who always shares an interesting tidbit or two. We shared information on the American persimmon tree on the sidewalk close to N. Main Street. Persimmons are like seed-filled candy when ripe and if you pull lightly on the fruit and it drops into your hand, it is ready to eat. Better hurry though, as they are ripe. Each fruit has 6 seeds and they can be planted, but understand it will be 5-6 years before you have fruit.

I bet your neighborhood has similar characters out and about and the only way to meet them is to get outside. What better place to be than right in your neighborhood getting exercise and talking to neighbors? Grab an empty grocery sack and hit the trail. It'll benefit your abs and you might just meet one of the most interesting people of your life.

Monday, September 10, 2018

What would happen if I wrote a meaningful log?

BaytownBert, NavyStud, & Muddywatergirl

Help! I have fallen and can't seem to get up, or is that something I can work on?

I had fallen into the TFTC SNTFTC LOL KCCO logger group without even realizing it. Using various Apps, macros, or chicanery I had removed the human element from my once very personal logging experience. I was simply the longer version of SLTFTC. or "more later" on occasion, telling myself I would come back and finish it.  How did this happen? I am retired for gol-dern's sake. It's not like my time is constantly drained or something, right?

No. We find time for what is important to us. Fact. If we write short abbreviated anonymous logs we are making a statement that the log is nothing more than a requirement. The cache owner doesn't mean a thing, nor the container. "Found it. STFTC!" Never mind that the C/O is a newbie screaming out for recognition, or worse, not caring what they read, just give me my smiley. Mentor? Me? You? What? What tha heck?

"The weather was rapidly disintegrating as I hovered over the delicate dry log and scribbled my strong font-based BB on the papyrus we all hold in such high regard. I mean the stuff is the stuff of life to a geocacher! We simply MUST sign the log. It's like the Icon of Icons! I salute you log and I put my ink upon you! Thank you. See relevant amateur photo. Have you ever seen such a wonderful face? I haven't." GC7RX1P

When I instruct geocaching classes to newbies and veterans alike, I urge them to "write logs you would like to read". Of course an LPC placed by a Vet to help us get through 31 days of August literally deserves a TFTC and a hi-5. I'm afraid the loss of the original intent of a log has devolved into nothing more than a way to record a smiley.

In other words, the numbers have became more important than the experience.

Is it really this quiet, or am I experiencing an auditory issue?

"I wanted to bump up the adventure on this one and it was really hot, sweaty and lots of mossies were flying around my face. I stripped down to my skivvies and crawled 385 meters through the wet grass to make the find. I was so excited, I ran all the way back to Tha Choppa with people cheering me the whole way. Now that's what I call a geocache, or was that obvious? See the photo!" GC7T2VF

Is it true, we ask ourselves. Are the numbers truly ruling us? Sure, justification is just that. We can excuse away almost anything, but our logs reveal something we may not want to admit. Let that sink in. Are we writing meaningful logs, or are we simply doing the minimum for the score? Food for thought, right?

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Just say NO to artificial sweeteners!

About 20 years ago, my brother Gordon told me, "Diet sodas will make you fat."   I couldn't see it and only the last 5 years or so have I stopped drinking them. I'll have an occasional one, yes, but will usually opt for a drink with real sugar in it. REAL SUGAR! Charge!  Yes, real sugar and although not related, I switched back to real butter too.

For a number of years I've noted the alarming number of kids with mental disorders and I remember growing up and not seeing this phenomenon. I lived in Toledo, Ohio in the 6-8th grade and there was one fellow of maybe 25 on the corner everyone said was "retarded". He smiled a lot and was never really outside his house and we would wave at him as we pedaled past on our wheeled iron horses. He was harmless and to us kiddos, a novel mystery. His name was Jim.

Jim is the only kid I can remember who was "retarded". All the other kids were "normal", meaning it ran the spectrum from tame to wild and honest to criminal. Some were over-achievers, others were very studious, but as a whole, most boys were rowdy to a degree. No one ever thought any of the boys had accelerated attention problems. They were boys for gosh darn sake. They acted like what they were and that is the way it was.

