Friday, December 25, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Someone wasn't sure what to think about the white stuff...didn't really want to get off the porch this morning.

Note: Something in this image matches a graphic on the left side of this blog.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Don't tell Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, & Bonnie Raitt...

In 1979, the aforementioned musicians, together with John Hall, held a fund-raising concert as Musicians United for Safe Energy. James Taylor, Carly Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Parker Jr. (who ya gonna call?), Tom Petty, The Doobie Brothers, CSN, and Poco also participated in the effort, releasing a live double [vinyl] album called No Nukes. The movement was largely a response to the mishap, earlier that year, at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island, and the release of the movie The China Syndrome just weeks prior.

Inasmuch as it's prohibitively expensive to get licensing for a new nuclear power plant, none has been built in decades, and the last U.S. commercial reactor to come online was in 1996 in Tennesee (Comanche Peak #2 was the last one before that, in 1993), although some upgrades have been made, and Luminant Energy has filed an application for two additional reactors at Comanche Peak, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Because of the staggering capital outlay, regulatory burden, and long lead times for these gigawatt power generators, I submit there should be smaller, neighborhood generation stations, maybe on the scale of an aircraft carrier powerplant.

Possible small-scale nuke plant disguised as a strip retail center...

Hey, do you suppose someone stole my idea!?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The first Americans may want to repossess it about now...

Saw this over on Landshark's blog and couldn't resist reposting it:

Actually, I met Mark Lindsay (lead singer for the Raiders) once, in 2002 or 2003, when my town was having an Old Town Festival, and he was our headline act one night. As a Chamber of Commerce board member, I was tasked with escorting Mr. Lindsay and his band to and from the motorhome that'd been set up as a makeshift 'green room' and the stage (the same festival I got to be 'paymaster' to, and visit with, the Beatles tribute band Me and My Monkey after their set).

Anyway, Mr. Lindsay was very down-to-earth, and before his set held court in the motorhome, recounting stories from back in the day, but not in a boastful or cocky way. He was nursing some form of macrobiotic [non-alcoholic] vegetable juice concoction that he said was good for his vocal chords. It didn't look very appealing, but he sounded great, so I suppose it worked.

For most of the show, I stayed around the back or to the side of the stage. About 2/3 of the way through, an attractive woman, a few years older than I, approached me, and asked if I could get her a brief meeting with Mr. Lindsay after the show. Nothing untoward, mind you, she said she'd had her room plastered with his posters as a teenager, and she wanted to see if she could get an album cover signed.

Knowing the band was on a tight schedule following the show, I didn't make any promises. As the show ended the band came down the side steps of the stage, and almost sprinted the seventy-five or so feet to the bordering fence next to the motorhome. Just as we reached the fence, Mr. Lindsay turned to thank me for assisting them, and I asked if he had time to sign a couple of autographs. He very graciously agreed, and I motioned to the woman to come over.

About a week later, I got a very nice thank you card from the woman, complete with a picture of her and Mark Lindsay. She'd driven up from Waco to our festival to see her teen idol. She apparently worked in the Waco chamber and had tracked me down through counterparts in my town.

Fun times.

Now, if only there were only enough Sioux, Apache, Navajo, Caddo, Cherokee, Iroquois & Cheyenne braves left to surround Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and maybe do a Little Bighorn Redux. I guess the rest of the country is finally coming to terms with what the native Americans have known for over a century-and-a-half: Getting screwed by Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Semi-Auto Crossbow

Denney Crane will want one!

Is this guy like Merlin or what? (I think he ought to be wearing a pointy cap with stars, or maybe a Sherwood Forest outfit.)

Shhh, don't tell Chuck Schumer...I'm the N.C.B.A.!

h/t: That Dude

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some really cool Dobro guitar...

From Blake Shelton.

Galatians 5:13

This verse caught my attention in yesterday's sermon.

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Christ came to save us from our sin, from broken-ness, and, as my pastor says, "from jacked-up thinking." But, knowing that we're saved, do we always use the opportunity properly, or do we at times perpetuate the cycle of pursuing other sins?

Good food for thought...

All I Ask for Anymore...

This is way cool. Just wish I could embed the video for it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Love thy neighbor

In the final episode, or "tour" of Focus on the Family's The Truth Project, Dr. Del Tackett recounts a story from his youth about attending his first dance in his middle school years, and a conversation he had with his father when he got home.

"So, how was the dance, Del?"

"Pretty good."

"Did everyone have a good time?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Did you dance with all the pretty girls?"

"Most of them."

"Did all of the girls get to dance?"

"Uh, I guess so."

"Were there any girls there that no one asked to dance?"

"Well, yeah, a couple, I suppose."

"Do you think they had a good time at the dance?"

"Probably not."

In telling the story, Dr. Tackett isn't making his dad out to be a hard nose, of course, but pointing out the lesson of being a "good neighbor", and extending Christ's love to the downtrodden, the forgotten and neglected. I would hope to be the same example for my children.

