Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ultimate Jalapeno Pepper Poppers

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (4oz.)
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (4oz.)
6 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb fresh jalapenos, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2-3 eggs
sour cream or salsa or prepared onion dip or ranch salad dressing (or any combo of the above!)

In mixing bowl, combine first 7 ingredients, mix well.
Spoon about 2 Tbl. filling into each pepper half.
Roll in eggs, then breadcrumbs, and place into greased 15"x10"x1" baking pan.
Bake, uncovered, in 350º oven for 20 minutes for spicy, 30 minutes for medium, and 40 minutes for mild.
Serve with sour cream, salsa, dip or dressing.
Makes about 2 dozen.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What books am I reading?

Don't take this as anything other than a stimulant to keep studying! BB

I just finished:

- Hell Is Over : Voices of the Kurds after Saddam, An Oral History
- No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs
- A Short History of Islam
- The Beauty Myth : How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
- Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
- 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:

- The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System

I have on my night stand:

- Claiming a Continent: A New History of Australia

In the queue:

- A History of Urban America
- Backlash : The Undeclared War Against Women
- Globalization from Below
- Don't Think, Smile! : Notes on a Decade of Denial
- Peter the Great
- Between Two Worlds : Escape From Tyranny : Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam
- Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire
- The Fall of Baghdad
- Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda

Monday, May 22, 2006

Is Baytown, a hell-hole or a Paradise?

The answer is neither. Baytown, Texas is any town USA. A casual look around verifies it is not Jackson Hole, Wyoming or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s flat Texas Gulf Coast gumbo lined with Chinese Tallow, Chinaberry, Pines, Cottonwood, and Bois D’Arc trees. Bayous, creeks, streams and gullies crisscross Old Baytown, Pelly, Wooster, Cedar Bayou, and Goose Creek which we now call the City of Baytown. Most of them are muddy, reflecting the estuary action of the gulf and fresh water.

Oleander, Crepe Myrtle, blooming Ligustrum shrubs, salt grass and a myriad of wild flowers give Baytown a splash of color outside of the normal amount of billboards, cars and houses.

On the west side of Baytown is the giant Exxon complex. Through the middle is Garth road; a crowded street during the workweek, like almost any active city anywhere. Interstate 10 is to the north and handles an enormous amount of traffic. To the south of Baytown are State highway/business 146 and the giant Fred Hartman Bridge. All around us is what some refer to as “dirty bay”.

A few knowledgeable former and current Baytownians have recently pointed out how wrong I am to brag about Baytown’s beauty. They say the city is 90% not worth staying in and insist it is dirty, ugly, old, decrepit, stinky, ran-down, going nowhere, uninteresting and one group of people have put up a web site and a giant sign on Decker and Goose Creek entitled ‘Bored in Baytown – You know you are’. Folks tell me I only see what I want to see and not what this town really is.

Maybe they are correct. Maybe I am deceived. Maybe I have on dark, dark rose-colored glasses. Maybe the many photographs I’ve taken around Baytown are carefully cropped to exclude the hideousness that is really staring me in the lens. Maybe I am simply seeing the good in Baytown.

If I, as a rational human being, can find a diamond in a block of coal, then I am a man most satisfied. Peace and contentment with my surroundings is worth more than a hundred trips to Disneyworld, Pensacola beach, Jackson Hole, Wyoming or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, in our hustle and bustle life, most of us only see Baytown out the window of our car and that, my friend, is where I have the advantage over the naysayers. Ride your bicycle, take a walk, park that truck, or car and you will see a very different view, I promise. Take your camera along and you will quickly see many interesting and pleasant sites.

If all you see in Baytown is old buildings, a disappointing Mall, billboards, crowded Garth Road and the Exxon complex, I have an answer for you. Get off the main drag and hop on your bike. Hike the Goose Creek Stream Trail, or Jenkins Park trail. Go down to Bayland Park and launch your boat and take a cruise up Goose Creek or Cedar Bayou (you might just see an alligator!). Then there is the Baytown Nature Center!

Yes, I am guilty of only seeing what I want to see. I see a city that swells to 120,000 people 5 days a week, but I see it the same way I see the Houston metropolis. I see the rest of the city as trees, flowers, bodies of water, wildlife, friendly neighbors and blue cloud filled skies.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Illegal Immigration and Military Enforcement

I am dead-set against using our military to enforce our borders, Guard, Reserve, or Active, unless it is for training purposes and only training. It scares me to think we will have active military running all over our borders with machine guns. What could easily happen next is local stations with Marines and soldiers…to protect us.

If our country is so insecure against terrorists/illegal immigrants, then let’s beef up our police force/ border patrol and spend some of this giveaway American tax money (that goes to buy loyalty in far away countries) on State and City police (federal government grants). This will create jobs on a local level and bolster the economy.

