Sunday, September 24, 2006

Life During Wartime Iraqi Freedom version

Life During Wartime - Iraqi Freedom version

Heard of a van, loaded with IEDs,
packed up and ready to go
Heard of some grave sites, out by the highway,
a place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I'm getting used to it now
Born in Baytown, lived on the downside,
I've been all over this town

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain't got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver,
hope for an answer from home
I got a sixteen, a couple of buddies,
you don't even know my fightin' name
Out in the desert, the trucks are loading,
everything's ready to roll
I sleep when I can, I work 30 hours at a time,
I might not ever get home

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around
This ain't no fight club, or C. B. G. B.,
I ain't got time for that now
Heard from Houston? Heard from my hometown?
Heard from my homies in Dirty B?

You oughta know not to stand by the window
somebody might shoot you up there
I got a care package, some peanut butter,
to last a couple of days
But I ain't got no pictures, ain't got no
headphones, ain't got no CD's to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
I'd do it different next time
Can't write an email, can't send no postcard,
I can't write nothing at all
I'd like to kiss you, I'd love to hold you
I ain't got no time for that now...

The Talking Heads (with revisions by BB)
Dedicated to my son, Sgt. Nick Marshall US Army

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Danny Glover Commie Lover


I watched with sizzling anger as that idiot Marxist Chavez blasted every American in this country and people actually thought he was talking only about the President.

Then on to the churches where, heckfire, I guess registered American voters were cheering a foreign dictator over our own President. They wouldn’t be allowed that ‘right’ in Hugo’s own country. Then Danny Glover gets up and lays credence to his remarks even calling him friend and brother…Oh brother, where art thou really? Mel should have let the bad guys have him about 4 movies ago.

What Danny needs is a reality check and a swift kick in the backside by someone with a dab of sense. Hugo is biting the very hand that feeds him, as the good old USA is his best customer. Chavez is offering cheap gas in NYC as a slap in the face of George Bush while 50% of his own country is unemployed and suffering a 15% inflation rate.

If only we Americans could wean ourselves from our addiction to gas guzzling cars and trucks, we could shut Hugo Chavez up like a Texas oyster, but alas…

I apologize to the liberals out ‘there’ in Electroland for not using extensive and exclusively copy and pasted material as my own opinion.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Quid Pro Quo

Is Islam inherently violent? Is it a religion that believes every other religion and dogma, which crosses its own, is heresy and should be annihilated from the face of the earth? Am I in danger of becoming a target for even questioning Islam? Am I an infidel and will killing me benefit, promote and fulfill Allah’s will?

Or is it actually a religion that is peaceful and only a small radical faction of believers is giving this wonderful revelation a black eye? Hold on a second and let me fill in a little history before I go further. Freely call me a bigot later if that pleases, but at least give me the benefit of the doubt. I want to exercise my American freedom of speech.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool American. I was born here and it is all I know. I was brought up with certain inalienable rights as a benefit of our Constitution, which just had a birthday, September 17. We Americans are guaranteed these human rights because we have men and women in our history who were willing to die on foreign soil. These ‘rights’ were paid for with blood and tears, millions of tears, millions.

I enjoy these very freedoms BECAUSE I am an American. I am also the grandson of two Army veterans, the son of a WWII veteran, I am a Vietnam veteran and the father of a 22-year-old man (he was a boy a couple of overseas tours ago, even before he completed his 60th mission in Iraq) who is currently a Sergeant in the U.S. Army.

My dearly missed father-in-law spent a couple of summers on Biak, a tiny island in the south Pacific enduring Japanese Zero’s bombs and bullets. Even with a bad back, he cut hair at Reno’s barbershop on old SH-146 for years and was so humble; folks called him Reno, because he didn’t want to bother them with pronouncing his real name…Willard Reneau.

The point I want to drive home right here in my hometown is so obvious to me, I can’t for the life of me see why it isn’t being screamed from the front lawn of the White House. We enjoy our freedom of religion because we are Americans. People come into this country legally or illegally and they demand American privileges and it burns my hide when I read it.

