Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blade-free Pumpkin Carving

Just make sure you have a safe backstop...

I dunno.  I'm cheap frugal.  I think I'd just save the ammo and use a knife.

One could postulate that this is analogous to the situation of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.  A long time ago, it was just for baking.  Then they figured  out a bunch of other things it could be used for.

Same likely goes for the .40 or [especially] the .45.  Overall, there are probably plenty of problems can be solved with a well positioned 200 or 230 grainer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Also Sprach Ecclesiastes

Now, some of you will find this a bore.  If so, just skip it.

Others will not be surprised, knowing my penchant for the arcane and remote.  You see, I was raised in a conservative environment, albeit one that reverberated with the strains of the 'modern folk' movement of the late '50s and the early '60s: Seeger, Limeliters, Kingston Trio, PP&M, Brothers Four, Chad Mitchell Trio, Joan Baez (but not particularly Dylan), Judy Collins.

I was looking for a reference to this song, because, as King Solomon (presumably) wrote in the Book of Ecclesiastes, I am increasingly aware of the changes of the seasons, the phases of the moon, the chambers of the heart, the egg-and-dart (oops!, sorry, Henley got tangled up in there a bit) that comprise the cycle of life. As I wrote in commentary on Thunder Tales, I'm no longer seventeen, though thirty something years later Running on Empty always transports me back to that magical age.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to happen across this historical gem.  The audio quality is not great, but it's truly a time capsule, showcasing a young Judy Collins with the song's composer, probably the foremost folk movement figure of the 20th century (along with Woody Guthrie and Dylan), the venerable Pete Seeger, who also wrote or co-wrote the folk standards Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and  If I Had a Hammer.

No, it's not the 'definitive' Byrds version (which legendary D/FW radio personality Ralph Chapman used for his final sign-off from station KLUV in 2005), but I hope you found it as interesting as I did.

A time to build up, a time to break down

A time to dance, a time to mourn

A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

...and a time for every purpose, under Heaven

I don't really want to be seventeen again, but instead, as I look out and see the storm clouds forming, embrace the changing season and welcome the new joys and challenges it brings.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't give us Dirty Laundry

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.

The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry is not very clean", she said.  "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent...

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:  "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.  I wonder who taught her this."

The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

  • The preceding was not intended as a pitch for Sonlight Window Cleaning, as it was something sent to me by a church friend (and I had already pasted it here before I made the connection), but if you are in the need of window cleaning services, I will tell you that I wholeheartedly endorse and recommend the work of its owner, Todd.
Back to the story, the purity of what we perceive is so often colored by other conditions, often beyond our control.  My middle son asked me a few weeks ago if I ever feel that people misunderstand me.

"Frequently", I replied, noting that at times it seems I'm misunderstood more often that not.  Just in the past couple of days, I've had a couple of misunderstandings, one a family situation, the other not.

As someone who truly enjoys wordsmithing and wordplay, with a background that includes management and communication courses and seminars, I take a certain amount of pride in being able to effectively express my thoughts.  Except that it doesn't always turn out thusly.  I suppose that I could point to those classes I've taken, and my gallon jar of 50¢ words, and dismiss miscommunication as others' fault - after all, I knew what I meant and used precise language to so state, maybe in Safire-ean terms.

But that would be wrong.  Absolutely wrong.  Because of the effort and the background, I have a greater, not lesser, duty and accountability, if my message is incorrectly taken.

Communication involves both expressing and listening.  And sometimes pre-occupation with the 'just so' formation of ideas inhibits the listening on the feedback channel to hear how the message is being perceived.

So, if something I've written (or said, if we're acquainted) strikes you as odd, out of character, or just plain wrong, please interrupt me, and allow me to clarify.

