Friday, December 31, 2010

Winding it Down

  • Recently, Chalupa Cabrito asked the question, "Do snakes have faces?"  I commented on his post that of course they do.  Here are the faces of seven snakes:

Zoom in to see fang details.
  • I think the gray faces are just primed, and I don't remember why the second and third from the left don't have their proper yarmulkes.
  • On last evening's post, I extolled the virtue of the .41 Remington Magnum.  Here is a proper specimen:
Background: Oldest son's first deer
  • The trigger shoe is from Herter's.  I used to love to read their catalogs.
  • After three nights indoors, I got bit by the bug to sleep outdoors again last night.  No, not from having written about it - there was just a great alluring breeze outside when I let the dog out, and I was captivated.
  • At 4:02 this morning, the raindrops forced me back inside, but it was kinda funny how they'd already worked their way into my dream.
  • I made a huge batch of chicken & turkey chili, using fresh jalapeño, serrano, bell, and a small pepper from a plant my mother gave me.  Also a batch of spaghetti sauce with some of the same.
  • There was a long line of cars around the Wal-Mart today, and the checkout lines were insane.  You'd think they were giving away free nookie.
  • I don't know what that means.
  • I bought some 8 oz. Coors Lights to make red beer with.
  • Also stopped by the ALDI.  Even though I've established several kitchen staples that I can buy economically there, I am not convinced of their long-term viability.
  • Almost every item in ALDI is a store brand.  The only recognized national brands I've seen so far are: Pringles, Earl Campbell Hot Links, and Armour...lard.  Lard?  Yeah, you wanna be sure your lard is of the highest quality, right?
  • 10# sack of Russet potatoes for 99¢.  Guess that means hash browns for breakfast. Or omelettes.
  • But no beer at the ALDI.  A German store, without BierWas ist los?
  • They won't last.
  • I stepped out earlier and was about to set up my sleeping bag arrangement, but realized that Sienna would get freaked out by the fireworks - so it's indoors tonight.
  • Watched the last half-hour of Wild Hogs, then one of the Left Behind movies.
  • In this episode, Kirk Cameron's character gets married.  The minister, Bruce Barnes (played by Clarence Gilyard Jr.- James "Jimmy" Trivette from Walker, Texas Ranger - in the first two movies), quotes heavily from 1 Corinthians 13.
  • That Shakespeare dude also borrowed heavily from the same chapter in his, uh, Sonnet, um, 116.
  • Maybe in 2011 I will find a woman who understands and believes in that kind of thing.
  • Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010, Good Riddance!

While all the news outlets proclaim the top stories of the past year and notable personalities we lost, I will instead wish a hearty heave-ho to the second millennium's first decade, and wish for you, as myself, a healthy and prosperous 2011!
  • The House of Donald was blessed to have the kids this Christmas.  Actually, we spent the night at my folks' house, and oldest son had to report to work at 6:00 a.m. Christmas morning.  Luckily, his workplace was not busy, and he was able to leave mid-morning to rejoin us.
  • Attended our first Dallas Cowboys game at the new stadium the week before Christmas.  There is nothing subtle about that place.  I probably enjoyed the trip as much for seeing the engineering accomplishment (oldest son and I toured with an ASME group in 2007 when it was under construction) as the game.  The whole experience is a spectacle.  I wonder how many people go there and pay no attention to the contest on the field?  Anyway, I am most grateful to best friend Mark and his wife Claire, who passed the tickets on to us when her Dad presented them with Giants-Eagles tickets (a game that resulted in a massive meltdown for the NYG).
Two Donalds and a non-Donald (who nonetheless has 'don' in his name) - photo credit: The Donald
  • My sons have both been in Scouting.  Daughter has not.  Even so, she is every bit as rugged as any Scout I ever met.  The first night of Christmas vacation, she asked if we could sleep outdoors on the deck.  "Honey, it's going to be too cold", I said.  She just grinned.  "You're crazy."  More grinning.  "We'll have to put plenty of comforters over the sleeping bags, then."  Giggling.
  • That first night, it got down to 30° or 31°.   She pointed out Orion's belt, Polaris, the Big Dipper, as well as a shooting star.  I woke up several times to check to see if she was warm enough.  Yep. 
  • We slept outside all eight days she spent over here (only retreating indoors in the middle of the night that it rained).  Two other nights were 23° and 27°.  If she were a Scout, she'd have earned three Polar Bear badges.  Middle son joined us one of the non-freezing nights.
  • I enjoy sleeping outdoors, but mainly enjoy looking up at the sky and talking until one or the other of us falls asleep.  An experience worth more than money or gold.
  • Odd street sign:
  • Of course, I thought maybe I was in Santa Fe:

