Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another date has slid by and awakened the Rantasaurus in me. Rantasaurus Rex, by God, slithering forth.

I'm a history guy, so the dates that float by on the calendar occasionally awaken memories and thoughts in me of things in the past. Occupational hazard, like mispronouncing peoples names when I take roll in my class. I was sitting on the throne this afternoon, contemplating DEEP things, when I glanced at the calendar on the wall and noted that I would need to change the page. Tomorrow begins a new month. Another one has flown by. Seems to happen faster and faster as I age. The upcoming days date roused things in me, or maybe it was the Chinese food.

About 67 years ago tonight (I'm writing this late on August 31st), the Germans launched the Second World War in Europe, and the greatest human carnage that we have reliable records for, by invading Poland. September 1st, 1939, at about 5am in the morning, I think, the planes began to swoop in and a German cruiser anchored in the port of Danzig, there supposedly on a friendly visit, opened fire on the Polish port defenses. There's amazing video of that ship firing into the city, the tracers going off and the big guns blasting various sites in the town. It all happened without any warning.

Well really, anyone with a brain had to know something was up. Germany had swallowed Czechoslovakia in late 38 and early 39, and was steadily ginning up a reason to jump their neighbors to the east. But like today, people have an amazing capacity to avoid seeing things if those things are inconvenient or inconsistent with what they prefer to believe. We see that now, on a daily basis. I find myself thinking a lot of the time that some belief systems out there could never exist without the capacity of its devotees and acolytes to completely ignore the obvious reality sitting right in front of them. It must be a basic aspect of the human animal. Experts call it "selective perception"- the capacity to ignore information that you disagree with and focus on information that reinforces your preconceived ideas. Bottom line... people are fuckin' stupid and deluded. Always have been. Always will be. Bank on it, you'll do well.

Anyway, back to the carnage. The Nazis had come to power in Germany in 1933 by selling the idea of national renewal to the beleaguered voters who'd seen their beloved nation mugged, raped and sodomized since the last war, and were sick to death of it. The Germans had lost the First World War after winning most of the battles and without ever having seen foreign troops on their soil. The ensuing treaty of Paris carved whole chunks of their nation away, people included, that then became part of the new nations of Poland and Czechoslovakia. The French, who'd seen whole regions of their nation laid waste in the war were gleefully taking it out on the newly emasculated Germans, taking back territory they'd lost in the 1870s and forcing Germany to be demilitarized and humiliated.

Things were bad enough in the 1920s, with Germany forced to pay ridiculous war reparations to everyone and suffering a huge amount of political instability. The great depression came along in 1929 and 30 and just took everything to an even more surreal level. The worst of the depression was in full swing in 1933, and Germany was hit hard. Inflation had destroyed the savings of the middle class, arguably the most critical demographic group in any country. You've all heard stories about people rolling wheelbarrows full of money to the bakery to buy bread. That's literally true. People papered their houses with money because it was cheaper than wallpaper, burned it for fuel in their furnace because it was cheaper than coal. It took a billion reichsmarks to buy a beer in Hitler's local watering hole. The people there were neck deep in serious shit, and their political leadership was worse than useless.

The allies had taken down the Kaisers government in 1919 and sent him into exile. They replaced it with an ineffectual parliamentary system, but did nothing to ensure that the system succeeded. In fact, it's as if they set out to see it fail. The Germans went from a political culture that valued order, to a place where disorder reigned. From being the most important great power in Europe, with the most advanced technology, science, philosophy, popular culture, music, to being everyone's piss boy. As a result, any group that was close to the main stream of German heritage and thought, that played on visions of the past and a sense of oppression and betrayal was bound to win. The voters by 1933 had to choose between the same old bureaucrats that had mismanaged things, the Communist Party on the left who were offering a revolution to the workers and poor, or the National Socialist German Workers Party on the right... "Nazi" for short, from the German "Nazional".

The Nazis played up to all the right feelings in the public. They came from a very familiar place politically, draping themselves in nationalistic chauvinism, the greatness of the past, giving people someone to blame their problems on and saying that if elected, they would punish the guilty party's and make Germany great again. They didn't say that if elected they would drag Germany and the world into a war that would end with 50 million deaths and genocide, but there you go. Who knew? They didn't know that this would be the last election Hitler would allow, but they hadn't gotten much out of elections in the 20s and probably thought it was a small price to pay for the national rebirth they were longing for.

The truth is, democracy is a fragile thing. It has to be nurtured, particularly in its youth. Essentially it's a process. People need to see something out of it in order to allow it to grow and become cemented in their political culture. Once it is, the voters can put up with all sorts of crap without it threatening the survival of the system. Voters in Germany had gotten nothing but grief out of it, so most of them probably didn't miss it when Hitler did away with it. People might say that the Germans just weren't ready for democracy yet, but that sounds too much like a convenient excuse to me.

There's a myth out there that says you can't impose a democratic system on people who aren't ready for it. The opponents of the war in Iraq love to spin that one out and wave it around. They use it to explain all the death and destruction there now, and would have us believe that we made a huge mistake even trying to give them a system their volatile, tribal, sectarian culture is too primitive to contain. The lesson of Germany though illustrates the fact that it can be done if it's done right. Pound the shit out of them so there's no doubt who won or lost, occupy them for 6 or 7 years, denazify them to get rid of the officials who represent the old regime, pump money and experts in to rebuild their economy and play up to the good things in them, and freedom takes hold pretty well. Turns out most people are the same, despite their culture. Give em a chance and the natural democratic instincts will come out.

It can't happen thought if every other country around you is actively resisting the change. The vast majority or our problem in Iraq is not the natural result of taking away the stability of the old regime, meddling where we shouldn't have meddled. That's an all too convenient "conventional wisdom" pushed by the folks who've been calling the war a quagmire since the second week. Our problems in Iraq are a result of a tragic decision on the part of the major Sunni regimes in the region to subvert the process that would produce a democracy run by Shiites and Kurds (which we should have seen coming). But more fundamentally, it represents a fundamental failure on the part of all the people in the west who supposedly love freedom to work hard enough to see it grow in Iraq. What message was sent to the enemies of real change in the middle east when Zarqawi blew up the UN headquarters and the United Nations and all the NGOs in the country promptly ran away like cowards? Isn't democracy something worth dying for any more?

What would Germany look like today if all her neighbors and the powers of that day had actively subverted the process of political change and democratization? Well, we know the answer to that question. We've seen it happen. When nothing was done to nurture the democratic process in Germany and a lot of other European nations in the 1920s a whole slew of dictatorships blossomed. The Czechs were the only ones to succeed in creating a real democratic system that worked, and that was in spite of all the meddling that was going on. The collapse of the republic and the rise of Hitler was not the result of the idea that democracy can't be imposed on a people. It was the result of the failure of the powers of that time to see the process through to it's end.

It was a failure of will. A failure of vision born out of shortsightedness and greed. The powers of that day chose to defend a narrowly defined national self interest and told themselves that the failures of the German republic were a result of the failures inherent in the German character. They're too fond of uniforms and order. Sound familiar? Don't we hear now from many corners that the Arabs are just to culturally primitive, too tribal to accept a functioning pluralistic democracy? How could we think to try to impose it on them? They're not ready for it yet. We learned after the Second World War that it can be done. We learned that lesson at the cost of more than 50 million lives, but when we took the time, effort and money to see it through to it's end, it worked like a charm. The result was a blossoming, stabilizing democratic force in the heart of Europe that anchored the western alliance against the new Soviet menace in the east.

It may be an unfortunate truth that our efforts in Iraq are destined to fail. Many pundits are sure of it, as Iraqi society seems to slip into sectarian chaos. If it does fail, it won't be because we tried something that couldn't work. The blame for the failure will be shared by lots of folks. We'll debate the issues for a long time. Undoubtedly a lot of the blame will go to all those who played up to the most negative aspects of Iraqi society to divide it and destroy its ability to function. Too many people are willing to destroy Iraq in order to save it from reform and westernization. Maybe that was an inevitable result of not having a force on hand big enough to establish order and security. Again, these things will be debated for a long time.