We do not owe them a dad-blame right or benefit other than protection while inside our borders.
Camp X-Ray soldiers gave prisoners copies of the Koran and prayer blankets and even little cloth hats so they could practice their religion, only to be accused of flushing a holy book down a toilet. Riots ensued. Danish cartoonists drew a picture of a man who lived 500 years ago and Muslim countries start burning buildings and calling for the heads (literally) of anyone involved. The Pope of Rome quotes a 14th century Byzantine Emperor and Iran let’s students out of school so they can demonstrate in the streets, calling for his head. Thailand has lost 1400 people to Islamic extremists in the last two years. The list of intolerance and violence is a mile long and growing daily.

I was sickened when I read today, the Catholic Pope who leads one billion followers did not stand up for what he said. Is the whole world afraid of a peaceful religion that does not tolerate criticism and turns violent to prove it?

I will believe this is a religion of peace when I see it. When American Muslims stand up and openly and passionately condemn the radical fundamentalist murders of women, children and innocent people, then I will begin to believe that Islam in America differs from what I see going on all over the world.

Quid Pro Quo (something for something) is all I’m asking. We Texans call it “putting your money where your mouth is”. If my neighbor wants to convert to a religion differing from my own, that is fine. That privilege is paid for, thank you Americans. If that same neighbor violates my peaceful existence practicing their religion and disturbs my way of life I’m calling the cops, it’s that simple.

The demands the leaders of Islam are putting on the world in the name of tolerance are the very facets they are violating.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

September Eleven 2001

September 5th, 2001 found my wife and me standing on the south bank of the Hudson River staring alternately at Ellis Island and the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The Statue of Liberty which lies just south of Ellis Island is a breath taking sight and if you as an American have never made that long drive to New Jersey to lay eyes on it, do it.

My daughter had just graduated from Flight Attendant school in Houston for Continental Express and being barely 19, she was on the minimum end of the age requirement. She was assigned Newark, New Jersey as her first Hub location and my wife and I panicked because our baby girl was going it alone for the first time after graduation from R.E. Lee high school right here in Baytown.

My sweetheart and I loaded up her little Honda car and made the 1600 mile drive up there (that’s the way we Texans view everything north of…well, Texas). Our goal beside delivering the car and making sure our baby was okay, was to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The World Trade Center was just a curiosity, like the Empire State building, which is up river and clearly visible from where we stood. We could see Battery Park and the Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry also. It was ‘cool’.

Being an amateur photographer I stared at the sight of these giant towers across the river. Now fellow Baytownians, I do not exaggerate when I say these two towers were impressive in a big Texas way. They literally dwarfed everything around them and when you see pictures, it just does not impress upon you the sheer magnitude. They were so big, that across the river they looked like they were solid stone, not the view of thousands of windows that we saw on television.

I could have sat all day and watched the view. I took a couple of photos, like everyone else. I yawned. I bought a pretzel on Ellis Island. I found a few names on the list of immigrants that I thought I might be related to. We stood in line to go inside the Statue of Liberty, riding the ferry and enjoyed the views. We were like the Twin Towers; totally unaware of approaching disaster.

In my wildest dreams I never imagined my 17 year old son would be completing his 60th mission as a sergeant in the U.S. Army on the streets of Baghdad, Iraq five years later. “Have you shot your weapon, Son”? “Yes, Dad, I have”. “More than once, Son”? “Yes, Dad, more than once”.

My father’s brother, Captain Harry Marshall asked me if we could stay on a couple of days so I could attend a meeting with him at Battery Park. He is a senior member of the Marine Society of the City of New York and has a building wing named after him at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. I respectfully declined, citing work back in Texas. My cousin Michael had an office on an upper floor of the second building the day they were destroyed, but thankfully he was in Florida on business.

Our story of 9-11 is not much different than many here in the Baytown area. In one way or another we were all deeply and personally touched by the 9-11 tragedy. America changed forever just 5 days after we returned to Baytown. The World Trade Center was like a giant American chin sticking out in an offending manner, just waiting to take a blind uppercut and take one we did. Hopefully we as a Country will never again allow ourselves to become so over confident that it takes another Pearl Harbor or a WTC disaster to open our eyes to terrorism.

Here in Baytown and surrounding areas we host very important Oil and Chemical industries and if the truth be known, we are still very vulnerable. Most of us know this and live with it every day. The one area we can not grow weak in has nothing to do with tanks, guns and American military might, but with our resolve. Our grandparents had it when WWII suddenly changed America and we need it now.

