Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jalapeño Eating Radio Contest – Texas Style!

One of the funniest things I’ve heard while driving was a jalapeño-eating contest on a rock and roll station in Houston. I guess it was in the late 80’s and I laughed so hard I almost had to pull over.

To this day I do not know if it was real or staged and personally, it didn’t matter. The usual 45 minute drive home in the hot Texas muggy weather was not even a consideration that afternoon, or the fact that I was jockeying for position at the Baytown/La Porte tunnel.

If I remember correctly, the DJ placed a large bowl of big Texas jalapeño peppers in front of three “contestants”. They may have been ‘volun-told’s (as in Interns) at the radio station – I don’t remember. One of them remarked he had never seen peppers so big and the DJ confirmed the peppers were as big as small cucumbers.

The contest began and each masochistic pepper-eater had a microphone in front of them. It honestly sounded like a pig trough in full form as they gobbled these peppers down. “Grunt, chomp, gulp…gasp”!!!

First one, then number two started screaming and the third kept chomping. The Disc Jockey was crying he was laughing so hard and so was I, as I sat in line trying not to look too foolish, guffawing like a lunatic.

I believe the winner ate 38 or 39 peppers before he ran off hacking and wheezing, knocking over furniture. The contest was over and I dipped off into the tunnel and no radio reception. I still had a goofy look on my face when I came out on the Baytown side.

Cigarettes? Is a buck extra tax gonna help?

I want to 'pipe' in on the proposed $1.00 increase per pack on Texas cigarettes that is on Governor Perry’s desk as I write this and I do not mean to step on anyone's toes or opinions. I do however want to ask folks to think about a few things.

Years ago when I was a kid, folks smoked like chimneys in this country and sure, it caused a lot of health problems. I smoked for years also, as my parents did. If you wanted to grow your own tobacco and sit down on your own front porch and burn a bowl, it was your business and in my opinion it still is.

Nowadays, if you were to do that and the smoke floated across the yard and the guy down the street smelled it, he suddenly wants the city council to pass a law forbidding you to continue to pollute his airspace (this is next).

I agree tobacco users should respect the right of other people in public places and I think most users understand and agree.

Finding ways to tax the average citizen to help the average citizen is ridiculous and just because I don’t smoke anymore, but own a home is not a good enough reason for me to go along with this. Our government has to find ways to reduce stupid spending, even if it means (gawdddd ferbidddd!) cutting back on their personal perks.

Pork barrel spending… When our State government votes to raise a luxury or vice tax to penalize one group of citizens to supposedly benefit another group of our citizens, the whole State ought to throw a good old-fashioned hissey-fit.

Those of us that thinking super-taxing tobacco is a good thing will scream like a banshee when the government attacks their lifestyle choices. Think about it. The super $1.00 per pack tax will not change one thing, all it will do is make it harder on the folks that choose to use tobacco products and open up a black market that shouldn’t exist in the first place. This stupid idea of over-taxing tobacco pits citizen against citizen and takes the heat off State government that will not reduce careless and irresponsible spending of existing resources.

Now its tobacco, what is next? The list is endless.

The illegal immigrant

May I suggest a book that will open anyone's eyes, if they will read it?

Lines and Shadows

Its named 'Lines and Shadows' by Joseph Waumbaugh and the above link will secure you a used copy for under 5 bucks shipped to your door.

This excellent book explains the plight of people attempting to come into this country from the Mexican border and how bandits, extortioners and Mexican police beat, rape, rob and kill them.

It's a true story and will help us understand how desperate these people are to get a better life. It's not as easy as getting the right papers, most of the time its almost impossible.

I am all for being in this country legally, however this like every other major problem is very very complicated and we shouldn't become vigilante in our righteousness.

Immigration is very good for this country and legal immigration is a must, but all this will take time and we should let due process take its course.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

American highways versus War in Iraq

In the US, each year there are about 40,000 deaths per year in automobile accidents vs. about 773 per year in Iraq.

The numbers as of 4-29-06 compiled by Baytown Bert:

1136 days in Iraq
2398 American deaths
1136 days / 365 days = 3.1 years in Iraq
773 deaths per year
2.1 deaths per day

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40,000 American deaths on our highways per year
110 deaths per day/every day on our highways

To put this in perspective, the chance of dying in an automobile accident is about 50 times more likely than dying in Iraq in a year.

