Thursday, December 31, 2015

Changes in Latitudes Changes in Attitudes

2015 in review -



2015 was a big year for yours truly. I've adapted/adjusted to life without Lynn - we had 45 years together with the usual ups and downs right up til that HD diagnosis. From then on the last 8-10 years were like a bobsled ride to hell.  So 2015 included reflection and moving on. Like the song says - yesterdays over my shoulder but I can't look back for too long - there's just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can't go wrong. When I think of Lynn I remember the good times. Gotta keep moving forward even though I think of her often.



Then of course there was the big move to North Carolina - I left the huge DFW Metroplex and now reside in Conover NC - population under 9,000.  I get strange looks when I wear my San Jose Sharks jersey - LOL But the folks here are friendly and so far life is quiet and good. The family just grew by two with the addition of Stretch and Willie - the two cats my granddaughter Ashley helped me pick from the local shelter. They are named after my two favorite baseball players - Willie McCovey and Willie Mays.
Stretch - AKA #44
Say Hey Willie - #24
 Plans for tonight? A couple of single malts and then finish my last book of the year - a Longmire book by Craig Johnson.  Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Favorite book or movie

If one uses times viewed as the determining factor in picking a favorite movie my choice would be Camelot. I loved the music, politics and especially the performance of Richard Harris. But though for years Camelot was my favorite movie it has at times been replaced by The Man Who SHot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man, DR Strangelove and my current fave - The Americanization of Emily.

Emily is an excellent anti-war film starring James Garner and Julie Andrews, written by Paddy Chayefsky. Here's one of the most in-your-face clips from the movie -



Most of the movie is much more subtle in its preaching. It is easily my favorite movie and although that is subject to change Emily never falls out of my top 3 films.

Most of what I read must I suppose be considered light reading.  I have never been a huge fan of the classics as I prefer to read about the human condition as it relates to those sharing this time on the third rock from the sun with mw. I find those observations are best  handled by good mystery writers. I make no apologies for my preferences, I simply do not enjoy reading poetry and consider the classics simply the mysteries of their day.

If you wish to trace the development of the human condition and attitude here in the U.S.A. try starting with Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series,  Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe, Gardner's Perry Mason, McDonald's  Travis McGee series, Pronzini's Nameless Detective Series, Parker's Spenser series,  Burke's Dave Robicheaux books, Emerson's Thomas Black series or Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series., All of these characters and their authors are excellent observers of the human condition. 

Were I to choose from one of the above as the last book I could ever read I'd be hard pressed to choose between a Stabenow Kate Shugak book or - and this is cheating as these are not considered in the above list - a new Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher. Dresden is a wizard detective based in Chicago and his forays into the supernatural world and the monsters that inherit same are the literary equivalent to what I call popcorn movies.

In the past two weeks I have read four books, a Robicheaux, a Milan Jacovich mystery set bear Cleveland, a Dresden and a Kathy Reichs Termperence Brennan book. Retirement has been very good for my reading habits - along with my Kindle Paperwhite.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Well of Our Being

Once again my old HS classmate Lin has offered up a topic that flies in the face of the wway I have typically handled these blogs over the years. No simple read the topic and start hammering away at the keyboard. Real thought is required. She clearly bforgets I am n aught but a dumb ex-jock trying to get by on an increasingly complex world.  I tell ya - some people - LOL.

So off we go.  Well being.  I've rare;y seen that term in anything but insurance stuff of latge. The insurance companies want you to calculate your well being score by  having you answer a series of health related questions. In spite of my buffalo petite frame I come out surprisingly well on those - primarily IMHO because I have managed to reach the ripe old age of 66 and have never smoked an entire cigarette  in my life. I tried it once at abou8 and did not like it plus I got busted by the father of one of the gang clustered together under the small bridge in Pueblo where the deed was happening.

Now being healthy is certainly an important part of The Well of Our Being but not the only thoing. What makes us happy?  Well I am really more qualified to say what does not make me happy as I have spent most of the last 12 years or so not happy but somewhere between happy and a state of something I can only describe as unease. I've mainly been simply placing one foot in front of the other and trying to move forward, with varying degrees of success and many failures from which to learn. I felt resounding loneliness while living with 5 other people.  Why? The quick  and easy answer is they were the wrong people for a variety of reasons.  Things are infinitely better now with just Ginger and I as we meet new people here in North Carolina. Here she is on guard - ready and willing to lick anyone who enters her domain. 61 pounds of hustle and muscle - LOL.

And what am I doing different to change the happiness equation? Nothing beyond tring to relax and not let things bother me. Find what does make me happy and pursue that end. Ignore the things I cannot change - or at least not dwell on trhem. I'm pretty good at doing the right thing even when it is not in the best interest of my well being - if that makes any sense at all. This song sums it up - hopefully some of yoou know me well enough to get it



The past is gone - live in the present, knowing that the future is not promised but grab it as it comes and run with it. Every bit of it you can grab  becomes a bit of the present for you to live and enjoy.

That's it for this weeks LBC post. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Family Occasions

We have entered the Holiday season - an ideal time for this week's topic - Family Occasions. It's the perfect time to take your first plane ride and cross the country and visit family. That's what my new friend here in Conover is doing - hopping an airplane to visit her daughter in Portland.  Her first flight and her first visit to the left coast. Exciting times for she ad her daughter. When I asked her how her travel prep was going, in typical km fashion she said "My only decision is whether to wear my flip-flops or pack them." It's conservative country lady meets liberal Portland.


Me? Family occasions have been a mixed bag over the years, some great, most good and an occasional bummer. Almost all were marked by huge fa,ily feasts - the kind where after eating everyone hustles to their favorite spot to lay around and feel miserable.

Then there are the occasions like today - my brother recently advised me his youngest daughter Becca  was about to complete her 10-year plan to get a BA.  Tonight is the night  - go Becca. Becca  lives a lifestyle similar to a fictional character  Travis McGee. She takes her retirement in spurts now - she has worked very hard over the years and travels the world while attending college part time. I sometimes wish I'd thought of that.

Then there is the extended family. For years Lynn and I spent New Years eve with our friends. Early on it was just a group of friends and over time as each of us had kids the kids joined the party.My friends maintain that tradition, rotating the host function among the revelers. I truly miss those family occasions.

The most important thong to remember about family occasions is IMHO quite simple. Do NOT let some disagreement keep you from one. As the saying goes, yesterday is over, tomorrow is not promised so make the most of today.


You never know when  you see someone if that will be the last time you ever do. Think bout that - how do you want to remember that occasion?


That's my take on this weeks LBC topic.  See ya next time.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Inner Child The Outer Child

This weeks LBC topic comes from Lin - one of my high school classmate now residing in Germany.

The inner child - that part of me that still gets excited about watching old western TV shows even though they helped enable the gun culture that is a hot button for so many.



That still loves the music of the British Invasion and thinks Patty Duke was very hot back then



That loved Andy's Gang and still doesn't like Howdy Doody



The part of me that still gets excited remembering Willie Mays and his amazing baseball skills




The part of me that constantly battles with my outer child - the part that acts out.