I've had occasions in my life to be, as my pastor sometimes says "on the back side of a beat-down", faced with job dissatisfaction and uncertainty, tossed to the dust bin by the 'mean girl'. But always, in the midst of the depression or loneliness, there've been those saints who came and lifted my spirits.

At this festive time of year and always, I pray I don't overlook the less fortunate and afflicted, and that I can pass on even a portion of God's love that has been shown to me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Machinery...or art?

Fellow blogger and conservative commentator extraordinaire Denney Crane has today posted a note to Santa Claus depicting a nifty new device he'd like to see in his stocking this Christmas.

While this advancement in firearms technology is certainly impressive, your humble scribe here at Sonnet 116 prefers a more traditional approach to gunmaking, the artistry of combining talent, wood and steel, to wit:

The above specimen is a Dakota Model 10, but New Zealand armsmaker Soroka has similarly worthy (and not inexpensive) offerings. Of course, the closest I come to owning such a work of art is a rather pedestrian Ruger #1, utilizing the same Farquharson falling block design.

Nonetheless, I am not unmoved by Mr. Crane's fascination of rapid-fire technology. In fact, I would love to own one of these:

How I love the .45/70!

Well, why not?

At least in the old days you had to send in three boxtops...

Edit: And I read elsewhere that McDonald's is in licensing negotiations with the Nobel committee to offer a complimentary Peace Prize in every Happy Meal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wishing you glad tidings of comfort and joy

For those old enough to remember Peter, Paul & Mary:

Judging from the baldness factor for both Peter and Paul, I'm guessing this is from their Reunion tour circa 1978. I saw them that tour or possibly the next at the Dallas Convention Center Arena, and a few years later at StarFest, back when it was on the grounds of the old EDS campus.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

When I had a family, a cherished tradition was to watch It's a Wonderful Life during the holiday season.

It wasn't quite the same watching it alone tonight, but I am reminded of Jeremiah 31:11 (referenced in this evening's sermon) which also ties in nicely with the movie -
For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. (AKJV)

May we all remember we have a Lord stronger than all our enemies and obstacles.

Edit: And it wouldn't hurt if I had a guardian angel myself, even one like Clarence.

Tiger Woods sighting...

Unconfirmed, but it's possible the golfer is hanging out here:

Sharp eyes will note the historic haunted Baker Hotel in the background...

Diamond S Cattle Company

I was out in the Weatherford area yesterday, heading down toward Horseshoe Bend.

Along the way I saw some parcels of property with gates marked "Diamond S Cattle Co". These properties had miles of 5-pipe (not four or three) fence, with posts closely spaced. It struck me as a bit odd, as most of the folks I know in the cattle business have operations evocative of those "Leanin' Tree" posters (example, one cowboy sez to another: "I reckon if I got a million dollars, I'd jes' keep on ranchin' until it was gone."), with either wooden posts or steel t-posts and barbed wire.

While I'm not in the agricultural sciences, one of my grandfathers was a farmer/rancher, so I innately recognized that this Cadillac of fences weren't built on livestock profits. Weatherford ain't the pristine valley meadows of Montana (though it does have a sort of beauty of its own).

So I Googled it, but that took me down a wrong path, then checked another website and found the ranch is owned by the [well regarded] Chairman & Founder of a Fort Worth-based energy company that, as of 2Q2009, was the largest natural gas producer in the United States. You'd recognize the company name, and also perhaps the individual's.

See, I got a business mind like a mousetrap - I knew those fences weren't from runnin' cows...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I seriously doubt it...

I've heard of exaggerations, but that's just a bald-faced lie.

Prairie Schooner?

Less than a land yacht, but more than a dinghy...(and it's nowhere near any body of water).

Another Pleasant Valley...Wednesday?

Sounds like a song title...

And a cold one at that!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I got my ears on!

It was a an antique, a 23-channel CB radio that first saw service in the mid-'70s in my dad's '72 K-5 Blazer, after the first one (CB radio, not the Blazer) was stolen. CB radios were a big thing back then. So big, in fact, that the nimrod who took the CB overlooked the Smith & Wesson .357 in the console to which the radio was mounted. Dumb criminals...

The radio may have also seen brief service, mounted above or under my Realistic FM-Cassette stereo in my first car, a 1968 Chrysler Newport - until I wrecked it. Bummer.

Anyway, I'm not sure where the radio had been chillin' for the past 30 years, but I found it in my garage a couple of weeks back.

This morning I tossed it into the SUV, together with a magnetic mount antenna. After some brief, uh, administrative work in the office, I was ready to hit the road, so I threaded the RG-58 cable through the door gasket and placed the antenna base just aft of the hood, and fore of the windshield, so I could watch it fall off.

About 5 miles out, I turned it on. The lights glowed, but no sound.

I fiddled with the volume control, the squelch, and the PA switch. Still nothing. Oh, well, it is nearly 35 years old.

Around Bowie, I got bored, so I turned the thing on again. Silence. I tightened the PL-259 connector to the antenna. Turned the radio sideways.