Statistics can be manipulated to say almost anything, but I think these are pretty straight forward. No, it doesn't include deaths versus injuries, but it doesn't for automobiles either and I'm sure it is the same, or even more in cars. Plus it doesn't include long term problems.

My question is this: How many of these dead G.I.'s would have died anyway if they had been riding in a car here in the States, since it is 50 times more likely?

Friday, April 28, 2006

What's the truth on body odor?


Years ago (1977), I read a book by prominent Guru/runner Dr. George Sheehan – ‘Running & Being’. In this book he described how B.O. was caused by poor hygiene and not inherent body odor. He said the term B.O. was coined by the Deodorant industry to boost sales and because it played upon the fear of rejection, it worked a thousand times better than they could have imagined. It launched a billion dollar industry and since a little bit of fear worked so well, the industry has kept the fallacy going.

Dr. Sheehan also said no one should ever restrict the flow of perspiration from their underarms by using antiperspirant. It only makes the body attempt to rid itself of toxins through other means and plugs the pores.

Dr. Sheehan said inherent body odor is not unpleasant and negative odor can be prevented in most cases by drinking the recommended amounts of water on a daily basis (8 glasses).

To support his claims, I quote a web page on herbal remedies for natural deodorant:

“Many antiperspirants and deodorants may help reduce moisture or mask the odor with a perfume or fragrance, but the most effective way to fight body odor is by maintaining good personal hygiene. Shower daily, especially after exercise. Change underwear every day and always wear clean clothing. Wear clothing that is loose fitting and made of natural fabrics like cotton, silk, linen and wool.”

Dr. Sheehan personally tested his theory by stopping the use of deodorant and showering every day, sometimes twice and always wearing clean clothes. He soon found out no one noticed he wasn’t wearing deodorant. Even after heavy exercise he had no noticeable odor. However, if he hung up his clothes and put them on the next day, there was a noticeable odor due to bacterial growth.

He then went on to say almost no one is secure enough to attempt to break away from the paradigm of B.O. and consequently, the Deodorant industry will continue to sell billions of dollars of deodorant. The common refrain upon reading this will be (and I am predicting):

“I start stinking the second I get out of the shower.”
“I’m one of those people that this doesn’t apply to because I DO have B.O.”
“It’s not worth the risk. I’ll continue on as I have all my life.”
“Anyone who doesn’t use deodorant is a filthy animal! Yuk!”
“I have a serious sweating problem, so I HAVE to use stuff that clogs up my pits to stay dry”.

I guess the next question is: Do I use deodorant? Nope, not since 1977.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Should we reinstate the Draft?

I was 'IN' during the Draft and it did not work well at all. Folks who were very bright or young and college educated were swept into service and they did everything possible to duck responsibility until their enlistment was over, for the most part. This was not 100%, but a good description of what the draft did. By the by, I enlisted and I’ve never regretted my military experience.

I had a roommate in Montana who had a Journalism degree from an East Coast college. He joined the Air Force to keep from being drafted. His IQ was so much higher than the the people he worked for, that he was perceived as a threat and was put down at the base gas station to get rid of him. He also spoke Russian. It was a classic case of a waste of resources common during that time period. If this fellow would have joined as an officer, he could have used his talents in such a manner to be a credit to our country instead of passing 4 years without a ripple.

Our country and education system is set up to give folks a boost education into higher learning, primarily college and University, however it does little to prepare people for what awaits them upon graduation if they decide against more school. This is why I am an advocate of trade/tech school re-establishment. It opens up options for young people.

The military appeals to young men/women for a number of reasons and I think this will sum up the various arguments, if taken in the right manner.

A military enlistment gives the young person who hasn’t made up their mind on college (or doesn’t want to go, or can’t afford) an immediate plan and job for the future. It supplies room, board and a promise of a trade skill, something that suddenly is needed in their life, not to mention the age-old classic reason to enlist: adventure-travel!

The standard for an all volunteer military is much higher also. During the Draft a friend of mine that was 19 and still in the 10th grade, was kicked out of school for fighting. Within a month, he was drafted. He was a trouble-maker and a tad slow in the motivation department obviously (but a hoot). Get in trouble with the law? Join the Marines or Army (during the Draft). You can’t do that now. They want motivated honest people. Our typical 19 year old G.I. possesses skills only officers have in other countries.

