Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bark Park Plans For Trail Upgrades

Letter to the Parks Department 10-27-10:  I notice there are numerous piles of material for raising the level of the trail, just outside of the park.  Can you give us a time-line for pouring the material before the rains begin again please?  Thank you.  All of our parks show your dedication to Baytown and I am in many of them each week geocaching or walking with my wife and dogs.

Response:  We are currently making a round mowing the parks, by doing this it will give us a little break with the winter months mowing. Once we are complete with this round of mowing it will free up our operators to be able to do the work out at Jenkins with the dog park. The dog park work is scheduled for next week as long as everything goes to plan with the mowing. Thank you for being a regular visitor to our parks and let us know if you see any other issues that might arise in the future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update from Deadhorse Alaska 10-20-10

Right now, according to weather.com, it is one degree Fahrenheit and with the wind chill factor, it is negative 12. The wind is 8 mph and it is foggy.

Yesterday, we had steady snow until late evening. I cleared about 8 inches of the stuff off my truck while it was warming (questionable) up, and about ½ inch of ice had to be broken and scraped off my headlights. Being rather short, getting enough off the front top of the windshield is a herculean effort for me, but I did a satisfactory job. In the process, I got a substantial amount of snow in my boots and on my jeans. I’m really looking forward to the arrival of those boots from Cabella’s. I have mittens and a really warm, fur-lined, Scandinavian-style hat coming, too.

This morning, what little snow fell on my truck last night had been blown away and I was happy that I didn’t have to do any cleanup before getting on the road. It seemed much warmer than when I went home yesterday, so I was surprised to find out that the temperature was 5 degrees. It fell to 3 before I got to work and is now registering 1, as I wrote above.

The first half of the drive was really pleasant, the new snow is gorgeous on the tundra; in the lights of town and the facilities that I pass, it looks like the whole place has been covered with melted ice cream. The roads are in great condition; hard as rock and drive like pavement instead of the gravel that they are. There’s a line of snow about a foot wide that appears to be a center line, and only occasionally do you find a bit of slippery area, because there’s been no warm up to create thaw followed by ice.

I once again found myself chuckling over the fact that I am here, writing this journal, instead of reading what one of my brothers or friends wrote. I am still enjoying the whole experience and it has not yet become common to me. As I was thinking these things, I thought about how proud my father was of me, and how thrilled he was that I am here. I was suddenly so overcome with grief that I had a hard time pulling myself together enough to drive.

My dad had travelled over much of the world through the Navy and work assignments later, but he never made it to Alaska. He mentioned many times that he had wanted to go to Alaska all of his life, and through my journal he was living it for himself. When I was 15, he had the opportunity to move to Alaska with Mother and all five children in tow, but instead, he accepted a job in Marietta, Georgia and we moved to Woodstock a tiny town in Cherokee County, where I finished High School. That move had a very strong influence on the lives that my brothers and I would live from there on out. We would all be very different people, I am sure, if he had chosen the Kenai Peninsula over Lockheed Marietta!

From the Artic Circle....I remain,
Deadhorse Connie

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writings of Nick Marshall - Friday, August 22, 2008

Writings of Nick Marshall - Friday, August 22, 2008
   
Iraq
Current mood:  confused
Category: News and Politics

I look back upon my Iraq experience with pride and misunderstanding.  I was proud to serve my country but as the time goes by and the killed tally continues to climb without results, I wondered what the hell is going on.  I wouldn't trade my war experience for anything…but to deny that we were mislead into the Iraq war would not only be ignorant, but extremely stupid.  Did we need to get rid of Saddam Hussein?  Of course we did….by letting him die of old age, and once he was deceased his son, Qusay, (a psychopath with a love for cocaine and fast cars) would have ascended to power.  If his extremist rule was not stopped by his own Generals, the U.N. would have backed a multi-nation Army (that would have included Islamic nations) to go in and re-align the government. This would allow for the U.S. to take control, as it had done in Desert Storm, without becoming the 'bad guy.'  This would also allow Islamic governments to have a seat at the table thus almost quelling extremists that are currently fighting what they believe to be 'Imperialistic Christians.'  Thanks George W.....you have 'shocked and awed' everyone. 
6:42 PM
Saturday, August 16, 2008
   