List of health problems associated with Asparteme

Something has happened in the last 50 years to create this massive and unexplained plethora of mental deviations. It seems everyone you know either has a kid on anxiety drugs, or is accused of a mental departure from what is labeled as normal. Back in the day people didn't drink Tab or Fresca because they were leery of sodium cyclamates (sweetener code 952) and on top of that, they tasted terrible... but they were diet drinks, so many endured the after taste.

To my personal knowledge and experience, this was my first artificial sweeter experience. Cyclamates are banned for human consumption in the US, but 130 other countries allow it. I don't care, I won't knowingly allow the substance in my food or drink. I will not consume any product with high fructose corn syrup or aspartame. Give me real sugar from honey, beets, or cane. I will curb the amount I use. Better yet, I will mix my 100% fruit juice with filtered water for my "soda" fix.

Its what's in my gym water bottle and works fine without a boost from artificial ingredients like Red Bull and Monster drinks. Speaking of those type of drinks, they are liquid Drano with enough citric acid to dissolve rusty metal. I say no to "energy" drinks or supplements. I've witnessed how much energy these drinks give people and 10 minutes after chugging one, they can hardly keep their eyes open. Its a typical big rush followed by a huge crash. The answer is always to drink more.

If one of these USDA approved sweeteners is present (saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low), acesulfame (Sunett, Sweet One), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure), neotame (NutraSweet variety), and sucralose (Splenda), I will not consume them. I'm going to avoid Stevia for the time being also, but it may be a very viable alternative.

Pretty much if the product is advertised as "diet or low this or low that" I am going to avoid it and go as natural as possible. I have to start somewhere and this is the line in the dust. I'm not going to make a big issue out of it and I will have to exercise portion control, but gosh, aren't we all accountable for what goes into our mouths anyway?

There is a study that suggests that your brain not only sees the artificial stuff as real, but it responds just like it would with sugar, so why oh why are we being duped into believing it is a diet drink? Aspartame has over 90 documented adverse reactions including mental retardation, Alzheimer's, fibromyalgia, birth defects and the list goes on.

Why is it that country people who grow old eating the pigs they butcher and the garden they grow, ate bacon, eggs, sweet tea, biscuits and gravy and are still healthy into their 80's and 90's or older and we are dying in our 40's? Join me and remove this possibly dangerous substance from your diet. Just say no to artificial sweeteners.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

There's no brakeman on this train

I smell a dirty rotten rat. Its a smell we've learned to live with because we have been told that smell is normal. I think its high time we decided it is not. The issue involves the stranglehold Harris County has on the Baytown jail. Something here defies logic and yes, logic is always a conundrum when it comes to the rules.

Here is the big question: Why doesn't Harris County pick up the prisoners in the Baytown jail? Why do Baytown police officers make the 2-3 hour round-trip visit to Houston 2 to 5 times a day to transfer prisoners when they could be working our streets? Why didn't our "new" jail of 15 or so years qualify as a Harris County jail annex when most of us thought it would?

How come the 65 million dollar future police department building doesn't include this resource-robbing issue? Over the years I've asked this question and it has always been explained that there is nothing BPD can do to alleviate the problem. I'm patient, but does it seem logical that we continue this practice to the waste of our police patrols and citizen's tax dollars.

I do not blame BPD. I blame the current system and Harris County and personally, I do not care how other Harris County cities handle this constant drain. We are on the far side of the ship channel and I believe our resources are better managed when we have trained officers on the beat; not taxiing prisoners up to 5 times a day.

I am a fan of our city and our police department. Since 1974 when I moved here after leaving the Service, I have never had a negative instance with BPD. I also support our city and wish it to be a great place to raise a family. Our police training programs are top notch and we train cops from all over the country. I want it to continue to be professional and leaders in law enforcement, instead of prisoner Uber drivers.

Maybe this is just the way it is done. Everyone under Harris County and Sheriff Ed Gonzales do it one way and that's just the way its going to be; I don't know. Maybe it can't be done another way, but let's get real. We just tragically lost 2 top cops with many years experience. They cannot and will not be replaced using "shake and bake" cops, which is something only little towns do anyway. No, it takes years to get cops like these replaced, so why are we toting prisoners up to 5 times a day to Houston?

