30 November 2006

Desert Weather

You all know about desert weather ... sunshine, heat, etc. .... right?


Our weather
the last few days has been colder than cousin Dean's in Baltimore. Hard freezes three days in a row... should be about 25 degrees tonight at my house. Highs only in the low 60's. Where did autumn go? At work ... warehouse with concrete floors and walls, no heat and a big open door .... the weather has been horrible. Windy days and cold temps have kept the warehouse cold all day. At 0930 this morning, it was only 41 degrees at my desk (and that doesn't count the constant breeze coming in through the door).

Maybe it will get back to 'normal' before Christmas.

Oh well, must take the good with the bad I guess.

I received a picture (sort of a Christmas card) from cousin Robyn. I really LOVE getting pictures of those who are on my computer list of friends and family. When you don't see, and haven't seen, people in years .... pictures are so important. And you know something that interests me? When I see pictures of family and friends that are taken around their homes ... I really notice their surroundings. Pictures on the walls, furniture, plants (when outside), etc. Those things put you more in touch with who the people are than just a simple picture. Some of my computer friends know this ... and send me pictures of their houses, yards and other "spaces" around their town. THOSE are really great gifts.

Gotta get a shower and some sleep. Have a great weekend.

PEACE. LFTD. ... and hugs from here in the casa.

29 November 2006

Another Post from Fred Reed in Guad'

I think that Fred speaks for a lot of people my age. At least, he speaks for me at times. I am that age, that alone at times and have considered (at times) cashing in my chips in Mexico.

Anyway ... Fred writes:

For most gringos, Mexico is a place to retire. The Mexicans say, “The Americans come here to die.” Not exactly. It isn’t why they come, but it is what they do, there being eventually no choice. Everybody has to croak somewhere, so why not in the sunshine with little brown kids running back and forth and the street, dogs lounging contentedly about? It beats, for some anyway, a wretched sanitarium and lots of tubes.

In the hills on the north side of town, where the nice houses are, you see aging couples like couples anywhere. It could be Lauderdale. They have each other and insurance and pensions and savings. In the bars you see the old single guys. They have close to nothing.

At nine in the morning they sit on green iron benches and wait for the cantinas to open. Little beyond white hair unites them in appearance. Some are thin, others fat, others whatever you can think of except moneyed. “Drunks” is not quite the right word for them. They are just old guys whose lives are spent and they sit around and drink beer and wait. It’s what they have. They seldom fall off stools or get into fights. They are anything but dangerous. They are just old guys with nothing, waiting.

Some would find them reprehensible. Why don’t they do something improving, learn to knit, or take up square dancing? This is harsh. What does a man do when he is seventy years old, his wife died eight years ago in Louisiana, and the trucking firm no longer wants him as a driver? Social Security and a small pension don’t go far in America. He comes to Ajijic and moves into the residential hotel, Italo’s, a block from the plaza and easy walking distance to the bars. It’s cheap and decent and the rooms come with kitchenette and the maids clean them. I’ve stayed there.

He’s seventy and tired, too old to learn a language and probably not of that bent anyway. He doesn’t want to learn to square dance. He is not looking for a cultural experience, not looking for much of anything. Women no longer interest him except as nice people, and anyway the diabetes doesn’t help in that department. So he talks to his friends. And he drinks. It takes the curse off. Besides, if he bothers no one else, it is the business of no one else —’est-ce pas.

It is a mistake to think these men to be of no account because they are ending their days on a bar stool. They have had lives, traveled, drifted, worked,loved, had families or not, seen things and done things. Often they are intelligent and thoughtful. They are just through.

We live in a censorious age in America, an age of “Gotcha!” in which drinking looms loathsome, smoking is a crime to be punished, second-hand smoke a fearful threat to children and plants and wallpaper. Oh dear. We all must be vigilant for racism, sexism, and the rest. Psychologists call it “passive aggressiveness,” though I think that “the Higher Priss” does nicely. Well, I say, each to his or her or its own. Still, I have always found people who smoke and drink and do the occasional doobie to be more interesting than those who don’t—certainly than the drab Comstocks of the current Carryan Nation.

So I’ll cut these guys some slack. You choose an exit door, or fall through one. They have. So will you.

Not all stay in one place. In Italo’s when I was there I met a guy well into his seventies who was about to get on a third-class bus to Guatemala, I think it was. He didn’t walk too well and moved as if he had sand in his joints. He seemed sad but was keeping his chin up. He knew a hotel in a nice town outside Guatemala City where the food was cheap and the young girls just so pretty. He meant nothing sexual. They were just pretty, like pictures. He liked watching them and the kids and Guatemala.

Now that’s rough, I thought. To be at the end of his days and bouncing around bad roads on Guatemalan bus, alone, going where he probably knew nobody—that’s not the feather-bed route out the door. But he didn’t want to spend the winter in Ajijic. At least he was free. I wished him well.

