Monday, December 26, 2016

The End is Near

The end of the year is fast approaching, and it can't end soon enough for me. Politics and what it has done to the average American, and to the country itself, is enough to make me cry. Social media seems to invite nastiness in every form, and this year it's been done in spades. Leaders I used to respect have proven to be devout liars, and people I considered friends crossed the lines of decency with their insults and ignorant repetition of slimy rumors in their effort to promote their party and candidates.

I wonder if this country will ever again become the bastion of goodness it once was? I think it will take more than draining the swamp and a new crop of self-serving thieves in government.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Will We Ever Learn?

Conventional thought suggests that the elders of the tribe should be treasured for their knowledge and wisdom. With my 75th birthday arriving this week, I believe I’ve reached the age to be considered and elder, but I can’t offer any wisdom that isn’t patently obvious for all of us to see if we read a paper or turn on the TV.

I was three months old when my country plunged into the first war of my lifetime, and it was a doozy. Millions of people died, and more millions were physically maimed and mentally scarred, but the result was that tyranny was held at bay, if not defeated.  For that reason it was generally regarded to be a good war.

A few years later, we…the US of A with the help of the UN…decided that the world needed a police force and we entered a war in Korea. We stuck our collective noses into something that was none of our business, and into an issue that we couldn’t resolve. Once again many millions died or suffered, and more than a half-century later the Korean problem still isn’t resolved.

You’d think we’d learn, but we still weren’t smart and we did it again. Well meaning, naïve people, goaded by international profiteers, decided we could resolve the disagreement in Indochina, even after the French failed miserably. Millions more died, trillions of dollars were spent, and the moral fabric of our country began to unravel…and we still didn’t learn anything. After we left that fetid morass, we went right back to interfering in regional conflicts. As Forrest Gump said…”Stupid is a stupid does”…and we does it in spades!

The result is that now we are engaged in another global war, and to borrow another phrase, we are stuck on stupid. We will never, ever, defeat a worldwide following of religious zealots. Because of the power we’ve allowed a bunch of misguided do-gooders who think it’s more important to feel good about our intentions, we never consider the laws of unintended consequences before we jump into the middle of family feuds and divine purification.

In an effort to accommodate disparate opinions, we take symbolic military actions that kill, maim, and empty the treasury, and then let lawyers, not generals, decide which violent acts are okay and which are not. Anyone with a lick of common sense can tell you that we have no chance of changing people’s minds about religious theories about what it takes to guarantee an afterlife. Instead of concentrating on our own problems, we throw dollars, unsolicited advice, and unrealistic demands at those who don’t like us, don’t respect us, who are different than us, and don’t want us nosing into their business.

We are only weeks away from another national election that will set in motion the next step in unraveling our country. I’ve met very few who can honestly and enthusiastically declare that they support either major party, or either presidential candidate. Instead they are against the people and politics of the opposition.

I have yet to hear any politician or any pundit say that their party is pledged to follow the Constitution of the United States. Instead they want to run things their way…and that is where our problems begin and end.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Storm Repairs

It took a month, but the roofing contractor finally repaired the leaky roof. He found the leak right away, so not many shingles had to be ripped off. It only took a couple of hours for one man to do the job.

Now if it doesn't leak in the next rain, I'll probably do the ceiling repair myself. If I have to wait for a sheetrock contractor, it will take forever.

The fence is still temporarily patched together and brisk wind from the northwest would blow it over again. This time of the year, southerly winds prevail, but in another few weeks they will shift to the north. The contractor said two weeks ago that he was ordering material and would be here in about two weeks, but no word since then.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Question of the day: Is stupid contagious?

If so, I think it's time to quarantine the entire government. I can't recall a time when so many idiotic lies, claims and comments were uttered by government officials of both major parties, elected, appointed or hired! I can't honestly think of one single congressman who displays the common sense expected of a trained walrus.

I think Baghdad Bob was Patient Zero, as I recognize the symptoms in our government as well as those in Europe. It's too bad the fifth estate can't see it, but they are just as guilty as the politicians when it comes to displaying terminal-stupid.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Texas Breeze

The strongest wind I've experienced during my twenty years in Texas destroyed our vinyl fence and a garage door. Afterward I spent most of a day trying to fix the fence good enough to keep the dogs in, but it's only  propped up and a moderate wind would take it down again. Unfortunately the fence company said they can't get to it for at least three weeks.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The 4th of July...What does it mean?