Undoubtedly though, blame must also be shared by those in the democratic world who sat back and watched while the house burned. Some of them did it out of a cynical desire to see us lose, but others simply failed to feel the pull of obligation to help bring the benefits of our system to others. It's always easier to complain about some horrible system, analyze the situation to death, protest the abuses of human rights, and then have a telethon to raise money for the victims. It's a way to create the illusion that you are doing something while you really do absolutely nothing. Very safe. Very tidy. Tell yourself "those people" are just too culturally primitive to deal with real freedom and self government. Don't go jump into a civil war. It's not worth dying for.

There was a phrase that spread through France and western Europe in the months after the Germans rolled into Poland and the war broke out. Anti war protesters were determined to save their nations from repeating the mistakes of the last war. They said "Mourir pour Danzig?" (why die for Danzig?). Apparently it wasn't worth it to them yet to shed the blood it might take to end the Nazi tyranny. That tyranny was rolling through Poland, away from France, so who cares? Don't borrow trouble. By May of 1940, that tyranny was rolling through France and they were singing another tune. I grew up hearing over and over that if someone had just done something earlier, maybe those 50 million people wouldn't have had to die.

If the result of all this carnage in Iraq is the rise of a new fascist regime, or two or three such regimes, well, we will have seen it all happen before. Despite everything we did and all those that bled for the freedom of those people, some things just don't change.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bye bye Angela. One huge pain-in-the-ass gone.

I'm so tired of that lame assed, hippy dippy, Pipi
Longstocking bullshit she wears. Cold as hell to take
her to Paris and then give her the heave ho, but it
was gonna happen. Back to the farm Pipi. Kayne is
gonna go next, unless he pulls his country head out
of his ass. What the hell was he thinking about with
the last two or three shows in a row? What was with
that 1977, studio 54 bullshit? Amazing.

The classy people on that show stand out like a sore
thumb. Laura is cool as hell. I love the way she dresses
herself, but I'm getting tired of the 1930s, Masterpiece
Theatre look. Jeff's an asshole. Needs a beatin', but isn't
that what rock star artists are supposed to be like? Thing
is, he's so arrogant, he could loose it at any moment. He's
got his shit down though. Vincent is a loose cannon. Brilliant,
but I never know what he's gonna produce. Uli has GOT to
do something other than another sheer, flowing print. I
love that shit but they're gonna hammer her. She's great
though. Has to take it up a notch. Mike is the most
consistently cool designer. Classy and cool. So I'm thinking
its gonna come down to ...

Mike, Laura, and Jeff.

Wadda ya think?

Ok, time for more rude pictures.

Lets call this a political statement. Wonder why we never
saw anything like this on that old TV show "Streets of San
Francisco." Wasn't that guy in the Grateful Dead? At least
his aim is true. Musta just got up. Reminds me of me at about
6:30, only bigger, fatter, and hairier. I know. Inconceivable.

What, you were expecting another tattoo? Lets title this one...
Best friends. Very nice. It's all love. Total love.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Some corrections and new tidbits.

I took my family down to Austin today to eat Mexican food at Papasito's, and got mom and sis liquored up and pumped em for details. Turns out I had a few things bassakwards. We didn't get to England till '67. We were in Wichita falls for two years in stead of one. I started Kindergarten and first grade there, but it was some sort of half assed, half day only first grade and they didn't teach me much. So when we got to England and I started the second grade, I didn't have the proper preparation to do well. So it was the second grade I repeated, which made everyone think I was an idiot. Can't imagine why I thought it was the first, but there you go.

On the local bullies, my sister remembers them well. Apparently there were a whole series of female bullies as well as the guys I had to deal with. Mom said that as far as I was concerned, it all came down to the fact that while I was six years old when we got there, I was as big as an eleven or twelve year old, so all the older kids went after me. I've always been freakishly large, so I guess they thought I was older and just slow. Anyway, it's amazing the stuff you can get out of Mom when she's had a few margaritas.

Sis reminded us of how miserable she'd been in England, and of all the stuff that was going on that the folks never knew about. She said that dads base had been South Ruislip, and that we went to school at West Ruislip. She was going from the eighth grade to the tenth while I went through the second twice and then the third. She says that she'd had a hard time at PE. The Lesbian (her description) PE teacher used to allow the older girls to attack and strip the younger ones as part of some initiation. They'd strip you and leave you there naked for people to see. She says she fought them and they never got all of her clothes off. The folks never found out about these things. Don't know why, but I guess she didn't feel like she could tell them. So she drank.

Remember, this is 1967-70. Europe was overflowing with heroin from Turkey and Vietnam, some of it care of the CIA. She says that on Friday nights all the kids would gather at a spot on base called the Teen Club. The band that played there was made up of local service brats who lived in our neighborhood and would one day become famous as the band "America". You know, "Horse With No Name", Jerry Beckley and friends. We found out how famous they had become later when we got to Missouri.

She says that while other kids were doing hard drugs or smoking weed, or having sex in the back rooms, she was downing a pint of vodka that she and her friends would purchase off base at a nearby pub. A pint a week, every Friday. She says she stayed away from all the other mess, but had to fend off the gropes of some of the older guys, including one of the guys in the band, from time to time. She says that one night, a guy put the moves on her and told her if she didn't come across she'd have to walk home. So she hitch-hiked, and ended up getting in trouble for it. Was put on restriction and had to miss Cream's farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Those were the days.

She reminded me that before I was born, in about 1957 or '58, the three of them had been stationed there at Bergstrom, in Austin. There'd been a thirteen year old girl next door named Priscilla who occasionally babysat my four year old sister for my mom and dad. My dad said that her stepfather had fancied himself a card player, but had lost a lot of money to my dad learnin' otherwise. A few years later, when My folks had moved on to Bermuda, where I was born, they learned that Priscilla and her folks had moved to Germany, and that she'd hooked up with this Elvis fellow. Again, small world.

Anyway, as I said, all that is ancient history now. We're all well, fat and happy, and wouldn't trade the things that made us stronger and wiser for anything. I just wish I'd been about ten years older. There's a lot of stuff, like seeing my folks when they were younger, or getting to know my paternal grandparents, or maybe hookin' up with Priscilla, that I missed coming along as late as I did. Oh well, as dad says, wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which hand fills up first.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Memories of England.

I recently heard from a blogger whose stuff I enjoy tremendously, who asked me to expand on comments I made in an earlier post where I talked about a few years my family spent living in England. I had to reread that "Memories" post to see what I'd said. I guess I left the impression in the post that those three years were a negative experience, but in retrospect I can't say it was all bad, or even mostly bad. But there was a lot of crap that went on there, partly due to the environment we found ourselves in and partly due to the stuff that was going on in the world at the time.

It was the late 1960s, the hey day of the counter culture. Vietnam was burning at a high pitch, and hundreds of years of lame British policies in Northern Ireland were coming to a head. There was an environment there where dad and other military people were told not to go out into London in their uniforms for fear that they might get into trouble, and there were even policeman posted for a time at the entrance and exit of our housing area.

We lived in a town called Carpenders Park, north of London on one of the tube lines. We lived in a clump of base housing set aside for Americans, surrounded by a high wall. We didn't have a gate, but it was sort of like the gated communities that a lot of people live in today. The housing area was dominated by a large open, paved playground and an unpaved area about the size of a football field. There were trees along the inside of the wall, and more in the central playground area, as well as swings and the like. It was excellent for hanging out, playing kick ball, riding your bike, or whatever.

The central area was surrounded by duplexes, with their back doors facing the field and play ground, their front doors facing the road. There was (and still is) a dairy farm on the uphill side, across the two lane highway from the complex. A road ran into the complex from that dairy side, in front of our duplex, around the neighborhood in a circle, and then out and down to the main town by the tube line where the Brits lived. There were duplexes inside the circle of the road, and more duplexes and a few single family houses on the outer side of the street, with their backs to the encircling wall where trees had been planted. There were no fences, so all the kids played in everyone's yard. You know the adults had to love that. My dad wasted a lot of time trying to get these kids to respect his "yard" to no avail. People would ask me "why's yer dad such a dick?' I'd say "I dunno."

Whether or not you lived in a house or a duplex depended on your fathers rank. I think generals families had houses, but the rest of the officers, enlisted and a few DOD civilians lived in these duplexes. It was basically an English public housing complex. I was young enough not to really care or notice the quality of the place, but my mom and sister did. I think that had something to do with the vibe that existed in the family while we were there. I loved the place, but they remember it being a run down hovel. We could have rented a house in a nicer suburb of London, but dad was too frugal to do it. We knew people who did that. They lived a lot better than we did, and their kids went to local public schools with English kids and got a lot better education. My sister and I rode busses in the morning to the base schools at Ruislip, and spent all our time with other service brats.