Some drunks have other stories. There was a fellow, in his thirties I’d guess, who always wore a white cowboy hat and lied compulsively about what daring things he had done. This is common. It’s called “border promotion.” You know: “I was a SEAL team leader before I was an astronaut, between being a fighter pilot and president of IBM.” Sometimes it seems like half the gringo population used to be in the CIA.

Anyway, the guy with the white cowboy hat said he used to be a dead-end drunk, and had the tremor to prove it. But he was over it, he said, and in fact seemed to be. Then one night he got a ride home with somebody, pulled a pistol from somewhere, put it under his chin and blew the top of his head off. AIDS, or at least HIV. We make our choices. The consensus was that he should have done it somewhere else, where it wouldn’t have put a hole in the roof of the car and generally made a mess.

Sometimes one of the old guys will take up with a poor Mexican gal of twenty-five with four kids. They move in together. You could say that it was absurd, that neither knew the other’s language and he was a dirty old man and she a gold-digger. You could also try to exercise a little decency. Not everybody has choices. Usually he treats her well, puts food on the table, maybe gets her some dental work or insists that the kids go to school. It’s better than nothing. She cooks and keeps house and has a few years of security, and he leaves her whatever he can. I’ve seen such couples who seemed happy together. You play the hand you draw.

Things are different for those of intellectual resources, who take up photography seriously, fly ultralights, read, or keep on at whatever they did for a living at a reduced level. I’m not sure how different it is. They too are waiting.So are we all. But there were drunks before there were moralists,and I hope there will be drunks after, as they are so much less tedious, and closer to the human condition.


Christmas Music

Now, ...... before I start .... I like the Christmas season. I even like Christmas Carols. I can even put up with 'Jingle Bell Rock', 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' and 'Feliz Navidad' on occasion. But, all that being said, it is the 29th of November and I am burnt out on Christmas music. Every station .... I listen to an oldies station, a country station, a rock station, et al .... has started playing X-mas tunes about every third song. If I could get my ancient hands around Jose Feliciano's throat, ... he'd be in danger. I actually screamed in my car this afternoon ... I changed stations three times and 3 out of the 4 were playing "Feliz Navidad" the other had a commercial on. This is considered cruel and inhumane punishment in most civilized countries. My radio is turned off until 2007. Only tapes (yes I still have cassettes) and CDs. About a week before the 25th, I shall listen to 'Oh Little Town of Bethlehem', 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear' and others. But ... you can be certain that Jose will not be on my playlist. Not this year or next. His tune is the "Viva Las Vegas" of Christmas tunes. I realize that he probably got very rich on that thing, but my ears refuse to listen to it again this year if possible.

O.K., I dismount from my soapbox and leave you to your Christmas season.


26 November 2006

The end of the weekend

I must confess that my "bah-humbug" feelings about Thanksgiving have been tempered somewhat this last four days. It started Thursday when one of Hilda's nieces said (we all have to say what we are thankful for) "the food makes my tummy happy, and seeing Antonio (me) makes my heart happy". Then some other things happened that mellowed me somewhat. I have not changed my opinion about a lot of things, but I am happier about having been through the four days.

I raised four kids for over 20 years to the best of my ability. When their mom ran off with her son-in-law .. everyone thought that it was horrible. They were on my side. When their mom moved back into Benson ... they started seeing her. Then, gradually, I was removed from their life and replaced with their mom. So ... I was divorced by an entire family. Now-a-days, I have no family around here except for my mom .. and Hilda. The last few years of my marriage, Jennie alienated most of my friends. I wound up with no friends and no family. So ... any festive occasions that involved family and friends became extremely difficult for me. I was always the kid outside the candy store looking in, living the festive occasions vicariously and sort of 'by proxy'. Five years ago, I spent Thanksgiving with Dr. and Mrs. McGowen in Texas. That was as close to a family gathering as I have experienced in many years.

Anyway... back to current events. I have worked every day but Thursday ... but the project is basically over and this week coming up is simply 'clean-up time'. I have the option of sitting around the warehouse 40 hours a week in December ... working 5 hours a week and getting 40 hours at $16. That is what I will do if another position doesn't come my way.

Well, the Colts are running all over the Eagles and it is boring and it's beddy-bye time. Have a great week.

PEACE ! L.F.T.D. !

22 November 2006

Thanksgiving Eve

Well .. I am boiling eggs for deviled eggs and bah-humbugging all the way. I am going to boil three dozen. If that isn't enough ... Oh well !!

I am having a Shiner or two, ...... have already washed, dried and put away the clothes and cleaned the majority of the living room and dining room. The U of A plays basketball at 1930 our time, and I want to be "out-of-work" by then.

