Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Rest of the Story

 If you remember, I was in a bit of a pickle last week when I ran out of paper. If you don't remember my pickle, then you'll just have to make up your own version and then read on. To recap, I was down on my face at this giant retail joint on Garth Road. After having both of my high-top tennie's ripped off my feet by purple bubble gum, I rapidly re-shoed and faced possibly the gravest danger of my adventure-filled life.

Here a week later, my ears are still ringing and my right eye hasn't focused properly, but I can still remember the dark red apparition of what first appeared to be a red cola machine. I want to inform I read a lot of science fiction and in my defense it was blazing hot, but every word I write is real. Apparently there was about to be a showdown over who gets the closest shopping cart and ignoring the fact that I consider myself a gentleman toward the fairer sex, I secretly relished the idea of out sprinting the shape shifting leviathan.

I also forgot the many parables Don Cunningham has taught us, because I planned to fight dirty (Seriously Dandy, is there really any other way to put a whooping on someone?). I remember my dear dad's advice that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line as I launched toward the lone cart. I was rapidly gaining possession when out of nowhere, a full unopened can of diet soda struck me in the one place no man can tolerate.  My wallet. It was as if she tried to turn me aside, but I was on to her and redoubled my caloric burn by waving my arms and whooping it up.

She must of had an 18 pack of those danged diet sodas because they came at me like a Claymore mine explosion. Furthermore, she somehow managed to out pace me while chucking the dangerous liquid projectiles. Now I'm no physics student, but I did excel at physical education and I had a few tricks of my own. Just as we both reached the lone cool-handled cart, I leapt. One keen-eyed observer later described me as "looking like Evel Knievel without a scooter" crash landing into a giant red circus elephant.

Years ago I fell backwards out of a deer stand in Hondo, Texas and landed on solid rock. That is probably very similar to what I felt when I pile-drove into her massive gut.  Have you ever heard the term midriff bulge? Well, this time I was the bulge and I was in the battle. The whale of a fighter began to spin like an Olympic shot-putter and by the 3rd revolution, she grunted like a 400 pound feral hog, relaxed her navel, and flung me into the stack of boxed Cheerios outside the store. "Thank the Lord, I'm alive," I yelled and staggered to my feet only to sit down hard and drool on the cement.

My saving grace was she lost her balance and fell behind the stacks of bottled water and had her head wedged between the building and the wooden pallet, leaving her seated part exposed. Now I know a good target when I see one and even though inside my head it sounded like 16 cicadas were running a wood chipper, I was going to exact a kilo of flesh as payback AND take the cart, which I deserve.

Now here is the truth, the hole truth (as I now refer to it). I squared off and with a kick Morten Andersen would be proud of, I launched my infamous Punt Pass and Kick shot at her corpulence. With over 40 spectators present and all of them standing in the hot sun, I literally, figuratively, and magically hit a hole in one.

The beluga of a cart-stealing woman let out a bellow that set off every car alarm in the expansive parking lot and the sprinklers inside the store. What pandemonium! What cacophony!  What lungs! What and how do I extract my foot? At about this time, some one must have ran over a sewer main because there was a sudden wind and the most horrid odor released to the hemisphere. Thankfully I broke free, ears ringing, clothes charred, and gasping for air, I grabbed the handle of the cart thinking I had moved to the next level in this drama. Nope. Not to be. There was one final move by my antagonist that I never suspected.

I sensed the overbearing presence of the massive cart robber upon me and such was the force behind the push I was shoved to the ground like a child. Summoning the last of my might, I reached out and grabbed her by the ankle and pulled. Yes, she got away, but I will never forget the day I pulled her leg... and yours.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

It can only happen while shopping!

As the big man is my witness, every word of this is unquestionable and void of hyperbolic incredibility. With that taken into consideration, let me tell you what happened yesterday right here in the Tri-cities on what used to be "out in the country" Garth Road.

Let me first lay a little foundation to this tale of extreme brutality and sweaty violence. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking I beat some Chuck Norris 28 year old heavily muscled criminal to the point he needed 4 paramedics... right?  Not to be and thanks for the vote of confidence. I do appreciate it. I really do.