Dads early life in the depression taught him that if they are giving stuff away for free, you took it. My moms upbringing was a bit nicer, and she learned to differentiate between the kids who dressed well, even if they were poor, and the kids who were wild and ran around barefoot. My grandmother was a surgical nurse at the local hospital, and the primary bread winner in the family. She taught her three daughters to believe that those kids were barefoot because their parents were trash, and she shouldn't have anything to do with them. My dads folks always made sure he and his brothers had shoes, but I don't think there was the same sense of superiority. When my sister and I insisted on going barefoot in the summer, it used to drive our mom crazy. Made it even more fun to do it.

As the son of a sharecropper, hoeing and picking cotton until the war came along and gave him other career options, dad was taught to see things more basically. The result of all this is that my mom and sister were both pain-in-the-ass princesses, but my dad had no patience for that shit. He loved the fact that my mom was beautiful and kept the house with tremendous style and elegance, but to him, the day-to-day running of the house was her job. When he wasn't at work or playing golf with the guys from work, or doing whatever chores were required at home, he was sitting in front of our one black and white TV and didn't want to be fucked with. In many ways, I think that setting sums up the life that most baby boomers had back then. Our life was just on the other side of the ocean, in an island of Americans, set in the middle of a foreign country.

I think I was about five or six years old when we moved to Britain. It was the summer of 1966 and we had just completed tours of duty in Omaha, Nebraska, where my dad finished his BA in Political Science, Oklahoma City, and Wichita Falls, Texas, where I started kindergarten. We moved to three places in three years after a three year stint in Bermuda, where I was born. That was our life back then. You didn't live anywhere long enough to make friend's, and if you did, you lost em quick and had to make more in the next place. My older sister became a life guard in Wichita Falls at the pool on base and I took lessons and learned to swim. My sister was becoming a teenager by the time we moved to England and the generation gap was as wide as the friggin grand canyon.

She was going through completely different stuff than me, feeling that she should have been given more freedom and pissed off all the time. She's still mad at the folks because they didn't let her go to Hyde Park one weekend to see a free concert when she was thirteen or fourteen. She had friends who got to go to Creams farewell concert at the Albert Hall in about '68, but she couldn't go because she was on restriction that night. In other words, her normal teenage crap was elevated to a completely new level because she was in England, in the center of world pop culture in the late 1960s but not old enough to be able to fully take part in it. We found out later that she and her friends were doing all sorts of adult stuff on the sly, drinking and smoking and shit, being a typical rebellious kid. She's very lucky that ether she didn't get raped, addicted, or caught doing any of that shit by my mom or dad. I don't know which fate would have been worse. She claims other kids were doing even worse stuff and that she was always a good kid. Probably true. All I know is, she's been a huge gasping pain in my ass from day one, and she still is, bless her.

My life in those days was pretty much bounded by the walls of that housing area, and the cutthroat society that existed between the kids there. The few kids I hung out with were ok, but the kids that were a little older were constantly at one another's throats. The enlisted kids took great joy in pulling down an officers kid, and there were bullies roaming all the time, just looking for an easy mark like me. I was shy and retiring, so I was a favorite target. Fighting was constant, and I was always having to worry about getting jumped by some older kid. When fights began, all the other kids would form a circle and shout encouragement to the combatants. I'd never seen anything like that before, and it scared the shit out of me. Remember, I was six years old, which I don't think is quite old enough to have learned how to fight or defend yourself, much less be comfortable with the fact that you're gonna have to. I didn't grow up fighting with a brother like my dad, which might have given me the confidence and experience I needed before I was thrown to the wolves.

The result was I ended up spending a lot of time indoors, in my room or in front of the TV. I got overweight, which I've spent the rest of my life dealing with, and I learned to live inside my own mind, and basically shut out a lot of what was going on around me. I read my sisters set of encyclopedias for fun, listened to records on my little stereo and played with little medieval or Roman soldiers that my mom got for me (remember, it's England). I loved watching British TV shows like The Thuderbirds, Doctor Who, or Jackanory. I loved shows or movies about history, the Middle Ages and the Romans, and daydreamed constantly about being in those times and places. They had a cool show, sort of a soap opera, in which a British kid and a Roman kid became friends. All that stuff exploded in my imagination and I never really came down from it.

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Ireland, was a hag and a half (poor bitch). She had no clue what to do with me. I daydreamed constantly, and basically lived in my own world. Mom became convinced that there was something wrong with me, and took me to shrinks and had tests done, all of which gave me the mind fuck of the century. My sister remembers thinking "why doesn't he just do what he's supposed to do?" She'd been pressured to make good grades at my age and thought I was getting a pass. I remember one day when Mrs. Ireland gave out instructions for some project. I was in another world and hadn't heard what she'd said to do or not to do. She brought me back to reality; got right in my face and yelled at me in front of everyone when I did exactly what she'd just told us all not to do. That was my early school experience in a nut shell. Not much of a scholar then, or now, but you never know how things will work out. Today I make my living teaching school, college level History and Government. I wish Mrs. Ireland and the others could see me now.

When the time came to pass to the second grade, my folks came to me and asked if I'd mind repeating the first grade. I remember that moment very clearly. We were on the base, going into the officers club for lunch or something, which was a huge treat (the burgers and fries were to die for). They looked down at me and posed the question. I think my mom got down and looked me in the eye. What the fuck is a 6 year old gonna say? I didn't want to do it, but was made to do it anyway, and from the first day of school (I remember that day specifically too) when I walked into class, everyone else was sure that I'd flunked the first grade, and was obviously a looser. My new teacher never took me out in front of everyone and told them different, so I was labeled and set aside and spent the next few years having to live it down. The fact that I lived in the same neighborhood with these kids meant I had to take it to the playground out back as well.

The story the folks gave me was that they had screwed up and put me in school too early. I had to ether sit out a year or repeat the first grade so that all the other kids could ketch up to me in age. There may be somethin' to that because I was the same age as everyone else through the rest of my school years. Graduated high school at 18. My sister (the bitch) recently told me dad said at the time it was because I'd flunked. Who the fuck knows? All I know is being labeled as a looser at the age of 6 did nothing but add to the list of reasons I had to avoid other kids and stay in my room.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all hell. There were good times too. There were summer days when we played kick ball all day out on that field and had a blast. There were fabulous snowy winters when we got time off from school and spent all day playing and building snow forts. There were times when my mom and dad cooked traditional meals for us, like home made ice cream and fried chicken, passing on to us a little of their own family traditions. There were summer days on base when we went and spent all day at the pool and the BX and had burgers and fries. There were the summer days I spent in the trees by the wall playing Roman soldier with other kids. There were the days in those trees, hidden from others, where little boys and little girls showed one another stuff that would have horrified their parents to death, and even days at school when time seemed suspended and fun and discovery ruled the day. I loved living there on those days, and even look back fondly on much of the other stuff that turned out to be less traumatic in the end than this post may make it seem.

But I also hated it. I learned to avoid bullies there, rather than to defend myself. I learned to live inside my own mind there, and my socialization was stunted for years after. I learned to love books, TV, Movies and to love history there, and would never trade those times I spent quietly in my room for anything. I make a pretty good living teaching history now, and get to try to help people understand things that I've loved for 40 years. All the other stuff is ashes.

England was a singular experience in my life, but the peace and quiet of the woods in Missouri was a paradise compared to it (see earlier post). Basically, my hiding place got a lot bigger and more interesting. My life got a lot more normal in Missouri, but I never learned to be much of a team player, or much of a student, or even really how to defend myself from bullies (it took a long time to get over that). I've been a loner ever since. I learned a long, long time ago that if you stay to yourself, no one has the chance to fuck with you, and you can do pretty much what ever you want.

Thing is, there's a point in your life when you have to own who and what you are. Wining about your childhood at my age is grounds for a severe beating. I'm who I am now, good and bad, because of all the experiences of my life, both good and bad, and that makes me the same as everyone else in the world. Lots of people had it a lot worse than I did. I was lucky. I still am lucky. My family is all still alive and still gets together regularly in the summer and consumes massive quantities of homemade peach ice cream and fried chicken. Plan to do it again this coming Lador Day weekend. I tell folks my mom's got the best restaurant in town. She knows her shit. We're goin' to Austin to eat Mexican food tomorrow.