I have a ton of "old" stuff lying in the living room that I have to get rid of. Not unusable, just "old". I have a perfectly good Flat Bed Scanner ... but it was designed for Windows 98, and my new printer scans better and faster than the old thing. I have nice pictures and prints that used to adorn my walls ... when I had MORE walls of course. I have two 'small' computer desks that are not just "in-the-way" but bothersome.

I shall have to wade through all this 'junque' and make more room in my small abode. Starting with the first of the year, I am putting many ... if not all .... my hundreds (thousands?) of photographs on cd's. I have always been a believer in photographs and have albums and boxes of them.

I hope that you all enjoy Thanksgiving Day ... eat way to much, watch too much TV and get bloated. I will have one small helping with no potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, gravy, pie, etc. Seriously though ... I hope you and yours have a great day.


21 November 2006

My Thanksgiving Bah-humbug

It is only Tuesday night, but people everywhere in this fair nation of ours are working to get enough food prepared for day after tomorrow to feed a small nation. Hams, turkeys, tons of potatoes and pies and all the accoutrement's. My only question is, and has been for years, WHY? Do we really need to cook more food for one day than we usually use for an entire weekend or more to prove that we are thankful? I, small minority I know, think not. Having friends and family over for a day of thanksgiving is truly wonderful. But ... if we do not all gourge ourselves senseless then we are anti-American, anti-Pilgrim or something. If you really want to be thankful, have a small repast ... lay out some snacks and KEEP THE T.V. TURNED OFF. If we are gathering to say thanks and to spend quality time with our loved ones .. do it. Over-eating and watching football makes it just a Pig-Out Sunday. I will probably be at a household, where all the things that I am against this time of year will be occuring. If I could get out of it without making the lovely lady I love feel really bad/sad/mad ... I would. I would much prefer to eat something other than turkey, stuffing and yams and I would prefer to take my walk in the desert and be really thankful. Besides ... ALL of our Thanksgiving "traditions" were invented and have little or nothing to do with that 1st "Thanksgiving".

So there .... Bah- Humbug

19 November 2006

From 'The Savage Republican'

Redeployment. Time schedules. Mile markers. Phased withdrawal(s). All the synonyms for turning tail and running. Cowardice. Lying.

And the left has a long record of doing all of that. A very long record.

The death of millions in Vietnam is put directly at the feet of Ted Kennedy and the Democrats. The Paris Peace Accords were quite explicit that the Americans would leave South Vietnam and the North Vietnamese were not to invade the South. If they did, the Americans would intervene on behalf of the South. Enter Watergate. Here at last was the liberty loathing lefties opportunity to extract revenge on Richard Nixon for his fighting Alger Hiss in the 40's and his anti-communist positions 50's. And with Watergate, the Democratic controlled Senate flatly refused to fund the U.S. military going back into to Vietnam after the North invaded the South in direct violation of the Paris Peace Accords. In other words, the Democrats in the Senate broke the word of the United States of America. And millions died. Millions because of the likes of Ted Kennedy.

And we're now in a parallel situation where again, for political revenge, millions will die thanks to Kennedy, Kerry, Pelosi, Murtha and all their ilk should they get their way. Real blood for political blood is always a bargain for the left. This time though it won't be faceless Asians that won't disrupt Kennedy's and Kerry's vacations due to their inherited millions. This time, the beheading knife will swing across the globe:

"For one thing, a post-U.S. Iraq could make the Vietnam bloodbath seem like a tea party, given the traditions of savagery among terrorists and their ilk in that part of the Middle East.

Then, swooping down like vultures on the Iraqi carcass would be - you count on it - Iran and al Qaeda.
Separately, or in alliance. That should send shivers down the spines of Iraq's regional neighbors: the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and, most particularly, Israel - which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows to wipe off the map. Anyone who cares about the fate of the only law-abiding, democratic bastion of civility in the Middle East should dread a U.S. surrender in Iraq.

Here's the worst part: With America gone and its enemies in control, how long before oil becomes a powerful strategic weapon - and before those enemies set their sights beyond the region, to places like Europe? And, eventually, America itself?

Do Americans really want Iraq left to become a staging ground for terror attacks on New York or Washington? The irony is that the Dems' delusions and calls for surrender only make it more difficult to end the violence and defeat the terrorists now. Why should militias disband when America may be about to head for the hills? Why halt their suicide bombings when they seem to be pushing America to flee?