Because I live the life of a behind the scenes self-effacing servant, I feel compelled to tell you I did not do so well. No ma'am. No sir. I have a few more bruises as evidence of my misfortune. The sad part is I now realize the reason I did so poorly against my assailant, is I just didn't see them as a tangible threat until they fully engaged me and in the most embarrassing manner I might add.

Mind you, I'm still in the foundation of this predicament mainly for clarity. Because of my background, I have always felt like I could handle about any hand to hand fighter, at least long enough to deliver the fabled "Dim mak", which is as we know, is the death touch, all seasoned fighters fear, but few can deliver. I cannot divulge whether I can or can't, as I am sworn to secrecy like those Mason fellers. To those guys, their big deal is a secret handshake. To those select few it is the Dim mak, which loosely translated is "Divine bowels". I admit, it doesn't translate well.

Now, the details. It was hot as the red handle on a cast iron skillet on the fire and as made my way toward the entrance to get a shopping cart. Did I say it was hot? Well imagine my shock when I realized I had stepped on a blob of grape bubble gum that would choke a 6 year old. I didn't realize I had stepped in it until as walking, it pulled my new pair of black high-top Chuck Taylor's off. Seeing the gum was on the bottom of both shoes, I went ten feet before falling forward as the stretched gum literally and physically and embarrassingly jerked my shoes off.

As I hit the parking lot, the only thing that kept me from grunting loudly (and other unmentioned rude noises) was the trash. I might be wrong, but I think it was a large fast food bag or two full of chicken bones and such that actually padded my fall. Being the extreme fitness buff I used to be, I attempted to do a kip after rolling on my back... without success. I slowly mounted my feet and stretched, laughing in case anyone was looking. No one saw or cared as far as I could tell and I brushed off my previous embarrassed state. I quickly tied my shoes back on and began my search for a cart.

But that is not what really set the day wrong.

The more I think about it, the stupider I think I must have been. Let me explain. I'm a big guy and I'm active. Sometimes I'm too active and I start showing out in the gym (since I'm usually the only man in a Zumba class... well you get the idea). The truth is, even at my advanced age, I look a little too sturdy to appear to be a good victim. Little did I know the person who calf-roped me (figuratively speaking - come on!) had me by a good 186 pounds. That is an estimate of weight times mass times impact. On me. Four times. Or more.

Now let me say this. I have Vietnam Veteran license plates on my Jeep and truck. Is it possible to appear more threatening to a motorist who reads that when they are behind me? No. It is not, so how is it I was beaten so soundly with no regard to this warning? Now that I think of it, they appeared after I had fallen down and didn't see my threatening plates.

The sun was so bright, I staggered to my feet and just under the overhang was a lone shopping cart. All the others were being used or out in the parking lot and so hot, you could cook food on them. Looking up I thought at first it was one of those old style dark red soda machines, but no. It was a very large person who was laughing at me, like they knew something I didn't. They want the cart! Both me and my adversary looked at the wheeled blessing and then out to the hot flaming parking lot. Then we looked at each other. I've never, ever...

To be continued.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Why do so many rabidly hate Donald Trump?

I didn't vote for a number of presidents who won election. Maybe I should never play the lottery. I can't seem to win the great majority of time and its my understanding that this is a prerequisite for getting ahead. I cast my vote based on the preponderance of evidence, and then pray, hope, and go to bed. When I awaken, I either say, "Wow, we won!" or "Oh rats. Oh well!"

A rare development has occurred in this country concerning job availability. It now appears that if you have a peg leg, one good eye, at least 4 fingers total, and only speak one language... there is a job you can apply for and get. Yes, one report lamented that there are now more paying jobs than applicants.

Now everyone on unemployment can get a job. Every persona getting Federal assistance  can get a job that pays real dollars. All those people sitting on the couch staring at their Smartphones can now go sit in an office or operate machinery and get a pay check. Good times, right? Heck to the yes! Yeehaw! Gollygee gump, we are now rolling in opportunities to help us break free of the man. We can now call our own shots by swimming in the labor pool.

As good as this sounds, guess what? It simply does not apply to a certain faction of the unemployed. Some do not want to work, but want the unchallenged financial assistance. They want the very thing they got under Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama... a free ride. Sorry folks, but that's not how you make America great again and just one reason some hate Trump. He's going to make them earn their own pay.