She has the house set up like no one else, classy as hell, with all the paintings, brass rubbings and clocks and stuff they brought back from England, laid out all over the place. Don't get me wrong. She can still be a huge pill from time to time. My dad is 84 now. He's been retired since about 1975, and has outlived most of his friends and all but one of his brothers. He spends a lot of time watching crappy daytime TV and sitting in the swing in their back yard with the cats, thinking about old times. When he asks me from time to time to come over on the weekend and take him to the driving range or the golf course, I have to bite my lip to keep from saying something like "hey, where the hell were you 40 years ago when I needed you?" But you know, I love that old bastard to death, and there's a statute of limitations on that old shit. It's water under the bridge. They made up for whatever they did or didn't do back then with things they've done in later years.

So I go over there every weekend, and I take him to eat Chinese food, and to hit balls when I can, and I remind myself that his father died when he was my age, back when we were living in England, and there was nothing he could do. He and his father were the best of buds, but because of his career he couldn't spend time with him. He didn't have the chances I have now. When I was in my room, his father was dying of a heart attack and his mother was in a nursing home with alzheimer's, unable to recognize ether him or his brothers. That realization makes me think the life he had back then was a lot sadder than mine? I wish I'd known.

So, we're all a lot older now, and if you pay attention during your life, you learn to see things from other points of view. You learn that some of the things that seemed earth shaking in your childhood turned out not to matter much at all, and that your parents are just people. They dealt with the shit that was thrown at them as they lived their life, and as you lived their life along with them. In stead of a large extended family to help her, my mom had so-called experts writing books, telling her how to raise her kids. And it didn't help that the world we were growing up in might as well have been on another planet from the one my folks had known. Like I said, it's all water under the bridge.

In August of 1999 I went to England to visit with some good friends who had moved over there, and during the visit I made a point to find Carpenders Park and ride the tube up to see it. The circle of housing is still there, but they had torn down the old housing and replaced it with nice new buildings the year before. In every other way though it was still the same place. The trees and the playground are still there in the center of the place, and the Dairy farm across the highway looks like a snap shot from my memory. Couldn't believe it. It was almost a triumphal feeling to stand there looking out over it and tell myself, "see, you've made it. Here it is. This place is still here, but you're a big, strong man now and you've made it back. You're not that little kid any more." I guess that's a nice end to the tale.

Well, I've got to go to the store and get some shit to eat. I'm gonna try to make that shrimp fried rice Mushy talked about a while back. So go hug yer kids and don't be such an asshole. One of these days you're gonna be old as hell and they're gonna be taking care of you. You're gonna want them to like you then, and bring their kids around for you to spoil. My folks don't have any grandkids. That's the price they pay. Consider yourself warned. Later, FHB.

Postscript: Having reread this a few times, it occurrs to me that the little boy who was very scared so many years ago is still very much inside me. In going back to Carpenders Park in '99 it was like I was fulfilling a duty to myself. The stronger, grown up and basically happy guy I am now was taking that unhappy kid back so he could see the place and put it behind him. It was sort of like taking a scared little kid into a dark room and turning the light on so he can see there are really no monsters. I think I'll always feel a need to protect that kid. He didn't have much of anyone to protect him for a long time. In a fundamental way, he's still who I am.

Oh, and the rice turned out good. Check out the fixens at "Mushy's Cookings" over in the links. Ok, now I'm realy done. Enough is enough. Shtum.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The mystery is finally revealed.

Oh, I'm in LOVE!

Well, maybe lust. Yep, it's lust. I was surfin' the Sturmgewehr
site last night and came across this baby. Mmm, boy.

It's an AR-74. A guy up in Washington State wants to sell it.
It's basically an AR-15 (M-4 carbine) with lots of after-market
stuff attached. Thing is, it shoots a Russian 5.45x39mm cartridge
(their version of our .223) from a Russian clip. The best of both
worlds. But he wants a shit load of money for it. Will power!
Will power! Don't do it! Man, I'm just a huge gasping whore
when it comes to new toys. Huge! Somebody stop me.

Update: ok, the passion has subsided, a bit. I've got two parts
sets at the gun smith now, plus another out on the work
bench, so I guess I should chill out. Sure looks purdy though.
Bet it shoots nice too. Oh well, I'll keep thinkin' about it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Somebody said it was FOAD Thursday?

I think I've got that covered. Fuck-off-and-die
Thursday? Where do you guys come up with this
shit? Seriously. Is there a committee somewhere?

And no, that's not me ether, but I know how he feels.
I lost it in front of the kiddies (high school seniors) the
other day. Was showing them a video and they just
would not be quiet and watch it. Bunch of chatterers.
I shushed em a few times and got increasingly pissed off
as time went on. Finally, standing over them in a loud voice
I said...

"How many God damn times am I gonna
have to tell you all to shit up? Sit there quietly
and watch the damn video!"

Well, they sat there still as little statues for about the next
15 minutes. I immediately thought "Oh shit, what did I
say and who heard it?" Obviously they frown on cursing
in the public school system, but considering what little
shits these kids are, I'm amazed it doesn't happen more
often. No one has said anything to me so I guess I'm in
the clear. I guess I get a bit of a pass because I teach
a college class and I'm not a public school employee.
Anyway, It cracks me up thinking about it. Would
suck to be drug in front of the principal at my age.
Not too worried about it. They're pretty cool down there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Now this is cool as hell.

How does a jet powered, street legal VW beetle sound to ya?
Ok, what about a jet powered Vespa scooter? This guys
crazy, and if you want to see how crazy he is, click here to
see more pictures and text. I'm always envious of guys who
have the technical skill to whip this sort of thing up. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Some signs you're getting older.

How many of these apply to you? Come on, fess up.

Your house plants are alive, and you can't smoke
any of them.

You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

You hear your favorite song in an elevator, or at the

You watch the Weather Channel.

Your friends marry and divorce instead of "hook up"
and "break up."

YOU are the one calling the police because those damn
kids next door won't turn down the stereo.

You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's

Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.

You take a LOT of naps.

You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid,
not condoms and spermicide.

A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer described as "pretty
good shit."

You actually eat breakfast food for breakfast.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ok, this is just gross... of course I had to post it. Looks like a
really bad, smelly dose of crotch rott to me.
Not that I know anything about that.

An old buddy sent me a poem.

Ok, my internal alarms were ringin' loud when I thought
about posting this thing, sayin' "Don't do it. It's sappy,
sentimental drivel." But there's somethin' cool about it,
and I've always had a little soft spot for sentiment. You
remember the first time you ever saw "Old Yeller" or
"How Green Was My Valley"? Remember that feeling?
So, here it is. Maybe you've seen it before.

A drunk man in an Oldsmobile
had run the traffic light,
and caused the six car pile-up
on 109 that night.

Broken bodies laid about,
and blood was everywhere.
The sirens screamed out eulogies,
for death was in the air.

A mother, trapped inside her car,
was heard above the noise.
Her plaintive plea near split the air;
"Oh, God, please spare my boys!"

She fought to loose her pinned hands,
struggling to get free,
but mangled metal held her fast
in grim captivity.

Her frightened eyes then focused
on where the kids had been,
but all she saw was broken glass and
two child's seats crushed in.

Her twins were nowhere to be seen.
She didn't hear them cry,
and then she prayed they'd been thrown free.
"Oh, God, don't let them die! "

The firemen came and cut her loose,
but when they searched the back,
they found therein no little boys,
but the seat belts were intact.

They thought the woman had gone mad
and was probably traveling alone,
but when they turned to question her,
they discovered she was gone.

Some policemen saw her running wild
And screaming above the noise
in beseeching supplication,
"Please help me find my boys!"

"They're four years old and wear blue shirts.
Their jeans are blue to match."
One cop spoke up, "They're in my car,
and they don't even have a scratch."

"They said their daddy put them there
and gave them each a cone,
then told them both to wait for Mom
to come and take them home."

"I've searched the area high and low,
but I can't find their dad."
He must have fled the scene,
I guess, and that's very, very bad."

The mother hugged the twins and said,
while wiping away a tear,
"He couldn't flee the scene, you see.
He's been dead about a year."