 The outer child - the one that tells me to buy it - whatever the impulse buying little devil sees at any given oment.

The party of me that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

The part of me that will devastate someone with words just because I can.

My dark side - a very real part of me rarely ever seen



That's my take on this weeks LBC topic - I'll be back next week - same bat time, same bat channel withj another LBC post. Til then, happy trails!








Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tis the season!

It is December and despite the fact that I have not seen the Norelco Santa yet our holiday season has certainly begun. This season is marked by great traditions and music. The far right would have us believe Christmas is under attack by the media and liberals/progressives and their ilk (read Democrats). While some who would totally separate church and state squawk about religious themed displays in government locations and Christians claim we all need more God in our lives and that means our schools, our government meetings and in fact everywhere, I have NEVER  been told my wishing a Merry Christmas to someone was offensive - be they Christian, Jew, agnostic, Hindu or insert whatever non-Christian faith you can think of. Most often they simply accept the greeting in the spirit it s given - and more often than not respond in kind.

The so-called war on Christmas may deliver rating points for Fox news, MSNBC and others but that is what we get when we receive news from for-profit companies - a very small number of which control ALL of the so-called mainstream media.

While I am very cautious about making political statements on Facebook - there are simply too few folks even in my friends list too willing to lob right- or left-wing sound bites at anything they even remotely disagree with (though I will engage ANYONE privately as long as serious civil discourse is their goal )- I will simply say this - Merry Christmas. This is meant to be a joyous season and only you can make it anything less for anyone - especially yourself.






Friday, November 27, 2015

Renovations

This week's topic comes to us from Maria.

Having recently uprooted myself and making a move from the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area to the much smaller Conover, North Carolina area it is only natural that renovations make the to-do list. And they in fact did - just not mine - unless you consider furnishing a new place renovating said place.




I moved here with nothing but some clothes. The first week I was here that loud sucking sound folks here heard was simply the money  leaving my bank account as I furnished my small 3 bedroom 2 bath mobile home. While I really have no need for a 3BR2BA place, there is a chance I may inherit  a granddaughter on a more permanent basis in the future. So until that happens, Ginger and I each have our own bedroom and there is a spare for guests. Of course Ginger insists on sleeping on my bed so I suppose we really have a pair of guest rooms.

My son Sean, on the other hand, purchased a 5BR3BA fixer upper on 1.5 acres in nearby Granite Falls. He  will be renovating for quite a while methinks. So far he has stripped and finished the hardwood floors, refurbished a bathroom and painted everything above the basement. The basement is a complete gut job  and is being demoed now. After mowing the lawn - a 2-day job with his push mower - he decided a riding mower was called for and now one sits in his garage. What was a multi-day job is now just a couple of hours. The house itself - built  around 1950 - has tons of character and is a re-modelers dream.

His original intent was to open a food truck but he has since fallen into a job  that has huge potential upside so he is giving that a try at the moment.

I - on the other hand - am very happily retired although I am exploring some part time options. The people here are very friendly. I have even met a quite attractive local lady who is an avid football (American style) fan and she currently owns bragging rights over me as her beloved Carolina Panthers devoured the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. She suggested that since I live here now I should support the local team.  Who am I to argue with such logic - LOL.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Over Spending

I have a confession to make. This weeks LBC topic is one I am very  familiar with. Shame on me.

See - making enough money has always been a fairly easy proposition for me.  That's partly because  money never really was important to me - at least amassing vast sums of it never was.  I suppose I have relatively mundane tastes and needs - although I do enjoy a nice single-malt.

 Intellectually I get that budgets are a necessity but then there is always that angel on one shoulder and devil on the other encouraging one to make the right/wrong decision.  That dang free-will thing that our old friend god gave us.  God must have a sense of humor, setting us up to fail like  that. Of  course we are told everything is god's will - part of her plan.  Or his plan - depending on your deity of choice.  It's all so confusing.

After all, it is not like we are bombarded by good examples daily - it is the political season and so we are bombarded daily with rhetoric decrying the trillions of dollars our government spends. I suggest they stop calling the budget The Budget. It is really just a set of lines that tell everyone in the government which  boundaries they can ignore. Our legislators seem to equate ignoring those budgetary lines with thinking outside the box. They all seem to be stuck on dumb.

These days I am comfortable if not well off. Family situations over the last 10 or so years prevented me from stashing sufficient cash to do whatever I want whenever I want.  I'm an easy-going guy ready to enter the next stage of my life, there's a bottle of Glenlivet and a few bottles of wine in the cabinet and some good beer in the fridge. The fridge is full, the lights are on and the mortgage is paid a month in advance. Good movies and music are a few buttons on the remote away. Ginger is sawing logs on the sofa as I type this.  All-in-all, things are looking up.

That's my take on the weekly LBC topic, offered up by Maria.

The Man from UNCLE/Mr. Holmes

I looked forward to seeing The Man From UNCLE as I was a big fan of the original television series.  The adventures of Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kury kin were always a treat to watch and there was great chemistry between Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.

Sadly, the chemistry between the leads in the movie is non-existent and the movie is a complete waste of time.  What was campy and fun on television was simply boring on the big screen.Neither Henry Cavill as Solo and Armie Hammer as Kuryakin captured any of the essential suave, debonair charm of either Robert Vaughn or David McCallum. The story was unremarkable and the direction spotty and uneven - Guy Ritchie usually is much better.I rate this one 1.5 pistols out of 5. Catch the original TV series on Amazon and you'll have a more enjoyable time.

Mr. Holmes is a different story.  No matter which video version of the Holmes stories you prefer (Basil Rathbone through Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey) there is something here for you. It attacks the Holmes canon in a new and different manner as it centers on a retired Holmes circa 1947 wrestling with the affects of age on his once spectacular deductive skills. This take is as different as the Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Young Sherlock Holmes and the current CBS television series Elementary.

Ian McKellan is great as the aging detective trying to remember his final case while wrestling with the early stages of dementia.  He is spurred on by a fan - the young son of his housekeeper, much to the chagrin of the boys mother. The boy is played by a young man named Milo Parker and he too is excellent.

The story is based on Mitch Cullin’s novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind,”  Anyone that enjoys the Holmes canon should  - I think - enjoy this one, especially those of us at retirement age. I rate this one 4.5 meerschaum pipes. Just don't expect to see Holmes in his deerstalker cap.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

LBC post - Blues

This week's topic comes from Lin in Mainz Germany.

Blues
Blues Clues
The St Louis Blues
Memphis Blues
Mississippi Blues.
Blue Monday
Blue Bayou
My Blue Heaven
The Moody Blues
Blues from an Airplane
Suite Judy Blue Eyes
The Blues Magoos
The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll

Now we're getting somewhere. The Blues gave birth to rock and roll. Kids in the UK listened to American bluesmen and women and fell in love with the songs. They repackaged the music and put their own spin on it and the British Invasion was on.  Legendary bluesman Big Joe Turner got it all going here in the USA.  Here are a few examples - sit back, relax and enjoy.