  • Then again, I had to worry about the attack of the killer Jackalope:
  • They're vicious, I'm told.
  • I didn't get caught up in the commercial Christmas vs. spiritual Christmas discussion this year.  Oh, sure, I fall into the latter camp.  But as friend Todd the Blogger points out, why split hairs over why, or how, someone is celebrating Christ's birth.  I wasn't out spending large sums, but, to the extent those who opened their wallets large this season helped the economy - I thank them.
  • We attended the middle Christmas Eve service at our Church.  It was awesome.
  • Am trying to access Obi's blog - using the sign on to the link, without success.
  • Got some inexpensive Western DVDs at the outlet mall - the kind where you get two movies on a disc, a couple of discs for $3.
  • If you ask most people about their favorite Western actor, you'll hear John Wayne, Eastwood, James Stewart, Fonda. Good choices all. And I would add another: Terence Hill (who co-starred with Fonda in 1973's My Name is Nobody, a classic).
  • At least one, so far, was a winner:
  • Lucky Luke: Ghost Train.  Starring Terence Hill (née Mario Girotti), this European TV series movie from 1991 co-stars Nancy Morgan (married to actor John Ritter from 1977-1996), Jack Elam,  David Huddleston (Olson Johnson from Blazing Saddles), and Abe Vigoda.  The trailer also credits Madeline Kahn, though she was actually in other episodes of Lucky Luke, but not this one.  The theme song is sung by Roger Miller.  Featuring a talking horse, this show is pure, slapstick Western fun.
  • I got a new Cabela's spotting scope for Christmas - looking forward to using it.
  • The latest issue of Shooting has an article about Smith & Wesson adding a .41 Remington Magnum offering to its 357 Night Guard line of snubbie revolvers.  Glad to see the .41 get the recognition it deserves, especially from the company that developed the original handguns for the round.
  • Interestingly, the article made no mention of the cartridge's proponents: Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan. Edit: ...and Skeeter Skelton, too.
  • Heresy!
  • So I will.
Have a wonderful, happy, safe, and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wrapping Up

With the events of this past week, my blog backlog seems to be growing - lots of ideas, but little time to commit them to bits and bytes.

A few last notes from the funeral:  I suppose everyone has gotten the email about the middle aged lady who goes to the dentist, only to read his diploma and realize he was a high school classmate.  When she says to the dentist, "I think you were in my class", he asks, "Oh, really, what did you teach?"

One of my classmates walked up to me yesterday and asked me my name.

For most of you, this wouldn't seem remarkable.  But my graduating class numbered 16, and we've lost two.  I can name every person in the class, and have seen all of them within the past ten years.  So, I was a bit taken aback when this one I'd visited with at the 25th reunion (six years ago) didn't recognize me.  I've not changed much in 31 years, and really very little in the most recent six. 

But then, sometimes the shoe's on the other foot.

About five of us were standing about after the funeral service when a guy walked up, with a deliberate look, and asked "Is this the Class of '79?"


"I'm Richard XXXXX."

The classmate to my right introduced himself, then I introduced myself.

"Oh, you're The Donald."


"The Donald."

"Uh, yeah, I'm Don."

"No, I mean you're The Donald, the blogger."

At this point, I'm really struggling, trying to figure out which class Richard is from, and how in the heck he stumbled across my blog, inasmuch as I don't attach tags, and, to my knowledge, wouldn't expect anyone at that gathering even to know I have a blog.

Thankfully, a few moments later, someone else walked up and said, "I'm Donnie, Richard's brother", bringing the picture into focus.  Richard had been in our class from 5th through 8th grades, but left to attend another high school.  So I guess we can't be faulted too much for being slow on the recall after 35 years.

In talking with the brothers (Richard and Donnie), we reminisced about growing up in Irving, of old landmarks long gone, and they told me of one I'd never heard before.  Apparently, until the late '40s or early '50s, there was an airport south of 183 and east of Story Road, running north-south down to where the Plymouth Park shopping center has now been for about 50 years.  I wasn't sure I believed them until I researched it this evening, since the housing in that area is about 55-60 years old, but sure enough, there had been one, and I could vaguely remember seeing some remaining hangar buildings in the '60s and '70s.