The cop just looked confused and asked,
"But, how can that be true? "
The boys said,"Mommy, Daddy came
And left a kiss for you."

"He told us not to worry
and that you would be all right,
and then he put us in this car with
the pretty, flashing light."

"We wanted him to stay with us,
because we really miss him so."
"But Mommy, he just hugged us tight
and said he had to go."

"He said someday we'd understand
and told us not to fuss,
and said to tell you, Mommy,
he's watching over us'."

The mother knew without a doubt
that what they said was true,
for she recalled her love's last words,
"I'll always be you."

The firemen's notes could not explain
the twisted, mangled car,
and how the three of them escaped
without a single scar.

But on the cop's report was scribed,
in print so very fine,
"An angel walked the beat tonight,
on Highway 109."

Ok, so I'm a big baby. I'm a mamma's boy too.
Anybody who doesn't like it can kiss my big fat
hairy ass. Anyway, cherio.

Apparently I have to post an update.

The whole Naked Airlines idea turns out not to be so far
fetched after all.

My peeps keep hookin' me up. Gotta love it. Gotta take
the bus next time though. The FHB aint gettin' naked in
public. I think there's somethin' specific in the Patriot Act
about that.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

So, it's the first day of school...

...and you've got all the rug rats on the driveway for the
ceremonial picture that's gonna be emailed to all the relations
and friends. How cute. How sentimental. Norman Rockwell.

You're so wrapped up in getting the shot, getting those pig
tails just right, yellin' at the kids to get 'em in the right clothes,
to get 'em to stand in the right pose and to stand still, that you
fail to notice what everyone else will see when they get the
pictures. ya gotta love it.

Best "laid" plans, or so they say.

Ether that or you're a sick bastard and deserve all our fond
appreciation. Call me a sexist pig, but I'm assuming if it
happened on purpose it was their older brother or dad that got
the money shot. "Hey guys, turn this way. That's right. Good."

Wadda you think?

Saturday, August 19, 2006


A buddy of mine just sent me a series of pictures
in an email, and while they were all fun to see, a few
of them in particular really hit me in my gut. I guess
it's a sign of age, but things like this easily trigger
sentimental memories from a time that seems
more and more idyllic as we march boldly into the
wonders of the 21st century (see previous post
to get the irony there).

As a few of you may already know, I was once, I
guess am and always will be an Air Force brat. For
a time in the early 1970s, after an earlier 3 year stint
in England, dad and the rest of us were transferred to
Richards-Gabauer AFB in Kansas City Missouri.

After a short search, we moved into a split-level house
in the Southern Hills section of town. I tell ya, after
the place where we lived in England, which was the
equivalent of public housing, this place and the wooded
neighborhood it sat in were a paradise. I found out
later that my folks had chosen that house specifically
because of the crap that I had been through in England.
More on that later, maybe.

It was an awesome place. If you looked at it from the
street it looked just like a plantation house. White paint
with tall wooden columns lining the front porch. Thing is,
it wasn't really much of a porch. Just a facade, but it
looked classy as hell anyway. I later found out that white
paint was a huge pain in the ass to take care of, but the
rest of the place was well worth the time and trouble.
The house was built on a slope going down to a
constantly flowing wild creek that ran along everyone's
back yard. When you went in the front door you
were basically on a landing between the two floors
of the house. On entering you were directed ether
up a short flight of stairs to the formal living room,
kitchen, bed rooms, and a huge, cool deck with stairs
going down to the back yard, or you were directed
down stairs to the basement and den that led through
sliding glass doors to the huge back yard lot with 12
hawthorn trees in it. More on those fuckin' trees later.

Beyond the house and further up where the street
ended was an undeveloped wilderness of woods and a
creek where I was to spend most of the next 3 years
of my life. If you made a right turn at the end of our
street you went up a steep hill to a cul-de-sac, from
which there were more trails into even more interesting
woods and farm land. Most of my memories of that
place, those streets, and those woods are some of the
best memories of my childhood. If there is a heaven,
and I seriously doubt it, but if there is such a place, I
want to be 10 or 11 years old again, go back to Southern
Hills and run through that creek again with our old
dogs and never leave. So, back to these pictures.

There's one that could almost be me in the summer of
about 1972. In the middle of that first summer one of our
neighbors hired a few guys and set about cleaning out
his lot all the way down to the creek. They chopped
down a few trees and a large amount of underbrush.
One day they grabbed all our adolescent imaginations
when they found a huge blue backed crawdad (cray fish
for you Yankees) in the creek and a few big snakes.
That thing was as big as a lobster, I swear to God.
Totally amazing, and totally eye opening. I had never
seen such a thing in my life. I think that was when my
mom first realized what trouble she was in, and when
I first realized the potential that creek had for discovery
and adventure. Mom worried about me getting bit by
something, and always tells people now how I'd walk
out of the house in clean clothes and wade waist deep
into that creek and disappear until sunset, returning
home mud splattered, wet, and happy as a clam.

That creek would actually freeze over in the winter (God, I
miss those winters now). My best friend and I would
bundle up for the snow and walk out onto that Ice to
see if it would hold our weight. The fun of course was
when it didn't. You'd sank down and have to be pulled
back out by yer buddy. We'd go home long enough to
dry off and then head right back out again. I tell ya,
that creek was an endless adventure, and It's the reason
why I love the woods to this day.

The workers that summer also drove a lot of other
critters out of their holes and briefly into the open where
we kids could discover them. At a shallow bend in the
creek down stream from all the chopping, in the back
of another neighbors yard, my buddies and I found
a huge frog one day, just like this one.

I brought it home and put it in a pond that mom had in the
back yard under the sun deck, but it didn't make it. Dad
said it probably died of shock or something. Disappointed
the hell out of me at the time. Anyway, it was only one of
many critters that we shocked or tortured to death out of
childhood curiosity and/or ignorance during the years
we were there. So long as we didn't bring them into the
house, the folks were cool with it.

Once, secretly, I caught a jar full of lightning bugs and
then let them go in my room at night. I wanted to see them
flash on and off all night as I went to sleep. Mom was not
happy. She didn't punish me or anything. I don't even
know if she noticed till I told her about it later. They flashed
a little, but not like I was hoping they would. They just
died and I had to go around and pick them up the next

In a since, we had no choice but to play in the creek.
The back yards all up and down the creek and the
woods beyond were filled with hawthorn trees. These
mother fuckers are the state tree of Missouri, or
something. They have huge ugly thorns that shed off
into the grass and go deep into your foot if you make
the mistake of going barefoot anywhere. This was
after living in England where we could go barefoot
almost all the time in the summer. In fact, our folks used
to hate to see us do that. They associated it with
poverty, having grown up in the depression. We, of
course, associated it with freedom, and eventually
rebellion as our folks went on and on about it. One
tiny aspect of the generation gap that we had to deal
with. The picture that really got me going though
was this one.

The steep hill at the end of the street was also an endless
source of fun. We used to ride down it at full blast in
the summer, ether on bikes of skateboards, trying
to push the envelope of danger back a bit to see what
we were capable of.

In my memories, that hill was as steep as the one in the
picture, but in stead of ending in the ocean, it ended in
someone's yard. When we rode down that thing as fast
as we could, we faced the possibility of on-coming cars
or the curb at the intersection at the end of the road. I was

always a pretty cautious kid when it came to this sort of thing.
I think that's why my mom was never too worried about me
getting seriously hurt. I remember skateboards being a LOT
smaller back then than the one in this picture, and you couldn't
me to stand on one and ride it down that hill. I did sit on
them though, and that was enough of a blast enough for me.

In the winter when the snow would cover everything in a
blanket, we'd go down the hill on sleds. My folks got
me an awesome sled for Christmas in about '72. It was
long enough for me to lay on and you could steer it with
handles on the sides. It had red metal blades. Jesus, I
wonder where that thing is now? Saw one just like it in a
Canadian Tire store last time my cousin and I went fishing
in Gann. Could have knocked me over with a feather.

We'd start out at the top of the hill, get a running start, and
slide down that puppy as fast as we could go. We'd pack
snow against the curb to make a sort of ramp, and the
winner would be the guy who jumped the curb and went
the farthest into the back yard. I used to win that contest
a lot; one of the benefits of being freakishly large my
whole life. I weighed more, so I went faster and farther.
It's another reason I didn't like skateboards. I fell farther
and harder too. Goes with the territory.