Historically, military use inside a country has had devastating results. We have a military governed by civil authority and we need to use our military to protect this country from outside our borders. Hitler started off purging his country of enemies (terrorists) and then folks that shouldn’t be there (illegals), and when he had full control, he took over.

The Ottoman Empire at its apex created bodyguards from slaves, teaching them as small children to protect their leaders. They became very proficient and their ranks grew as the need for them multiplied. Eventually they became so strong, they took over the empire by force and here’s the kicker…they ruled for 300 years!

I love the fact that America has the strongest military in the world and I do believe our enemies should fear our wrath. I just think our military should be used against our enemies and to enforce our government’s decisions...not to stand around in our airports and street corners like we are under martial law.

Illegal immigration down here on my level hasn’t affected the way I live one iota. Not one iota. I refuse to get all up in arms over something that I have no control over. The reason illegals are here, for the most part is they will work for very little money and if you try to find someone to do a job for you, they want a hundred dollars for 15 minutes work.

Is Biodiesel the answer?

Biodiesel is one answer, but how about alternate methods of fuel propulsion? How about 150 miles to the gallon? The current record for traveling continuously at 55mph is 157 mpg.

We can not, as a nation of vehicle commuters, get more efficient mileage as long as people keep driving like NASCAR professionals. This is something all motorcycle drivers recognize. My daily commute from 225 over the Fred Hartman bridge is never less than 70mph and this is in the right lane…the traditional slow lane. If I keep up with traffic, I frequently hit 80mph and many times I am passed by a vehicle hitting 90+.

It’s almost a matter of survival to keep the speed between 70 and 80!

The Chinese have 1 ton trucks with 900cc diesel motors (less than 1.0 liter) that get 50 mpg. We can’t use them because they can’t get from 0-60 to 10 seconds meaning they would slow us down and cause wrecks. We rush, rush, rush, so we can get home and sit on the couch.

Biodiesel promises folks they can keep living like they’re living and the only thing that will change is the cost of a gallon. WE have to change is my point. We have to change.

When I hired on at ARCO in Channelview 30 years ago, the interviewers all asked me the same question: “Is living in Baytown 12 miles from the Plant going to be a problem”? Almost everyone there lived within 5 miles of the Plant and me living 12 miles away was considered risky.

These days’ folks routinely live 50 miles away. The roads and cars are better and allow us to make this commute; however we should all take a hard look at what this freedom of choice is costing us. It’s a mindset that has to change in my opinion. I now live 16 miles from my job, but my car gets 35 mpg. I make the trip and back on one gallon which is still not acceptable.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The demise of the giant American dream vehicle

In June 2006 General Motors Corp. will stop producing the Hummer H1. This is the civilian version of the military Hummvee. The Hummvee will live on in its smaller versions. Last September the last Ford Excursion rolled off the line with its 44 gallon gas tank.

As a guy who loves off-roading in Jeeps, Hummers, hog trucks and old gas-guzzling rigs I see this as a sad day. As a practical guy who sees the cost of fuel connected to increased demand, I say it’s about time. We as Americans have to come to the realization that we can’t have our cake and eat it too. It’s the hardest paradigm to crack.

Until a few years ago, I was like so many Americans thinking life would continue on like I am accustomed to. I really believed we Americans could do what we danged well please and if the rest of the world didn’t like it, tough nuts. I don’t think like this now.

Like our forefathers (and mothers) we have to earn what we consume, not ride on the never-ending wave of prosperity and excess that we imagine. Look around and you will see 18 year olds driving new cars and trucks with accessories that would normally be impossible for their age group to procure. No longer does a kid work their way through high school and purchase, with their own money, a 10 year old automobile. They wouldn’t drive one if it was given them anyway.

We are a spoiled, self-gratifying, glutinous country and it is a sad, but true fact. Folks buy 42” cut riding lawn mowers to cut a yard I cut with a 20” push mower just a few years back. Men (and women) purchase $40,000+, 4-door, three-quarter ton, 4X4, diesel pick-up trucks to drive to work and park in a parking lot. Want to BBQ? Why you just have to have that $650 gas grill, which is so big, you get it delivered. Want to watch the big game? How about a 65 inch HD-TV? We can’t really get that “live” feeling with that stupid old 36”.

No I don’t have a plan to save the starving multitudes, stop the spread of AIDS, fix Social Security, etc., etc. What I am saying is we – me – you need to take a hard look at the future and see if we can break out of this vicious cycle of spending and consuming like there is never going to be a reckoning.

We don't know our left from our right.

I got my first real lesson on what being out of step means when I in was in Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, in ...