Thursday, October 26, 2017

Is It Time To Revisit The Dictionary?

Every time I make a purchase these days, it seems the person working the register will ask me to swipe my card. I always want to retort "Why should I swipe what I already own?" or "Madam, do I look like a thief to you and what is this card you mention?" Being an ancient man (like Melvin Roarke), I remember when swiping something meant you stole it or tried to. I wonder if any of these debit/credit machines have a slot on the side. Would that mean I should "side-swipe" the card to get the correct screen?

One of my favorite word whipping posts is the word "perversion" or "pervert". It has lost all reasonable meaning in common dialogue. In current earth orbit, if a guy compliments a woman on her figure, he is often labeled a pervert. If he says, "That stupid woman almost ran me over", he's misogynic and a woman basher and probably a pervert, for good measure. If she happens to be of a different race, he's most certainly racist, and god help the fellow if he's straight and the woman is transgender. He should be killed or at least arrested, according to what bologna is currently being shoved down our collective throats.

I want to explain myself here with a couple of examples. Recently, a 21 year old college student "lady" accused the hip hop artist Nelly of assaulting her on his tour bus in Washington state. Never mind that she went willingly into the lair of a spider, is of legal age, and the fact that she now refuses to testify, the artist is still being investigated for rape. No one is accusing him now, but he is still a rapist! Think about what I am about to say.

Nelly is a hip hop artist whose biggest hit is "It's getting hot in herre (here). The lyrics tell you to take off all your clothes. So, why on earth would a young "lady" get on his tour bus alone with him, unless she understood what was most likely to happen? It is akin to placing your hand in the jam of a door and slamming said door. Your chance of injury is 99%.

Given the choice of taking a cab, or a shortcut down a dark forbidden alley in a known mugging area to save a few bucks, which one would you take? If you are an attractive female (and you know this because men are attracted to you) and a famous/rich person sends their lackey to ferret you out to visit them in a private audience, why would you go? You think they want to make small talk? If you do, you are the definition of both naiveté and ignorance. Do I think you deserve to be molested? No, but just like the dark alley, somewhere in your pea-sized brain there should be a warning going off.

There is a giant difference between entertainers who party with girls willing to party and sexual predators like Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein and there is a bit of difference in these two. Bill Clinton would and probably still does send out lackeys to lure women into his bed according to their own testimony. He occasionally would offer them good paying jobs.  Mr. Weinstein pretty much made it mandatory that if they were going to work in Hollywood, they had to pass the gold standard. Neither of these men are perverts. They like women and they use their positions to coerce them.

Now, let's talk about a pervert. Bill Cosby. Bill used his fame to get in close to many beautiful women in the Playboy Mansion and then... he doped them. When they would wake up hours later, they would have no memory of what happened. Bill is a classic pervert. He's the real deal. The women he "dated" knew they were playing with fire and if they would have been smart, they would have seen him as a "dangerous alley at night time", but they went with him anyway. Did they deserve to be drugged and molested?  No. Were they there on their own admission and not coerced? Yes.

Words like racism, misogyny, Fascism, predator, and perversion are being manipulated by extremists to the point that they are losing their true meaning. Anyone who uses these words needs to drag out their dictionary and relearn what they either never knew, or have forgotten. When we as the public hear politicians and angry mobs screaming these words, we need to recognize their misuse. It might not be a bad idea to read that last sentence again.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Republic for which it stands

Our founding fathers gave us a Republic, not a Democracy.

I was probably about 17 the first time I picked up a copy of George Orwell's book, 1984. I'm thinking this was 1969 and just before I real Tolkien's trilogy the first time. We were coming out of the turbulent 1960's and I was a young man close to graduating high school with no plan for my future. All that was about to change with the Vietnam War on my horizon, but I didn't know that. I learned of the horror of war about this time when I found a copy of "Johnny got his gun". About 10 years ago, I reread it and Fahrenheit 451.

I have this predilection to read everything concerning a subject until I fully understand it. For instance, about 20 years ago I became interested in black history. 19 books later, I pushed back from the library table, sated. Unfortunately, like food for the stomach, I consume this knowledge and it fades, so once again I find I need to go back and reread some material. This is what is happening now with the book "1984". Now somewhere over the years, I also saw the movie and have heard reference to this book many times. Now it comes to me that many of the folks who claim knowledge of it have only seen the movie.

