From the email bag, possibly contrived, but a heartwarming story, with corresponding pictures no less (also because I was asked to publish more dog stories - dogs' lives are more interesting than mine, I guess):
After losing his parents, this 3 year old orangutan was so depressed he wouldn't eat and didn't respond to any medical treatments. The veterinarians thought he would surely die from sadness. The zoo keepers found an old sick dog on the grounds in the park at the zoo where the orangutan lived and took the dog to the animal treatment center. The dog arrived at the same time the orangutan was there being treated. The 2 lost souls met and have been inseparable ever since.
The orangutan found a new reason to live and each always tries his best to be a good companion to his new found friend. They are together 24 hours a day in all their activities.
They live in Northern California where swimming is their favorite pastime, although Roscoe (the orangutan) is a little afraid of the water and needs his friend's help to swim.
Together they have discovered the joy and laughter in life and the value of friendship.
They have found more than a friendly shoulder to lean on.
In a recent post, I linked to a story about a crusty old guy who bummed the mood of a family reunion by saying, if he had it to do all over again (marrying Grandma and all), he wouldn't do it, because it was "too hard". One of my readers, on the backside of some tribulations of her own, agreed with Gramps.
But I still don't.
Economists use the term "opportunity cost". It's the implied cost of using resource 'A' (whether money, time, land) for a purpose, versus the benefit of the next best use of the resource. The opportunity cost of allowing your kids to use a couple of acres for a Little League ballfield might be the foregone profits from grazing livestock or raising a crop on that parcel of land. You get the idea.
In Gramps example, by not "doing it all over again", he would have saved himself, presumably, much heartache (the "too hard" part), maybe. But his opportunity cost is the loss of the joy of the family that he had ultimately created (and who apparently didn't fully agree with his logic).
Life is fraught with toil and difficulty. I've written before that there are parts that I would do differently, based on new knowledge or a better perspective (e.g. a deeper understanding of Christian faith), but when it comes to family, despite what's happened to mine, I would not make any change that would have foregone the amazing kids I have. And even with the pain resulting from the dissolution of that family, I have the wonderful memories of holding my wife in my arms, the births of our children, important milestone events. The good with the bad, it's all part of the journey.
A couple of weeks ago, we were searching the aisles of the Family Video, looking for something that could be enjoyed by my 15 year old son and my younger daughter. We found City Slickers. Most will remember the plot in which Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) seeks to find himself by taking part in an amateur cattle drive (the cattle are not amateurs - they are driven by amateur cowboys). Robbins and his buddies, each embroiled in his own mid-life issues, relate the experience to their childhood custom of allowing 'do-overs'.
So what's the common denominator?
Simple. In our lives, we will all experience chapters, and events, often of our own making, that are very painful. It's just part of the plan. Sometimes we think we can't undo circumstances, and sometimes that's true. Sometimes we believe we're so far gone, we can't get back to where we started, and sometimes that's true as well. But because of something 2000 years ago, we always have a 'do-over', paid for by Jesus' sacrifice, leading the way to redemption. We can't change the past, but we can follow the Master, and change the future.
Actually, I'm not sure which one I am. Probably the Man, since I am advancing in years, and sometimes cantankerous. Oh, and I'm not Latino.
Anyway, most folks probably look forward to getting home from work, cracking open a cold one, watching the news, or whatever.
Today, having spent my lunch hour running from the Ford house to the NAPA (auto parts, not the vineyards), and Builders Surplus just for good measure, I rushed home with my newfound treasures, pictured:
The 90° rubber elbow, center, which connects the air plenum with the PCV valve, had developed a nasty crack (read: vacuum leak), resulting in a confused MAF (don't worry, that's not a dirty term - it stands for Mass Air Flow) sensor. And, by the time you tear it down to where you can access that @#%&$ little rubber piece ($24, by the way), it just makes sense to replace the plug wires (plugs not pictured) also. Got most of it installed - will finish the assembly tomorrow.
