Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Six I Got Are Awesome!

Like literally millions of other Baytonians, I was at Wal-Mart this past Friday morning to get the deal of the century. It is our duty and right as good citizens to spend credit cards like there never will be a reckoning and spend we did. I have to tell you, it was a madhouse at the electronics counter and I came away bruised, but successful…and grinning. I only lost two teeth.

You see, I was after the much coveted XBOX 360 Arcade Console with bonus Guitar Hero game and guitar for the droolingly low price of only $199.00. Knowing I was going to face another Black Friday shopping frenzy, I envisioned Johnny Weissmuller preparing for one of his famous Tarzan challenges; only my bride wouldn't let me attempt it in a loincloth, so I adapted. I knew I had the skills to easily beat everyone with the exception of another commando shopper. I must train.

Donning my urban camo hoodie, bright red Steve Zissou beanie, neon green Spandex XXXL cycling shorts and twenty-two dollar Payless brand sneakers, I sprayed WD-40 liberally onto my corpulent lower frame in anticipation of the rush to the counter (it paid off big time too). Friction can be a major problem when you shop in the manner I was planning.

I contrived to be first at the game counter and if it got rowdy, I planned on showing them rowdy in the true spirit of gritty Capitalism. In other words, I had on the standard knee and elbow pads and the gloves with the fingers exposed. I thought about wearing my old Karate headgear, but it would give me away (that and the smell of the WD-40 are standard ploys which alert other savvy commando shoppers). I planned on using a Ninja approach, as of yet untested here in B-Town and I NEEDED the WD-40.

Thursday afternoon my bride taped Wal-Mart's Black Friday flyer on the garage wall (after she had pulled the Sonata out so I could train) with the XBOX 360 motivational Ad in plain view. I began an exhaustive regimen consisting of multiple sets of squat-thrusts, elbow-swinging, low-tackles and clothesline arm swings. I would need all of these strategic athletic moves simply to get from the parking lot to the front door, but there is more, so read on.

The more I thought about the tricky parking lot, the more I realized I was going to need a drop-off driver and I couldn't think of anyone more unwilling to do this task than my bride of thirty-one years. So come 0hhhh-455 military time, my fellow urban commando clothed lady drove past the entrance doors and I rolled out in much the same fashion as John Goodman in "The Big Lebowski". My extra rotund bell-bottomed mass helped out considerably as I only flipped twice and coming to rest on my kneepads (a gravitational advantage to being heavy-ended), I low-crawled past the shopping carts and by many of my fellow (and less Black Friday sale-knowledgeable) shoppers.

This is when the squat-thrust exercises paid off like a bacon breakfast. Since I didn't use them to cross the parking lot, I launched into a series of squatting and leaping towards the electronics counter that was so exhausting and distracting that those shoppers who were also after an XBOX 360 simply froze in their tracks. I'm telling you I was pulling out all the stops.

Hanging from my neck was a turkey call and if an added distraction was needed, I was going to use it with vigor. Thank the heavens I didn't have to, as while hopping; I deployed my patented clothesline arm swings I had diligently practiced.

Incidentally, this combination of arm swings, squats and thrusts works best after downing three Redbull energy drinks and four MoonPies. The MoonPies keep the Redbull from eating a hole in your stomach and actually act as a sugar catalyst to increase the distance each thrust takes you in the store. I figure I was moving about thirty miles per hour.

With one final noisy effort, sweat flying, I bounced into the Electronics counter and my G-force landing blew out the heel on right Payless sneaker. The only thing that kept me from injuring myself was I ninja-rolled and crashed squarely onto the well-padded midriff of another urban commando Black Friday shopper and knocked her square out, thus allowing me to rapidly recover and plop six, yes six XBOX 360's on the counter.

With a quick glance at the Pepto-Bismol pink sweat suit-clad and semi-conscious form of my fellow commando shopper (I noticed she had deployed the less than successful rolling offense ploy and had actually knocked her own self out on the corner display. She should have remembered the WD-40), grabbing a cart, I rolled my way past the less gifted shoppers, heading for the entrance.

