Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getaway Car GeoCache Adventure in Baytown Texas

Great time stomping around in the woods today! Not a whole lot of exercise, but I mowed the lawn (pushed it) and that got the desired results.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BB's Baytown Geocaching Adventure

This is a little video I put together while geocaching yesterday. Using my Garmin GPS, I found five and all of them required leaving my vehicle and hiking, climbing and spending a lot of time outdoors, which in perfect harmony with Indy Trekking!

Along the way I picked up an old friend ChessKingDav. He was trekking off of Evergreen Road, in Baytown and on a 10-mile hike.

I asked if he would like to Geocache with me and he agreed. An hour and a half later (5 caches), I deposited him where I met him and he resumed his hike.

It was a great day of hiking and fun and it didn't cost a dime other than a little gasoline.

*The music in the background is the Cornell Hurd Band out of Austin, Texas.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Colorful Speech is as American as Moon Pies!

I was a sitting in the breakroom at work the other day when I felt a powerful thirst for a good old Nehi belly washer. I jumped to my feet and arms akimbo I unabashedly uttered my thirst-quenching craving.

To my startled realization, I became acutely aware that I was declaring my need for this sweet and deeply Southern libation to an uncharacteristically dumb and ignorant gathering of confused listeners.

Well, let me just say I immediately plopped down in the nearest chair, threw my feet-clad brogans up on the table, and began an oration that would of made Stephen A. Douglas himself proud.

A Nehi belly Washer is a soda pop of some sorts. Read: "A Coke" is not necessarily a Coca Cola. "Y’all want a coke?" "Yes!" "What kind?" Nehi is actually a name brand, but as the question about wanting a Coke isn’t actually brand specific, neither is the word Nehi.

"Boy howdy, tweren’t yesterdee a honest to gawl-dang frog strangler?" "Dang tootin’ it twer! It wast a fer sure goose drownder!" "It rent so hard it filt up the holler!"

This colorful speech easily translates thusly: "It rained very hard yesterday" "Yes it did and it flooded the back of my property". But what fun is that?

Television programming and our standardized government sponsored education system are doing their dangdest to homogenize and mold everyone to speak the same and I say it’s a dad-burned shame. It’s got me plum tored-up on the insides. If I wanted to speak like everyone else, I’d git somebody to carry me smack-dab over yonder where they all talk like that.

"They don’t know diddlee-squat bout what I am or what I want to be and that’s got my nose out of joint. They need to keep their little put-togethers to themselves and kindly leave us shut."

Not too long ago, on our family mailing list I commented that I wouldn’t be posting for the rest of the day because I had "some rat-killing" to do and this caused my first cousin in Toledo, Ohio to question why I had so many rats.

Speaking of rats, I’ve been so busy here in Baytown lately, I’ve felt like a one-eyed cat watching nine rat holes.

By the way, here it is a day into spring and I stepped out of the house to go to work and a Norther was in progress. I’m plumb tard of this airish weather, how bout you?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ted Kaczynski is Sounding More Rational Every Day!

Below are but a few of the tech articles in the news this week. I am up to my armpits in technology, but like the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, I think all of these technological advances can and will be used to strip citizens of their inherent freedoms and privacy, as envisioned in the futuristic doomsday novels Fahrenheit 451and 1984. Stuff like this makes me more neo-Luddite than optimistic.  You can research these articles using the bolded text (on the Internet, of course!)Read on.

Nano-based RFID tags could replace bar codes

Rice University and Sunchon National University researchers have developed an inexpensive, printable transmitter that can be invisibly embedded in plastic or paper packaging, cutting costs of RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags dramatically and replacing bar codes.

Darpa Wants Self-Guiding, Storytelling Cameras Wired Danger Room

DARPA is starting a new program called "The Mind's Eye" to create an AI-based (artificial Intelligence) camera that can report back on war-zone activity with the same detail a trained human operative could offer. (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Google TV Coming to Make Your TV a Larger Computer

Google, Intel. and Sony are working on Google TV, a platform and service that will funnel search, video, Twitter and other Web applications through set-top boxes and onto televisions. FCC plan would greatly expand broadband Internet connections The Federal Communications Commission announced on Monday its long-awaited plan to bring broadband Internet connections to every home and business in the United States.

