Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday stuff.

First of all, I read this morning that Prince Harry has been in Afghanistan, tryin' his damnest to be a regular soldier and cast off some of the crap associated with bein' a "Royal". The Drudge Report outed him after he was there for a while, and now he's being flown home and told not to visit his normal pubs and clubs for fear of some Muslim wacko with a bomb who might want to get him for serving in the war. Shades of Mountbatten being blown up by the Provos back in the '80s.

I tell ya, I have a HUGE amount of respect for his desire to shake off the privilege and go through what every other soldier has had to go through, and it sucks that he's not being allowed to finish it. I mean, I know why they want to protect him, but still, here's a royal with a pair. Why not let him scratch 'em?

While I was looking at that story I found something else in the British news. If you like Stephen Fry, check this out and enjoy.

Anyway, you guys remember that student I told you about a few weeks ago. I’d just started a new semester and an older soldier came to me after class when everyone else had left the room and told me he’d been in special ed classes all his life and was gonna try to do as well as he could in his first college class. Well, he made a 104 on his first exam (out of a possible 110). I tell ya, I love this job. That guy’s gonna be fine. I can see the confidence growin’ in him now. He’s gonna go far.

I’ve got another interesting dude in one of my evening government classes. This guys is another older soldier. He says he’s been a cop (MP) for 25 years and “he’s tired of being on Jerry Springer all the time”, having to deal with bizarre domestic situations, and he wants to get a college degree so he can get a better job. I see this all the time too.

Lots of older soldiers start to take college classes just before they get out, wanting to get better jobs in the civilian world. Most of the time they are like both of these guys… they haven’t been in school since high school and they may have some worries about how well they’re gonna do.

Anyway, we were talking about the Bill of Rights last night. When we got to the criminal procedure amendments (4th to 8th) this guy started to contribute some fascinating and hilarious stuff from his real life experience as a cop. He gave us some real life details about things like the Exclusionary Rule and the Miranda Rule. We found out during the discussion of all that that he’s a member of the motorcycle guard (I think they’re called the Patriot Guard) that goes to funerals to protect grieving families from protesters who show up at funerals to celebrate the deaths of soldiers who have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He deals with that issue both as an MP, dealing with protesters who try to get permits to demonstrate on the base, and as a guard at the funerals. He insinuated that the only thing keeping these protesters alive is the police showing up to stand between the protesters and the bikers. One student didn’t understand what he meant by that, which opened an opportunity for me to bust out with something I saw on a t-shirt once… Some people are alive only because it’s illegal to kill them. We only made it through the 5th amendment last night, so we’ll have more fun Tuesday night with the rest. Again, I love this job.

I went by the Hospitality office yesterday after getting out of my lunchtime classes and ended up getting drafted to go bowling today. They had a CTC charity bowl at a local place, Bowlarama, and the Ft. Hood campus team was needing one player. One of their guys had to drop out needing to get some sort of school business done. So I cut out of my 11:30 class early, tellin' the kids I had to go bowlin' (you know that brought about a laugh - I assured them it was an official CTC function), jetted over to the lanes, donned those special shoes and tried to keep it between the gutters.

I broke 100 in each of the three games, scoring about a 375 in all. Thing is, there was free beer being distributed, paid for by my boss, and he kept toppin' off my glass. There's no tellin' how much I drank (Coors Light), but I was really feelin' it by the end of the third game. Denise came by and watch after work and was givin' me looks, but I drove home OK. She tried to get her office to set up a team for the tournament but no one wanted to play.

I was supposed to head over to Temple to get Dad tonight, but apparently he's had a bad day. My sister called during the bowling tourney to tell me that he'd gotten lost out at the VA and wandered around for hours today before someone found him and got him back to my mom. He goes there to work out in a supervised program a few times a week. I guess he's gotten so loopy that he shouldn't be left to wander by himself. As a result of all that both Mom and Dad are too tired to do anything today, so maybe we'll get together tomorrow.

If everything is OK tomorrow, I'll head over there and we’ll hit a bucket of balls and then belly up to the buffet one more time. Mom forgot to make the appointment with the psychic for today, so she now says she’d gonna call today and schedule one for next week. When all the hocus pocus goes down, I’ll be sure and keep you fully informed. Maybe the lady will come across with some hot stock tips. Fingers crossed. Denise and I will probably head over to BJs again, and then maybe take in another movie. We both want to see The Other Boleyn Girl. Just checked though and No Country For Old Men is finally in our theater, since winning the awards. I read the book and have been dyin' to see it, so maybe we will.

This weekend could prove to be interesting. The annual Wilson family reunion is Sunday. I’ll be going over to get dad as usual, but this time Denise is gonna go with us. I told her I wanted her to come. Most of those people probably think I’m queer, having never seen me with a girlfriend before, so it’ll be fun to see the look on their faces. Should be fun.

Anyway, see ya later. Have a great weekend. Cheers.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Got this email from Dave up in Gatesville, forwarding it to me from a friend of his.

The email included this comment:

Thank you Bill Clinton and Bruce Babbitt!

This wolf was killed a few miles north of Boise Idaho near the Banks-Lowman Highway. Take a look at the size of this monster and you'll realize how many cattle and sheep (or Elk and Deer) a pack of wolves this size would eat. We now have over 1700 of them (er, 1699 now :) ) in the Montana, Idaho and Wyoming region. We eradicated them first time for a good reason.

It's a big sucker ain't it?

Thing is, I wonder how it was that huge populations of deer and elk and buffalo (something like 20 million buffalo in 1800) coexisted with all those millions of wolves and coyotes for all those millions of years without cattle ranchers, farmers, sheep herders and such flyin' up in their helicopter to save the day?

If they're all left the hell alone the wolves will take out most of the coyotes (eliminating competition), and then take only the slow and lame from the herds. The deer, elk, and buffalo populations thrived in that natural ecosystem before we showed up to throw things off balance. Maybe cows and sheep are too far removed from the wild to adapt to the threat, or maybe ranchers and farmers just don't want to have to adapt. Maybe ranchers who charge thousands of dollars to let hunters come in and take an elk just don't want the competition.

Every time I've driven through our western landscapes, like across western Kansas and Colorado on I-70, or across the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico on I-40, I imagine those herds, and the Indian tribes on the move, and it occurs to me that since we made the West safe for farmers and cattle ranchers 100 years ago, it's seemed awfully empty. There's a huge element missing from the landscape, with only the remnants left behind to remind us. We have to safeguard them, or nothing will be left.

I think they ought to leave the wolves alone, and force the people who want to live on the edges of the wilderness to put up with a few critters here and there. Yea, I'm a tree hugger. I like trees. I like 'em better than I like most people. I never saw a cow that was cooler than a wild wolf ether. Well, maybe a longhorn, but they're almost wild too. Like I said, deer and elk and wolves can take care of themselves. They've been doin' it since the ice age ended. Let 'em alone, damn it!

I found out this morning that William F. Buckley died Wednesday.

I spent a large part of my youth layin’ on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, usually alone, watching Firing Line on PBS. It was the only conservative show there was back then that laid out a different and maybe more sophisticated view of the world than the one I was getting from the main stream media. He stood erect and resistant, ready to driver a spike into the liberal, collectivist, unthinking, anti-intellectual liberal consensus of the time that took all that old New Deal welfare dependency for granted and smirked at anyone who questioned it. I loved it.

I subscribed to National Review for a time while in college, but let it lapse some time in the late ‘80s when I came to the realization that it wasn’t as much fun to read that stuff as it was to hear Buckley debate someone like his friends John Kenneth Galbraith or Michael Kinsley, or hear him interview folks like F. A. Hayek. I guess it was Buckley’s sense of humor and intellectual vitality that made the show fun and interesting. It was always fun to hear him insult some puffed up liberal intellectual in a way that even the recipient of the barb could barely discern.