Now the good folks at Wal-Mart know a possibly hostile situation when they see one (but reward shopping skill when they see it) and before I had reached the front doors, I had the entire Deli-Section lined up in front of me performing the classic football "Flying Wedge" and we blasted through the front doors knocking over everything with the exception of a pregnant woman eating a donut. Dang the torpedoes –we are shopping!

Tossing my major haul into the Sonata, we sped away like Bonnie and Clyde – except legal. I've never felt such a spirit of victory in all my shopping days. Note: When I saw all the people and the full parking lot, I bought an XBOX 360 online.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Husk of Grain

Simply put, the oft used word crap is defined as a husk of grain, chaff; something of poor quality; something that is rubbish; nonsense and in that context, I want to use the word to describe a post-election phenomenon that I find alarming, deeply disturbing and confess I did not expect from my cohorts and acquaintances. Call me a fool and blind.

Under the auspices of being strong Republicans, numerous friends and acquaintances have fallen into the crap cesspool, the vulgar version I don't want to use. On almost a daily basis my Inbox is receiving anti-Barack Obama letters from friends who think racist humor is, well, funny, or at the very least it is being passed off as pro-Republican thought. I hope it's not and it's not good for our country and it's not something I find amusing or agree with.

I've openly stated I wanted John McCain to gain the presidency and even Ron Paul before I voted Democratic, but if Barack Obama would have been the candidate proposing a conservative agenda, as most Republicans did, I would have punched the button with his name on it. To me it's all about the politics of the Party's involved.

I am first an American, second a patriot, third a conservative, fourth a Capitalist and these blatant racial email messages posing as humor disturb and sadden me. The messages justify everything angry black people claim about redneck white America. I want to apologize to my friends whom I might have led to believe I am a racist. I want the best possible person in the White House, who will represent this country and its interests regardless of their color or racial heritage. In plain English, I do not care one bit that our next president is black, brown, red, yellow, white or gasp – female! I care about their politics though.

I want America to be strong. I want us to prosper. I want us to be proud. I want a president who loves this country and loves what America stands for – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which ultimately means they put us first and protect our interests and us.

One particularly disturbing email I received showed "the new Presidential limo" with 22-inch spinner wheels. A video Snoop Dog made about hip-hop airlines has become the new Air Force One. George Bush is depicted in pimped-out purple in anticipation of the inauguration. I respect the sender of these emails, but don't share their sense of humor. I find it counter-productive to the future of America and makes we wonder why they really voted against Barack Obama.

Dennis Miller said it best the other day when he said that four years from now he hopes he "is salivating" to push the button to reelect Barack Obama and I share his sentiments. I am praying for the man to succeed, not plotting his destruction. How in the world can all this division be good for us as Americans? I don't want our country to go down in history as the civilization that should have succeeded, but self-destructed.

One writer shared the joke that Sarah Palin could grace the cover of Playboy magazine, but Michelle Obama would be lucky to land on the cover of National Geographic. That joke belongs in a manure/crap spreader, but it would probably foul whatever crop it landed on. Just partisan politics? Nope, blatant racism.

There's a bigger picture here folks, de facto the future of our Country. Barack Obama is as far from the hip-hop persona as I am, which is absolute and it's a gross misrepresentation to depict him as such. His pick as Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel is proof that he is doing some deep thinking. Time will tell if his choice of a Jewish Chief of Staff will dispel the myth that he is pro-radical Islamist or no, but to me it is proof positive. And only time will tell if he is the Anti-Christ, as some assert, or a terrible president, but don't you think we ought to at least wait and see what he actually does before we try to slander his presidency?

I received an email from a longtime and trusted friend with an admonition to sign a petition to oust Barack Obama on ethical and religious grounds. My friend sited a number of sources that were behind this and I simply shook my head and deleted the message. Once again I have to side with Dennis Miller when he stated that under no circumstances was he going to do to Barack Obama, what so many anti-Bush people did to George W. Bush and that was rabidly obstruct everything he did. It was pitiful politics and frankly, has deeply hurt our country.

