01 August 2011

August 1

    I would like to tell you about my best friend (outside of Hilda, my significant other, that is). He and I met in Tombstone in 1970 or so. We did stunt work together, we drank together (a lot), and we talked together (again, a lot).
    Dr Stanley S. McGowen (of Weatherford, Texas) has been blind for twenty years. He was in the U.S. Army when it happened. He had been an Infantry Platoon Leader in Vietnam, Military Intelligence Officer with the 101st Airborne, helicopter pilot and Company Commander. He served 21 years in the Army. He resigned his commission when President Carter pardoned the draft dodgers. However, he missed the Army a lot and went back in after a few years and had to take a Warrant Officer slot as a helicopter pilot, as there were no Major's slots available.  
   A plane crash in 1990 took his sight. After multiple operations, "Valdez" (as we call him) went back to college at Texas Christian and got his MA and  PhD in History. After teaching college for ten years and writing a few books he decided to retire. You really should get a copy of 'Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke ... The 1st Texas Cavalry in the Civil War'. It is published by Texas A&M University Press. Although it is a history book, it is a really good read. You also might like his book of stories from Vietnam titled "You Ain't Gonna Believe This, But ...". It is published by Trafford Press. I believe that both are available online.
    Valdez was the coordinator of the “Texas Project,”which was inaugurated by the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF). It offered America’s injured veterans the opportunity to participate in various outdoor events.  During those years as Texas Project Coordinator, and member of Safari Club International’s Veteran’s Committee, McGowen organized programs that allowed over 200 injured Veterans and family members to participate in hunting and other outdoor activities.  Recently Dr. McGowen was instrumental in the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) initiating legislation which permits legally blind hunters to utilize laser sights to hunt game animals in Texas, greatly enhancing visually impaired hunters’s chance of success.
   Stan (Valdez) was the first and only  blind person to kill the Cape Buffalo in the wild in Africa. He has many kills of game animals in the U.S. and Canada and also in Africa. He has killed an elephant (a rogue, that was bothering villagers) ... at night. Every time that life starts to get me down, I think of Stan and how he has dealt with what has been handed to him. He is a remarkable human being and I am proud that he is my friend. Hilda and I and my nietos (G-kids) love him and his wife Jolene to death.
                  Go get 'em Valdez!
   He just returned from another trip to Africa, and sent me this e-mail:

  The hunt was bought 2 years ago at auction. I was trying to bid up the hunt to make more money for our SCI chapter and got caught when bidding stopped. The hunt was for Gemsbok (Oryx) mostly, but for other plains game, including black wildebeest. Hunt was successful as you may see.


31 July 2011

Last Day of July

   Here it is the last day of July 2011 A.D. (Anno Domini ... in the year of our Lord) that's what I was taught. But some people wrongly believe it means After Death. The Liberals extant call it C.E. for Common Era (I always tell them that it means Christian Era), but I'm an "A.D." man. Your upbringing has a lot to do with a lot of things I guess. 
   Nothing much going on here in the desert Southwest. My nieto (grandson) Abel Anthony Rigney is still living with Hilda and me and still looking for work. His brother Devin (16) and his cousin Stevie (13) were up here with us for a week. It was great seeing them. It is amazing how much they have grown. You only notice that when you are away from them for a while.
Steve Jr., Abel Anthony, me and Devin
    Hilda has been really sick the last few days with the flu. It bothers me when she is suffering. I am hope she gets better soon. I was at the American Legion Post 36 this AM doing some paperwork (I am the Commander this year) and then I got the Sunday paper and came home. Have to go back there this afternoon and tomorrow some. Met the Department Commander's wife today. He was down from Phoenix and stopped by to see me at the Legion.
   Got a cute joke the other day:

                 If you know baseball, then tell me what's going on in this game.

   O.K. ... "5 to 4, ... bottom of the fifth, ... one out, ... and no one on!   Simple, huh?

     We are awaiting some more monsoonal rains today. We haven't had much here in the Tucson valley. The mountains that loom over the city have gotten a lot. But, we are better off than our Texas friends and family. They are dryer than a popcorn fart. Brother Mickey in Ft Worth and Valdez (Dr. McGowen) 40 miles west of there in Weatherford are experiencing hot and dry weather.

