Sunday, July 27, 2008

Black Duck Bay trail system?

Recently while hiking over the south side of the Fred Hartman bridge, I looked down on the dirt road that envelopes 2 giant retaining ponds and thought how wonderful this would be for Exxon-Mobil to open it for jogging and cycling.

A simple bridge spanning the broken road that used to lead to the tunnel is all that is needed for access.

Update: I think this is worthy of asking ExxonMobil. I am happy to put the question to them; as long as everyone understands that this is not City property and that we are not resourced to police or maintain it should ExxonMobil agree to open it up. Would a citizens group be willing to adopt it and be responsible for its upkeep? Garry Brumback
Update: I was contacted by Russ Roberts (ExxonMobil HR) to discuss the real possibility of making this project a reality. 7-31-08

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What do you want on your Tombstone?

I was driving to work yesterday and as I exited SH-225, I was passed up by a commercial truck with the Pizza slogan "What do you want on your Tombstone?" and I began to ponder this company's slogan and marketing strategy. Now I realize this may be an odd rumination at 3:30am, but nevertheless with my golden years steadily creeping up all over me, I find I do more thinking about the possibility of my own demise than I did as a robust and invincible man of, say forty-five.

What do I want on my tombstone, or rather as my final hurrah? Should I request actual swans be released into the air for my swan song? Do I want an accurate depiction of my life, a flowery tribute with gushing hyperbole, or a gritty tale of exploits and adventures? By the way, while I'm thinking about it, should I go ahead and write it now, so I can be sure I am accurately portrayed?

Here lies Baytown Bert

Our last words together were:

"This won't hurt"

"Are you sure?"

Will I be remembered as "that loudmouthed know-it-all forum-destroying guy" who always wrote in the paper exposing his incorrect and twisted version of wrongdoing and who found fault with everything and everyone? The self-righteous (and dashingly handsome) icon and self-appointed bastion of self-promotion who had no interest in making a contribution to society, but was preoccupied with making a fancy-schmancy name for himself by pointing out everyone else's failures? I hope not, but that would be better than nothing. My apologies to the regular "letters to the editor" contributors if anyone thinks I'm drawing a comparison.

Will someone submit to my stone engraver that I tried to make a difference in a positive way? "He made people stop and think" would be a good one in my book. "He exposed weakness in the system and then suggested a solution" is another that hopefully is accurate. "The man made a positive difference in my life," sounds pretty good. "He sure could whistle" would be a stretch, but would sound nice in the end.

Maybe I could have something humorous like "I told you I was sick!" or "I made an ash of myself". Maybe my bride will finalize my epitaph with a humorous poem:

Here lies my hubby:

Here let him lie!

Now he's at rest

And so am I!

I would like that and it would be partially true too. Sometimes I'm mean to her.

I'm thinking it might be well received if at the foot of my grave I have a pressure plate installed and when some unwitting passerby steps on it, a howl of anguish blasts forth, or maybe an obnoxious flatulence noise would rip through the reverent silence. Now that would be something original. "Ouch! Get off my feet! You're killing me all over again"! Poot!!!

Maybe I could have a loud speaker installed at the cemetery and at the touch of a button a person could hear me read each of my columns in succession, even if it took hours. I guess I should request the cemetery furnish a covered area with ample seating and each article could have a prologue by writer-extraordinaire Jim Finley to give it that extra touch of sober credence.

I might need a very large grave marker, something like those sepulchers over in New Orleans, if I'm going to get everything on there I will need. An extravagant building with lots of room for the many visitors that will come to leave stuff, like old newspaper clippings, photographs and pieces of art - and food for the hereafter, like peppered bacon and stuff. They say the food offerings ease the transition into the cosmos and I wouldn't want to take any chances on being hungry.

Music playing in the background would be a nice touch too, something multiethnic to reflect the diversity of Baytown and maybe an occasional Grito to keep folks moving along and to discourage looters. These kinds of things only work well if folks keep moving. I might have some Baytown Jaycee gospel fiddles too. In between it all, I think there will be room for Pink Floyd and Mean Gene Kelton and the Diehards. The sky is the limit… man.