Bits 'n' Pieces

  • I am glad election season will be over soon.  I would like to be the guy on WFAA who does the BS testing for political ads.  Even the politicians I would tend to favor have some of the most asinine radio/TV ads.
  • Incumbents take credit for Texas jobs being more stable than in other areas of the country.  But, as the publisher of a small-town Tarrant County newspaper often told me (usually as an argument against prostituting the municipal budget through 'economic development' incentives), Texas has all of the standard business inputs, in spades: location (center of the continent), markets, transportation (ports, rail, major interstates, air), availability of capital, an educated workforce (North Texas anyway - hey, it's my blog, I can throw barbs if I please - besides, it's true), moderate year-round weather, culture & entertainment venues, affordable land and energy costs.  I'm thinking those factors pretty much trump most of what the tin-pot politicians try to take credit for.
  • It's funny that the governor-running-for-re-election chides the mayor-running-for-governor for budget deficits, inasmuch as the State has about a $17B budget deficit.  From what I've seen, there's scarcely a midsize or large city in the state that isn't having lean financial times.
  • Does anyone know who is running opposite the Lt. Governor?  Because, for all I can tell, the Lt. Governor (Lite Guv, as Molly Ivins used to say - I was not particularly a Molly fan, but it was a useful term) is running against ObamaCare.  Now, I wouldn't be voting for ObamaCare anyway, but I'm not really sure that's on the ballot next month.  So what gives?
  • It looks like the North Central Texas I-35W corridor US representative incumbent is vulnerable.  But still I cringe when I hear the childish refrain "Chet Loves Debt" from his challenger.  It's not a race for 6th grade class president.  Edit: The TV is on as I write this - I didn't hear the refrain in the TV ad.
  • I was in South Tarrant yesterday, stopped for lunch at a Taco Bueno because I was starved.  My bill came to $5.08, so I handed the cashier a five and a dime, expecting two pennies change.  Instead, the cash register display showed $0.53 change, which is what she handed me.  I politely informed her that I thought she'd given me too much change.  To which she replied "Oh, I gave you the senior discount."
  • Sheesh!
  • It's been 31 years since I was a senior (26 if you count college).
  • I suppose I'd have understood if she was sixteen - after all, everyone over thirty looks OLD.  But this woman was every day of forty (probably was only thirty).
  • There was a dead disposable diaper (infant size) next to the passenger side of my car when I left the restaurant.
  • Modern society is entropic.
  • Took my son's Defensive Driving certificate and driving record to the local PD/court so that his first ticket will go away.  Next time, he will have to hire James Mallory or Jim Lollar.  I have a friend, who, when I inquired a year or so ago about traffic ticket attorneys (never having hired one before),  rattled off the phone number for one of the preceding, from memory.
  • Sitting at a side street traffic light this morning, I was bumped from behind by a twit in an Infiniti G-35.  After a few seconds, I got out and determined that there wasn't really any damage (who knows, in a year or so, the rear bumper fascia may crack), and returned to my car.  The twit never even got out.  I was going to include that she was blonde, but I'll refrain since I have one or more blonde readers, and cannot prove that the blonde-ity was a contributing factor.  Texting probably was, though.
  • Radio ads, other than the political, that annoy me: Central Market, The Dump, and Children's Hospital.  I loathe the oh-so-cutesy copy and singsong delivery of the first two (plus, The Dump has butt-ugly, damaged furniture that wouldn't sell elsewhere at retail), and the nursery rhyme rap when discussing childhood neuroblastoma just irks me.  Is it wrong to talk about serious issues in a serious way?
  • If I were in sales for Citadel, Cumulus or any of the radio network groups, I would love the insurance companies.  Can you turn on the radio without hearing a Geico, Progressive, or Nationwide jingle?
  • Yeah, some of those are annoying, too.
  • After two Ranger wins this past week, the jocks on the classic rock station did an on-air prank in which some gal originally from Yankee-land calls her dad, who's in the Bronx or Brooklyn or Queens, and says that she's left her husband (and children's father) because she 'hooked-up' with a Texas Rangers player an an after party and now he's her boyfriend and they're *boinking*.   The ruse was designed to get a rise from her die-hard Yankees fan dad, many bleeped 'f-bombs' ensued in his lecture to his daughter about decency and her responsibilities.  But the only thing I found funny in the bit was hearing his genuine New York accent.
  • This week, a series I'd been attending on Baptist Faith and Message concluded at a local church of that denomination.  I managed to attend a little more than half of the lectures (starting late, I attended all of the remaining installments from the time I started).  It was very informative about the governance of a local church in the SBC, and the pastor was refreshingly candid.  He tackled a question about alcohol by saying that the only Biblical passage he could find was "Be ye not drunk with wine.." and said that while he'd never tasted alcohol, and has no plans to, and inferred that judicious imbibing was not an egregious activity.  It seemed a good answer, and based on my knowledge of him, not one designed to tack into prevailing winds, but based on thoughtful study.
  • BTW, I'm not Baptist, but I do attend several events and studies with friends who are.  The church that I attend weekly has, as best I can tell, Baptist foundations, but not the term in its name.
  • Hugh Beaumont, best known as Ward Cleaver, was licensed to preach by the denomination of which I'm still, technically I suppose, a member. 
  • I've never been much of a baseball fan, but am enjoying the Rangers finally being a serious pennant contender.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shall we pray?