Monday, November 9, 2015

American Sniper/San Andreas/Southpaw

Ah the joy of Pay-Per-View and On-Demand movies via cable.  This past weekend I managed to watch a triple-feature composed of the above named movies. One of the reasons I do not venture out to the movies often these days is I have an excellent home theater system and movies tend to appear on cable within 6 months - typically.

American Sniper excited the right-wing here in America like no movie in recent memory. Every right-wing pundit was singing the praises of the film and whart a true American hero the central character of the movie was. I guess they saw a different movie then they did. I saw a strong anti-war movie that clearly demonstrated how devastating war is for the participants and their families. Bradley Cooper gave an outstanding performance as Chris Kyle - the most prolific sniper in  US military history. Clint Eastwood offers a very clear look at the effects of war on participants and their family. I was very familiar with Kyle's story as he was killed in Texas when I lived there. I encourage anyone who has not seen this film to do so. It is excellent. Easily 5-stars out of 5.

San Andreas is what I affectionately call a popcorn flick Just sit back and relax with the beverage of your choice and a big bag of popcorn. Be prepared to have your senses assaulted by this special effects extravaganza. Check belief at the doorway to the kitchen as realism is a foreign concept in this one. This movie captured every known preconception folks have about earthquakes.  I was particularly interested in this movie because I lived on the San Andreas fault for over 30 years that I* lived in California. Jokes about "the big one" were a regular occurrence. Occasionally there was a moderately big one - the last being the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta quake the year the A's  and Giants played each other in the World Series, October 17, 1989.  



The affable star of this movie - Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was even born in Hayward - my home base for most of the 30+ years I live ion the Bay Area. Needless to say, The Rock saves his ex-wife and daughter in spite of the odds against him. I rate this one a 4 popcorn bag out of 5 movie. Sit back, relax and enjoy the effects. It's a fun one.

Last up is Southpaw - a boxing movie. I do enjpoy a good boxing movie. The best performance in this movie is by Forrest Whitaker - one of my favorite actors. Jake Gyllenhaal as the "hero" is OK but guilty of overacting and trying too hard to show how good he is at his craft. The story is completely predictable. It is almost saved by the boxing scenes - they are very well done. They rival the original Rocky for their excitement and action.

If you're a fan of boxing films you'll probably enjoy this one. I rate it 2.5 gloves out of 5.   It certainly beat mowing the lawn.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Weekly LBC post - Sleep

This weeks topic comes from our resident Dame Quixote - Padmum. Sleep. It's something we all need and do.

Sleep has typically always come easy for me. Oh sure - there have been occasions when I have been unable to sleep and they do happen a bit more often as I age but I have been a good sleeper most of my life.

Wikipedia says "Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles, and reduced interactions with surroundings" That works for me. The best part of sleep for me is dreaming. It's when I get to interact with my late wife among other things. I sweem to have little or no trouble remembering dreams - good or bad,



And then there is my sleeping partner of the last several years - my 60+ pound basset hound/collie mix Ginger. She has her own dreams chasing something or other nearly every night. She seems to enjoy that.

Need  a break from the rigors of daily life? Try a nap. I find my attitude about naps in general has changed as I age.  I suspect my grandkids are sleep experts. They have the uncanny ability to sleep the day away with regularity. I don't recall having that ability at their age.

That's my take on this weeks LBC topic, save for this last musical addition.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gray hair - LBC post

This week's LBC topic comes to us from Ramana. Gray hair. That stuff most men happily shout "better gray than gone!".

My hair started turning gray at about 18. It started with my sideburns - just touches of gray. Cool! I could order drinks in bars and restaurants from then on. And so I happily ordered Zombies and Singapore Slings along with beer. Coors was my favorite - after all, I did grow up in Pueblo Colorado. Well - allegedly grew up any way. My international beer quest began shortly thereafter - what the heck - it's always beer:30 somewhere!

The hair is a genetic gift from my mother's family - the Higgins' of New Mexico. We've all been blessed with manes of white hair. That'd be the Cadillac of gray hair IMHO. In fact when I reconnected with my great-aunt Blanch about 20 years ago, she looked at me and started laughing and proclaimed "You have to be Butch - laughing loudly. You're fat, have psoriasis and white hair. Your knees will go bad too. You're definitely a Higgins." The last time she'd seen me I was a normal 9-year old kid.

The genes make it tough to say I've earned every one of my white hairs but I'll say it anyway. And if gray hair is a sign of wisdom then I am a bloody genius. Ahem. OK -not so much. But until I trimmed my beard down to next to nothing just about every little kid looked at me in awe from Thanksgiving until Christmas. I've often wondered if that is why I never fell into that Happy Holidays political correctness trap here. It has always been and always will be Merry Christmas to me regardless of my religious views (or lack there of).

What eles is there to say about gray/silver/white hair? Well - Helen Mirren sure does rock it - as do James Brolin an Mark Harmon but I think I'll see what the other LBC bloggers think.

See ya next week - same bat time, same bat channel for another LBC post. And who knows what may show up between now and then.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bulk buying - LBC topic

Buy more, save money. That's the credo of discount warehouse companies like Costco, Sam's Club, Winco and many others.Costco is in fact one of - if not the most admired retailers here in the good old U.S.A. They offer goods and services ast hugely discounted prices and pay their employees quite well.

So - do you really save money? Well sure - as long as you use the goods and services before they spoil/expire. A deal isn't much of a deal if half of the food spoils. For that reason I no longer belong to any wholesale warehouses - I am not in the market for things they sell that would benefit me - furniture, computers, etc. In fact I doubt I will ever buy another computer at retail - they are about half price at the local pawn shop - lol. Someone's misfortune saves me a bunch, a sad but true fact.

I will confess to having ultra-large packages of toilet paper and paper towels but most grocery chains offer those things as well as milk and bread as ;loss leaders to get you into their stores. That is normal retail.

As one who enjoys cooking I find it more beneficial to shop more often - including daily - to ensure I cook with the freshest possible ingredients.

So - bulk buying can be a good thing if you are smart about it. Buy things you can reasonably expect to use and enjoy the savings. Or spend the savings on more stuff. The choice is yours.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Family size LBC post

There's an old saying that says you can choose your friends, not your family. It is not completely accurate as my experience shows.

Most of uou know my last name is an adopted name as my mom remarried when I was about 8 years old. My birth father's last name was Brooke. My original birth certificate listed that as my name,  In Colorado when you are adopted a new birth certificate is issued and so my current birth certificate lists my last name as McConvey.

It was only a few years ago that I first saw a picture of Paul Wesley Brooke. All I knew about him was my grandmother hated him and my mother has lied to me about him for years, telling me he died in the seventies. So I started looking in to him a bit. Turns out he was not a particularly good man - apparently a corrupt cop who spnt a  fair amount of time in prison. And  upon checking with several Brooke family members - my family members in reality - they effectively told me to pound sand - two of my actual first cousins said to never contact them or anyone in the family again - to them I do not exist.  So in two families the supposed family size is somewhat inaccurate.