Has it ever occurred to us that not everyone on the government dole thinks actually getting a job is a good idea? When they show up to prove they deserve unemployment checks because there are no jobs and are greeted with multiple opportunities to work or lose this wonderful temporary benefit, not everyone will welcome this new development.

Maybe this is why so many Democratic politicians hate Trump. He is the new hand that helps them feed them and the Liberal/Socialists don't want to relinquish control. They scream foul publicly while privately they are panicking. Evidence is everywhere.

I read today that a warning to the Hollywood crowd that their vulgar and hate-filled speech toward Trump is most likely going to have the opposite effect. “I think that they live inside this cultural bubble where they all talk among themselves and make the incredibly erroneous conclusion that the rest of the nation must think like they do,” GOP consultant John Brabender said in an interview with The Hill this week.

For the life of me I can't figure out what Trump being president has anything to do with the fantasy world these actors live in. Do they have a special pipeline translator that filters data and provides them with the real facts or what? Do they have a secret chat room they meet in and scrutinize his policies and deal the cards so they can see his heinous invisible intentions?

I wish I had a fact-based sluice box, like the one my dad made to pan for gold in the Rockies. I could sift everything I read on the news through it and get the truth, right? Well, sometimes the truth is a very small part of the overall plan or picture. Sometimes we Americans are short-sighted, not realizing world politics is a giant chess game and that a certain amount of posturing is necessary.

Please correct me right now, but in 2018 I would rather have a businessman leading the country than a professional and polished politician. We should have done this already with Ross Perot, who incidentally is a more successful businessman than DT. I do however want a leader who reflects my ideals of America, over one who wants a Socialist approach. The less government we have, the less of my tax dollars they can give away. Honest to god, our government is like a whale with a million leaches attached to it with more being invited to dine every day.

Unlike many Liberals I do not want the government in my bedroom. I will pay my taxes and obey the laws and in exchange, I want them to stay the heckfire out of my life unless there is a serious need or disaster of some sort, thank you. I want a government that serves the people, not the other way around. Our government should provide a secure and stable environment, but it is up to us to make something of it. So for me, I do not hate Donald Trump. Then again, I didn't hate Barack Obama. I just want what is best for America.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Is it okay to be patriotic?

"Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values. This attachment can be a combination of many different features relating to one's own homeland, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects. It encompasses a set of concepts closely related to those of nationalism" according to Wikipedia. I sat down and asked myself if that description fit my idea of what it means to be patriotic.

To be honest, I scratch my head and wonder if I truly share a sense of alliance with other American citizens who have the opposite values. I do indeed consider myself a 24 hour a day 7 day a week patriot even though some people on my side of the philosophical fence may see me as weak because I don't routinely break down my firearms and clean them. I don't get all teary eyed when Glock issues a 5th generation 9mm handgun either.

Being a mild history buff, I believe I have a good idea what the Constitution is telling us and the amendments. I've read the Bill of rights, but like most of us, I could use a refresher. The reason I could brush up on these important documents is simple. I feel they are safe and being upheld for the most part. Seriously. If I didn't, I would pour over those documents on a daily basis while I watched the neighborhood for anarchists (for my family's safety of course).

I truly believe in law and order and although I keep my eye open for deviant police officers, I have an inherent trust in them. I actually believe if I don't do something stupid when an officer inquires, everything will be fine and dandy. Of course I may get a ticket, but that's my reward for breaking the law. Should I blame the cop? Nope, no more than blaming the mailman when he delivers my bills.

During my 4 years in the Air Force and the almost 2 years I spent in our effort in Southeast Asia, I do not remember celebrating the 4th of July, or Memorial day, or even Veteran's day as something special. The reason was probably because our country treats holidays as a time to relax and BBQ. Everyone in the military with rank above about a Corporal, takes the day off. Well, lucky me was a Buck Sergeant, which was the Air Force's equivalent of a Corporal. Almost every enlisted person in this branch will not be promoted until after their first enlistment is over, so no holidays for you! You get to work!

Entering the civilian labor force didn't change this because I almost immediately began working for a large chemical company and once again I was at the bottom of the rank structure. This meant holidays, including the venerated 4th of July became just another day, but with premium pay and all the senior folks took off and cooked BBQ with the fam.