Having captured Congress, Democrats now need to act responsibly. Talk of defeat and "cutting losses" must end. Or defeat will come sure enough. With losses that know no end." From the N.Y. Post

And from an editorial in August in the WSJ:

This means that if Democrats retake Congress, we will be back where we were in Vietnam circa 1975. Early that year the Congressional left blocked funds for our allies in the government of South Vietnam, weakening its defenses even as Hanoi massed for an attack. Within weeks, the North was on the march and the last American helicopters were leaving Saigon. The stakes are just as serious today in Iraq. The defeat in Vietnam could at least be contained elsewhere in Southeast Asia, although the Soviet Union was clearly emboldened to assert itself via proxies from Afghanistan to Central America. A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would likewise signal a defeat echoing far beyond Baghdad. Iran would exploit the turmoil in Iraq to assert itself in the Middle East, and both terrorists and their state sponsors would feel they could hit us again, this time with confidence that any U.S. response would be limited, as it was before 9/11. The idea that quitting Iraq would be discrete penance for President Bush's invasion is a delusion against an enemy that cited our 1993 withdrawal from Somalia as a reason to believe it could attack New York with impunity."

Sunday before Thanksgiving

Some pictures from the Fireman's Chili Cook-off on Friday. The first is one of the Mardi Gras people at their booth. The second is the SS Minnow of "Chili-gan's Island". They had someone dressed as Gilligan, the Skipper, Mr. Howell ... and a 'great' Ginger. The third pic is the balcony at the Mardi Gras booth, ... where we caught all of our strands of beads.

It is Sunday and I have finished reading the Sunday newspaper. I am drinking a diet Coke ... and there is a Christmas theme on the can. Perhaps we should just have "THE" season all year long. That way, the folks like me who bemoan the earlier starting times for the season (and the hard sell commercialism extant) every year wouldn't have anything to bitch about. We could have newspaper headlines on December 26th ... "Only 364 shopping days 'til Christmas".

I have some potatoes boiling and some meat boiling that I will combine later for my home-made soup. I am cooking it today for tomorrow night. Hilda just got up and is having her coffee and reading the paper. I've made her coffee and now I should make her some breakfast.

Our hapless Arizona Wildcat football team won their 3rd in a row yesterday. They killed the Oregon Ducks. We could be Bowl eligible for the first time in about 9 years. I am truly happy for Coach Stoops. It has been difficult rebuilding a losing program when your recruits are the ones that no other major college wants. All the top-notch recruits in the west want to play for USC, UCLA, et al. Our Wildcat Basketball team plays today at 1400 our time. We are going to Hilda's dad's grave and then we'll probably watch the game at the American Legion or at Famous Sam's.

I am watching the Packers and the Patriots on CBS. I made sausage and portabello omelets with cheese for breakfast. Pretty good, if I do say so myself. I also used some of the salsa that we bought at the Holy Trinity Monastery craft show last weekend. It has such a great flavor and a sneaky warmth ... not really as hot as advertised, but good.

It is 1800 hours here in the old Pueblo. A friend of mine called about 1100 and said that he couldn't use his U of A basketball tickets today. So, we dressed hurriedly and picked up the tickets and went to THE GAME. We won, 102-90 although NMSU gave us some severe scares. I still need to shower and get ready for tomorrow, but I am ecstatic. Hilda is so hoarse that she squeeks.

PEACE to you all and I hope that you have a happy Thanksgiving Day this week. I may get a chance to write before then, but I may not. Love from the desert.

17 November 2006

Friday and on ...

It is Friday, after dark. ... I am whupped (more about that later). I am attempting to relax a little, drinking a Shiner Bock and watching the History Channel. I just took Hilda home. we were at the annual Tucson Area Firefighter's Chili Cook Off - TAFCCO - and, as usual, it was a blast. We sampled lots of chili, listened to music from THE SUITS (boy are they good ... old Rock n' Roll) and other bands. I had some of the BEST green corn tamales that I have tasted in years. I talked to the firefighter who made them .. both of us being cooking nuts ... and told him that they were fantastic. he agreed with me that the maza is THE ingredient that makes a GCT what it is. He adds a little lime juice and a small amount of sugar to his maza .. and it works. Hilda and I received a lot of Mardi Gras beads tonight. We also bought a couple of Chili Cook Off T-Shirts (as we do every year). She was wearing last year's shirt, but mine was dirty. We ate a bunch, had some beer and people-watched and listened to lots of music. We had to come home early, as I have to go in at 0400 tomorrow for 6-7 hours.This, of course, will come to a screeching halt in about two weeks. I have been submitting resumes for everything this side of the AZ Governor's job. I am optimistic (except when I am being pessimistic) about future chances. Remember people ... I am 61 years old and have no college degree. So ... I may be able to continue to live indoors and continue eating fairly regularly ... but I expect no extra cash for the future. I hope that I find something that I ENJOY ... but at worst .... anything that fulfills my need for enough cash to afford the above mentioned necessities will suffice.

This has been a hectic week at work ... which explains the gap in my BLOG postings. Between that, submitting resumes on-line nightly and crashing early each night ... I have done little in the form of extra-curricular activities this week.