Maybe our police chief and Mayor need to sit down with the honorable Sylvester Turner and get the skinny on what Baytown needs to do with its jail to stop this waste of resources. Maybe the citizens of this great city need to let their voices be heard. Maybe that 65 million bucks needs to include some provisions that aren't planned. If our jail is certified as a Harris County jail annex, we would suddenly have 2 to 5 more cops free to patrol the streets and stop all this red light running and car stealing. Does all of this sound unreasonable?

Look. I am not suggesting we all gather at city hall with masks, signs, and throw smoke bombs. I am suggesting each and every person contact your councilperson and inquire why we are continuing this at tax payers expense. It is illogical and should be addressed by citizen input.

I love this town. I do not ever plan on leaving. I am asking for your help to set this situation to the advantage of Baytown and its LEO's.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

If this house is rockin', don't come a-knockin'

 I don't think I am alone when it comes to uninvited guests suddenly appearing at my door. Gone are the days where people opened their front door to strangers. If you haven't heard, this is the new hospitality. With a few exceptions, I will welcome you to my front door under a couple or few conditions.

One, if you are family (and we are not fighting). Two if you are a neighbor in need (and I have to recognize you as such). I say this because these days a person can live 2 houses down and you never see them face to face. This would seem odd that a person can live close by for 8 years and you have never talked to them, but that is why the old rules are obsolete. People drive in from work and pull into their garage and close the door. You may see them leave to grab a bite to eat, or to drive to work the next day, but no one waves because we don't know each other.

Three, I will welcome you to my door if you call first. Apparently this is not an obvious consideration. Four, if by chance you do call, be punctual. Arrive when you say you will arrive. From the time I was a teen old enough to catch a ride with a buddy, I have hated standing by the front door waiting for my friend who is "on my way". After an hour of standing on first one foot than the other, they finally arrive even though they live 5 minutes away.

An exception to these rules are children accompanied by their parents selling cookies/candy as a fund raiser. I have also opened my door for scavenger hunting teens.

Back in the day before all rules changed, visitors were acutely aware they were visiting. Punctuality still applies believe it or not. If you show up to visit, be aware that your host might not be keen on you burning up 3 hours while you wait for the next folks to get home, so you can surprise them with a cordial visit.

If you are selling something (or swearing you are not selling something), I won't open my door. Sorry, times have changed. Like my dad used to say when a salesman came to the door, "I wasn't shopping". I really won't give you consideration if you want to argue that I should listen to your sales spiel. The same goes for the salesman attempting to gain entrance via the telephone.

The telephone is the modern day salesman at your front door tactic. I would like to think all of us know this, but the programs and robotic voices are getting more difficult to detect. The latest one sounds like a human and calls from "Dealer Services". Dealer services? Really? That is all the better they can do? I blatantly asked them what they were dealing. "Dope, drugs?" I asked and yelled out to my bride, "Honey, I have a drug dealer on the phone," and then hung up. I don't know if the robot responded as I wasn't shopping.

Here is the real poop on this whole front door thing. My home is my sanctuary. Please see it as such. Don't make me install a moat and a draw bridge; just take the hint. If you want to visit, give me a ring. We all have phones strapped to the sides of our head, so I will answer, or not. The "or not" is a subtle message that I will call later or never. If no one answers, don't come over. I may be sun worshiping my pale body with a mankini on in the back yard. I may be in a bad mood and bite at you and that's why I don't answer the door. Yes, sometimes I am anti-social to the point I simply don't want company.

In this complicated time of political and racial unrest, my home and yard are where I go to avoid conflict. If a casual visitor would like to join me, I simply ask that they warn me first. Is that weird, or am I just an old fossil that is not in step with the slippery times? I am not in a bad mood, give me a call. I may answer.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Ball of confusion revisited

I proclaimed for many years that we as a country would never experience the level of unrest we faced in the 1960's... but I was wrong and it is getting worse. I first noticed it on the federal level when it appeared no elected official was concerned with anything other than keeping their lofty aerie secure. Every action was meant either to further their career, or attack the opposite party and members. Never mind that privately they sit down and dine together and giggle like love-struck teens. Maybe that is what good politics is all about; I don't want to know. I just want all the fighting to stop. Its childish and frankly, embarrassing.