    Not many interesting birthdays today, except for J.K. (Joanne) Rowling (46) who gave us Harry Potter. But yesterday we had (among others):
Arnold Schwarzeneger turned 64 ... he looks 75
Ed "Kookie" Byrnes  was 78 ... if you can remember him, U R old! (like me)
Paul Anka turned 70
Delta Burke was 55
Hilary Swank turned 47 ... two time Oscar winner and still beautiful
Vivica Fox made 47 ... she was Will Smith's girlfriend in 
     Independence Day (I just re-watched that)
Also of note - Casey Stengal ... born in 1891 and Henry Ford born in 1863.

Also important in history yesterday:
In 1619, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World, the House of Burgesses, convened in the choir loft of the town's church in Jamestown, Virginia.
1729, Baltimore, Maryland was founded.
In 1936, author Margaret Mitchell sold the film rights for "Gone With the Wind" to MGM for $50,000 (not a lot in today's money), most ever for a first novel.  
In 1956, President Dwight 'Ike' Eisenhower signs "In God We Trust" into law.

10 July 2011

Sunday the 10th

We are straightening out items in the new apartment and should feel at home in a day or so. We have gotten a few monsoonal showers, but nothing huge yet. Here are a few views from our 3rd floor apartment. These were taken during our rain the other day.


08 July 2011

July 7th et al

   Thursday night (and Friday morning) here at the new Casita de Poeta Baracho (in English ... the little house of the drunken poet). We are starting to relax, even though the new apartment is still a mess. It will become "Home" when the picture of the 'Old Man' (a painting that I have, done by Tony Russell in the 70's) is hanging on the wall. That should happen tomorrow.
   The lovely Ms Hilda's blood sugar has been giving her (and me) fits. It has dropped drastically every day at least once. Hopefully it will chill out after a while. I am (and will probably remain) extremely tired ... between the move, working all last week and the "Commander" thing at the Legion. But it too shall pass (as they say).
   Tomorrow, after a morning at the Legion doing business ... I shall start on some picture hanging, et al at the casita.
    A man is sitting at home alone when he hears a knock on the front door. When he opens the door he finds two deputy sheriffs. Understandably, he asks if there is a problem. One of the deputies asks if he is married and, if so, could they see a picture of his wife. The guy says, "Sure," removes his wallet and opens it to a photo of his wife. The deputy says, "I'm sorry sir, but it looks as if  your wife has been hit by a truck." The man replies, "I know, but she has a great personality and she is an excellent cook."

July 7th is my late mother's birthday and is also the birthday of my sister-in-law Patricia (Mickey's wife). It is also the birthday of:
** Ringo Starr born Richard Starkey July 7 in 1940 (age 71) ... we (my generation) are getting OLD!. He was under-rated at the time for his drumming, but with passing years has become a great influence on other drummers stylistically. His drumming style with the Beatles was not flashy as most of the drummers of the day were. But, in these days since, he is recognized as a good drummer.
** In 1927, Charlie Louvin, half (with his brother Ira) of the country duet/group The Louvin Brothers. They were known for their tight harmonies and influenced people like Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, and others.Their real last name was  Loudermilk. He was a cousin of songwriter John D. Loudermilk. He left the Brother-Act to serve in the military in WWII and in Korea.
Events on July 7th:
1456 - A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy ... 25 years after her death
1550 - Chocolate was introduced
1753 - British Museum founded by an Act of Parliament (opens in 1759)
On July 8th, we have birthdays for:  Toby Keith ... 1961, Kevin Bacon ...1958, Nelson Rockefeller 1908 and his grandfather John D Rockefeller (the founder of Standard Oil ... Esso, Conaco, et al).
On July 9th, we have Tom Hanks ... 1956, and O.J. Simpson ... 1947.