In the real world I was 9 when my, mom and my step dad (though I only refer to him as my dad)  had my sister. Shortly thereafter we packed up and moved to California. Once there two additional kids, both brothers although one died before he turned one. So I have a brother 11 years younger than me and a sister 10 years younger than me. My folks had a built-in babysitter. We lived in a nice neighborhood, with lots of kids and friendly families. In truth my extended family size was 20 or so. The bigger the better as far as I  am concerned,

I did my time as an only child back in Pueblo. Although I have nothing but fond memories of my  time in Colorado, I think the family dynamic in a bigger family is more interesting. There is always something going on.  And although in my case the age difference made a difference as  kids, my brother, sister and I are close and we have each others backs.

Size matters to me. I enjoy larger families regardless of skeletons in the closet - something most if not all families have. Or at least a black sheep or two.



That's my take on this weeks LBC topic. Time to see what the others have to say -

see ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel for another LBC mash up.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Changing changing, ever changing!




I'm baaaaaaaack!  My blogging exile (self imposed) has ended, for better or worse.

The past several months have culminated in my moving from Texas to North Carolina - Time for a major life change. I now live in a small 3BR2BA mobile home in a small trailer park in a place called Conover. Just me and my trusty hound Ginger. It's the first time in over 45 years I have been alone. So far -



My son intends to open a food truck in the area. I will be helping with web stuff and marketing. Sean bought a big 5BR fixer upper and is currently stripping and sanding hardwood floors. My little trailer was move in ready but since I only brought clothes, I have been busy making purchases to furnish the place.

My first impressions of NC are it is easily one of the most beautiful states I have seen - and remember - I lived in Hawaii. NC is right up there.

Maybe I'll do some travelogue posts like Marie does when she is out and about in Ireland.

So now it is on to the next  chapter in my life. What's done is done - yesterdays over my shoulder but I can't look back for to long. There's just too much to see waiting in fron of me and I know that I just can't go wrong.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Simplicity - LBC post

This weeks LBC topic was provided by our resident Dame Quixote - Padmum. Merriam Webster (the online version) offers this:
  1. the quality of being easy to understand or use
  2.  the state or quality of being plain or not fancy or complicated
  3. something that is simple or ordinary but enjoyable   
 Sounds a lot like the KISS principle to me.  Keep it Simple Stupid.  Scholars might use the term Occums Razor - the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  The famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes said "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

In other words don't over complicate or over think think things.  Sage advice if you ask me. Slow down and appreciate the moment.  It's really the only thing that matters since the past is gone and there is no way of knowing what the future holds. The here-and-now is all that you can control.

If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”  Albert Einstein

There's a reason we keep hearing "It's as simple as that" - it usually is. Maintain your focus and address the things that really matter. You'll probably enjoy life a lot more.

Remember - you can't always get what you want - but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.

And what do the other LBC folk have to say about simplicity?  Check them out - they're listed over there on the right ===>

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Be careful what you wish for!

The cycle continues. The election cycle that is. The land of the free, home of the brave is once again in the throes of a presidential election. Our first "black" president - the decidedly left-wing mulatto Barrack Obama is in his 7th year of an 8-year term. The big seat is up for grabs. The GOP race for the roses is just getting interesting as there are more than a dozen wannabes reaching for the prize - including a 4-times bankrupt Donald Trump to the current tea party fave Ted Cruz - the senator from the state wherein I live, the republic of Texas.

We hear the usual rhetoric daily about the so-called corrupt Washington establishment (that includes both parties) and how we need to change the culture  The right wants less government - much less. The left cries we need better government - not less. The language is decidedly negative, with civility making a stampede for the exits as both sides. depending upon which statistics you choose to quote (and remember - statistics are the big lie), we are living in the best of times or the worst of times. That's quite a spread - can the truth really be stretched so far??  Do the numbers really lie? Of course they do. There's a statistical spin to cover every statement. The moral of that story? NEVER accept a single source for your information - especially if that source is Fox News or MSNBC.

This year the surprising front runner in the  GOP is The Donald.  You can hear/read his "pontifications" daily - you'll see or hear nothing of substance yet. Just ranting and raving while he pats himself on the back. I hope he doesn't hurt himself with all that patting or flapping of his so-called right wing.

The Democrats? Well interestingly enough the first real challenge to Queen Bee Hillary is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Bernie is a democratic socialist  and the right is apoplectic because of the term socialist. Bernie is a straight talker that actually offers some solutions to issues. It remains to be seen how long his campaign will have traction. The democrats appear to be in complete disarray as more and more negative information about the Queen Bee comes out.

To the folks here in the good old USA, I say be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Traveller in Me.

The Traveller In Me comes to us from Ramana.

Now there are a couple of distinct directions to follow with this topic. Being Irish, the term Traveller can can imply a traditionally nomadic people of Irish origin. One of v the largest groups of Travellers happen to live about 5 miles from me in a place called White Settlement. They are itinerant or nomadic handymen. That automatically disqualifies me as I am the least handy person I know.

So - the Traveller in me that I will tackle is the traveling man in me.



I'm not much of a traveler simply because I hate to fly. I always have. That limits my traveling to car/train/boat.

I've lived in Colorado, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and Texas. I've been to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Antigua, Martinique and St Maarten. It should be easy to pick out where we went on a cruise celebrating our 40th birthdays with a group of our friends.

I've driven completely cross the country twice and I think the only states I have not been in are Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin  and South Carolina. Upon reflection I have been around a bit.

Places I've visited include the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Bryce Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, Carlsbad Caverns, Pike's Peak,  The Smithsonian,  DC sites, Cape Canaveral, a bunch of old forts from the Civil War and the War of 1812 and probably a dozen more whose  names I have forgotten.

The most beautiful places I've been are Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite.  Check the links below and see what you think.

Yellowstone

Bryce Canyon eTour

Yosemite

Important cities I've visited include San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington, Dallas and Ft Worth Texas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Boston, Hartford CT, Augusta Maine, St. Louis, Kansan City, New Orleans, Tampa Fl., Toronto, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, SAn Juan PR and more.

So all-in-all I am  not much of a world traveler but I have done a fair job traveling this large and diverse country of mine. How about my LBC buddies? Time to travel with them!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Above and below LBC topic

This weeks topic is another in a somewhat similar vein provided by Maria of gaelikaa's diary in India.  Above and below is open to many interpretations. Take statistics for example. There are several ways to compute an "average" - take the following list of numbers for example: 13, 18, 13, 14, 13, 16, 14, 21, 13

To most of us the average (mean) is obtained by simply adding the numbers and dividing that total by the number of values in the list. Thus (13 + 18 + 13 + 14 + 13 + 16 + 14 + 21 + 13) ÷ 9 = 15. 15 is the average (mean) but oops - it's not in the list but  that's the way the mean  crumbles.

But like many things the average can be spun to suit the argument involved - thus we can use the median - the middle value.  13, 13, 13, 13, 14, 14, 16, 18, 21 - 14 is the middle value. Hey - at least this average is in the list.

