Thursday, August 30, 2007

I’ll Have a What-a-Burger and Hold the Lettuce

A friend of mine was having lunch at the local What-a-Burger the other day when the police showed up in mass. It turned out that one of the other customers had tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill when he placed his order. The cashier wouldn’t accept the bill and so the order was paid with a real $10 bill. The manager instructed the cook to take his time preparing the order while police were notified. When arrested the suspect wanted to know if he could have his order “to go”; at least that’s the story I got in my email.

This mornings KPRC website mentioned the arrest and had a short video of the suspects being taken into the jail facility. For those interested in becoming involved in the judicial process, a brief course in how to create your own money is offered.

“We actually found the suspect in the Whataburger with one of the counterfeit $100 bills in his hand," Lt. Ronnie Hayes said.”


“What they do is take a $5 bill or a $1 bill, they wash it, try to get all the ink off of it and then reprint it to either a $50 or $100 bill,” Hayes said. “They left some of the ink from the prior denomination on the bill and it was easy to notice when they (the clerks) picked the bill up.”

I wanted to have some music to go along with this, “Hey Big Spender”, came to mind; but it wasn’t in my library. I suppose we’ll need to alter the words to fit the crime, “The minute you walked in the door, I could tell you were a man of distinction, a real dumb cookie,…”, or somethin’ like that.

Thanks and a tip of the hat to my friend Andy who had a chance to see this first hand. Make sure to count your change, “Hey, both these have the same serial number!”

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Something new for my Sidebar

I was visiting some new sites yesterday and found a neat visual link on Lords of the Manor’s sidebar, one which takes an interested individual to a short introductory infomercial for my Church. Jennifer, the lady who runs the “Manor” was kind enough to send me the HTML script to add to my template. I sent her a quick Thank You note and will have to visit her blog more often now that I’ve found it.

I’m holding my pocket watch in front of your eyes, the pendulum motion of the shiny orb dancing back and forth is causing your eye lids to relax as if you were going to sleep. I’m counting to three, you want to click on the new link provided, one; you’re drifting off to sleep now as you continue to fall deeper, “I always wanted to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”, two; you are now completely relaxed and have no reason not to enjoy a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the world, three. Click on the link, “The Truth About Life’s Great Questions is Now Restored”, the information will cost you nothing and you might learn something. Oh, I almost forgot, make sure to leave a short comment; I’ll know my efforts as a hypnotist are working this way.

I’m going to count to three once more and you will wake up refreshed and enlightened, one; you’re saying to yourself, “That was about as non-threatening a link as I’ve ever visited”, two; you’re nearly awake now and want to know more about how the missionaries can come by your house and drop off your free Book of Mormon, three; now wasn’t that a neat way to spend a few minutes?

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Night For Great Music

If you like that last piece of music, Washington Square ; you might want to stick around for another time capsule instrumental I found while digging around in the dust, Midnight in Moscow by Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen. I’m like a kid in the candy store running out of nickels and wondering if I have enough to purchase all that sweet stuff running past my ears.

Like Finding an Old Friend

I had a chance to enjoy Sirius Radio this past weekend while visiting my folks on a short two day “drop by and scoot”. It’s only a little over an hour trip and a good way to relax after being strapped into the coach section of an airplane. I picked up my rental car at the West Palm Beach Airport and didn’t even notice it had the fancy satellite hook up until I was half way to Vero Beach, when the local station I’d been tuned into started to fade.

I looked at the options on the radio, something I hadn’t paid much attention to while I was figuring out where the important stuff was; A/C, mirror activators, seat positioning and cruise controls. I turned the dial until it started playing music I liked, mostly tunes from the late 60’s and 70’s; that got me to my folk’s house and I left it alone until this morning, very early this morning, when I headed back for my flight to Houston.

I took to the road at 3am, hugged my folks and waved good bye in their circular driveway. The nice part about driving at that time of night is how empty the roads are; nearly had the 10 miles, give or take, to I-95 all to myself. The highway down to West Palm had a few cars and the rest were mostly truckers as I cranked up the volume on the satellite radio channels.

As I was passing St. Lucie I heard a tune I’d almost forgotten existed; one too good to leave in the past, Washington Square by the Village Stompers. I recognized the clear notes jumping from a banjo and immediately turned it up a few extra notches as the Dixieland Jazz band filtered in, almost imperceptibly at first and then ratcheting it into full gear. The piece ends with the solo banjo carrying the tune, each note hammering the singularly electric tune home. I knew that the iTune store was about to make some more money. I can see how listening to the satellite radio might get expensive; but, running into old friends like that is worth it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Here’s the Plan...