Conscription military historically does not work. There is no feeling of commitment and no heart. The Air Force and Navy do not use draftees, as their ranks swell during times of selective service. The folks that pass the more stringent tests go Navy or AF to avoid the danger of the ‘line troops’ and usually get better jobs and training, because they are not learning to shoot weapons. In an all volunteer military, this changed too, as the Army and Marines have excellent opportunities and job placement.

The benefits for education are a great lure for prospective enlistees also. Enlisting in Texas has further benefits. After the ten year period expires for your G.I. benefits, you can still go to school tuition free under the Hazelwood Act. Make no mistake, military service is an education that can be likened to a 4 year degree and many large companies see it that way, opting to hire honorably discharged veterans, as they know they, for the most part have experience way beyond book-learnin’. Many active military leave the service with college credits, either from night school, correspondence courses, or from direct crossover from their job duties/schools.

It is a misconception military leaders are not as educated and smart as their civilian counterparts. The opposite is true in many cases. Enlistment military takes the brightest youth from all sectors and makes them more motivated, teaches them teamwork, gives them purpose, and gives them light-years of experience in life over their contemporaries.

War necessitates we enlarge our military and I hate war, don’t think it is always the answer, but know we must have a strong military even in times of peace. Our current young people serving in the armed forces are the future bankers, lawyers, doctors, plumbers and auto mechanics. They will know how to make the hard decisions because they’ve earned that right and have more then book-smarts’ to guide them.

Re-instating the Draft? It won’t work and needs to stay on the shelf.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The war in Iraq, et al...

I think the war has gone on too long, but once committed, we should see it through. All wars are fought over money, and occupation, even WW ll. All wars involve dying and suffering and in a perfect world, we wouldn’t fight.

I’ve followed this Iraq business closely for a number of years and I still believe the WMD’s were/are there. I could hide a quart jar of Anthrax or Ebola in my own neighborhood and folks could take years finding it, especially if I buried it and that small amount of virus would kill millions if released.

Iraq had it, used it against the Kurds, kept records like the Germans, and still couldn’t explain what they did with it when the inspectors wanted proof. Right up to the invasion, everyone agreed he had it still. But, bottom line is we have to clean up the mess before we can withdraw...partially. America historically does not leave a country we took by force and we won’t leave this one either.

I’ve said it before; doing business with our country is like getting something from the Godfather. He’ll give it to you freely and glad to, but there might just come a time when he needs a favor and that favor always comes with a threat.

War IS hell and I don’t like it at all, but we live in a Capitalist country that spreads greedily around the world and it wants to replicate constantly, hence we put teeth in our pursuit of the almighty dollar. I benefit from this process greatly, but in my heart I know it’s wrong.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How can I get even with the Oil Companies?

This is how we can save money when it comes to buying gas.

First, we must understand that it doesn’t matter who charges what, or what oil Company is making millions. It doesn’t matter if we go to war, or a terrorist threatens to blow up a well in Nigeria. It doesn’t matter if Wall Street decides a barrel of raw crude futures should rise, or fall…

…What matters is supply and demand pure and simple AND what we on an individual basis purchase.

Take a look at your routine. Is there a lot of unnecessary driving going on? Could you eliminate a number of trips, by planning ahead? Does you car need a tune-up? Do you drive the truck every time instead of the compact? Are there times when walking/cycling would get you where you want to go, instead of the car? How about that dreadful C word…car-pooling? Does your vehicle get better mileage at 60 mph, then the 70-80 we now drive?

If we keep demanding giant amounts of fuel, we will continue to promote our dependency to gasoline and the demand and ever-rising prices per gallon. At current prices, if we stop using 5 gallons of gas per week (per household – not per vehicle), we will save ourselves $55 to $60 per month in fuel costs and if we continue this for one year, it comes out to an amazing $685!

We are at their mercy as long as we continue to gulp down gas at the current rate. We are literally promoting the system.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Who Jesus really was/is...

It's Easter and folks are busy arguing over who Jesus was/is. Was he actually God, or was he one third of God...as in the Trinity? Read on oh carefree soul!