Ask the average millennial, and they don't have a clue what Independence Day means, much less how it was achieved, or even the country from which we gained our independence.

Until recently, many of the blogs written by those who cherish the liberties won by the founders were at least somewhat optimistic in thinking that the next election would put the country on track to renewing a government that would follow the constitution. Now, even the most patriotic among them is expecting more of the same, except under the administration of a new president. Since neither candidate is convincing, or visionary, or respectful of those who created this formerly great country, I am among those who have about given up with frustration. My posts from years past have chronicled the country's demise, and now I'm certain it will take something drastic and horrifying to draw our citizens together again. Another election won't do it.

Shame on us for ignoring Benjamin Franklin's answer to a woman who asked what type of government was created. "A republic, Madam, if you can keep it."

It appears more clearly every day that we failed Dr. Franklin.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

It's not exactly a Memorial Day story, but it's about the greatest generation and they were the ones who first made me aware of the cost of war. I met and wrote about this man a few years ago, but the simple uniqueness of his story has haunted my thoughts ever since. I posted it here before, but it seemed worth repeating.

I met a hero the other day. Normally, you might expect to meet a hero at a public event with the media present and politicians vying for camera time, but I met him in the service waiting room at an East Texas car dealership.

He stepped down out of his pickup just like any normal person, talked to the service writer and left it to have the oil changed.

He was a senior citizen, as we like to call them now, and as he walked across the driveway you could see that age had taken its toll. He was stooped and his skin was weathered by the Texas sun. He flashed a friendly smile as he headed my way, choosing an outdoor seat over a stuffy waiting room with a blaring television. He was an unimposing guy…jeans, boots and a straw cowboy hat. The hat wasn’t big, or fancy, or expensive like Hollywood cowboys wear. It was a working man’s hat…the kind you wear to shield you against the weather, but it was his go-to-town hat, too. He looked average in every way…medium height, slender build, glasses, and…well, just average looking as Texans go. He wasn’t a body builder, but he appeared fit for his age. He sat down on the bench beside me and we exchanged greetings.

The warm, morning sun had just cleared the hills behind us, and we both commented on the beautiful morning. He carried a Max Brand novel in his hand, but after we exchanged greetings, he placed it on the bench beside him and we struck up a conversation. He had already acquired my interest and I wasn’t going to let him read if I could indulge him in conversation.

We first talked about retirement, and the good old days, and cotton farming, and raising cows. He said he’d loved the idea of raising cattle since he was a kid in high school many decades earlier, but had to forego his plans to put some time in the Army.

It was then that I learned I was sitting beside a hero…a WWII combat vet. I asked him which unit he had been in…though I should have guessed. The former US Army Corporal was a native Texan and a member of the 36th Infantry Division…the Texas division…when they were sent first to Africa, and then to land on the Italian coast at Salerno in 1943.

After some general conversation about the military, he got this look in his eye. He was far away in another time, and in his soft East Texas drawl, he took me along…and I didn’t object.

He said he had wanted to tell his children and grandchildren all about war, but despite the urgings of his family, he was embarrassed to do so. I told him to respect his family’s request. They weren’t trying to humor an old man, they were truly interested. He said he had recorded part of his story on audio tapes, but hadn’t gone into the detail about many of the things that still filled his mind. One of his grandchildren had copied the tapes on a CD, but what he had recorded didn’t include everything he wanted to say...there was still so much to tell. All the little things.

He wanted them to understand what it was really like to be scared every day, but to hide the fear with jokes and bravado, like young men in combat always do. He wanted to explain what it felt like to be exhausted, and hungry, and cold, and wet for weeks on end. What it was like to look across an open field at the enemy whose job it was to defeat you by taking your life, and knowing you would soon meet him eye to eye. He wanted people to understand what went on in your mind when you saw friends die in an instant, and what it was like to cheat injury or death by a turn of fate’s card. He wanted to tell them that the way you dealt with it was to get rip-roaring drunk when you could, or to find a private place to cry until you couldn’t cry anymore. He told me several stories about individual battles, and what had happened to him and members of his unit.