Inside looking out....Georgia (not peaches)
Current mood:  angry
Category: News and Politics

So the Red's have pushed their way into Georgia based on false accusations that they are just supporting the oppression of South Ossetia....which is completely false because this conflict was started by Georgian separatists that support Russia....and they've spit in the face of the U.S. because they know that our military is stretched thin due to the incompetent Bush.  Russian loyalists in Georgia have started looting and raping...ravaging the country side....I've met many Georgians; they are poor soldiers, but good people....I had a long discussion with a Captain in the Georgian Army that was fascinating in 2004; he hated the Russians and I share his opinion.  The 'Red Scare' is well and active and as long as I live I will be prepared to take arms against the bastards...call me a racist, a bigot, ignorant, whatever you want, but when it comes to the Russians....I'd rather have a weapon in my hand then a shot of vodka....I always told myself that the only way I'd rejoin the military is that if it's WWIII or a fight against the Russians or Iran.......well, I'm more than ready to risk myself to crush the 'comrades.'
6:37 AM
Saturday, August 09, 2008
   
China Olympics
Category: News and Politics

So the world  makes China the host of the Olympic games....a communist country that abuses human rights, leads the world in pollution (the U.S. is second,) and monitors it's population like a risk board game.  What the hell???   Well....lets think back; the world did give the 1936 Olympic Games to Nazi Germany...and Jesse Owens dominated (Hitler wouldn't present the award....FYI my father met Jesse Owens.)  Many predict that China will surpass the U.S. as the main superpower....
2:21 AM
Thursday, July 24, 2008
   
Where are you now Teddy?
Current mood:  pessimistic
Category: News and Politics

Where are you now Teddy Roosevelt?  The political figures of today seem to appeal to the American citizens needs as they campaign for the Presidency...but once elected they cater to their political friends and the needs of their party.  As Police Commissioner of New York, Governor of New York, and finally President, Teddy's main objective was to meet the needs of the people.  The Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the implementation of the FDA, and the regulation of big business were aimed at benefiting the common man.  The ultimate reformer, Roosevelt was a champion of the American people; no other politician did more to maximize his time in office toward the benefit of the American people than did he.  Colonel Roosevelt remains the only President to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor.  As I look at the disaster that was the George Bush presidency, I can only hope that the next President is even a tenth of the leader that Teddy was.
1:22 AM

You’re better than me...
Current mood:  argumentative
Category: News and Politics

I struggle to find a better way......as Americans we find ourselves in a political quagmire....do you vote for the energetic Obama, or the maverick McCain?  Where do we make the division between conservative and liberal?  What if we believe that the pledge of allegiance should be said before class.....or if the diversity of America should be supported and that considered uncivil?  The democracy pill is a hard one to swallow these days....everyone wants to be free, but does that mean we must give up some of our freedoms to be free?  I believe so.  The diversity that makes America may be its undoing (remember, the 9/11 pilots were trained in Florida.)  Recently Congress passed the Surveillance Bill that shielded telecommunication companies from being legally responsible for privacy acts.  BRAVO!  I have nothing to hide, do you?  I believe that it is worth the government tapping into my conversation to find out which bar I'm going to, if they are able to stop an Islamic radical from committing a terrorist act.
10:43 PM
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
   
The traveler

Traveling is an art.  The experience of the unknown paints a permanent picture into the mind of the individual making the journey.  I love travel, the excitement of being on foreign soil, rubbing shoulders with the locals, and diving head-first into a new culture stimulates even the most zombie-like personalities. It is within this that we build upon our character and push the boundaries of our own lifestyle....
7:07 PM
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
   
Football versus Futbol

I've been watching the 'beautiful game' in a 'cheating on your girlfriend' type of way.  Why this reference?  Well, I’m a die hard American football fan, that's why.  The juke, the battle in the trenches, and the Hail Mary have been my way to escape reality and feel the hypnotic vibe of the NFL world.  But wait, I was in South Korea right after the 2002 World Cup was held, and was in Germany when they hosted the 2006 World Cup.....so I caught a little fever.  The Houston Dynamo winning the past two MLS cups just added fuel to the futbol fire. I started to sweat...and while the 'pigskin' will always reign supreme in my mind, that black and white ball beckons my eyes....'the beautiful game' has a European hold on me.....
6:06 PM
Thursday, May 01, 2008
   
Born red, white and blue

The more I think about the places I've been....Italy, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, etc., the more my mind drifts back to the good ol' U.S.  To be born a United States citizen is the equivalent of hitting the life lottery.  Ok, so maybe being born in the U.K. would be a privilege, but it’s hard to beat being born an American.  