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What a fantastic dilemma! Arguing over who Jesus really was! I think it boils down to whether we believe the Bible is actually the inspired word of God, or no. I refer to the KJV here as I feel it is the most unbiased of the traditional texts. If you believe it is the inspired word of God that is one major point that can be used as a platform, if you believe it is full of flaws, then that is another. I believe it is inspired.

Ask a Jew what is the greatest scripture and they will tell you it is Deut 6:4

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD

They do not for one second believe G_d is duplicity of persons. The Muslims do not either. That speaks volumes to me.

When Peter, standing up with the 11 on the day of Pentecost told the Jewish multitudes that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ, they knew exactly what Peter meant:

Jesus the Christ was God manifest in the flesh and since no one had ever seen the Spirit of God’s essence, they were actually seeing God! Those that accepted him as such, entered ‘the Church’ the same as the mother of Jesus did and the Apostles.

Time marched on and Titus overthrew Jerusalem, everyone scattered, religions were persecuted. The Roman emperor Constantine attempting to consolidate everyone under one religion chose Christianity and outlawed all others. In doing so, he accepted just about any dogma and tradition under this banner, including many of the pagan rituals and costumes and this became the Universal Church of the 4th century.

Everyone joined and why not?

Try to find any history of the first church of Acts in modern history. Just try. Everything refers to this pagan imitation starting at the Council of Nicea. If you really want to know who Jesus is, you have to look at the teaching of the Apostles found in the book of Acts and the Epistles, not a bunch of guys in 380 AD wearing fish shaped hats.

BB

Provocative radio hosts

Alvin Van Black used to host a drive time evening show on KPRC AM (Houston Texas) and every evening on my way home from work, I would tune in...because I had to!

Mr. Van Black always played the devil's advocate and in all that traffic & heat - especially at the Baytown tunnel - I would get so worked up over his comments, I would change stations - for 2 minutes. LOL Then tune back over just to repeat it and repeat it.

He made a very good living always taking the opposite stance with his nasal whining about everything and then to top it off, whenever he felt like it, which was often, he would disconnect the caller mid-sentence. He would tell the radio audience what an idiot the caller was. Ha! It was great now that I think about it.

I think Ol’ Alvin did a lot to make the average American voter take sides, sometimes for good, sometimes not. One thing was sure - he made people think. I’ve told friends for years, that anyone who challenges you to think, or defend your position is your friend.

Oh! There is a subtle difference between people who make you justify your beliefs and those that are just mean. Sometimes I’m just mean, but I’m working on that.

On another radio station, same time period, they had an old Hispanic fellow who claimed to be a dogcatcher for the city of Houston. His English was poor, but understandable. He talked about his love for the job and how he held a national record for catching dogs. He went on to say he would work late at night, weekends, holidays, even on his own time to catch stray dogs. He then said he had “methods” which helped him lure “potential strays right out of peoples yards”.

Talk about people going crazy! Ha! The city and radio station was inundated with calls wanting to jail this fellow. It was all a stunt and a good one at that.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Should President Bush fire Donald Rumsfeld?

It's very early on to make a judgment here IMO. There is always a divide between military strategy and political fallout. The Generals want to “git er done” and the politicians worry about image.

I read a couple of years ago Donald Rumsfeld had an unconventional idea on how the military should be structured and this has caused real concern with the Old Guard. I’ve personally stood in the office of a Brigadier General and Generals rule like kings. It’s hard to imagine how powerful they are (unless you are in their chain of command). They do NOT care for anyone who crosses them. Civilians read about Generals with only a passing interest.

Military leaders are pretty much apolitical and they have to be, but once they’ve retired, they can vent or state their own politics. Take for instance Wesley Clark and Tommy Franks opposite stances.

Rumsfeld is a no-nonsense guy that Generals understand, but that doesn’t mean he always makes the correct decision or they like him. I’ll hold my judgment until more facts come in.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Baytown Bert's Serious Pancake Breakfast for 8

4 cups - Pioneer Brand complete Buttermilk Pancake/waffle mix
3.5 cups - 1% milk
1 tbl spoon Mexican vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup pecan pieces
Real butter
Favorite syrup/fruit

1# - thick sliced peppered bacon

- Mix everything but the bacon, butter and syrup in a large bowl
- Heat your griddle mid-high until water drops sizzle when tossed on
- Use a measuring cup and dip your batter to make one pancake at a time
- Watch carefully to keep from ruining the first cake - you can usually lower the temp after the first cake
- Fire up another burner and cook your bacon, or use the microwave

