Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Looks like the government has decided to finally allow some pilots to carry guns to prevent hijackings.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Check this out. Someone took an old trimmer and turned it into... well, what the hell would you call this? A new, loud, tricky form of locomotion. Can't really say it's environmentally friendly, but I bet the wipe outs are fun to watch.
Now, speakin' of weird technology, someone please explain this little gizmo to me. What the hell? Some sort of containment issue? An incubator of some sort? NASA astronauts or deep sea divers going through some sort of decompression? You tell me.
Oh yea, it's also Fatty Friday, so click on this if you feel you need to. Not quite sure what the funnel is for. Don't really wanna know ether. On the other hand, don't even think about clickin' on this one. It looks VERY painful to me. I wouldn't go there if I were you.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
It's coming up on family reunion time again, and all sorts of feelings are swimmin' throught my head.
The annual reunion of my fathers family is rollin' up on me quick. First Sunday in March. No tellin' who will show up this year, though I hear my one living uncle is busily callin' everyone, hitting them with a guilt trip to make sure they come. The young ones have shown up less and less in the last decade as the older generations have dwindled and the reunions have steadily become peopled with more unfamiliar faces. My cousins kids don't seem to have the same interest or connection to the family that our generation had, or our parents. Attendance seems to slide a bit with each successive year. They move away and get involved with their own lives, and don't feel the need to reconnect with folks they have increasingly little in common with. Probably something profound could be said about the loss of community in the modern age, but I won't go there.
I used to really look forward to these get-togethers when I was a teenager, having had all the old-time stories instilled in me as I grew up. As we moved from base to base in the course of dads military career, and later as we lived several hours away in Ft. Worth after dads retirement, the annual reunion was about the only time we got to see our aunts and uncles, our grandparents (on my mom's side), and other relatives. Feeling a bit cheated, I always longed for the security of a familiar place and extended family that my parents families and childhood homes represented. Even now, having moved home to the area of my parents childhood, living here in the same community as many of these people, the reunion is still the only time I get to see most of them. Our different lives and experiences have left us with little more than blood to connect us. That used to bother me a lot, but I've made peace with it.
Back when we were growing up, my sister and I both had fantasies about living here, near my grandparents and cousins, thinking we would have had a much happier childhood surrounded by family, and what we imagined to have been a greater sense of stability. We never talked about it as kids, but having discussed it as adults we discovered that we both had the same longing. Once, in about the 5th or 6th grade, my art teacher gave the class an assignment to come up with a drawing of our dream house. People came up with all sorts of interesting things, but mine turned out to look like a huge warehouse. When she asked me what was up with that, I told the teacher that what she saw was just the outside. All the cool stuff was on the inside, like a Roman Villa. There were all sorts of apartments, and even a lake to fish in, and all my relatives lived there with me. Sounds pathetic now that I think back on it. Pretty needy.
My sister, being six years older than me, got to spend more time here as a kid with our grandparents and cousins. She remembers sitting in the lap of our paternal grandfather, a legendary figure in the family, and running around and having great times with everyone. But I guess I came along too late, and so I missed out on all that. By the time I was born, everyone was a bit older, dad was a bit higher up in rank, and we were spending more and more time deployed elsewhere for three or four years at a time. Both my fathers parents died when I was very little, before I could get old enough to remember them. They passed away while we were on the other side of the planet, and I guess that must have heightened the desire in me for some sort of connection, listening to sis reminisce, and watching dad grieve for his own mom and dad.
In retrospect, I guess my mom and dad did a lot to instill in me the feelings of longing that they had, but couldn't do anything about because of the demands of their career. They planted all these ideas in me about the family and home that they were missing terribly. So, when I moved down here in the mid 1990s I tried to make up for all the lost time. I tried to connect with the guys who seemed closest to me, but who I also held in a sort of awe, from all the years of hype that I had absorbed. We went hunting and fishing a few times, but I finally got tired of their particular ideas of fun, and their friends, and the chase. It turns out, of course, that we really don't have much in common. How could we, having had such different lives? It also seems clear now that their perceptions of me were formed through our long years of absence from the family scene, and the stories they heard growing up of their fathers relationship with my dad, which was rocky from time to time. I guess this left them wondering why the hell I'd want to have anything to do with them, and weirded out by my insistence on trying to tag along and buddy up.