A little static. That's good. A little more fiddling, and I heard some faint conversations.

Finally, I was ready. I checked the channel selector. Thankfully, I'd watched Smokey and the Bandit recently with the kids, so I was down with the lingo. "Break 1-9 for a radio check."

"Hello there, radio check, you're coming in loud and clear, what's your location?"

"I'm rollin' north of Bowie. Got a 30 year old CB here, wanted to see if it still worked."

"Sounds loud and strong, can't tell it's 30 years old."

As I'd just passed a car hauler a few hundred yards back, I was curious how far I was reaching out. "You runnin' that mobile parking lot?"

"Nope. Navajo. Navajo Digby."

For the next 25 or 30 miles I kept an eye out for any vehicles matching that description. Finally, around Jolly, an 18-wheeler passed me...Navajo Digby, followed closely by a Landstar big rig. A fifth-wheel horse trailer was squeezing onto the freeway, and Navajo slipped back over to the left lane, not too far ahead of Landstar.

"Landstar, this is Navajo Digby, sorry about the abrupt lane change - wanted to give the guy room to get on."

"No problem there, Sir. I saw what he was doing. I expected you'd come over."

" Where you headed?"

"Denver. Forecast says ice past Amarillo."

"I'm headed there too. Pueblo actually."

A few more miles and we were at Wichita Falls, my destination. "Mr. Navajo, thanks for the radio check, Sir. I'm turning off here at Wichita. Hope you have good traveling on to Pueblo and Godspeed!"

"Same to you, Sir. Have a good trip!"

I enjoyed being part of the camaraderie of these knights of the road. I know it's not something I can do around town, but I think I'll carry the old radio along for those stretches between Rhome and Vernon, Weatherford and Thurber (population 5).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

If we make it through December

'Cause the radio won't play George & Merle...

Even without additional instrumentation, imagine how good this guy would sound with a studio recording. Excellent guitar work.

Uno, many?

That's a buncha Betos!


Back in the old days, before Wal-Mart, there was Gibson's:

I worked for a Gibson's, in Grand Prairie, my sophomore and junior years in high school.

Good times.

Three Wooden Crosses

Recently, on our trip to Mesquite to get furniture in the big pickup, we heard Randy Travis' Three Wooden Crosses on the radio.

My sons were somewhat familiar with the song, but had never really listened to the story, and didn't realize that the current-day preacher's mother was the hooker. I don't know why, but I always, involuntarily, get a lump in my throat at the verse:

That's the story that our preacher told last Sunday.
As he held that blood-stained bible up,
For all of us to see.
He said: "Bless the farmer, and the teacher, an' the preacher;
"Who gave this Bible to my mamma,
"Who read it to me."

One large cross by the side of FM 1886, between Lakeside and FM 730.

Remembering Tyler Berkley

I was out in Azle this week, and drove past the following sign:

I knew Tyler from the '80s, but didn't become friends with him until the '90s.

He was a generous man, had a great sense of humor, and when he got involved with something, you could be sure he was passionate about it. He could also be absent-minded - he's the only person I know who drove off from a gas pump with the hose still attached to his car...three different times! Yet he told that story on himself.

In the '90s he and his wife renovated a home on Eagle Mountain Lake, on the west side. It was beautiful to unwind at the end of the day from the backyard, without the sun in your eyes, and he had a manicured lawn of St. Augustine. Tyler loved to take his itty-bitty dog, I think its name was Gizmo, on boat rides. The dog wasn't a whole lot bigger than the Mack truck hood ornament, but equally enjoyed riding over the waves.

I took a day trip with Tyler once to Austin, where he was to testify in committee for some legislation he'd had his State Representative introduce. It was an interesting education for me to see how things work (?) in Austin, although I don't think the bill ever made it out of committee. A beautiful spring day, we left the Capitol complex, and were headed down Congress Avenue, to go visit an old friend of Tyler's before we headed back north. The moonroof and windows were wide open on his Mark VIII. At about 4th street, I spotted a leggy woman in a short skirt on roller blades and nudged my friend "Hey, check this chick out!".

Of course, at just that moment, the "woman" turned around to face us - with a full beard! Yeah, it was a dude! Who says they need any help keeping Austin weird? Anyway, Tyler kindly reminded me of that faux pas a couple of times subsequently in the lunch group we frequented.

Later that year, almost exactly ten years ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I visited him in the hospital, and spoke with him a couple times on the phone after that, as it became difficult to visit with him due to my work travel and the more frequent sleep that his body required. He died before Spring came, at the much-too-young age of 53.

I miss my friend, but appreciate the reminder of him when I drive by that sign, and consider it a blessing to have known him.

...and on West Exchange

Another blogger recently posted about mounted customers at the Jacksboro Sonic.

Here where the West begins we also still have equine transportation:

On the other side of North Main there were several horsemen, dressed in old west garb.

I'd like to get a gig like that...

Seen in North Fort Worth

I think I spotted Chico and the Man just around the corner...