I might as well set aside a little cash to retain the other Baytown Sun Columnists Jane, Ray, Natalie and Hilda to write at least one column a month (for a few years) mentioning my virtues as a writer and crediting me as their mentor. I figure this will be a welcome and profitable addition to their healthy Baytown Sun monthly stipend.

Last but not least, I would like Wanda Orton to dig up interesting historical facts on my many accomplishments in and around Baytown for a number of years. I want to be remembered with cold hard facts - like the stuff on Wikipedia. Am I asking too much? I don't think so.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What happened to the Baytown Concerned Citizens group?

Less than a year has passed since planning our first meeting at El Toro's new restaurant and it appears the BCC - Baytown Concerned Citizens, in our zeal to accommodate BPD, has lost track of its original intent. We started out determined to hold the police department management accountable for stemming and controlling crime. We were angry and wanted results.

What we have evolved into, as a group, is a flag-waving patriotic police support group with a quasi-religious zeal instead. Log onto the website designed to report and discuss crime and mildly suggest anything negative concerning the police department, or heckfire - any police department and you will be angrily rebuked, chastised for being unsupportive and your patriotism will be questioned.

What happened? Let's back up to August 11th, 2007 where I wrote: "Citizens are sick and tired of the wave of increasingly violent and bold crime we are experiencing and if there is indeed strife inside the ranks of our police department, it needs to come to a halt immediately. We need cohesion inside BPD for it to be effective, especially at a time like this".

"The goal of Baytown Concerned Citizens will be to work with City Council and the Baytown Police Department to stop crime in its tracks. At no time are we advocating violence or vigilante justice. We are however actively recruiting vigilant and observant citizens, who are willing to make that 911 phone call to stop crime and make our city a place felons are reluctant to visit".

I want to go on record right off the bat and say I am in full support of our police department and in all fairness; they are working their hocks off to provide a secure city. Captain David Alford and I are in frequent communication and he is very sincere in his efforts towards satisfying our crime watch group. However, history is full of examples that police departments are at their best when citizen groups hold them accountable and sometimes that means criticizing them. My complaint today is more about us citizens, then about BPD.

For this growing city to prosper, we citizens must be vigilant and do our part to maintain and abide by its laws. That's a given. We must police our own actions, by stopping at stop signs, driving the speed limit and calling 911 when we see something amiss. Don't scream foul when a cop gives you a ticket because you did not come to a complete halt before you turned right on red, or failed to strap your kids down while driving. You broke the law and it's their job and duty to enforce the law.

One year ago, I made many Baytonians very angry when I headed up the first town meeting to confront the police department and ask them why crime was out of control. The reason I made citizens madder (they were already mad at the police's inability to stop crime) is because I asked everyone to write down their complaints and I would post them on the Web AND give the police department time to post a response, instead of blind-siding them with angry verbal outbursts.

I stated over and over that our intent was to work with the police department through the formation of crime prevention groups, but we had every intention of holding them responsible in the future. Our defense against crime is to make phone calls – as many as it takes. Nothing has changed in our strategy.

Now granted, there has been major changes in the police department in the last year and I'm convinced it will take time for all the changes to iron out and all the vacancies filled, however the general attitude of the BCC group has changed from a group of citizens holding their police department accountable to one of a grandstand full of cheerleaders.

At the original town meeting Barrett Goldsmith quoted me as saying: "We don't care how we got here. What we care about it how to get us out of here, If there have been problems at City Hall or the police department, we don't care about it. We want to fix it. We're not going for a long-term score; we just want to get the ball rolling. We've done it in the most civil way possible, but we really do need some answers."

We still need answers and we can't get them if we are eating at the table of those we should be holding accountable. We cannot get so involved in the inner workings of the police department, or so chummy that we become critical of anyone who asks for accountability. We still don't care if the police department is understaffed – that is not our problem. Fix it. We do not want to hear that our crime watch group is calling too often and bleeding off resources – we just want it fixed. Nothing has changed in our strategy.

