Thursday, December 28, 2017

PERCEPTION MANAGEMENT: The Perfection of Propaganda



Until recently, I’d never heard the term Perception Management. The term originated with the U.S. Military after my time. The DOD formally defines it in stilted “Federalese”.

For those unfamiliar with “Federalese”, it is a form of English communication which requires the average person to read the same sentence two or three times, after saying “huh?”, to get the full import or meaning of same. As a matter of fact, I think I did a credible job of imitating Federalese with the first sentence of this paragraph.

Succinctly, I can sum up their 63-word definition in 13 words: Perception Management is how to lay modern, sophisticated “snow jobs” on foreign countries.

At least targeting against foreign countries was its original purpose; sophistication advanced beyond simple, old fashioned propaganda. PM evolved to the selective uses of truth, deception, operational security, psychological manipulation, misinformation and disinformation in such combinations as to get the best “snow job” bang for the buck!

Of utmost and critical importance is hiding or disguising the origins or actual source of generated PM. Even though it is a real weapon, albeit ostensibly non-lethal, any discovery or revelation of source combined with real evidence of intentional PM use would not only be publicly embarrassing, but the virtual end of the source’s credibility.
The way the originators of PM hide themselves is by using many layers of and varied means of communications and filtration methods prior to dispensing or, like biological warfare, dispersing the information they want leaked for successful and untraceable hit pieces or snow jobs. 
 
We should not care a wit about Perception Management being a military tool or even a government tool used in targeting countries hostile to us, or even those friendly, for that matter, especially when it’s in our national interest. 
 
What should concern us, personally and with enormity today is that governmental agencies, businesses and more especially, political entities, have wholeheartedly adopted and adapted the DOD/Military Perception Management concepts to domestically weaponize PM to manipulate and deliberately mislead us citizens!

Everyone knows public relations firms have been in existence for a long time to cover stenches with perfumes. But now some of these firms have been converted, co-opted or newly created to provide the Democratic Political Party funded by far-left socialist-billionaires like George Soros, other America-haters and miscellaneous ignoramuses with high-powered PM.

David Brock is one of the kingpins supporting the Democratic Party as their “Joe Goebbels” in charge of PM through a dozen and more political front organizations/PACs co-located in the same building in beautiful downtown Burbank, oops, Washington D.C. 

Though Sharyl Attkisson outed and revealed much of Brock’s dirty works and other’s shenanigans in her outstanding exposes, Stonewalled and Smear, she mostly investigated the who’s, locations and funding operations with some examples of political smears that suggested but did not really amplify the subtleties of malicious PM (e.g., attacks on Trump).

PM is currently doing a bang-up job of persuading people that Trump is evil incarnate, a racist, a dictator and a descendant of Hitler. Look at how successful PM has been in manipulating all those Hollywood intellectuals. What else, with his many successful accomplishments thus far, explain his low poll numbers? Snow Jobs!

Paradoxically as the sophisticated use of PM expands and is refined and redefined, we’ll all someday reach the point where we won’t be able to believe Dan Rather when he admits he’s lying, let alone what mom and dad tell us.

What’s deliciously ironic is that amateurish users of PM such as the New York Times, Washington Post and the other usual suspects we refer to as fake news (including CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, etc.) frequently allow themselves to become easily manipulated pawns of the professionally skilled purveyors of PM because their biases and predilections are well-known and readily exploitable! Often it doesn’t work well since they’ve discredited themselves so much.

For example, the PM pros know that many of the Times and Post reporters are smug, arrogant and complacent egotists who tend to be lazy or purposely careless about fact-checking information, especially when the “information” fed them meshes precisely with their individual ideological and snarky bents.

The internet is now, without doubt, the main conduit or super-highway for the dispersal of PM by absolute professional experts at psychology, believable prevarication, invention of “fictional facts”, and embellishing, modifying and/or distorting truths.

Take a pinch of truth, add a large dollop of conjecture, and garnish with invention/prevarication and there you have a blogger’s dream and The Huffington Post to spew an “anonymous” or “reliable” source for fake news to puke.

Are we out on a limb? Who do we believe, what do we believe? The PM purveyors don’t give a damn about you and me. They are mostly concerned with non-skeptics who are easily manipulatable ideologues, the “What Me Worry?” clones of Alfred E. Neuman, people too busy with living their lives of survival and those closely watching Real Housewives of New Jersey, unconcerned with any realities beyond a cursory glance.

They are the real Perception Management targets because they vastly outnumber the thinkers, skeptics, or those who through osmosis and hard scrabble experience, like me, became Real Cynics from Somewhere.

John C. Frock, Dec., 27th, 2017


A Well Executed Plan



 I was one of 4 airman one cold fall day on the Great Plains of Montana with visions of bagging a number of pheasants. We went down to Recreation Supply and rented four 12 gauge pump shotguns and stopped at a hardware store and bought 4 boxes of shells. We had our licenses and orange vests and were ready. We had a plan... or so we thought. Now contrary to what most people believe, just because you are in the service of our country, doesn't mean you know beans about guns.

