Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankfully, we have an anchor!

 Today is Thanksgiving? Already? My grandson swam in the pool Monday. Am I the only one who feels like we are hurtling over the surface of the earth at an accelerated rate? Wasn't school just let out for summer break? Christmas lights are going up in the neighborhood and one fellow just took down his Halloween stuff. Veterans Day was yesterday. Hunting season just began and already they're playing Home Alone on the TV box! I'm expecting Andy William's on the radio any time now.

When I was a kid (something like 20 years ago) everything moved at a snail's pace in comparison to what I see and feel now. I've actually tried to counteract the acceleration by not exceeding the speed limit, but everyone whizzing past me ruins the effect. I told my bride the other day that I drove down SH-146 to Webster and never went faster than 60 miles per hour. It was weird, as cars and trucks blew past me like I was Mr. MaGoo. Note: Did you know his first name was Quincy?

I was informed, more than once, that as we age, we lose reference points and it will appear that things are happening faster than they once did. I check my wrist watch - yes, I still wear one, and it clicks away second by second, so what's the deal here? I can remember some major issues with clarity, like the 9-11 disaster and baby Jessica, but I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. Heck, I can't remember yesterday.

If I don't see someone's kid for a few weeks, they are suddenly in the 5th grade! I mow the lawn and the next day it is 4 inches high again - well, I did mow it yesterday and that should hold it for spring - in TWO WEEKS! I'm keeping fairly busy, but time is either in front of me or behind. "What, it's only 2pm?  It feels like its 5!" or "7:30! Where did the day go?" I am seriously trying to sync here folks.

I've had a subscription to Popular Mechanics for quite a few years and the gadget section is always fascinating to me and one day I realized that everything they are offering is already obsolete. Technology is increasing exponentially and my ability to process is going in the opposite direction. My bride is worse off than I and its taken her a year to get used to a key fob instead of a key for her vehicle. Thank goodness my 2011 Jeep Wrangler still uses a key or I would be in the same predicament.

I think one of the main culprits in this disruptive time space continuum is technology and our instant access to it. We don't have to think or spell, or remember anything. We can simply access it via a smartphone. Lord help you if you don't have one! You are akin to an 8-track player in a streaming world. If you are really lucky, you are a 33 RPM LP or can I say it? A 78 RPM LP? When modern kids hold an audio cassette in their hand and are told it has music on it, they hold it to their ear or ask where the headphone jack is. Understanding that music is on a vinyl long playing black record would really be a challenge for them.

What is the old saying? "I've forgotten more than you've learned?" This is probably true for most of us, who grew up memorizing everything. When we bought a 33 RPM record album, we spent hours studying the jacket cover and the photos and maybe, just maybe the lyrics were included. We learned everything about the songs and the band. These days, all of that can be summed up by the famous youtube star Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that sweet Jesus."

Thanksgiving Day is simply a day to be thankful. Memorial, Halloween, Easter, Independence day, and Christmas are debatable holidays to some, but I think all of us can agree that a day of Thanksgiving is perfectly proper. Whether you can trace your lineage to the Mayflower, or a tiny island in the South Pacific, all of us should take a knee today and offer up a great big thank you. Hug your friends and family and say all the right things and in some cases, start over.

You have a whole year ahead of you to build up material for next years Thanksgiving day, which will be here in a couple of months.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Aging is not for wimps

I finally arrived and begrudgingly have to admit that I have evolved into the grasp of the aged father time. Once nimble digits punched away on my keyboard and ordered a heating pad. Yes, I bought a heating pad. I have to confess that I had to make 3 corrections on my order because my fingers don't want to follow my brain's orders to push them all the way down or hit the keys I intended.

The old man, dressed in a white robe, long white beard and rusty scythe has taken up residence in the home 20, but has mercifully spared my bride. I detest the unwelcome visitor/resident and have sought help in evicting him. 2017 has become the year that I learned I am no longer the phenomenal athlete I once truly believed I was.

Bullet proof was a good description of me and other than the occasional fender benders our bodies experience, I always ricocheted and kept right on truckin'. I scoffed at lesser beings who seemed to be disintegrating in front of me and smugly declared that I must be living right. Being self-righteous has its moment of karma to be sure.

It all began to unravel for me in March when I noticed I had a stiff neck. I awoke early and figured I had slept in a position that caused the malady. I was scheduled to instruct an indoor cycling class at the NASA location of the gym named after the clock. I drove down and did the class and by the time it was over, I was in such pain I felt like going to the emergency room. I don't handle pain well.

To make a long story less boring, here I am 8 months later still attempting to straighten out my neck. I have what they call spinal stenosis or a narrowing of the bone channel occupied by the spinal nerves or the spinal cord. It's not uncommon I'm told and was exacerbated by injuries I incurred years ago. My VA doctor described it as "nasty neck" and that sums it up pretty well.

The VA's solution was massive amounts of steroids both orally and by neck injection and enough pills to put me in atrial fibrillation or A-fib.  At one point, my blood pressure hit 180 over 120 and they feared I was going to have a stroke. They determined I now needed to see a hematologist who prescribed me... more prednisone! I was now up to 13 meds and decided to simply stop taking all of them except my original blood pressure pill. They were killing me with medicine and actually induced gout with one of them.