I became much more aware and learned to understand my own beliefs while I watched Buckley’s show, but then I moved on and found other people to read and other views of things that opened up the world a bit more. I’ll never forget reading “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” for the first time. Hunter S. Thompson couldn’t really be described as a purely political writer, but his insights and humor (like in his book about the 1972 elections, The Great Shark Hunt) revealed a part of the human experience to me that was hilarious and fascinating.

Since then I’ve shifted gears a bit and found a wider range of pundits that I enjoy reading or watching. Folks like P.J. O’Rourke, Camille Paglia, or Christopher Hitchens can always be depended on to cut through the tripe of what passes for our political discourse and reveal the steaming, smelly innards of the conventional wisdom du jure. They do it with intellectual humor and wit, purely in Buckley's tradition.

It occurs to me here as I write this that in terms of intellectual vitality and humor, maybe P.J. is the only person that could fill Buckley’s shoes today, but he doesn't seem to be around as much any more. Having said that, Hitchens is the guy whose writings and views I enjoy the most today. I hesitate to call him Buckley’s successor as a public pundit, but it all works for me.

Anyway, rest in peace Bill. Cheers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So, you wanna know about that rifle?

Denise and I slept in Sunday and woke up very slowly, as is our practice on the weekend. We both work late during the week and get up early, so we value the time we have on the weekend to sleep in and relax. We headed north towards Gatesville by about noon, stopping only at a stop-n-rob in Cove to get a Dew and somethin' for breakfast.

We'd had plans to spend our Sunday goin' to a gun show in Harker Hights and a home and garden show in Belton before headin' over to visit the folks in Temple for a bit. Then we were gonna head back to my place and Denise was gonna make lasagna. Well, ain't it so, that the best laid plans of mice and men... Something or other. This trip to Gatesville was gonna throw somethin' out of kilter, but it was worth it.

The gun show ended up being replaced with the trip north to see this mystery rifle. I was pretty sure what it was from Dave's description, but wanted to see for myself anyway. The whole thing intrigued me. Denise had never met Dave or seen his place, so it was gonna be fun showin' her around "the museum", as I like to call it.

Here's a little taste of what I'm talkin' about. There are walls full of old muskets and other artifacts. You've seen pictures of his place before. Just go here and look at pictures from one of our shoots and you'll see a few other shots of the place.

It's like a museum of 19th century Civil War memorabilia. It's a guys place. Post and beam, with no central air. Two fire places for the winter, and a window unit in his bedroom for the summer. I think about this place a lot of the time, that it's like the sort of place I should have built on my land instead of buyin' the house I have in town. I think about doin' that sort of thing still, but I like my house. It's a good investment, and I like bein' close to work.

Anyway, we got to Dave's place and I showed Denise around, and she loved the house and all the gear. After a while we all piled in my car and Dave guided me to his buddies place on the other side of town. We got out of the car and stepped into a large garage/shed/machine shop type place filled with junk. When I say junk, I mean lots of crap that represents someones life, but looked like junk to me. Sprinkled in there were a few very nice objects; a roll-top desk and some nice furniture, a huge TV, and up against one wall, a very large white gun safe.

Dave introduced us to his friend. Apparently this guys brother had been the owner of all this stuff, but he was very sick and going into a nursing home in Austin. His family was finishing the task he'd started of liquidating his possessions. He'd already sold off some guns, but they were left with a few, including a Remington 700 bolt action hunting rifle, and this mystery rifle that no one knew anything about. I couldn't wait to see it.

Slowly the dude spun the dial on the lock, turning the wheel left and then right, and then left again, and then the door cracked open. He reached in and began pulling out what was immediately identifiable to me as a Dragunov, SVD snipers rifle. I knew it as soon as I saw the muzzle break and front sight post on the end of the barrel. They're distinctive to anyone who knows these things.

I confirmed to both of them what it was, and asked if I could hold it. All my thoughts of leading them astray and getting a cheap deal had been dashed when Dave told me that this guy was his friend (I think since high school) and he didn't want me to screw him over. He wanted me to tell them what it was and what it was worth, so that's what I did. Friends are friends. I have to respect that.

It turned out to be a very nice example of a Chinese NDM 86, or an exact Chinese copy of the famous Soviet/Russian sniper rifle that was introduced in the 1960s. This Chinese rifle is basically their military rifle, and a copy of the original Soviet military rifle. The only thing that would differentiate it from the Soviet model is the Chinese markings on the detachable illuminated scope and receiver. This is a military rifle, like the SKSs imported into the country in the 1980s. There's been no modification for the civilian market, other than putting "NORINCO" on the right side of the receiver.

I told the guy it was a beautiful rifle, and that I thought it was worth about $2000 bucks. I told him the illuminated scope was worth several hundred dollars all by itself. A bit later, while looking through a box of clips and junk I found a white cotton bag filled with the oiler, cleaning kit and spare rubber lens covers for the rifle and scope. There was supposed to be a clip for it in the safe, but I never saw it.

That damn gun worked on my mind all through the night and into Monday. Should I or shouldn't I? I don't think I slept three hours. I really shouldn't get it if I want try to be financially responsible. I should really use that money to pay down my existing debt. It was torturing me. Then Dave and I got together at school Monday night and I looked up this site and found out these things are really sellin' for $4000! So I decided I couldn't pass up such a sweet deal. I told Dave to tell his buddy I'd give him $1200 for the rifle, or $1500 for the rifle and the sealed tins of ammo to go with it. If someone else outbids me, so be it. I took a shot. It sure will be cool if I end up with it, but I can continue to live without it.

After leaving Gatesville Denise and I drove East down 36 towards Temple. I showed her some of the pretty scenery along the way, and the old farm houses that have always intrigued me on that drive. I used to make that drive all the time, when I used to teach college classes at the prison units up there in Gatesville. Thinking about that reminded me of a little community off 36 that I used to pass all the time, and I decided to show it to Denise.

Between the late 1990s to about 2004 I taught for Temple College at their local campuses in Taylor and Cameron. That was about a one hour drive early in the morning, both to and from, but they payed me more than CTC does now. I put a lot of miles on that Jeep doin' that. One guy that I met in Taylor turned out to live in this little community. It's a quaint little place called The Grove. It looks like a film set from a western movie.

The guys name is Carl Symm (he lives down the street to the right of this picture). I met him in Taylor and we got to where we'd always see one another and commiserate about the travails of part time adjunct instructors like us who had to do all this drivin' to get to one class or another.

I used to also teach at the high school in Gatesville, teaching college classes at night up there on one night and then at one of the prison units on another. One day I was looking around the high school class and found an old school newspaper that had Carl's picture in it. I told him about that the next time I saw him and he said "Oh yea, I used to teach up there a few years ago." That's when he told me about living in The Grove, and how he'd grown up there.

Supposedly when highway 36 was built back in the 1960s, The Grove was bypassed. The road cut about a quarter of a mile to the West rather than cutting down through the town, so the town slowly fizzled. Now there's a beautiful old Lutheran church there, and this remnant of the general store and a few other buildings, and the houses of all the old locals like Carl who still call it home. It's cool to drive through. Denise loved it.

The last time I saw Carl I was eating Chinese food with Dad one Friday and saw a very familiar old guy sidle up to the buffet. I walked up to him, knowing that I recognized him from somewhere but not knowing where. He turned around and saw me staring down at him through squinty eyes, desperately trying to figure out who the hell he was. He turned and gave me a look that said "back off mother fucker". Now realize, this guy is built like bull. Probably about six feet tall and muscles like a guy who spent his life workin' hard on a farm.