I knew a lot, because my dad demanded me practice muzzle control and I got my first 12 gauge at 14 years of age. On one instance a few years earlier, a double barrel shotgun malfunctioned and blasted both shot shells when I closed the breach. My brother Gordon was standing to my right and if I would have carelessly closed the gun without paying attention to where the muzzle was pointed, I would have killed him that day in the woods. It was a real life lesson that to this day comes to mind when I handle a firearm.

The 4 of us piled into my longtime Pineville, La friend Mark Lacroix's car and off we went, driving about 20 miles west of Great Falls. Now out there, you could fire a 7 Mag at a 45 degree angle and it wouldn't hit anything for as far as you could see. That particular rifle has the ability to shoot a bullet about 4.5 miles. There is a reason its called the Great Plains. Let me stress that we did not ride out there with loaded guns. We were driving along and I was in what is called the shotgun position, which means I am not driving, but by the window to the right of the driver and every so often I would spot a covey of quail, or grouse, or partridge hunkered down in the tall grass by the fence row. I would holler to stop and initially we jumped out and loaded the guns.
 The straw grass was tall by the fence, but only about a foot tall for as far as the eye could see. We would walk that fence line and not see a single bird, until I was accused of hallucinating. This happened about 10 times before rounding a bend in the road, we looked up a long swell of land and there must have been 30 pheasants spread out. The second we stopped and got out, they ducked into the foot high straw. We spread out about 50 paces each and slowly walked the 300 yards to the top of the hill and never saw or kicked up a single bird.

Now let me tell you something about upland game and pheasants in particular. They will wait until you almost step on them before they jump straight up in the air and fly off like an F-16. I guess it's possible for a skilled hunter to get a second shot, but most of us get one or none before they are out of range. On top of that, they scare the bejeebers out of you by making this bizarre noise. Again let me stress that we worked out a field of fire before we began because hunters shoot each other chasing flying birds.

We went home safe, but without a single bird. There is an excellent explanation for our failure. We did not know the golden rule of upland game hunting. You don't do it without trained hunting dogs. Our well thought-out plan lacked the necessary ingredient to make us successful. Now on the bright side, we did get a very close look at a red fox, which by the way is orange in color. Our venture was doomed to fail and all because we didn't do enough homework.

Isn't this the reason so many things we attempt fail? We just go at them helter skelter, like a dad trying to put together a 142 piece toy and only resorting to the instructions after a frustrating hour or more. Going through life, we encounter many opportunities which if we simply took the time to make a good plan, we could overcome, or successfully complete. So how many times do we have to fail before we get the hint? One plan every person should have is a whole life insurance policy on your kids. It is so cheap, anyone can afford it. This is one plan, you cannot afford to bungle.

As I write this column, I am speaking to myself. How many things could we do anything right the first time, if we would have simply thought it through and developed a plan? The good news is its not too late to begin.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What 50 years of driving has taught me




50 years ago, I cranked the 4 cylinder, air-cooled engine in the first car I drove and rolled out on the macadam roads of North Georgia. The year was 1967 and I was driving a 1963 Corvair Monza, which I bought using the wages I earned working at the Tastee Freeze in Woodstock, Georgia. I was 15 years old.

I headed for Canton 20 miles north, on the winding, hilly 2 lane roads so I could take my driver's license test. I shifted the 4-speed manual transmission like a NASCAR pro, having thoroughly qualified the skill on the dirt road down from my house on Arnold Mill road. My Mom would watch me pull out of our driveway and motor down a quarter mile to a dirt rod, so I could develop the skills safely and as soon as I was out of her sight, I would gun the motor and run that back road as if I had 10 Federal cars in pursuit.

I knew nothing of Ralph Nadar's book, "Unsafe at any speed", which doomed the Corvair and I did donuts and slid sideways as often as the dirt road would allow. I was learning to drive and in North Georgia at that time, it was a much needed skill. When winter arrived, I was well prepared for the black ice and using a clutch at the top of a hill to negotiate a right turn at a stop sign using all 3 pedals. I was developing skills most Baytownians would be solely lacking under the same circumstances, as this was my Drivers Education.

To date, I have never caused an accident. Maybe this is because I still keep the one car length for every 10 miles per hour rule I learned in the driver's handbook. I still do this, even on the crowded freeways. If people want to jump over in front of me to fill that void and, I let them and I don't get mad. I leave enough space that I don't even have to tap my brakes.

In 1986, my paternal grandfather's passing necessitated I make the drive from Baytown to Atlanta in winter. My brothers and I were allowed to take Bob Bailey's big Olds and we headed East on I-10 into what was heralded as the worst snowstorm in I-10's history. Prior to this, I had spent 2 winters in Montana, while stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base and had made a trip across the Continental Divide to try and bring back an AWOL Airman. I was driving my personal vehicle, a 1952 International pickup and we went up and over the Divide in deep snow and after not finding the fellow, made the return trip at night again in heavy snow. I was 18 years old.