I guess you know you're getting old when you drive by a place and remember when it was a field, then such-and-such was built on it, which changed to something else, and then it was torn down and now it's a field again.

You know, kind of like Texas Stadium.

Oh, and I still never learned how Richard came to be acquainted with my blog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Mourners

This morning, at the service indicated in the prior blog, I recalled a radio spot I'd heard for a touring collection of medieval statuary, on display at the DMA until January 2.

I counted seventeen cloaked figures flanking the altar as the Celebrant conducted the funeral Mass, all older priests, many of whom I knew from my days at the school, others who taught at the University.  Additionally, there were some younger brothers and novitiates.  I was struck by the apparent age gap between those in their 20s and 30s, and those in their 70s and 80s.  There were probably two priests in the 'gap' of 40-50-60.

Our friend and mentor, Fr. Aloysius was a very special man to many people, spanning generations.  A patient teacher, counselor, and sometimes stern disciplinarian, he shepherded his students.  A classmate and friend of mine said that no mother could have defended her cubs more fiercely, than Fr. Aloysius did.  And we didn't always, or even often, make that an easy task.  Over the past three weeks, as we saw his physical life coming to its conclusion, I couldn't help seeing the parallels, in this Advent season, of one who had suffered numerous physical, emotional, and physical indignities, yet maintained strength of spirit and perseverance to complete his earthly tasks.

The Celebrant recounted an old saying, of mixed Latin and German origin, stating that "You can't give more than you have", and admitted that for most of his life he'd believed it to be true.  But recently, he had a revelation that the aphorism was wrong, that in fact, through God's power, we can give blessings far beyond  what we innately possess - the excess contribution (possibly the entire measure) being God's gift, for which we are merely conduits.

To Fr. Aloysius, I offer heartfelt gratitude for the blessings you bestowed on me.  And to my friends and whomever may read these posts, I wish the joy and love of Christ in this season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Mentor, counselor, friend

Fr. Aloysius János Kimecz, O. Cist. Fr. Aloyius János Kimecz was born in Hejo bába, Hungary on Dec. 26, 1926, and passed away on December 17, 2010. After graduating from high school, he began studies in the Teacher's College of Eger, Hungary, but was soon drafted by the Hungarian Army to serve in the Second World War. He was sent for training to Germany and then to German-occupied France. At the end of the war, he was a POW under French and later American troops. After the war he entered the Cistercian Abbey of Zirc in Hungary and finished the novitiate in 1948. When the Communist government announced the suppression of the monastery in 1950, Aloysius joined a group of young Cistercians who escaped from Hungary by crossing the Iron Curtain to the West. After a brief stay and studies in Rome, he immigrated to the United States. He continued his studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, then in Puerto Rico and finally at Southern Methodist University, where he obtained his Master's Degree in Spanish. Aloysius was ordained a priest on June 23, 1953 at the Cistercian Abbey of Spring Bank Abbey in Wisconsin. Father Aloysius worked in various capacities in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and taught at Our Lady of Victory High School in Ft. Worth and St. Edward High School in Dallas. He served on the first faculty of Cistercian Preparatory School when it opened in 1962. He served as novice master for the Cistercian Abbey 1965-68. In the Prep School he was Form Master for classes '79 and '87. An excellent teacher, form master and friend, in his last years he became particularly close to the new generation of Cistercian monks in the Abbey, promoting their love of learning and loyalty to the Monastery. He died after many years of illness. Several nephews and nieces survive him in Hungary. The Rosary will be prayed for him on Monday, December 20 at 7:30 in the Cistercian Abbey Church. The Mass of Christian Burial will be con-celebrated on Tuesday, December 21 at 10 AM, Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy officiating. Memorials may be made to the Young Monks Educational Fund of the Cistercian Abbey Our Lady of Dallas, 3550 Cistercian Road, Irving, TX 75039.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blue Plate Specials!

