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?
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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.     

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Rainbows, Unicorns, and Gnomes




I've had friends over the years who saw a bright future to the point that they went and had tattoos inked in various places on their body. They chose seemingly pleasant items, such as the title of this column. I never could bring myself to do it, even when the craze would pop up again and again. Maybe I just couldn't see the unicorns and mushrooms in my future. I don't know. I do know I haven't seen any magic nymphs and other than the grocery store, no mushrooms and none with elves sitting under them.

I would love to live in a Utopia, or at least I think I would. Maybe its in store in the next life. I sure hope so. I know in this one, there are more sand paper paths than one's lined with grease. The gritty paths are getting grittier and the only oiled ones lead downward or towards Lemmingsville. You do know that it is a myth about lemmings blindly running off a cliff right? It only truly applies to humans and is more evident every day.

People will follow the car in front of them through the yellow light until the last two pass under a red light. If that isn't an example of mindless furry animals following each other, will someone please point me in the right direction? People do not want to discuss anything unpleasant or risk hearing or saying anything that could possibly be offensive to the point that we are literally killing free speech, both verbally and in the press. The only people who get all the air time they want are extremists. If anyone else tries to defend tradition, they are breaking the ever-expanding politically correctness barrier, which now resembles a hangman's noose.

The only people who are getting air-time are the ones attacking free speech and slowly but surely those of us who still believe in it are being whittled down to accept their ever-increasing violent bombasts. By shouting something loud enough, repeating it without fail, haranguing everyone who dares to disagree, down the road, it becomes fact. Back in the day we labeled it "brain washing", but seriously, when is the last time you heard this term applied to anything?

No, baby squirrels, bunny rabbits, and fluffy baby chicks are still safe to talk about and as far as I know, unless you are growing them to kill and eat, it is still safe to talk about them. They're so cute... and safe to discuss. No one could possibly get offended.

"Hey lady, wanna see my baby bunny?" 

"Of course I do... Oh wait, is that a vulgar euphemism? It's not? Then, yea, of course, but if it's not, you better watch out, as I know my rights and I have a lawyer mister predatory misogynist!"

"Uh, no, it's just a baby rabbit, but I've decided I don't want to show it to you."

"Why, is it because I'm a (Fill in the blank. There are now a myriad of juicy inflammatory choices.)

"No, it's because you are rude."

"How dare you! You (fill in the blank with one of the current offensive bywords) monster!"

I don't know what's left. Maybe I'll just become a math genius and live in a cabin up in the woods are write a manifesto and see if I can get it published. What could go wrong? I think we need to replace PC (political correctness) with CS (common sense). Ya think? That is short for "Do no think this is a good idea?" I'll be honest. I am at a loss as what the guidelines are these days. As a columnist, I thought I wrote opinion and seeing it is opinion, I don't have to let facts get in the way. My readers will point out what I am doing that is incorrect, just wrong, or stupid, right? Maybe I should start writing for The Onion. I bet I would fit right in.

Where was I? Oh yea. Elves, gnomes, mushrooms, clouds shaped like religious icons, cotton candy, baby chicks - these are the things we need to focus on in the next year. Stuff that salves our mind, and greases all the right places so there is no friction. We don't need controversy or debate, or defense of principles because they offend people. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realize offending people is wrong and racist, now does it?

America needs a benevolent government

Over my 10 years of columns/blogs I have made it very clear I believe the real purpose of our government is to protect American c...