Hopefully, this'll put some new flubber in my flying flivver.
Update: Finished the assembly, started her up, seems to idle normally now. Used the code reader to cancel the "check engine" light. Next step, get a fresh inspection sticker. I'm looking forward to driving this one - have been missing my JBL sound system and 6 disc changer.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted that a provision for open carry of handguns had been passed by the Oklahoma legislature, and was awaiting signing by their governor. I also noted that I assumed he would sign it (since he had an "A" rating from the NRA).
Well, Governor Brad Henry (D), instead vetoed the legislation, and, as of this writing, the legislature has failed to rally enough votes to override his veto.
This morning's Startlegram notes that the group OpenCarry.org will seek legislation in the 2011 Texas legislature to allow an open carry option for persons possessing concealed carry permits.
In the prior post, we saw a new Chinese threat to the American auto industry.
Thankfully, Pontiac was able to whip its workforce into shape with the following motivational message, to repel the German plague of a generation (or two) ago. Just walk into any Pontiac dealership today and compare the difference. Maybe the notion of quality improvement was just a passing Tempest in a teapot.
So, first the Germans (VW, BMW, Mercedes), then the Japanese (Toyota, Datsun, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi), then the Koreans (Hyudai, Daewoo, Kia), and now the Chinese. Don't wait, protect yourself from alien robots now.
I'm not sure what metaphor to use with this following video. Synchronized driving? Grounded Chinese Acrobats?
Anyway, this is from a Chinese car company, extolling the virtues and capabilities of their itty-bitty cars. Kind of fascinating.
But it does leave some questions.
I know there are millions of Americans who have, presumably, lost their jobs to Chinese workers, following the shift in the world labor market. But what's one to think about the robots building these little cars? Did Chinese autoworkers lose their jobs to robots?
The Domino Theory of the '60s may be coming true, albeit updated. The Chinese will take over the world. The robots will dominate the Chinese.
I think this was the interrogative uttered by George H. W. Bush and Tip O'Neill on March 30, 1981, in response to Alexander Haig's assertion that he was "in control" of the White House, after John Hinkley's attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
The incident prompted a national civics lesson on the line of Presidential succession. Haig later clarified that his statement only reflected the reality of who was in charge at the White House (Bush 41 was on Air Force Two, enroute from Texas at the time of the assassination attempt), not the legality of who would succeed the President.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Haig reportedly served a vital role in brokering the transfer of power between the resigning Richard Nixon and incoming unelected (but nonetheless American-born) Leslie King Jr. Gerald Ford. There is no truth to the rumor (maybe no rumor at all, since I'm making it up) that Al Haig was on the FAA's no-fly list because his name was similar to certain terrorist groups. A highly decorated military man, distinguished public servant, and prominent business analyst, Mr. Haig passed away on February 20, 2010.
Well, it used to be a special day. Although it's axiomatic that men forget birthdays and anniversaries, I must've been splashing in the wrong sample pool when that axiom was written.
Today would've been my anniversary.
So what's one to do? I didn't buy a card or flowers or chocolates - no need for that anymore. Didn't send a text message, unsure of how it'd be received.
Nonetheless, I couldn't just dismiss it entirely, as though the date never held any significance for me. Nearly a score of years, three amazing children (plus one in Heaven's Choir), there's nothing trivial about that. So, I'll blog about it.
I've ruminated about my friend Todd the Blogger's post about the octogenarian dude who was asked at a family reunion if he'd do it all again, and replied: "Nope. Too Hard." While there are things I'd do differently, better, there's just no way I can look in my kids' eyes and say I wouldn't do it again, denying their existence. I guess I'd like to think I'm the enlightened George Bailey (after Clarence shows him what would've been).
I was going to post the Little River Band's Happy Anniversary on this post, but after reviewing it, it just didn't seem to fit the tone I was looking for.