After I saw his face I knew it was him, but couldn't remember his name for anything. I asked him "Didn't you used to work down in Taylor?" Then the look of recognition warmed his face as he recognized me and we got briefly reacquainted. He couldn't remember my name ether. It'd been too long. I told him that I'd thought I knew him but that he'd gotten so damn old since we used to teach together I couldn't recognize him. He laughed and said that my hair had gotten a lot grayer too, and then we both laughed. After that we both went back to eating and I haven't seen him since.

Denise and I drove on to Belton and walked through the home and garden show. It turned out to be just like the food show we went to in Dallas last year, only at this one there wasn't any booze so we didn't get loaded walkin' around tastin' stuff. I did register for a free Harley Davidson (or $35,000), and I signed three tickets for a free 2008 Tundra crew cab with ostrich skin leather seats. The money for the car raffle goes to soldiers on Ft. Hood. Please God.

At one point we turned a corner and there sat a navy blue Shelby GT500 with it's hood up revealin' the 5.4 liter, 500 hp V8 engine. LUST! I walked up and tried to keep from slobberin' all over it, and asked the dude "Now why aren't you guys rafflin' this thing off?" He said he could probably get me in it, and I said "Oh yes, you probably could", and we laughed. Then I realized that this guy, working for one of the local dealerships, was the guy that sold me my old Jeep Cherokee like 13 years ago. Couldn't believe it.

The car was just amazingly cool, with white stripes going down the top of the body. I used to ignore these cars thinking that there's no way I'd fit in them. Then I took Denise's Camry to get the oil changed and spent some time walking through the used car lot there at the Toyota place. I found a nice 2006 GT open and sat in it, fitting very comfortably. Now I have to think about that every time I see one. Bein' and Army town with lots of young guys drivin' muscle cars, it's common to see these things zippin' by. It's almost become a cliche. Maybe one of these days I'll have the disposable income to get somethin' cool like that to tool around in on the weekend. Who knows?

After the show we headed over to visit the folks. It turned out mom had come down with a stomach thing and wasn't feelin' like cookin', so I floated to dad that Denise and I take him back to Dynasty for some more shrimp. You should have seen the grin on his face.

First we took him back to the drivin' range and Denise got to see how badly I hit 'em. When we were in the shack payin' for the balls I heard Dad tell the dude "He's gonna be showing off for his girlfriend." The guy laughed and said "Well then be sure and correct him a lot. " I could a fuckin' killed him. The two of them sat down and watched me hit 'em, and I did OK. At one point I made dad get up and hit a few, and as he walked toward me I made a motion to take him by the cheeks and give him a big kiss. I told him I was gonna smooch him on the lips right there in front of everyone. He struggled out of my hands and told me "I don't know what I'd do to a guy who tried to kiss me while I had a golf club in my hand, but it wouldn't be pretty." We all laughed.

The Chinese food was great, as expected, and the evening ended with Denise and I heading to my place and hittin' the sack early. As I said, I tossed and turned all night thinkin' about that gun. I'll keep you updated on what happens there.

Hope your week is goin' OK. It's almost Friday. Keep hope alive. Cheers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I ordered a new batch of cigars the other day. Here's the web site. Rocky Patel Signature Toros. Very nice, smooth smoke. Smoked the first one yesterday on the way to work. They fit perfectly in those old left over Mac Thames tubes. Handy in travelin' around with 'em. Get you some.

That's a Mac stub there, peekin' out of the tray. One of about a half dozen Hampton Courts that I have left over from a box I got a while back. Smoked it on the way back to the base from Florence on Monday morning. I've learned to love smokin' while I make these long drives. That's my torch lighter and opener there on the dash. I turn on the vent and crack the sun roof and the smoke drifts right out. Love it. Hooked. Junky, fer sure.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Well, It was another busy weekend, with a few interesting twists that I think you’ll enjoy.

First, let me let you down easy here. There was no trip to the psychic reader for Mom and Denise. Mom didn’t try to make the appointment till Friday morning, and the woman just didn’t have a slot open. Who the hell would think she’d be that busy? Guess it’s a booming business, selling superstitious swill to the Gullabillia. You know I love my Mom, but damn!

Anyway, Friday night went off as planned. Dad and I hit the drivin’ range, but it turned out to be too chilly for Dad, so after I hit a few balls he left me and went in to the office to chat up the people who own and run the place. I was left out there, hitting golf balls by myself, wondering why the hell I do this. I’d much rather be over on the other side of the place shooting arrows for $5 an hour at the foam deer targets they have set up. Kinda pissed me off. Well, that and the fact that for whatever reason I really sucked at hitting those balls that day. Normally I hit them pretty strait and do OK, but this time they all kept shanking off to the right, or skipping off over the middle at about a foot off the ground. Too much head bobbin’ and raisin’ up. Old habits came back with a vengeance.

After that we hit the Buffet, but that night the buffet was packed with people, so they put us off in the smoking section. They recently installed these huge aquariums, like really friggin’ massive things that you’d have to stand in to arrange the rocks and shit, and we were on the other side of one, right up next to it. Originally I thought it was pretty cool, but then I had these huge, stupid lookin’ orange fish swimmin’ by and starin’ at me while I consumed mass quantities of the generals chicken and shrimp fried rice. Kinda tedious. The food was great, as usual. After that I took Dad back home, visited with Mom for a while, and then headed back to Killeen.

Saturday started with a long, lazy get up. Denise had an appointment at 1:45 to get her hooves filed. We ended up bein’ about 5 minutes late because I hung back at the house trying to read Mushy’s latest post and leavin’ a comment. I got her over there in her car and realized I’d left the clubs in my trunk. I drove her car back to Killeen, got my car. I prefer to drive mine anyway . The sound system is better and I can smoke a cigar with the sun roof cracked. It’s really the life, jammin’ the tunes with the seat back, watchin’ the smoke slide up out the roof, feelin’ like a king in my own little kingdom. Anyway, I drove back over to get dad to took him back to the drivin’ range.

I did a little better that time, but not much better. After we hit a bucket of balls we wet over to get Denise, all manicured and pedicured, and then we went over to see Mom. We’d brought a can of strawberry daiquiri mix with us, and mom got out the booze and the blender and she and Denise whipped up a magical mixture.

They were both surprised to find that I liked the stuff, to their chagrin. I chugged my first one and went to get another, to find that there was only really enough for one more. I refilled mine and spread the rest between Denise and Mom (Dad wasn’t drinkin’).

As we sat there in the livin’ room, listenin’ to Mom tell stories about the old days, her yella cat decided to jump up at one point and see if he could get a drink. It was a great time.

After that, Denise and I went over to the mall to catch a movie. We ended up seein’ Vantage Point. I was a bit worried about it goin’ in, thinkin’ it might be some sort of message piece, but it turned out to be really good. The first hour or so is frustrating as hell though, because they keep showing the same events unfolding from different vantage points (hence the name). The main events of the story happen, and then they rewind back to the beginning and you see it all from another persons experience. Eventually it all comes together in a cool way. For me, the end was a bit of a let down, but I still liked it, and recommend it highly.

We also got to see the preview for the upcoming flick Iron Man. It looks cool as hell, and that tune’s been in my head ever since. Had to burn a new CD for the car so I could cruise down the road crankin’ Sabbath. It sounded REALLY good cranked through the theater’s sound system. Here's the trailer. Enjoy.

Now, tell me that ain't gonna be cool as hell!

After the flick we headed back over to BJ’s. We had to wait about 45 minutes for a table, but that gave me a chance to take a few pictures.