For the truly esoteric there's the mode - yet another statistical average - and it references the number that occurs most frequently in the list. That number is 13 and hey - it's in the list too.

The moral of the story? Here we have 3 answers to the same question. 15, 14 and 13. Know your numbers before accepting any statistical values quoted in any discussion. Statistics can be used to support darn near anything - any spin on a topic. That's why a single source for things is in my opinion not a smart thing to use/believe. Especially if a politician or newscaster is involved.
    1. The Long And The Short
    2. The Rough And The Smooth
    3. Left And Right
    4. Right And Wrong
    5. Back To Back
    6. This And That
    7. Up And Down
    8. Above And Below  
    The list above includes the  to[pics this year that I believe have a similar theme.  I think his tune covers most of the angles :


    Do you suppose that if the captain realized there is more iceberg below the water than above the water the Titanic might  not have sunk?? 



    And how about this???



    That's a quick shack-take on this weeks LBC topic. Check out what the others have to say. they're listed over there on the right.






    Thursday, July 30, 2015

    Up and Down




    This weeks LBC topic comes from Maria in India - Up and Down.



    As a child I loved teeter totters. Remember those? Up/down Up/down.
    Up and down.  Unstable? or is the instability actually stability in disguise? That depends - I suppose - on what you are discussing. Take for example the ratings of a politician. They are typically up and down, depending on what gaff he or she committed on any given day. Unless of course the pol is Donald Trump. So far he seems impervious to foot-in-mouth disease. The mind boggles. One suspects he is such a breath of fresh air ad beholding to nobody - we must be cautious of the old adage "Be careful what you wish for". The thought of the Donald as president actually is frightening to me.

    Then there's the old Roman thumbs up or down scenario. Seems we got that one wrong in the movies over the years as thumbs down was actually the good sign and thumbs up spelled curtains for the recipient.


    Swing sets up and down

     

    Jazz - my oldest granddaughter - just got her very first job - at Six Flags Amusement Park in Arlington.  Talk about up and down. One could certainly get there fill of up and down there. Best benefit? Jazz gets free rides.


    Better her than me


    Personally, this old-fashioned wooden roller coaster at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was more than enough up and down thrills for me 




    As you can see, up and down has many connotations that apply to our daily lives.  May all yours be the fun kind.

    Friday, July 24, 2015

    New Rules

    This week's topic draws its inspiration from the somewhat controversial Bill Maher and the segment with which he closes his TV show broadcast on HBO - New Rules.  I am the guilty party - I suggested the topic.

    New Rules

    1.  Political correctness is an oxymoron and as such serves no useful purpose 
    2. Heinz yellow mustard - not French's . One taste and you'll agree.
    3. Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position
    4. The NHL should change the name of their game name to Ice Boxing 
    5. Paying workers enough to live should be logical and reasonable
    6. Ted Nugent's rantings are not really Ted Talks by an expert on anything
    7. Gay marriage is legal. Get over it. And if that decision means someone can marry their bicycle or parakeet why should I care?
    8. More than 6 companies should be in charge of the media
    9. New and improved are not inextricably linked
    10. There is still no known cure for stupidity
    11. If the new Texas Open Carry law does not demonstrable reduce violent crimes  within a year it should be repealed
    12. Fiscal  conservativism and liberal social ideals are compatible - not mutually exclusive
    13. Term limits would solve a lot of our governmental issues - 
    14. It's possible to disagree on matters and remain civil and solve a problem
    15. Tramps like us - baby we were born to run........
    For giggles here is an example of Bill's New Rules (language caution)

     
    That's my take on this weeks topic. What do the other LBC  folk have to say????

    ,  Ashok gaelikka  Lin Padmum  Pravin and Ramana

    Thursday, July 16, 2015

    Blindness

    This week's LBC topic was suggested by Lin.

    It has always amazed me how resilient the human spirit can be. History is packed with famous, successful people who cannot see - from Helen Keller to Stevie Wonder. Because of the value I place on music in my life, it will come as no surprise I've focused this little ditty on a musician. Rather than a better known talent like Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles I'll simply introduce all y'all to my all-time favorite guitarist - Jeff Healey from Toronto, Canada. If you've seen the Patrick Swayze movie Roadhouse you've seen and heard Jeff Healey.  Roadhouse was what I call a popcorn movie - good, mindless fun that I went to see with my late wife Lynn - a huge Swayze fan. By the time the movie ended we were both Jeff Healey fans.



    Jeff was more than a guitarist - he was an accomplished jazz trumpeter as well.



    From his website:

    Canadian music icon, Jeff Healey, was born in Toronto on March 25, 1966. Blind from early childhood due to retinoblastoma (a rare form of eye cancer), Jeff Healey’s guitar playing virtuosity and soulful voice saw him rise to prominence in the entertainment world in the late 1980s and ‘90s selling millions of albums worldwide.

    Getting his first guitar at the age of three, he developed a unique style of playing. Placing the guitar flat on his lap and playing it like a lap steel, with his hands over the fret board, gave him the flexibility of fretting with all five fingers and the power of pulling notes with the strength of his whole hand.

    For over two decades, Jeff enjoyed a successful music career that spanned rock, blues and traditional jazz. Grammy nominee and Juno award winner, he was a radio personality, a jazz historian and world famous record collector (owning a collection of 1920’s and ‘30’s jazz 78s that would ultimately top out at over 30,000 records).

    And what did his contemporaries think of him? Stevie Ray Vaughn, upon meeting Jeff and hearing him play wanted to perform with him. This is the result -



    As Swayze said to Jeff in Roadhouse - "Not bad for a blind white boy". Jeff passed away from cancer at 41 in 2008. RIP my man. I need to crank up the volume on my system for a while.

    Friday, July 10, 2015

    The Climate in My Hometown

    This weeks LBC topic comes to us from Ramana in Pune, India. I have lived in 6 different places but only 3 warrant consideration as a hometown as far as I am concerned - Pueblo, Colorado - the place of my birth, Hayward, California where I lived for over 30 years and finally Fort Worth, Texas where I have been for the last 21+ years.

    Arkansas River Walk in PuebloFirst up - Pueblo.  Pueblo is situated at the confluence of the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek, 112 miles (180 km) south of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. The area is considered to be semi-arid desert land, with approximately 12 inches  of precipitation annually.  It enjoyed 4 distinct seasins with trypical seasonal temperature fluctuations. The summers were hot and there was snow in the winter which kept me happy as a kid. I recall spring thunderstorms wherein I'd lay onmy back in the front yard and look skyward as the rains came. We moved to California shortly before my 10th birthday and landed in Hayward.


    Hayward has a Mediterranean climate, and contains microclimates, both of which are features of the greater Bay Area. In 2012 the USDA rated Hayward ca as a zone 10a climate. I'm not certain what that means in English other than to say the weather in the SF Bay Area is spectacular. Dry, warm summers and cool, mild winters.  The warm season lasts from June 16 to October 18 with an average daily high temperature above 71°F. The hottest day of the year is September 1, with an average high of 75°F and low of 58°F. Like I said - spectacular. Of course that comes with a price - the Hayward fault runs straight through the city and it is one of those faults the USGS says is at risk for a major quake. Alas, in the nineties when the job market in Silicon Valley tanked it was wagons east and south for us and back to being Shackman. Next stop - Fort Worth, Texas.