I still remember coming to a full stop on the top of a mountain and a herd of mule deer walking slowly in front of me and my 24 year old sergeant. He was from Pennsylvania and used to heavy snow, but he didn't feel comfortable enough in those conditions to ask to drive.  On our way to Atlanta, my brothers and I witnessed very many instances of 18-wheeler trucks off the side of the road and many cars, but I kept rolling east until we slid into hilly Atlanta. During our stay there, I taught two of my younger brothers how to drive on ice and snow, as they got their licenses years later in Houston.

What in the world does all of this have to do with us in 2017 and driving in the city limits of Baytown and Harris county? Everything. It's a war zone out there. I hate it and love it. At 65, I have 50 years experience in navigating roads and streets. I admit I am very judgmental, but also surprisingly tolerant at times. If you have a handicap tag or a very gray head, I am forgiving, If you have a cell phone stuck to your face, I am unsympathetic to your lack of awareness. You will get my custom "ah-oo-ga" horn every time. My bride hates this by the way and often blurts, "Please don't!"

I am a very deliberate driver, in that I am a stickler for coming to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights and if you tailgate or try to pressure me by getting on my bumper, you are going to get a very good look at my Vietnam Veteran license plates and a good squirt of my windshield washer fluid as it blows over the top of my Jeep. If you are too close to me, I will slow down, inhibiting your progress. Driving too close to another vehicle is like walking one foot behind someone on a sidewalk. It's very rude and I do not tolerate rude behavior on almost any level. I make no apology for my reaction when operating a moving vehicle.

I think drivers forget that they are actually hurtling through space when driving and forget they are risking their and your life so they can get where they are going. This is why they do everything under the sun when driving. They accelerate to a red light and never think braking is the solution to any situation. Lord help you if you try to pull out in front of them, as they will automatically accelerate to close whatever gap was there. Here we are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ child and you would think that maybe, just maybe, the spirit of this gift would play into their thoughts.

We have a few days left to be kind to each other before Christmas and then a whole new year to make changes in how we approach the simple act of driving a car and the people around us. How about we start today to be more considerate and slow down? Leave a little earlier and when someone wants to change lanes in front of us, we let off the gas and let them in. Merry Christmas.

 .

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The intricate web of integrity and ethics.




Integrity and ethics are two very sticky wickets which can ensnare us if we are not careful. Doing the right thing should always be our intention, but we let deviations into our lives which can break these subtle rules. A simple example is we criticize people for not coming to a complete stop at a red light and then taking a right, or maybe they do not use their turn signal. Later in the day, we break both of these rules because we are distracted or in a hurry. We protectively excuse ourselves, but go right back to criticizing others.

Practicing what we preach is not as easy as it sounds. We rationalize and excuse our own deviations and that is the gray area I'm writing about. I personally battle this all the time. Throw in the Golden rule and I'm really in violation.

Let's take a look at ethics just to be clear. Ethics is the "moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity." Ethics is how we deal with what is right and what is wrong. With the disintegration of the traditional single marriage family unit, conventional spiritual training has taken a back seat to the necessity that both parents work. This essential childhood grass root training doesn't exist in many people in 2017. Right and wrong was learned in day care, school, peers, television and most of all, Social media.

This pretty much explains what we see and hear that goes on around us today. If you've ever wondered why people can't distinguish between right and wrong, there is your answer. They want it, so getting it is simply a matter of taking it. Their idea of ethics is so far removed from the Greatest Generation's teaching as to be unrecognizable. Their world and wants are the only world that matters to them and once again, the easiest way to see this in action is to get in your car and drive.

Now, let's look at another human value that is disappearing - Integrity. Integrity is the "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values". One of the most insulting sayings I know to describe a person with no integrity is that they are "anybody's dog that will walk them". If money can shut your mouth - you have lost your integrity and this is especially relevant today. If you have been so shamed and violated that you claim to be traumatized, no amount of money should be able to set you straight. By taking the money, you just became a prostitute. I would use the language Ann Coulter uses, but I'm not that good of a writer.

How can you have integrity without a set of ethics to live by? Social Media on one hand can be a guide, but on the other, it can be horribly destructive. There is a group on Facebook concerning Baytown that I refuse to join and it starts with the word "Nosey". People use profanity and are rude in many cases and after one day on it, I felt it violated my ethics. I refuse to eat at that trough. If I want to discuss things in Baytown on social media, I'll do it on baytowntalks.net or through my FB friends. If people are rude, I simply block them. "I ain't got time for dat" and my personal code of behavior keeps me in check, especially when I am online.

A battle takes place in my mind concerning my code of ethics and personal integrity and I think it sums up how all of us should think. If we truly have a code of ethics, we should be very careful if and when we decide to bend them. It can be the smallest of violations, like when someone shows you their ugly child's photo and you decide to not tell them the truth. "What a cutey patooty!" you exclaim, while inwardly cringing. After all, your code of ethics is to not lie, right? Yes, I know, it is silly, but you get my point. The next day you find a woman's purse in the parking lot of the new grocery store and in plain site is a bank envelope flush with hundred dollar bills.  Man, that sure would help Santa out this year, right? My code says I return it regardless of how much money is in it... I think.