An update from my sister in Deadhorse, Alaska

This morning was the most uncomfortable weather I have experienced since I’ve been in Alaska. The temperature wasn’t bad; 22 degrees, but the wind is blowing steady at 40 mph and gusting to 52. This causes the dry, very fine snow to blow like needles across the tundra and into your skin if you are facing into it. The wind is blowing straight out of the north, into the door leading  out of my camp. It took two of us to open the door this morning. When I finally made it to my truck, the wind caught the truck door and I’m grateful I wasn’t injured. Once in, I had a tough time getting the door closed. For a minute, I thought the door hinge was sprung.

This morning was the first time I had to depend on the markers alongside the road to guide me. For about 3 miles of my trip, I was unable to see the road. The markers are reflective and spaced roughly every 25 feet on either side of the road. At best, I could see three, sometimes two. It was a little unnerving, but certainly nothing compared to the conditions I will be driving in later on and through the winter. I felt exhilarated when I finally got to work! Crazy, huh? Maybe I am more adventurous than I ever thought. I still have no plans to ride a roller coaster, ever again!

It is completely dark by 6:30 PM and doesn’t get light till around 10:00 AM. So, I am driving home in twilight and to work in darkness.

Early last week I had a scary experience. I was driving down the road, going home, and it was still daylight. I suddenly saw/felt this dark shape looming up by my window and my brain instantly recognized danger and flashed: “BEAR!” In a heartbeat, I turned and saw a raven, right at my eye level, just a couple of feet outside the window. It soared upward and floated away across the tundra. I could have run halfway home, I had so much adrenalin running through my system!

There is a red fox living under a conex close by in the compound where my office is. I see her trot across the snow to her snug hiding place when I’m leaving work, sometimes. She looks very content. They are very beautiful in winter, but not so much in the summer in their various stages of shedding. I really love seeing the Arctic Foxes, they are tiny; the size of a house cat, but beautiful, fluffy and white except for the very black eyes.

Connie from Deadhorse, Alaska
.

Branan Towers Resident Chased Pancho Villa in 1916

This is the transcript of the 1982 Atlanta Journal article about my paternal Grandfather,
Thomas Franklin Marshall

Branan Towers Resident Chased Pancho Villa in 1916

      Tom Marshall, tall and erect at 85, still remembers in vivid detail being dispatched from the University of Kentucky to the Texas-Mexican border in 1916.

      He was part of an organized signal company as a student. The whole company was sent to the border when President Wilson responded to a raid by Pancho Villa, the Mexican bandit and revolutionary who crossed the U.S. border in March 1916 with 400 men, raiding and burning Columbus, New Mexico, killing 16 citizens.

      “Black Jack Pershing was sent down to go into Mexico and apprehend Pancho Villa,” Mr. Marshall recalled in his Branan Towers Apartment. “Pershing took a lot of the national guard troops with him. They were all mounted, including our Signal Corps outfit.”

      There was a remount station at Ft. Bliss, Texas where the soldiers drew their horses and mules from some 150,000 animals kept there.

      A Kentucky farm boy used to horses and mules, Mr. Marshall chuckled out loud at his mental picture of the city boys in his outfit trying to ride horses for the first time.

      “Our officers had us gather our horses, saddle and bridle them and lead them out. He told us to walk around the prairie with our horses and get acquainted with them. Then he blew his whistle and told everybody to mount up. I knew my horse, he had been broken. A lot of those horses had never been broken. It was the most ridiculous sight you ever saw, arms and legs pinwheeling all over the place.”

      Fortunately the commanding officer was a good professional who “straightened us out and made a good outfit in no time,” Mr. Marshall said.

      At that time the Signal Corps used, among other things, a strange device called a heliograph by which they could telegraph signals using the sun’s rays reflected by a mirror. The area where west Texas borders New Mexico provided two perfect spots to break the world’s distance record for heliographing.