If they would have read the book, they would be shaking in their boots over the current climate in the United States social political scene. Donald Trumps systematic dismantling of the oligarchic democracy would be impossible in Orwell's dystopian society. Heck, it might just be impossible in ours. Our government has ceased to be a republic and we proles don't even know it - or care. As long as we get our government bread and circuses, we are happy to be blissfully ignorant of how a select few dictate what we accept as the norm.

Our government has directly adopted Orwell's War is Peace philosophy and each new President, regardless of said position carries it forward. The United States is the most predatory country on earth. In the name of freedom, we walk all over countries traditions and culture and ruin them. To get an idea of how many troops we have in foreign countries "protecting them", our military in Europe spends close to a million dollars a day on alcohol and food alone. War means money and by golly, we are good at it. The USA spends more on "defense" than the next 7 countries put together. We have 200,000 troops stationed in 177 countries, yet we can't stop drugs from flooding into our own land.

Orwell coined the term Newspeak. While there are many interpretations of what exactly this is, suffice it to say almost everything we read and hear as news has been massaged to get across someone's interpretation. Gone are Chet and David and Walter. What we have now are a group of giddy news teams or angry late night "comedians" telling us the real dirt. When only 20% of the adult world will read a newspaper and 62% get all their "news" from Facebook, we have set ourselves up to run off the nearest cliff.

A man at work one day got defensive and all but yelled "I don't discuss politics with friends!" I looked at the fellow and I swear the thought that ran through my mind was, "Well then, who do you discuss them with - enemies?" Anyone who challenges you to define what you believe, is your friend. Don't get mad or defensive, get educated. If you belly up to The View to get the news, then god bless you, but I wouldn't recommend that line. I watch the athletes taking a knee at professional sports venues and I wonder how much history do they know or care about. I watch angry people incited by who knows who, stage protests, yet when reporters ask them to define their grievances, they are so vague that a 5th grader would walk away confused.

As in 1984, we are erasing history until many people cannot explain major events. Ask about the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed 20-50 million people worldwide and they stare back at you with hollow eyes. Don't even ask them about World War One... or Two or the Civil War. They think Vietnam was WWII in size and scope and their line of reference is Saving Private Ryan. At the end of the movie, many couldn't tell which war it was.

It's time to drain the swamp. Boot out the old guard and bring in the new who remember what a Republic is. Our democratic oligarchy is killing our freedoms. We must vote out the established cancerous system. Privileged "representatives" on both sides of our government are screaming foul because they see their thrones threatened. Their only concern is staying in office. It doesn't matter who is in the White House as long as they can conduct business as usual and that business has nothing to do with you or me.

Freedom of speech? There is no freedom of speech, because of newspeak, political correctness trumps it. You literally cannot say anything that could possibly be offensive to one of 500 splinter groups or you are a monster. A monster and a pervert and a racist. People literally want to kill you or have you locked up. Back in the day, folks would just avoid you and mark you as someone undesirable, but they sure didn't try to stuff a sock down your throat. No. There is no first Amendment freedom of speech right. It's gone.

Time to vote. Time to drain the swamp.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Geocaching attire for Summer primer

Geocaching attire for Summer primer
By Bert Marshall (BaytownBert)
Ex- Southeast Texas Representative Texas Geocaching Association

Years ago when geocaching was relatively an unknown hobby, I was convinced that the best clothing I could wear was something that made me nearly invisible to the casual observer. I’ve changed my mind on that approach about ten times and finally arrived at what I now believe is the best choice.

First, let’s start with footwear. I am on my third or fourth pair of hiking boots and they are comfortable enough to run a 5K race and not get blisters. I wear Timberland White Ledge waterproof boots and although they wear out much quicker than, say, a $200 pair, I will continue to buy a new pair every couple of years because they are so comfortable and fairly light weight.

I wear them almost exclusively whether I am in the Grand Canyon or a parking lot looking for a skirt lifter. Footwear is under-rated by many cachers and I’ve seen Crocs and tennis shoes on the trail. The hiking boots offer arch and ankle support and to be honest, just look cool too. They look like you mean business and set you apart from muggles in some instances.

Next, let us move on to what sort of britches we need. I like shorts with side pockets. It’s hot here on the 29th parallel North most of the year. We hit 110 degrees F. (real feel temp) the early part of June and that is hot by any standard. Our humidity on the Gulf Coast of Texas exacerbates everything and for about 6 months of the year, shorts are a logical choice.