Defaming and lampooning our president, although funny at times, when done in a malicious manner is destructive and ruins respect for our leaders in the eyes of the world and the less issue-educated, including and especially children.

Here's a compromise. Send me email messages lampooning or criticizing the next administrations politics and we can both agree… maybe and then do the right thing and take time to separate what is right for this country and if this new president is doing it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tree-Riding and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

I'm a fifty-six year old soon to be geezer (or dirty old man if I can swing it) and I do not wish to return to my youth, although I rode it hard and put it up wet every chance I got. I still have my moments though, albeit in fantasy only.

My beautiful and entertaining mother used to occupy the five of us kids around Halloween by smiling with a pair of the then popular sweet-liquid filled paraffin teeth, reshaped to look like buck-teeth and she would drive us to town proudly grinning at passer-bys and we would howl like the Comanches we saw on TV.

I have a pair of Bubba teeth that I bought in Houston a number of years ago when they first became available. These are the real deal made by the ex-Dentist Jason Frankel and used in Hollywood movies and they are fantastically awful looking – and real cool and fit perfectly, as they came with a dental gel that allowed me to fit them to my personal teeth print. I need to find me a realistic looking mullet wig and start wearing this combination when I drive home from work, so I can get my childhood mojo working again. I have a history to live up to, you know. Maybe someone will wave at me thinking I'm Jim Finley.

Being the oldest boy with 3 stair-step younger brothers, I led a ready made team of fun-seekers and living all over the country, we found ways to amuse ourselves in the absence of long time friends, plus we garnered new methods from wherever we happened to live.

One favorite activity was tree climbing and on occasion, tree-riding. Tree-riding was the act of climbing a limber sapling of say, twenty-feet and when the top was reached, holding on as it toppled over. The trick was to remain attached and dropping off as it's top came close to the ground and then letting go as the tree whipped back up. Sometimes it worked well and other times, not so well, bruises and all. I think our tree-riding skills were perfected in the piney woods of North Georgia.

We had a chicken coup in Dundee Michigan in the early 1960's that was nothing more than a two-story barn with an open hay door on the second floor. A sycamore tree had been allowed to grow up beside the front of the building and in the evenings, the guinea fowl would roost in it. A long leap from the window to the closest strong branch could be attained and the prospect of missing made it all the more tempting a pastime.

I remember owning two bicycles before I bought my first used ten-speed at the age of seventeen, using my work money. I can't really recollect the first, but the second one I got for Christmas while living in Morgan, Utah and if I remember correctly, I was in about the third grade. It was used of course, but had new paint and I loved that shiny bike. I rode it through my Junior High years in Toledo, Ohio and really became a polished bike mechanic about this time.

My beloved two-wheel mode of transportation was of standard configuration and the super cool "stingray" bikes had hit the market, with their banana seats and high handlebars. Well, I just had to have some those handlebars and I figured if I sold back enough "pop" bottles (I lived in Ohio, not Texas remember), I could eventually swing the $2.80 the new bars cost.

This was a tremendous amount of money back then with a fat candy bar costing five cents and since the banana seat was over twelve dollars and out of reach, the cost of the bars were a noble challenge. So, the day came, cool high bars installed with much grunting and sweat and I began my career of doing my own maintenance, which I have retained in adulthood, albeit now, I actually follow through and make sure it is done properly.

I painted and repainted my bike so many times, which basically amounted to spraying over dirt and all and at this time it was flat black. The fenders were gone and I had raised the seat post to its limit. The chain guard and Bendix-brand brakes were completely gone and I had disconnected them, using my PF Flyer brakes when needed instead. Now, on the front axles, the threads were boogered up a bit from my sloppy attempts to reattach the wheel after patching the front tube many times and I had become lax in actually tightening the front nuts. I was always in a hurry - a hurry to play outside somewhere.