I wish each of you the very best and I assume that you are all in the throes of Christmas. Santa is here in the malls and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet. In my youth ... the Friday after Thanksgiving was "The Christmas Parade". The last thing in the Christmas Parade was St Nicholas in his sleigh. Christmas season began THEN ( and ONLY THEN). Now, ... I fully expect Santa to be wearing Halloween gear in his early visits to the malls and other commercial establishments.

Well ...tis' bedtime and daybreak (or before) comes early.

Love from the desert. PEACE !!!

12 November 2006

After Veteran's Day

I am starting this on Sunday evening. I am back in Tucson ... but I am watching the UofA Wildcats play UVA Cavaliers in Basketball, at Virginia, and the Giants play the Bears in the NFL.

I hope that all the veterans had a great weekend. I know that I did ... we were at the VFW in Benson.

Today is the last day that I will be 60 ... the dial turns over to 61 at midnight.

The pictures above are :
1) Me, Rick, Paul,Marilyn and Pete
2) Lisa and me at the VFW Saturday
3) Nelda and ne at the VFW

Hilda took all three pictures, so it's O.K. (I think).

Have a good week.

10 November 2006

Veterans Day

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel. He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel. She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang. He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back at all. He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs. He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand. He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by. He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep. He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come. He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs. He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is
nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You.That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU". Remember November 11th is Veterans Day................

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."
Father Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC


Veteran's Day

I would like to personally say THANK YOU to all the veterans out there who served their country, ... even if they did not agree with the politics of the time. I will be in Benson, Az tomorrow (at the VFW) and I hope that I shall see some friends and fellow veterans. No matter who I see, I shall hold the day sacred for all fellow veterans.


08 November 2006


O.K., almost everyone that I voted for .. except for John Kyl (R) and Raul Grijalva (D) and some state representatives (A D and an R .... see Dean, I am an independant) ... lost. It's a new day in Washington I guess. My only real fear is of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is just to the left of Hitler and Genghis Khan. I hope that there is a semblance of civility in the new congress and that we do not start on a Democratic inspired witch hunting spree. The late night comedians will now have to concentrate on our President for their comedy. You know that they will NEVER pick on anyone on the left.

We in Arizona have banned smoking in all public places ... I voted for this, but I was really feeling pangs of being twisted both ways. I do not think that the we should tell people whether or not they can kill themselves by smoking, but it IS a health issue for children and other living things and you all know how I feel about children.

Also here in the desert southwest:

(note: I voted for all of the following)

Proposition 103 establishes English as the state's official language, 18 years after voters passed a similar proposition in 1988 that was later overruled by the Arizona and U.S. Supreme Courts.

Several anti-illegal immigrant measures passed here also. Among the ones that passed, the measures will prevent:
1- illegal immigrants from taking state sponsered adult-education classes
illegal immigrants from getting state-funded child-care assistance
illegal immigrants from being able to pay in-state (cheaper) tuition at state colleges and universities
4- automatically keep those
illegal immigrants charged with serious felonies in jail without bail, and prevent them from receiving punitive damages in civil lawsuits.

Proposition 202: PASSED ... Establishes a statewide minimum wage with an annual cost-of-living raise. Instead of the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, employers will be required to pay $6.75 an hour

Proposition 207: PASSED ... Private Property Rights Protection Act. Limits cities' and counties' use of eminent domain or condemnation for economic redevelopment or slum clearance

On other topics:

1) I am actively hunting for a new work place for after the first of the year, I have one interview tomorrow.
2) We (Hilda and I) are going to Benson to celebrate Veteran's Day on Saturday. We will see my mom and she will go with us to the Holy Trinity Monastary for the Art Fair and Craft Show. We will stay overnight in Benson.

Well, it is bedtime ... have a great week. PEACE

P.S. - Dean .... Maryland played good roundball tonight.

07 November 2006

Small soapbox

I was thinking on the way home from work (I know, I should stop that). But anyway, what came to my mind was: the beginning of the end of social interaction in our society began when they started building houses WITHOUT front porches. I seriously remember many hours spent on various front porches in my lifetime. Evenings of saying hello, and more, to people walking down the sidewalk. And kids playing in the front yard and on the sidewalk until after dark. Red Rover, Tag, Take a Giant Step, dodgeball, etc. .... constant INTERACTION with one's peers. Catching Lightning Bugs, June Bugs, et al. How wonderful.

Sunday afternoons and evenings we would, as a family, walk to the drug store by Green Street Park, for ice cream, from our house on Lee Street ... a distance of (best as I can figure now) about seven blocks or so. Two blocks to Berryman Ave, four or so to Calhoun and one or two to Jefferson Street. We didn't have an automobile. We would say hello to many people sitting on their front porches, and sometimes my parents would stop and talk for a while .... my brothers and I were small, I was about 5-6. These were happy times in my memory. Conversation was not a lost art and friendliness was expected and not unusual. And the pace of life was slower ... not so much in a hurry as today.

