Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

LOVE these old pagan rituals. Used to look forward to this holiday all year long when I was a kid. All the free candy. Now I go for eye candy when I can. Sorry honey. Dammit, I'm just lookin'. Here are some Halloween costumes you might appreciate. I know I do.

By the way, I'm givin' one class a test today. AAAhahahahaha (diabolical laugh). Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another brief one.

Just want to show you some shots from the game Friday.

Academy played Rogers. It was a fun game to watch, with lots of action.

The weather was cool and still, and there was a huge full moon out. Tried to get a shot of that, and this is what I got.

Aaah, what the hell. I'll try again some time. Need a tripod for that one.

Dad loved the new hat, as many of you predicted. Looks good on him. We bundled him up in a heavy wool coat and he stuck it out till just after half time. I'd reach over and rub his back now and then and he'd smile and thank me for warmin' him up a bit. I kept tellin' him that we could leave any time he wanted to , and eventually he decided it was warmer at home. Academy eventually won the game in overtime by one point. Bet it was cool.

At one point I noticed that a new little cheerleader had joined the squad. I got a series of pictures as she stood, fearlessly, on the hands of the varsity girls. Cute as hell.

In the end she dropped down into the arms of the others with a huge grin on her face. One of these days I'll be watching her do this for another little girl. By then I'll be able to watch a full game. Maybe I'll stop comin' to Academy then, and switch to Florence. Too many memories here. Time rolls on.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ok, briefly, a few things I learned in Driver Safety class.

The class was held in an office in a strip mall up the street from where I live. The 29 of us taking the class were sitting in chairs and at tables that had apparently been used for a good while, and had LOTS of graffiti carved and written all over it. So, upon sitting down and scoping out my surroundings, I learned that "Zack likes penis", and apparently "is a whore". Also, "Courtney is a loser", poor girl. "SHS (Shoemaker High School) is #1, the crunkest school".

Ok, someone translate.

On the desk I used, in the center of a big heart, was carved the words "Crank that Lion King". Uh, I just don't get it. Are they sayin' they like the soundtrack?

The winner was written on the back of my own chair by magic marker. This guy's a poet. "Life's a bitch and then you die, so fuck the world and let's get high".

Aaah, these kids today. More later. Cheers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Best laid plans.

Classes are chuggin' along as usual. Semester's about a quarter done, and the first exams are comin' up. I can smell the fear. Smells like, victory. I'm up to the early 1700s in one class and the late 1800s in the other. The Government classes are mired in official sounding crud, with me trying to explain the executive branch to one class and the Federal constitution to another. I have three separate government classes getting the same lecture two or three times each week. By the time I'm giving it to the third class, it's starting to get shorter and more cut and dry. Those folks just sit there, take notes and stare back at me, but then the next class is full of cut ups and jokers who wake me up and make the time enjoyable. Try explaining something like the electoral college to a class full of older students who think it all sounds vaguely sinister and corrupt. I end up injecting enough history into the course so things like that are easier to understand. I do my best.

Denise and I will be headin' over to Temple to get dad in a few hours. We'll eat dinner and then sit through about half the Academy/Rogers game. After that we'll head over to a local sporting goods store and see if there's anything she needs for the upcoming trip to Terlingua. I've got enough gear to fit out a squad of troops, but you never know. They may have come up with something new and cool that we'll just have to have. It's all about the gear.

The annual chili cook-off, booze up and freak show down near Big Bend is coming up next weekend. Several of us will be heading down Wednesday and Thursday to take part, and then coming back Sunday.

This is a picture of the wilder cook-off down the road. We'll be visiting this camp, but not camping there. It's nuts over there, with chili wrestling contests and all sorts of fun. Like I said, we'll be visiting... but not trying to sleep there. I don't think anyone sleeps there.

I told my students on the base to take Thursday and Friday off and got Florence to get me a sub for those days. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Denise had word last week that her boss wanted her to come in on the Sunday, along with a slew of other folks, so we thought she was going to have to miss the trip. It went back and forth all last week, but she got a few other people to come in and decided to take the bull by the horns and go. She may ketch hell when she gets back on Monday, but again, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

I was hoping to be able to relax on Saturday, sleep in and take it easy for once. Then I went to the office on base to renew my stickers last Tuesday night and found out that my driving privileges on the base has been revoked. Shocked the shit out of me. Found out that they'd been revoked three months ago when I was nabbed goin' 45 in a 25 after class one night. They've got a speed trap out there where the speed limit goes from 40 to 25 and then to 35 again in the space of about two blocks. It's not a school zone. Something about the soldiers crossing the street from their living quarters. Guess they don't know they're not supposed to walk out in the street without lookin' both ways. Anyway, in order to get my new stickers I've got to spend all day Saturday listenin' to some asshole talk about driver safety. So, think kindly of me as you relax and enjoy yourselves tomorrow afternoon. Toss one back for me.