Never mind, I was in a rush to play sandlot baseball with my chums and off I went in a clanging high-speed wobble. Now, I was about thirteen and the first vestiges of testosterone were beginning to course through my adolescent loins and as I came upon the street corner, low and behold, two budding felines, books under their arms were right there in my crosshairs, so doing the only thing I knew I could do to impress them, I attempted my first and last "wheelie".

To my shock and yes, awe, the front tire catapulted off into the ionosphere and as gravity is wont to do, it pulled my forks earthward at something akin to "six-hun-ert miles an hour", flipping me over the bars and onto my back. The last thing I recollect as my boyishly lean hips went skyward was the tire rolling down the street and the humiliating sound of raucous girl laughter.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Picking up the Pieces

I was perplexed to say the least, a bit angry and frankly disappointed last Wednesday morning when I arose for work at 2:45AM, checked my G-News web site and learned John McCain was not elected to the highest office this country offers.

I guess, as Stan Smith, a friend of mine explained when we brought up the election at work Wednesday morning "folks were just ready for change" and they felt John's politic was coarse and unsophisticated in comparison to Barack's velvet smooth delivery. For sure. I would hit my knees at the altar or buy an expensive car I didn't need at Barack's admonition, if I was the kind of person who is swayed by a smooth sales pitch, but I'm not.

I remember the first time I heard Barack Obama and it was on the Internet web site www.youtube.com. I thought to myself and expressed on our family mailing list that this was a dynamic and charismatic politician and I thought he would make an excellent VP for most likely Hillary Clinton. In comparison to George W. Bush's ability to convey thought, Barack Obama is Elmer Gantry and George Bush is Ernest P. Worrell. In all fairness to GWB, being a great speaker is a major plus in the appearance of having the answers, but does not necessarily mean you do and that is a major consideration in my book. Time will tell if Barack Obama does indeed have the correct answers and I sincerely hope he does. Our Country's future depends on it.

My main complaint with the Democratic platform is not their desire for an American Utopia, as it is all the liberal baggage they embrace. From assorted gun control, cancerous growth government, higher taxation to pay for socialistic programs and a view that regardless of motivation everyone should get a chunk of the cake. I have cake I paid for with long hours on the job, working many holidays, years of overtime and thousands of night shifts and if it is going to be shared with the less motivated, then I want to be the one who decides the sharing, not the government telling me to "hand it over buddy".

If the government wants to really make a difference in this country, they will start programs that train people "to fish" rather than bleeding free-swimming fish. Then, these freshly trained fishermen (and women) can do like the rest of us and swim for their own meals.

I am the first to admit I did okay economically under Bill Clinton, as I work in the Petrochemical industry (no thanks to the government for getting me into this line of work), but when Bill finished his eight years of placating everyone from Tikrit to Shinola, our country was left militarily defenseless and that is one area as a voter, I do not want to see compromised. The moment we cannot back up our policies with muscle, we will cease to be a world leader – take Russia's fall from glory under Ronald Reagan for a prime example. The very second the new president starts whacking the military budget, he is going to turn into a dirty Commie rat to me.

I want to see the government under Barack Obama succeed and like Clinton's administration, I will attempt to support it. It's imperative that America maintains it's superpower status regardless of political differences and I certainly want to be cognizant of good politics, even if the person I voted for didn't win the election. If the rest of the world, whom I support with my tax dollars doesn't like it, then tough noogies and that is another disturbing thing about the election of this man as president; the world is cheering and many hate America or compete against us. Do the math folks.

Barack Obama's first selection as Chief of Staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, initially surprised me and since he is an Orthodox Jew, I thought this was a good choice, as it would dispel the rumor he was in the pocket of radical Islam. Then I read the man has a vicious temper and his favorite method of expression is replete with the F-word.

Once again speaking frankly, I could not work for a leader with this explosive personality conjoined with socially offensive language no matter how well intentioned or qualified and this does not bode well for a Chief of Staff choice for me. Richard Nixon shocked the nation with his vulgar speech and I hope times haven't changed so much that this language is acceptable by our leaders and citizens.