"You touched me inappropriately!" "Okay, here's some money. Don't say a word." "Okay, I won't."

Remember this, if money can buy you, it can buy you at any level. It can shush you for the most heinous of crimes and social violations. All they have to do to de-rail you is raise the amount high enough for you to discard your ethics and integrity. The news programs are showing us examples of it every day and I do think it is important to understand this. Politicians, actors, singers, office workers, business partners - you name it; if they pay out or take money they lose all integrity. Both parties are guilty.
 .

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Cesspool Politics is the Hand we are Dealt



Navigating the muddy waters of the great Mississippi River back in Mark Twain's time was risky business because of whirlpools, eddys, and hidden debris. Ship captains and pilots were skilled at identifying them for the sake of their passengers and cargo and when they failed to recognize the danger, many times disaster resulted. News of this went unreported, because the average person had no way to read about it.

In this great boat we Americans share, we are still very much dependent and at the mercy of those elected "captains" to keep us from sinking, or being offered in sacrifice for the good of the people. They are every bit as skilled at manipulating the muddy waters of politics as those salty old sailors were on the Mississippi river. They are even better at hiding the actual facts when they run us ashore or into an eddy. It isn't accurately reported because the issue is so cloudy, no one knows who to blame, or what actually took place.

We don't know what or who to believe anymore.

On top of all that, they collude with their own crowd to keep their boat afloat, often realizing the only way to keep at the helm is to appear innocent, or vilify another captain. A heavy cloud of offensive attack silt is their defense. Imagine a ship captain who spends almost all of their time on the bridge, trying to keep in the middle of the river. They have no intention of ever arriving. Their main goal is to stay on as captain. Around them are their team of pilots who make every decision appear to be exactly the right choice.

The cargo and passengers are fed a steady diet of "we are almost there" and the journey becomes the goal, not the arrival. The dangers in the river become any other ship captain who doesn't carry the same cargo. Aside from navigating the muddy water, the ship captain now spends every available minute hiding their mistakes, indiscretions, expenditures, and focuses on pontificating on projected accomplishments. Their real skill is in what comes out of their mouth and how well they navigate the muddy waters, not in actually arriving at a suitable destination.

The skilled navigators claim allegiance to one faction or another, but in reality, they all belong to the same company. This company's goal is to grow fabulously rich and for the cargo and passengers to stay in a suspended state of supportive limbo.

When they feel like they are in a safe place, they collude with other safe captains to make it impossible for unsafe captains to navigate effectively. The traffic on the river is enormous, with many boats and each of them represent a certain portion of the entire populace, but it matters not to veteran captains. What matters to them is they stay safely in the middle of the river and watch with giddiness when the less skilled crash on the shoreline or are sucked up in a whirlpool. They leap on their failure like the white whale crashed into the Pequod, spouting righteousness and indignation as a representative of the investors.

From the time they arrive as the decorated captain, the original intent of being a steward of the cargo and passengers is set aside and they begin the self-serving task of keeping the boat safely afloat. Never mind that their investors intend for them to represent. It matters not, because the river system is so well established that it is impossible for them to do anything except join the other captains in the illusion of progressive travel.

Along the way, they milk the investors until they have acquired vast personal wealth. If by chance the investors launch a rogue admiral on the river, every captain is alarmed and threatened and their only recourse is to attempt to undermine them. Collusion takes on a magnified meaning, as both sides join hands, whispering and plotting. Under the auspices of reaching the suitable destination, the pirate captains churn the waters to make them even muddier and then blame the new admiral for the cloudy cesspool they've historically called home.

When the admiral refuses to paddle along and suggests filtering the river until it's clean, the captains respond by revving up their paddle wheels and creating even cloudier water. The reason for this behavior is they are not representing the investors and keeping at the helm is their only goal. They feel threatened and exposed. Only by steering the boat can they gain the prosperity and power they desire. Investors are considered as nothing more than stupid and a means toward an end. The admiral must be discredited.

The river system is what it is. It may be too large and too muddy to ever filter. The captains control the investors and the cargo and yet, we keep pumping our money into the system wanting to believe something will change. Unfortunately for us, probably not in our lifetime.
 

Monday, December 04, 2017

How do you explain why you do not follow the rules



How do you explain why you do not follow the rules
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Geocaching Instructor - Baytown, Texas

This game has morphed many times in how many of us play it and aside from some old faithful's who follow the letter of the law, many of us have modified our approach to the geocaching game. Am I saying we break rules?  Nope. What I am saying is many of us now play the game instead of the game playing us. I'll be honest and admit, I bend the rules occasionally - well, maybe too often. HoustonControl is my mentor and he attempts to keep me out of Groundspeak jail, as does our reviewers Vertighost and Reviewer Revan, who are my geo-friends.