Broadband Trojan Horse?

The Federal Communications Commission is set to unveil a "national broadband plan" Tuesday that is opposed by industry and without any of the five commissioners voting on it. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is moving to increase the reach of his agency and expand government control of the Web, with "open access" regulations. And he recommends forcing major broadband providers like Time Warner Cable and Qwest to share their high-speed networks with smaller competitors at federally set rates.
- Concerning the RFID tags, I see these as tracking devices for humans and well, everything else.
- Concerning DARPA and AI, I see a roving police force that virtually watches every little thing real time. Any infraction of any kind could result in a fine appearing in your email box, much the same way a red-light camera catches a red-light runner.
- Concerning Google, the FCC, and the expanding government control of the Internet, I ask this one question: Why would the government want everyone to have high-speed Internet access to the point they would have it provided by tax-payers dollars?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Baytown Bert's Delicious 3 Onion/Meat Pinto Beans

 I’m making a great big pot of beans for a family gathering in Dayton, Texas  tomorrow and I’m listing the ingredients, but not necessarily the exact quantities, for the most part (I don’t roll like that and can’t follow the rules). Adjust the quantities of each to suit your tastes. No one said it was going to be easy, but you will figure it out.

Anyway, my Sis asked me to bring em and I must say they taste vicious delicious.  I'll probably make a steaming pot of rice too.

3 lbs Mexican brand pinto beans

2.5 lbs Ground chuck

1 lb Chappell Hill ™ Texas green onion link sausage

1.5 lbs bacon

4 cans Hatch’s™ Diced Tomatoes

2 cans Hunt's™ Garlic roasted diced tomatoes

Louisiana™ Cajun seasoning

Yellow onion

Purple onion

Green scallion onion

3 beef bouillon cubes

1 container Pico de gallo pre-mixed (fresh)

1 container 3 chilies mixed (fresh)

4 cans chicken broth

2 large scoops sliced pickled jalapeno

2 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rob Glaser Defines the Superphone and Predicts the Mobile Future

The future of media will be information consumed on superphones while on the go, said Rob Glaser, chairman of RealNetworks, today in his first public speech since stepping down from his CEO position. In the speech, given in Seattle at a Mobile Broadband Breakfast event, he forecast that by 2013 the installed base of smart and superphones (see chart for Glaser’s definition of each) will exceed the installed base of PCs, and those web-surfing devices will be mobile. In this world he sees five big opportunities:

1. People want digital persistence: They have an expectation that their content will be available everywhere at any point in time.
2. People want universal access to content across all devices.
3. The industry needs to make discovery easy, which means once people have access to digital content, they need to be able to find their stuff and new stuff they will like using semantic data.
4. There will be new ways to empower social expression and engagement, much in the same way Twitter created a new category of expression and a way to communicate.
5.The digital revolution will be a global phenomenon.
Baytown Bert's take on the above story:  Just in case this morphing from Desktop PC's to Laptops to Smart Phones has never entered your mind, let me help with your education. The desktop PC is rapidly going the way of the 8-Track tape.

Evidence of this technology shift is most apparent in the under 30-year-old and younger users. Many of them do not have a home computer or even a wrist watch, as they access the time of day, music, videos, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, and the Internet using their phone only.

The handheld unit is the future and the future is now. What? You are still struggling with your Desktop PC and I'm telling you it is a thing of the past? Yes and I am sorry, as I too prefer it to looking at a 2 inch screen with ear-buds crammed in my ear holes.

What Rob Glaser is saying in the top 2 sections of this Blog is simply that the future is in the handheld models and he is advising everyone in the audience to get on board.

The future handheld units will be capable of projecting a screen, keyboard and even a mouse type device, which will emulate the real thing, so why should you own the real thing and that is their logic.

In case you missed it, he says this will be in three short years.

The next logical step for universal access is an implanted neural chip. I'm game.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not the World John Lennon Imagined

Imagine you are driving across Houston, Texas - or any other congested city. You decide to catch a quick catnap before you begin your day. You lay your seat back in the plush interior module of your SUV shell; turn on the massage option to prepare you for the day and drift off.