5th of July

  Well, we have moved ALL of our stuff from the 'old' apartment to the 'new' apartment. This morning is cleaning morning. The 'new' apartment has stuff all over the place. But we have time to straighten that up. 4th of July weekend is a bad time to move, but it was the only time that we could get the place we wanted. I am taking a short break while the bacon cooks and then we'll hit 'er again. We went to the Legion yesterday, came home and moved some stuff and went to Post 7 (Legion downtown) for late afternoon hamburgers,etc.Then Hilda, Abel and I found a good place to watch the fireworks and then we came home. We hope you all had a good Independence Day weekend.
From the Arizona Daily Star (our morning local rag):
    The first city wide monsoon storm of the season added some extra fireworks to Tucson's Independence Day celebrations. Rain doused early-evening barbecues as a large low-pressure system swept through the city, damaging homes and cars, uprooting trees, flooding streets and striking power lines. Lightning lashed out at every corner of town.
   In the Catalina Mountains, it sparked a fire that burned a tenth of an acre and closed the highway to Mount Lemmon from Monday afternoon until this morning. On the west side it zapped a tree, trapping three people inside an apartment. All over the city it attacked telephone poles and transformers, leaving 20,000 customers without power for hours.
Measured rain totals varied. Some areas near Vail got almost 2 inches of rain. John Glueck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tucson, said "The city got a good dousing, especially the heart of the city." And even as Tucsonans clean up the mess left by blowing dust, wind and rain from Sunday's and Monday's storms, plenty more monsoon action is on the way, with a 30 to 40 percent chance of rain every day this week.
    Temperatures are taking a much-appreciated dip. The entire week's forecast says temperatures will peak in the upper 90s to low 100s with lows in the high 70s to low 80s.
On the 4th of July in 1826, in one of history's notable coincidences, former U.S. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died, 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
   Birthdays for the 4th of July include:
Author Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1804
Songwriter Stephen Foster ("Oh! Susannah," "Beautiful Dreamer") in 1826
Circus operator James Bailey (Barnum and Bailey) in 1847
Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, in 1872
Louis B. Mayer, film mogul and co-founder of MGM, in 1885
Ann Landers, advice columnist, in 1918
Abigail Van Buren, advice columnist, (Ann Landers' twin), in 1918 (age 93)
Former hotel executive Leona Helmsley in 1920
Actress Eva Marie Saint in 1924 (age 87) ... I cannot believe she is that old.
Playwright Neil Simon in 1927 (age 84)
Actress Gina Lollobrigida in 1927 (age 84)
Al Davis, Oakland Raiders owner, in 1929 (age 82)
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 1930 (age 81)
TV reporter Geraldo Rivera in 1943 (age 68) ...
you know that Geraldo took up skydiving. Unfortunately the parachute worked!

Oddity:  A Tucson waitress gobbled 20 hot dogs Monday, but it wasn't enough to win the annual hot dog-eating contest at Coney Island, New York. Michelle Lesco, a waitress at the Arizona Inn who stands just 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 115 pounds, placed 4th in the annual competition.
Michelle Lesco chowing down on burgers at Lindy's on Fourth (in Tucson).

     Did you know that sliced bread was introduced by Otto Frederick Rohwedder who invented the bread slicer, which he started working on in 1912. In 1928, he designed a machine 1.52 m long by 0.90 m high that sliced and wrapped the bread in waxed paper to prevent the sliced bread from going stale. On July 7, 1928, the first loaves of sliced bread were made by the near bankrupt baker Frank Bench. So ... what was the best thing 'before' sliced bread?
Proofreading is a dying art ... local headline says "Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter"
Perspective:   A little girl asked her mom, "How did the human race appear? "  The mom answered, "God made Adam and Eve and they had children, and so was all mankind made.Two days later the girl asked her Dad the same question. The Dad answered, "Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.The confused girl returned to her mother and said, "Mom, how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God, and Dad said they developed from monkeys?" The mother answered, "Well, Dear, it's very simple ... I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his. "

23 June 2011

Random thoughts and facts

In 1845, the congress of the Republic of Texas agreed to annexation by the United States. Texas is the only state to enter the Union after being a sovereign nation ... thus, it's flag can fly at the same height as our nation's flag.
In 1865, the last Confederate holdouts formally surrendered in the Oklahoma Territory.

Singer June Carter Cash (daughter of Mother Maybelle and wife of Johnny) born in 1929

Birthdays Yesterday:
Sir H. (Henry) Rider Haggard in 1856 an English writer of adventure novels set in exotic locations, predominantly Africa, and a founder of the Lost World literary genre. His most famous books are King Solomon’s Mines and She. His most famous characters are ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’ (aka Ayesha) and Allan Quatermain (not "Quartermain" … with an R …  a common error)
German novelist Erich Maria Remarque ( All Quiet on the Western Front ) in 1898

Bank robber John Dillinger in 1903

Fashion designer Bill Blass in 1922

Singer/actor Kris Kristofferson in 1936 (age 75)a study in contrasts. Rhodes Scholar, US Army Captain / ranger / helicopter pilot, song writer extraordinaire, singer, actor etc.