I've written a good number of primers on how I see the best way to play the game and with a few minor exceptions, I play by the rules. My fellow geocachers for instance know I mostly do not sign the log on a nano. The reason is I figure I am doing the CO a favor by not filling up his small slip of paper and second, it's a danged hassle. I'll create a field note (sorry, I mean a DRAFT!) and write something like black nano in pipe (to post in personal notes) and then I'll place the magnetic pencil eraser-size container in between my eyes on my glasses and post a photo. If they want to erase my log, so be it, but I am probably not going to sign the log.

 Now mind you, I have literally risked my life on a cliff or up in a tree to sign a log, as I believe in that aspect.  You must sign the log to get credit for finding it. Now, after saying that, I will not erase a log if the person says they didn't sign it, because this invokes another law of geocaching physics - truth in logging. I believe in telling the truth and this has brought about a bit of controversy amongst veterans down here in Houston, Texasland. This is a game of integrity, right?

Let's talk DNF's. What I see and I admit, I may be wrong, some geocachers will "forget" to post a DNF. For reasons only they can justify, they simply forget 100% of the time. Another item is posting that you used a PAF (Phone a friend) or god forbid, you called the cache owner and got the down low on placement. the log is mysteriously absent of these details. "This one took a few minutes, but I got it!  TFTC!"

Some cachers are adamant: "If I don't sign the log, I won't post it as found!" and I give them a high five.  Me? If I'm in the middle of a bayou or creek and there are 20 of us kayaking, I log it, even though I was explaining the fine points of logging to a fellow enthusiast 50 meters away. We sign as a group and off we go on a geocaching adventure.

Now I've never participated in one of the famous power trails where a group of geocachers can log a 1000 caches in one day, so the vast majority of the time, I am solo and going full legit. I'm good with both.  I carry a lot of geocaching supplies in my Jeep (Tha Choppa - 9Z1HCA) and I repair cache containers and logs as I go. I do this because I want to contribute to the game, rather than leach off it. I say "leach" as I believe some veterans have become so number conscious that they have little time to post corrected coordinates or slap a new baggie and log inside a container. YMMV and this may really rankle your bones, but I am simply saying what I have observed. "Found cache 86 feet from coords" is a poor excuse for posting better coords. At least say it was west, for golly's sake.

Let's take a look at cache maintenance. As I write this, I have 230 active caches I maintain. Because I have all but wiped out all available caches out to 20 miles, I do a pocket query for new caches, archived caches, and cache maintenance out to 40 miles. In the Houston area, this is easily a lot of caches. The rules state that you should perform cache maintenance in a timely manner. If 6 geocachers can't find your 2.5/2.0 cache in 7 months, don't you think it might be a good idea to check on it? You did when you first started hiding caches, so why not now? Some veterans actually get testy if you post a needs maint attribute on their cache! Really?

How about this rule: Cache owners who do not maintain their existing caches in a timely manner may temporarily or permanently lose the right to list new caches on Geocaching.com? Is it enforced?  Not that I can tell, but it is in the rule book.

In summation, the three top rules in my book are tell truth in logging, cache maintenance in a timely manner, and sign the log (unless its a nano!).
.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Geocaching Adventures in Baytown



If you have read me for any length of time, you are aware I play a high-tech adventure game called geocaching. The city of Baytown has openly embraced this game as a tourist attraction and launched an ambitious project called a geotour. Now what in the world does this have to do with you? Everything, as it is open for all ages and physical abilities, especially if you team up with friends.


Everything you need to know about the game can be learned by visiting geocaching.com and opening a free account or you can attend my next geocaching 101 class February 17, 2018 at the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center at 10am. At 11am, we will have a geocaching herpetologist from Precinct 4 give a class on identifying snakes and its all free.


Now what's it all about and why should you consider doing it? The game can be played by downloading a free app from geocaching.com to your phone. Once you a geocaching name and the app, you do a search of the area around you by using your zip code. Presto! Geocaches are all over Baytown! All of them have a scale of 1 to 5 on difficulty and terrain. Go easy on yourself and look for the ones with lower ratings.

You will need a pen or pencil to sign the piece of paper inside the "cache" container. This is a must do item. If you don't sign as proof that you were there, you cannot log it as "found" on the Internet. Geocaches come in all sizes and shapes and some are as small as a pencil eraser or as big as a 5 gallon bucket. Some caches have items for trading, called swag and the rule is if you take something, you have to leave something of equal or greater value.

When you locate the cache container, you open it and sign the log, trade items if you want and then place it back where you got it. This is very important because of our changing flora. If a geocacher hides a container in barren winter, it can be very difficult to locate after spring and summer growth. This is one reason that many containers are tethered. Make sure to write a good log of your adventure.

Geocaching, as in the geotour will take you all over town to many places you never have visited and thus it is a real kid-friendly adventure. You can get your geotour passport at Bucee's at the tourism kiosk and find your first geocache also! City parks, historic markers, old building, cemeteries, bike trails, hiking locations are all open for adventure right here in town. Some are bike friendly, others you can take a wheelchair or stroller right up to them.  One of the longest playing members of the game in the Houston area is very active and is 82 years young. He's the Yoda of geocaching here and goes by the title ParkerPlus.