I am one month withdrawn from all that and my blood pressure has returned to normal. My neck still hurts and after 6 weeks of acupuncture treatments, my 5 week long headache is gone. The chronic pain I suffered during the 5 months the VA prescribed pain pills is basically gone also. At one point I took 180 Tramadol pills in a little over a month. I imagine my liver looks like hamburger meat.

I am now being treated by a chiropractor here in Baytown with both painful and pain-relieving results. My gym visits have all but stopped with an occasional foray into spin class to keep my legs from atrophying. I have had to accept the sad fact that I am 65 and not 25 and that is the hardest thing for me to mentally digest. There is a silver lining in all of this though. I've learned to take control of what meds I will actually ingest. I now read the warnings and have adjusted what I eat and drink. I should have been doing this all along. The 5 months I let the doctors prescribe pills did not help me. I simply suffered through it.

It wasn't until I sought alternative medical help with the acupuncturist and chiropractor that I made progress. I think sometimes we need to listen to our bodies instead of turning them over to experts. I made some serious changes in my dietary habits and have rubbed enough topical analgesics into my neck to lubricate an 18-wheeler. I force myself to drink 8 bottles of water a day. So, I bought a heating pad and it seems to really be doing some good. If it means I am an old person, so be it. I need it.

My next evolution is to get a couple pairs of khaki pants, some brown brogan shoes or those tennis shoes with Velcro tabs, and a light-weight cane. So, when you see me out and about, don't be shocked, be gentle. Be kind and take control of your health.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Can't we all just get along?

BB's hyperbolic take: It appears the answer to all this hormone-driven male sex drive business is for the government to develop some sort of vaccine to involuntarily inoculate all heterosexual males entering puberty. This is the only way to ultimately protect females and limit males from possibly becoming predatory and actually desiring a female and the almost certainty that they will physically act upon it.
Better safe than sorry, is what I say. We simply must stop males from acting on their hormonal urges. There is no other way to ensure females from unwanted sexual inclinations real or imagined. That 16 year old female on her first date will be guaranteed her virtue will remain intact - if she has a first date and can find a willing heterosexually inoculated male willing to go with her.

In the event that a female (over the age of 18) actually desires the physical attention of a male, the willing male may choose at that time to have the vaccine temporarily reversed ( 6 hour limit for safety). In the event that the male is not willing to take the injection, the willing female will be allowed the option to have a court order issued to reverse the treatment to "wake up" the male from sexual slumber.

Think of a world where no heterosexual male ever acts in a sexually unwanted and distasteful manner (or even notices a female) and it would free females up from spending hours in their bathrooms primping to attract said males. There would be no need to wear perfume, get their hair "did" or buy an extensive wardrobe. An old pair of jeans and a cotton T-shirt would level the playing field quite nicely. Throw in that single pair of filthy Nike's and the wardrobe would be complete. To shave or not shave would have the same decision-making option as most males.

Equality of the sexes demands we erase sexual attraction. Flirting would be totally erased, buying females that special measure of comfort they so desire. Heterosexual males would show females the same amount of attention they show other males, cutting down on banter and awkward and uncomfortable verbal exchanges. Males could focus more time on things that matter to them, like not doing chores, observing more time for sports, hunting, fishing, and lounging.

Instead of developing years on how to sexually reward males, young females could devote their whole lives to the workforce, working as much overtime as possible, and supplying their personal wants and needs. Just think of how much "stuff" one person could accumulate if all you had to worry about was yourself? The list is endless. Without selfish males, females would not be encumbered with childbirth to hinder their upward and safe mobility. Being no longer testosterone driven, docile males wouldn't give a flip who was their boss as long as they get their downtime for *sports programming and personal leisure.

Other than cardio, there would be no reason to try and look fit. Baggy clothing will be the norm, as everyone knows it is more comfortable. Some vocations would be erased, such as the male-driven prostitute and  porn industry, along with high-fashion and cosmetics. Why bother with all this when no one cares?
I imagine as testosterone finally ebbs to the point that males are no longer the raging sexual problem they are now, crime will almost come to a halt. Lawyers and police officers will be predominantly female as males will simply be entertainment oriented and easy going. They will seek out non-sexual companion males, as females will be viewed as demanding and goal oriented. All in all it surely is a viable option and needs further study.
*Note: Athletes and selected Breeders will be given an inoculation waiver.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

America's Soft Underbelly Exposed

If I were in a position to grab a podium and have cameras flash at me to hear what I had to say about the political turmoil going on in our country, I definitely wouldn't want to be seen as someone who is shredding it apart. I wouldn't stand up with a list of 79 angry accusations and problems, but rather identify areas that need to change for the better... and then offer solutions. Honestly in all of these various protests what I am seeing is all gripe and no solution. The waters are so muddy, it's difficult to understand what anyone is complaining about.

I wouldn't scream or yell or call names. I would simply state my case and ask for accountability and then I would suggest 90 days to come up with answers. That's what I would do. I'm not very big on crowds, especially angry crowds.

I didn't get a 2, 4, 6, or 8 year degree and maybe that's the problem. Instead, with my 12 year public school education, I went off to an increasingly unpopular war and lived in a 3rd World country for 651 days and got a real eyeful of just how great it is to live here in the US of A.