Sunday is my sisters 53rd birthday. The folks will be driving her over that evening so we can all take her to the Outback Steak House and let her drown her sorrows in booze and a Bloomin' Onion. Before that, a few of us will head out to the class 6 on base to load up on adult beverages for the trip to Terlingua. The dinner will be fun. She usually chugs a Bloody Mary or three when we go. They'll soften the blow as she slips deeper into the winter of her dotage. Siblings.

Well, I hope your weekends are all good. Cheers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just realized I forgot to tell y'all about Fridays football game.

Last Friday morning, the kids in Florence were in rare form. They told me during class that the controls on the schools computer system were down, and we could get YouTube. So, of course, I clicked on it and it came up. Then they started shouting out funny things for me to look up, and eventually turned me on to this little number. Enjoy.

Love the hell out of that. They also showed me the Village Sniper video that I posted last week. Part of me wanted to show them the Monkey Sex video, but didn't go there. Last thing I need right now is to get fired for that kind of crap. Hell, they've probably seen it anyway.

Anyway, Friday night, after eating our traditional Chinese dinner at Dynasty, Dad and I drove down I-35 to the town of Jerrel and watched the Academy Bees play the Jerrel... whatevers. I think Cougars. You may remember Jerrel from the nasty tornado that ripped them a new one, killing 30 people on May 27th, 1997.

I saw the whole thing happen. I was reluctantly going back to grad school then, needing 18 hours of credit in Government so I could begin teaching it. Only being qualified to teach History left my income in a sad state. Getting 18 hours of Government would double the course load and get me on the move. It took me a long time to get my mind around it, not wanting to go back to school, but eventually I bit the bullet and went down to San Marcos, south of Austin, and enrolled in the program at South West Texas State University.

I'd driven down that particular day to close the deal on an apartment and was driving back north towards Temple when I noticed that the traffic was being detoured off I-35 to the access road. Like a few others, I tried to drive north on the access road until the highway patrol came zipping over the grass to stop us. I drove back south to a Texaco that sits on a rise next to an overpass south of Jerrel. I got out of my Jeep and stood there, along with a lot of other folks, and looked North. All you could see was a huge slowly spinning cloud. It looked like it was about a half mile across and heading our direction. I'd never experienced anything like it. Stunning and fascinating to see.

We all watched that thing heading our way for a good 10 minutes, almost like it was driving down the interstate. Pretty soon the clockwise spinning started to visibly slow, and the cloud began to break up into lots of smaller ones. As it did, many of us onlookers decided that everything was over, got back in our cars and headed north along the access road.

Next thing I know a highway patrolman is driving across the grass to stop me. He says that the tornado is reforming and that I should take cover. I drove up, parked the jeep, and took shelter under the next underpass. I stood there with about 15 other people watching the tornado slowly break apart, and I was totally absorbed in how cool this experience was , until I saw insulation from someones house falling out of the sky. Seeing that woke me up to the tragedy I'd witnessed, and come very close to being part of.

There was a huge relief effort after that, and it came in handy that I was moving and could get rid of a lot of clothes and stuff by donating it all to the relief effort. They've rebuilt the place since then, and Dad and I were glad to see Friday that the folks down in Jerrel have recovered from that tragedy and built themselves, among other things, a nice new high school and football stadium.

Got a good shot of Dad while he watched the game. The wind was blowin' a bit and chilly, but we'd dressed dad in lined jeans and I brought a coat for him to put on. Still, he only lasted till half time. That's usually when he make our exit.

Florence did OK at first, but the score went back and forth. This Black kid on the left is a great punt returner/receiver who can run and make points, when they manage to get him the ball.

Unfortunately, their QB isn't the most accurate guy in the game. When we left, the score was in Jerrel's favor by one touchdown. I found out later that they'd eventually won the game in a dramatic way by the margin of one point. Maybe one of these days I'll get to watch the end of a game, but I don't want to think about what will need to happen to make that possible.

Oh, and when I went to the air show last Sunday I got Dad a new hat. I'll surprise him with it when we go out this Friday. The kids in Florence play Jerrel Friday, and I think Academy plays Rogers. We'll be there, and I'll tell ya how it went. Take care. Cheers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Y'all hear about this?

DENNIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A second-grader's drawing of a stick figure shooting a gun earned him a one-day school suspension.

Kyle Walker, 7, was suspended last week for violating Dennis Township Primary School's zero-tolerance policy on guns, the boy's mother, Shirley McDevitt, told The Press of Atlantic City.