I read today that the Republican party is running scared because they may lose some seats to Democrats and I thought, "What's the difference?" The Republican's for the most part won't support their own Republican President because he won't play ball the way the other two parties like to play. None of the incumbents care how many of the opposite party occupy a position as long as they don't lose theirs. Business as usual will continue and it appears it matters not to any of their ilk if the country goes to hell in a hand basket.

After Hurricane Harvey flooded us, everyone regardless of their political views now realize rain/flood abatement is the most important issue and we want politicians that make it the number one priority. Handling the many important issues like security, education, veterans benefits, Social security, Medicare/Medicaid, and immigration should be what we are reading in the news, not looking for Jimmy Hoffa's shadow. I can't hardly bear to listen to the news in rapidly disappearing 2018.

Networks and publishers keep the whole country in a massive state of confusion clouding anything that will actually benefit the true citizens of this great country. I'm sick of it, but then there is state, county, and even city level squabbling going on and this is why I think it is worse than when we were in the Vietnam War, seeing the president and his brother and Martin being gunned down, race riots, and the expanding drug culture that defined the 1960's.

I never thought I would again see so much confusion, but guess what? Its here baby. All we need now is to witness our Senate and Congress get into a mass fist fight and we can all check off living in a Third World Country from our bucket list.

"People movin' out, people movin' in. Why, because of the color of their skin. Run, run, run, but you sho' can't hide. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Vote for me and I'll set you free." Yeah, they will set you free alright, just like affordable health care. What a shocker that was for all those who giddily help get it into law. There are no free lunches and the sooner people wean themselves off the government teat, the sooner they will truly be free.

"Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation. Ball Of confusion that's what the world is today. The sale of pills is at an all time high, young folks walkin' 'round with their heads in the sky. Cities aflame in the summer time, and oh the beat goes on. Eve of destruction, tax deduction, City inspectors, bill collectors, Evolution, revolution, gun control, the sound of soul, Shootin' rockets to the moon, kids growin' up too soon. Politicians say more taxes will solve ev'rything, and the band played on." Incidentally, these lyrics were published over 45 years ago.

Right here in Baytown, we have the school Board debacle which is dividing the city. We have a firefighter under the microscope over insurance eligibility and its my understanding whatever happens here could have national repercussions. It's as if no one can be happy. Now my friend and veteran law enforcement professional has tragically taken his own life.

Whatever happened to Mom, baseball, and apple pie? How about opening the door at the Post Office and let a few people through for starters? Maybe push a grocery cart in from the parking lot instead of grabbing one at the door? Charity starts at home and if we are truly going to make America a place that is what we all want, then all of us need to pitch in a little. We need to contribute, not argue. Stop fighting and work on solutions.

I want to offer my deepest condolences to Stewart Beasley's family, coworkers, and his many friends.

Note: Lyrics The Temptations - Ball of confusion

Thursday, August 02, 2018

My pain in the neck saga

In March of 2017, I suffered with what was diagnosed as spinal stenosis and for clarity, I'll add the definition. "Spinal stenosis in the neck is a common source of chronic pain that is caused by a gradual narrowing of nerve pathways in the cervical (upper) spine." I awoke with a stiff neck and 4 hours later, it was blinding pain. I learned a lot about pain from this malady.

I wrote about it before so there is no sense beating my neck against a dead horse. To sum up the journey since this prognosis is easy. I took a lot of pills. Pain pills which barely took the edge off, followed by massive treatments of steroids. Then my blood pressure spiked dangerously high to the point that I was living on the edge of a stroke. This went on for months and no matter what I did or ate or drank, it stayed up around 180/110.

I went from being on blood pressure medicine to taking 13 pills a day. I finally said stop and I did. I went cold turkey for a month and opted for acupuncture, which of course is alternative medicine. I experienced instant results and after the first treatment, I could actually turn my head side to side. Have you ever tried to drive a car without turning your head to check behind or beside you? It is challenging, as you have to turn your entire body to see.

You do not feel the needles; they are that small. What a difference it made and it sure beat sitting in a waiting room with all the sick people. I went 2 times a week and with each visit, I became more flexible and was slowly moving away from the constant pain. I used Fusion Acupuncture & Holistic Healthcare off the North 610 loop.