Now, Columbia Sportswear (and other companies) offer a rip-stop nylon pair of fishing pants with zippers at the knees to turn them into shorts. They have swimsuit inner crotch lining that wick moisture away from the body and are gaining popularity. They do not help you one iota in thorns though and the only remedy is denim or Kevlar chaps. For winter caching, wool is a great choice as it is warm wet or dry, but blue jeans are good also. However, for my primer, I am basically going to cover geocaching clothing for summer.

For headwear, nothing beats a Tilley hat in my experience. I can put my head down and push through the meanest brush and if it blows off my head when I’m kayaking – it floats. It’s guaranteed for life or they will replace it - and when you see people on Safari in Africa, that is hat they are wearing.

Occasionally I will bring a pair of gloves and a large Boy Scout-sized bandana. The material can be used for a number of life-saving techniques and a wonderful rag to wipe the sweat away. Like my shirts, the bandannas are colorful.

Now, what about a shirt? Like I said before, I once believed in being invisible. I now wear the brightest, loudest, and most visible Geocaching t-shirt I can muster. When I am approached by a home or land owner, I want them to not only see me, but have evidence by my shirt that I am playing the game; times two for police officers. Dressed as I do, I look like the opposite of someone about to commit a crime – unless it’s being cited as a fashion terrorist! When I offered this suggestion on social media for research and I had submissions of everything from sunscreen and bug spray to what have you. Many had no real long term experience, but those who did, pretty much parroted my own observations.

Add a bright orange or green safety vest and you are good to go!  So, that is my recommendations.  Let’s see what you think. Write back for others to learn from your experience. 

Where oh where did my cache go?

Where oh where did my cache go?
Bert Marshall (BaytownBert) Ex-SETX Rep Texas Geocaching Association.

Whenever I am explaining the game of geocaching to newbies, this particular line of questioning always surfaces. "What do you do with it when you find it? Do you keep it?" I explain that finding it is step one and the last step is replacing it exactly as you found it. What happens in the middle is the fun part. I then go on to explain signing the log, exchanging swag, and the possibility that a traveler or personal item is inside.

I own a rather peculiar cache in the Baytown area. GC75F4Q BB's (9AA) BHP TB Letterbox Motel!  It's a letterbox, a TB motel, and a large container. It is also the only premium member geocache I own. It currently has 12 travel bugs and a number of personal identification goodies inside.

I noticed a newbie premium cacher with 5 total finds found it a couple days ago and signed the log, "Nice find" with no mention of the travelers.  I just had to go and see if some were missing, or if the person just didn't understand what they were. Imagine my shock and horror when the container was gone! It's in the edge of the woods behind my house along the walking trail, overlooking a 14 acre pond with alligators in it.

My first thought was "Oh my god!  All of those travel bugs gone! How do I fix this? Do I just post that it was muggled? Do I write each person and tell them that maybe they will surface down the road? I began to look off into the woods, as it is very dense with thorns, as I could "kind of" see in there. I began looking for a place of ingress (commonly cryptically called a geotrail) thinking maybe they grabbed the container and took it out in the open to see what was inside and then forgetting, pushed back in.

This happens fairly often to containers that aren't tethered and quite often the cache gets moved, but this thing is a big protein container that you could stuff a large softball through its mouth.  Nothing, nothing, and then?  There it is, about 50 feet from where I hid it.  I blew out a lungful of thankfulness and retrieved it.  Opening it, I found all 12 travelers and the fellow's signature on the log. I replaced the geocache to match the coordinates and walked off relieved.

Now, this brings up what to do when you are sure you find an established geocache way off coordinates. Do you leave it and write a log explaining it needs owner intervention and post the coordinates of where you found it?  Yup! That is what you should do! But do most veteran cachers do this?  Nope, not in my experience. They write a vague, if anything log and leave it to find by the next unsuspecting cacher.  Why that's harsh BB!  Shame on you!  It is what it is and I am speaking from the vantage point of experience.

Think about. What do you, as a five year geocacher do when you encounter this phenomenon? I have located caches 100 feet off coordinates and read logs by my own peer group that said "expand your search" as advice. I know by the coordinates and hint where the cache is supposed to be. The absentee owner hasn't responded in 2 years. Call me whatever, but I carry it back to coordinates after calibrating my Garmin Oregon 650, and place it where it originated.