    Fort Worth's climate is continental and humid subtropical, characterized by wide variations in annual weather conditions, long, hot summers, and short, mild winters. For more than 150 years Fort Worth was the only major city in the United States that had never had a fatal tornado. The city's luck ran out in March 2000 when a spectacular tornado tore through residential neighborhoods and the downtown area. Five people died in the storms, which caused an estimated $450 million in damage. and actually bent the Bank One tower - Which was then converted to condominiums.  The Clear- and West-forks of the Trinity River join near the center of Fort Worth and Lake Worth, Eagle Mountain West Lake, Benbrook, and Arlington Lakes form parts of its northwest and southern borders.

    The political climate in Fort Worth is right-wing born again.  There is serious money in Ft Worth - 1% money but the monied folk are civic minded. Ft Worth has spectacular museums and a great zoo, The oil industry was very good to the town and the natural gas industry as well though the price of natural gas has caused a bit of a lull in the latter.

    Of the 3 I consider only one to  be home in the deepest sense. this song will make that clear



    That's this weeks shack-tke on the weekly LBC topic. Time to see what the others had to say.

    Friday, July 3, 2015

    This and that

    Our topic  comes again from Maria.  This and that. Various things. Bits and pieces. Medley. Remainders.



    This - raindrops on roses and that - whispers on kittens





    Is there a better example of this and that than TED talks? If you can imagine it someone thinks they're an expert and there's a TED talk.

    Then there're these guys - recognize a fave??



    That's a quick shack-take on this  week's LBC topic. Time to see what my compatriots think.




    Friday, June 26, 2015

    Back to Back

    Back to back. B2B.This weeks topic comes to us from Maris.



    Now what - you may ask -  does this song have to do with the topic? It's Blake  Shelton's 14th consecutive number one  record. That's back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back. I am not the world's biggest country fan but that is still quite impressive.

    Barrack Obama won back to back presidential elections as did Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Ronald Reagan and other two-term presidents.

    2 grand slams in back to back at bats in an inning. accomplished by Fernando Tatis, St. Louis Cardinals, April 23, 1999 - now that is impressive


    ,
    Also in baseball a double header is back to back games between the same teams on the same day

    One pitcher has thrown back to back no hitters in the history og MLB.

    Baseball - with its myriad stats - is ripe for such trivia it seems.

    I've been known to consume back to back beers on multiple occasions, as hard as that may be to believe. Ahem. I've also offended consecutive people on multiple occasions with back to back smart ass comment - again I am sure y'all find that hard to believe.

    So there you have it - a bit of B2B trivia for future use. Time to check out my LBC brethren to see what they have to say. See ya next week - same bat time, same bat channel.

    Friday, June 19, 2015

    James Thurber's Dogs

    Thurber says:



    1. Dogs are obsessed with being happy.
    2. He had as much fun in the water as any person I have known. You didn't have to throw a stick in the water to get him to go in. Of course, he would bring back a stick to you if you did throw one in. He would even have brought back a piano if you had thrown one in.
    3. I am not a cat man, but a dog man, and all felines can tell this at a glance—a sharp, vindictive glance.
    4. I myself have known some profoundly thoughtful dogs.
    5. If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
    6. If you are a police dog, where's your badge? [Asked of his German shepherd]
    7. In his grief over the loss of a dog, a little boy stands for the first time on tiptoe, peering into the rueful morrow of manhood. After this most inconsolable of sorrows there is nothing life can do to him that he will not be able somehow to bear.
    Ginger  (see image above) says
    1. I am not obsessed - it's just the way I am.
    2. Throw a piano in the water and you are on your own big boy!
    3. The only good cat is a flat cat - unless it wants to play nice with me.
    4. Me too - one sniff of their behind and you can tell.
    5. He got that one right.
    6. That's a bone spitter!
    7. There's nothing worse than losing your best friend - even if he/she only has 2 legs.
    And  then there's this one that says it all -

    The dog has got more fun out of Man than Man has got out of the dog, for the clearly demonstrable reason that Man is the more laughable of the two animals.

    Thurber packed a ton of human observation ihat he shared in his dog tales. I for one am about to read more - and to see what the other LBC bloggers have to say on this topic - brought to us by Lin.


    Thursday, June 11, 2015

    I'd rather be.......

    I'd rather be sipping a glass of Glenlivet neat
    I'd rather be eating a rare steak than a well done steak
    I'd rather be riding a motorcycle and will soon make that happen
    I'd rather be drinking a cold beer than a room temperature beer
    I'd rather be watching a gorgeous sunset than a gorgeous sunrise

    I'd rather be me than you - regardless who you are - I know how much effort it took to get me here and although I am far from perfect I am not badly broken. I'm comfortable being me - extra X's and all.  There's never a dull moment in the insanity that is my family. What more could one ask for than a bit of uncertainty every day??? Life would be extremely dull without it.

    You've heard this one from me before but it fits...







    Saturday, June 6, 2015

    Road hogs




    This weeks LBC post comes from Dame Quixote - aka Padmum.

    I  haven't enjoyed recreational driving much since  my time in Hawaii when my only means of transport - rain or shine - was my Suzuki 550.




    In spite of enormous volumes of traffic riding the highways and back roads on Oahu was a pleasure. The bike made avoiding road hogs relatively easy, I recall hitting the north shore on the day the big waves hit - parking in the lot above Waimea Bay with a shave ice from Matsumotos and just watching in awe as the waves crashed. Then there wqs the sail plane beach - where glider pilots buzed the beach while learning to fly.

    Since those halcyon days driving has been merely perfunctory - simply getting from point A to point B. Since I grew up in the SF Bay Area heavy traffic was  the norm and so it never bothered me much.  When I rode my bike I road under the assumption I had a massive target on my back and everyone was out to get me - I was the ultimate defensive driver. The net result of that was in all my years of motorcycle riding I have never laid one down or been hit.

    I was recently  thinking of investing the money on a newer, bigger model to get around in my retirement -



    It's approximately 3 times the engine size of my 550 and would make me  - on size alone - a road hog.  Then again, perhaps karmic entanglements over the years have used up my riding luck.  Decisions, decisions.

    Regrdless, road hogs are not something I worry about. There are far too many important things with which to occupy my mind. Now I think I'll ee what the other LBC folk have to say on this subject.

    Friday, May 29, 2015

    Internationally Famous Landmarks In My Hometown.

    Whilst I live in Fort Worth, this area is commonly known as the DFW Metroplex - which is convenient for this weeks LBC topic. So with that in mind  most internationally famous spot here certainly must be the Texas School Book Depository - AKA the place from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot John Kennedy November 22, `1963. These days it goes buy the name TThe Sixth Floor Museum .