The stories were not boastful tales of triumph, but rather one man’s quiet account of his tiny role in a brutal war fought between powerful countries. He never bragged that he had done anything more than what was expected of him as a member of a mortar squad. I don’t know if he was awarded any individual citations. He didn’t say, and I didn't ask, but he did say he was one of only two men in his original company not killed or wounded. He marveled at his good fortune, but mourned the loss of so many friends. He didn’t complain or speak ill of the government that sent him to war. It was something that had to be done and he was obliged to do his part. His pride was apparent, but his deeds were not demanding of praise or comment. And there was no anger in his voice, only the need to explain how it really was. I was eager to listen, and he was willing to talk about it.

You might wonder why, without medals and fanfare, I’ve referred to the Corporal from Texas as a hero, but that’s easy to explain. He belongs to a generation that’s rapidly disappearing; a generation we’ve selfishly taken for granted…and they’ve not complained. Not enough of us understand their personal sacrifice, nor do we appreciative how they built the world we live in today. The young soldiers that went to war did what was asked and expected of them, and they did it to the best of their ability. Like so many veterans I’ve talked to, he didn’t come home with expectations of being treated special. He did his job, and then he came home to rejoin society and start a family. He could finally get back home to raise cattle and to live the life he loved. When you are a real hero, that’s what you do. No demands. No whining. You quietly get on with life. I’m certain he’d be embarrassed at being called a hero, but in my eyes, he and his generation are all heroes. Their sacrifice allowed me all the comforts I now enjoy, and their labors have given the modern world a standard of living that couldn’t have even been envisioned when they were young.

All too soon the mechanic returned with his truck, and our conversation had to end. I could have listened to him for hours, but like anything good, a small amount makes you appreciate it even more. He apologized for bending my ear, but in my mind, he was passing on a personal record of history and I thank him for both the lesson and the pleasure of his company. We shook hands and I watched him walk away. It was time to do what modest heroes do. It was time to go home and check on the cows.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Elections Have Consequences

The presidential primary election is pretty much a moot point in the remaining states. Those who already voted had a choice of stick-it-in-your-eye political payback candidate, or a return to constitutional politics candidate. They chose to pay back the establishment. Maybe because they decided that none of the presidential candidates had it in their heart or in their power to fix the entrenched perversion of the two major political parties. Perhaps they preferred hyperbolic bomb throwing to boring rhetoric, or maybe there was a lot of voter ignorance, or maybe they decided to go with celebrity over substance. Maybe it was because their ears were deaf to the logic, or their eyes blind to reality, or their minds closed to history, or maybe it was all of the above.

What I did learn is that I can no longer claim the label of conservative or Republican. The party has sunk far below the level of conduct I’m willing to be associated with, and the majority of those voters claiming conservatism have apparently traded the precise words of the constitution for their interpretation of the gospel.

So where does that put those of us who swore allegiance to the constitution…not a Caesar, or a religion, or a populist movement? We are on the outside looking in as the factions jockey and bicker in the name of their favorite object of worship. We have nowhere to go and nothing to do but wait to see where the chaos goes and where it ends.

Last month once again set a record for gun sales in America. I wonder why?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Choosing Sides...2017 Style

In one of my last political diatribes, I predicted that the world is in the process of choosing sides. Those willing to fight for liberty are arming to the teeth and preparing for the not too distant future by buying and storing the three B’s…bullion, bandages and bullets.

Both political parties are irreversibly split in philosophies and only await November’s election before the birth of two new parties on the more extreme ends of the political spectrum. The desire and the plans are already in place, and only the fading hope of retaining our republic delays the inevitable. The give-me-free-stuff socialists will flee the Democrats, and the responsible-adult wing of the Republicans will reinstate the Constitution of the United States as the basis for their party platform. The remaining go along to get along moderates, the “republicrats”,  will become the dodo birds of tomorrow, doomed to quickly fade into irrelevancy.

Once the two spin-off parties attain power, I foresee a serious move from the right to achieve a friendly, non-violent  geographical/political divorce from the non-producing leftists on each coast. If the left is dumb enough to ignore that desire in order to retain their political ability to suck the success from the free enterprise system, there will be blood in the streets...and they are not the ones holding the three B's.