Kyle gave the picture to another child on the school bus, and that child's parents complained about it to school officials, McDevitt said. Her son told her the drawing was of a water gun, she said.

A photocopy of the picture provided by McDevitt showed two stick figures with one pointing a crude-looking gun at the other, the newspaper said. What appeared to be the word "me" was written above the shooter, with another name scribbled above the other figure.

School officials declined to comment Friday. A message left at the superintendent's office Saturday was not returned.

Kyle drew other pictures, including a skateboarder, King Tut, a ghost, a tree and a Cyclops, the newspaper reported.

I tell ya, people are goin' nuts. A 7 yr. old kid. When I think of all the weapons I played with by that age, even some I'd made myself, it boggles the mind. What are we comin' to? Pretty soon the school'll be handin' out condoms to these 7 yr. olds, but don't let them ketch you drawin' stick figures. Oooooh noooo, we have a NO TOLERANCE policy. Well, who the hell gets to decide what we tolerate and what we don't as a society? Sheeeeiiit!

And here's a satellite shot of the fires in Cali. Amazing eh?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Had a great time in Ft. Worth.

We got out of town about an hour late. Too much piddlin' around on the computer, downloadin' good tunes and burnin' a CD for the road. The band didn't start playin' till 10:30, so I wasn't too worried about missin' anything. We got to Ft. Worth by about 7:30, and headed right for Pappasito's.

We ordered the usual - the queso dip with spicy ground beef mixed in.

She had the Chicken Enchiladas...

And I had the combination, with the Brochette shrimp on the side. Damn, those things are good, but we've talked. I won't tease you any further.

After eating, we went east on I-30 and then north on I-35 to NE28th street, got off and headed west to the stockyards and found Billy Bob's. It's supposedly the worlds largest honky tonk, and a perennial Ft. Worth tourist stop. It's got a few massive bars and a dance hall and pool tables. You name it. They even have bull riding indoors there every weekend. It's wonderful.

I hadn't been there in 20 years or so, and Denise had never been. She'd heard about the concert on the radio last week, and I'd bought tickets over the phone. All we had to do was pick them up at the Will Call window. She'd heard about the place and wanted to check it out. I tell ya, she was workin' that accent and those blue eyes. She had guys hittin' on her almost from the start. If the rodeo had been in town and the real cowboys had been fillin' the place, in stead of these "Rexall Rangers", she might have ditched me for some starched jeans and a big hat and belt buckle.

Peter Frampton rocked his little ass off, I wanna tell ya. It was kinda funny, seein' this old dude up there, lookin' like someones granddaddy, but the sounds he made with that guitar were amazing. I'd recommend seein' him if he comes by your town. He played all the classic tunes, and even a few contemporary covers.

He played a killer version "Black Hole Sun" about mid way through the night, and then a great cover of "My Guitar Gently Weeps" as a final encore. The sound was great in the small venue, and they played for two hours, without a break. The place erupted in applause as he and the band finished, and then Denise and I headed out to find a hotel room.

The next morning, we headed over to a friends house for breakfast. Jim and Terry are the folks I rafted the Grand Canyon with in 03 and 05. He's been my best buddy since about 1989 or so, when we met on a canoe trip.

We had breakfast burritos, and then headed up to Alliance Airport to watch the air show. As we drove up, the F-117 was taking off to do it's fly around. By the time we got situated it was over, so no pictures. Maybe next year. The big draw today was a flying demonstration by the Blue Angels. I've seen them many times before (growin' up on air bases, you see a lot of air shows), but their show is always worth seeing, no matter what.

If you look closely here, over the throngs of people, you can see the Blue Angels, their F-18s, lined up and ready to go. When I got the chance to walk around, I found some cool stuff.

This was my first close-up look at a V-22 Osprey. These things have had a trouble history, and have just been deployed for the first time. The Marines love them, so we'll see. Looks cool enough, fer sure.

Always love seein' the A-10s at these shows. This one had some nose art...

And a nice little illustration on the side of the fuselage. Didn't know they'd begin to let the troops express themselves like this again. Love it.

Here's a NASA F-18, the same plane the Blue Angels fly. Very cool.

When the Angels got going, I took a lot of pictures, and this one probably turned out the best. I'll post the rest of these air show shots over at FlickR later this week, when I have time.

Well, I hope your weekends were fun. Cheers.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

You guys remember that rant I posted last week...

You know, the British guy who was talking about Europeans accommodating themselves to the rise of religious fanaticism and terror, rather than confronting it? Dry British humor (humour, for the linguistically challenged) at it's very best. I think this sums up the guy's rant beautifully.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's been a busy week, and it's gonna be another full weekend.