And then ... Television! People sat "inside" and watched the tube and left their front porches empty. Children no longer played outside as much. Then ... front porches became scarce. Now, they're almost non-existent on new homes. Even front windows remain closed / curtained / shuttered. The 'street' side of houses are unfriendly ... an uninviting. We, as a society lost something important. People live INSIDE or in walled or fenced back yards. We still have friends, but no longer count everyone in the neighborhood as friends. In fact ... lots of people in today's world have lived in areas for long periods of time and never met their neighbors, much less become close to them.

Nostalgia is wonderful, and everything is rosier in hindsight I know. But I really feel sorry for today's kids. They have tons of electronic gear ... phones, games, TVs, MP3s, et al ... and no imagination. They talk to their friends on cell phones, with text chat and on the computer. They don't talk face to face or while lying in a sun-drenched grassy field. They don't look at clouds and imagine shapes and foment dreams. They are grown-up at 12 and they never have an old fashioned childhood where a stick or some large rocks (Dean and bro Mickey, you remember 'The Rocks' on Lee Street) become everything that you need to play any game.

But ... I will be 61 on Monday, and I am beginning to sound like every older person that I have ever known. As POGO said, ... 'we have met the enemy and he is us!"...

Have a great week.

06 November 2006

Veteran's Day

This Saturday, the 11th of November, is Veteran's Day. Please remember all our great young men and young women who are in the service of our country in all four branches. And remember all those who gave their time, their lives, their bodies and their service to make certain that we as a nation could continue to enjoy the freedoms and the privilages that so many take for granted.

Monday, the 13th is my birthday and my brother Mickey's birthday. I will be 61 and he will be 59. We are both veterans (as is my baby brother Steve).

Hilda and I are going to Benson again this weekend. I want her to meet some people there who have nothing to do with my ex. She seems to think that the entire town is Jennie's family. We are going to meet some buddies of mine at the VFW for some drinks and conversation. Sunday we are going to the Holy Trinity Monastery for their winter art fair. The H.T.M. is where I used to go to Mass when I lived in Benson.

I send out my thanks to all you veterans out there and tell you from my heart that I am grateful for all you did and all that the military personnel do now.

Peace (which is something that all soldiers pray for)

05 November 2006

Odds and Ends on a Sunday

Bits n' pieces of thoughts....

I really dislike people who put all their grocery items on the conveyor at the supermarket and then say ... "wait a minute" ... and leave to go down an aisle or two looking for items that they forgot. Is there no common courtesy left in the world?

And, .. how about people who go into the 10 items or less lane with an entire cart? Then they say something stupid, like " I am really in a hurry". You should (at the very least) be able to slap them silly in front of God and everybody.

Or ... people who park in a Handicapped parking space and dismiss it with ... "I'll just be a minute". Or people who have handicapped plates, but they're not the handicapped person, and park there. Like today, a teenager with handicapped plates on the car parks in front of Walgreen's and "runs" into the store. I do not think those plates were for her.

On the home front ... I worked 11 hours Saturday (inventory of my warehouse and Horizon's warehouse by an outside firm) and worked 3 1/2 today. We watched a movie last evening and one today (I wanted to watch the NFL). So now ... it's 1745 MST (15 til 6 civilian time) .... I am watching NFL highlight shows and readying myself for tonight's game in 15 minutes.

Cousin Dean - congrats on the Ravens victory.
Brother Mickey - sorry about those Cowboys.
Ms Sheryl - Your Vikes lost a close one, sorry
and .... da' Bears got whupped, and they were supposed to be damn near invincible.

Well, I have been switching back and forth between the football game and the History Channel .. about meteors, etc. I can't help myself.

Fred Reed's Column 11-3

I sometimes think that the defects of men, and the virtues of women, are equally understated. An unreconstructed male will say that men have invented all sorts of things and built this and that, which is true. Feminists measure themselves by the extent to which they manage to resemble men, which is a mistake. Both largely overlook the gravest plague to afflict humanity: the infernal and irremediable aggressiveness of males.

When one speaks of being uneasy at having wandered into a bad neighborhood, it is solely from fear of attack by the males, is it not? If a woman’s car breaks down on a lonely road at night, she will be frightened of attack not by women or wild animals, but only by men. People do not avoid bar districts in the neighborhoods of the lower classes from wise concern about drunken pugnacious women. Men attack. Women don’t.

Physical incapacity has little to do with it. While the average woman cannot beat up the average man, three could, if accustomed to fighting. Women are neither accustomed to fighting nor interested in doing it. It is not by mere extended coincidence that nine of ten people in prison are men. The cause is their inherent aggressiveness. Theirs is the behavior of ownerless dogs living in the street.

“Hey, muthuhfuckuh, who you lookin’ at?”