The place is really pretty inside, and the food is wonderful. I’d been lookin’ forward to tryin’ a few more of their beers, and diggin’ into a deep dish pizza, which is one of their specialties. It turned out that I had to remind the waiter that the Harvest Heffeweizen needed a slice of orange. It was good stuff.

We decided to order a few different appetizers so we could try them out, and then to get a medium sized pizza. It turned out to be just slightly more food than we wanted to consume in one sitting, but that wasn’t a problem. We took a few slices of the pizza home with us and I had it for lunch today. I had a glass of Irish Red Ale with the pizza. Now THAT was one really good drink. Denise, of course, had another Shandy. Had to explain what the hell it was to yet another waiter. Always cracks me up.

The chicken tenders and honey mustard dip were wonderful, as were the Santa Fe Spring Rolls (left). Denise isn’t into spicy food, so I ended up eating most of the latter. They were goooood. Especially in the left over honey mustard dip from the chicken tenders. I've found there really are few things that don't taste better dipped in honey mustard, but that's just me.

On the other hand, the deep dish pizza was a disappointment, and we probably won’t order that again. I mean, it was OK, but it wasn’t what ether of us were expecting. There was a real Italian place in Hulen Mall up in Ft. Worth when I was growin’ up that had deep dish pizza, and it was juicy wonderfulness. Thick with meat and tomato sauce, mushrooms and cheese and everything. It was like cutting into solid bliss.

This one from BJ’s was just a thick crust pizza with the toppings. There wasn’t any juiciness. It was a let down. Go ahead and try it. Maybe you’ll like it, but we’re gonna stick with the Pizza Palace in Killeen. It makes the best pies in this area, we think. Next time we go I’m gonna try a few more beers, and try some of their pasta. The advertise a couple of spicy shrimp Alfredo things that sound great. Can’t wait.

While we were there, waiting for our food, I realized that I’d turned off my phone in the theater and pulled it out of my pocket to turn it back on again. When I did it flashed that I’d gotten a voice mail message. It turned out to be my buddy up in Gatesville, Dave Waters (the dude I go up and shoot with, on his place). His message intrigued the hell out of me, so I called him to find out what was up. He said in the message that he’d just seen a rifle that he couldn’t ID (Unusual, because this guys knowledge is encyclopedic), but he thought that I might know what it was (meaning it’s probably Soviet/Russian or Eastern Block stuff – my specialty).

What he described over the phone sounded like a Dragunov sniper rifle. They show up at gun shows now and then, but they’re not too readily available. Thing is, he said this friend of his had something there, and didn’t know what it was or how much it was worth.

My friggin’ life flashed before my eyes when I heard that. That’s like the ideal situation when you want to make a killing. Some goober has something but doesn't know what they have. Last year my boss found a $700 Randall skinning knife at a gun show in Sweetwater for $35! That shit may happen once in your life. I was thinkin’ my time had come.

Well, I've gone on long enough, so you'll have to wait to find out about the gun later this week. I know, I'm bad. Click in in a few and see what I found up in Gatesville and hear about the other stuff we did on Sunday. It was another full day. Later. Cheers.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Well, it's Friday again, so you know where this is goin'.

Today's my day to get out of work early (like 1:30), and head to the house to screw around for a bit on the computer. You know, the endless battle to keep up with all your multiple blog posts during the week. By the way, what the hell? Don't you friggin' people have jobs? Shut up Mushy, Bruno, Pat, Lin, Guy, Myron, etc. I know, I know. Friggin' rainbow coalition there.

Then, after relaxing for a few hours, I'll head over to get Dad and eat a few more plates of that good Chinese food. Today though I'm gonna change things up a bit. I'm gonna head over about an hour early (at about 4:30) and take the old dude back over to that drivin' range. He always loves it, and I'll enjoy givin' him the good time. We'll hit a medium sized bucket of balls and then, after workin' up an even bigger appetite, we'll head over to the big feed. I'll belly up to the buffet and scare those nice Chinese folks into thinkin' I'm gonna eat 'em out of house and home.

After that I'll take him home and spend some time visitin' with Mom. I don't get to spend the kind of time I used to spend with her ever since my social life materialized about 8 months ago. I'll sit and chat with mom, and maybe partake of a few little glasses of something or other. I'lll try to remember to take some of her dishes back so maybe she can cook some more good food and have leftovers for me to exchange later this week. Best restaurant in Temple, but you've heard that before.

This Saturday could turn out to be very interesting. Denise has another appointment to get her hooves filed (manicure and pedicure at a place in Temple), and then after that she's gonna take my mom to visit a local psychic at a place there off I-35. Surprised the shit out of me to hear my mom get all excited tellin' us the other week that she was dyin' to go and get a reading. She's driven past the place many times and I guess the temptation has been workin' on her.

She believes in all that stuff, as does my sister, but for some reason I don't think she wants my sister to take her. She probably thinks sis will hog all the time and be a pain in the ass. She's known my sister for upwards of 53 years, so it's likely she's got something there. I've only known my sister for a little over 47 years and I KNOW she's a pain in my ass. God bless her, I love her to death, but damn!

Mom originally told us a few weeks ago that she was gonna get her housekeeper (Miss Hellen, deeply trusted and loved, like part of the family) to take her, but it didn't come to pass. When Denise and I went over there after dinner last Saturday I asked her if she'd gone. She said no. Then, after a few sips of some after-dinner liquor she got excited and asked Denise if she'd take her. Denise was surprised and very flattered, and said she would. I was floored, but immediately put the thing together with the trip to the beauty shop and a plan came together.

The plan is for Denise to get out of her hoof scrapin' (two-and-a half hours of it!) at about 4:00 and then she and mom will head over to the spook. You may be wondering where I'll be as the stars are read and the hokus pokus is under way. Well, I saw a sign on the highway today sayin' there was gonna be a gun show in Belton this weekend. Between that, and maybe a trip to the humidor in Salado, and maybe another trip to the drivin' range with dad, I'll be fully occupied, thank you very much.

I'd kinda like to watch these sweet ladies get serviced (I'm kinky that way), but I don't believe in any of that stupid psychic shit, so I know they won't want me there harshin' their mellow. I'll be over at the Bell county expo center fondling implements of destruction, and maybe acquiring some. I need some .30 rounds for the new Winchester M-1 Carbine that's on it's merry way from the CMP. Wohooo!

After all that excitement, the plan ends with Denise and I heading over to sample the goods at BJs again. I'm DYIN' to try their deep dish pizza and some of their exotic sounding appetizers. Of course, I'll be swilling down a few new brews. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. After that... we're thinkin' of takin' in a late movie. It'll be a long day, but a fun day.

Anyway, I'm not sure if you guys could muster up a better time than were gonna have, but you need to go out this weekend and try. See ya later. Cheers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This is pretty funny.

This poor woman, livin' in the land of small willies, apparently.

She needs to come to Texas. We've got some really BIG dicks over here. For instance...

Wait a minute, I agree with most of that stuff. Damn, too bad he ain't got a chance in hell.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Presidents day was another good time.

I called Mom early Monday afternoon, after getting back home from class in Florence (yep, one school I work for had class on Presidents Day, the bastards). Dad had called me late Sunday, wanting to know if I was coming over to get him to go eat shrimp. I got the message on my machine too late to do anything about it, so I called to see what was up. I figured he was just confused, but it turned out that Mom had offered him some food choices he didn't particularly care for Sunday night, so he called me tryin' to get a better deal. I tell ya, the man still knows how to work it.

Well, Mom supposedly hit the roof when she found out he'd called, so he ended up eating what she fixed and likin' it. She spoils him rotten, but there's a limit. Anyway, in our conversation Monday morning he once again asked me if I was gonna come and get him so we could go hit golf balls (that's a constant refrain with him). I gave him the usual "Maybe so", and that was that. Then my sister called to tell me that they had huge Egyptian cotton bath sheets on sale at Sam's for like six bucks! Bein' a Sasquatch and all, I loves me some bath sheets. I have a collection. I was interested, but told her, "I already have a bunch of those", but that idea sparked another plan.