  • Somewhere today, near lunchtime, my colleague spotted a magnetic sign "Ask About Our $5 Lunch Specials!"
  • The sign adorned a small dumpster in front of a restaurant.
  • Pass.
  • We instead chose the Railhead BBQ in Willow Park.  Best brisket I've had in a long time - melts in your mouth.
  • An employee had on a shirt that, on the back, said "Life is too short to live in Southlake".
  • I liked that.
  • However, in fairness, and as one not often given to complimenting the Dragon city, I have to give them props for their Teen Court program.  One-of-the-family-members-who-is-a-teenager [ahem!] was, uh, recently introduced to the program, and so far I'm quite impressed by the way that it's run.
  • I used to office in Southlake Town Square.
  • Their new DPS/Courts building is super impressive also, though that's not surprising, being on the periphery of SLTS.
  • The weather today could not have been any better.
  • I'm not Baptist, but, if I didn't already have some plans, would attend Runaway Bay Baptist Church this Sunday.  I hear they have a really good interim interim Pastor. 
  • Yeah, I used the word 'interim' twice.
  • On purpose.
  • I've heard him preach before at Lake Worth BC.  I guess he specializes in Lake towns...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Welcome to the 'hood

I suppose one could devote a whole picture book to the subject of signs that give slightly altered messages when they're missing words or letters.
  • A friend got me a USB turntable for my birthday, one of those that you can convert your vinyl LPs to MP3/CDs.  The first records I've converted are Michael [Martin]¹ Murphey's Lone Wolf and Peaks, Valleys, Honky-Tonks & Alleys, from 1978 & 1979, neither of which had been reissued digitally.  PVHTA features a live, sing-along version of Geronimo's Cadillac, in which Murphey admonishes the audience : "...come on and sing now, y'all sound like a bunch of Methodists!"
  • True.
  • McCartney's performances on SNL last night were very good.  Maybe not great, but still very good.
  • Attended the office Christmas party Friday night.  A good time was had.  Especially the Chinese gift exchange.  I always feel better if the gift I give gets 'stolen', and it did.  The one I received did not, which was OK, too.  Many of the guest brought their kids, but I didn't have mine this weekend.  :-(
  • Louis Charles "B. W." Stevenson attended the same high school in Oak Cliff as Michael Murphey, though I can't tell that they ever recorded together.
  • On RPM's blog today, he recounts a youthful episode of train-hopping as a prelude/tie-in to a news story about a hapless stowaway who tried to catch a ride from Charlotte to Boston in the wheel well of a 737. 
  • Bad decision.
  • The story did remind me, however, of a line from Canadian Gordon Lightfoot's Early Mornin' Rain.  I became familiar with versions of the song by Peter, Paul & Mary and The Kingston Trio before Lightfoot's version.  The PP&M YouTube has better [B&W] video and audio, but I liked the KT version better, from a 1967 Andy Williams special.  Lead vocalist here is John Stewart, who later penned Daydream Believer for the Monkees (also covered by Anne Murray), and had a minor hit, Gold, in the '70s, assisted by Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham, who claimed to have learned to play guitar from listening to KT records.
  • I have sometimes thought it would be fun to ride a freight, but it probably wouldn't be a bright idea [for me].

¹ Murphey later began using his middle name in 1981 when the movie Hard Country which he co-wrote came out, to distinguish himself from another actor with a similar name.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Some folks may object to being lectured, but as long as people keep getting killed needlessly, it's a good reminder:

Well, isn't that just ducky?