When I think of the assholes that I have around here for
neighbors today, I appreciate the adults of the old
neighborhood. Who knew how lucky we were to grow
up at that time, in that place? These dried up old fuckers
now call animal control whenever someone's cat wanders
through their yard. They huddle in the street in a panic
whenever they see a kid walk down the road towards
the grocery store that they don't know. When I think of how
those folks in Southern Hills put up with us, allowed us to
have fun, and to be kids, I realize the debt of gratitude we
owe to those people. I wish I could see them now, hug
them and thank them for that gift.

Anyway, these pictures really got the juices going this
morning, but now I've got to head out. Goin' to Mom and
Dads to eat Pizza and do a few chores. I'm still lucky as
hell to have 'em, and still spend a lot of time with them
whenever I can. Whatever issues we had back in the old
adolescent days are long since water over the bridge.
Everybody grows up eventually, and if you're lucky you
get to see things from their side, and you see what a
shit you were from time to time, and everything takes on
a new tone. Anyway, enough is enough. I'm spent.
Later, FHB.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Naked Airlines? You're all so naive.

These pathological killers who've decided to ruin
everyone else's lives 'cause God set them down in the
asshole of the world, have shown us again that they
will never stop thinking of new and ingenious ways
to get at us. Turning someone's sports drink into a
hand grenade for example. Genius. You gotta give em
props on that one (let's assume the charges are true).

As a result, now we can't take tooth paste,
deodorant, soda, or even bottled water on our
flight to visit granny. The security is now so tight
that granny can't even take water on the plane,
as if she's likely to have just completed terrorist
training in the remote tribal areas of Bentprickistan,
or wherever. No more hand lotion, which means
there's no more beating off in the toidy at
30,000 ft. and depositing yer spooge over Nebraska or
somewhere, and then telling people yer in the mile
high club.

So some of you have latched on to the seemingly
obvious notion that we'd solve this issue if only
people flew in the buff. No bombs possible on
Naked Airlines, right?. It's all over the web. Of
course, we'd all be shoving one another aside to
get to sit next to THIS sweaty person...

And no, that's not me ether.

But you all miss the obvious flaw in this logic. Let
me lay out a scenario for ya.

How long do you think it would take for some
inbred, devious desert dwelling bastard to
decide to have one of his extra wives shaved, get
her to shed her smelly burqa and have liquid
explosive breast implants
installed. That's right.
You heard it here first.

They could get it done in some secret Al Qaida
lab in Pakistan, or maybe France. They'd take
the time to convince the poor bitch that she's going
to really love the scenery in heaven while her
husband gets to diddle the guaranteed 70 some odd
virgins. Meanwhile she's thinking "anything to get
out of this miserable medieval bullshit I've been born

You'd board the plane, trying to lock eyes and see nothing
else of Jabba the Hutt in the previous picture, and
there they'd be. You'd think to yourself, "If that
rag headed bastard makes a move it's on. He's
fuckin' history." But then your guard would drop
as you saw her huge ripe, curiously perky melons
hove into view, and you'd swear she gave you the look.

You begin to feel a bit awkward as your little friend
swells with pride due to the unconscious and
immediate image that pops into your head of
bending her over the seat and taking her right then
and there. I mean, you're a guy, so you can't help
but think that for at least a few fleeting seconds.
You snap out of it, you sit down and hide Johnny
with the silly little pillow from the overhead bin, and
you tell yourself that it surely won't happen again.
It won't happen to you. What are the odds?

Next thing you know, you're settling in to the flight.
You've seen the movie, and you've never been able to
sleep on a plane, so you spend your time casually
glancing around the cabin, checking out the nakedness
that's all around you. Naked people are shivering under
those skimpy fleece blankets they give you. Then you notice
rhythmic movement over in the direction of those suspicious
looking swarthy people who're sitting conveniently by the
emergency exit. You ask yourself why you didn't notice
that before.

Thing is, she's built like a brick shit house, and you
can't help but check her out. You're tryin' not to
get caught ogling her gargantuan torpedoes of love.
Then you'd see Akhmed beginning to aggressively
feel her up. You think to yourself, here's another nudist
whose gone off the chain, but he's really feeling for the
trigger devise.

Like cracking and shaking a chem light, he'd have
to work those dinners pretty hard to set them
off, and then suddenly there'd be a brilliant flash.

The pictures on CNN would show naked, bloated
bodies floating in the ocean, and the shocking facts
would slowly emerge as the parts and pieces were
reconstructed in some hanger somewhere.

In time the Department of Homeland Security would
announce a new, more stringent set of restricted
items, as well as ex-ray and surgical examinations required
prior to boarding any domestic or foreign flight.

So, we're back to square one. We're back to the
old standby option of dropping the big one. Are we
really ready to see each and every aspect of our
lives ruined systematically, just to avoid the
universal historic condemnation that would result from
a surgical, yet genocidal strike with a few old cold
war era nukes? I dunno. It's a quandary.

I can see a dozen or so cruise missiles armed with old
neutron bombs flying low over Teheran, or whatever.
It's kind of a sublime thought. Of course, that isn't ever gonna
happen, unless they do it first. And I don't think they will.
They're too smart for that. They don't need to. They've got
these suicidal whackos to do their dirty work for them.

I think it's obviously gonna be a long, bloody, complicated struggle.
Mostly a police/intel/spec ops fight, and it's gonna make the
cold war look like a 50 year tennis match. One thing I do know is
that, even this far into it, many of us still have a lot of
illusions about how it's gonna go down and what we can
do about it. We can't drop the big one. It's not gonna happen.
And it would be stupid, even tragic to allow our fear to drive
us into a frenzy of restrictions on the freedom we cherish.

I'm not one to cry "the sky is falling" when I find out that
the NSA is maybe listening to a few phone calls. But I'm
not completely happy with all the aspects of the Patriot
Act ether. And the politics of the whole thing, the inability of
each side to forget about their partisan interests and do what's
best for all of us nauseates the shit out of me.

I know enough about our system and it's history to know
that when we grant the government the authority to do
a thing, feeling the need in a specific context, it usually
decides later to go ahead and continue to do that thing in
other contexts as well. It all looks suspiciously like the thin
end of the wedge. I think, more than anything else, we need
to wake the fuck up, or grow the fuck up and realize that

It's all a sad, silly illusion, fed to us by talking heads on the
boob tube, or political leaders who can't let the opportunity go
by to pass a new law designed to assuage our short term
fears. They all live in terror of the idea that some widow will
confront them in front of a TV camera and ask them why they
didn't do enough to save her loved one. I sympathize with
many of them on that one. Most of them have done there best
to do their job, and nobody should have to deal with a distraught
survivor who's going through unbelievable tragedy and is just
looking for someone to blame, but that doesn't mean they should
then pass a lot of new restrictive laws just to try to keep it from
happening again.

Personally, I'm gonna go back to cradling one of my kalashnikovs
in my lap while I drink a beer and watch the South Park movie on
Comedy Central. I mean, If all this shit is gonna come to an end in
my lifetime, I'm gonna be sure and enjoy it while it lasts.

That show kills me.

Ok, enough with the monkey's butt.

Mushy tells me he's sick of lookin' at it. I've been sort of
busy with the new semester and all and hadn't thought to
post anything new. So here's a funny one that Mushy
sent me, and I must say, a pretty ingenious one at that...

...and somethin purdy to look at from the astronomy site in
my links. If y'all haven't spent any time surfin' that sight
yet, I'd suggest you do. It's full of lots of amazing shots.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Having said all that...

I got a million of em.

No, hell no that's not me!

Just imagine how much crack you'd have to smoke before
that tattoo became a good idea, and how much you'd have
to do to keep that lookin' like a good idea through all that
painful tattooing.

Having said that though, I'd have to admit it's about the
funniest looking, and one of the most ingenious tat designs
I've seen so far. Thing is, I'm basically a big baby. I don't
think I could bring myself to even have a conventional tattoo
without serious chemical inducement. Serious! The whole
thing about sobering up and discovering it, and then it's
there till you get the courage up to have it burned off.

Naaa. Not the kid.

Now, one of those Hollywood tattoos for the movies, one that's
painted on over 10 hours or somethin' and looks just like
the real thing, really elaborate and shocking, but that you
can wash off in the end... I'm totally game for that.