I floated the idea to Denise about going over to Temple, visiting with the old folks for a while, gettin' their Sam's card and seein' what we could scrounge up. I'd leave her with Mom and they could visit while I take dad to hit golf balls, and then we'd get back together and run through Sam's like a tornado. THEN, and this is the object of all this runnin' around, we could head over across the highway off 36 and check out that new restaurant/brewhouse over there in the new shopping center that's been on my mind for a bit.

The drivin' range was fun. It always is. I don't know why I don't do that with him more often. Probably some stupid residual childhood thing. You know, if he'd spent more time or just pretended to give a fuck about the things I wanted to do all those years ago, maybe he'd get better treatment now that the shoe is on the other foot, kinda thing. Yea, but screw all that stupid shit. I think I'll try to turn it into a regular thing on Fridays, along with Chinese food, as the weather gets warmer.

After that I took dad home and got Denise and we ran over to Sam's. I ended up getting some huge bags of cat food for like eight or nine bucks a piece, and found some great DVDs. They had Hombre and The Unforgiven, two of my favorite Westerns ever, for about seven bucks a piece, and the 2007 Crossroads benefit concert DVD set (I got the 2006 concert there a while back).

After walkin' around, seein' a few folks I knew, sittin' in a few patio sets that were WAY too expensive, and after plunkin' too much money down for all that shit I really didn't need (ain't it always the case), we headed over to that new restaurant that just went up in a new shopping area there in Temple, on the West side of I-35. They put in this place called BJs brewhouse about three months ago. I'd seen it a while ago and wanted to check it out ever since. It turned out to be a great place, with great food and their own beer, brewed there in site. I didn't have the camera or you'd see how beautiful the place is inside. It's really a cool place to sit and eat, and drink.

I started with a Tatonka Stout, which was a thick, strong tasting drink, not unlike a Guinness. Denise ordered another Shandy, with a mix of Piranha Pale Ale and Sierra Mist (gag a maggot). The appetizer was chips and salsa. OK, I choked. With all the cool sounding stuff on the menu I should have gone for something more exotic, but I think you can tell a lot about a place by ordering something you know and seeing how they do it. They gave us a plate of different colored chips and a bowl of salsa, with a sprig of lettuce underneath it all for decoration. It turned out to be great stuff... A bit too spicy for Denise, but perfect for me.

She ordered the Pot Roast Sandwich, which didn't sound too good to me on paper but tasted amazing when it arrived. I went for the Sourdough Bacon Cheeseburger. Mouth watering good, I wanna tell ya, on a bed of big, thick wedge fries. I had another beer with dinner, this time a Piranha Pale Ale, and was looking forward to tryin' another brand (was dyin' to try their Harvest Hefeweizen), but the dinner ended too soon. I was startin' to feel the beer when we got up to leave. I almost gave the keys to Denise. I know, light weight. So true, but maybe the beer was mixin' with the meds I'm still takin' for the Bronchitis? Who knows. That Stout must have had a slow kick to it. Anyway, both of us are dyin' to go back, so you'll get another report from BJ's in a week or so. Hell, I may have to skip school and go to one of their Beer Appreciation Nights. Sounds like a good time. I'll keep you informed.

After that we did a drive through that new shopping center, seein' what's there, and strolled through a PetsMart to check out the fish and see if they had any cute kittens they were givin' away. Sure enough, six babies, all curled up, sleepin' together, all from the same litter. Hell, that'd give me twelve. Ain't happenin'. We quickly made our exit before Denise fell in love, and headed back to Mom and Dads. As soon as we got there Mom was bustin' out the after-dinner booze. It's hilarious that she loves to do that. When we go over there it's like we're givin' her a special treat, lettin' her cut loose. We sat and sipped a few glasses of something very much like Bailey's, listenin' to Mom tell stories about the old days, and try to fill in the gaps in a few of Dad's old stories (he doesn't remember them the way he used to), and then we headed home.

It was a great time. We'll do it all again soon. Hope you guys enjoyed it too. Finally, here's something hilarious for your political side. Remember the Elephants Grave Yard in the old Tarzan movies? Well...


Monday, February 18, 2008

Had a great weekend.

I took dad to the Chinese buffet Friday night, and it was great. We'd had to call it off the previous Friday because of my Bronchitis, so I was really looking forward to it. I was also looking forward to dad reacting to my having shaved the beard, but he didn't even notice. It was a bit of a let down, expecting all the normal hoopla from dad, but he's too far gone now I guess, to remember those sorts of things. It breaks my heart to see him decline with age, but I love havin' him around and know that many of you would love to trade places with me. Mom noticed it, with some prompting, and I got her approval for the old baby face.

The folks out at work noticed it immediately, and some of them were thinkin' that Denise must have made me do it. I wanna make it clear that she didn't. She was shocked as hell, and just sat and giggled about the baby face for hours. She was talkin' about how everyone was gonna accuse her of robbin' the cradle. She'd gotten used to the beard, and liked the way it felt on her skin, but I'd gotten a bit tired of the look and curious about how I'd look without it. Now she's likin' the clean cut look, and even likes the stubble. I tell ya, I can't lose, but I've already told her that it probably won't last. I'll probably be shaggy again by the summer.

I got my taxes done Saturday afternoon, and then Denise and I went to a party Saturday night. She has some friends from work who live out in the country South of here have a sort of revolving party that switches from one persons house to another. We get with these folks about every few weeks or so. It's a pretty good time. This party had a Mardi Gras theme, so there was great music and lots of beads being worn, with the notion spread around that the person with the most beads at the end of the party had to show their tits. The host cooked great food, including grilled shrimp.

He put a pile of raw jumbo shrimp in a skillet filled with butter, garlic and Tabasco sauce and lemon slices. He heated it up on the stove and then cooked it in the oven for about 20 minutes. The butter sauce itself was unbelievable. Usually I don't enjoy shrimp if I have to peel them, but this was fun to dig into, and the old style wheat bread (home made style, from the grocery store) was great when dipped in the butter sauce.

After enjoying that as an appetizer, they busted out the Crawfish Etouffee over white rice, and the Scalloped Oysters, and the Crawfish Cornbread. I wanna tell ya, it was wonderful, and I got to eat all of Denise's share. She doesn't eat any of this good seafood. I know, crazy, but more for me. Can't complain. Denise and I left first, and I had the feeling that we were leaving just before the floor show got started. One old geezer was collecting beads so he could then flash his man boobs. It was good timing.

Sunday we slept in and then I decided I needed to get me some good Mexican food. It'd been a while since we went out and had a good time, what with me being sick and all, so we showered and headed down to Pappasito's in Austin, getting there just before the dinner rush.

You guys have been through this routine before, so you know what's comin'.

I ordered the spicy beef queso dip, and a Shiner Bock off the tap. Denise ordered a Strawberry Margarita. She says their Margaritas are the best anywhere. Their chips and dip are wonderful, and I usually fill up on these sorts of things before my actual meal arrives. Sunday was no different.

I splurged Sunday and ordered six brochette shrimp instead of the four you usually get. That butter sauce is killer, and makes the meal. It's mixed with garlic and white wine, plus other spices. You can see a shrimp sitting in it, marinading as I take a few bites of my enchiladas.

I had the combination enchiladas (one beef, one chicken) and Denise had chicken tacos. We both had a second drink, and I ended up taking about 2/3rds of this plate home with me. It'll be great when I nuke it tomorrow for lunch.

