Friday, December 26, 2014

Circumlocution on androgenic hair growth



Hold on; don’t get excited or confused by that fancy 10-gallon pair of words.  It’s just a tongue twister to get this week’s column primed.  Besides, I’ve always wanted to use the words circumlocution and androgenic in one sentence, but felt some might accuse me of being “too wordy” or “macho” for my own good. 

The hair growth thingy though, is something I obviously know a lot about, as I’ve experienced a lot of hair growth in my lifetime.  In fact, it is growing as I write this column.  There is nothing I like better than standing in a windy location and feeling my long neck hair blowing in the wind.

As I nudge closer to middle age, I’ve noticed a peculiar growth – or lack of, well, abnormal pattern of hair growth – or lack of, in certain areas of my well-toned physique.  I want to make it clear; I am basically talking about my head and back, as I do not want the Managing Editor to bowdlerize my attempt to expound on this important phenomenon.

I recently coined this timeless phrase:  "Male aging: When your scalp hair migrates to your back."  It will be around for decade’s maybe more.  Why is this so?  I’m sure there is a scientific fact out there somewhere.  I would look it up and quote it here, but then there’s Google, so everyone can be an expert.

This hair growth thing is getting ridiculous.  I skipped shaving one day and my bride asked me if I was growing a beard the next morning.  “What?  Heck no.  I didn’t shave yesterday.”  I walked into the bathroom and took a gander at my handsome mug.  My facial hair grows down to the neck of my t-shirt and up my cheeks to just under my eyeballs now.  I figure at the rate it’s growing, I’ll resemble a shih-tzu by this time next year.

That won’t happen of course, as no one wants to see a bald shih-tzu.  Can you imagine?  I can’t, so I just shave.  My eyebrows need an almost daily trim also.  If I skip a couple of days, they obstruct my view.  The upside of bushy eyebrows is I could let them grow for a week and do a comb-over the top to hide my balding pate.  My daughter Melody, who is a stylist at the Rat’s Nest Salon, tells me I could get a “straightener” product to make it look like a Rasta weave.  I may do that as a New Year project.

Don’t point a finger at my nose hairs either.  I’ll do that.  I have a device I call a “nose hole grinder” and it has a 2-stroke motor to keep it from bogging down when I go deep.  It was developed by the Hughes drilling company, weighs 4 pounds, and requires both hands to operate.

Hey!  Who knew old Santa was actually bald as a cue ball under that cap?  Yup.   Its ear hair and lots of it.  Boy, I never saw that coming.  Ear hair.  About all its good for is feeling a mosquito light on the ears.  How fast does it grow you ask?  My ear hair grows so fast, I’ve considered letting it have its way and after about six months, having my daughter cut it to make a wig for those who need one.

When I swim, I of course wear a very stylish set of Argentine swim trunks, but the gasps of those around me over my copious back hair takes away from the forbidden thrill of being partially clothed in mixed company.  It does however; make sleeping on my back much more padded and comfy, so it’s a toss up.  I will not have my back hair “waxed”.  I simply would prefer to have it bush-hogged off, then to endure that kind of pain.

All of this brings up a serious question.  Why not just accept the fact that a man entering his golden years is not going to look like a twenty-five year old in the early stages of hair loss?  What?  Yup.  Sorry guys.  My male pattern baldness started when I was about 27.  From there, its went to another extreme.  Now days, when I hold my head out my Jeep window, what I hear is “My gaw, Frank, did you see that bald shih-tzu”?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sanctimony and Political Correctness




Over the years, I’ve tried my best to live a good spiritual life.  I’ve often failed and I acknowledge that.  In my early well-intentioned zeal to follow the Bible, I oft times went to extremes.  I might add that this righteous zeal was tempered through error in many ways, but helped me define the rights and wrongs of personal development and the path I chose.

However, at no time did I contemplate blowing up an abortion clinic, attempt to “beat the gay” out of someone, or walk into a military school and kill 150 students because their lifestyle or dogma differed from my own.  I simply wanted to do right and still do.