Mantis-wise, that is.

The bloggers Corner and Obi brought up the subject of Praying Mantises in a recent post/comment.

Proud dad that I am, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to add to the discussion:


And now, a little Willie...

One of the animal rescue groups has a commercial featuring this song.  I am a huge fan of animal rescue, as well as of this song, so I thought I'd post it here:

In the commercial, the stark photographs of abandoned pets pull at the heartstrings while Willie Nelson sings in the background.  Then, of course, the pitch for a contribution to the pet rescue cause.  I would possibly donate, but, being a bit tight on funds in this economy, have decided not to, partially because I have and am doing my part by: a) My last three canines (two from the Roanoke shelter '89 & '91, now in eternal rest in Bowie; current one from HSNT on East Lancaster in Fort Worth) have come from shelters, and b) As a condition of adoption, have been spayed so as not to contribute to future overpopulation.

I can only imagine the circumstances that cause people to abandon pets, and pray that I'm never in such a predicament.  The unconditional love that a pet offers its owner(s) - my Sienna always has a huge tail wag when I come home, and is overjoyed whenever the kids are in the house - is something that makes a house a home.  The beautiful auburn hairs that quickly fill the vacuum cleaner are but a small inconvenience.

I try to do right by Sienna, showing as much excitement to see her as she shows me.  Lavishing her with praise, and occasional treats, walks, and rides in the car.  Just yesterday, watching a football game on the sofa, she'd sidled up to me, shoulder to shoulder, her nose nuzzling my ear.  As she wished, I gently rubbed her tummy until she was fast asleep, and conspicuoulsy snoring.

This weekend's sermon cautioned married couples, husbands and wives alike, about treating the institution as an accessory, a mere bauble.  Lots of folks get married, because it's the thing to do, but over time, that wonderful new accessory becomes simply something that, while still functional, is relegated to the back of the closet, the bottom of the drawer, a place on that hard-to-get-to shelf.  The one who was once the standard of beauty, or saviore-faire, becomes the ordinary, not necessarily despised, but no longer celebrated.

I don't want to get too awkward in drawing comparisons between having a pet and being married - trust me, I'm not into weird.  But I do sometimes wonder, despite all my best efforts to praise and do right by Sienna - if she had the autonomy to decide to stay or go, what would she do?  I only hope that I can reciprocate the seeming unconditional love so that she never leaves. 

And if God should again tether me to one of the fairer gender, I pray I can do so sevenfold.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Who Are We Fooling

The past two weeks' messages ¹ at church have been fantastic.  Just wish I'd heard them five, or twenty-five, years ago.

Yesterday, they played this song, with guitar instead of piano, kinda putting this video version to shame:

¹ Link is to last week's message; this week's, even better than last, hasn't yet been posted.

Musically speaking...

General George Armstrong Custer and his army were camped inside the fort.  The General's aide was talking with him, and said, "General, I don't like the sound of those drums."

From over in the garrison walls they hear a voice yell, "He's not our regular drummer."

Kenny G walks into an elevator and says, "Man, this place is HAPPENING!"

Two East Coast-based musicians are traveling to their next gig in Chicago in separate cars. First musician gets to the club and is told that his buddy has died tragically on a bridge in Indiana. First musician says: "There is no bridge in 'Indiana.'"

Custer: "Those drums, those incessant drums -- they're driving me mad!"

Indian scout: "Trouble come only when drums stop."

Custer: "Good Lord -- what happens then?"

Scout: "Bass solo."

Lifted from:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another touchstone of my youth gone...

Barbara Billingsley passes away at 94...

Friday, October 15, 2010

OK, if you won't, I will...

No one offered forth on the captioning.

  • William Jefferson Clinton, Franchisor
  • "Ask About Our Wednesday Blue Dress Special!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween's near...

Now, if these folks would just get in the spirit and decorate that place, I'm sure they could win some kind of award or something.

Aledo gets tough with White Settlement

Seen today on I-20 westbound.

Take note, Willow Park!

The pictured vehicle was a semi-trailer, equipped, apparently, as some kind of a command post.

Another No Comment Post

Have at it!

I'm afraid both of my proposed captions involve the 42nd President...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ah Love Texas!