I can still think for myself. I have no inclination to make a major change in my life based on what someone in the entertainment industry or sports world thinks. They have the same amount of votes I have. Their agenda is not mine and I don't gain a vicarious thrill by aligning myself with them. Our "News" people don't give us the unbiased news; they interpret it for us so we can understand what conclusions to draw. They surely believe we cannot think for ourselves and anytime I read or hear a far left or right rant I know I am experiencing something I should probably ignore.

November 11th holds special meaning to my family aside from it being Veteran's Day. It's my son's birthday. He would be 34. It wasn't meant to be and like so many returning military, he simply could not find a way to adjust. One fateful night, his anti-depressant medicine from the VA and a bit too much Wild Turkey took him from us. That was 8 pain-filled years ago. He laid down and never woke up. He was as much a victim of the war experience as those sailors who drown when the USS Indianapolis sunk.

Speaking of that, I was honored by the Lion's club this week to be their speaker. My subject was my relationship with Lindsey "Zeb" Wilcox, who was a survivor of the shark-infested disaster. He told me one time that he always had the same nightmare - for over 60 years. He was a very kind and gentle man and one would never know or comprehend what he went through.

If anyone asks what to say to a veteran to show your appreciation, simply say "Thank you for your service." That simple line suffices and I want to say in return, thank you for supporting your coastie, soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman. No man or woman goes off to war without bringing their family with them. Families suffer through their time at war and most Veterans don't seem to recognize this. I do and I did. Thank you. So to you Veterans, when someone thanks you for your service, thank them back for their support.

In so many ways we are becoming a nation with a giant soft under-belly and this concerns me a great deal. When an Army deserter and traitor can walk free, then we are in big trouble. When an Army officer can pull a gun, yell "Allahu Akbar", and chop down soldiers in front of witnesses and receive 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder and years later is still alive, something has went seriously wrong with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This man is clearly a terrorist and a traitor and should have been executed moments after they stopped him. I wonder how he would have fared under George Washington. Berdahl is a traitor, plain and simple.

I am all for laws, as we have a republic, but when terrorists are caught in the act, justice should be served in a very timely manner. How is it that someone can murder a group of people in plain sight with many witnesses and it be 18 months before their case is heard in court? In comparison, a Hollywood actor can simply be accused of a sexual crime and have all their shows cancelled immediately. The actor is tried and convicted without due process and no one seems to care other than stomping on their reputation. This makes no sense to me.

If you are accused of child neglect or abuse or sexual misconduct in this country, you are going down and down hard, regardless of what is later revealed, but you can be a mass murderer and get all the time in the world to clear yourself. It's exploitation of that soft underbelly we now have and it's getting softer and bigger every day. A strong military is no match for those who never cease to try and weaken our country. When I joined the military, I understood I was waiving my constitutional rights. Now? It doesn't matter. Our military judges are weak and scared of public opinion. If you think I am wrong, ask any veteran what should have happened to Sergeant Bergdahl or Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

Traitor and murderer Major Nidal Malik Hasan.     

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Rainbows, Unicorns, and Gnomes

I've had friends over the years who saw a bright future to the point that they went and had tattoos inked in various places on their body. They chose seemingly pleasant items, such as the title of this column. I never could bring myself to do it, even when the craze would pop up again and again. Maybe I just couldn't see the unicorns and mushrooms in my future. I don't know. I do know I haven't seen any magic nymphs and other than the grocery store, no mushrooms and none with elves sitting under them.

I would love to live in a Utopia, or at least I think I would. Maybe its in store in the next life. I sure hope so. I know in this one, there are more sand paper paths than one's lined with grease. The gritty paths are getting grittier and the only oiled ones lead downward or towards Lemmingsville. You do know that it is a myth about lemmings blindly running off a cliff right? It only truly applies to humans and is more evident every day.

People will follow the car in front of them through the yellow light until the last two pass under a red light. If that isn't an example of mindless furry animals following each other, will someone please point me in the right direction? People do not want to discuss anything unpleasant or risk hearing or saying anything that could possibly be offensive to the point that we are literally killing free speech, both verbally and in the press. The only people who get all the air time they want are extremists. If anyone else tries to defend tradition, they are breaking the ever-expanding politically correctness barrier, which now resembles a hangman's noose.

The only people who are getting air-time are the ones attacking free speech and slowly but surely those of us who still believe in it are being whittled down to accept their ever-increasing violent bombasts. By shouting something loud enough, repeating it without fail, haranguing everyone who dares to disagree, down the road, it becomes fact. Back in the day we labeled it "brain washing", but seriously, when is the last time you heard this term applied to anything?

No, baby squirrels, bunny rabbits, and fluffy baby chicks are still safe to talk about and as far as I know, unless you are growing them to kill and eat, it is still safe to talk about them. They're so cute... and safe to discuss. No one could possibly get offended.

"Hey lady, wanna see my baby bunny?" 

"Of course I do... Oh wait, is that a vulgar euphemism? It's not? Then, yea, of course, but if it's not, you better watch out, as I know my rights and I have a lawyer mister predatory misogynist!"

"Uh, no, it's just a baby rabbit, but I've decided I don't want to show it to you."