    Anyone who visits this area should visit the Sixth Floor Museum. Check out a part of history. Look at the Grassy Knoll. I''ve even eaten dinner at the restaurant (same booth actually) that Jack Ruby sat in the night before he shot Oswald. Was the mob involved? You decide.

    .Other internationally famous landmarks?  The only other one that springs to mind is DFW International Airport unless you consider the home of America's Team - the Dallas Cowboys important. It's a beautiful, impressive stadium.

    Image result for at&T stadium

    That's it for this weeks LBC topic.  See ya next week 

    Friday, May 22, 2015

    Right or wrong

    I suspect the politically correctness that seems so prevalent today is strongly in the "there is no right way or wrong way" corner. I beg to differ.

    I will concede there may indeed be no right or wrong path to a destination but there are indeed universal destinations that are not open to discussion. Some things really are black or white. Those things may well vary by cultural norms but I'd love to hear an explanation for slavery being right.  For murder being right. For rape being right. Explain to me how protecting the weaker members of a society is wrong. How can respecting others be wrong?

    There are of course many more but I think my point is made.



    We as individuals and societies may well subjectively choose the means to a specific end but when that end is a fair and just society then there are absolutes involved. And certainly no society has gotten that absolutely right as of yet. No matter what you may hear to the contrary by the chest thumpers.

    Friday, May 15, 2015

    Left and Right



    This weeks topic comes from gaelika.

    Any baseball fan understands the value of a switch hitter. He's the guy that takes away the advantage of the opposing pitcher by always allowing the batter to hit left-handed against a right-handed pitcher and hit right-handed against a left-handed pitcher. On rare occasions though there is an ambidextrous pitcher - one that pitches with either arm. That may lead to this.....



    Now that's interesting and frankly something I used to ponder in my baseball playing days.

    Now left-handers are at something of a disadvantage as we live in a decidedly right-handed world. Have you ever looked at the contortions a leftie goes through when writing? Ever see a left-handed school desk? I am surprised that in this ever more politically-correct day we do not see more left-handed desks.

    Then there's the political left and right - you know them. They each thonk the other is the son of satan and so the embidiment of pure evil in the world. Nuff said - this is NOT a political discussion.

    Our brains.Each side of our brain conrols certain thongs.



    Are you a left-brain person or a right-brain person?

    Alas it's all secondary to the most important left/right question.

    Left Twix vs Right Twix Pick A Side - Twix Commercial



    You decide.- I'd rather have a Snickers.

    Friday, May 8, 2015

    You Can't Do That

    Occasionally someone - usually Ramana - requests suggestions for our weekly posts. I toss out a song title when I am in a lazy mood. That's whee this week's topic was born. I was in a Beatle mood so out popped this title/topic.



    It just so happens that besides being a decent pop song from the sixties it lends itself to a myriad other rules so lets try a few. Rules that say you can't do that - whatever that may be. Universal truths/rules.


    1. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. I'm recently retired and have just discovered this one.
    2. Your dog is always your puppy.
    3. Anything worth doing has several "unwritten" rules that any reasonable individual should just know
    4. Anything that can go wrong will do so at the most inopportune moment (aka Murphy's Law)
    5. Always be specific when you lie (aka Gibbs' rule #7)
    6. It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. Anyone who has ever been a kid knows this instinctively
    7. The world was a better place when Carl Wilson and Mike Smith were alive and singing
    8. Sometimes you're wrong. Too bad many folks seem to forget this most basic, universal truth.
    There're lots more. These  are just a few that popped into my head whilst writing this little ditty. Now it's time to see what the other LBC bloggers came up with. 


    Thursday, April 30, 2015

    Synesthesia

    Whilst I do not fancy myself a genius, it's not often I come across a subject about which I am totally ignorant. Ignorant  with a capital I.  Stuck on dumb, as it were but alas that is where my old HS classmate Lin has left me with her topic for this week's LBC  post.

    Unless you consider a knee-jerk reaction to something  an involuntary response to some other sense's stimulation i guess I'm not a synesthete. Synesthesia seems to be another example of the things our minds are capable of and in fact another example of how little we do not know about those minds.

    I am quite interested in what Lin has to say on this subject - and why she chose it. She's quite an interesting lady and this fits into that perception. The notion of color/number associations, sound/coor and more. In fact one of my all-time favorite singer/somgwriter/entertainers - Billy Joel - is a synesthete.



    So thanks Lin - for coming up with a topic that will keep me busy exploring it!

    Thursday, April 23, 2015

    Predictive Texting

    This weeks LBC topic comes from Padmum.

    Personally I love the notion but hate the execution of predictive texting.

    It is a pervasive irritant at best.Google loves it. So does Firefox. I am currently without a smartphone but it dominates those devices. Ditto for tablets. My main issue is with my big hands and the small virtual keyboards on mobile devices.

    I always loved the irony that my last 6 years at work I made my living as a copywriter and yet I am a lousy typist. You'd think predictive texting would be just the ticket for a cement-handed typist like me.  Alas not so. Sigh. So I guess I'll just keep pounding away.

    Time to see what the other LBC posters think.


    Thursday, April 16, 2015

    Legends Of My Hometown

    I am from a modest sized town in southern Colorado called Pueblo. It was a steel town - the largest employer being Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) but of course when the US made steel industry collapsed so did that company. here is still a steel presence there though,



    Pueblo is the home of four Congressional Medal of Honor winners - William J Crawford,   Carl L sitter,  Raymond G Murphy and Drew D Dix. Must be something in the water as that seems pretty remarkable for a city with 100K or less population.

    David Packard of Hewlett Packard (HP) fame is from Pueblo.
    Benjamin Guggenheim lived in Pueblo and he had the misfortune to take a ride on the Titanic.
    NFL Hall of Famer Dutch Clark is from Pueblo.
    Former NFLer Gary Knafelc is from there. Family rumor has it he dated my mother for a bit.

    On a lighter note at one time there was a Brooklyn Dodger Class C farm teamin Pueblo. Notable players who passed through induded Walter Alston, Dick Bartell, Sparky Anderson, Roger Craig, Roy Face, Jim Gentile, Larry Sherry and Mauiry Wills. For several years our basement apartment was home to Dodger players, most notably Jim Gentile. I was around  then but too young to remember much.

    Here's what my house looks like today - when I lived there it looked pretty much the same = but the yard was all grass. It was built by my grandfather.



    A head of the Denver mafia family was born in Pueblo and there was a mafia presence that I recall from my years there (1949-1959) along with a corrupt police department. A notable member of said corrupt PD was my spemr donor father  - a guy named Paul Wesley Brooke - a fellow so bad that his family refuses to speak to me.
     
    Pueblo these days is famous for its Chiles - here's a good bit of info on them for anyone interested - Pueblo Chile

    That's it for my hometown but now I'm curious to see what the others have to say about where they're from.

    Saturday, April 11, 2015

    Rough and smooth

    Here I am - late again. But this weeks topic is somewhat similar to last weeks -

    The rough



    the smooth



    Rough




    Smooth


    Of course there is rough water that prevents smooth sailing although to some smooth sailing is an oxymoron.