I now wanted to try and realign my spine and through the VA, I requested a chiropractor. They sent me to San Jacinto chiropractic on Massey Tompkins which suited me just fine. It sure beat a 30 mile one way drive to the VA. While on about my 8th treatment, I came to learn that Dr. Lindberg had been tragically killed in a car accident. I was making excellent progress and was transferred to a chiropractor in La Porte named Victor Peres. I finished my allotted treatments under his skillful techniques. At this point, pain was not really the issue. It was learning to live with stenosis and what I could and couldn't do.

I am most likely never going to be neck injury free and I have some days where my neck lets me know I over did it yesterday. Most all of it is self-inflicted I might add. You and I are probably on the same page as all of us have an issue of some kind and the point of this column is not really about my particular injury, as much as it is my quest to use alternative medicine rather than taking a fistful of pills.

Bill Daley has been after me for months to try reflexology and I finally agreed to 4 treatments. Bill also does bee sting and honey therapy and I may try that next. Bill treated his wife for many years with reflexology and the stings and I think he told me over the years, he had stung her 40,000 times. He has the exact number recorded of every sting of all his many visitors.

So, after 4 treatments, I have arrived at a very favorable conclusion. Reflexology deals with the manipulation of your hands and feet through pressure and massage. Bill explained everything in detail and gave me laminated cards to keep for reference. The first treatment was 2 hours and the others were more like 1.5 hours. He doesn't like to do them until 3 full days have passed since the last one.

During the first treatment, I was very aware of every squeeze and massage point. Some hurt, some didn't, but none of it was really painful. He can feel stuff there that he knows will hurt and you simply confirm it as he draws conclusions about what he is affecting. Push here for your pituitary gland. Push there for your colon. All of it is pressure on your hands and feet.

The next evening, I looked in the mirror and I was as red as if I had suntanned. It was very noticeable. I also slept like a log and I was very thirsty. Now I lived in Missouri, the show me state and I don't do so well when someone tries to use The Force on me or some other trickery, but I truly felt better. On top of that, my bowels appeared to work better and have now for the last 3 weeks.

This past Monday I had the 4th treatment and I all but fell asleep in the massage lounger I sat in. I was no longer concerned with what exactly he was doing and it magnified my experience. I have now scheduled my bride for 4 sessions, even though she swears she doesn't need it. I want her to make that statement after 4 sessions. Most of us recognize the benefits of a real massage, so why would we have an issue with deep tissue massage of the hands and feet? Like I learned in acupuncture, the person administering the technique is sending a cry for help for the brain to release healing hormones to the area they've targeted.

Or you can simply take a pill and then another pill (to counter the side effects of the 1st pill) and then take another pill. Or you can look up Bill Daley at the corner of East Baker and Barkuloo and give it a go. After all, why live in pain and misery if there's alternatives?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Rest of the Story

 If you remember, I was in a bit of a pickle last week when I ran out of paper. If you don't remember my pickle, then you'll just have to make up your own version and then read on. To recap, I was down on my face at this giant retail joint on Garth Road. After having both of my high-top tennie's ripped off my feet by purple bubble gum, I rapidly re-shoed and faced possibly the gravest danger of my adventure-filled life.

Here a week later, my ears are still ringing and my right eye hasn't focused properly, but I can still remember the dark red apparition of what first appeared to be a red cola machine. I want to inform I read a lot of science fiction and in my defense it was blazing hot, but every word I write is real. Apparently there was about to be a showdown over who gets the closest shopping cart and ignoring the fact that I consider myself a gentleman toward the fairer sex, I secretly relished the idea of out sprinting the shape shifting leviathan.

I also forgot the many parables Don Cunningham has taught us, because I planned to fight dirty (Seriously Dandy, is there really any other way to put a whooping on someone?). I remember my dear dad's advice that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line as I launched toward the lone cart. I was rapidly gaining possession when out of nowhere, a full unopened can of diet soda struck me in the one place no man can tolerate.  My wallet. It was as if she tried to turn me aside, but I was on to her and redoubled my caloric burn by waving my arms and whooping it up.