"Why, is it because I'm a (Fill in the blank. There are now a myriad of juicy inflammatory choices.)

"No, it's because you are rude."

"How dare you! You (fill in the blank with one of the current offensive bywords) monster!"

I don't know what's left. Maybe I'll just become a math genius and live in a cabin up in the woods are write a manifesto and see if I can get it published. What could go wrong? I think we need to replace PC (political correctness) with CS (common sense). Ya think? That is short for "Do no think this is a good idea?" I'll be honest. I am at a loss as what the guidelines are these days. As a columnist, I thought I wrote opinion and seeing it is opinion, I don't have to let facts get in the way. My readers will point out what I am doing that is incorrect, just wrong, or stupid, right? Maybe I should start writing for The Onion. I bet I would fit right in.

Where was I? Oh yea. Elves, gnomes, mushrooms, clouds shaped like religious icons, cotton candy, baby chicks - these are the things we need to focus on in the next year. Stuff that salves our mind, and greases all the right places so there is no friction. We don't need controversy or debate, or defense of principles because they offend people. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realize offending people is wrong and racist, now does it?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Is It Time To Revisit The Dictionary?

Every time I make a purchase these days, it seems the person working the register will ask me to swipe my card. I always want to retort "Why should I swipe what I already own?" or "Madam, do I look like a thief to you and what is this card you mention?" Being an ancient man (like Melvin Roarke), I remember when swiping something meant you stole it or tried to. I wonder if any of these debit/credit machines have a slot on the side. Would that mean I should "side-swipe" the card to get the correct screen?

One of my favorite word whipping posts is the word "perversion" or "pervert". It has lost all reasonable meaning in common dialogue. In current earth orbit, if a guy compliments a woman on her figure, he is often labeled a pervert. If he says, "That stupid woman almost ran me over", he's misogynic and a woman basher and probably a pervert, for good measure. If she happens to be of a different race, he's most certainly racist, and god help the fellow if he's straight and the woman is transgender. He should be killed or at least arrested, according to what bologna is currently being shoved down our collective throats.

I want to explain myself here with a couple of examples. Recently, a 21 year old college student "lady" accused the hip hop artist Nelly of assaulting her on his tour bus in Washington state. Never mind that she went willingly into the lair of a spider, is of legal age, and the fact that she now refuses to testify, the artist is still being investigated for rape. No one is accusing him now, but he is still a rapist! Think about what I am about to say.

Nelly is a hip hop artist whose biggest hit is "It's getting hot in herre (here). The lyrics tell you to take off all your clothes. So, why on earth would a young "lady" get on his tour bus alone with him, unless she understood what was most likely to happen? It is akin to placing your hand in the jam of a door and slamming said door. Your chance of injury is 99%.

Given the choice of taking a cab, or a shortcut down a dark forbidden alley in a known mugging area to save a few bucks, which one would you take? If you are an attractive female (and you know this because men are attracted to you) and a famous/rich person sends their lackey to ferret you out to visit them in a private audience, why would you go? You think they want to make small talk? If you do, you are the definition of both naiveté and ignorance. Do I think you deserve to be molested? No, but just like the dark alley, somewhere in your pea-sized brain there should be a warning going off.

There is a giant difference between entertainers who party with girls willing to party and sexual predators like Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein and there is a bit of difference in these two. Bill Clinton would and probably still does send out lackeys to lure women into his bed according to their own testimony. He occasionally would offer them good paying jobs.  Mr. Weinstein pretty much made it mandatory that if they were going to work in Hollywood, they had to pass the gold standard. Neither of these men are perverts. They like women and they use their positions to coerce them.

Now, let's talk about a pervert. Bill Cosby. Bill used his fame to get in close to many beautiful women in the Playboy Mansion and then... he doped them. When they would wake up hours later, they would have no memory of what happened. Bill is a classic pervert. He's the real deal. The women he "dated" knew they were playing with fire and if they would have been smart, they would have seen him as a "dangerous alley at night time", but they went with him anyway. Did they deserve to be drugged and molested?  No. Were they there on their own admission and not coerced? Yes.

Words like racism, misogyny, Fascism, predator, and perversion are being manipulated by extremists to the point that they are losing their true meaning. Anyone who uses these words needs to drag out their dictionary and relearn what they either never knew, or have forgotten. When we as the public hear politicians and angry mobs screaming these words, we need to recognize their misuse. It might not be a bad idea to read that last sentence again.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Republic for which it stands

Our founding fathers gave us a Republic, not a Democracy.

I was probably about 17 the first time I picked up a copy of George Orwell's book, 1984. I'm thinking this was 1969 and just before I real Tolkien's trilogy the first time. We were coming out of the turbulent 1960's and I was a young man close to graduating high school with no plan for my future. All that was about to change with the Vietnam War on my horizon, but I didn't know that. I learned of the horror of war about this time when I found a copy of "Johnny got his gun". About 10 years ago, I reread it and Fahrenheit 451.

I have this predilection to read everything concerning a subject until I fully understand it. For instance, about 20 years ago I became interested in black history. 19 books later, I pushed back from the library table, sated. Unfortunately, like food for the stomach, I consume this knowledge and it fades, so once again I find I need to go back and reread some material. This is what is happening now with the book "1984". Now somewhere over the years, I also saw the movie and have heard reference to this book many times. Now it comes to me that many of the folks who claim knowledge of it have only seen the movie.

