Friday, February 25, 2011

Libya and Anarchy


Watching what is happening in Libya and well, many countries in the Middle East, I can’t help but think of something my dad reported 30 years ago. I’ll get to that in a minute.

My dad was quite knowledgeable about a lot of things and since his naval days at the end of World War 2, he was particularly “up” on the Middle East and Europe. He has worked there also, as a Pipe Super for Brown and Root.

Around 1980, Gaddafi ordered the Gulf of Sidra closed to international traffic - a clear violation of an international agreement and then ordered his military to shoot down a US Boeing EC-135. Be it far from President Jimmy Carter to respond militarily, so Gaddafi became bolder.

In mid 1981, Col. Gaddafi became increasingly hostile towards the United States and this prompted a mass exodus of American workers from the country, my dad included. I remember the incident and the anxiety it caused my family.

It wasn’t long after Ronald Reagan became president that he decided it was time to challenge Gaddafi and this resulted in our navy shooting down 2 Russian made, but Libyan flown Migs over the Gulf of Sidra. We also lost 2 F-111’s over the ocean making their long way back to England, as the French would not let our military fly over their country. I guess it was okay 30+ years earlier for Americans to die on French soil to liberate them though – just stay out now.

Upon returning from Libyan soil, my Dad brought each of us souvenirs, but none of it was made in Libya. The reason for this as he explained, was that no one works in Libya – at least not Libyan citizens. Each citizen gets a cut from the oil profits, so there are no longer Libyan artisans and the country is rich in foreign workers from Sri Lanka, China, The Philippines, etc.

Now, due to the attempted eviction of Muammar al-Gaddafi, there is a mass exodus of foreign workers and when I say mass, I mean tens of thousands. My question is this: Who will do the work, since as my dad told me back in 1981 “When the oil is gone, there will be no one with remembered or learned skills and the foreign workers will all leave”.

I'm wondering if Libya will recover from this disruption even if they succeed in ousting their tyrant.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BUCKET LIST OF BAYTOWN BERT

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I don't really have a bucket list, but here is some of the stuff I've experienced.
(x ) shot a machine gun on full automatic?

(x) gone on a blind date?

( ) skipped school more than 10 times?

(x) Visited Canada?

(x) lived in Asia?

(x) Straight out of Compton, Ca (for real, not like Kid Rock)?

(x) Visited Japan?

(x) Visited Mexico?

(x) Had a lion seal surface beside me in the Pacific Ocean?

(x) Been to Alaska?

(x) Been to the Philippines?

(x) Drank water from a cistern with a snake in it?

(x) Flown on a turbo-prop plane over the ocean?

(x) Been to Luckenback, Texas?  (Extra points for Cut and Shoot)

(x) Visited Washington, DC?

(x) Swam in the Great Salt lake?

(x) Swam in Lake Erie or other Great Lakes?

(x) Waded the Rio Grande? 

(x) Been to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island?

(x) Played Cowboys and Viet Cong?  (substitute Iraqi's or Afghani's)

(x) Jumped off a 20 foot rooftop to the hard ground for fun?

(x) Studied Karate or other martial styles?

(x) Eaten dog meat as a meal?  (Monkey or water buffalo - extra points)
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(x) Eaten insects with your meal as seasoning?

(x) Known Russian people?

(x) Fell in love in high school, but never told the other about it?

(x) Been skinny-dipping outdoors more than (a bunch) of times?

(x) Been fly fishing?

(x) Been row boating/canoeing/kayaking?

(x) Been Ice skating on a river and a lake, sledding, and tobagganing?

(x) Tubed a river with rapids?

(x) Been hypothermic to the point of losing my life more than once?

(x) Been geocaching?

(x) Been back-packing above 4000 feet?

(x) Been tent camping for one month straight +?

(x) Been airborne in a car?

(x) Flown in a helicopter (extra points for a military choppa)?

(x) Rolled a car at 60 mph or greater with 3 flips?

(x) Walked on a glacier?

(x) Driven a motorcycle on an all day trip (extra points for a MC license)?

(x) Fell out of a moving car doing at least 35 mph

(x) Gone to a drive-in movie and made-out through the whole movie?

(x) Done something that could have killed you (more than one occurance)?

(x) Been on T.V.

(x) Donated more than 5 gallons of blood?

(x) Driven an old school Shelby Cobra Mustang?

(x) Driven more than 800 miles in one day?

(x) Trapped under a waterfall and almost drown?

(x) Slid down a hillside out of control? (extra points for surviving)

( ) Had a one night stand since marriage?