She must of had an 18 pack of those danged diet sodas because they came at me like a Claymore mine explosion. Furthermore, she somehow managed to out pace me while chucking the dangerous liquid projectiles. Now I'm no physics student, but I did excel at physical education and I had a few tricks of my own. Just as we both reached the lone cool-handled cart, I leapt. One keen-eyed observer later described me as "looking like Evel Knievel without a scooter" crash landing into a giant red circus elephant.

Years ago I fell backwards out of a deer stand in Hondo, Texas and landed on solid rock. That is probably very similar to what I felt when I pile-drove into her massive gut.  Have you ever heard the term midriff bulge? Well, this time I was the bulge and I was in the battle. The whale of a fighter began to spin like an Olympic shot-putter and by the 3rd revolution, she grunted like a 400 pound feral hog, relaxed her navel, and flung me into the stack of boxed Cheerios outside the store. "Thank the Lord, I'm alive," I yelled and staggered to my feet only to sit down hard and drool on the cement.

My saving grace was she lost her balance and fell behind the stacks of bottled water and had her head wedged between the building and the wooden pallet, leaving her seated part exposed. Now I know a good target when I see one and even though inside my head it sounded like 16 cicadas were running a wood chipper, I was going to exact a kilo of flesh as payback AND take the cart, which I deserve.

Now here is the truth, the hole truth (as I now refer to it). I squared off and with a kick Morten Andersen would be proud of, I launched my infamous Punt Pass and Kick shot at her corpulence. With over 40 spectators present and all of them standing in the hot sun, I literally, figuratively, and magically hit a hole in one.

The beluga of a cart-stealing woman let out a bellow that set off every car alarm in the expansive parking lot and the sprinklers inside the store. What pandemonium! What cacophony!  What lungs! What and how do I extract my foot? At about this time, some one must have ran over a sewer main because there was a sudden wind and the most horrid odor released to the hemisphere. Thankfully I broke free, ears ringing, clothes charred, and gasping for air, I grabbed the handle of the cart thinking I had moved to the next level in this drama. Nope. Not to be. There was one final move by my antagonist that I never suspected.

I sensed the overbearing presence of the massive cart robber upon me and such was the force behind the push I was shoved to the ground like a child. Summoning the last of my might, I reached out and grabbed her by the ankle and pulled. Yes, she got away, but I will never forget the day I pulled her leg... and yours.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

It can only happen while shopping!

As the big man is my witness, every word of this is unquestionable and void of hyperbolic incredibility. With that taken into consideration, let me tell you what happened yesterday right here in the Tri-cities on what used to be "out in the country" Garth Road.

Let me first lay a little foundation to this tale of extreme brutality and sweaty violence. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking I beat some Chuck Norris 28 year old heavily muscled criminal to the point he needed 4 paramedics... right?  Not to be and thanks for the vote of confidence. I do appreciate it. I really do.

Because I live the life of a behind the scenes self-effacing servant, I feel compelled to tell you I did not do so well. No ma'am. No sir. I have a few more bruises as evidence of my misfortune. The sad part is I now realize the reason I did so poorly against my assailant, is I just didn't see them as a tangible threat until they fully engaged me and in the most embarrassing manner I might add.

Mind you, I'm still in the foundation of this predicament mainly for clarity. Because of my background, I have always felt like I could handle about any hand to hand fighter, at least long enough to deliver the fabled "Dim mak", which is as we know, is the death touch, all seasoned fighters fear, but few can deliver. I cannot divulge whether I can or can't, as I am sworn to secrecy like those Mason fellers. To those guys, their big deal is a secret handshake. To those select few it is the Dim mak, which loosely translated is "Divine bowels". I admit, it doesn't translate well.

Now, the details. It was hot as the red handle on a cast iron skillet on the fire and as made my way toward the entrance to get a shopping cart. Did I say it was hot? Well imagine my shock when I realized I had stepped on a blob of grape bubble gum that would choke a 6 year old. I didn't realize I had stepped in it until as walking, it pulled my new pair of black high-top Chuck Taylor's off. Seeing the gum was on the bottom of both shoes, I went ten feet before falling forward as the stretched gum literally and physically and embarrassingly jerked my shoes off.