So, with just a pause to give thanks for the memories before filing this day in the scrapbook of my mind, here's to looking forward.
OK, I promise this will be the last dog post, for awhile.
Last night, after loading the washing machine, and the dishwasher, I settled down for just a little TV time.
I pulled out the sofa bed in the den, and there, shirtless and barefoot (but wearing khaki shorts), proceeded to watch Law and Order SVU. Not my favorite show, but better than most of the reality TV pabulum out there.
With a couple of pillows, I'm stretched out, relaxing.
Not even a couple of minutes later, WonderDog hops up on the sofa bed, sidles up to me, and rolls over on her back, nose in my armpit, paws in the air.
This morning I went to sign my Dogs up for welfare.
At first the lady said, "Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare". So I explained to her that my Dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty for them because they are dogs.
So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify.
The last couple of nights I've taken the dog for a run, as described in last week's post. I'm trying to get more serious, or at least semi-serious, about exercise, for both of us.
The honeysuckles that were so fragrant last week, with the warming and windy weather are starting to shrivel. You can still catch the scent, but not so strong as before. Maybe there's a metaphor in there about their moment (and ours) in the sun.
The canine, not as smart as Lassie, is nonetheless fairly intelligent - capable of running alongside as I pedal the bike, without getting her leash caught up in the contraption, and intuitively moving gracefully out of the way even when I turn in her direction.
Tonight, after reaching the park, I let her off the leash, partly to see if she'd chase the ducks and geese. She didn't. But the rest of the trip through the park, I left her untethered, and she kept a fairly close distance.
Leaving the park, I started to connect her again, but decided against. The four or five blocks to the house, she pretty much kept pace, even though I expected her to get distracted here and there (e.g. at a fire hydrant).
Maybe leadership sometimes involves setting the leash aside.
I stole this idea from Red's blog. As she notes, the video's kind of lame. I liked it because it reminded me of taking my oldest son to Loggins & Messina at [then] Nokia a couple of years ago. Great song.
She also has a live video of Ann & Nancy Wilson doing Dog & Butterfly. Also good memories, took middle son to their Nokia show in '07.
Being of a certain age, yeah, I have to admit that the first pinup poster that I really dug was that of Raquel Welch (see, I was pre-Farrah and Cheryl Tiegs). I didn't have the poster myself (actually, I don't recall having any posters - wasn't the style at the Donald home), but a friend of mine in Tulsa had one, and I remember perusing posters at the local Treasure City, a contemporary of Gibson's, precursors to the Wal-Marts and Targets of today.
Anyway, not to totally give my blog over to excerpted interviews, but I found this one, from ParentDish, to be interesting. Ms. Welch has recently released a book, and it turns out she's not some bimbo, but has some very good observations on the society, not necessarily what I expected. Have a look:
PD: What do you think of today's young people? RW: Not that I want censorship, but now with the internet it's not The New York Times' all the news that's fit to print. It's every darn thing. It's too much exposure to all things in existence on the planet. Where do you find equilibrium in that? Their attention span is shorter and shorter and they are very glib. If everything is on top on you all the time you don't see the forest thru the trees. There's no music there.
PD: Any solutions? RW: We used to respect our teachers and there were dress codes. People behaved themselves. There was hell to pay if you acted up in the classroom. You didn't get away with stuff. Are we raising a group of little animals out there? You're supposed to be nice to your fellow human beings. The human condition is wrought with pain and difficulty, and being civil is rule number one. I don't know how these kids are getting away after being rotten to people. I'm surprised at the meanness. They behave like a bunch of gluttonous sloths, a bunch of wild animals, and they end up on Jerry Springer.
PD: What do you do to keep the equilibrium and find peace? RW: I'm very fortunate that I started studying yoga in my late 30s, which lead me in my 50s to touch base with my mother's faith. I was raised as a Presbyterian girl. I was coming into my heyday in the 60s, with drugs, promiscuous sex happening. Here I'm a sex symbol but I've never gotten into substance abuse, or became a sex addict because I had that sense that there were boundaries. That kept me sane and healthy all this time. There was an invisible compass in my head, a sense of decency that relates to my mother. I liked the feeling of doing something that was good and right.