I started 6 new classes on base this week. I start out in the morning, the butt crack of dawn, with 2 classes back to back at the high school (8 to 10am). Those are 16 week classes and they're about half over. This week I started 3 separate hour long daily classes from 11:30 to 2:30 every day, and 3 evening classes - M/W night from 4:45 to 7pm and T/Th night from 4:45 to 7 and then 7:30 to 10pm. In all, about 220 students taking US History and Government. One word... POOPED. One more online class starts Monday, but that's easy money.

This evening I'll be doing the usual, Friday night Chinese food and high school football with Dad. Here's a video to put us in the right mood to chow down on the buffet line at Dynasty.

Mmmmeow, I can just taste the generals chicken now.

Denise and I are taking a trip to Ft. Worth Saturday afternoon. We'll try to get there in time to have dinner, get stuffed on brochette shrimp and spicy queso dip and start to get liqueured up at Pappasito's (yep, they have one in Ft. Worth too). Then we'll head over to Billy Bob's on the North side of town and sit through a concert by the venerable Peter Frampton. We've got center seats, six rows back. Should be cool. After that we'll be gettin' a hotel room and spendin' the night in town.

Sunday morning we'll rise early and meet up with my buddy Jim, wolf down some breakfast burritos, pack a cooler and go sit in the sun and watch an Air Show all afternoon at Alliance Airport, North of Ft. Worth. We'll see the Blue Angels and all the works. Should be cool.

I'll try to get home at a decent hour Sunday so I can rest up for another week. You guys have a great weekend. I'll try to get some cool pictures and maybe post them Sunday night. Cheers.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Old soldiers never die..."

They live on in old stories, sometimes tearfully but always passionately remembered, told to wide eyed young pups about the adventures of their youth, when life was lived to its absolute fullest... When abject terror and jubilation were with them at all times, held closely and tightly, like their rifle and their K-Bar.

I was at work Wednesday, sitting around with a few friends, waiting to go to class, when one of my colleagues came in and said he had something to show us. His name is Arthur Trujillo, but he's better known by his students as "Mister T". He's a Government and Business instructor here on Ft. Hood, and he also moonlights as a school board officer here in Killeen, and volunteers in a few other areas. He retired from the army after 20 or so years in 1987. He's been a buddy of mine for years, ever since I started teaching here in 1995. He's a funny guy, and works tirelessly, probably too much. The common view of him among his colleagues is that he's a great guy, but that he's got too much goin' on to possibly enjoy his life. Too many fingers in too many pies. Well, he obviously needs to keep active, and it's his choice. His wife, Minerva, recently started teaching Spanish here on base. He's tried to get me to go to Chamber of Commerce meetings with him in the past, early on Sunday mornings, but my ass doesn't know how to get up that early on a Sunday and put on a suit. Call me a slacker. Guilty.

Anyway, I've known for years that he was a Vietnam Vet, and that he'd been a Special Forces officer there and a helicopter pilot, involved in all sorts of secret operations, serving several tours from late 1966 to the early 1970s. Every once in a while he comes in and needs to tell us stories, the anniversary of some battle or incident having come by and shaken old memories and passions loose from his heart. It happens from time to time, and we're happy to listen. I always sit there, mesmerized by this old warrior, trying to imagine this old guy in that old setting. Today was one of those days.

There are several Vietnam Vets working here on the Ft. Hood campus, including the Dean. It's one of the things I love about working here. I get to rub shoulders with the guys who've lived much more interesting lives than I have (so far), who have a deep well of wisdom to share with a young guy like me. When Arthur started telling his story, another Vet chimed in. His name is Mike Davies, and he's an Economics teacher and former Army colonel who served in Vietnam in the early 1970s.

Here's an old shot of the three of us, and a few other folks, all sitting in the office at work. That's Mike on the left, without his hair. That's Arthur on the right, with the coffee cup (he's CONSTANTLY drinking the stuff).

They compared notes about where they had served and when, and talked about how it seems like yesterday that all those events were taking place. I ketch them trading memories fairly often. Once I caught them laughing in the teachers lounge, and they told me about going to Thailand on leave from Vietnam and getting a "Blow Bath and a Steam Job". I laughed my ass off when they told me what that was all about.