Then I log it as such.  "Found container 100 feet from posted coords.  Returned to coords and placed in accordance to hint on cache page."  Then I post a watch on the page and sure enough, other cachers begin finding it again. Quite often, being the anal retentive type, I do cache maintenance on it and add swag if it will fit.

I looked for a cache in Houston's Midtown 3 times before I reached out for help with a couple of PAF's only to hear back, "It's not at coords.  Its in the plants about 80 feet deeper in the alley and on the other side.  Six of us went in there and found it."  What?!  That's not what their logs said. The absentee owner hid it and people kept logging it for about 4 years. Me, actually believing it was where they said it was moved 20 to 30 feet up and down the vine covered fence 3 times with no luck.

Well, you guessed it.  It is now back at coords. I should have flagged it, but to keep the game going, I just returned it to the coords and the hint. Now understand me when I'm saying I do this at my own risk and I'm not telling or admonishing anyone to move a cache. If I get a dirty Rep for moving caches, then so be it, but I don't do it often AND I log it as such. I'm an advocate of truth in logging. If you do something, by all means, tell the truth.

So, in conclusion, the best thing to do is write a great log and post coordinates of what you find amiss.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Happiness is best served earned.

"True happiness comes from the fulfillment of our duties." This is one of my oldest and favorite locutions. The main reason is it simply sums up and answers the age old question of how to obtain peace and contentment. Think about it. In this one sentence is the key to happiness. Here all along I've been led to believe it was that shiny new truck, or that winning lotto ticket worth 70 bazillion koruna.

I first recognized the correlation between completing a task and feeling really good about myself in the mid to late 70's. I heard a sermon in church about wasting time; time that could be spent investing in service to Jesus. The preacher said "Procrastination is the thief of time." Research reveals it was penned in 1752 by Edward Young, but I can't say I heard it before that day. It stuck in my crop, so to speak. I had no idea at the time, that almost 40 years later, this would become my mantra.

Now, knowing to jump right on a project doesn't mean that the motivation will be right there like an over eager helper, because most times, it won't. It is very convenient to brush off the completion of a task due to our current economic standing and this justification is real a large percentage of the time, but that won't stop us from taking that same 60 bucks and going to Pappa's.

It is also extremely easy to forget that high-five ourselves feeling when we do right and complete a task. It could be small reward, like cutting the lawn, cleaning up our closet, or leveling that kitchen table your wife has been asking about for 6 months. Small jobs bring small, but nice rewards. The bigger and more difficult tasks can be performed by you, or someone you scheduled and both give us that great feeling of accomplishment.

I like to subtly remind my bride, oh, about 7 or 8 times after I get something done. I've been married long enough that "getting lucky" is a coveted pat on the head. Doing the task is reward enough and that satisfying feeling cannot be purchased with money. It is akin to the sensation we revel in when we perform an unselfish act. Let's face it, we are not going to get our jollies watching the news, weather, and now even sports has become a source of hand wringing. We have to reach from within. What?

Soul searching for that blood diamond? Grab a sheet of paper, cause "we gonna make a cipher!" Take a look around (Note: men just ask your wife) and pick the smallest tree in your forest and cut it down. Now take a break. You did it. You are a success story. Have a root beer. Tomorrow, pick the next tree. Each day you chop down another. Don't pick a 6 day $2300 project for starters, or chances are you'll enjoy that root beer while you ponder the economic blockade from the safety of your foxhole.

Go 5 days and take 2 off, but stay the course. That's what your list is for. Personal accountability and if you are like me, you staple the list to the inside of the garage closet door. This serves more than one purpose. It shows what you've done and it shows what you need to do, but it's also your trophies of accomplishment. Yea, you can gloat. Leave it up there too, even when it gets full.

Now, like I alluded to earlier when I said something about getting lucky. Don't believe it. If you do, then you are trapped into the false reward system and the first time there is no delivery, you will mope and whine like a 6 year old. We're going after the gold, baby! We want those reward endorphins that only come to us when we do good and they don't come from anyone else but good old us.
Now I realize I am writing this as if women are excluded, but the contrary is true. Pointing out projects for your mate to accomplish does not qualify you to get anything except frustrated. You have your own forest and your own axe (No, not the one you normally grind). Your plan is the same as his. Blood diamonds baby and the reward only comes by doing. I like to express to my bride that I didn't learn how to do whatever it is that she wants me to do, when I was attending school for that craft - because I didn't attend a school for that craft.