If they would have read the book, they would be shaking in their boots over the current climate in the United States social political scene. Donald Trumps systematic dismantling of the oligarchic democracy would be impossible in Orwell's dystopian society. Heck, it might just be impossible in ours. Our government has ceased to be a republic and we proles don't even know it - or care. As long as we get our government bread and circuses, we are happy to be blissfully ignorant of how a select few dictate what we accept as the norm.

Our government has directly adopted Orwell's War is Peace philosophy and each new President, regardless of said position carries it forward. The United States is the most predatory country on earth. In the name of freedom, we walk all over countries traditions and culture and ruin them. To get an idea of how many troops we have in foreign countries "protecting them", our military in Europe spends close to a million dollars a day on alcohol and food alone. War means money and by golly, we are good at it. The USA spends more on "defense" than the next 7 countries put together. We have 200,000 troops stationed in 177 countries, yet we can't stop drugs from flooding into our own land.

Orwell coined the term Newspeak. While there are many interpretations of what exactly this is, suffice it to say almost everything we read and hear as news has been massaged to get across someone's interpretation. Gone are Chet and David and Walter. What we have now are a group of giddy news teams or angry late night "comedians" telling us the real dirt. When only 20% of the adult world will read a newspaper and 62% get all their "news" from Facebook, we have set ourselves up to run off the nearest cliff.

A man at work one day got defensive and all but yelled "I don't discuss politics with friends!" I looked at the fellow and I swear the thought that ran through my mind was, "Well then, who do you discuss them with - enemies?" Anyone who challenges you to define what you believe, is your friend. Don't get mad or defensive, get educated. If you belly up to The View to get the news, then god bless you, but I wouldn't recommend that line. I watch the athletes taking a knee at professional sports venues and I wonder how much history do they know or care about. I watch angry people incited by who knows who, stage protests, yet when reporters ask them to define their grievances, they are so vague that a 5th grader would walk away confused.

As in 1984, we are erasing history until many people cannot explain major events. Ask about the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed 20-50 million people worldwide and they stare back at you with hollow eyes. Don't even ask them about World War One... or Two or the Civil War. They think Vietnam was WWII in size and scope and their line of reference is Saving Private Ryan. At the end of the movie, many couldn't tell which war it was.

It's time to drain the swamp. Boot out the old guard and bring in the new who remember what a Republic is. Our democratic oligarchy is killing our freedoms. We must vote out the established cancerous system. Privileged "representatives" on both sides of our government are screaming foul because they see their thrones threatened. Their only concern is staying in office. It doesn't matter who is in the White House as long as they can conduct business as usual and that business has nothing to do with you or me.

Freedom of speech? There is no freedom of speech, because of newspeak, political correctness trumps it. You literally cannot say anything that could possibly be offensive to one of 500 splinter groups or you are a monster. A monster and a pervert and a racist. People literally want to kill you or have you locked up. Back in the day, folks would just avoid you and mark you as someone undesirable, but they sure didn't try to stuff a sock down your throat. No. There is no first Amendment freedom of speech right. It's gone.

Time to vote. Time to drain the swamp.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Geocaching attire for Summer primer

Geocaching attire for Summer primer
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Ex- Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association

Years ago when geocaching was relatively an unknown hobby, I was convinced that the best clothing I could wear was something that made me nearly invisible to the casual observer. I’ve changed my mind on that approach about ten times and finally arrived at what I now believe is the best choice.

First, let’s start with footwear. I am on my third or fourth pair of hiking boots and they are comfortable enough to run a 5K race and not get blisters. I wear Timberland White Ledge waterproof boots and although they wear out much quicker than, say, a $200 pair, I will continue to buy a new pair every couple of years because they are so comfortable and fairly light weight.

I wear them almost exclusively whether I am in the Grand Canyon or a parking lot looking for a skirt lifter. Footwear is under-rated by many cachers and I’ve seen Crocs and tennis shoes on the trail. The hiking boots offer arch and ankle support and to be honest, just look cool too. They look like you mean business and set you apart from muggles in some instances.

Next, let us move on to what sort of britches we need. I like shorts with side pockets. It’s hot here on the 29th parallel North most of the year. We hit 110 degrees F. (real feel temp) the early part of June and that is hot by any standard. Our humidity on the Gulf Coast of Texas exacerbates everything and for about 6 months of the year, shorts are a logical choice.

Now, Columbia Sportswear (and other companies) offer a rip-stop nylon pair of fishing pants with zippers at the knees to turn them into shorts. They have swimsuit inner crotch lining that wick moisture away from the body and are gaining popularity. They do not help you one iota in thorns though and the only remedy is denim or Kevlar chaps. For winter caching, wool is a great choice as it is warm wet or dry, but blue jeans are good also. However, for my primer, I am basically going to cover geocaching clothing for summer.

For headwear, nothing beats a Tilley hat in my experience. I can put my head down and push through the meanest brush and if it blows off my head when I’m kayaking – it floats. It’s guaranteed for life or they will replace it - and when you see people on Safari in Africa, that is hat they are wearing.