In retrospect, it went something like this. Whenever we would show up for the reunions back in the '70s or '80s, having driven a few hours down the highway, and planning to drive home after the big feed (in other words, when we weren't going to be around for more than a few hours), they'd take me aside and say stuff like "It's too bad you're not gonna be here longer. We ought to go fishing". Being naive and hopeful, I assumed they meant it. Hell, maybe they did. But when I moved down here and the opportunity came along for me to actually join them, the phone didn't ring. I got sick very quickly of feeling like a groupie, calling and chasin' after them all the time, only to then feel like I was butting in when I finally did catch up to them. So when I stopped callin' and chasin', like magic, we stopped having anything to do with one another.
When their dad (my dad's oldest brother) got sick and died in the late '90s, I met up with these guys and their families again at the hospital, and eventually at the funeral. It was a very sad time, but in the midst of it they'd say stuff like "Man, we haven't seen you in a while", and I'd think to myself, "Yea, and you go to such great lengths to keep in touch", but I didn't say anything. I was mostly over the feelings of rejection and disappointment by that time. I do love those guys after all, to one degree or another, even though they've turned out not to be the close buddies that I hoped they'd be. Then a funny thing started to happen.
In the light of these experiences, I started thinking about all those feelings I'd had growing up, reevaluating them, and I learned to appreciate the life I'd had, rather than to continue to long for the life I didn't have. In other words, I guess I did a hell of a lot of growing up. I started reevaluating all the feelings I'd had as a kid about how much fun it would have been to live here, and I gained a greater appreciation for the upbringing I did have, and the places we lived, and the fun I'd had growing up where we were. In the process I think I developed a much greater sense of confidence in who I am. It turns out now that I wouldn't change a thing about those old days, other than maybe to have been born a bit earlier. I would like to have known my paternal grandfather.
He was a sharecropper, one of many farmers driven into sharecropping, or tenant farming, by the post-World War One depression in agriculture that ruined the farming economy in the early 1920s. He and my grandmother raised four sons (and eventually several of my cousins), and a lot of cotton in central Texas in the era before the New Deal and the Second World War gave people around here more options in life. The stories and pictures we have portray a great, immensely strong, happy, friendly, bull of a man. I really missed out on not getting to spend time with him as my sister did, or to get to go fishing with him as my cousins did in their childhood. I still really regret that. I guess I always will. As I think back on all this, I think that maybe by going out with my cousins I was trying to capture a little bit of that early time, but it didn't work out. That's life, I guess.
Now, when I see my cousins once a year at the reunions, we all act like it's great to see one another, and it mostly is. We catch up on one another, and it's about the same as it was when my family lived in Ft. Worth, Missouri, or England, and only got to come "home" once every few years. What the hell can you do? You can't pick your relatives, or control how other people feel about things. The only consolation I guess is that the folks on my mom's side are even more screwed up. They don't even have reunions. I've got one cousin on my dad's side and another on my mom's that I'm close to, and that's enough. My cousin in Pennsylvania has become like an older brother to me in the last decade, and that's as good as it gets.
I love this guy to death, and I think he feels the same way about me. His family up there in Pennsylvania are all super folks, and they treat me great, as if they've always known me. The first time I went up there in the mid '90s they had a huge get together, a Memorial Day picnic, and it was a great time. I swam in one of those above-ground pools, where the water only comes up to my waist, and his wife's nephews tried to dunk me. Fools. We made vanilla ice cream, ate cheeseburgers and played ping pong for hours (I beat his ass). They made me feel right at home. It was like night and day, compared to the way I feel around many of the folks down here.
We both grew up in the service, his dad in the Army and mine in the Air force, so we have a lot of things in common. We're also the only two guys in our generation, on our mom's side of the family. He was the first born, then three pain-in-the-ass girls between us, and then, after most of the fun was over, me at the very last minute. He tells me stories about times when our families got together at my grandparents house. He says he pushed me around in my stroller, and that he was very happy to see me when I was born. He was about 14 or 15 when I arrived on the scene, and he had concluded after many years that he was destined to be the only swinging dick in the family.