I could have labeled this one, “Here’s the Plan or How to Piss Off Your Wife in Two Seconds Flat”; but that wouldn’t fit in the title bar line. I should back up a bit and fill in some blanks.

Last month I had some surgery that didn’t go smoothly, an understatement. They had to go in and make some repairs as they went along; one of those repairs was to implant a temporary stint to drain off bile, a temporary implant that would be removed after a few weeks when it was no longer needed. A month has passed and we found that our HMO required authorization to have the stint removed because it was put in by a doctor not on their standard list of physicians.

We had to first get a form filled out by our HMO family doctor who then would explain that the procedure was not only necessary but that only one doctor, the one who put it in, could remove it. That was two weeks ago and we’d heard nothing from the HMO folks so Lucy started calling them to find out what the hold up was.

Yesterday Lucy found a super reasonable round trip air fair to Florida where I could go visit my folks in time for my dad’s birthday. Lucy did all the work on the computer, lining up the best departure time for this Saturday, the most efficient time to come back early Monday to where I’d be home early enough so as not to miss any locksmith work and even booked a nice mid-sized rental car for me. I called my folks and let them know I’d be there in time for lunch this Saturday; things look pretty good, so far.

Around lunchtime today I got a call from the fancy doctor’s office explaining that they’d gotten the authorization from the HMO on their fax machine; apparently Lucy had lit a match under the HMO folks to the point of getting some results. The connection on my cell phone was terrible and it hung up on me before I could find out how to proceed. I called them back and got their answering service, my frustration level increasing by the moment.

A few minutes later I got a call back and this time the connection was much better. The young lady from the doctor’s office explained that I could come in anytime to have the stint removed; how about tomorrow? She told me not to eat anything after midnight and to arrive before eleven in the morning, expect to be able to leave before three in the afternoon and to have someone to drive me home.

While I was listening to these instructions Lucy was trying to tell me that I should wait until Monday to have this “procedure”; but I didn’t want to hear that, all I wanted was to be done with doctors, gall bladder stuff and on with my life. I didn’t consider that Lucy was concerned that this “minor procedure” might turn out ugly, just as the original minor procedure or set me back as when they removed the drainage system from my abdomen.

Not that I’m pig headed; “We’re doing it tomorrow!” I let the words vault into the phone and that was that. Lucy then explained how dumb my lack of planning was, how my airline ticket was non-refundable and that my name on the ticket made it so only I could use it. So, nobody say, “Piece of Cake”, like the Billy Crystal line in Forget Paris.
I’m going in tomorrow for a minor procedure and flying to see my folks the next day, even if I have to have an ambulance get me to the airport with an oxygen mask dangling from my chin; I’m going to see my folks.

I feel like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof when he put his foot down about going to see the sewing machine. “Golda, I’m the man of the house and I say we’re going to see the sewing machine…(duck in for half a second, enough to glimpse it)…there, now we can go.” Maybe I should use different movies, Forget Paris was a bumpy ride all the way to the end and Fiddler on the Roof ended with everyone having to desert their homes, their village and even their country. Maybe War Games, “How about a nice game of chess?”

Lucy just came in and told me that she could still spend an extra $15 on my flight’s ticket insurance; “…better than wasting $175 if you can’t make it on Saturday”. Yea, I think Lucy is a bit miffed still.

Not Enough Cops on Duty?

I read where a small town in New York, Deerpark, made the headlines; apparently there was a party at Hooter’s in an adjoining township and several off duty officers attended. According to the Fox website article , only two officers were scheduled to work that night; one was unavailable because he was on suspension and the other didn’t show up because he didn’t want to work by himself.

“That left a single state trooper on call to cover the town.”

I have to ask a few questions, the first; how big is the town? It couldn’t be all that big for them to have only two officers scheduled for an entire shift. Why couldn’t the shift commander, if there was one, why couldn’t he have filled in for the officer on suspension which would have made the lone officer, the one who didn’t feel comfortable working alone show up for duty. Was there only one police car; in other words, was it a two man unit or were there two “one man units” to cover the township? I don’t see how it would make much difference; but I’d have to wonder anyway.

Okay, or is that O-tay; back on night shift many years ago when I was with the Houston Police Department we had a visit from a newly assigned Assistant Chief. He came out one Friday, unannounced. It was about fifteen minutes prior to the beginning of our shift and I was in the kitchen enjoying a complimentary Crunch Bar, courtesy of the local Borden’s Ice Creamery. The freezer was generously stocked with a variety of ice cream products and there were five other night shift officers in the kitchen talking and taking advantage of the sack dragged morsels when the Assistant Chief poked his head in to say hello.