PD: Tell me about the search for faith. RW: I went on a quest for a church for a couple of years. I considered myself a Christian when I was growing up, although I fell away from it. It came very late in life and I hit a brick wall. I tried Buddhism, Hindi and this and that and I said, 'just stop it.' I found a renewed faith in a higher power and in certain precepts of behavior that lead to a happier existence. In my later years I needed to connect with that.
PD: So, would we ever run into you at church? RW: I am a very happy God-fearing person who goes to church every Sunday. I've met the most lovely people there who have nothing to do with show business.
PD: How has your renewed faith changed you? RW: I'm more open to other people, I'm more humble, more giving, more outgoing and happier with my age and my lot in life because I believe in something bigger than me. It started to be self, self, self, self, self. Actresses are big offenders of being self-involved. The Raquel in that poster is not me. I played her, but that's not me.
AOL recently interviewed Sam Wurzelbacher, better known to most folks as "Joe the Plumber". Admired as an everyman, ridiculed as a rube, he became a political football in the 2008 Presidential campaign.
More recently, he was elected to the Republican Party committee in Lucas County, Ohio.
Here are some excerpts from a phone interview he granted:
If you could host a dinner party with any four people, living or dead, who would you invite? Robert E. Lee; he was a man of honor. Abraham Lincoln; I always wanted to know what his plan was for reconstruction; George Washington, just because I admire the hell out of him. And round it out with Jesus Christ. He's both living and dead.
Which animal do you most identify with? I never thought about that. I've got a big, beautiful lab at home that I love more than life itself. I guess I'd have to go with a dog.
If you could be buried with one memento, what would you choose? Being a Christian I don't think about that stuff. I'm not going to have it in heaven so it doesn't much matter.
What's always in your refrigerator? Ice tea.
Who would you like to play you in the movie of your life? If he was alive, it would be John Wayne. I'm a big Duke fan.
You walk into a room with 5 other people in it and realize you're the smartest person there. Who are the 5 other people in the room? Pick any five congressmen.
What's your biggest fear? That I fail to teach my son the right way.
If you could punch one famous person, who would it be? Bill Maher jumps to my mind right away. It would be fun to lay that boy out. But I'd look like a bully because he's so much smaller than I am.
If you could live in some time other than your own, what would you choose? Probably the 1800s, because men and women rose and fell on their own strengths. Government wasn't as powerful as it is now, and in America you could make it or not make it depending on your efforts and your work. Men held to their word. I like that kind of black and white.
What's the one thing you'd like to thank your parents for? My faith. That's the best gift they ever gave me.
If you had to enter a talent show, what would your talent be? I'm a pretty good shot, but they probably don't have talent shows for shooting.
Is there one piece of technology you could not live without? Hell, brother, I could live without all of it.
I like the way this guy thinks! Except for the Bill Maher part - I know he's being honorable, but there's millions of Americans who would love to see him deck the snarky little bastard!
Two nights ago, I was feeling guilty for not walking the dog more frequently. As well, it probably was a good idea for me to get some exercise, so I started looking for the leash so we could be on our way.
After about five minutes of searching, it occurred to me to look in the backyard, as my daughter had had the dog with her while exploring the prior weekend. Sure enough, there by the miniature "raft" (something between Tom Sawyer and Kon-Tiki) made of small tree limbs I'd pruned, with twigs for masts and magnolia leaves forming an array of sails, was the leash. I smiled thinking of my daughter's creativity, and how the dog will watch her for hours, mesmerized.