All this will be made possible by technology. Your "car" is now a PTM or Personal Transportation Module and is incapable of crashing, violating traffic laws, or even getting lost. Everything is programmed to promote safety, the most efficient route (unless you prefer the scenic route, of course), and respect all laws, local, state, and federal.

Ten minutes before arrival at your destination, your PTM pulls through the express lane at Starbucks to collect your regular Danish and cup of mocha latte Joe, which has been preordered and debited from your bank account and whisks you back onto the city streets on time, or 5, 10, or even 15 minutes early as you directed.

Sounds like Utopia, doesn’t it? What could possibly go wrong? Plenty. Evidently.

Case in point happened on March 9, 2010 in California where a 61-year-old man took a wild ride in a computer-controlled modern automobile. The car decided it was time to accelerate upwards of ninety miles per hour. He could not over-ride the computer and shut off the ignition, or even shift the transmission into neutral. The car in question is pretty much like the cars we all drive. They have a steering wheel, a shifter, a brake, and accelerating pedal and they have a computer.

The computer makes a lot of choices for us we don’t even recognize. It controls how much gas we consume, when the car shifts, which tire gets horsepower to propel us and even controls the temperature inside the cab. How much the computer controls the vehicle is based on how much the vehicle initially costs. The more the automobile or truck costs, the more technology is inherent in the computer controls.

We are rapidly approaching a merger in the automobile and insurance industries and all of this will be accomplished whether we like it or not by government controls, under the auspices of the well being of its citizens. The "public good" we hear so much about is nothing more than rules and regulations, which removes our right to choose. On top of this, our government has decided it is in both the automobile and insurance business.

Smart cars are in our future and we are not as far from it as we may wish to believe. In a government-controlled car, you will have no freedom of choice or privacy. Your GPS coordinates (for safety’s sake - for god’s sake) will pinpoint you at all times. You will be required to purchase a universal module and the only upgrades your neighbors will see is the outer interchangeable shell.

John Lennon, where are you when we need you?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Texas Camping and Hungry Varmints

If you camp over-night in a state park, be it Texas or any other park, you will have varmints visit your site while you sleep. It’s what is called, “a given”. In other words you will have animals in your camp looking for nibble goodies; little scraps of food, or more - unguarded loads of food.
The number one camp bandit is the raccoon and in state parks, the raccoons have ninjas-on-steroids skills. They have seen and will open almost any kind of container, cooler, box, or chest. They’ve seen it all and unless you place a heavy rock on top of your cooler, there is a good chance you will awaken during the night to the sound of “coons” rummaging through your stuff.

Raccoons make a very peculiar sound, especially when they are excited after finding something edible. To me, they sound like an alien from outer space, something like Mel Gibson’s character heard while standing in the cornfield in the movie “Signs”. It’s a major creep-out to novice campers, who huddling inside their tent and in the dark have no idea what it is.
I will attempt to describe their sounds: bubbles, clicks, purrs, and a cooing sound - kind of like a mischievous little monkey or a hideous malicious and drooling alien. Add to this the sound of a bungee strap slapping repeatedly against the side of an ice chest, aluminum and plastic cookware and eating utensils falling from the picnic table and the tree limb rubbing against your tent and you have everything you need to plead the mercies of your God.

However, once you realize what it is you are hearing, you have a couple of choices. First and the one I recommend is exiting your tent and chasing the critters to the far side of your flashlight’s beam (that’s all the farther they will retreat - trust me). Secure your stuff and then go back to sleep, hoping you didn’t miss something.
Your second choice is to suffer in silence while the raccoons ransack your site, again and again. My first experience with this phenomenon was about 30 years ago while camping at Camp Strake with the Boy Scouts. We were a bit sloppy in our camp discipline and the raccoons triple-teamed us all night. There is a reason they have the bandit band over their eyes. I think it has evolved along with their skill to rob campers of their goods.