Occasionally I will bring a pair of gloves and a large Boy Scout-sized bandana. The material can be used for a number of life-saving techniques and a wonderful rag to wipe the sweat away. Like my shirts, the bandannas are colorful.

Now, what about a shirt? Like I said before, I once believed in being invisible. I now wear the brightest, loudest, and most visible Geocaching t-shirt I can muster. When I am approached by a home or land owner, I want them to not only see me, but have evidence by my shirt that I am playing the game; times two for police officers. Dressed as I do, I look like the opposite of someone about to commit a crime – unless it’s being cited as a fashion terrorist! When I offered this suggestion on social media for research and I had submissions of everything from sunscreen and bug spray to what have you. Many had no real long term experience, but those who did, pretty much parroted my own observations.

Add a bright orange or green safety vest and you are good to go!  So, that is my recommendations.  Let’s see what you think. Write back for others to learn from your experience. 

Where oh where did my cache go?

Where oh where did my cache go?
Bert Marshall (BaytownBert) Ex-SETX Rep Texas Geocaching Association.

Whenever I am explaining the game of geocaching to newbies, this particular line of questioning always surfaces. "What do you do with it when you find it? Do you keep it?" I explain that finding it is step one and the last step is replacing it exactly as you found it. What happens in the middle is the fun part. I then go on to explain signing the log, exchanging swag, and the possibility that a traveler or personal item is inside.

I own a rather peculiar cache in the Baytown area. GC75F4Q BB's (9AA) BHP TB Letterbox Motel!  It's a letterbox, a TB motel, and a large container. It is also the only premium member geocache I own. It currently has 12 travel bugs and a number of personal identification goodies inside.

I noticed a newbie premium cacher with 5 total finds found it a couple days ago and signed the log, "Nice find" with no mention of the travelers.  I just had to go and see if some were missing, or if the person just didn't understand what they were. Imagine my shock and horror when the container was gone! It's in the edge of the woods behind my house along the walking trail, overlooking a 14 acre pond with alligators in it.

My first thought was "Oh my god!  All of those travel bugs gone! How do I fix this? Do I just post that it was muggled? Do I write each person and tell them that maybe they will surface down the road? I began to look off into the woods, as it is very dense with thorns, as I could "kind of" see in there. I began looking for a place of ingress (commonly cryptically called a geotrail) thinking maybe they grabbed the container and took it out in the open to see what was inside and then forgetting, pushed back in.

This happens fairly often to containers that aren't tethered and quite often the cache gets moved, but this thing is a big protein container that you could stuff a large softball through its mouth.  Nothing, nothing, and then?  There it is, about 50 feet from where I hid it.  I blew out a lungful of thankfulness and retrieved it.  Opening it, I found all 12 travelers and the fellow's signature on the log. I replaced the geocache to match the coordinates and walked off relieved.

Now, this brings up what to do when you are sure you find an established geocache way off coordinates. Do you leave it and write a log explaining it needs owner intervention and post the coordinates of where you found it?  Yup! That is what you should do! But do most veteran cachers do this?  Nope, not in my experience. They write a vague, if anything log and leave it to find by the next unsuspecting cacher.  Why that's harsh BB!  Shame on you!  It is what it is and I am speaking from the vantage point of experience.

Think about. What do you, as a five year geocacher do when you encounter this phenomenon? I have located caches 100 feet off coordinates and read logs by my own peer group that said "expand your search" as advice. I know by the coordinates and hint where the cache is supposed to be. The absentee owner hasn't responded in 2 years. Call me whatever, but I carry it back to coordinates after calibrating my Garmin Oregon 650, and place it where it originated.

Then I log it as such.  "Found container 100 feet from posted coords.  Returned to coords and placed in accordance to hint on cache page."  Then I post a watch on the page and sure enough, other cachers begin finding it again. Quite often, being the anal retentive type, I do cache maintenance on it and add swag if it will fit.

I looked for a cache in Houston's Midtown 3 times before I reached out for help with a couple of PAF's only to hear back, "It's not at coords.  Its in the plants about 80 feet deeper in the alley and on the other side.  Six of us went in there and found it."  What?!  That's not what their logs said. The absentee owner hid it and people kept logging it for about 4 years. Me, actually believing it was where they said it was moved 20 to 30 feet up and down the vine covered fence 3 times with no luck.

Well, you guessed it.  It is now back at coords. I should have flagged it, but to keep the game going, I just returned it to the coords and the hint. Now understand me when I'm saying I do this at my own risk and I'm not telling or admonishing anyone to move a cache. If I get a dirty Rep for moving caches, then so be it, but I don't do it often AND I log it as such. I'm an advocate of truth in logging. If you do something, by all means, tell the truth.

So, in conclusion, the best thing to do is write a great log and post coordinates of what you find amiss.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Happiness is best served earned.

"True happiness comes from the fulfillment of our duties." This is one of my oldest and favorite locutions. The main reason is it simply sums up and answers the age old question of how to obtain peace and contentment. Think about it. In this one sentence is the key to happiness. Here all along I've been led to believe it was that shiny new truck, or that winning lotto ticket worth 70 bazillion koruna.