From last weekend
So, at about 9:30, I got the bike out and we started our exercise. I prefer bike riding to walking, especially so with the dog, as it's less likely to result in a stretched forearm tendon from having her pull me for 45 minutes. With the bike, I let her pull for the first several hundred yards, after which she tires just a bit, and our pace is matched for the remainder of the outing. By the end of the ride, I just pedal very slowly to keep from pulling the animal.
There was a very nice breeze, and little traffic as we got to the park. Along the east side, an occasional wafting of fragrant bushes, and a symphony of bullfrogs in the creek. Near the south gate, a parked car, the smell of perfume - possibly lovers. I didn't ride too close so as not to spoil their moment. At the spillway crossing, I could see in the moonlight, large clumps of the algae that have taken over various waterways this Spring. The ducks and geese were mostly bedded down for the night.
As we left the part from the west side, I passed the wall of honeysuckles, full in bloom. Again, thoughts of my daughter, as every time we take this route, we stop to smell and taste the nectar from the honeysuckle flowers. Another smile, though this time laced with the sadness of the reality that, save for a couple weekends a month, someone else says grace at dinnertime and tucks her into bed every night. Like her brothers before her, I know she'll be a teenager before long, and the adventures with dad just won't be 'cool' anymore.
Clearing my head of the euphoria and the sorrow, we travel the last few blocks to the house, now contented by the thought that truly, the glass is half full, not half empty.
It's been nearly a year-and-a-half since I last wrote about Open Carry. The last time, a petition was floating about to be presented to the 2009 Legislature to look at some form of open carry of firearms as an adjunct to concealed carry, in Texas. I don't think it ever got any traction, and very few column-inches of press.
Now comes our neighbor across the Red River, whose Representatives by a 3-to-1 margin have passed a bill to allow open carry by those who are already permitted by the concealed carry provision, and it appears it will be signed by their Governor. Not surprisingly, other states are watching, and considering similar measures.
This morning, WBAP's Mark Davis devoted much of his program to discussion of the possibility of an open carry provision in Texas. Interestingly, some of the callers, CHL permittees themselves, opposed the notion of open carry in Texas, citing the deterrence factor of the uncertainty criminals face from concealed, not open, carry.
I don't understand their position, though, as it's not being suggested that all carry would be open. If similar to Oklahoma's provision, people who possess CHLs would have the option of open carry, but would not be mandated to do so. The petition that circulated in 2008 in Texas was done, I believe, with a view to easing the penalty for inadvertent display of a concealed handgun.
In my over three decades of adulthood, I've only had occasion to carry on my person (under circumstances other than hunting or target practice) a handful of times. Still, if Texas got the open carry provision, I can't say I wouldn't maybe strap the ol' single action on, complete with a tooled leather gunbelt and 24 cartridges.
And, of course, Stetson, [batwing] chaps and spurs...
For car dealerships, it's sort of become de rigueur to feature a giant inflatable gorilla, or a fake hot air balloon, to increase mindshare of passing motorists. And in Decatur, there's a power lawn equipment company that has a huge inflatable zero turn radius mower gracing their building.
But what of, and I hesitate to ask this, but I'm thinking of a chain that has stores on Jacksboro Highway just west of Lake Worth, on Alta Mere, and another near SE Loop 820 & Business 287 near Forest Hill/Kennedale. This chain sells, uh, adult novelties, which I would assume includes their own line of blow-up devices.
Wouldn't it be weird to see that 20' inflatable, tap dancing on top of a building while driving down 199 or 820?
If you listen to the radio at all, you've probably heard commercials for the newest kid on the block in the Texas grocery market, Germany's ALDI neighborhood stores. Having lived in Europe in the early '70s, I had fond memories of the smaller, easily accessible stores in our village.
Now, why anyone would want to get into the fray of the grocery industry in Texas is beyond me. Do the names A&P, Skaggs, Safeway (maybe a so-so example, considering Tom Thumb), Winn-Dixie, Food Lion, Albertson's (many store closings), and Minyard's (way down in size) ring a bell? The next nearest industry that I can think of with so much carnage would be consumer electronics (Highland Appliance, Incredible Universe, McDuff's, Circuit City, Electric Avenue, Tweeter, Radio Shack). What? Radio Shack is still alive? Sure, but irrelevant.