Baytown's most famous geocacher is Larry Houston (HoustonControl) and he will be moving to the Hill country in the hear future. HC started playing this game in 2005 and is still very active, hiding a multi-cache this week.  A "multi" means that once you get to the coordinates, you will find another set you must follow until it finally takes you to the location with the log book. This particular one has a wireless beacon in number one which if you have a device that can receive the signal, you can proceed to the next stage. He makes provision for those who don't have the device also.

Goose Creek and Cedar Bayou have geocaches all up and down them that can accessed by Jon boat, kayak, or canoe and every trail in town is peppered with geocaches for your hiking and biking pleasure. There is another aspect of this game that adds to the fun and it is trackable items which have a code on them. When you find one of these items in a geocache, you can "grab" it, but you can't keep it. They move from geocache to geocache and pick up mileage which is recorded online by your logs. If you find one and you are not sure what to do, just take a photo of the code (don't publish the photo) and log this code to get credit for "discovering" it.

This is a game of numbers and the day you find your first geocache, you will be so proud of yourself. The next milestone will be your 50th or 100th find, etc. The next thing you know, you will be on vacation looking for geocaches and finding the neatest and coolest places that you would never see without playing this fun game. My geocaching handle is BaytownBert and all of my geocaches start with BB. Ready to play?
.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankfully, we have an anchor!



 Today is Thanksgiving? Already? My grandson swam in the pool Monday. Am I the only one who feels like we are hurtling over the surface of the earth at an accelerated rate? Wasn't school just let out for summer break? Christmas lights are going up in the neighborhood and one fellow just took down his Halloween stuff. Veterans Day was yesterday. Hunting season just began and already they're playing Home Alone on the TV box! I'm expecting Andy William's on the radio any time now.

When I was a kid (something like 20 years ago) everything moved at a snail's pace in comparison to what I see and feel now. I've actually tried to counteract the acceleration by not exceeding the speed limit, but everyone whizzing past me ruins the effect. I told my bride the other day that I drove down SH-146 to Webster and never went faster than 60 miles per hour. It was weird, as cars and trucks blew past me like I was Mr. MaGoo. Note: Did you know his first name was Quincy?

I was informed, more than once, that as we age, we lose reference points and it will appear that things are happening faster than they once did. I check my wrist watch - yes, I still wear one, and it clicks away second by second, so what's the deal here? I can remember some major issues with clarity, like the 9-11 disaster and baby Jessica, but I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. Heck, I can't remember yesterday.

If I don't see someone's kid for a few weeks, they are suddenly in the 5th grade! I mow the lawn and the next day it is 4 inches high again - well, I did mow it yesterday and that should hold it for spring - in TWO WEEKS! I'm keeping fairly busy, but time is either in front of me or behind. "What, it's only 2pm?  It feels like its 5!" or "7:30! Where did the day go?" I am seriously trying to sync here folks.

I've had a subscription to Popular Mechanics for quite a few years and the gadget section is always fascinating to me and one day I realized that everything they are offering is already obsolete. Technology is increasing exponentially and my ability to process is going in the opposite direction. My bride is worse off than I and its taken her a year to get used to a key fob instead of a key for her vehicle. Thank goodness my 2011 Jeep Wrangler still uses a key or I would be in the same predicament.

I think one of the main culprits in this disruptive time space continuum is technology and our instant access to it. We don't have to think or spell, or remember anything. We can simply access it via a smartphone. Lord help you if you don't have one! You are akin to an 8-track player in a streaming world. If you are really lucky, you are a 33 RPM LP or can I say it? A 78 RPM LP? When modern kids hold an audio cassette in their hand and are told it has music on it, they hold it to their ear or ask where the headphone jack is. Understanding that music is on a vinyl long playing black record would really be a challenge for them.

What is the old saying? "I've forgotten more than you've learned?" This is probably true for most of us, who grew up memorizing everything. When we bought a 33 RPM record album, we spent hours studying the jacket cover and the photos and maybe, just maybe the lyrics were included. We learned everything about the songs and the band. These days, all of that can be summed up by the famous youtube star Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that sweet Jesus."

Thanksgiving Day is simply a day to be thankful. Memorial, Halloween, Easter, Independence day, and Christmas are debatable holidays to some, but I think all of us can agree that a day of Thanksgiving is perfectly proper. Whether you can trace your lineage to the Mayflower, or a tiny island in the South Pacific, all of us should take a knee today and offer up a great big thank you. Hug your friends and family and say all the right things and in some cases, start over.

You have a whole year ahead of you to build up material for next years Thanksgiving day, which will be here in a couple of months.
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Aging is not for wimps



 
I finally arrived and begrudgingly have to admit that I have evolved into the grasp of the aged father time. Once nimble digits punched away on my keyboard and ordered a heating pad. Yes, I bought a heating pad. I have to confess that I had to make 3 corrections on my order because my fingers don't want to follow my brain's orders to push them all the way down or hit the keys I intended.