Last year I met with Charles "T-Bone" Schaffer and gladly listened closely to his advice and there was talk at the time of bringing him into the BCC leadership as an advisor, however, I was against it and told him I could not see it happening, as he was obviously pro-police biased and there may come a time when the citizens would have to be critical of the police. I consider him a friend and I listen whenever he talks.

Over and over the message generated by the police department and myself has been personal accountability in our own behavior and at our homes if we want to stem crime. We are told to organize crime watch groups and call, call and call again whenever anything is suspect. Our neighborhood, Chaparral Village has taken this to heart and we have a large active group who communicate on a mailing list. We drive our streets at night, see stuff and phone it in.

Over the last 10 months, we have been very vocal online and to the news media about our drag racing, street racing or just fast car driving problem and almost everyone has heard about it. Some of the racers live in this neighborhood, but many do not. Word on the street is we are simply crying wolf and that we really don't have much more than exaggerated hysterics going on here by a couple of individuals, even to the point where an officer responding to the deadly crash of a 34 year old man on a high-speed motorcycle implied we CV residents were leaching off assets over our constant whining.

I sarcastically semi-quoted our police chief (from a Baytown Sun article) on the crime watch website "Of course, we don't really have a racing problem in CV, just some high school kids celebrating school being let out" and one of our police officers responded "Looks like someone is trying to capitalize on a tragedy to satisfy their own agenda" and this, fellow Baytown Concerned Citizens is an example of how the BCC crime website has been turned into nothing more than a place where only high-fiving our police department is acceptable and has lost all objectivity in my book.

I am all but through posting on this web site and recently told the Webmaster (and original "Fab 5" leader) the reasons for my reticence was the web site's obvious deviation from the original intent. We citizens need to do our part and for the most part, we are, but we also need a web site that remains objective and which holds our public servants accountable.

Many of us are exasperated and frustrated over something as criminally innocuous as racing (and tragically deadly) and we are told to call and call and call and if that is our only recourse, then we do not want to hear an officer suggest we are stripping the available police department resources with our many calls. We will not take matters into our own hands, so if we need more cops, then dagnabit, we need to get more. Nothing has changed in our strategy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Residents say fatal crash bound to happen

By Kari Griffin
Baytown Sun

Published July 19, 2008

Some Chaparral Village residents who haven’t witnessed the “racing” reported by their neighbors insisted the mountain of an issue was merely a molehill.

But the folks keeping watch at night, writing down license plate numbers and following “racers” to their hangout predicted Thursday’s fatal accident months ago.

This was bound to happen, they just didn’t know when, residents said.

Around 9:20 p.m. Thursday, a Packsaddle resident called 911 to report that a motorcyclist had driven through a wooden fence and into a backyard. The man, 34-year-old Baytown resident Christopher Ramon Shaw, was unconscious — his leg torn off.

Life Flight was contacted and en route when Baytown police officers arrived at the gruesome scene and found that Shaw was dead.

Skid marks are visible two blocks away from the fence Shaw struck when he lost control of the 2008 blue Yamaha R1 he was driving westbound in the 1300 block of Packsaddle Lane. Shaw was separated from his bike and found some distance past the fence of the corner house, one of three homes sitting where Chaparral Drive curves into Packsaddle.

Lt. Eric Freed of the Baytown Police Department said the preliminary accident investigation reveals, “speed was a factor in this accident.”

Officers estimated that the helmet-less Shaw was traveling at about 100 mph when he crashed the vehicle. Shaw was also operating the motorcycle, (which neighbors say he didn’t own), illegally.

“He should not have been operating the motorcycle without a Class-M endorsement,” which he did not have, Freed said.

Freed also confirmed that not only was Shaw not the registered owner of the motorcycle he was operating, the Baytown man was driving with a suspended license.

Shaw’s driving privileges were taken away after he was found driving without insurance and without a valid license.

Freed said Shaw had an “extensive driving history” that included 36 entries on his license – meaning documentation such as citations and notices of surcharges or various infractions.

“It’s a lot more than usual,” Freed said. “Driving histories don’t usually have this many entries.”

Freed could not confirm that Shaw had been reported racing in Chaparral Village, or that the accident was connected to the reported street-racing, but residents who have been keeping track of the activity believe Shaw was the first Chaparral street-racing victim.