I also recognize the historical significance of a black person attaining the highest office this country affords, but wasn't color touted as a non-issue? It sure doesn't sound like it now. I have a nagging feeling that most pro-Democratic voting lower income Americans are going to awaken to the fact that Barack Obama is going to be big business as usual and their personal plight, whatever that may be, is going to continue on until they take personal responsibility for their future – the same as me and I am a Capitalistic American who happens to be a semi-conservative Republican.

Other than in times of emergency, I do not want to see or even think about the US government interfering in my life and sure as heckfire do not want more taxes, so President–Elect Obama, put your money where your mouth is and for the sake of America's future, may God guide you.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Rosetta Stone for BB's Obama Presidency Predictions

1. People with jobs want to keep the money they make. The Democratic platform is wealth redistribution and this appeals to those who are on welfare.

2. The tongue-in-cheek reference to people committing suicide is in reference to one woman who voted for Obama because under his administration she "wouldn't have to pay rent or her grocery bill" once he is elected. This woman actually voted and shows how crazy some of his followers have became.

3. The Democrats always cut military budgets to balance the federal deficit. That and raise taxes. Under Bill Clinton, we lost our military superpower status.

4. It beats anything I can figure out why rich Hollywood and New York millionaires scream in delight to elect someone who is going to take from their wallet and give it to whom they please. This is the Democratic Party's stance.

5. The Black Panther “civilian Security Force” stood guard over a polling place in the city of brotherly love this election and my reference is they will be severely irked when they find out that Barack Obama is just another self-serving Washington politician and not the end all to black problems in this country. Think about it – how much oil company stock do you think the man owns? Plenty.

6. Self-explanatory

7. My reference to Barack selling stuff could have just as easily been he becomes the number one Tele-Evangelist in the country, as he is one smooth salesman, whether it is toothbrushes or Chevy's.

8. Self-explanatory

9. Self-explanatory, but promises are promises and when you promise "change" almost anything will work, right?

10. "And for Blacks in their late teens to early 20s, the biggest danger is homicide-often at the hands of another African-American". Ebony, March, 1998 by Kelly Starling

The bottom line is this. I did not vote for the man any more than I voted for Bill Clinton, but I WILL support him as my President. I just hope and pray that he does the right thing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Presidency Predictions

1. Even though they stayed up all night partying at the Obama celebration and will be too tired to get up and go to work today, they will still get a paycheck with the full amount, as welfare isn't dependent on actually working!

2. 53% of the US Population commits suicide! I'm thinking I will read this headline in about a year, when a large number of voters realize they will have to give up their newly purchased Lincoln Navigators and Cadillac Escalades and lose their freshly purchased houses because the new "change for prosperity for all" government wont make their monthly notes.

3. Within one year total US troop strength in the Middle East is heavily reduced, military budget is severely slashed and we return to Bill Clinton's idea of a Superpower without defense. The void left by our absence will be filled by Chinese advisers in Iraq. Europe's economy tanks due to no R&R's taken by US troops and the unemployment rates skyrocket as soldier's are let out from troop reductions.

4. Oprah Winfrey calls for a recount when she finds out that SHE is one of the rich that Obama is going to tax like the rest of us.

5. The Obama governments first 10% general tax hike is to fund expanding the Secret Service in response to the Black Panther hit squads, when they learn that he is actually as rich and pro-oil as all "those white crackers".

6. Detroit auto-making woes continue. Michiganders outraged 2 years after Obama's election when it dawns on them that the reason their economy sucks had nothing to do with George W. Bush, but large SUV and pick-up trucks with stinky mileage.

7. The new President opens up 1400 franchises selling everything from automobiles to snake oil cough syrup and surpasses Bill Gates as the world's richest man.

8. Hollywood and New York City continue to rejoice over Obama's election, as neither city cares about anything but themselves.

9. Barack Obama spends the first year in the White House in seclusion as he tries to figure out "what do I do now?".

10. White Aryans do nothing to rid the country of a black President, as they know the number one killer of blacks in this country is other blacks.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Egads, I've Been Hoodwinked!