Basketball Hall of Fame member Peter Press
"Pistol Pete" Maravich in 1947 … Hall of Fame player John Havlicek said "the best ball-handler of all time was Pete Maravich." One of the youngest players ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Maravich was cited by the Hall as "perhaps the greatest creative offensive talent in history".

Actor Graham Greene in 1952 (age 59) ...
an Onieda, born in Ohsweken on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. Although he has played Indians in lots of films (Dances With Wolves, Thunderheart, Powwow Highway, et al), he is much more than just an "Indian" actor.

20 June 2011

   I was discussing ... on line ... my Scots-Irish ancestry and the driving force among most southerners. Or should I say "our" ancestry. Most all of you have some scots Irish in you. All of my cousins ... the Dixons, Dinkles, Gillispies, Staples and Groffs, et al are from the same lineage. I thought that I would offer some thoughts of mine about that subject ... since it's my blog.
  About 450 years ago, in Scotland, there were groups of Celtic cattle thieves known as the 'Borderers' because they lived on the unfertile farm lands along Hadrian's Wall that basically separates England and Scotland. Besides stealing cattle, fighting and killing each other (and others), and making whisky (No E in Whisky in Scotland), they lived simple lives. They were (and are) a fiercely independent people ... loyal to their clan or group and anti-government as a whole. They have always been fiercely Protestant and anti-Catholic. So King James 1 of England (King James IV of Scotland) a sawed off little runt and son of Mary, Queen of Scots (though born a Catholic, he converted to Protestantism and ruled Protestant England and Scotland) ... anyway, James was having a little war with Ireland which gave him no end of trouble ... especially in Ulster. So, James decided to settle these Borderers in Ulster in the midst of the Irish Catholics ... which is why we're also known as Ulster Scots. The results are evident even today where the Protestant Orangemen in Ireland are still enemies of the Catholic "Green" Irish. I have heard it said that they were the equivalent to today's Southern Redneck Fundamentalists.
   Because of high taxes and unemployment (sound familiar?) these Ulster Scots / Scots Irish emigrated in droves to America. They reverted to their ways as Borderers, especially in the Appalachian region ... that ridge of mountains that separated the East Coast from the "out there" of the west. With lots of corn for making whiskey, guns with which to kill the Indians, and lots of distance between them and the American guv'ment ... they became the rednecks, hillbillys, and white trash we all know and love today.
    These people (their descendants) still live in the hills and mountains of Virginia, West Va, NC, Penn, Tenn, Kentucky and Ohio. And they have spread their seed westward to Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, etc. These are are the Red states that put George W. into the Presidency. Not only the Scots Irish, but as David Hackett says in Albion's Seed, Italians, Germans, and many others have adopted these Ulster Scots attitudes, values, etc. as THE American attitudes and values. Most of our military non Afro-Americans are of this ancestry and or this set of values and mores. These are the folks that fight for America, and they are usually staunch Christians. American Conservatism  owes its very existence to the Scots Irish and their "borderer" mentality. They want the Gov'ment to leave us alone when it comes to  whiskey, hunting, and all other domestic portions of our existence. I am proud to be from this hardy American stock. We will fight for what we believe in and will live our lives as we wish. In the "Shootist" , John Wayne's character (John B. Books) says ... I do not  want any man laying his hand upon me or interfering with me in any way ... I do not do this to others and will not tolerate them doing it to me. Ethan in "The Searchers", Dunston in "Red River", and many, many of the Duke's other roles are stereotypically Scots Irish people with all their honor and all their failures as people.   
    So, celebrate your heritage.

End of June

Well, it has been a long, long time since I entered anything on here. It just seemed that I had nothing to say ... really strange for me. We had our American Legion Post 36 Officer Installation on Saturday night. I was installed as the Commander for 2011-2012 and Ms Hilda was installed as the Historian in the Auxiliary. Afterwards we had a great dinner and dance to the fabulous 60's Garage Band. They are a really great Tucson band with a lot of talented individuals who have been in music many years. The bass player played with Chubby Checker, The Ronettes, and Little Anthony and the Imperials (among others). Keith Lewallen and his wife are in it. He and his brothers (The Lewallen Brothers Band) were the very first band that I heard in Tucson when I got here from Vietnam in 1970. Anyway, we danced and had a great time with our friends.

                           Here is Ms Hilda getting sworn in

Me getting sworn in by Ken Dowse, with the SAL Commander looking on