While they were remembering things yesterday, I jumped in and said that while we'd been stationed at Richards Gebower Air Force Base, in the early 1970s, my dad, then a Colonel, had gone on a two week tour of Asia with other officers. He was working in communications then, in a huge, two or three story windowless, supposedly bomb proof concrete cube with one door going in and out. The tour was looking at communications facilities in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and finally Vietnam (I was about ten or eleven then). I told them that while the other guys went to Vietnam, my dad had stayed back in the Philippines and played golf (something about them not having enough room for him on the plane). They laughed at that. Then Mark chimed in that he'd played golf in Vietnam, in Saigon. He said that if you sliced on the 16 hole your ball landed in a mine field. We all laughed again, wondering which local kid probably got the job of picking up those lost balls so that they could sell them back to the golfers.

Arthur took out a folder then, and showed us some clippings from his time in the war. I was amazed to look into the eyes of this young soldier, staring back at me from the pages of the clippings in the folder.

He looks a lot like one of the kids in my AP high school class in Florence. Two of the clippings were from his home town newspaper, the Roswell New Mexico Daily Record. The other was from the Army Times. He said that his home town had been very gung ho about the war back then, and gave him a lot of press while he was over there. I told him, looking at the yellowing clips, that he should scan those clippings into a computer so they could be touched up and preserved. In the end he gave them to me, so I could see what I could do. This gave me the time to go over them in greater detail, and read up on my friend.

The first clipping (below, right) is from the end of his first tour (the first of three, if I have things right). It shows him sitting in the jungle, September of 1967, his radio and maps in hand, his Colt Commando, short barreled M-16 rifle near by.

He's described as a 1st Lt. commanding B company, 1st battalion, 8th infantry, 4th infantry division, serving in Ducco, Central Highlands of South Vietnam. It talks about him having served as a rifle platoon commander, platoon XO, "Recondo" (leading long range reconnaissance patrols), Psychological Warfare officer, and Civil Affairs officer.

He's written notes on the margins of this clipping, talking about being ambushed a few times, crossing a river and walking through a field, and that he'd had bullets cut the ground right in front of him and to his side, kicking up rocks and dust that hit his face. He writes about working with the Montagnairds (Mountain tribesmen working as guerrillas on our side) and setting up a school for their kids in a village on the Cambodian border.

At some point he took Paratrooper training, and then in his second tour, served as an intelligence officer in the command and control detachment in the 5th Special Forces group. As an officer in the Special Operations Group, he did all sorts of stuff he still won't really talk about. He was there for the Tet offensive in early 1968, and ended up giving about 15 to 20 top secret briefings to Gen. Creighton Abrams, who was second-in-command at that time, but who later took command of all the troops in country.

During his third tour, from late 1970 to late 1971, he commanded troop "D", 17th squadron, the 17th Cavalry, flying planes and helicopters and logging about 350 combat flying hours (see picture at upper left). He went into Cambodia in 1971, flying an OH-58 reconnaissance aircraft. He laughs now about things like taking anti-aircraft fire through his cockpit, almost killing him, while he was supporting his men from the air. Looking at these pictures and his notes, I can only wonder what other experiences he's had. I wish he'd put it all down somewhere for the rest of us to read, so that his personal history isn't lost some day.

I'm blown away by all the things I've learned in this simple yellow folder, and want to know more. It occurs to me that having guys like these around is a walking, talking reminder of the real courage that our soldiers display, and how much they really go through in the service of their country. It's often said that we should honor these Vets for the service they gave on the battlefield, but I think it should go deeper than that.

To one degree or another, when the guys and gals head off to war these days, following in the footsteps of men like my buddies Arthur and Mike, they're volunteering to sacrifice not only their lives, or a part of their body. Most of them will end up sacrificing their peace of mind. Their war time experiences will haunt many of them for the rest of their lives. The memories of these things will come back to them at odd times, when they smell something familiar or hear a sudden loud noise. Most of them will hold it together, and they'll manage to bear the trauma, hiding it from the people they love, only dredging up memories in the company of those who served, who are the only ones really able to understand.

They'll move on to build families, and stable, valuable lives in the world. They built this country, and continue to build it. Maybe that's the real sign of courage we should honor. Maybe that steadfast resilience is the real heroism we should celebrate. Thank God we still have folks like these among us, willing to serve in whatever capacity, putting it all on the line.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Here's a good rant for ya.

And some interesting information. First, this guy's got an intelligent opinion, and the web gives him a venue. I'm glad to help spread it.

Secondly, here's a documentary on the fratricidal violence of the Islamist movement.

The connections that the documentary makes towards the end, about Neo-cons in the west needing and enemy, is a lot of liberal clap trap. Bin Ladin was blowing up embassies and such long before the Neo-cons got into a position of power. You could say though, that having lived in a bipolar world for 60 years, with the world separated between the Soviet and Western blocks, it is strangely familiar now to have people increasingly saying that we're divided between the modern world and the Islamofascist world. Thing is, the world isn't bipolar any more, because half the western powers are unwilling to fight the fight. We've gone back to something more like the balance of power that existed in the 1800s and early 1900s. I mean, we can still blow up the planet, but we've got to argue with all sorts of people before we do it.