In the end, she took the rest of her second margarita with her as we headed out Northwest on 183 to do some shopping at Whole Foods and get some ice cream at the Marble Slab Creamery.

This was our Valentines Day dinner, since we hadn't been able to have one on the day itself (we both had to work late). It was a great time. Denise nursed me through that nasty case of bronchitis and was sweet as hell all week long, so this was my way of paying her back. She's a sweetie, and deserves it all. We had a great time.

I hope you guys had a great weekend. Cheers.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Well, it's Friday, so you know what's up.

But first, I got a wild hair yesterday and decided to shave off about 10 or 15 years.

Still fat, but a little less hairy. And still a bastard. Ask my students. They took their first exams this last week, one class at 7:30 PM on Valentines Day! Hell, I gave a test on Christmas once.

Shocked the shit out of Denise. She stared at me and giggled for a good while. The kids in Florence this morning thought it was hilarious. They've known me for two years and never seen my face. I've yet to go out to the base, but I'm sure they'll make a big deal out of it. Shit, it grows back. No biggie.

One person that'll get a HUGE kick out of the new me will be dad. He's always hated facial hair. He'll thank me for shaving the beard and then want to know when the rest is going. Not sure why folks in his generation were such friggin' Nazis when it came to facial hair, and long hair in general, but there's no changin' the old dude now. Mom'll love it too.

We didn't get to go out to eat at our regular place last Friday because I was comin' down with what later turned out to be Bronchitis. Well, I'm mostly over it now, so the plan is to head over there this afternoon and do it up right.

Y'all be sure and keep Mushy's bro Ron in your thoughts. He goes under the knife as we speak. Good luck to he and Neena. I know everything is gonna turn out right.

There's a three day weekend ahead, and a Mardi Gras party Saturday night to go to. Should be fun. Well, I'm off to class. You guys have a great weekend and we'll talk later. Cheers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What's really wrong with our way of thinking about government and politics?

I was lecturing my Con Law class the other day when we got to an amusing little case of the government over stretching itself a bit. Shocking, I know. We would never expect it to do that, it being so respectful of the boundaries and limits of it's own authority (For part one of this rant, click here).

This case is particularly interesting when you check out the historical context. It's 1927, late in the "Roaring 20s", when everyone thought science and technology were on the cusp of bringing about a "Brave New World". In reality we were just on the brink of dropping into the sink hole of the Great Depression. Of course, the "Great Depression" didn't become "Great" till it hit the cities in 1929. Farmers had been broke and strugglin' since the end of WW1, but city folk never pay attention to rural poverty, do they?

We'd see everyones illusions from the 1920s dashed, and then a whole new set of fantasies hatched in the heady days of the New Deal era, which saw a huge expansion of the national governments authority over everything. The Supreme Court that ruled against Carrie Buck in 1927 would within' a decade be bludgeoned by the other two branches of government into rubber stamping those sweeping changes that still reverberate in all of our lives today.

In 1927, the state of Virginia was in court defending it's decision to start sterilizing women in mental hospitals so they couldn't produce any more crazy kids (no talk of sterilizing the men I guess). People thought it worked that way back then. Looneys got together and produced more generations of looneys. It was all very scientific. The theory was called Eugenics. We came up with it, but the Nazis will later take it to another level. We'll talk.

The case I'm talkin' about in 1927 is Buck v. Bell. It's famous for, among other things, an impassioned statement made by one eminent Supreme Court justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes. Speaking for the 8 to 1 majority siding with the state of Virginia, he said...

"We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the state for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence."

Usually, at about this point in class, I start to feel the positive vibe, as many students begin to laugh and quietly voice approval for the sentiment. Holmes described Buck as "a feeble minded white woman," "daughter of a feeble minded mother," and herself "the mother of and illegitimate feeble minded child." She'd actually been raped by a family member and then institutionalized by her family to hide the shame of it all, but that's nether here nor there (at least it wasn't to the court) He went on in the statement to say...

"It is better for all the world if, in stead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Does it shock you at all that a government originally set up by the founding fathers with only limited powers to do a limited number of things would find itself wise enough to decide who in society is "feeble minded" and who isn't, and who should have the right to reproduce and who shouldn't? You know, they're still out there decidin' all sorts of things for us, in our own name, for our own good. And most of you go along with it because you think it's the natural way of things, or you think so long as they put up the money for your retirement and your health care, you can put up with all the other annoying little laws and rules they set up. It's the price we pay for a "modern government" that "cares for people".

Less than a decade after Buck v. Bell , the Nazi government in Germany was promoting a similar policy to the one so powerfully defended in Virginia. In the interest of spreading the thin resources of the government to the benefit of all, the Nazis wanted to start "euthanizing" people who were languishing in insane asylums. They came up with posters like this one, designed to appeal to the economic sense and humanity of the civilized German people.

How should those 60,000 Reich's Marks be best spent? Should it go to maintain crazy people who will never get better, or should it go to educate and care for children? You might ask yourself, what business is it of theirs how someones poor sick uncle lives out the rest of his life, or how it's paid for? Well, Imperial Germany had amazed the world in the 1870s when it became the first industrialized nation to establish a "welfare state". All Germans would pay taxes to support it, and all of them would get "free" education and health care and retirement in return. The Prussians set up a whole welfare infrastructure designed to buy off the middle class and enlist them as allies against the radical fringe (Karl Marx, etc.), and it worked brilliantly

So, a generation later it was seen as a collective decision, how your poor sick uncle was going to be taken care of. Everyone is going to help pay the bill, so everyone will help make the decision. Of course, the public hated the idea, and the churches protested it, but guess what? The Nazis had the power, so they did it anyway. They did it in secret for years, and experimented with all the technology that would one day be used to liquidate 12 million people in the death camps.

So, in retrospect, handing the Prussian government the power of life and death over everyone in the nation, sanctioned by law, in the interest of creating a more humane, fair society, may have just been the thin end of the wedge. There was no way to know that a nut like Hitler and his folks would later inherit that power and use it to build a state based on murder. During the Second World War, an ex pat Austrian economist named F. A. Hayek wrote a book trying to explain what the hell had happened to Germany.

How did the German people go from having the best technology, most sophisticated philosophy, best music, most thrilling counter culture, etc, in all of Europe, to having Hitler and death camps? In The Road To Serfdom, he said it was setting up that welfare state that got it going. Abandoning individuality, going for the collective good and launching the "Nanny State". By handing all the power in your life to the government to take care of you, you're making a deal with the devil. It's like going back to the days of Monarchy. If you end up with a good, well meaning king, all is well. But usually you get an inbred idiot who just wants to fight wars and extract as much money from you as he can to pay for it all.

Now, you're saying "come on FHB, that could never happen here. The Germans are just freaky, hooked on uniforms and following orders." Well, have you noticed the way all the candidates now are trying to show how much they love us all, and how much they want to do for us all, by promoting programs that ultimately take choices away from all of us? Hillary actually said that if you didn't want to be part of her national health care program, she'd garner your wages. Don't even ask her about maybe investing some of your own Social Security money.

She doesn't want you to have the choice, because you might make a choice she doesn't like. You might make a choice that goes against what she and her ilk have decided is in the collective interest. It'd be easy to blame Democrats for all of this, but Republicans don't really want you making choices they disprove of ether. In stead of raising people to be in control of their own lives and to live with the consequences of their actions, we've gone for a collective care giver who'll pat us all on the top of the head and give us laws that are the equivalent of "Stop that or you'll put someone's eye out!"