Head down to Terlingua for the next chili cook-off and walk
around shirtless, drinking a beer as some woman's elaborately
appointed labia majora winks at everyone passing by.

"Good evening ma'am. Nice day. What? No, that's not a taco salad."

Me? Well, I'm more of a classical art fan. Give me one of the
old masters any day, The subtle tones, the graceful lines,

and the big purple phallus? D'ow!

I'm so fuckin' proud of myself...

I managed, with ther help of virtually legions of
folks, to get this damn thing workin again so I
can post pictures.

Oh, and I got a cool new tat to charm the ladies.
Can't wait to show it to the kiddies. What'd ya think?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Well, I've tried over and over to post a picture...

but this fuckin' thing won't let me. So I'm gonna have to actually write something original here. Son of a bitch! It's SO frustrating when technology refuses to work the way it's supposed to. I've surfed around and know that there are systems I could download to post pictures. Just too lazy to do it tonight. Watchin' Bill Murry on American Choppers. Those guys kill me. They just came close to sinking an 8 wheeler in a river. Hilarious. Could watch it all day.

It's been a long day. I started a whole new semester today, including a few AP classes at a local high school. The summer days of sleeping in till 10am are over. Up at 6:30am every day (I know, just like everyone else. Fuck off). Leave the house at 7:20ish. Quick drive south, avoiding all the DPS pricks along the way. Standing majestically before my surly 8am government class before you know it.

The chatty little pain-in-the-ass juniors from last year are now prima donna seniors, so I'm sure their shit doesn't stink at all. An hour later at 9am I've got a whole new batch of juniors takeing my history class. New minds to corrupt and manipulate. Outa there at 10am every day, Monday through Friday. Up to Ft. Hood by 11:30.

The campus on the base is dead as hell these days. Mixture of troop deployments, training, and a million dollar computer system that the college just put in that has everything all hosed up. Hay, there's my tie in. Fuckin' technology! Fuckin' main campus idiots (constant recurring theme, on and on for years now).

Enrollment is down by about a thousand students from this time last year. About 1200 victims signed up so far with a week left to go. Means that many of us have very few people signing up, which really sucks when you get paid per class. I was supposed to have 5 on base this time, but one had to be cancelled. Only 2 people signed up by last Wednesdays deadline. They had to cancel about 25 classes. I was really worried about my others, but people from other cancelled classes have signed up to mine and they're growing steadily. If they hadn't I'd be looking at 2/3rds of a check, or half a check per class, depending on how many were signed up to them. Anyway, all the sweating was for nothing. Just wish that fifth one had made.

To make matters a bit more depressing, another college that I usually work for teaching upper level government classes hired a brand spanking new full-time guy to take over the department. They brought this dude into my class a few semesters back to audition him, to get my students to review his lecture performance. Then they hired him and gave him my classes to teach. Nice huh? I tell ya, this fuckin' shit is cut-throat as hell.

Between the administrators who fuck you in the ass and then tell you it's policy, the main campus pricks who think we're just a diploma mill, and the secretaries who screw up the scedules and spread panicky rumors, it's a wonder sombody hasn't gone postal. Homey aint goin out that way though. Dealing with empowered pricks like these, I've found, is a lot like you'd imagine prison to be. You gotta be sure and smile up at them when they fuck you in the ass, because your life could always get a lot worse if they don't like you. That's pure fuckin' wisdom there, hard earned.

Well, having said all that, I do see their point. They need him to get a grad level program going. I can't do that for them since I don't have a PhD. And they're also suffering from low enrollments just like Hood. It'll all get better early next year, please God. Some of my buds spend a lot of time cussing Dubya and the war. They've got a point, but the army is an army, not some huge WPA program. If they need to spend the money on the war, so be it. The military doesn't exist to provide easy jobs for lots of folks like me and shit. Spend it where it's needed. If anything, it's a testament to what Eisenhower warned us against in his farewell speach in 1961.

Anyway, I've got another government class at 11:30, history At 12:30 (both daily), a long respite on the couch and/or in front of this friggin' thing in the afternoon, and then another couple of government classes from 7:30 to 10pm. (that's two classes, one Mon./Wed. and the other Tues./Thurs. from 7:30 to 10pm). That's a light assed load for me. A few semesters back I had 10 classes goin at once. Pay checks were PHAT! They will be again. I vow it!

Back in the glory days, the huge money days, I used to teach online classes on the side. Keep about 12 or 13 classes goin' at once. That's why I went down to Austin and bought this friggin' thing. But the course load got to be a huge grind. All day long in class and then half the night pluggin' away here. The money was awesome, but I had no life, so I let it slide. Decided to go for quality of life in stead of money. Stupidest fuckin' thing I've ever did(ffwell, not really). Never mind. Thing is, same time I did that I also bought this house and about 17 acres of land south of here. Took on two mortgage payments and the income went down 20 grand, all at the same time (See what I mean). Never mind.

So now I'm getting back into it. Took the online training last weekend, between surfin' Big Dick (that doesn't sound right, does it?), Mushy, Oz, cool violence on You Tube, etc. I knew when I started this thing I was gonna spend way too friggin' much time loafin'. It's like it's in my DNA or somethin. Anyway, passed with flying colors, so they should start assigning classes to me soon.

Well, it's 1:45 and I've got to go hit the sack. Let these depressing musings reassure you that your own life or career is not quite as hap-hazard as you may think it is. Honestly, I haven't had a conventional 9 to 5 gig in 15 or 20 years. Wouldn't know what to do in a cubical. Love the work, but I'm a greedy bastard. I REALLY like to live well, eat out a lot, go to a gun show and buy what ever I want, and that's hard to do when yer dick is in the dirt. Ok, that means when you're poor.

I mean, I'm still doing a hell of a lot better than most around here, but I also know what it's like when you're doing even better. That shit is addicting. Worse than crack. For a short, hot time back there, the only guy making more money than me was the dean of the campus. I never knew what true motivation was until I fell into real prosperity and then fumbled it away. I'll get it back. It's easy. Yea, I know. True happiness can't be found with money? Maybe. Maybe. Aw bullshit! Tell somebody else that hippy drivel. I'm a fat, hairy, mercenary bastard, and I will be back swimmin in the benjamins very very soon. I vow it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Here's a few oldies but goodies

From the Northwest Florida Daily News comes this story of a Crestview couple who drove their car to Wal-Mart, only to have their car break down in the parking lot.

The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the car in the lot.

The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car. On closer inspection, she saw a pair of male legs protruding from under the chassis. Although the man was in shorts, his lack of underpants turned private parts into glaringly public ones.

Unable to stand the embarrassment, she dutifully stepped forward, quickly put her hand up her husbands shorts, and tucked everything back into place.

On regaining her feet, she looked across the hood and found herself staring at her husband who was standing idly by.

The mechanic, however, had to have three stitches in his forehead.


An officer in the naval reserve was attending a conference that included admirals in both the US and the French navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself in a small group that included an admiral from each of the two navies.

The French admiral started complaining that whereas Europeans learned many languages, Americans only learned English. He then asked. "Why is it that we have to speak English in these conferences rather than you have to speak French?"

Without even hesitating, the American admiral replied. "Maybe it's because we arranged it so that you didn't have to learn to speak German."

The group became silent.


And this is a great one...

A man and his dog were walking along a road.

The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years.

He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, the wall was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it, the man saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"

"This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked. "Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up." The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked. "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.

There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have any water?" "Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there." The man pointed to a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate. "Come on in."

"How about my friend here?"

The traveler gestured to the dog. "There should be a bowl by the pump."

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree waiting for them.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is Heaven," was the answer.

"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said......"The man down the road said that was Heaven, too?"

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No. I can see how you might think so, but we're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll leave their best friends behind. "

Hey, if you're into comics or sci fi and haven't seen this yet...

Check it out. Looks like they had a decent budget. Starts slow, but you've gotta stick with it. Click on it and scroll down a bit. You'll enjoy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ok, so you spend a HUGE amount of money...

on a photo safari in India, hoping against all the odds that you might get to see a REAL Bengal Tiger. Turns out, when the tiger shows up outa nowhere, all you've got between it and you is a little dude with a little stick. Can you say, "Oh my god, I shit myself just watching this video?"