The old man, dressed in a white robe, long white beard and rusty scythe has taken up residence in the home 20, but has mercifully spared my bride. I detest the unwelcome visitor/resident and have sought help in evicting him. 2017 has become the year that I learned I am no longer the phenomenal athlete I once truly believed I was.

Bullet proof was a good description of me and other than the occasional fender benders our bodies experience, I always ricocheted and kept right on truckin'. I scoffed at lesser beings who seemed to be disintegrating in front of me and smugly declared that I must be living right. Being self-righteous has its moment of karma to be sure.

It all began to unravel for me in March when I noticed I had a stiff neck. I awoke early and figured I had slept in a position that caused the malady. I was scheduled to instruct an indoor cycling class at the NASA location of the gym named after the clock. I drove down and did the class and by the time it was over, I was in such pain I felt like going to the emergency room. I don't handle pain well.

To make a long story less boring, here I am 8 months later still attempting to straighten out my neck. I have what they call spinal stenosis or a narrowing of the bone channel occupied by the spinal nerves or the spinal cord. It's not uncommon I'm told and was exacerbated by injuries I incurred years ago. My VA doctor described it as "nasty neck" and that sums it up pretty well.

The VA's solution was massive amounts of steroids both orally and by neck injection and enough pills to put me in atrial fibrillation or A-fib.  At one point, my blood pressure hit 180 over 120 and they feared I was going to have a stroke. They determined I now needed to see a hematologist who prescribed me... more prednisone! I was now up to 13 meds and decided to simply stop taking all of them except my original blood pressure pill. They were killing me with medicine and actually induced gout with one of them.

I am one month withdrawn from all that and my blood pressure has returned to normal. My neck still hurts and after 6 weeks of acupuncture treatments, my 5 week long headache is gone. The chronic pain I suffered during the 5 months the VA prescribed pain pills is basically gone also. At one point I took 180 Tramadol pills in a little over a month. I imagine my liver looks like hamburger meat.

I am now being treated by a chiropractor here in Baytown with both painful and pain-relieving results. My gym visits have all but stopped with an occasional foray into spin class to keep my legs from atrophying. I have had to accept the sad fact that I am 65 and not 25 and that is the hardest thing for me to mentally digest. There is a silver lining in all of this though. I've learned to take control of what meds I will actually ingest. I now read the warnings and have adjusted what I eat and drink. I should have been doing this all along. The 5 months I let the doctors prescribe pills did not help me. I simply suffered through it.

It wasn't until I sought alternative medical help with the acupuncturist and chiropractor that I made progress. I think sometimes we need to listen to our bodies instead of turning them over to experts. I made some serious changes in my dietary habits and have rubbed enough topical analgesics into my neck to lubricate an 18-wheeler. I force myself to drink 8 bottles of water a day. So, I bought a heating pad and it seems to really be doing some good. If it means I am an old person, so be it. I need it.

My next evolution is to get a couple pairs of khaki pants, some brown brogan shoes or those tennis shoes with Velcro tabs, and a light-weight cane. So, when you see me out and about, don't be shocked, be gentle. Be kind and take control of your health.
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Can't we all just get along?



BB's hyperbolic take: It appears the answer to all this hormone-driven male sex drive business is for the government to develop some sort of vaccine to involuntarily inoculate all heterosexual males entering puberty. This is the only way to ultimately protect females and limit males from possibly becoming predatory and actually desiring a female and the almost certainty that they will physically act upon it.
Better safe than sorry, is what I say. We simply must stop males from acting on their hormonal urges. There is no other way to ensure females from unwanted sexual inclinations real or imagined. That 16 year old female on her first date will be guaranteed her virtue will remain intact - if she has a first date and can find a willing heterosexually inoculated male willing to go with her.


In the event that a female (over the age of 18) actually desires the physical attention of a male, the willing male may choose at that time to have the vaccine temporarily reversed ( 6 hour limit for safety). In the event that the male is not willing to take the injection, the willing female will be allowed the option to have a court order issued to reverse the treatment to "wake up" the male from sexual slumber.


Think of a world where no heterosexual male ever acts in a sexually unwanted and distasteful manner (or even notices a female) and it would free females up from spending hours in their bathrooms primping to attract said males. There would be no need to wear perfume, get their hair "did" or buy an extensive wardrobe. An old pair of jeans and a cotton T-shirt would level the playing field quite nicely. Throw in that single pair of filthy Nike's and the wardrobe would be complete. To shave or not shave would have the same decision-making option as most males.


Equality of the sexes demands we erase sexual attraction. Flirting would be totally erased, buying females that special measure of comfort they so desire. Heterosexual males would show females the same amount of attention they show other males, cutting down on banter and awkward and uncomfortable verbal exchanges. Males could focus more time on things that matter to them, like not doing chores, observing more time for sports, hunting, fishing, and lounging.