This past camping trip I heard the hanging trash bag rattle as we sat around the campfire. Turning my powerful flashlight on, I spied a large coon peeking inside the bag, only halfway concerned with my awareness and about twenty feet behind it was a small fox. The fox is a second tier thief. Its modus operandi is to rob the raccoon and split the scene before the coon can catch it.

To me, that is justice served.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Meat on a Stick Time - Part 2!

We came, we saw, we camped, and cooked meat on a stick! Last Sunday, we wrapped up a four-day camping trip to Pedernales Falls State Park and due to my many obligations, I am just now finding time to write about it.

My brother TJ Bustem, nephew Andy Tallant, coworker “Big” John Graham, his son “Texas Slim”, and buddy “Texas Shorty” arrived at the quiet and mostly empty park Thursday about 2pm and began the process of setting up our tents and gear. I began worry about rain on this trip a full month before we arrived and I must say; we couldn’t have dialed in better weather, even if we had that ability.

The day before we left, I defrosted Elk and Axis deer back-strap my friend Brian White brought me and soaked it in milk overnight. Draining the milk and washing it, I put it in a one-gallon freezer bag and added Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. Thursday evening, we skewered the tasty meats and held them over an open fire.
It was delicious! It was more than delicious, it was heavenly delicious.
The milk removed the normal gamey taste and appeared to tenderize the meat also, as it almost fell off the skewers. There we were, hunkered down, each of us as pioneers of old, cooking meat on a stick. Our two 10-year old “Texans” were getting both a taste of outdoor cooking by their own doing and the secure fellowship of men who actually care about their future development.

The Baytown Hiking Fellowship was enjoying its first campout. As stated in the previous Blog, our fellowship was founded last year to honor the memory of my son, Sgt. Nick Marshall and to promote fellowship and personal development. We all agreed we will have many more hikes and campouts, in the future.
I was determined to attempt a number of methods and new equipment on this trip, as possible for my own development and one of these is a knife/magnesium striker device, for lighting fires. In preparation for the first fire, I made cotton balls soaked in melted Vaseline, a fire-starting trick I saw on the Internet, but widely used by the Boy Scouts, hunters and hikers.

We gathered around the fire-pit and I pulled 2 cotton balls out, placed them in the pit and struck the magnesium rod with the edge of the knife blade. Like magic (and to my utter amazement), the cotton balls ignited and just like that, we had the beginnings of our campfire. My only regret is, we failed to video it.

Friday and Saturday we hiked as a group and Geocached. We were blessed with sunny days, but the nights hovered in the mid-30’s, which was fine, albeit cold. I opted to sleep in my tent with no heater, as did Andy and TJ Bustem and although my sleeping bag kept me comfy, my face was cold as ice and my only option was to wrap a fleece blanket around my head each night.

Once again, geocaching is a high tech treasure hunting game using a GPS device to locate “caches”. Pedernales Falls has close to 30 approved caches hidden within its borders and our first objective was to locate a number of them on the 4-mile loop trail. However, the Pedernales River had the only crossing flooded, so we went off to find other caches, eventually locating nine.

By Saturday, our two pint-sized Texans were weary of the slow-pace us seasoned campers were keeping, so Andy took them off to Pedernales Falls for four hours of hiking while TJ Bustem, Big John, and I hiked part of the Wolf Mountain Trail and located more caches. At the Pedernales Popcorn cache we found our first Travel Bug, which is a cool-looking dog-tag thingy and this one was attached to a travel boot ornament. The idea of a travel bug is the person who “grabs” it, carries it to a distant cache according to the wishes of the original owner and all of this is recorded later on geocaching.com.
This Bug is going to be placed Saturday, March 6th on the Goose Creek Trail, helping it on its way to the Appalachian Trail.

Raccoons, accosted our camp as always, but we kept a clean site, so they got very little besides a couple of my favorite Los Toritos bean, cheese and jalapeno tamales and a can of bean dip. Jackrabbits, deer, and even a fox passed through our site as we sat by the fire and who knows what else while we slept.

It was a weary bunch of trail-broke happy campers who rolled up their gear Sunday morning. At this point all of us could have stayed on without reserve, but commitments and our folks at home beckoned. As we drove out of the park, all were making plans for the next adventure.

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