I have one fleeting memory of him from about 1966, when my family went up to Washington D.C., where his dad was working at the Pentagon. We spent a few days with them on our way to a new posting in England. He was about a senior in High school then, and was probably annoyed to have this little kid sleeping in his bed. Even though he was born in Texas, here at the local hospital, and started school here, is family ended up spending a lot of time stationed up north, so he went to high school and college up there, playing football for Joe Paterno at Penn State in the late 60s. He turned into a full fledged Yankee, learning to love hunting and fishing in the woods of Pennsylvania, building his life up there.
Next time I saw him was about 1977, when we all converged on the grandparents for some reason, and we all got to meet his first wife. Then it was his fathers funeral in about 1982. Then, after splitting with his first wife, he brought his young daughter down to Ft. Worth one summer and I took them both to The big water park in Arlington. We had a fun day. That daughter is all grown up now, and has told me that she really enjoyed that day. I only wish we all could have spent more time together all those decades ago, but fate didn't have it laid out that way.
We really didn't get together till the mid '90s. I think our mom's pushed us together. He found out that I liked to go canoeing, fishing and camping, and he floated the idea of me joining him on one of his annual trips to Canada, canoeing and hiking into the woods around Algonquin Provincial Park to fish for Pike on Hogan Lake. I went up there, and while we hiked in, carrying 40 or 50 pound packs on our backs, balancing 45 or 50 pound kevlar canoes on our shoulders, we found that we had a lot in common. We got along pretty well, and the relationship has grown since then.
So now we try to make up for lost time. He comes down here whenever his job and family commitments allow, and I try to get up there about once every year. In the last three years we've switched to the more comfortable, old geezer style of holiday adventure, towing his boat up to a nice little lodge on a lake in Canada for a week or so after Memorial Day (you can check out more of the pictures from Gananoque by clicking on that Flickr link over there on the left). We have a great time, usually joined by an old friend of his, or his new son-in-law. But the bastards at work have screwed up my holiday plans for this year.
The ever present, ever tinkering college administrative geeks moved this years regular three week summer break from early June to late July, so I'm not going to be able to make the annual fishing trip in the days that we reserved last year with the lodge. I swear to God, those bastards tinker with stuff just to justify their existence. Useless! Like tits on a boer hog, as my father would say.
I told my cousin it's probably just as well. With me not being there, the other guys will finally be able to catch some fish. He tossed out a good barrel laugh at that one. Thing is, after not making much of a good showing for myself in the first few trips up there, last year was my year.
I hooked one nice sized Pike after another, and a few nice Perch and Bass while the other guys sat there, getting more and more pissed. It was glorious. It was my year. When I got the bad news a few months ago we tried to figure out something we could do to find a way to fix the mess, but in the end it was decided that the rest of the guys would go ahead and use the days we reserved in June. I'll teach an extra mini-semester this year, and then we'll try to get back together next time around.
I'll make a few grand more this year, but I'll miss the hell out of that trip, and the fun of being with my cousin and his family. Who'd a thought I would have to go to Pennsylvania and Canada to find the fun times with family that I've always dreamed of having here in Texas? Go figure. Life is weird like that I guess. Of course, over the years, I've whittled together a family of sorts, finding great, close friends who share many of my same interests, and that's good enough. I guess that's what most people do.
So anyway, the reunion is coming up in a few weeks. The food will be great, and we'll listen to my dad and the other old-timers tell the same old stories, and we'll talk about how much older we all feel, and we'll see a few new kids runnin' around, and life will go on as it always has. What else should we expect?
Friday, February 16, 2007
With all the non-binding resolutions, bilious pontifications, and stupid chest thumping being tossed around these days, I think It's relevant to hear what at least a few soldiers think. I actually hear this sort of sentiment a lot on the base, from soldiers in my classes and older retired Vietnam vets that I work with.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
30,000 years ago this was the acme of beauty and bounty, so far as we can tell. The one on the left is called the Venus of Lespague, found in 1922 in a cave in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Now she's got some junk in the trunk. This specimen was damaged during excavation, with the huge droopy breasts being broken off. Here's a few images of this one, and another frontal shot of a complete statue.
Most of them have the typical heavy set, pendulous breasts, featureless face, in fact I think the figurines are usually headless. The one below was found in Austria. She's called the Venus of Wallendorf. Both are thought to be around 25,000 to 30,000 years old. Nice cans eh?