You can say you read it here first.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

North Texas Storms

Monday evening we experienced the worst thunderstorm I've seen in the twenty years I've been in Texas. The edge of the storm hit here, but winds were near 80mph with golf ball sized hail that was driven sideways from the wind. They punched several holes in the vinyl fence panels, and sounded like they were going to come through the roof windows.

Those in the middle of the cell got softball size hailstones that actually penetrated house roofs and literally destroyed cars sitting outside. Where they hit the ground, the craters left after the ice melted looked like the surface of the moon!

I'm sure the fly-by-night roof repair companies will soon be prowling the neighborhood. The last time we had damaging hail, they began calling even before the storm had stopped. This time the storm area is so large they will have thousands of homes to contact.

One thing I noticed after the storm was how much better built the old cars were. When the wind and rain abated,  I checked my old '56 Plymouth parts car to see if the windshield survived, as I had planned to put it in the car I'm restoring. The glass was fine, and not single dent in the heavy sheet metal! Newer cars would not have survived the beating without major damage.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Move and More

The biggest change is that we’ve moved from our quiet, wooded, rural acre in East Texas, back to the windy, treeless, small town bedroom suburbs of the DFW Metroplex. No need to explain why, but suffice to say it was by mutual agreement, and there is no turning back at our age. I’m sure I’ll occasionally comment on the frustrating challenges we experienced trying to coordinate and monitor construction of a new house from 150 miles away. That project will be remembered for the rest of our lives, but not with fondness. The best thing about the move so far is the lack of scorpions and black widow spiders around here. They are native to this part of the state, but I’ve not seen any and I hope it stays that way. There are several candidates for the worst thing…like wind, noise, clay soil, higher prices and traffic, but mostly I miss my coffee drinking buddies at Pop’s Café. Small town East Texas had some great people that I’ll never forget.

I don’t know if any readers of this blog are visitors to my other blog/journal that documents the trials and tribulations of rebuilding a sixty-year-old, extremely rusty Plymouth. I’ll assume not, but if I assume incorrectly, please bear with me if I repeat a few things from the other site. However, instead of a play-by-play record of progress, I’ll just hit the high spots if and when they occur.

I've been asked about my novel-writing efforts. The last I posted was about a year after In Dreams was published in 2011. Success was about as expected for a typical work of fiction by a new author, meaning sales tanked after a short period of modest sales. Most buyers chose the downloadable versions i.e. Kindle. Writing that one novel seemed to sap all my creative energy, so except for a few feeble attempts to ignite new interest, I’ve done little in the writing department. The story I had in work fizzled when the plot became too weak to continue, and while I hated abandon the 25 thousand words I had on paper, it was no used beating a dead horse. Recently, I found myself creating a plot in my mind and while that’s the way the first book started, it remains to be seen if thoughts will ever translate to words on paper.

Family-wise, my wife’s granddaughter stayed with us for the better part of a year, but finally got her own apartment near Dallas. I’m too set in my ways to have houseguests more than a few days, so it’s good that she got a job that (barely) pays her rent. The Maltese puppy she acquired shortly before moving out is still living with us, as her apartment doesn’t allow pets. Thankfully, she and the pup weren’t together long enough to really bond, so we now have a new furry child to terrorize our two older dogs. Gracie has a very sweet, energetic personality and provokes many more laughs than scoldings.

National politics continues to drive me nuts, and this year being a presidential election cycle makes it especially frustrating. We still have a country, but for how long? An amicable divorce between unbending regional political philosophies looks better with each passing day.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Like a Phoenix?

While I haven't posted anything new here in years, I'm surprised by the number of visitors this blog still manages to attract. Most are probably random hits from searches for other sites, but those who do stop in often read  many of the old posts.

Since I occasionally get the urge to vent about our crazy world, or to share something that interests me, I've decided to do so here since the blog site is still available.

I have no clue as to the frequency of new posts, but it will not be often enough to attract new readers. It will only serve as a place where I can ramble on to my heart's content, while providing some new fodder for the few regulars who still drop in.

The next post will attempt to fill some gaps since Porky Pig helped say goodbye four years ago this month.