Men, like street dogs, are both territorial and creatures of the pack. It starts early because it is instinctive. A boy of eleven showing up at a new school will be eyed by the other boys, tested, regarded with initial suspicion—but only by the boys. He earns his place in the pack. The girls are far more likely to say, “Hi, I’m Sally. What’s your name?” The little boys in a neighborhood form gangs, perfectly harmless in suburbs of the middle classes but gangs nevertheless, and guard their territory against intruders. They are playing, as puppies play. They are practicing for more serious times.

Come puberty and, in bad neighborhoods, things become ominous. The young males are now propelled by adult muscle and impelled by combative hormones. The Crips and Bloods in California, the Jets and Sharks of light opera, the Vice Lords, El Ruykns, Latin Kings, Black Gangster Disciples and so on of Chicago, the Hells Angels and the Confederate Angels and the Sons of Silence of motorcycledom: They are now dangerous.

They still closely resemble both street dogs and eleven-year-olds in fundamental motivation. They are intensely territorial. Members of one gang are very aware of the unwisdom of going into the territory of another. They have elaborate means of indicating membership in the pack: gang signs made with the hands, hats worn at specific orientations, jackets of particular colors, tattoos. The Hells Angels will beat you to death if you wear their paraphernalia. The graffiti sprayed everywhere nowadays in cities are precisely the territorial markings engaged in by male dogs, though the means differ. Despite the occasional stories asserting that girls are now forming violent gangs, they don’t. The appeal of hostile bands works its sordid magic only on males.

The instinctive (and sexual) foundations of all of this are obvious in other things. A young American male in, say, Asia, will find the local women willing to date him for all the usual reasons that cause women to date men. (Note the theme of West Side Story, which in this respect is perfectly accurate.) The local men will watch with hostility, however disguised. Males try to prevent access by outsiders to the women of their group. Thus they are less concerned about intrusion into their regions by white-haired men. These pose no sexual threat.

Within a society, the aggressiveness of the males can be moderated by rigorous enforcement of civility. In particular, the unshirted sexual forwardness of the male can be abated: A man in a suit seldom says, “Nice tits, baby,” or grab a handful, though both thoughts occur to him. This is why feminists are fools to deride the twin concepts, Lady and Gentleman. But even among the socially elevated, such street-doggery as dueling has often existed. The elaborate ritual of throwing down the gauntlet is nothing more than an elegant form of the gangbanger’s strut-and-holler. Hey, muthuhfuckuh….

The aggressiveness of males has wreaked unremitting havoc throughout history in the form of war. Women don’t do war, don’t like war, don’t fantasize about war. They put up with it. Lysistrata, though written by a man, captures the distaff mind well.

These days every war is said to have some justification of the most solemn import, but it’s just Crips and Bloods. Among primitive peoples a young man becomes a warrior through some curious rite, and then goes on raids to steal horses and women. With us it’s boot camp, jump wings, Ranger patch, and raids to impose democracy. The essential difference is as follows:

What we call statesmanship is, emotionally and morally, indistinguishable from gang war in South Chicago. The scale is more imposing and, under some administrations, the grammar better. Aggressive males rise to power in heavily armed countries of many millions. Then they push and shove, bark and bow-wow at others like themselves in other countries. The tribal trappings remain, particularly among the warriors: Baubles and medals and patches and different hats, talk of honor and duty and valor. Nah. Males dogs in an alley.

Women have very little use for it, though there is precious little they can do to change things. Their focus is different. In three decades of covering the military, I noticed that women thought in terms of people. To a male, a firestorm in Hamburg ignited by bombing constitutes a great victory. To a woman, it is tens of thousands of people burned alive. She is likely to ask, “Are we sure this is a good idea?” The aggressive male doesn’t want to hear about children being roasted to death and (I’ve been through this with them countless times) gets angry if you bring it up. He uses phrases like “collateral damage,” or says, “In war, shit happens. Deal with it.” Among men, “Anti-war” is likely to be an insult; among women, a compliment.

Male aggressiveness pervades human life. It fuels the unending drive to found empires. A woman might say, “Look, Alex, you’ve got a perfectly good palace in Macedon, plenty to eat, a bar on the corner, nice women. Are you quite sure you need to conquer India? What are you going to do with it?” Men are more likely than women to favor capitalism (or “free enterprise” or “unrestricted rapine,” according to your politics) than women because it sanctifies commercial combat. Fifty billion isn’t enough, I must destroy the competition and eradicate Linux….

What to do about it? Nothing, at least any time soon.

02 November 2006


I have been asked ... what do you want (or not want) from the government and / or your representatives to the Legislative Branch, given your political views? So, over the next day or so, I shall look inwardly and try to say what I believe.