Question is, did we make this shit up, or did they? Seems to me like we were mindin' our own business when they declared war on us, and we should end it now by turnin' a large part of the world into glass. OK, show of hands... who's for blowing up the rag heads? I jest, sort of.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday weekend wrap-up.

I'll tell ya about the weekend, but first, here's a hilarious little video for all you fantasy football players out there. Enjoy.

Recognize the homage to the movie "Weird Science". Kelly was so hot in that movie. Love it.

I had a great time at the game with dad on Friday. It was a hoot to be in Florence and see folks from the school, and have my kids names called out as they made plays on the field. It really brought the fun of it all home to me much more than usual. The kids even gave me hell for sittin' in the visiting stands. It was a lot of fun.

It was funny to see that the visitors stands were about as full as the home team stands.

The Florence Buffaloes are in purple here, and by this time, you probably recognise the Academy bees in green.

The weather has gotten chilly in the evening recently, so Dad was getting a bit cold by half time. Well, it was partly the weather and partly the illicit Diet Dr Pepper that I treated him to. He's not really supposed to have those, but he loves them. I hope there's someone there to slip me the generals chicken when I'm a geezer. Dudes have got to take care of one another. He's also floating the idea that I should let him drive the new Buick. He says things like "I'm not checked out in this one yet." I think I'll get him behind the wheel some night. The first time he let me drive we ended up going out on the highway. Was cool as hell. We'll see. If we wreck Moms new car, we'll both be in deep shit. In any case, I'll need to remember to bring a jacket for him next time we go out.

By the time we left, Academy had gone up by a few points. In the end, they took Florence 22 to 12. I'm sure they'll have something to say about it when I go back to class there on Tuesday.

Saturday evening I decided to go up to Ft. Worth early. I'd been planning to head up there Sunday morning, but I decided Saturday that I'd spend the evening with close friends, maybe talk a few things out, and avoid having to drive up at the crack of dawn Sunday morning. We had a great time. We watched TV, ate leftovers, and then I slept on their couch. The gun show Sunday was ok, but not really anything special. I didn't see anything I couldn't live without. The best thing about the weekend was the company I got to keep. These folks are some of my best friends, and I love them to death.

I headed back to Temple around 2PM, and got to Moms in time for dinner and the joy of watchin' the Cowboy game with the folks. I learned most of my best cuss woirds, and phrases, from sitting with mom whaile we watched the Cowboys play ball in the 70s and 80s. It's hilarious to hear her roll out a string of expletives when they do something stupid. If you watched the game Sunday, you know the language was prime. So was the food.

She cooked Pork ribs, scalloped potatoes, peas, and salad.

Mom makes a special sauce from Heinz 57th sauce and honey. Give it a try. It's great on ribs. The taters and peas were great too.

It was all finished off with peach cobbler and ice cream. Wait a sec... Yep, still holding the line at 291.

Spent a few hours at my sisters place after dinner, pickin' her brain about a few things, and then I headed home. Had to stop at HEB to get cat food, and it rained like crazy on me as I walked back to the car. Got home and went through a few blogs, but now it's time to hit the sack. You guys take care. Hope you had a great weekend. Cheers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday's here, so you know what's comin'.

First of all, I found some cool gear on the base the other day.

These things look awfully familiar to me, being a gear head and having spent way too much time looking at pictures of weapons on the web. Those upright containers were the big giveaway.

They were in an area that specializes in AAA, or anti-aircraft technology. That is, vehicles with anti-aircraft rockets on them. I was thinkin' these babies might be part of some sort of new anti-aircraft or anti-missile system.

After a little research, they turned out to be the latest version of the Patriot, which our folks used against the Scuds in the first Gulf War. They turned out not to work so well in the conditions of that war, despite all the press hype, and have gone through a huge upgrade. It's always fun to wander into something cool out there on the base.

Anyway, it's Friday, so you know what's coming if you've been readin' this thing for any time at all. I'll head over to Temple this evening to take my laundry to the drive through window to be pressed and then I'll go over and get dad and we'll head to Dynasty for our regular Chinese food dinner.

I just talked to the old folks on the phone, and dad's ready and rarin' to go. We'll eat dinner at the regular time and place and then I'll drive us down to Florence to watch his old high school team, Academy, play the kids from Florence that I teach every morning. It'll be fun. The weather has turned a little colder in the evening, so I'll have to take special care that the old dude doesn't get chilled. It'll be ok. He'll love it.