(x) Participated in something you had to train for

(x) Seen the sunrise and sunset on both coasts

( ) Have piercings?

( ) Have tattoos?
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Report from Deadhorse Alaska 2-12-11


This morning the temperature was 37 below zero with a chill factor of 63 below zero. My friend Jared felt it necessary to take my picture with his cell phone, so I had him grab my camera out of my backpack and take one for me, too.

This is the coldest temperature I have endured so far, though my alternate has suffered through several days of more than 40 below zero temps. It almost gives me a guilty conscience that he gets the worst of the temps.

When it is this cold, we have to leave our vehicle running all night long. The good thing about that is that I don't have to get all dressed in this gear to go start the truck and then come back in and take it all back off to go have breakfast just to put it all back on. It's an effort getting all
this stuff on. But, when I get in my nice warm truck, I have to roll down the windows to keep from having a heat stroke. Outside in these clothes, I am comfortable except for any exposed skin (my face) which immediately hurts, and the area of my legs between the top of my boots and the bottom of my coat.

The bad part about running the truck all night is that it has to be fueled every other day and it is no fun standing in these temps pumping gas!

The "ensemble" for today: Long underwear, long sleeve t-shirt, hoodie, jeans and two pairs of socks (one pair of knee socks and one pair of arctic socks) then my 50 below zero boots with thinsulate liners. On top of all that, a neck scarf, gloves and my arctic coat that weighs (not kidding) 20 pounds, and safety glasses. It takes me a while just to get the coat on, then
zipping it is another challenge because it's so bulky, I can't see the zipper which has two pulls and they won't stay still...sigh. Fortunately, I am fine in my regular parka till it gets around 20 below.

When I backed out of my parking place after running the truck all night, I ran over a turtle. Now, before you get excited, "turtles" are turtle-shaped and sized mounds of ice that form on the ground under your exhaust pipe. They look like big white turtles and are serious tripping hazards. They are all over the place. I'll try to get a picture of one. Today is my second favorite day of every rotation...the day before I head home again. Tomorrow will be my favorite day....Flyday.

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


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Want to help with BPD Jail Break? Eat barbecue!

Jane Howard Lee - Baytown Sun

It is all part of a two-day fund-raising effort.

Jail House BBQ, held in conjunction with Saturday’s Jail Break Run, is a nonprofit event in which proceeds go to the Baytown Municipal Police Officers Association, the Helping a Hero fund and the Marcus Lee Zaruba Criminal Justice Foundation Scholarship at Sam Houston State University.

Barbecue lovers (or just people who want to support those good causes) can buy tickets for barbecue plates in advance for $8 in advance (from any police officer, at the police department, or at Zaruba Chiropractic Center, 119 Ward Road) or just show up and pay $10 a plate on the day of the event.

Barbecue plates will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. behind Baytown Police Department. Just follow the signs around to the back.

The take-out only plates will include brisket, sausage, beans, rice, bread, pickles, onions and a crime-fighting power biscuit, which is perhaps better known as a doughnut to those not in law enforcement.

My Very First Car

I was 14 and living in Woodstock Georgia in 1966 and got my first job sacking groceries. I saved my money and when I was 15 bought my first car, an abused and badly maintained 1963 Corvair Monza - yes, the car Ralph Nader killed, with his book "Unsafe at any speed".

I drove the dog out of this little car, cutting doughnuts, and running the back roads of north Georgia. I even made the 20 mile solo drive through the "S" curves to Canton, to take my drivers license exam.  After we did the road test, the State Trooper asked me how I got there and I replied "I drove here from Woodstock".  He laughed and signed me off as "passed".

The car had 2-one barrel carbs which were real sludged-up and I decided to buy some rebuild kits and redo them. It was a daunting task, but I figured I could do it.  My dad had taken a job in St. Louis with McDonnell-Douglass, so I took on the task solo and successfully, I might add.  Well kind of.

Being inexperienced with gas-related repairs, I made the car-destrying error of not checking for leaks and in my haste to enjoy how much better it now ran, I headed out to work.  The engine caught on fire as I drove to my new job in Marietta and that was the death of my cool little car. It looked like the photo below and was great, regardless of Mr. Nadar's slam. I have loved little cars and trucks ever since and still drive one, a KIA RIO 5.  Do you have a first car story you would like to share?

I'm not distracted, I just can't remember.

Our country has been clobbered with a pandemic and it's not caused by mosquitoes, terrorists, or a childish Asian communist with ...