Fairly often I would engage in debates about the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, but I can’t recall ever getting angry and condescending.  In fact, I studied and studied and studied, reading the entire Bible many times because I wanted to understand the scriptures and be able to convey its mysteries to others.

I worked the bus ministry and taught home Bible studies for many years to do my share, but at no time did I feel sanctimonious, that I recall.  In fact, I always felt like I could do more.  This manner of approaching my spiritual life defined the man I am now, and my moral code, but it doesn’t negate that I am in fact a grassroots American who loves my freedom.

This religious education and gradual refinement of how I think the Almighty views things has helped me define a lot of issues, including homosexuality and abortion and a whole great bunch of other sensitive subjects that each of us have the personal obligation to define for ourselves.  The simple truth is, I am not God and I refuse to judge people on issues I do not understand or can’t change.

Oh I am sure there are readers stabbing their fingers into the black book right now and doubting my education, but truth be told, they are not their judge either.  Am I saying that I’ve become politically correct?  Heck no, but I can’t get pregnant either, so who am I to cast a stone at a woman who decides she is going to do this?  She’s the one who has to live with her conscience until that great day comes.  Do I find my same gender physically attractive?  No, and I’ve never had a homosexual try to convert me either.

I’ve heard people rail against homosexuals with sanctimonious zeal, only to find out someone they dearly love has “came out”.  For the most part, they go mute and then down the road accept the fact that they are not God and only the Almighty can sort it out.  Sure, I know this isn’t a popular subject, but a big pat goes on my back for having either the fortitude, stupidity, or the gall to write it.

It absolutely makes me laugh to read some peoples take on what others say and sit back in their over-stuffed chair and polish their shiny halo while eating divinity as they righteously spout a stinging rebuke to anyone else that lives below their high standard of religious perspective and/or misunderstanding of “the actual facts”.  Note:  this includes everyone besides them.  Do I take them serious?  Does anyone?  I doubt it.  Spewing out reams of condescending diatribe of righteousness and political correctness under the guise of superior thinking is churlish and sadly - hilarious.

To me, I sum up political correctness with this other saying I have learned to hate; “for the good of the people” and blaming misdirected and stupid “Tea Party members every time something crosses the PC boundaries some swear by, doesn’t mean anything to most other than it is more bigoted and stunted in understanding of the Constitution than the people that are being belittled.  The Tea Party is not misdirected.  For a real example of elitist intentions, take a look at the two party giggly bologna that goes on in Washington to see an example of a political self-serving circus.

The Tea Party advocates have been uniformly bashed by the powers that be because they are a threat to the established hierarchy and lemming-like, uneducated voters believe they are correct, simply because it is politically correct to follow those dudes and dudettes we elected.  The real sad truth is we elected them because they told us who to vote for and narrowed it down real nice like.

“Which flavor would you like Sir, Ma’am?  Cake or cake? “  Silent pause.  “Uh, I’ll have cake I guess…”

Nope.  Let’s toss out everything but the Constitution and expect our sanctimonious government to take a look at it every time they try to cram something down our throats for the good of the people.  With the next Presidential election on the horizon, it will behoove us to take a good look at what this political correctness has got us so far.  Not much and for the sake of this column, I want to define what the Tea Party stands for.

The Tea Party is a nonpartisan grassroots group of citizens committed to advancing commonly shared values, including strict interpretation of The Constitution of the United States, free market capitalism, fiscally responsible government, limited federal government, and protected sovereign rights of state and local governments in response to the will of the people.

Now who could argue with that?

Friday, December 12, 2014

I can’t breathe – or can I?



Fairly early on in the Ferguson protest debacle, some wise person projected that the ultimate goal of all of these protests would be to weaken America's many police departments.  It is becoming hip to march and show support for what?  It doesn't matter at all to many of the demonstrators.  Most of the people marching now are doing it because they want to be part of something they can't even relate to.  