I guess I'm not very observant…and I've always prided myself on the fact that I am. I was hoodwinked in broad daylight and walked out of the store, over-charged and didn't realize it until the next day. I was at the Payless Shoe Store on Garth Road and seeing that my favorite pair of down-at-the-heel tennies are beginning to look like something Forrest Gump wore in the opening scene of said movie, I decided to get another pair of twenty-two dollar Payless sneakers.

Now in my defense, I had just left the San Jacinto Hospital after a serious scare by someone dear to me and was just a tad distracted, to put it mildly. In fact, this is why I stopped to peruse the shoe options. I needed a distraction and this was the perfect excuse and opportunity. Instead of going for the ever popular old dude with the Michael Jordon look, I opted to purchase a pair of soft leather lace-up hiking/work boots, as I have been thinking my off-the-path trekking might benefit from something sturdier than my twenty-two dollar synthetic sneakers afforded.

Arriving at the casa, grin on my face and boots in tow, I began to puzzle over my receipt and noticed I was charge five whole bucks more than the boots actually cost (and still plan to tender the receipt back at the store for recompense). This in itself is no great amount, as stuff like this occasionally happens at almost any store, or so I thought at the time.

Two days later I made an after work stop at the local Wal-Mart with every intention of purchasing the EAS Carb-control protein drinks I consume each morning and a dozen containers of the microwavable soups that Campbell's offer. They are about a buck-fifty each at Wal-Mart and almost a dollar more everywhere else, so when I frequent Wal-Mart, I usually buy a bagful. The Chicken Corn Chowder and the Mexican Tortilla flavors are my favorites, cause they're delish.

Well, wouldn't you know there were no available grocery carts in reserve, even though there were a great number of carts lined up in various places in the parking lot (with no evidence they were in the process of being returned to the staging area). I spoke to the unthreatening greeter person at the door and asked about the carts and they did an Academy Award winning imitation of Ben Stein and said "No carts". Ugh!

So, I find myself in a long line of folks at one of the five open registers (it's 4:30pm) holding four four-packs of the EAS protein drinks and successfully resisted the feral urge to go through one of the six open self-service registers. It's finally my turn and I swipe my debit card (who decided this word swipe didn't mean steal?) and read the question "Is your cashier friendly? Yes or No", on the little debit card machine window.

I look at the person checking my groceries and decide, "Hey, it is Halloween after all" and punching the Yes key, sigh. Using my elbows like Charles Barkley going after a rebound, I make my way back out to my hoopty and deduce I will have to make yet another stop at a convenience store to complete my must-have list, so I motor down and into the Super Stop Shell station at the corner of North Main Street and West Cedar Bayou Lynchburg Road.

In my normal no nonsense manner, I grab my items and wait for a fellow with grunting English make what I can only imagine was an extremely insightful and most likely prosperous pick of six different lottery quick-pick tickets. I am then told the total for my purchase is about seventy-five cents more than I know it should be. You see it's still fresh on my mind that I was over charged at Payless and this time I'm paying attention and have no intention of paying more than I should.

The fellow behind the counter corrected the amount I stated without so much as a question and then stared at me. I gave him a pretty dead-on mirror image right back and he finally offered "Well, would you like a bag for that?" and I said, "Uh, I guess I would". He bagged up my purchase and said, "Have a nice day".

As I motored off in my hoopty, it dawned on me that I should either go back and buy the winning Texas Mega lottery ticket - as the stars must be aligned just right for me to experience two separate over-charging rare occurrences in two days, or this is happening quite often to unsuspecting and unobservant shoppers. I think I'll skip the lotto ticket purchase and put my money on the later.

Doing a brief research on the Internet reveals the sad truth that this practice is very common to the tune of as much as ten per cent at some large chains. Now I admit, both incidents I experienced here in Baytown this week may have been innocent enough, but you can bet your sweet bippy, I'll be watching from now on when I make a purchase and I suggest you do the same.

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 ...