“Don’t bother getting up; I’ll let you enjoy your time here, what I have to say I want to keep until I address the entire shift in roll call.” There was a friendly spirit that accompanied his entrance to the kitchen, a relaxed demeanor not normally found when the “Ivory Towers” visited with the troops.

“Then you might as well tell us what’s on your mind, Sir; this IS the entire shift.” I was senior officer and knew that all six of us WAS all there would be on this Friday night. There were two geographic police districts, two “one man units” and two “two man units” for an area that covered the size of Rhode Island, other than that it was perfectly normal.

Think about that for a moment; the “two man units”, both of them, were normally sent on disturbance calls in order to have immediate back up while the one man units were sent on report calls. That looks great on paper; except that as soon as the first disturbance call is assigned that left the one man unit to cover the entire district; remembering that the other units are assigned to cover the other district until all units are on a call. Friday night calls generally meant that there were no available units for calls; so, for practical purposes there were no available units for service, for back up or any other reason.

There had been an energy level, an excitement that was visibly absent as soon as the Assistant Chief absorbed the information I’d given. The pep talk he’d planned for the “entire shift” seemed somehow irrelevant in light of the fact that our shift was considerably under staffed; so much so that it was, in my humble opinion, critically under staffed to the point of endangering individual officers, not to mention the public which believed the City had sufficiently provided for their safety. I couldn’t tell you what message had been important enough for an Assistant Chief to come out on a Friday night. The message that we gave him was more important, get us some back up.

You folks up in Deerpark, New York shouldn’t be all that upset; after all you still had the State Trooper to keep you safe. Would this be a good time to mention how much safer you would be if you had in your possession a working knowledge of firearms to defend yourself and your loved ones from the bad guys? Let’s take that a step beyond; maybe, if you had your trusty firearm and knew how to use it, were respectable and had a sense of community you could come to the aid of your local police officer when he/she comes across more than he/she’s able to handle alone; seeing as how the department is under staffed in order to keep from taxing the public into bankruptcy.

I’m long since retired from the Department and hadn’t given it much thought the last time I went to Hooter’s or considered my location with regard to the welfare and safety of the community. I did stop at Hooter’s a couple of weeks ago when one of the local girl’s soccer teams was using Hooter’s parking lot for a fund raiser; hoses stretched across the asphalt with buckets, sponges and towels washing cars with all the team members and their parents baking in the hot Texas sun. They did a reasonable wash job on my work truck; not as good as I do myself, but it beats those worthless imbeciles standing on the corner with a plastic jug asking for donations rather than providing some kind of service. I’m a sucker for fund raisers where the kids are taught to provide a product or service in return for helping them achieve some goal.

Saturdays are good for driving around looking for kids with the right attitude, those who’ve been taught how to work and how to fit into our American way of life; keeps me from having to wash my truck too, what a hoot!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

State of Texas Wants a Piece of the Camera Ticket Pie

Here in Houston the chance to increase revenue jumped when City Hall pushed through enforcement of Red Lights with Cameras. They had to side step a few things to get it past, the most important part being that any citation issued would fall into civil law rather than criminal law as other traffic tickets do, tickets issued by cameras would not show up on the driving record of an individual because the tickets are issued to the owner of the vehicle rather than the presumed driver at the time of the infraction and some minor issues involving whether or not the vehicle had stopped and then made an authorized turn while at a red light.

This week City Hall has to contend with revising the ordinance which permits the issuance of Red Light tickets by Cameras because the State of Texas passed a new law which forces the City to hand over half the revenue confiscated.

“The code was amended in the last session under a bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Murphy, R-Houston ( The Woodlands ).”

“That bill requires revisions to Houston’s ordinance. In addition to requiring the definition of a violation come from the state code, Murphy’s law requires cities to send half their red-light camera profits, after maintenance and operations, to a state trauma fund.”