Chaparral Village resident Barbara Deanda, who has witnessed the “street-racing,” was at the fatal scene.

“He was racing,” Deanda said. “He wasn’t racing anybody,” but he was racing just the same.

Since summer started, Chaparral residents have hosted meetings to address the street-racing situation. When they see it going on, they call the police.

But by the time officers get there, the racers are long gone.

“It’s horrendous,” Deanda said of the racing problem. “We have all said that it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Resident Tom Cottar has also watched as vehicles ignore stop signs and travel through the residential area at high speed, and was disappointed by the lack of support citizens have had in ending the dangerous activity.

Those trying to fight the problem have said all along that somebody was going to get killed, Cottar said.

Other residents said they feel the issue has been “played-down” and they’ve been treated as though they were crying wolf.

But in many of their minds, the odds of someone dying as a result of the “racing” were so high that Shaw’s death, while tragic, really came as no surprise. This tragedy is what residents have feared since they first started losing sleep from sounds of screeching tires nearly a year ago.

“Maybe now they’ll believe us,” Deanda said.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Being dubbed my Dauber name

Last week I told you a little about Ken "the Dauber" Pridgeon and how he exited the Air Force and began painting billboards to make ends meet. This week, I once again sat down with Ken at his studio – KTD Signs on Morrell Street and we dug a little deeper into his passion, which is, of course – painting and painting he does well. He had just put the finishing touches (dauber-style) on his story of struggle and armed conflict, covering the wounding of Sgt. Nick Marshall in the war torn hell of Iraq and we discussed the future of art in Baytown.

This finishes up a two-part story on Ken, but hopefully the best part of his story is yet to be told.

"Many good artists lost their lives on those billboards and this story is just one of many and probably won't help anyone remember the loss. Anyway, I was fortunate to end up with my own sign business and in fact, quite a few businesses altogether. You see I am a good designer, but not a good businessman. (Ken laughs) Somehow I've stayed in business over thirty years, starting with lettering on barges for Hollywood Marine.

Here I was, more artist, than athlete, in another hazardous job! Each day, I would ride a tug out into the Gulf. They would hang me over the side and I would commence to letter those barges, waves lapping up around me. It was good money and I kind of felt like my own boss, but one day I lettered a barge and the thing blew up the next day, letting me know that this was as dangerous as billboard painting. That helped me make up my mind to try something else.

So here I go lettering helicopter pads on offshore oil platforms for my next adventure. The crew loved the fact that I could custom letter logos and all kinds of things. One day I was painting a landing pad with a heavy brush – daubing, as the material was thick and had sand in it to keep the helicopters from sliding off into the Gulf. Mr. Powell of Powell Industries watched me working and asked why I painted like that and I explained the only way to make the paint stick was to daub it on. He laughed and told me from this day forward, he was christening me "Ken the Dauber" and well, the name stuck.

Forty years have passed and I made some good and some bad business decisions, but I've continued to learn and paint and these days I'm solid as steel in my desire to teach budding artists and continue my own education. I just want to be a fine arts painter and have folks stop and stare at my art and the stories each one tells. I am so truly blessed to get up each day and paint. Someone mentioned that I may get rich from my paintings and I just looked them in the eye and said - I already am. Each day I can paint makes my life richer.

Enter the Baytown Art League and Baytown's rich history. City Council has purchased a wonderful building at 110 Texas Avenue for us to have an Art Gallery and School and now it is up to us to justify their faith in us as artists, photographers and anyone who loves art.

I am just a paint dauber, but as I've said, it's my dream to grow into a fine arts painter. One time I heard that there are over a thousand styles of painting and I think I know about 300 of them and I want to learn more. I want to share knowledge and we seasoned artists want to paint our knowledge onto the canvas' of young artists minds. That is what the Art League is all about – sharing. Artists, painters and photographers sharing technique, ideas, experience and the simply joy of our individual artistic endeavors.

With our new building at 110 Texas Avenue we have room to grow. All we need are budding artists. Membership is very reasonably priced and yes, we will gladly accept any and all help we can get to make our new building represent the future generations of artists. We need folks to join and we need a little help from those who are supportive. In fact, a membership would make a wonderful gift for someone you love.