      “From Mt. Franklin we could see the Sacramento Mountains far in the distance at Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 150 miles,” Mr. Marshall recalled. His detail was assigned to take a heliograph to the Sacramento Mountains and make contact with Mt. Franklin.

      Eighteen mounted men and a wagon pulled by six mules made up the expedition. The two extra mules were added because the desert sand made pulling difficult. Their route took them through the white sands of New Mexico later famous as a testing site for the nation’s first atomic bomb.

      We went at night to avoid the heat, riding 40 minutes, dismounting and leading our horses 10 minutes and resting 10 minutes,” he said, describing the vivid whiteness of the sand and the brilliance of the stars in the dry desert night, as if he had seen it last night instead of 66 years ago.

      “It was chilly at night because of the altitude and the dry air,” he said. “We would light the tops of those dried out yucca plants in the desert to warm the night air.”

      Alamogordo was [illegible], it had a city park in the center and cottonwood trees planted along the streets with a ditch alongside carrying water to keep the cottonwoods alive, Mr. Marshall remembered.

      They made it to the mountains through sands so white an early film company had just used them for a snow scene. At a mountain peak they set up the heliograph and made contact with Mt. Franklin, setting a distance record at the time.

      He never did see Pancho Villa. It wasn’t long before the U.S. entered World War I and Tom Marshall’s unit was torpedoed on a Dutch ship named The Princess, after Queen Juliana of Holland. They did reach France, but that’s another story.

      Mr. Marshall was in charge of the machine shop at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta for many years before his retirement in 1963. He still attends the Sunday School class he taught for two decades at Lakewood United Methodist Church.

      One son is vice president of a steamship company and lives in New Jersey. His daughter lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and a second son is with a major construction company in Texas. 
 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Geocaching the Alphabet Soup Series GC253NY

Well folks, Nebulus703 and I did all the Alphabet Soup series, plus 14 more yesterday in 7 hours.  We started at the Pond park and finished on the west end at GC194VC (Come one come all).  I goofed up and didn't load GC253px (Eager...), but we detoured way too far north and found Heme the Hunter, so we got the 40 we were after.

The weeds were even worse than described and I say that w/o exaggeration, with pollen plumes exploding around us to the point that my arms and face were yellow. There are at least 4 levels of thorns close tot he woods and the path to each cache takes you side to side to experience them, then there is an evil weed which wraps around your feet, necessitating a lift of the knee straight up repeatedly, or you will fall face first to the ground.

The bayou had at least 3 good crossing points and we took the one closest to GC252F0 (The point of no return).  I filmed Nebulus703 crossing after I made it across.  Crossing the second half of the bayou, the log broke and I plunged one foot into the water to my knee.  However, all 3 logs are doable if you have the confidence to go over the water.

I found the whole trip exhausting after the fact and slept real hard last night.  The time after I got home at 3pm was a bust and I crashed at 8pm.  I cant speak for Nebulus703, but I've had my fill of uncut power lanes.

 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vote Against Prop 1 - Rebuttal

AB: In response to your well received argument in favor of removing the red light cameras, I want to post a rebuttal and some suggestions.

1. “Innocent people are being ticketed, harassed, and forced to pay fines for something they didn't do just because the vehicle is in their name.” Loaning your car to people who run red lights or don't come to a complete stop before turning on a red light will result in THEM paying the fine(s). However, YOU will have to be the one to enforce that.  The bottom line is to tell them when you loan the car that they have to obey traffic laws.

2. “We are exporting over $100,000 a MONTH out-of-state. Well over a million dollars a year." Based on these numbers and the amount of money the city receives for each violation, there are an average of 20-30 cars every day of the week in violation of either running a red light, or not coming to a complete stop on the streets which have red light cameras, which incidentally are installed at the expense and maintenance of the Arizona-based company, free of charge to the city. I would say we have a major problem here, especially because of the hundreds of stop signs and red lights which do NOT have a camera. It’s called poor driving.

3. “We've outsourced our legal system. Now we need to talk to someone out of state to address something that happened in Baytown.” That company is carrying the burden of installation, equipment cost, and maintenance. If it were a Baytown owned and operated business, would you agree with the cameras?