You know, there's things about these evenings that I dread. Dad's really not the same man he used to be any more. You've heard me talk about this before. He's getting more and more childlike all the time, and seems to remember less and less of everything. He sits down in the stands when I get him up there and before long he's latched on to whoever's sitting next to him. H starts out asking them if they went to Academy, and then he launches into his stories about all the times he had back in the day. He's gotten to where he always asks me at some point if I went to Academy, and it becomes hard to remember that he's the same man that used to give me so much grief back in the old days.

The first time I realized how much he was declining it devastated me. I came back to Killeen a few years back after flying up to Pennsylvania to fish with my cousin and met my folks at the local Outback steakhouse for dinner. Dad looked at me over the Bloomin' Onion and asked me if he'd ever told me about the time he took his father to see my house there in Killeen. Of course, his father's been dead since about 1964. I just looked at him, and then at my sister and mom, and they stared back at me with a knowing look. My sister tried to tell him it was just a dream he was remembering, but he was insistent. I almost burst into tears, the realization hitting me like a ton of bricks that my dad had started to wither away.

Now it's a given thing. He's not the man he once was, but I've learned to deal with it, and not treat him like a fool or a child. He's still a man, and he's my daddy. I love him to death, and I won't let him be treated with disrespect. Most folks around here are great with him. There are times when I think we'd all be better off if he'd just go to sleep one night and not wake up in the morning, but I know that's just my selfishness. It's me that wants to be spared the grief of watching him decline. Turns out I'm the one with the problem. He loves the life he has, and he's happy, so I'm the one that has to grow up and deal with things. I'm cool with it now, and I'll be ready to tote him around so long as he can make the trip. He hauled my ass around, and wiped it when I was too young to do it, so now it's my turn.

So, I'll be headin' over there a little later. I'll take some pictures of the game and we'll see if I've figured anything out with the camera or not. There's a gun show in Ft. Worth this weekend, and I'm plannin' to head up there Sunday. My buddy Jim called me this mornin' in school from a Habitat for Humanity site he's working on, tellin' me about the show and askin' me if I was comin' up. He asked me if I was in class, and I told him "Yea, but it's Friday, so we aren't doin' anything." We both laughed.

I was piddlin' around, uploading music from a CD to the computer in the classroom. I get it uploaded and play it over the bad, tinny speakers built into the computer, and sooner or later the room will get quiet and one of the kids will ask me who the hell that is. This time it was Government Mule doing a cover of "Almost Cut My Hair". I love it when I play some old stuff in the room and these kids look over at me with that quizzical look on their face, and ask me "Who the hell is that?" Then I busted out his little number. There's no video to go with the music, but give it a listen anyway.

Of course, Jimi Hendrix doing Born Under a Bad Sign. While were here, why not have another. Here's one called Bleedin' Heart.

You should have seen the look on their faces. Hilarious. I guess I'm always teachin', and payin' it forward.

Y'all have a great weekend. Cheers.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sprechen zie Deutsch?

No, I don't ether. So it's good that these dudes sang in English.

Damn, I think that cut off just as the guitar was really gettin' good. I hate it when these old videos do that, but what can you do. It's the best one they had on YouTube. Don't ya love the part where the blond is lookin' strait into the guitar players crotch and lickin' her lips. Perfect example of why so many young men take the instrument up, and why so many others wish they had.

And here's some killer guitar and hilarious video from the same band in 1972. Same singer and all, only you can barely tell it. The guitar player on the left, Michael Schenker, is only 16 years old. You can just hear the director, desperate to film something other than these dudes standing there like statues, telling them "Yea, run across that cliff. It'll be spooky and artistic."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hit by a rocket propelled granade in Afghanistan.

This kids story is amazing, and heart warming. Check it out.

I tell ya what, I love these folks to death. What the hell do you say after watchin' that? Amazing. Best in the world, hands down.

Oh no I'm not!

You Are A Walnut Tree

You are strange and full of contrasts... the oddball of your group.
You are unrelenting and you have unlimited ambition.
Not always liked but always admired, you are more infamous than famous.
You are aggressive and spontaneous, and your reactions are often unexpected.
A jealous and passionate person, you are difficult in romantic relationships.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Test your knowledge of things gross and unpleasant.

I know, we've all spent too much time watching crappy docus on cable about these losers, so try your hand. - Test your serial killer knowledge

Just uploaded a bunch of shots of Ft. Hood steel, and a few other things, to the FlickR site. Click on it if you're interested.

Here's a taste.

Flightline; Blackhawks and Apaches, including a few long bows.

Dinner, a while back. Finishin' off that 6 pack in a chilled mug.

Saddam out of his hole, as seen in the 4th ID museum.