Look at the case of that poor bastard who drove his motorcycle into the back of that truck (see earlier post). In a better world, that guy would be free to decide how he wants to live his life. Take your risks and live or die with the consequences. But chances are, being young, he doesn't have any insurance. So if he lived, and has to spend the rest of his life in a home, supported by all of us, we feel compelled to make all sorts of laws limiting what he's able to do with his freedom. We're back to that Nazi policy, or Justice Holmes and his notions of the collective interest trumping the individual right to procreate. I tell ya, give those bastards and inch and you'll find all your freedoms subject to some collective scrutiny by the nanny. That means there'll be no freedom at all.

We're like the sad generations of poor blacks, born into cycles of racism and violence, who were told by older, wiser survivors "Find you some nice white folks and you'll be OK." When it all gets paired down, when we chose our modern leaders we're all really just lookin' for a benevolent patron. Someone to take care of us. That's NOT the kind of leaders were supposed to be looking for, but that's how things have evolved. It's a sad, dehumanizing thing when you come to that realization, and then you see the lame choices your given at election time.

Next, we'll talk about how we got this way. Cheers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

God, I miss these guys.

Enough said! Some things are timeless. You get that brief reference to the White Knight commercial? I used to pretend to be that guy, when I was about 7. A friend sent this to me and I decided to pass it on. I'm including this second one because it's just hilarious.

Yep, Wayne lip syncing Sanatra. Too funny. Hope you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm baaaaack!

Still sputterin', but back in class and postin' from work.

Took the mornin' off from Florence but called them and told them I'd be back down there beginning tomorrow. Just finished my two lunch time classes on base and now I'm headed home to read up and rest for my evening classes.

The meds are workin'. I took my next antibiotic this morning and take a hit off this inhaler now and then, and everything seems ok. I just sit in class and talk from the chair. Too weak to pace. It'll all work itself out.

Thanks for all the well wishes. You guys are wonderful. Cheers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Well, that was fun.

30 to 40 minutes spent at the hospital, and I had a quick check by a nice little doctor, sweet as can be. She quickly figured out what I had (chronic Bronchitis) from listening to my chest and back and then she hooked me up with three good meds to clear it all up. 45 minutes of waiting at the pharmacy and I'm armed with some good sounding shit. Enough with the over-the-counter crud. This shit could actually get me high. Now we're talkin'.

I have a little folder with 7 antibiotic pills (Azythromycin). Took two already, and will take one a day till they're gone.

I've got an inhaler with Albuterol, which I'll use twice every 4 hours till I don't need it any more.

And I've got a little bottle of Promethazine, which they said has Codeine in it. Woohooo! It's to kill the cough and help me sleep, and maybe give me some cool dreams.

So, depending on how I feel tomorrow, I'll probably head back to work. All will be well in no time. Thanks for all your good wishes. You're all like family to me. Cheers.

Sittin' around here all morning and afternoon, sick as a dog.

This shit started last week. I had some left over Tylenol Cold from the last episode, and some Mucinex DM. It was hittin' me hard by Friday, with a fever and sore throat and the beginning of a cough, so I got out of class a bit early and decided to go to a pharmacy and get some serious pills. They gave me Drixoral (I had to sign for it), and I kept takin' the Mucinex, and now and then I take a swig of the local grocery stores knock off version of Nyquil to soothe my throat. Never took this kind of soup of pills before. Worries me.

I called off last Fridays dinner with dad so as not to infect him. Turns out he was puny too, but was over it and well enough that he and mom went to eat shrimp at the Outback Sunday night. Good for them.

Denise has been waiting on me hand and foot, and worrying that I've got something serious. I worry that she's gonna catch it from me, but she laughs that off. Even so, my little jokes about Bird Flue don't go very far around here.

I was hopin' this shit would be mostly over by this morning, but the deep, raspy cough is still hangin' on and doesn't seem to want to go away. I feel it in my lungs every time I breathe, and every deep breath leads to a painful cough. Not fun. Denise went to the store Saturday night and got me some Vics Vapo Rub on the advise of a nurse friends of ours and I've been breathing that crud now for two days. It may be helping.

I called in sick down in Florence this morning and then canceled my lunch time classes on base. I just called and got an appointment to see a doctor at 5pm today, so I won't be going in to my Evening classes ether. Normally, If I miss a class, the administrators expect me to find someone (another teacher) to cover my classes and pay them for their time. It sucks havin' to do that, but I'll have to if this crud doesn't get better soon. I can't talk for a living with this throat, and I can't continue to blow off classes.

By the way, have I said anything about how mind numbingly stupid daytime TV is? Denise ate my ass when she came over here for lunch and found me on the computer, but I swear to God, it was ether read and catch up on blogs or open a vain. I had some stupid drivel about aliens or such on the History Channel, and then people going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Idiots! At one point I found some Tom and Jerry cartoons and was in bliss for about 15 minutes. Then there was blow by blow coverage of an Obama event somewhere... "We'll get the gubment to pay for your education, health care, change the whole scope of politics in America, balance the budget, AND get the troops home by Christmas..." Yea, and then you wake up buddy, just in time for our national nightmare to plunge to even deeper depths.

Anyway, I'll go in to see the doctor tonight and maybe he'll give me a big fat shot full of somethin' that puts and end to this in no time. Otherwise, I'll let you know where to send flowers. Just divide up my gear and speak well of me when you go to the range. The Garand and the Makarov are spoken for, but everything else is up for grabs. Cheers.

What was going on the year you were born?

Still puny, but maybe slowly getting better. Back to work tonight, probably. If I call in sick I have to find and pay my own sub. Screw that. I'll just take it easy. No big deal.

My friggin' Earthlink's been blockin' emails the last few days. I had to go into Webmail and delete like 300 emails that had been stored there. Storage space was full. Never go there. Only check email from home. Drama. Huge pain in the ass. So anyway, anything you might have sent in the last three days or so got ditched. Sorry.

Anyway, don't have it in me now to do something original, so here's something I found over at Hammer's place. Innocent fun, and historical.

In 1960 (the year you were born)

Dwight Eisenhower is president of the US. I remember him, barely, having lots of heart attacks.

Sit-ins being after 4 black college students in North Carolina refuse to move from a deli counter when denied service. Huge balls, those folks had. Huge.

A U-2 reconnaissance plane belonging to the US is shot down in the Soviet Union. 13000 miles inside Soviet air space. Major Oops moment, but they made it into a much bigger deal then it really was. Drama queens, the Russians.

Hurricane "Donna" strikes the East Coast causing over 100 deaths in the US and the Antilles. And then people moved back in and rebuilt those vacation homes, so they could be torn the shit up again, and again, and again.

John F. Kennedy defeats Vice President Richard Nixon in the presidential race. And then the first thing the Kennedy's did when they got into office... They had Nixon audited by the IRS. About a decade later the press and Democrats will vilify Nixon for trying unsuccessfully to do the same thing to his enemies.

Cassius Clay (who later took the name Muhammad Ali) wins his first professional fight. I loved him growing up. Totally cool. Courage personified, it seemed to me at the time.

Michael Stipe, Tony Robbins, Bono, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and Jeffrey Dahmer are born. Pretty cool company, accept for the last guy. Ah well, what can you do?

Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series. Don't care.

Philadelphia Eagles win the NFL championship. Imps of Satan, fer sure.

Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup. Who else?

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is the top grossing film. Scared the piss out of my mom and sis, and me too in time, but The Birds never really did.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is published. Great book, and movie.

The Beatles make their debut in Hamburg, Germany. They were all over the radio by the time I got old enough to know what I was listening to. Now I can hardly bring myself to listen to it. Overdone.

The Flintstones debut. Love the Flintstones. Huge love. Didn't get that it was the Honeymooners till much later.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Still puny, but I got a funny in the mail and thought I'd share.

Where Teddy's concerned, it always goes back to the blond in the pond, don't it.