I'm just a dauber, but I want to thank our city council for making this dream come true. I was at one of the town meetings and I'm sure it wasn't easy bringing everyone into agreement on this project, but I know why they did it – to preserve our history through developing the artistic abilities of our budding artists, young and old(er). Our developing artists will record tomorrow's memories, but first we must make a platform for them to grow.

It's my personal dream to paint a large multi-pane mural of the history of Baytown and I am asking to copy any and all old photos that showed the Tri-City area of Pelly, Goose Creek, New Town, Wooster, Baytown and Cedar Bayou, to name a few. I can be reached by phone at 832-514-1452. Come on by for a visit".

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Life As A Billboard Artist

I met Ken "the Dauber" Pridgeon this year at the Baytown Fine Rides car show on Texas Avenue. He was seated comfortably on a folding chair, artist's pad on his lap, doing what he does – sketching in preparation to paint. He's a friendly, approachable artist, humble man, avid teacher and a local treasure, to be sure.

Recently Ken and I met at Starbucks on Garth road to discuss his painting depicting Iraqi Freedom Purple Heart Recipient, Sgt. Nick Marshall and "Dauber" in his usual entertaining and charming way began to expand on this particular painting's" story. Ken is a passionate veteran artist and his visions come to life in his paintings. This is his two-part story in his own words and his emotion-laden telling brought tears to our eyes.

"Well, I started out as simply Ken Pridgeon, USAF 10 years - electronics technician and artist to the boys. You see we didn't have color photographs in 1953 so I would make Sepia tone wedding pictures into color photos for the guys wives and families when I was in Germany. I was 17 years old and it seems like yesterday that I spent my 21st birthday in Paris, France - bleep! (Editors note: He laughed at this point)

I got out of the Air Force in 1963 and did not know how to talk civilian. I must skip some things and go straight to what I had dreamed of doing, from when I did my first sketch – become a billboard artist (be careful what you wish for!). My first day painting, (wow, what a day!) they put me on a ball hanging from a crane, with a 25-pound hook on each shoulder and hoisted me up 75 feet to the top of a billboard over on I-45. Let me explain, normally, instead of hooking onto the painter, they put the hooks 20 feet apart on each side of the boardwalk and hung what was known as "Falls" onto them, so we could pull the "Stage" which was another word for the walk-board that painters pulled up to stand on, while they laid out the sign.

We painted automobiles, cigarettes packs, whiskey bottles, Marlboro cowboys and waterfalls for Kool cigarettes. We also did all the Old Grandad whiskey ads. Every year we painted the new automobile billboards and nobody even knew we were there or cared and we painters got zero recognition for laying our lives on the line every day. We were invisible in our trade and the hazards were many. We painted one billboard each day for about $7 an hour. It was dangerous work and we lost many good artists in the time I was painting billboards due to fatal and crippling falling accidents and it was quietly talked about in hush tones by us painters and then hidden away in the backs of our minds.

If people are interested in why I paint so rough I guess it is because we painted up 65-feet above the ground using rags for brushes. Grabbing a rag from the box we'd just daub onto the red, black and yellow paint for the wood grain backgrounds. We would mix up a good background color on the rag and go horizontally across the board wiggling as we went for the wood grain, then daub into the black and red for the knotholes. You get the idea.

For the Kool cigarette waterfall we would do almost the same thing except use the blue, white, and tallow to make the pretty water bubbles and pat-pat-pat for the foam at the bottom. By the way, we were good artists! When it was raining, we would paint the signs inside with brushes because "the bid boys" (sponsors) were watching. We painted some fine portraits of the Mist Scotch girls and the KIKK disk jockeys and people running for mayor and other political offices.