I first recognized the correlation between completing a task and feeling really good about myself in the mid to late 70's. I heard a sermon in church about wasting time; time that could be spent investing in service to Jesus. The preacher said "Procrastination is the thief of time." Research reveals it was penned in 1752 by Edward Young, but I can't say I heard it before that day. It stuck in my crop, so to speak. I had no idea at the time, that almost 40 years later, this would become my mantra.

Now, knowing to jump right on a project doesn't mean that the motivation will be right there like an over eager helper, because most times, it won't. It is very convenient to brush off the completion of a task due to our current economic standing and this justification is real a large percentage of the time, but that won't stop us from taking that same 60 bucks and going to Pappa's.

It is also extremely easy to forget that high-five ourselves feeling when we do right and complete a task. It could be small reward, like cutting the lawn, cleaning up our closet, or leveling that kitchen table your wife has been asking about for 6 months. Small jobs bring small, but nice rewards. The bigger and more difficult tasks can be performed by you, or someone you scheduled and both give us that great feeling of accomplishment.

I like to subtly remind my bride, oh, about 7 or 8 times after I get something done. I've been married long enough that "getting lucky" is a coveted pat on the head. Doing the task is reward enough and that satisfying feeling cannot be purchased with money. It is akin to the sensation we revel in when we perform an unselfish act. Let's face it, we are not going to get our jollies watching the news, weather, and now even sports has become a source of hand wringing. We have to reach from within. What?

Soul searching for that blood diamond? Grab a sheet of paper, cause "we gonna make a cipher!" Take a look around (Note: men just ask your wife) and pick the smallest tree in your forest and cut it down. Now take a break. You did it. You are a success story. Have a root beer. Tomorrow, pick the next tree. Each day you chop down another. Don't pick a 6 day $2300 project for starters, or chances are you'll enjoy that root beer while you ponder the economic blockade from the safety of your foxhole.

Go 5 days and take 2 off, but stay the course. That's what your list is for. Personal accountability and if you are like me, you staple the list to the inside of the garage closet door. This serves more than one purpose. It shows what you've done and it shows what you need to do, but it's also your trophies of accomplishment. Yea, you can gloat. Leave it up there too, even when it gets full.

Now, like I alluded to earlier when I said something about getting lucky. Don't believe it. If you do, then you are trapped into the false reward system and the first time there is no delivery, you will mope and whine like a 6 year old. We're going after the gold, baby! We want those reward endorphins that only come to us when we do good and they don't come from anyone else but good old us.
Now I realize I am writing this as if women are excluded, but the contrary is true. Pointing out projects for your mate to accomplish does not qualify you to get anything except frustrated. You have your own forest and your own axe (No, not the one you normally grind). Your plan is the same as his. Blood diamonds baby and the reward only comes by doing. I like to express to my bride that I didn't learn how to do whatever it is that she wants me to do, when I was attending school for that craft - because I didn't attend a school for that craft.

In short, do research on YouTube and it might just surprise you what all you can repair on your own. We are talking tasks, repairs, maintenance, and undesirables, right? Chances are if you don't want to do something, it is because you feel like it will be a hassle, too complicated, or just plain difficult. Okay. That's what your axe is for. That's why you feel so good when you chop that sucker down. 

Happiness is best served earned.
Alana Goodman Gill being happy.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

So much information, so little history

I was chatting with a young lady in Seattle while we were trying to set up my appointment to see a local chiropractor. The VA allows for this when it's not practical to make the 30 mile drive into Houston for what can be done locally.

She asked me how the weather was in "Texas" and I immediately figured correctly that she envisioned a steaming desert with saguaro cactus springing up around the rocky terrain, replete with rattle-moccasins. For just an evil second, I almost went off in that direction, but I told her it was raining here on the Gulf Coast and about 80 degrees.

"It's raining there?" were her surprised words. I told her, "I am in beautiful Baytown". She'd never heard of it. I asked if she had heard of Exxon-Mobil and she said he had. I told her that is here. "We are near it and our west side is the Houston Ship Channel."  She had never heard of it. "It's very close to Houston."

"Oh, Houston, the hurricane place!" By this time I can tell she has pulled it up on her computer because she comments that "You are indeed on the water!" She tells me the chiropractor I will be scheduled to see is on Massey Tompkins and she gets that right, but when she says "San Jacinto Chiropractic", she butchers it badly. I explained how it is pronounced and tell her it is like the Battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston defeated General Santa Anna.

It is dead quiet on the other end and I ask her if she has heard of these men. "No. I have not." I explain that Sam Houston beat the Mexican army nearby to secure Texas independence in 1836 and the city of Houston is named after him. "Of course you remember the Alamo, right?"  There is total silence on the other end. I couldn't help myself at this point, and I hope my readers forgive me, but I all but screamed, "Didn't you ever watch Pee-wee's Big Adventure where he went to the Alamo to look for his stolen bike?" 

"Nope, never heard of it." I wanted to tell her there is no basement in the Alamo, but let it go.

"Yea, the Alamo where Davy Crockett died?" She giggled and I almost swallowed my tongue.

"Who?" At this point I stopped asking questions because my blood pressure felt like Dandy Don's Grand National doing a 40-yard burnout. I backed off as she was no longer a person to question, but a victim of our American history instructors. I told her to grab a pencil, which I knew would be a pen, right? "Write this down.  Alamo, Houston Ship Channel, Battle of San Jacinto, Davy Crocket, Sam Houston..." and then I told her to Google "Baytown Bert" just for grins. Note: I told her I am a famous highly respected writer. Why not, right?