The premise of the ALDI store is to offer a neighborhood feel, with a limited number of SKUs and no-frills (no coupons or credit cards accepted, pay for or bring your own bags, pay a deposit to use a shopping cart), at a steep discount. Since there's an ALDI store between my office and home, I've stopped a couple of times to grab a few items. Here's my latest list:
Pork Rinds (Hot) - $1.19 A fair deal (actually, any price on pork rinds is fair, as eating them is a near-religious experience.)
Beef Flavor Rice Mix - $0.59 Who knows? I rarely buy this stuff.
Condensed Vegetable Soup - $0.49 Quite a bit cheaper than Campbell's or Kroger store brand.
Shep Premium Chicken Cuts canned Dog Food - $0.55 Cheaper than Alpo, or Ol' Roy (dog didn't complain - and the melamine content was not disclosed.)
24 count Green Tea with Lemon & Ginseng - $1.19 Cheaper than Celestial or Lipton, even Kroger house brand or Target's Archer Farms, but probably could've done as well at DolGen or similar.
Blueberry Toaster Tarts, 12 count - $1.79 About the same as Kroger or Great Value brands.
Total tab: $5.85. I probably saved a buck or two, but here's the interesting part: I went in hoping to buy some cereal, as most of their boxed cereals are about $1.65 - didn't find what I wanted (whole flakes with strawberries or blueberries). Had I been at Kroger, however, I'd have gone in expecting to spend about $5, and would have, almost inevitably, come out having spent $20. So clearly, ALDI does not appear to be as adept as Kroger at leveraging dollars out of my wallet.
There is another blogger who can probably give a more detailed analysis of the grocery industry and ALDI concept and how it will play out, but suffice it to say that if you're in commercial real estate brokerage, start cultivating clients who need approximately 20,000 ft² of retail space in multiple locations - I predict there'll be several available properties in a year or so.
Not far from my office is a busy intersection that is frequented by one or two homeless men, though not concurrently. One of the men walks with a cane and a distinct limp, with one side of his body apparently unresponsive. The older man has a beard and a ponytail, looks possibly to be of the Vietnam-veteran era, but seems to be ambulatory.
Occasionally, returning to the office late afternoon, I have to wait two or three traffic light cycles before I can turn, and there along the grassy strip, is a well-worn path that these men (and perhaps others) have created, walking from car to car, panhandling.
As I exit the freeway, I usually check the console for dollar bills left over from some fast food purchase, then scan to see if one of the men is there. As long as it's not dangerous, or an impediment to traffic, I roll down the window and give some money, and the older man always responds "God bless you, man." It's not much, not enough to buy a whole meal, but if two or three others give similarly, it will sustain life. I believe every able-bodied person should work. I don't know the circumstances of these men, but the Lord I serve tells me that if a brother or sister calls out for help, I should give it.
As I noted, my gifts are small, given gladly, not out of guilt, and I'm certainly no victim of "an embarrassment of riches", at least not financially. But I have been richly blessed in this life: Faith in one true God, [was] married 18 years to the love of my life, three wonderful children, enough to eat, a roof over my head, a job, and save for a small scare recently, good health. If I were in a position to give more at each opportunity, I would, presumably enough for a full meal. And if I were blessed to be able to give more, I would look for more opportunities.
An email has circulated endlessly about the guy who picks up coins off the sidewalk, just so he can read the inscription "In God We Trust". Yeah, it may be trite, but I'm that guy. Just this morning I picked up three shiny pennies at the RaceTrac in Lake Worth, as I repeated the inscription to myself.
But better yet was this afternoon, hearing the homeless man say "God bless you, man!". He has, my friend, and I pray He will bless you as well.