Well, I did this for a few years and even bought a family plot at the cemetery so my folks would have a place to put me. There were so many ways for a person to lose their life doing this kind of work and I didn't want to be a financial burden if I fell. The biggest problem with working up high like that is even if a bomb goes off under you, you have to stay focused on what you are doing or you will over react and if you do - you are a goner. Speaking of distractions, the day I finally quit painting billboards, I was working my way around a monster-sized billboard staying real close to it, as it is a very narrow walk board up there. I startled a pigeon nesting under the board. He flew up through my jacket and out under my chin with lots of flapping, flopping, and scratching. I looked down 65 foot to the railroad tracks below and of course it could have been a feather bed and I would not have survived the fall. To make a long story shorter, I climbed down thanking the Lord for every step and went home never to return to the dangers of being a billboard artist".

Note: Next week Ken will tell us about his "Dauber" nickname, his dreams about teaching young artists and the future of the Baytown Art League's new building on Texas Avenue.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Motorcycles or Mobile Organ Donors?

I was driving home from work this past Saturday, July 5th, enjoying the slower freeway speeds that the weekend's pokier pace allows and saw a sight that raised the hair on my neck. I literally said "Oh, my God" for a full minute afterward.

I was heading north on SH-146, still referred to as "the Loop" by us Baytonians and was closing on West Main when out of the corner of my eye, I spied a Café Racer-type motorcycle heading south on the far lane opposite the north side. These bikes are made for speed and are more commonly known as "Crotch-Rockets" or "Mobile Organ Donors" and for good reason.

According to the Snell Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit, helmet-safety organization, the risk of death per vehicle mile is about 20 times higher for motorcyclists than for passenger-car occupants in a traffic accident and that is precisely why I sold my last bike, way back in 1981. My wife announced that we were going to have a baby and I did not want my family to be fatherless.

I love motorcycles as much as the next person and I still dream of the day when I buy another one, but there is going to have to be a change in a number of areas before I buy another bike. Anyway, back to my story.

The Racer was crossing the southbound side of SH-146 over West Main and was going fast enough that his bike was at an extreme angle. I remember the fellow was dressed in what appeared to be full black leathers and he had a helmet on also, in case anyone wondered. I looked out my left drivers window to get a better look at him, but he had overtaken and was passing a full-sized pick-up, so the truck blocked my view of him. This made me realize he was most likely going even faster than I previously thought.

Seconds passed and as I approached the West Main overpass, I looked in my side mirror (the traffic on my side was very light) just in time to see the racer over-correct from the curve, cross his lane and come close to the shoulder and in this particular place there is a severe twelve inch road hump on the shoulder. He clipped this road hump and the bounce sent his legs up over his head in a wildly out of control flailing motion. The bike went into a semi high-speed wobble and somehow, the Racer maintained contact with both hands to the handlebars.

What happened next and all of this took place inside a ten second timeframe, was nothing short of a miracle. The fellow, somehow, landed squarely back onto the seat and the bike continued on towards the Missouri Street overpass. I was onto the West Main overpass by this time and lost sight of the situation, but am confident the rider did not lose control, but was able to stop and assess the damage, or continue on.

I however, continued to replay the scene over and over in my head and mutter "Oh my God" for a while yet. Now, I can't speak for the Café Racer rider, but let me say that seeing one of these incidents on television or the Internet puts us in the spectator seat and we can watch and re-watch these wrecks and calamities with amusement and relative safety, but seeing it in real life is a different story.

It shook me up a bit. It made me examine my own driving habits and yes, my mortality. If that guy would have hit that road hump in a small compact car, he would have suffered nothing more than a blown tire or a misaligned front end and that is about it.

By the way, I am going to approach the State to remove that hump as soon as possible. I took a good look at it the next day on my way to work and it is covered with rubber and scrape marks.

If I were that young man, I think I would realize I had just burned one of my lives and park that bike or sell it. I think he would make a trip to his church's altar and rededicate himself to the Lord or at the very least, purchase one lottery ticket on the Mega Millions – something!

Personally, I do not believe in luck, but I do believe in divine providence, so I would take this incident as a signal to recommit myself to making wiser decisions while driving and if I did keep the bike, I would surely begin riding it at a reasonable and safer speed.

Bob Leiper, Assistant City Manager took it upon himself to follow through on getting the State of Texas to remove this hazard. Today, July 29, 2008 TXDOT removed the hump and my hat is off to Bob and Garry Brumback for going down there and marking it so the State could find it.