Ho Chi Minh proclaimed to everyone that America would fall from within during the Vietnam conflict; a simple war of attrition is all it would take to finally beat us and that proved true. We need a backbone like a saw-log in 2006 to stay the course and let time go by. Patience has never been our strong suit, but we need to get some of our old post 9-11 grit back. Many are crying out to do this and do that and go for a quick fix. We do not need a quick fix. We need integrity on a personal level and if our government is not getting the job done, then we need to be patient and vote in a new leader who has America’s best interest at heart and quit all the bickering which will destroy all our forefathers worked for.

Frank Zappa put it this way: Don't clap for destroying America. This place is as
good as you want to make it.

© Bert Marshall 9/5/2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Resizing a giant digital pic so you can send it across the web

Most digital cameras these days take large megapixel photographs and when you send them to your family or friends across the Web, they receive a wall size picture that has a giant file size. Here is how you make the pictures web friendly.

Here is what you do to each picture to make them appear properly in email:

Find the picture you want to send.

RIGHT click on the picture, a menu will pop up.

select OPEN WITH ---> Microsoft Photo Editor

When the picture opens, at the top of the program select IMAGE ----> RESIZE

Move one of the sliders till it gets to 65%

Then save the picture by adding the letter a on the end. This will allow you to keep your original picture and share a smaller version across the web.

It will now be about a 5X7 and under 100K.

More scared than safe

Lately I’ve heard more and more people comment on how they wish the old days of security would return. Everyday we read or hear about some heinous crime and it’s not only in our national newspapers, TV and radio, but right here in Baytown.

The abduction and brutal murder of Shane Goodman one mile from my house has shook this feeling of anarchy to an extreme level. Daily reports of violence, armed robberies, identity theft and automobile burglaries while good people are enjoying a meal at one of our local restaurants is so common, we are learning to accept it.

The last time we Baytownians had this feeling, roving gangs of thugs were driving around town indiscriminately shooting bullets. It became known as ‘drive-bys’, like they were delivering the paper or something. It was scary times.

During those times I had a second job. I cleaned Marty’s carwash on Business 146 behind the Domino’s Pizza place and many a morning found me looking over my shoulder as a car rolled through with the headlights off. It wasn’t unusual for me to be there at 4am before I went to work and twice there was a drive-by within earshot while I was there.

Back then I was in quite good shape for a 40 year old man, being still active in martial arts and not willing to arm myself with a handgun, I played the odds. On top of that, I do not appear an easy victim, being a rather large man. I can conservatively say five years of anxiety passed without a serious incident and I thank every Baytown Police Officer who passed through the carwash while I was there.

It is comforting to see a police officer, if you are on the right side of the law, especially when criminals seemingly own the streets.

Thank God those days of gangs ruling the streets of Baytown are behind us, but now we face a more sinister threat, if that is possible. Young people plot and execute a plan to abduct and kill a man for his truck from a parking lot. Folks are accosted while pumping gas on a main thoroughfare in broad daylight. A paraplegic man is brutally beaten and dumped off in the country for a few measly dollars.

New York? Houston? No, my friend… Baytown, Texas.

I walked into my favorite convenience store last year and there instead of the friendly man with the eastern accent, was a fellow with black and blue marks on his face. I said “Car accident”? He said, “No, they tried to rob my store and I fought back. This store is all I have and I could not let them have it”. I like that man and I try to do my small item shopping there because I empathize with him.

I want my wife and children to enjoy a safe city. I want to stop and get gas on my way to work without wondering if I should slip my concealed handgun permitted .45 ACP into my pocket. Heck-fire, I don’t even want to carry that thing. I wish I didn’t feel the need to arm myself. I wish I never had to see a gun again the rest of my days.

A number of volunteer citizens in this town are quietly trying to figure out a way to help police and the city. It may be stronger neighborhood watches, or a tax increase to get more police on the street; we’re in the incipient stage. In reoccurring crime areas, we want to enlist the help of the apartment complexes, restaurants and stores in whose parking lots the crimes are taking place. We want them to insure our safety and the relative security of the parking lot while we shop, live or eat.

Baytown has long had a reputation of a bad town, high in crime, and a thug-town, Bubbaville. I don’t believe we need to let that continue, do you?

Friday, September 08, 2006

What, me read? Isn't that a 4 letter word?

I had an appointment this week at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center to have an echocardiogram, which by the way is an EKG ti...