They've found these little statues all over the old world, and think they had something to do with fertility, or a bountiful harvest, or maybe just the notion of wealth and plenty in societies that probably suffered regularly from seasonal famines and scarcity. Of course, nowadays we don't attach the same meanings to things. Most would say, confronted by such an image...
Damn, it looks like another edition of Big Fat Floppy Tittied Friday.
That's right, it's another Friday, and you've just been suckered into the inappropriate zone. God love her, she still gets out there. You know she's got to have back pain from hell.
I used to read how researchers thought all these statues represented an exagerated immage of women. It occurs to me, maybe all those little statues they've been finding showing the "Neolithic Venus", in the same visage over and over, were just the neolithic version of Fatty Friday? Maybe they were passed around the fire by generations of neolithic hunter-gatherers who farted, scratched themselves and grunted something like "Dude, check this one out. Gnarly. Ride the wave man. Ride the wave". Maybe?
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Here's one out of the blue. Well, maybe not, but it's still a shocker. She was a train wreck watin' to happen, but I'll miss the hell out of her. A true Texas beauty. Rest in piece baby. Sad, sad, sad.
After all that time in court, she'll never get to spend it. Maybe there'll be some left over when the kid gets old enough. Karma? Maybe so. A world class dumbass? Fer sure. I'll still miss her.
The intrepid astronaut babe charged with allegedly trying to kill her love rival will claim temporary insanity due to severe diaper rash. Eh? Had a load in her shorts for hundreds of miles. You know that had to hurt.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Check this game out. It's called "Whack Your Boss", "whack" being the mob term for doing in whatever mind numbing Imp of Satan that may be dragging your life down from 9 to 5. It's an awesome distraction.
They give you fifteen objects with which to "Whack" the boss. Click "begin" on the opening page, wait for the boss to come into this guys cubicle and start giving him shit (make sure the volume is up), and then use your mouse to search around for the objects that become highlighted. Click on one of those objects, and then just sit back and giggle. Click on "Cleaner" to get another chance at another bloody whacking. There are fifteen objects, and you win if you manage to find them all. The scissors are my personal favorite. Come on. We've all had these daydreams from time to time. Enjoy.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
The Mexican military on maneuvers in Northern Mexico, showing a mix of western and Soviet/Russian weapons, all feverishly preparing in the event of an invasion from the north. Now, I realize that such as thing has happened in the past (1840s), but what's the likelihood that it would ever happen again? I mean, that whole Manifest Destiny thing is a bit played out, isn't it?
All countries have plans and maneuvers to train for different contingencies, but did you make out the Generals comment there near the end? He insinuates that they are preparing for a spread out, Iraq style insurgent resistance in case of a US invasion. What the Hell? What exactly do you think they are preparing for? I guess we've shown everyone what our weaknesses are over there. Maybe he was just coming up with an answer to some journalists question concerning the obvious superiority in firepower north of the border. He's gotta come up with something right? Postscript - Looking at it again, I think he's just saying that the Mexican Army has to be prepared for the same sort of fighting we're dealing with in Iraq, I guess.
Thing is, from what we hear, the drug gangs in the north of Mexico are about as well armed as the Mexican army, so maybe they should be preparing for that and stop thinking about re-fighting the battle of Buena Vista. Grab a big hunk of reality hombre. The person who posted the video claims in the blurb that Mexico is about to take possession of new Russian Su-27 fighters. Those will come in handy when they have to bomb the Zapatista rebels again some day, right?
Friday, February 02, 2007
I don't think I could put it better. What sort of mutant beast grows antlers like this? What a friggin' mess. The hunter's got to be perplexed. You'd wanna be proud of it, but yer kinda scared of it too. Like goin' fishin' and haulin' in a big one, but when you land it it's got three heads. Sheeesh. Where the hell would you start countin'?
Looks more like a diseased growth than a set of antlers.
Looks like one of those sad, tree pruning butcher jobs when they cut the limbs off a tree way too far back and the new limbs grow out of the stumps totally unnaturally. I hate it when people do that.
Is that a proud daddy, or a guy sayin' "Damn, have you ever?" He almost looks like he's holding it at arms length, just in case.