  • This morning on the way to work, Jody Dean played John Lennon's #9 Dream.  I've always liked that song - kind of an ethereal (like Honey Bunches of Oats?  No.) feel to it - but suspect that its popularity owes at least in part to the racy-sounding refrain.
  • He noted, as has been done many times today, that it's the 30th anniversary of Lennon's passingPassing?  Can I help you?  He didn't pass - he was murdered.
  • I have written previously that I wasn't a huge fan, but certainly I like quite a bit of his music.  And it would be silly not to recognize the immense influence he had individually, as well as with the lads, on music and popular culture.
  • The Pied Piper blogger of the county northwest of here (but who resides about five minutes away) doesn't care for Mike Huckabee, but I'm disappointed that WBAP has moved him from 7:30a to 5:30a.
  • When receiving criticism, I'm getting better about shutting up and listening more.  Kind of.
  • Guess I'm gonna have to remove the '[approaching] middle age' notation from my profile.  I'm here.
  • Mr. Corner, please give W-spouse a big ol' kiss from me. 40?  Why, thank you!
  • Another sign of the times:
  • One of the recent new hires used to work for the auto auction, shown above, which has been repurposed as a recreation vehicle auction.  Nice boats!  Lots of motorhomes, too.
  • Back in the day, I used to finance auto floorplan (inventory) lines, and my dealer customers would sometimes loan me their access cards so I could go to the auction and shop for cars.  Used car floorplan lending fell out of fashion in the late '80s-early '90s.  Not 'sexy' enough, mortgage lending became the rage.  I guess we know how that worked out.  I could write a heckuva floorplan financing policy for a bank, though, and I think there's much to be said for that kind of nuts-and-bolts lending.
  • Visited briefly with a man this morning - an immigrant from the other side of the globe.  My age or a bit older, he's been here 25 years, a citizen for 15.  It's an interesting perspective you get from talking with people not born here.  A business owner, he loves the opportunities available here, bemoans the state of the economy and the myopia of some of the people in his industry sector.  The one thing he expressed strong concern for was that Americans seem to be throwing out the values system that made this country great. 
  • I agree.
  • Last night while searching for videos of Alice Cooper, I was disappointed that Vincent isn't quite the meticulous performer I'd imagined.  A lot of the performances were fairly lackluster.  I watched a KISS video a couple of weeks ago, from Thunder Tales - wasn't too impressed, but not surprised, either.  I've heard Mr. Furnier didn't do drugs back in the day, but did spend most of those years sauced. It shows.
  • A piano prodigy in the making:

  • I've said it before: I love the Stockyards.
  • There was a Wild Bill Hickok-looking dude near the Rodeo Arena today.  I could dig riding a horse up and down Exchange Avenue, but I doubt that it pays very well.
  • But I don't understand this:

A little closer...

  • I mean, sure, I've heard of shotgun weddings.  But I'm getting this odd mental image, what with the stock pens and all, of a rancher dad following behind the groom with a cattle prod and zapping the boy on the 'nads...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sign of the times...

Seen recently next to a curb, newspapers piled up on the front walk - foreclosure, perhaps?

I want to start by thanking the readers of this blog for the kind words, encouragement, and well wishes.  I haven't been ailing, or taking a well-deserved rest.  Just a little busy, and too lazy to blog lately.
  • I've had in mind to write a post about the blind men who TSA the elephant, each arriving at a different conclusion as to the nature of the beast.  The cacophany of voices these days, proclaiming what ails the world/nation/workplace/family, has been vexing me.  Many of the diagnoses may be right, but my sense is that most are like those blind men.
  • While I'm not ailing, I am older.  Half a century?  Gimme a break!  To paraphrase Alice Cooper, I was eighteen, not that long ago.
  • Daughter had a piano recital last night.  Of about 18 performers, she was the only one to perform from memory.  Yeah, I'm a proud dad.  She also had an accompanist on violin - her mom.  Not too shabby.
  • Have been invited to a Christmas party this or next weekend.  I have to get an inexpensive gift for the Chinese exchange.  Those are usually pretty fun.  Interesting to see what some people will go nuts for.
  • Oldest son's pickup is in sick bay, awaiting a fuel pump transplant.  He's been working extra hours at his after school/weekend job, but will have to squeeze in the time to drop the tank to replace the pump.  He can get it pretty reasonably from an online supplier, but can't order it until he removes the old one because the manufacturer used two different types - with different electrical terminals.  And he won't know which one he has until it's dismantled.  Aggravation!
  • Middle son is manager/scorer for his HS basketball team - enjoying what he's doing, but ready to drop the scoring pencil at a moment's notice to get on the court.
  • The priest who was my 'homeroom' teacher for eight years is nearing the end of his earthly journey.  Wracked by the physical and emotional scars of capture and confinement in war-torn Europe, then additionally persecuted when Soviet tanks rolled into his country in 1956, he somehow maintained his Spirit and gave encouragement and wise counsel to generations of students.  There's no doubt a greeting of  "Well done, my good and faithful servant" awaiting him.
  • I attended Catholic school, but am not of that denomination.
  • Dinner tonight was experimental mac-n-cheese.  A cup of shells and a cup of penne rigata, a 2:1 blend of Velveeta:Neufchâtel, a tablespoon of [real] bacon bits, and a sliced up spicy Italian parmesan sausage (leftover from Saturday night spaghetti) from Sprouts.  Not too bad, but I could have spent more time seasoning it.
The M-60 prop is pretty cool.  Wonder if I could get away wearing Alice's outfit to work?