So, we have had a dilution of what holidays stand for, for many of the working class. What many of us have done to offset this is become real patriots who through our labor have allowed our families to enjoy the festivities while we suited up to spend the day or night shift-working. Our work ethic has promoted being a patriot through our actions. My uniform had an American flag on one shoulder and a Texas on the other. My full brim hard hat was covered in a vinyl American flag and frankly, I didn't care if anyone liked it or not. I paid my dues and I didn't have to justify why I loved this country or explain it.

Each patriotic holiday, my flag flies in front of my home and it doesn't matter who is in the White House. I refuse to argue over current perceived bumps in our leadership when it comes to my love of this country. I also will not attempt to cram my version down anyone's throat. The reason for this is I've lived in a Third World country and seen what the citizens there have and what we have here. At our worst, we still shine like a diamond.

Isn't it odd how so many people of so many different ideologies can live in harmony because we haven't lost sight of the goal of a free America? That is how it should be and I myself need to be reminded of it time to time. When it gets right down to it, you take 50 Americans who couldn't agree on anything and put them in an emergency situation and just watch how fast they pool their resources to resolve the problem.

Our diversity is our strength. Embracing it is our future.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

What is your geo-name again - revisited

A Geocaching event in Baytown, Texas

Back about 3 years ago I wrote a primer on protecting your geocaching name from defamation. Along with your log comments you are giving a snapshot of who you are. Hopefully it isn't like this: "TFTC, signed GloriousMonkeyLips".

So, here you are. You've hid a tricky series of caches on a dirt road that a contortionist couldn't traverse and you're very proud of how sneaky it is. Low and behold, the very next day a newbie cacher named GloriousMonkeyLips finds all 12 and signs each of them TFTC or KCCO, or (fill in the blank). If you are like me, you immediately pull up their profile and they haven't posted any photos or other identifying info.

Note: If you are a hardcore purist, you may even go out and climb through your caches to verify they were actually found by GML. I don't recommend this by the way. Its just a game, right? Why be so militant about it? I rarely delete a log, unless it is a duplicate and then I write the cacher to let them know why I cut it.

If you are like me you wonder who they are and especially what they look like. Another example is a seasoned cacher with thousands of finds, who you've never heard of, writes very interesting logs that are funny and alive with imagination. Again, if you are like me, you look at their profile and find hundreds of photos... but none of the author. You can't even tell if they are a man, woman, or team. I am always a bit disappointed, because I want to see this person.

Back a long time ago, I found a cache by ParkerPlus. as a newbie I remember wondering who this guy was and now, many years later, he is one of my besties. He's in his 80's and the "Yoda" of the Houston area. I don't think there is a veteran cacher who doesn't know and love Neal Parker. Neal attends a lot of events and hides a lot of caches and has for years.

I attend a good many morning events and it is surprising how I see the same people over time and am still not sure who they are. I know, its called senility in people my age, but the truth is I meet a lot of people teaching geocaching classes and I simply can't remember who is who. Now I can tell you where a pill bottle was hidden 5 years back, but who is who can be challenging. "Oh! So you are GrosslyInflamedSpiderLegs!" I would say.

Maybe the answer is to wear a name tag at events, especially if you use a cryptic geo-handle, like 382764956thb938rt8743monkeylips-from_Toledo_Texas who incidentally is not related to GloriousMonkeyLips, come to find out.

If you read my other primer, I said you can play this game for a long time gliding under the radar and no one will actually pay you much attention, but the day you hide one is the day where folks will begin to notice you. Suddenly other cachers are asking each other who you are. Now, if you are like one Deer Park, Texas geocacher named "theSneakyOne", you may well want to remain anonymous to increase the mystery, but then again, this cacher never attended an event that I know of. They did have some unorthodox caches and most lived up to their moniker. Sadly, they dropped out of the game.
For years I would drive south and find MarinPower's caches, which I enjoyed, but there were no photos of this cacher available. Imagine my surprise when I was logging a cache with my smartphone and he pulled up. We had a good chat and it was a rewarding experience. Granted, you as a cacher might enjoy your anonymity, but if you don't care one way or the other, post a photo of yourself on your profile for those of us who own caches and want to get to know you.

Sooner or later you are going to want folks to recognize you, as geocaching can be quite a social activity, so grab a stick-on label, write your geocaching name on it and slap it above your pocket. Now go to an event and shake hands. You are now well on your way to being part of the vast geocaching network!

The real poop on the Ukraine

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