It reminds me of 9-11 and the massive support that our country gave our fallen and the subsequent number of yellow ribbons and flags to show support for our troops.  To everyone who truly felt a part of it, it was wonderful – until it became cliché-ish and ‘hip” to be patriotic.

A negative side-effect was that if you didn’t slap a magnetic yellow ribbon (or one the hundreds of variations including a camouflaged version) you were almost viewed as unpatriotic by some.  “Hey doofus, where’s your yellow ribbon?”

“Hey mister, it’s a free country.  Besides, I may or not support every cause that comes down the pike, but whether I do or not is none of your danged business.”

Concerning the alleged unjustified violence by police against minority groups, I am sure some of the objection is justified, but all the footage and evidence points to the “victim” resisting the police, or worse, downright fighting the cops.  I learned possibly at the tender of age of whatever, that arguing with police will always escalate into something negative for me.  In fact, I think the current movement where people are holding their hands over their heads is probably what should be done to deescalate a confrontation with police and frankly, I find it almost humorous in its simplicity.


Our city once had the reputation of being cop-heavy on citizens, but I’ve lived here since 1974 and never had one single violent experience with our police, that a few verbal exchanges didn’t solve the problem.  In one case in particular, I drove my Jeep (not my current vehicle) out of my subdivision at 0330 with a cup of coffee in my hand.  I made a complete stop at Massey Tompkins and took a right. 

Instantly there was a cop right behind me with their lights flashing.  Now mind you, it was 3:30am and the roads were devoid of traffic and this cop almost caused me to drop my uppers AND spill hot coffee in my lap.  Of course I was angry.  When he walked up to my door, I asked him why I was being pulled over.

“You failed to use your turn signal sir.”  Now I know that cop wasn’t anywhere I could see, so I asked him where he was parked and when he told me, I spitted out these words: “You mean to tell me that you followed me all the way out on Chaparral Drive with your headlights out so you give me a ticket for not using my turn signal at a dead end?”

He admitted that there had been a number of burglaries in the neighborhood and I obviously wasn’t a suspect and let me go without a ticket.  Now let me say something here.  Yes, I was angry, but when the cop came up to my door, I had turned on the dome light and had both hands in plain sight on the steering wheel.  Even though my words were strong, I didn’t curse or use threatening words and I surely didn’t act like I was going to get out and fight.

Another time I was standing on the overpass at Loop 201 and Texas Avenue taking photographs.  This was about 4 years after 9-11 and I saw a Baytown cop car fly by headed north and the officer was looking straight at me.  I thought, “Oh boy, here goes.”  At one time there was an old dairy at Airhart Drive and Texas Avenue and I was documenting the area for ourbaytown.com, but I knew that I was going to be accused of taking photos of Exxon for terrorist purposes.  Such was the state of terror phobia in our country at the time.

Sure enough, here he came and sure enough, he had his hand on his gun and demanded I give him the camera.  I told him there is “no law preventing anyone from taking a photograph from a public road” and then what I was doing and handed him my card.  He said, “This better check out!” and went back to his patrol car.  He was a younger looking officer and after a minute, he drove off without even looking at me.

Again, I did not take an offensive posture or curse the officer, I simply defused the situation without showing anger and nothing negative happened.  I actually laughed as he drove off, thinking “hasn’t he seen Google Earth?”

I have a British friend who recently wrote and said the Brits are “a bit worried over the demonstrations in America”.  I told her to forget it.  When the hipness of it wears off, the majority of people will find some other cause to get excited about.  The bottom line here is that if you do not do anything illegal or provoke a cop, 99.99% of the time, you are going to have a positive experience with the police department.  If you fall into that .01%, good luck.  You’re going to need it.


Friday, December 05, 2014

The vanishing personal space conundrum solved!



 I am not entirely comfortable in large gatherings even though I occasionally attend them.  In fact, I don’t think you will ever spot me marching in any kind of mass assemblies, peaceful or not.