And you don't even have a gun, right? Amazing!

Actually, I root for the Tiger. Don't think it was crazy. Maybe just pissed off.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Buddy of mine just sent this...

and I had to share it. Probably doing around the email trail
to a lot of you.

Katie Couric, while interviewing a Marine sniper, asked:

"What do you feel when you shoot a terrorist?"

The Marine shrugged and replied: "Recoil."

Enough said.

Don't you just love nature show bloopers?

Ok, here's a link to a video of an Otter goin strait for the cooch.

Hilarious! That critter zoned in quick. And it's called "sensory identification"?

I'll remember that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This picture says it all.

If you are down and out, feeling the weight of the world on
your back. Taking too many things too personally, maybe
this image will help you put a few things in perspective.

It's a Sun Prominence (an exploding solar flare) photographed
in July 2002. Makes us look like a pea. Insignificant compared
to the power thrown out at random by the natural forces of the
universe. Of course, this knowledge doesn't help you at all in the
short term. You still have to pay your mortgage and shit, and yer
gas and light bill aint goin away ether. But things could be worse.

Much worse.

Here's an oops moment, of the hazards of rollin these big dudes around in the Iraqi
boonies. Tankers always have to think about the fact that they
are rollin 70ish ton behemoths around on roads built for horse
carts, or less. It's one of the perennial hazards they face.

But then again...

they can just as easily have issues rollin them around in the
dry hills of Texas. First picture is from the Global Security site.
The second was sent to me by a buddy who worked on Ft. Hood
as a computer tech. Don't get me wrong, these tanks are the hottest
shit rollin, but they can have their boo boos with their vehicles
just like we can. Repairs just cost a bit more.

Ok, with Dicks valuable assistance...

I've managed to post a few links on the page. Scroll back up on the left, surf through them and see if you find anything you like. There should be something for everyone, so long as you're not too much of a snooty, picky, easily offended asshole.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I just realized...

it's August 6th, almost August 7th, 61 years after Hiroshima, and I haven't heard any of the normal whining about it at all. Are they finally over that stupid shit, or are people just too distracted with the current unpleasantness? Probably too busy protesting Israel. I get their point, about Hiroshima and the other things too, but I have personal reasons to feel defensive whenever some bleeding heart goes on and on about the poor Japanese.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that it was wrong to kill all those civilians in the bombing campaign during the war (about 600,000 in Germany and maybe 1.5 million in Japan). Most historians concede today that the bombing had a very limited strategic value. German war production actually peaked at the height of the bombing, for instance. If anyone did that sort of thing today we'd all call it a war crime. Ok, I got that, but my dad was headed for the island of Quajelain in August of 1945. He'd been trained to fly a low level attack bomber called an A-26, and was probably going to fly air cover for the invasion of the main islands if those went off as scheduled.

The Japanese generals had secreted away about 10,000 planes in preparation for the invasion, so their pilots could launch Kamikaze attacks against the invasion fleets, as well as attacking allied planes like those my dad would be flying. We scoff about the desperation of the Kamikaze phenomenon, but few realize that the Japanese sank more ships and killed more of our people with Kamikazes than they did with any other weapon system in the war. They were busy in early August of 1945 training women and little kids to strap bombs on their backs and run under our tanks. They were handing out bamboo spears to people, determined that their sacred homeland would never be disgraced by invaders. They would all die rather than live through such a disgrace.

The Japanese people, those poor civilians, were following these leaders like sheep, and while I do seel sorry for them, they weren't completely innocent ether. While the Germans did their best to hide the most horrific crimes they committed in the occupied countries from their own people, the Japanese press covered the atrocities of the Japanese army as it rolled through Asia from 1931 on as if it were covering a sporting event. They had so thoroughly dehumanized the other people of Asia that they could unflinchingly report contests held in China by soldiers who competed to see who could kill more people with a sword in a given time. If you doubt, google The Rape of Nanking. They show the whole story.

The Japanese general staff and Emperor thought that if they defended Okinawa, an outlying island in the Japanese chain, with savage fury, we would think twice about invading the home islands and agree to make a deal. They were right. We lost about 12,000 troops killed taking that place. Maybe 50,000 killed and wounded in a battle that lasted 3 1/2 months, from April to July. They suffered over 200,000 casualties defending it, including civilians who threw themselves off cliffs and blew themselves up to avoid capture. What the general staff didn't realize was that we had a few more options than just the ones they knew about.

We didn't just have one atomic bomb in August of 1945. We'd invested about $2 billion dollars in the Manhattan Project since about 1940, and now had two different versions of the bomb. When our leaders faced the issue of what to do, they made their decision from the standpoint of men who had already spent years steadily killing more and more enemy civilians every day. There had been a raid over Tokyo on July 10th, 1945 by over a thousand B-29s, perpetrating a fire storm that probably killed about 140,000 civilians. Thing is, every time we did that the Japanese managed to shoot down about 15% to 20% of the planes, each of which had about a dozen of our guys in it. So, within the context of the time, facing the option of doing essentially the same level of damage with only one plane and one bomb, the decision to use the weapon becomes much easier to understand. Six days after that thousand plane fire bomb raid, the first atomic bomb was exploded at Alamagordo, New Mexico, and our leaders options became much more interesting.

Of course, at that time, the scientists had not figured on the radiation poisoning that extended the death toll from both bombings into the next decade. And much has been made of the fact that some of the scientists protested the possible use of the bomb, thinking that they had been building it only as a deterrent to a possible German bomb. All those points are well taken, but I still feel a personal gratitude to the people who made that decision. We really don't know what would have happened if the Japanese had not had it made clear to them that they really, really needed to quit.

The first bomb went off over Hiroshima on the 6th, after which the President sent out a message to the Japanese government that they had better quit or they would "suffer a rain of ruin from the air." We heard nothing back. Realize, if they'd gotten accustomed to fire bomb raids that regularly killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of their people, it may have taken them a while to get their mind around the fact that the enemy could now do the same damage, which used to take days, in an instant. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria on the 8th, as per the deal made with F.D.R. at Yalta (There were still 700,000 Japanese troops in china), and Nagasaki went up on the 9th. The Japanese government sued for peace on the 10th. Some people like to think that it was the Soviet invasion that convinced them, and that the bombing was a needless attrocity. To me the time line says it all. Add to that the fact that the Emperor claimed in his taped address to the nation on the 15th, listing the reasons why they needed to quit, that "the enemy had begin to deploy a new and most cruel bomb."

I'll never really know what would have happened to my father if they hadn't used the bomb, but I have a hard time getting all wrapped around the axel about it. After all, the fact that we dropped it allowed America and the world to see what the use of such a thing really means. I think the fact that we used it in 1945 contributed to the fact that it hasn't been used since. Not to mention the fact that It has basically given the Japanese a pass on a lot of the shit they did in the war. They can fixate on their victim status and forget that all the other stuff happened at all.

I saw a Japanese movie on cable a while back, with Richard Gere in it. There's a scene in it in which a group of Japanese kids go to visit the monuments at Nagasaki. When one of the young kids asks an older one why there isn't an American monument there, the older kid says "because they did this." When I hear that, and when I hear about the fact that Japanese people don't learn much about the war in their schools, and that many Japanese think the stories about atrocities are made up, I have a hard time feeling sorry for them.

Of course, every people have perpetrated crimes of one sort or another, at one time or another. We are certainly not innocent, as many groups in the country will forcefully attest. Thing is, it's a regular thing in our schools to turn the teaching of history into a slobbering guilt trip, relating one ugly incident after another. That's what my college experience was like anyway. I'd like to know that the same sort of soul searching is going on elsewhere. I think the Germans are pretty honest about it. I think we are, for the most part. I know that there are a lot of people in Japan who know about the history and acknowledge it. No one else in Europe or Asia has forgotten, I assure you.

Anyway, dad's 84 now, and he's convinced that he'd probably be dead if it weren't for the bomb. A lot of his buddies feel the same way. That's good enough for me. They don't hate the Japanese anymore, but they haven't forgotten ether. We've moved on to completely different struggles and victories since then. We've got a totally new brand of suicide nutcases coming after us now, but we should never forget what the old geezers did for us. I have a problem with people slobbering all over them as "the greatest generation", but that's a whole 'nother thing. Anyway, I'm spent. Enough is enough. Later, FHB.