As I hit the parking lot, the only thing that kept me from grunting loudly (and other unmentioned rude noises) was the trash. I might be wrong, but I think it was a large fast food bag or two full of chicken bones and such that actually padded my fall. Being the extreme fitness buff I used to be, I attempted to do a kip after rolling on my back... without success. I slowly mounted my feet and stretched, laughing in case anyone was looking. No one saw or cared as far as I could tell and I brushed off my previous embarrassed state. I quickly tied my shoes back on and began my search for a cart.

But that is not what really set the day wrong.

The more I think about it, the stupider I think I must have been. Let me explain. I'm a big guy and I'm active. Sometimes I'm too active and I start showing out in the gym (since I'm usually the only man in a Zumba class... well you get the idea). The truth is, even at my advanced age, I look a little too sturdy to appear to be a good victim. Little did I know the person who calf-roped me (figuratively speaking - come on!) had me by a good 186 pounds. That is an estimate of weight times mass times impact. On me. Four times. Or more.

Now let me say this. I have Vietnam Veteran license plates on my Jeep and truck. Is it possible to appear more threatening to a motorist who reads that when they are behind me? No. It is not, so how is it I was beaten so soundly with no regard to this warning? Now that I think of it, they appeared after I had fallen down and didn't see my threatening plates.

The sun was so bright, I staggered to my feet and just under the overhang was a lone shopping cart. All the others were being used or out in the parking lot and so hot, you could cook food on them. Looking up I thought at first it was one of those old style dark red soda machines, but no. It was a very large person who was laughing at me, like they knew something I didn't. They want the cart! Both me and my adversary looked at the wheeled blessing and then out to the hot flaming parking lot. Then we looked at each other. I've never, ever...

To be continued.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Why do so many rabidly hate Donald Trump?

I didn't vote for a number of presidents who won election. Maybe I should never play the lottery. I can't seem to win the great majority of time and its my understanding that this is a prerequisite for getting ahead. I cast my vote based on the preponderance of evidence, and then pray, hope, and go to bed. When I awaken, I either say, "Wow, we won!" or "Oh rats. Oh well!"

A rare development has occurred in this country concerning job availability. It now appears that if you have a peg leg, one good eye, at least 4 fingers total, and only speak one language... there is a job you can apply for and get. Yes, one report lamented that there are now more paying jobs than applicants.

Now everyone on unemployment can get a job. Every persona getting Federal assistance  can get a job that pays real dollars. All those people sitting on the couch staring at their Smartphones can now go sit in an office or operate machinery and get a pay check. Good times, right? Heck to the yes! Yeehaw! Gollygee gump, we are now rolling in opportunities to help us break free of the man. We can now call our own shots by swimming in the labor pool.

As good as this sounds, guess what? It simply does not apply to a certain faction of the unemployed. Some do not want to work, but want the unchallenged financial assistance. They want the very thing they got under Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama... a free ride. Sorry folks, but that's not how you make America great again and just one reason some hate Trump. He's going to make them earn their own pay.

Has it ever occurred to us that not everyone on the government dole thinks actually getting a job is a good idea? When they show up to prove they deserve unemployment checks because there are no jobs and are greeted with multiple opportunities to work or lose this wonderful temporary benefit, not everyone will welcome this new development.

Maybe this is why so many Democratic politicians hate Trump. He is the new hand that helps them feed them and the Liberal/Socialists don't want to relinquish control. They scream foul publicly while privately they are panicking. Evidence is everywhere.

I read today that a warning to the Hollywood crowd that their vulgar and hate-filled speech toward Trump is most likely going to have the opposite effect. “I think that they live inside this cultural bubble where they all talk among themselves and make the incredibly erroneous conclusion that the rest of the nation must think like they do,” GOP consultant John Brabender said in an interview with The Hill this week.

For the life of me I can't figure out what Trump being president has anything to do with the fantasy world these actors live in. Do they have a special pipeline translator that filters data and provides them with the real facts or what? Do they have a secret chat room they meet in and scrutinize his policies and deal the cards so they can see his heinous invisible intentions?

I wish I had a fact-based sluice box, like the one my dad made to pan for gold in the Rockies. I could sift everything I read on the news through it and get the truth, right? Well, sometimes the truth is a very small part of the overall plan or picture. Sometimes we Americans are short-sighted, not realizing world politics is a giant chess game and that a certain amount of posturing is necessary.