Thank you also TXDOT for making this a priority.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Want to shed about forty pounds of ugly fat in time for Christmas, quit smoking in one hour, or run a 10K race in say - a month? Well in the near future, you'll simply make a trip to your doctor to begin the process of getting a neural implant. A neural implant - what the heck is that? Will it hurt? What if I don't have a neural?

Brain or neural implants, are technological devices or chips that connect directly to your brain - usually placed on the surface of the brain, or attached to the brain's cortex. Properly programmed this will allow us to lose weight safely and without discomfort. We're talking day surgery, so hey! It's no big deal folks and is the next rage - like steroids, except legal. All aboard!

Say you have a real everyday craving for the bane of all fun loving eaters – sweet glazed Honeybuns, but a little tweaking of the programmable chip and all desire for that sugary delight is gone. I'll ask that my chip have a back-up battery and will top out at 1500 consumed calories per day max. Why not? I've got the flabby glutes to spare and if later on after I look like a professional body builder, I might ask that they shut it off, so I can pig out again. Presto change-o!

I can hear Granny Adcox now: "By the way, Baytown Bert, I hear they are running a special on chips next month – buy three for the price of two and get free tweaks for the next 6 months – no extra charge! Fire up my Rambler"!

Folks might as well get the exercise chip while at the doc's office and the stop smoking/drinking/addiction chip will be free! Insurance will cover 80% of it and after all, it's about time we changed our lifestyle to match our new awesome bionic selves.

Programming will be completely painless and administered wirelessly and have built-in safeguards to keep us from abusing ourselves, not that you and I would. I mean, some of us would go on a 25 calorie a day diet, run 100 miles the first day and give up who knows what if it were left strictly up to us. We'll have to have adult supervision with all this technology – but it will be worth it!

So what if you enjoy that ice cold 24 ounce can of Foster's beer after a hard day laboring over a paperclip at your desk, but have trouble cutting it off after two, or four? Well, there's hope for you too my Aussie beer-swigging friend. Have them adjust your chip so the first one is enough. It's just going to be that danged easy mate.

Worried about Alzheimer's? No misremembering in your future. You don't have to have Roger Clemen's money to get the memory chip and for a small additional fee, the good doctor will upload the Encyclopedia Britannica or if you are not a purist, Wikipedia, pictures and videos free gratis. They may even throw in your old High School annual photos so you can shine at the next reunion.

Hearing not what it used to be, eh? An adjustable range cochlear implant will allow you to hear stuff old Fideaux would envy. A trip to Uruku Salon to remove all those bushy ear hairs afterward and you'll hear like a 12 year old again! Treat yourself to a new "Do" while you're there, because baby, the new you deserves it.

Don't want to shrink in stature as you age, and folks confuse you for Yoda, because of osteoporosis? Well, who does? The vitamin/mineral implant that came as a bonus to your "new eyes" day surgery carefully monitors your blood and bone content to alert your dietary neural implant to have you crave the stuff your body needs, so like the memory chip – forget it! You're covered my friend - stand tall.

The "New Eyes" lens implant with GPS capabilities and night vision ocular elements are a real blessing and since we live in bright and shiny Baytown, Texas the extra money spent for the "multiple shade adjuster" make sunglasses so last century and now you can change eye color to match your outfit. Free shoes with every purchase!

The new Tongue Drive system lets persons with disabilities operate powered wheelchairs, computers, automobiles and lead lives free of last year's problems. The system uses a rice-grain-sized magnet implanted in or attached to the tongue. Movement of the magnet is detected by an array of magnetic field sensors mounted on a headset outside the mouth or on an orthodontic brace inside the mouth. Thank you Georgia Institute of Technology.

Tired of those mood swings associated with road rage, PMS, anxiety, anger and stress? Put down the 9 iron and get the Doc to write a prescription for the Intel-based mood chip. If you think America's Funniest Home Videos is funny now, just wait!

You may have to get the bladder-control chip…

Elvis has left the room

I want to set something on the table and anyone who bothers to read anything I write, please take a good hard look. We are living in a...