Instead of developing years on how to sexually reward males, young females could devote their whole lives to the workforce, working as much overtime as possible, and supplying their personal wants and needs. Just think of how much "stuff" one person could accumulate if all you had to worry about was yourself? The list is endless. Without selfish males, females would not be encumbered with childbirth to hinder their upward and safe mobility. Being no longer testosterone driven, docile males wouldn't give a flip who was their boss as long as they get their downtime for *sports programming and personal leisure.

Other than cardio, there would be no reason to try and look fit. Baggy clothing will be the norm, as everyone knows it is more comfortable. Some vocations would be erased, such as the male-driven prostitute and  porn industry, along with high-fashion and cosmetics. Why bother with all this when no one cares?
I imagine as testosterone finally ebbs to the point that males are no longer the raging sexual problem they are now, crime will almost come to a halt. Lawyers and police officers will be predominantly female as males will simply be entertainment oriented and easy going. They will seek out non-sexual companion males, as females will be viewed as demanding and goal oriented. All in all it surely is a viable option and needs further study.
 
*Note: Athletes and selected Breeders will be given an inoculation waiver.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

America's Soft Underbelly Exposed



If I were in a position to grab a podium and have cameras flash at me to hear what I had to say about the political turmoil going on in our country, I definitely wouldn't want to be seen as someone who is shredding it apart. I wouldn't stand up with a list of 79 angry accusations and problems, but rather identify areas that need to change for the better... and then offer solutions. Honestly in all of these various protests what I am seeing is all gripe and no solution. The waters are so muddy, it's difficult to understand what anyone is complaining about.

I wouldn't scream or yell or call names. I would simply state my case and ask for accountability and then I would suggest 90 days to come up with answers. That's what I would do. I'm not very big on crowds, especially angry crowds.

I didn't get a 2, 4, 6, or 8 year degree and maybe that's the problem. Instead, with my 12 year public school education, I went off to an increasingly unpopular war and lived in a 3rd World country for 651 days and got a real eyeful of just how great it is to live here in the US of A.

I can still think for myself. I have no inclination to make a major change in my life based on what someone in the entertainment industry or sports world thinks. They have the same amount of votes I have. Their agenda is not mine and I don't gain a vicarious thrill by aligning myself with them. Our "News" people don't give us the unbiased news; they interpret it for us so we can understand what conclusions to draw. They surely believe we cannot think for ourselves and anytime I read or hear a far left or right rant I know I am experiencing something I should probably ignore.

November 11th holds special meaning to my family aside from it being Veteran's Day. It's my son's birthday. He would be 34. It wasn't meant to be and like so many returning military, he simply could not find a way to adjust. One fateful night, his anti-depressant medicine from the VA and a bit too much Wild Turkey took him from us. That was 8 pain-filled years ago. He laid down and never woke up. He was as much a victim of the war experience as those sailors who drown when the USS Indianapolis sunk.

Speaking of that, I was honored by the Lion's club this week to be their speaker. My subject was my relationship with Lindsey "Zeb" Wilcox, who was a survivor of the shark-infested disaster. He told me one time that he always had the same nightmare - for over 60 years. He was a very kind and gentle man and one would never know or comprehend what he went through.

If anyone asks what to say to a veteran to show your appreciation, simply say "Thank you for your service." That simple line suffices and I want to say in return, thank you for supporting your coastie, soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman. No man or woman goes off to war without bringing their family with them. Families suffer through their time at war and most Veterans don't seem to recognize this. I do and I did. Thank you. So to you Veterans, when someone thanks you for your service, thank them back for their support.

In so many ways we are becoming a nation with a giant soft under-belly and this concerns me a great deal. When an Army deserter and traitor can walk free, then we are in big trouble. When an Army officer can pull a gun, yell "Allahu Akbar", and chop down soldiers in front of witnesses and receive 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder and years later is still alive, something has went seriously wrong with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This man is clearly a terrorist and a traitor and should have been executed moments after they stopped him. I wonder how he would have fared under George Washington. Berdahl is a traitor, plain and simple.

I am all for laws, as we have a republic, but when terrorists are caught in the act, justice should be served in a very timely manner. How is it that someone can murder a group of people in plain sight with many witnesses and it be 18 months before their case is heard in court? In comparison, a Hollywood actor can simply be accused of a sexual crime and have all their shows cancelled immediately. The actor is tried and convicted without due process and no one seems to care other than stomping on their reputation. This makes no sense to me.

If you are accused of child neglect or abuse or sexual misconduct in this country, you are going down and down hard, regardless of what is later revealed, but you can be a mass murderer and get all the time in the world to clear yourself. It's exploitation of that soft underbelly we now have and it's getting softer and bigger every day. A strong military is no match for those who never cease to try and weaken our country. When I joined the military, I understood I was waiving my constitutional rights. Now? It doesn't matter. Our military judges are weak and scared of public opinion. If you think I am wrong, ask any veteran what should have happened to Sergeant Bergdahl or Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

Traitor and murderer Major Nidal Malik Hasan.     

The Culture, Trash, and Crime Connection

I was talking to a retired Indian couple at the gym the other day before spin class started. They are totally pleasant and both have...