In short, do research on YouTube and it might just surprise you what all you can repair on your own. We are talking tasks, repairs, maintenance, and undesirables, right? Chances are if you don't want to do something, it is because you feel like it will be a hassle, too complicated, or just plain difficult. Okay. That's what your axe is for. That's why you feel so good when you chop that sucker down. 

Happiness is best served earned.
Alana Goodman Gill being happy.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

So much information, so little history

I was chatting with a young lady in Seattle while we were trying to set up my appointment to see a local chiropractor. The VA allows for this when it's not practical to make the 30 mile drive into Houston for what can be done locally.

She asked me how the weather was in "Texas" and I immediately figured correctly that she envisioned a steaming desert with saguaro cactus springing up around the rocky terrain, replete with rattle-moccasins. For just an evil second, I almost went off in that direction, but I told her it was raining here on the Gulf Coast and about 80 degrees.

"It's raining there?" were her surprised words. I told her, "I am in beautiful Baytown". She'd never heard of it. I asked if she had heard of Exxon-Mobil and she said he had. I told her that is here. "We are near it and our west side is the Houston Ship Channel."  She had never heard of it. "It's very close to Houston."

"Oh, Houston, the hurricane place!" By this time I can tell she has pulled it up on her computer because she comments that "You are indeed on the water!" She tells me the chiropractor I will be scheduled to see is on Massey Tompkins and she gets that right, but when she says "San Jacinto Chiropractic", she butchers it badly. I explained how it is pronounced and tell her it is like the Battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston defeated General Santa Anna.

It is dead quiet on the other end and I ask her if she has heard of these men. "No. I have not." I explain that Sam Houston beat the Mexican army nearby to secure Texas independence in 1836 and the city of Houston is named after him. "Of course you remember the Alamo, right?"  There is total silence on the other end. I couldn't help myself at this point, and I hope my readers forgive me, but I all but screamed, "Didn't you ever watch Pee-wee's Big Adventure where he went to the Alamo to look for his stolen bike?" 

"Nope, never heard of it." I wanted to tell her there is no basement in the Alamo, but let it go.

"Yea, the Alamo where Davy Crockett died?" She giggled and I almost swallowed my tongue.

"Who?" At this point I stopped asking questions because my blood pressure felt like Dandy Don's Grand National doing a 40-yard burnout. I backed off as she was no longer a person to question, but a victim of our American history instructors. I told her to grab a pencil, which I knew would be a pen, right? "Write this down.  Alamo, Houston Ship Channel, Battle of San Jacinto, Davy Crocket, Sam Houston..." and then I told her to Google "Baytown Bert" just for grins. Note: I told her I am a famous highly respected writer. Why not, right?

We finished our conversation and I gave her my email addy and told her to let me know what she'd learned and she thanked me and said she actually really hungers for knowledge. I respect that. The only reasons people don't learn is they think they can't, have inept teachers, incorrect material, or simply don't want to.

I watched a number of videos on YouTube where college students were asked simple history questions, like "Who won the civil war?" and believe it or not, most of them had never heard of it. What? I would think a more realistic question that might stump people would be, "Name one of the years that the civil war was fought?" The answer is 1861-1865 by the way, but these college students did not recall it... period. Try something like this on students and you may get a correct answer. Give me the question to this answer: Executive, Legislative, Judicial. Answer: What are the 3 branches of government?

They may get that one right, but what is the old curse concerning history? "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." General George Patton was so effective as a strategist because he studied all the ancient battles and understood the hardships of the terrain, along with why a general failed or succeeded. On the other hand, we have a lot of George Custer's in the land who rush in where they shouldn't, because they have forgot history. "Uh, who is George Patton?"

I hope my short brush with this young lady spurs her on to a greater understanding of our country's history. We watch the news every day and see the signs that many have no clue where we came from.

As a final little note, I want to acknowledge that Tom Petty died and I have always been a big fan.  RIP Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers). He is a big part of Southern rock history.

The real poop on the Ukraine

Mitt Romney’s top adviser, Joseph Cofer Black, joined the board of the Ukraine energy firm, Burisma, while Hunter Biden was also serving on ...