Takin' a slew of pills and stuff, layin' up, gettin' pampered like a baby. Feels good. Lets hope it goes away by Monday. Havin' to lecture with a sore throat is the pits.

UPDATE: Still puny, but found another funny. Enjoy, and don't get any of this on ya.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Found a bumper sticker on base the other day.

Every once and a while I see something out there that cracks me up.

OK, so he's really not a Muslim, but it's funny anyway. And these guys are just friggin' hilarious. Here's their take on "Super Tuesday", and voting in general.

Brilliant! Well, it's Friday, so you know what's up. I'd normally be headin' over to get dad later and we'd scare the buffet folks again. They see me comin' and think I'll eat them out of house and home. They just keep refillin' my tea, tryin' to fill me up. To be truthful, the trip always seems to end too soon, as if we've just gotten there and then I find myself going out to get the car and take us home. Today though, I've come down with a cold; stuffed head and a scratchy throat, and I can't risk giving it to the old folks. So I'll go to work (don't mind spreadin' it there), which is just 4 hours of classes, and then I'll come home and let Denise pamper me all weekend.

There's a gun show in Ft. Worth this weekend, but I don't think we're going. My buddy Jim is out of town, working in Virginia. There's no use goin' up there if we can't get together. Bein' puny and havin' very little money to play with cinches it. Might as well just stay home and have a restful weekend. Heal up. Maybe get some yard work done if I feel better... Haaaahahahahaha! Yea, right. That's likely. Anyway, you guys stay warm, have a great weekend, and we'll get back together and solve all the worlds problems next week. Cheers.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Oooow, that's gonna leave a mark.

A truck was traveling down the highway at around 1 o'clock in the morning near Tulsa, Oklahoma. A motorcyclist was traveling at about 120mph and ran into the back of the moving semi-truck. The truck driver said he felt the impact, but it took almost a 1/4 mile for him to pull over.

When he went back to check the truck, this is what he found...

That's what I'd call a "Holy Shit" moment. And I don't want to know how much skin that dude lost on those feet before the truck driver could fully stop. Not pretty.

Not very dignified ether. I imagine lots of folks in minivans, their kids squealin', goin' by and doin' a double take. Maybe a few folks laughed at the ridiculousness of it, and maybe a few more tried to signal the truck driver. I bet they all got out from behind that thing though, just in case Homer here got dislodged.

The bike was a bit damaged... just a bit.

But guess what? He lived, supposedly. VERY tempted to say something cynical about the gene pool that produced him, or the Darwin awards, bit I guess you know what I'm thinkin'. You decide to drive one of those friggin' things like a fool, and maybe the rest of us will get to pay all your doctor bills forever, since you're too young and stupid to have any decent insurance. Keep these pictures in mind when we get back to talkin' about some of the things that are wrong with the country. Trust me, it applies.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What I believe, I guess.

Found this over at Bucks place a while back and gave it a shot. I've done this sort of quiz before and they usually give me a similar result.

The quiz is typical of a lot of questionnaires that come out in political seasons like this one, and it confirms to me what I've come to believe. I've found that as I get older and more informed about the issues in our time, I find it impossible to come down reliably on one side or the other of the conventional political spectrum. What's more, I have less and less confidence in our ability to do what needs to be done to fix the problems we face as a nation. It depresses the hell out of me.

I also usually find it VERY hard to whole heartedly support any of the likely choices that are handed to me when I step into the voting booth. Those choices used to be easier to make, but then maybe ignorance was bliss after all. Not so these days. It's agonizing, watching this parade of losers trotted out to the cheers of their mindless, thronging, slobbering supporters.

What I do know for certain now is that I believe in my own freedom, and I think that freedom should be just about absolute. I trust myself with that freedom, even if others don't, and I resent the HELL out of some other bastard tellin' me what I should or shouldn't be doing. It especially hits me when what I'm doing is usually going to have little or no impact on the lives of other people. I believe in your freedom too, just so long as you stay on your side of the friggin' creek and leave my ass alone. We can party and have a time, but don't even think about tryin' to tell me what to think or do, or what's "appropriate" or "inappropriate". I might have to run you off.

When it comes to your freedom, I really don't care what you do, or what you want to drink or smoke, or who you want to marry or adopt or have sex with. When I was young and stupid I bought into lots of ideas about right and wrong and what people should and shouldn't be allowed to do, but I eventually grew up. Maybe I'm still growing up. Now I believe that your life should be yours, and mine should be mine! It all comes down to this. Let's call it the Social Contract... If I want you to mind your own business when it comes to my personal life and freedom, then I'm OBLIGED to leave you alone and mind my own business too, so long as your activities don't adversely effect me. We don't have to get along or like one another. We just have to agree to leave one another alone. That was a common concept 200 years ago. Not any more.

The founding generation lived in a time when authoritarian rule (Monarchy, which is a class based form of dictatorship) and human slavery were wide spread in the world. Just about every country was ruled by a small minority of aristocrats who maintained and perpetuated their rule through a monopoly on force. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Europeans and a few Americans were commonly held as slaves in the Muslim kingdoms of North and East Africa (having been kidnapped off of merchant ships in the Mediterranean), and West African slaves made up about 1/3rd of America's colonial population.

Many of the founding generation, coming to adulthood in this environment, had been educated in the philosophy we now call "Classical Liberalism". This is the philosophy that you see laid out in Jefferson's poetic prose, that government is instituted among men to ensure "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness". This flew in the face of the conventional wisdom, that some people were born to lead and others were born to be led. Some of them, like Jefferson, had been brought up to own and keep slaves, whether they believed in the institution or not. Most people saw the reality of slavery every day, and many came away from that with an exaggerated sense of the importance of their own personal freedom and sovereignty. The most important kind of property anyone could own was themselves, and their own destiny.

At the same time, most thinking people in America, who were just about all "commoners", had grown by the late 1700s to resent aristocratic privilege and the limits that the British system placed on their lives. While most of them didn't own slaves, they lived in a society dominated by slavery and a slave owning petty aristocracy of rich commoners who tried to act like Lords and Ladies. These people knew intimately the value of personal freedom, and the importance of owning your own life and destiny!

We live in a time today when many seem readily willing to sign over control of their own life and destiny, and the responsibility for their own lives to a supposedly benevolent government. What's worse, they're even more willing to sign over another person's property and sovereignty, in the interest of some fleeting promise of enhanced safety or security. At the same time, many people have come to believe that the proper role of government is to enforce their personal moral code and shove it down everyone else's throat. They think that safety is more important than liberty, so all of us have to put up with increasingly draconian laws, twisting and shrinking the scope of our personal space and choice, so they'll feel better about themselves. Bastards!

Both sides of the political spectrum speak passionately about believing in individual liberty, and say they want to protect it. I've found though that both sides really believe in deciding FOR YOU what freedoms are important or appropriate, and restricting other freedoms they disapprove of. In a nut shell, the people who seek power in government today have forgotten the difference between what they CAN do and what the SHOULD do! To me, that says it all.

So, in voting people into power, instead of choosing between two groups with different solutions to our growing problems, I have to try to decide which party is likely to screw me over the least. I know going in that the people I'm voting for are likely to do stupid things that might adversely effect the lives of others, but I calculate that these particular losers are less likely to mess with me. Instead of being able to choose someone who will actually try to do something good, I have to try to pick the candidate and party that will try to hold back the ever expanding power of the government to mess with my life, even if they end up messing with someone else's. That's a piss poor way of having to make a decision about these things, and speaks to why the biggest problems we have as a nation can't seem to be solved. So then, how the hell did we get to this sad state of affairs?

Well, we'll talk. I've spewed enough bile for now. Cheers.