Anyway, It's the end of another week and it couldn't happen to soon. Pooped! Think I'm approachin' burnout, and it's only February. As you may remember, I taught two mini term classes over the Christmas and New Years holidays so that the money would keep comin' in. As soon as those classes ended I started seven more classes, two of which are early morning advanced placement classes at a local high school, and one of which is another four week mini term. I mean two classes ended on a Friday and the others began the next Monday. I'm used to that sort of thing, but this time they've experimented with offering mini terms along with the regular schedule, and I was greedy enough to volunteer.
This latest four week class ends tomorrow, and another three week class begins Monday. I feel like a fat hairy rat on a wheel, but it's a very profitable wheel to be strapped to. I mean, It ain't ditch diggin', so I can't honestly complain too much, but it still drains the hell out of you when you feel like you really don't have any down time. I've got about 30 or 45 minutes to relax between classes in the morning and my lunch time classes, and about three hours in the afternoon, between the lunch time classes and the evening classes. I ether eat out somewhere or come home and throw somethin' together.
I check my email, check on my online class (oh yea, that makes eight classes), and then head back for my daily mini class (5 to 7pm), and then head to the late night classes (one Monday/Wednesday, the other Tuesday/Thursday, from 7:30 to 10pm). I get home between 10 and 10:30pm most nights, and then I check the emails again, try to relax with some TV, or surfin' this thing, checkin' up on ol' Mushy and everyone, and then I hit the sack with a book, if I have the energy. Before I know it it's 6:30am and all this shit starts again. I just finished a great book called "The Long Walk". Check it out. An excellent read.
I know, friggin' ridiculous. What's worse is the fact that I'm fightin' a cold this week. One of my students probably turned in a test after coughin' on it and now I'm takin' pills to try to keep it at bay. The last thing I need with this schedule is to be draggin' around coughin' and feelin' like shit. So I plan to stay home this weekend, relax, and try to recharge the batteries. Dad and I will be heading to our normal Chinese food outing this Saturday night, and then we'll be back to our normal Friday night outings beginning next week. Teaching this last four week class (5 to 7pm, M. to Fr.) pushed us to Saturday night, but the next mini term class will be just three weeks long, from 1:45 to 4:30pm every day, so Dad and I'll be back in business. That's right, my three hour afternoon break will shift next week to the evening, so I'll have time to eat dinner at the actual dinner hour, like a civilized person.
I've also been heading to a few local drinking establishments a few nights this week to watch a few of my buddies from work play pool in their local league. Means I got home about midnight one night last week, and last night and tonight. I enjoy their company, and it amounts to about the only social life I have outside my family and the classroom. Probably contributes to bein' pooped, but what the hell. You gotta have a little time outside of class to laugh and listen to old married guys drink and tell lies about women. These are the same folks I go to chili cook offs with, and go tubin' with in the summer. They're a great bunch. Fun lovin'. You've got to have people like this in yer life or you'll go crazy.
I get a huge break tomorrow morning, not having to go in to the morning classes. The high school kids are taking their TASP tests, so I get to sleep in till 10am. That will do a lot to start the rechargin' process. So, I hope all of you have a new sense of ease and confidence, warmed by the notion that your own life may not be as beat down as you thought it was. I guess someones always runnin' faster on that wheel than you are. I'm pretty well compensated, so I can't complain.
To wrap it up, here's a joke a friend sent me recently...
From an actual sign at a golf course in Scottsdale, Arizona:
1. BACK STRAIGHT, KNEES BENT, FEET SHOULDER WIDTH APART.
2. FORM A LOOSE GRIP.
3. KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!
4. AVOID A QUICK BACK SWING.
5. STAY OUT OF THE WATER.
6. TRY NOT TO HIT ANYONE.
7. IF YOU ARE TAKING TOO LONG, LET OTHERS GO AHEAD OF YOU.
8. DON'T STAND DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF OTHERS.
9. QUIET PLEASE...WHILE OTHERS ARE PREPARING.
10. DON'T TAKE EXTRA STROKES.
WELL DONE. NOW FLUSH THE URINAL, GO OUTSIDE & TEE OFF.
Have a great weekend. See ya in the later.
Oh, what the hell, I guess it's Fatty Friday, so here goes nothin'. I know you didn't see it, but there WAS a fat guy in that picture. And to think, she's got good taste in reading material too. Now, for real this time, I'll see ya in the later. I'm off to bed, to dream of fat hairy women and easy money...
or is it easy women and fat hairy money. Yea, that sounds much better.