    Friday, April 3, 2015

    The long and the short

    This week's topic comes from Maria. As the resident LBC music guy I simply harken back to those halcyon days when AM ruled the wave and FM was just getting a start - sans the time restrictions imposed by AM station prgrammers.  The popular music world has not been the same since ....here are a couple of excellent examples

    The long



    and the short



    The long



    and the short



    Of course in college there was the long novel and the short Cliff'sNotes short version.Not that I ever cheated and only used the Cliff'sNotes version. No sir. Not me. Ahem.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2015

    "Retirement" report card - the adventure begins!

    I have been officially retired sice March 17. Time for an initial look at the beginning of the adventure that will carry me through the end of days (mine at least).

    For starters - it is very difficult to walk away from something that helped define me for so many years. OK - not that difficult as RadioShack ceased being the great fun place to work some years ago under the misdirection of a man named Julian Day - a Brit bean counter that effectively destroyed the morale of the company in his brief reign (2006-2011).  I remained loyal due to the attitude of my bosses and department during the end of Lynn's life. They were spectacularly supportive.

    So now I have time to do almost anything my heart desires - within the restraints of a somewhat limited pocketbook.  No world cruises - but room for many more fun things.



    First up is eye surgery. Time to dump the glasses with cataract surgery. That should happen in the next 6 weeks or so.  Then it will be relocation - final destination yet unknown but I suspect my time in Texas is about to come to an end.  That does not bother me at all.

    I have rediscovered Netflix and have just watched a 13 episode original series called Bloodline.  4 stars out of 5. Binge watching can be fun - next I'll catch up on Longmire in preparation for the new season currently being filmed by Netflix.  Longmire is one of my 2 favorite TV shows of all time- the other being Justified - which now has only 2 episodes remaining until the series ends.

    My days are filled watching my 5-year old grandson. We spend a lot of time outside with Ginger - our dog.  While I have no reason to be up early old habits die hard.  I suspect I'll remain an early riser.

    I definitely need to find a hobby - something to occupy the remaining brain cells. Plus I now have no excuse to not finish my novel.  I see crossword puzzles in my future. And a myriad of brain teasers. Can a trip to New Orleans be far off? I think not as I  definitely hear the call of zydeco and crawfish along with some good beer.



    So that's the opening chapter. It's hard to believe I'm not still 18 0r 19. I occasionally wonder who that stranger in the mirror may be.  Time to find out!


    Friday, March 27, 2015

    A Sacred Song; A Working Peace System

    It's catch up time here in shackland. First up is Sacred Song - courtesy of my old HS friend Lin. Lin is the opposite of me when it comes to faith, God and religion. She is a very devout lady. I am  not. I am not a believer but I do not deny the existence of Jesus. He was simply  the most interesting person who has ever lived.  But the son of God? Virgin birth? Nope. But I am not an atheist that belittles those who believe in those things. This song most definitely describes my feelings on the matter -



    I have found, however, certain songs do calm mne and make me more reflective.  Here's one of them -



    On to this weeks topic - A Working Peace System. Since I submitted the topic I didn't have to Google it :-).

    Peace is not merely the absence of war, as some would have us believe. There was a school of thought championed by a gentleman named David Mitrany called the functional theory of international development.  It was rather simple, straight forward and oh so logical sounding. Nations should focus on those things they shared in common. Develop small regional international agencies to work together to solve those issues.  A working example here in the USA was the Tennessee Valley Authority. The hope was there would be a web of agencies working for the common good.

    Sounds great.

    In practice we got the UN.   It's the greatest display pf chest thumping and sabre rattling we have.  The Security Council is virtually useless. But - there are arms of the UN that work.  WHO, UNICEF, FAO and others.  These agencies focus on the human condition .  So maybe there is hope that if we keep working we can develop a working peace system.  Clearly though, the functionalists did not contemplate a radical religios movement hell bent on turning the clock back to the dark ages.

    The challenge is great but so are the stakes. 

    Now it's time to see what the other LBC folk have to say.


    Friday, March 13, 2015

    The Travails of Blogging

    Today's topic comes to us from our Dame Quixote - Padmum.

    Truth be told, I do not find blogging to be painful or difficult. That's because I typically only post 3 or 4 blogs monthly beyond the weekly LBC topic. That may change shortly when I retire but only time will tell.  My point is simple - I do not run out of topics upon which to pontificate or bloviate as Mr O 'Reilly likes to say.

    I actually find blogging to be quite pleasant and a good way for a shy guy like me to open up a bit. I have opinions on almost everything and they are fun to share and discuss. It is rare when a topic causes any consternation - only the post I wrote when Lynn died comes to mind.  Yet even that post was written in the style that I use for these LBC posts.  I just sat down and began writing. What came out were the emotions I was feeling at that moment. I am fortunate to be able to organize my thoughts and get them out without  revision - these posts are essentially off-the-cuff as it were. I look up the topic, write and am typically finished within 15 or so minutes.

    The musical selections are also off the cuff. I have a fairly substantial and somewhat eclectic music library in my mind - a virtual steel-trap of useless information.

    So that's a quick shack take on this weeks topic.  Time to see what my pals at the LBC have to say.

    For this week's musical interlude I suggest we make this little ditty the unofficial LBC anthem...



    Friday, March 6, 2015

    Vegetarianism

    Imagine a world wherein the hunters of the group could hardly wait for the opening of cabbage season.  Or cauliflower season. Would you believe broccoli season? Welcome to the world of vegetarianism.

    Vegetarianism is a lifestyle chosen by many and it is just that - a lifestyle choice. Why - some of my best friends are vegetarians though I'd be hard pressed to name a friend that is vegan - the extreme vegetarian that eschews any animal byproducts as well as meat/fish/poultry. I promise I am not a vegan bigot - I simply haven't come across any in my circle of life.

    Vegetarians are said to live longer than we carnivores although I suspect adherents to a Mediterranean  lifestyle (when it comes to food) do as well as vegetarians.

    Why am I not a vegetarian? Let me count the ways - rare steak, smoked anything, fried fish for starters. Those undoubtedly account for several of the Xs in front of the L on my buffalo petite frame but so be it. But I freely admit that I have enjoyed many fine vegetarian meals and I often joke with my friend Ramana that I'd make a great vegetarian. Quite frankly I  intend to lean much more heavily on vegetarian cuisine once I make the upcoming change in   my living arrangements in a couple of months. As the door to Texas slaps me in the rear when I cross the border headed for a new location - most likely North Carolina - and a new residence with only my dog Ginger as a companion I intend to learn how to properly create vegetarian meals.



    Now don't get me wrong - there will always be room at my table for a well grilled steak or some slowly smoked ribs but I look forward to the challenge of learning a new style of cooking.  There're definitely some Indian and Chinese cookbooks in my future.

    That's this weeks quick shack-take on the weekly LBC topic, Now it's time to see what the others have to say on the topic.