This recipe will feed 8 grown men with one large pancake and 3-4 pieces of delicious peppered bacon each.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Baytown Bert's Original Questionaire #2

1. Are you registered to vote?

2. Have you ever deliberately ran over an animal, when you could have easily avoided it?

3. Do you sincerely think we are rapidly approaching extreme global disaster?

4. Ignoring personal politics, is Sean Penn a great actor?

5. Is George W. Bush up front in what he states, or does he have a separate agenda?

6. Would the Daily Show be funnier if there wasn't so much bad language?

7. Is the incredible advance in technology suffocating you?

8. Should we as American citizens give up our right to bear arms?

9. Do you sincerely make an effort every day to better yourself?

10. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Southern, Seafood...what foods rock you the most-est?

11. Were the allegations of torture at Abu Ghraib actually torture, or just humiliation?

12. Should marijuana be legalized and regulated?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

What books are you reading?

I just finished:

- Inside Iraq: The History, the People, and the Modern Conflicts of the World's Least Understood Land
- Implicating Empire: Globalization and Resistance in the 21st Century
- Mastering Macromedia Contribute
- The Hot Zone
- A Day Late and a Dollar Short
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Glory Denied: The Saga of Jim Thompson, America's Longest-Held Prisoner of War

I have in my lunchbox:

- No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs

I have on my night stand:

- Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

In the queue:

- A History of Urban America
- Backlash : The Undeclared War Against Women
- A Short History of Islam
- The Beauty Myth : How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
- Claiming a Continent : A New History of Australia
- Globalization from Below
- The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System
- Don't Think, Smile! : Notes on a Decade of Denial
- Hell Is Over : Voices of the Kurds after Saddam, An Oral History

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Why are the French youth rioting?

The demonstrations are headed by the Socialist Party, Communist Party and the trade union delegations.

In France, there is a law called 'jobs for life'. Once you get hired, it's almost impossible for an employer to fire you. Some may think this is a good thing, but it actually promotes complacency and low quality. France has 22% unemployment mainly because so much of the population is living on the government anyway.

The new law will allow small business employers (only) to let someone go, or lay them off within the first two years for no reason at all. Maybe they want to down-size, or maybe the person is lazy.

In America, we all labor under a free enterprise system, not the socialist dictations and mandates of laws that promote low worker output and quality so we can keep our jobs. We actually have to perform to keep our jobs. We have performance reviews and deadlines. We have quality expectations by our employers. We have to be at work on time and leave when we are supposed to. All these things usually create a work place that is competitive with other similar businesses.

France is failing on the world market because the people work a 32 hour week with massive benefits and and lavish paid vacations. They can only be fired by a lengthy difficult procedure. Unemployment benefits range from 57 to 75 percent of the worker's last salary and can last as long as three years.

Throw into the mix France's many many immigrants that have made no attempt to assimilate and you have the current giant group of young malcontents that resent the taking away of French government supplied freebies.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Baytown Bert's Delicious Breakfast Texas Tacos for 15

18 - extra large grade A eggs
3 - medium raw jalapeno's
1 - medium yellow onion
2#'s - store brand pork pan sausage (it's actually leaner)
20 - medium sized premium tortillas
1 - bottle Mexican or Texan-made hot sauce or salsa
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1. Slice the cold pan sausage into one inch slices
2. In large skillet cook pork slices until you can chop them into small pieces
3. Immediately add raw jalapeno slices & seeds plus onion slices
4. On griddle heat tortillas and put on clean towel over plate - cover as you add more
5. Do not drain the skillet unless you used a name brand pan sausage.
6. Add beaten eggs, salt and pepper heavily...not salt, but pepper.
7. When it is no longer runny and you have turned it frequently, it is ready to serve, out of the skillet.

Take a heated tortilla, stuff it with the melange, add a spot of hot sause, or salsa and roll it up for delicious consumption.

*Do NOT Microwave a flour tortilla! It's against the law (or should be).
*Slice the onions into large rings and the jalapeno's also so folks can remove them if they like. They need to eat these items, but many do not think so, so you give them the item cooked into the food and let them remove the offensive material.

Customer service is not what it used to be

I was called by a local business today to pay for a maintenance service on my in-ground pool. My debit card on file had expired. ...