It's said that one oughtn't ask someone if they're from Texas.  If they are, the story goes, they'll tell ya, and if'n they aren't, well, no sense embarrassing a body...

I'll disclose that I weren't born here, but reckon that living in the Lone Star State for over 40 years would make me purt' near as naturalized as I'm gonna get.

Here's a scene I saw today:

SW corner of Main & 25th

Now, as I turned at that intersection, I'd had in mind to get this picture, and had rolled my window down for that purpose.  While I was successful in snapping it - I missed the better opportunity, as on the opposite corner were four of the purtiest cowgirls you ever did see, fixin' to cross the street.  But, I didn't have the passenger window down and probably would've looked like a voyeur taking their picture anyway.

So I drove on to my next destination.  In the mirror, I'd notice a couple of cowgirls on horseback, heading my direction.  As they neared, I got this picture:

Note the cupholder on the second gal's saddle.

Noticing me, these ladies called out, friendly like, asking me if I'd missed the memo that it was "Ride Your Horse To Work Day".  Obviously I had. 

And I suppressed the fleeting thought of responding by asking if these cowgirls wanted to save their horses, because: a) I'm couthful and such, and, b) with my conservative attire, I weren't dressed like no cowboy today anyhow:

No, that's not the steering wheel of a King Ranch F-250.  Pity.

Those other cowgirls at the first intersection?  Yeah, I was maybe, probably old enough to be their father.  Ugh!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


So, today I was driving down I-20 and looked over to the iconic Sanger-Harris architecture at Hulen Mall, now occupied by Macy's (I'm not sure if I've ever been in a Macy's).  I know that most folks today have probably forgotten about Sanger-Harris, but it was a Dallas/Fort Worth staple in the'60s and '70s.  There was one in Plymouth Park in Irving when I was a kid, with three floors and a basement.

In the fall of 1980 as a sophomore in college, I worked as seasonal help in the cash office of Sanger's at North Hills Mall, as a second, part-time job.  I wanted to work on the sales floor, for commissions, but since I had money handling experience, they put me in the cash office, taking payments and processing credit apps. 

Driving home on FM 1938 the night of December 8, they played three John Lennon songs in a row, which I thought was peculiar.  Then the announcer came on and reported that Lennon had been shot dead outside of his New York apartment building.  I suppose it's axiomatic that events like that, and the attempt on President Ronald Wilson Reagan's life almost four months later, are seared into your memory such that you can remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.

I won't pander and say John was my favorite Beatle - I thought he was a bit too acerbic, and I didn't care for his wife (still don't - such an odd bird).  But I enjoyed the music, and his, with and without his mates, was possibly the most influential on my generation.  He had earned his place in the rock pantheon ("Pantheon the ground, pantheon the ground, lookin' like..."   Stop it!) and certainly did not deserve the fate that befell him.

Lennon would be 70 tomorrow.  I found this quote, supposedly attributed to him: "Rituals are important. Nowadays it's hip not to be married. I'm not interested in being hip."

Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nostalgia crumbles

This morning, I noticed a salmon/coral-colored linen shirt I'd bought a couple of years ago (I say salmon/coral because, as a man, I don't really know what to call it - sort of orange-ish/pink?).  I'd been meaning to take it for alterations to have the collar converted to button-down (like Bob Newhart), because I just don't like it flapping around.  I got the shirt to wear for a nice summer evening, to complement some white linen drawstring trousers from the Neiman-Marcus Last Call, and sandals, with the crazy notion that such ensemble would make me look like Jay Ferguson of [one hit wonder] Thunder Island fame, and possibly, attractive to women, or at least one of same.

I've always liked the song Thunder Island (featuring slide guitar by Joe Walsh, and produced by Bill Szymczyk, who also...well, you know), and in my late teens, surmised from the album cover that Mr. Ferguson, with his not-quite-so-cheesy-as-a-'70s-porn-star moustache, and flowing hair, was able to garner all the hemp cord seashell necklaced chicks he could wish for.  Some serious lady action, I figured.

And maybe he did.

But, this morning, waiting at the YouTube station for a link a blogger had posted, the Crazy Thought Train Express hailed to me from the side platform, and I saw Jay Ferguson's name over there.  So I took a look.

And found this:

Oh, my!  You should see the version from Don Kirshner's Rock Concert - he looks like 'Weird' Al Yankovic!

Almost makes me say "The seventies?  I know not of the decade of which you speak..."