Don’t get me wrong when I say this.  I can sit comfortably in church, or an occasional sporting event and behave myself, it’s just that I would rather walk down a lonely trail in the woods, far away from any other human being or musical delivery device. In fact, I have walked for hours not hearing another human voice and was perfectly at peace and content.  Did you know that when you spend hours alone, you become very quiet?  My doggies sleep when my bride is away, because the house becomes silent, except for my constant pecking of the keyboard.

My dad once said he “enjoyed his own company” and I learned to understand this peculiar sounding confession. He would go off in his 18-foot boat and spend the day catching redfish and speckled trout and come back and clean them at his house in Aransas Pass.  He didn’t even listen to the radio.  I don’t think he was uncomfortable around other people; he just loved the freedom to make all his own choices and he got it in that boat out on the water.

As technology shrinks our privacy and let me say up front that I embrace much of it, the need to get away from it all amplifies exponentially.  Angie Middleton explained to me that a friend owns a car that spoke to her while driving.  It told her to “keep your eyes on the road”.  It’s scary on one hand and much needed by some on the other.  I do believe we are going to see a massive shift in technology very soon that will be overwhelming to most of us, me included.

The famed British theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking recently threw up the same red flag as the Unibomber Ted Kaczynski, in that "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." 

"Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded" is another quote by him.  This, of course caught my eye, as I follow the (AI) artificial intelligence movement and have read a number of books by a leader in AI, Ray Kurzweil.  The real kicker here is this is happening right now.  We will see this in our lifetime and that once again brings us back to the original intent of this column: personal space.


Our personal space or comfort zone is shrinking, right along with our ability to control what little we still have.  Baytown is a good example of how little personal space we have.  Get in your car and drive onto any of our roads.  The only space you control is around you inside the car and that’s about it.  Everywhere you look are trucks and cars with lots and lots of people.  Inside almost any store you have to move out of someone’s way.  You stand in line.  You wait, due to the movement of people.  You are crowded and if you are like me, impatient.

Maybe that’s why I like to hike the trails or launch my kayak on one of our waterways.  Maybe I feel claustrophobic in the crowds or maybe I just don’t like to conform.  I don’t know and frankly, I don’t care; all I know is I don’t like the crowds.  Now, according to Angie, Ted, Ray, and Stephen, I won’t even be able to get away from technology, especially inside my own danged car.

I guess I could attempt to go off the grid, but I like my air conditioning and Food Town’s close proximity; besides gardening is danged hard work and rabbits are a poor substitute for prepared boudain, chicken fried steak, and gumbo.  I’m afraid I, we, us… are caught in an inescapable vortex of people and technology and like lumbering lemmings scurrying toward our own destruction; we’ll ultimately gallop to our own demise.

Of course we will not go empty-handed.  I wouldn’t suggest that.  In one hand we’ll have the latest 5G Smartphone or tablet and in the other a sack of rapidly prepared convenience food.  We won’t actually run either.  We’ll be driven to the cliff’s edge in our environmentally correct ‘smart” car or faux-SUV.  We won’t have to worry about criminals because all of us will be armed.  Drunk or distracted driving will be eliminated because our cars will go wherever we tell them, or just take us to the nearest de-tox center by law.  They’ll monitor our sugar levels and automatically send the results to our doctor.  A drone will deliver our meds when our house signals we are home and our universal insurance will deduct the credits from our account.

If by chance you can find a place to hike off the grid, an amber alert will automatically go out and a platoon of camera heavy quadcopters will home in on the last place you were known to be.  When you are located, your account will be billed for not securing a permit from Homeland Security to go off-grid.  It will be “for the good of the people” that everyone is accounted for and by golly, for safeties sake, we will agree to it.

Doom and gloom you say?  Nope, just acceptable social acclimation and the snuffing out of personal space – for the good of the people.
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Customer service is not what it used to be

I was called by a local business today to pay for a maintenance service on my in-ground pool. My debit card on file had expired. ...