4. “The laws are being played with to violate our rights. You are now GUILTY until you can prove your innocence.” If a cop watches you run a red light and gives you a ticket, you ARE guilty also until you represent yourself in court, regardless of the innocent until proven guilty argument. Watch one provided video of the infraction and you will readily see it is obvious the car did not stop.

5. “Running red lights have been changed from a moving violation to a non-moving violation (to circumvent the law).” After getting a ticket, most people would see this as a plus, since their insurance doesn’t go up and they don’t have to take DE.

6.” It is WAY too convenient to issue a ticket now. Press a button and someone gets a ticket. Quality control is out the window. Yeah, someone REVIEWS the footage, then pushes a button and tickets get sent out.” It’s my understanding 3 different people review the video. If there is a shadow of a doubt, it is discarded. I’ve watched 2 now and it is so obvious, it disarms argument of right and wrong. I can’t speak of the ease of the operation as to whether this is a bad thing, or good.

Conclusion: The bottom line is somewhere between 600-700 people per month are without a doubt running a red light, or not stopping completely before turning at the relatively few camera covered intersections in Baytown. There is no telling how many thousands of times it happens in the city limits and no cop is present or no accountability.

DS: In response to your well received argument in favor of removing the red light cameras, I want to post a rebuttal and some suggestions.

“No, I can't vote FOR Big Brother. If CITY COUNCIL had entered into this agreement in all honesty then perhaps I'd think differently, but THESE clowns KNEW they were screwing us with their freakin SHORT yellow lights. I've got a good idea, let's sue THEM and make MILLIONS!!!!!Oh....and put these clowns in JAIL where they belong. Seriously, folks. Let's NOT let these idiots rule our world. We are all intelligent enough to drive safely down Garth Road. City Council needs to have their own bank accounts audited. Thank YOU!! “

I am also very distrusting of “Big Brother” - a reference to George Orwell’s great book ‘1984’. However, having an automated device at an intersection, which is monitored by a human being after an infraction, is hardly in this day and age something I am wary of. I also would not be suspicious of an automated device which determined the red light frequency based on how many cars (or lack of cars) before it changed and this without human oversight.

I can’t speak for City council’s veracity in this matter, or if they are clowns (they don’t appear to be), or if they deliberately set some of the yellow light intervals shorter to make more money. I also have no intention of suing them and making millions. In response that we are “all intelligent enough to drive safely down Garth Road” it is readily apparent that every single day in Baytown, somewhere between 20 to 30 unintelligent people are not and this is only the ones who are caught by a red light camera. I imagine BPD catches a few every day also, but I can’t say, as I don’t have the numbers.

And lastly, I imagine auditing City council’s bank accounts is beyond the scope of my original argument.
.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Vote against Prop 1 in Baytown!


Back on September 10th, 2007, I stood as the spokesman for the Baytown Concerned Citizens group and spoke to the police department, our concerned citizens, city council, and with the media and pleaded with them to address the speeding and traffic violations as a top priority.  My exact phrasing was "stop it by hook or crook".

The red light cameras are a direct result of this. Thus I am voting against Prop 1. I want to keep the red light cameras.

The reason people are running red lights and taking rolling turns on red lights is because they are not paying attention, distracted, and careless drivers, plus they are endangering everyone, especially children (I had to throw that in, as that is always the trump card, but true none the less).

The BCC as a whole, which it appears is not exactly the same as it was 3 years ago, is still and should be a logical approach to crime, but to some, the red light cameras are viewed much the same way a stop sign was, back in the day when they first appeared.  ("What?  Who says I have to stop?").  They are not taking away our rights, but are an enforcement tool and for most of us, the $75 fine is adequate enough to make us pay attention.

BPD cannot be everywhere at once, so it falls upon us law-abiding citizens to do our part and actually drive the way it was taught in driver’s education.  Stop talking on the cell phone, eating hamburgers, and digging through our purses and pockets while we are driving...plus watch-out for all those people who don't and there won’t be a single violation on the law-abiding driver.

I DO NOT want to go back to the old system addressed in September 2007, where the chances are excellent that a cop is not going to be present when a red light/right turn violator runs through with impunity and make no mistake about it, that is exactly what will happen.

Take any weekday on the streets of Baytown and take the time to park and watch what goes on at any of our busy intersections and I promise you will see a constant flow of violations, even with the red light cameras.

The cameras are not the problem...distracted drivers are.

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 ...