We finished our conversation and I gave her my email addy and told her to let me know what she'd learned and she thanked me and said she actually really hungers for knowledge. I respect that. The only reasons people don't learn is they think they can't, have inept teachers, incorrect material, or simply don't want to.

I watched a number of videos on YouTube where college students were asked simple history questions, like "Who won the civil war?" and believe it or not, most of them had never heard of it. What? I would think a more realistic question that might stump people would be, "Name one of the years that the civil war was fought?" The answer is 1861-1865 by the way, but these college students did not recall it... period. Try something like this on students and you may get a correct answer. Give me the question to this answer: Executive, Legislative, Judicial. Answer: What are the 3 branches of government?

They may get that one right, but what is the old curse concerning history? "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." General George Patton was so effective as a strategist because he studied all the ancient battles and understood the hardships of the terrain, along with why a general failed or succeeded. On the other hand, we have a lot of George Custer's in the land who rush in where they shouldn't, because they have forgot history. "Uh, who is George Patton?"

I hope my short brush with this young lady spurs her on to a greater understanding of our country's history. We watch the news every day and see the signs that many have no clue where we came from.

As a final little note, I want to acknowledge that Tom Petty died and I have always been a big fan.  RIP Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers). He is a big part of Southern rock history.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ball of Confusion Redux

 Back in 1971, the Temptations had a popular civil rights song labeled Ball of confusion. In the song, they lament how downtrodden black people are on a broad scale. They exposed the underbelly of America 46 years ago and made some strong points. The problems cited were the very same ones we hear about today: Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation.

Why is it after 46 years nothing has became better? In recent times we had 16 years of  liberal Presidents and it seems like every major city has a police chief or mayor that has minority status, including Houston.

"The sale of pills is at an all time high. Young folks walkin' 'round with their heads in the sky," hasn't changed, in fact it's worse, especially if you add in Smartphone distractions.

Please help me understand how the progressive liberal constituents are liberal and progressive when all their representatives do is poke sticks in the wheels of anything that they do not like? How have they made things better? When you have Hillary Clinton refusing to accept that she wasn't elected and fomenting first one accusation after another  and Barack Obama openly criticizing much of what Trump does. How on earth is this what is best for unity and America? It's destructive and expands confusion, especially to those who won't think for themselves and it does appear this number is growing.

"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." It's the same complaints of injustice magnified. This song came out at the height of racial tension when we were in a prolonged war and black men were feeling singled out to do the fighting. Today the same claims are still being made, but now its the police beating them down and its not one cop doing it either. According to Black Lives Matter, it's all cops.

Talk about stereotypical rhetoric! Every day someone is screaming their 1st Amendment rights allow them to do whatever they decide to do and then will shriek down or strike someone with an opposing view. Our liberal press does a real fine job of showing us them doing it too, but it's okay because the conservatives are racist, misogynic, homophobic (insert anything that makes them feel justified).

Everything from erasing our history to tearing down traditions is going to have such a negative impact on future generations that they will not know what to believe. Mom and apple pie you say? There's bound to be something about it that's hateful. Violent clashes with police do nothing to further a cause, except to expose it for what it is - violence. How can a plight be understood if they are looting a store in the name of civil and racial injustice and carrying away flat screen TV's and Michael Jordan b-ball shoes?

The constant reinforcing of negative stereotypes imprints the exact opposite image of what any of these movements are trying to achieve. Rallying and loudly chanting while refusing to hear a rebuttal is sad, shameful, and counter productive. Debate? There is no debate. The very act of civil disruption, whether its taking a knee at a sports venue, or throwing a brick at a police car only widens the chasm between us, convincing no one that the plight is anything other than angry people tearing away at our laws, traditions, and liberties.

Other than assassinations, we are reliving social upheaval as bad as the 1960's and in some ways worse. I fear assassinations are the next level of "social disobedience." Forget terrorism. We have our own war here and its an open attack on traditions and values. Disrespect is quantified by many, as the end apparently justifies the means. I think that is what propelled Hitler forward. It was the Final Solution.

We here in Baytown and Houston have been blessed to help each other out regardless of our differences, but apparently, it will take a disaster for people to learn that we all have a lot more in common that we may have thought. I saw a selfie of a young black man with a joint in his mouth looking in his camera. Behind him was his friend shooting the finger at 2 cops in a patrol car. Let me say that these 2 men do NOT represent mainstream black America, who want the same things I want. They want an education for their children, a safe neighborhood, a good job, and a family vacation, etc.

Our country needs a spiritual healing and politicians who care more about the people they represent and less about keeping their butt in office. Agitating fear and personal vindictiveness toward the opposite party needs to cease. Its not helping any of us. If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all.

"Round and round and around we go, where the world's headed nobody knows. Great googa mooga, can't you hear me talkin' to you, just a Ball of Confusion that's what the world is today."

Thankfully, we have an anchor!

 Today is Thanksgiving? Already? My grandson swam in the pool Monday. Am I the only one who feels like we are hurtling over the sur...