Please correct me right now, but in 2018 I would rather have a businessman leading the country than a professional and polished politician. We should have done this already with Ross Perot, who incidentally is a more successful businessman than DT. I do however want a leader who reflects my ideals of America, over one who wants a Socialist approach. The less government we have, the less of my tax dollars they can give away. Honest to god, our government is like a whale with a million leaches attached to it with more being invited to dine every day.

Unlike many Liberals I do not want the government in my bedroom. I will pay my taxes and obey the laws and in exchange, I want them to stay the heckfire out of my life unless there is a serious need or disaster of some sort, thank you. I want a government that serves the people, not the other way around. Our government should provide a secure and stable environment, but it is up to us to make something of it. So for me, I do not hate Donald Trump. Then again, I didn't hate Barack Obama. I just want what is best for America.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Is it okay to be patriotic?

"Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values. This attachment can be a combination of many different features relating to one's own homeland, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects. It encompasses a set of concepts closely related to those of nationalism" according to Wikipedia. I sat down and asked myself if that description fit my idea of what it means to be patriotic.

To be honest, I scratch my head and wonder if I truly share a sense of alliance with other American citizens who have the opposite values. I do indeed consider myself a 24 hour a day 7 day a week patriot even though some people on my side of the philosophical fence may see me as weak because I don't routinely break down my firearms and clean them. I don't get all teary eyed when Glock issues a 5th generation 9mm handgun either.

Being a mild history buff, I believe I have a good idea what the Constitution is telling us and the amendments. I've read the Bill of rights, but like most of us, I could use a refresher. The reason I could brush up on these important documents is simple. I feel they are safe and being upheld for the most part. Seriously. If I didn't, I would pour over those documents on a daily basis while I watched the neighborhood for anarchists (for my family's safety of course).

I truly believe in law and order and although I keep my eye open for deviant police officers, I have an inherent trust in them. I actually believe if I don't do something stupid when an officer inquires, everything will be fine and dandy. Of course I may get a ticket, but that's my reward for breaking the law. Should I blame the cop? Nope, no more than blaming the mailman when he delivers my bills.

During my 4 years in the Air Force and the almost 2 years I spent in our effort in Southeast Asia, I do not remember celebrating the 4th of July, or Memorial day, or even Veteran's day as something special. The reason was probably because our country treats holidays as a time to relax and BBQ. Everyone in the military with rank above about a Corporal, takes the day off. Well, lucky me was a Buck Sergeant, which was the Air Force's equivalent of a Corporal. Almost every enlisted person in this branch will not be promoted until after their first enlistment is over, so no holidays for you! You get to work!

Entering the civilian labor force didn't change this because I almost immediately began working for a large chemical company and once again I was at the bottom of the rank structure. This meant holidays, including the venerated 4th of July became just another day, but with premium pay and all the senior folks took off and cooked BBQ with the fam.

So, we have had a dilution of what holidays stand for, for many of the working class. What many of us have done to offset this is become real patriots who through our labor have allowed our families to enjoy the festivities while we suited up to spend the day or night shift-working. Our work ethic has promoted being a patriot through our actions. My uniform had an American flag on one shoulder and a Texas on the other. My full brim hard hat was covered in a vinyl American flag and frankly, I didn't care if anyone liked it or not. I paid my dues and I didn't have to justify why I loved this country or explain it.

Each patriotic holiday, my flag flies in front of my home and it doesn't matter who is in the White House. I refuse to argue over current perceived bumps in our leadership when it comes to my love of this country. I also will not attempt to cram my version down anyone's throat. The reason for this is I've lived in a Third World country and seen what the citizens there have and what we have here. At our worst, we still shine like a diamond.

Isn't it odd how so many people of so many different ideologies can live in harmony because we haven't lost sight of the goal of a free America? That is how it should be and I myself need to be reminded of it time to time. When it gets right down to it, you take 50 Americans who couldn't agree on anything and put them in an emergency situation and just watch how fast they pool their resources to resolve the problem.

Our diversity is our strength. Embracing it is our future.

Capitalism yes, Socialism no

I am not an expert on political systems or governments, but I like my freedom to choose by voting. I wish I would have paid close...