Business end, Huey Cobra.

Truer words were never spoken.

Someone once said that "Youth was wasted on the young". Well, it was mostly wasted on me, but I still remember the feelings I had that made this song resonate for so long. Still does some times.

Here's The Who, recorded live at the Isle of Weight festival in 1970, doing one of my favorites of theirs, called "Young Man Blues". Best recorded version is on the CD
Live at Leads. You may want to crank this puppy, and then stand back in wonder and amazement.

"Sweeeeeet Fuck all!" Yep, that's how it feels some times. As I get older though, I find myself shifting away from envying the young, with all their zits and stupidity, their lousy music and their retread illusions of coolness, and looking up to the older boomers who've lived a rich life, did what they were supposed to do, and now, having retired relatively young, they have the freedom to enjoy themselves. That's what I'm shooting for. That's the real goal. I hope to God I get there some day. Someone should write a song called "Middle-aged and in debt up to your rusty ass blues".

Monday, October 08, 2007

Tagged and bagged.

Dudley got tagged over at the Kat House to show his desktop. Show me yours, I'll show you mine, sort of thing. Always a bit of a turn on, that notion, so I'd love to play. Unfortuately, the friggin' thing won't cooperate. I'm followin' the process: click the Print Screen key, then open up a photo program, in my case Photoshop, and then do a Ctrl.-V, so you can spruce it up.

Well, it's not workin'. Tried it a million times in a million ways, and nothin' comes up. This sort of thing always leaves me feelin' like the biggest friggin' idiot in the world. I can't even figure out how to save the picture from the computer. It's stuck in Webshots, and it won't let me save it to another file. So, what I can do is take a picture of my desktop, and show you that. Think of it as a consolation prize.

Purdy, aitn't it? It's a picture of Mt. Tombstone, Upper North Klondike Valley, Ogilvie Mountains, Yukon, Canada. I use it as the picture on my phone too. Love the look of it. Have persistent fantasies about walking into the woods some day and ending up in a place like this, finding it full of mammoth and such, and spending the rest of my life there.

Not wanting to spread this pestilence any further, I'm gonna refrain from tagging anyone. If you can figure this crap out, and have cool pictures on your desktop that you want to share, consider yourself tagged. You're it.

Update: Well I'll be damned...

I finally got it to work. Finally searched through the programs on this thing and used Dell Paint Shop Pro. Don't think I've ever used it before. Imagine my shock, but don't ya think the earlier photo is a little prettier? Anyway, consider yourself tagged, if you wish.

OK, everyone go over to Dudleys site and check out his latest post.

Dig this. You'll pee your pants.

Pooped, and the week is just startin'.

Went to the football game with Dad Friday night, and got a few nice shots.

It was homecoming, so all the little wigglers were out, and the mums and streamers and whatnot were in full force. They had a crowd of little girls doing all the cheers along side the cheerleaders, socializing them to want to grow up to be cheerleaders one day too. Ya know, ya gotta love tradition.

The local folks came out in huge numbers, overloading the stands and making it hard for me to get dad a decent seat. I eventually found one, and we sat down to enjoy the action.

It was a close one, with the opposing team scoring and going ahead of Academy at halftime.

It was about then that we got a phone call from the girls. Denise and Mom were out having a girls night out, and they'd locked themselves out of the house. Dad and I usually only make it through halftime anyway, so it wasn't like we were having to miss something, but I played it up anyway. I mean, the game was just getting good.

Saturday was a lazy one, with us sleeping in till the afternoon. I had one chore to do. I busted out the Yellow pages and called Killeen Overhead Door. The weekend dude came out in no time, and started workin' on the garage door. The repair dude laid out the dangers of fixing these spring things yourself. He showed me the scar on his hand that he got when the spring got away from him once, and the missing tip of his thumb from the wires getting away from him once. I guess the $150 it cost me was money well spent. He had it up and working in no time, and the Bat Cave is back in order.

After that we headed to the Olive Garden for dinner, and then went to the multiplex and saw "The Brave One", with Jody Foster. Excellent movie, and one that everyone out there should go out and see. I was expecting the typical Hollywood take on the vigilante phenomenon, but it was really well done. The end will amaze you. Go see it. I recommend it totally.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, for the most part. I got my new online class updated, and eventually went out for burgers, and to fill up her car. We watched the Green Bay/Chicago game, and Denise was really bummed to see Green Bay lose. She's a fan. Her ex in-laws up in Wisconsin have corrupted her. Actually, I think she's just got the hots for Brett Favre. Something about tall bewhiskered athletic types.

Well, it's late, and I've got to get up and give the Juniors in Florence their first exam. The culling process begins. Pray for them. Cheers.