I would like for the government to:
1- maintain a strong military
2- keep the highways in good shape
3- have a strong and fair judiciary that looks out for citizens and not well heeled breakers of the law
4- protect our borders and prosecute people who enter this country illegally or stay here illegally after their visas, etc run out
5- take care of our country's interests throughout the world

I would like for the government to stop:
1- Loaning money to every country in the world .. even some who do not need it, ... but not taking care of folks at home
2- Involving themselves with every little facet of daily life.
3- Telling me what to eat, how to live, where to go .. unless it harms or seriously inconvieniences someone else.

It is not the governments business if I wear a seat belt, or a motorcycle helmet, or decent shoes. It is not their business if I smoke (I don't), or drink, or eat fattening foods. It is not their business if I worship or whom I worship.

I understand that this is very simplistic, but unless I write a full blown theses, I must remain simplistic.

Another matter ....
There are so many warning labels around these days we're starting to ignore them. Your
computer keyboard "can" cause carpal tunnel. Your monitor "may" cause eye strain. Funny newsletters "could" cause you to blow coffee through your nose. When everything has a warning label, how will we know when we REALLY need to pay attention to a warning of something serious?
(Tip: a sign blaring "WARNING! Be Sure to Read All Warning Signs!" won't help.)

WHY are there warnings everywhere? Because manufacturers are trying to reduce their legal liability -- they're hoping not to be sued by people who don't seem to have any remnant of common sense.

And it's not just companies trying to cover their butts: governments are adding to the clutter too. The doors at every supermarket in California are plastered with "warnings" which supposedly inform consumers that certain foods have "chemicals known to the State of
California to cause cancer." I remember rolling my eyes when the sign for saccharin went up, but since then it's gotten worse: Now it's mercury. What foods have added mercury in them? None. But seafood has it naturally -- and darn it, people need to be WARNED!

It's all mandated by Proposition 65, more formally known as California's "Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986". Since the ballot proposition was passed by voters, the list of chemicals requiring warning signs has ballooned to 750. (Yet this "Safe Drinking
Water" law exempts public water works from having to post warnings.) Efforts to reduce the sign requirements to only cover things people REALLY need to know about have been blocked. The result: no one really sees them anymore -- not the goofy ones, and not the IMPORTANT ones.

But don't think it's just those wacky Californians. The situation nationwide has gotten so ridiculous that, just like I have plenty of dumb lawsuits to report on, others have plenty of dumb warning labels to hold up for ridicule. Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch has a "Wacky Warning Labels" competition each year for the dumbest warning labels. Some of the ones that have NOT actually won include:

1) a pan that warns, "Ovenware will get hot when used in oven."
2) a cocktail napkin with an arty map on it that cautions, "Not to be used for navigation."
3) a kitchen knife with the label, "Never try to catch a falling knife."
4) a heat gun and paint remover that produces temperatures of 1,000 degrees and warns users, “Do not use this tool as a hair dryer”
Texas gets an honorable mention for a warning label found on a bottle of dried bobcat urine made to keep rodents and other pests away from garden plants. It says: “Not for human consumption.”

With those losers, imagine the ones that actually win.

“Warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times,” said Robert B. Dorigo Jones, M-LAW president. “An unpredictable legal system – in which judges allow anyone to file a lawsuit on almost any theory – has created a need for product makers to plaster wacky warnings on everything. When judges see it as their job to dismiss cases that are rooted in frivolous theories, we’ll see fewer wacky labels and more fairness in the courts.”

Anyone who brings a frivolous lawsuit should have to shoulder both sides legal fees lpus the cost of the proceedings. If you do not have enough common sense to know that there are dangers out there ... like hot coffee is 'hot', products are to be used with some semblance of common sense ... then you need to die young and suffer. The gene pool needs cleaning.

01 November 2006

A daily commuter's thoughts

I have just driven home from work ... running late today and I hit the "rush hour" traffic. Now, I realize that we (being a city of only 1 million) have no where close to the congestion that large cities have. But ... I do believe in four major truths about rush hour traffic.

#1 - Posted speed limits are merely a 'suggestion' to most drivers, or worse yet .. a starting point.
#2 - Most people do not think about getting in their proper lane until the very last minute. This is especially true if you need to change 2 or 3 lanes. If this bothers you, they are
more than
willing to extend their finger in your direction and talk loudly about your parentage, or lack of same.
#3 - Talking on the cell phone, eating, and applying make-up are much preferable to actually paying attention to your driving or the traffic situations around you.
#4 - Red lights are not important, they merely let you know that some asshole may pull out in front of you from the lanes to your left or right (that actually have the right of way). Shame on them.

Am I bitter? No, .... but I do feel more fear on Tucson's streets than I felt in Vietnam. I relish the fact that, usually, I miss the traffic this time of day. The people who (nationwide) spend part of each day in these traffic maelstroms have my sympathy and my respect ... unless they are the ones who are guilty of the aforementioned faux pas' .. or one of the few that I didn't mention.

Later !