According to statistical records reported by the Houston Police Department, the average number of Red Light tickets issued each day is approximately 442. Multiply that by 365 days per year and convert to dollars at $ 75.00 per ticket and the safety of the public is easily forgotten in favor of $ 12 million dollars; give or take, minus the roughly $ 3 million dollars for the out of state vendor to maintain the system. Now cut that in half and everyone is happy; everyone except the citizen who never has the opportunity to confront the only witness against him, a mechanical device.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m the first person in line wanting folks who run red lights to get ticketed and fined heavily for jeopardizing the safety of everyone else for running red lights or stop signs. When I worked as a police officer in the City of Houston catching folks who’d run a red light were my favorite tickets to write. I had certain standards which governed when I issued tickets; primarily the total disregard for the safety of everyone else based on how far from the intersection the driver was at the time the light changed to red, did the driver speed up to run the light above a reasonable rate of speed and other factors which only could be determined visually by my vantage point and my experience as a police officer when dealing with violators and the multitude of possible reasons for disregarding the communities standards for safety.

My beef with the City of Houston, and now the State of Texas, is with the casual manner in which they have removed a key element from the justice system, human witnesses to back up a mechanical device. They claim that by making Red Light Tickets issued by a Camera a civil matter that it somehow makes everything okay; sorry, without a human witness, a witness who can be confronted, cross examined and required to justify the charges made then there is no witness and no admissible evidence in any court, civil or criminal.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Define Guilt, White or Black

I’m not a football fan and have to admit that I never heard of Michael Vick or knew that he was the star quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons before the dog fighting mess came to light in the news. I couldn’t have told you what color his skin was and the case had not come before the courts; giving the man the benefit of our system, innocent until proven guilty.

I listened and read about how some of the community considered the charges to be racially motivated; something which makes for good media coverage in our day. The other day I read where Michael Vick has accepted a plea bargain agreement on the charges; in other words, a plea of guilty will be voluntarily entered to avoid any further court proceedings.

I’ve listened as judges explained the meaning of a guilty plea; burglary, robbery, child molesters and even murderers standing in front of the court to confess their guilt. I don’t suppose it matters that by standing in front of the court they are in fact standing in front of the entire community to explain why they chose to violate the laws set down by their own community. The judge will go on to ask many questions of the defendant prior to accepting a guilty plea. If I miss some of the finer points of law please jump in.

“You’re pleading guilty because you are guilty and for no other reason?” Each question has a period of time in which the defendant must acknowledge with a nod of the head or a “Yes, your Honor.”

“You have not been coerced or threatened into pleading guilty?” This isn’t mother Russia where they take your family off to a room and hold them hostage in order to obtain a guilty plea; so what reason would anyone have for pleading guilty to a crime they had not committed?

Never mind the rest; if you don’t understand that Michael Vick has pleaded guilty by his own admission then this is a waste of time. I read on the CNN website where quite a few folks think this whole thing was racially motivated, that Michael Vick is a victim of the system; without going past the PC lines too far, that Michael Vick is the victim of the white man’s flawed system intended to keep talented black people in their place.

“Fans at Playmakers Barber Shop in Midtown said they still support Vick, because they feel he is innocent, and that he is a victim of a racist judicial system.”

“It’s bad. I don't condone it at all, but the punishment is too severe, (they’re ruining) a man’s career,” said barber Dontrell Mapp.”

I’m sorry; but I don’t buy into the race card crap being spread like manure by the civil rights groups intent on destroying and dividing our communities. Our system works for whites, blacks, greens and yellows. Those who stand before the courts have the same opportunities to understand what they are charged with, a chance to consult with qualified lawyers, a chance to weigh the options in front of them and even with a plea of guilty in front of a judge will have the opportunity to withdraw that plea.

There’s a move to “save Vick’s job”, to let him play professional football. I’ve already stated that I could care less about football; I know, that sounds un-American to some of you. What difference would it make having one more criminal on the field; I thought that a good portion of the NFL’s fan base were fellow probationary and parolees enjoying the chance to be out of prison, to watch a sporting event put on by the most savage steroid induced barbarians for hire or probation and parole officers keeping tabs on their assignments.

“Vick supporters will rally again Monday night, before the Atlanta Falcons’ preseason game with the Cincinnati Bengals.”

Santa is on Vacation

This past weekend Lucy, Bonnie, Jennifer and the grandkids attended the wedding of a good friend’s daughter. Several folks from church were there, many whom we’d known over the years, now in different areas of the city and so it was like a reunion as well.

Our grandson JJ went about learning basic social graces, shaking hands and smiling for strangers; that is until he met one particular “stranger”. It was one of those magical events that happen every now and again, one that simple is too good not too share.

“Didn’t I meet you last Christmas?” JJ asked the rotund man dressed in his best goin’ to church Sunday suit. Our friend paused, looking down at the serious young man, his head cocked to one side and quite certain that he was talking with Santa.

“Yes, but you mustn’t tell anyone else; I’m on vacation.” Dick Webster held his finger to his lips in such a way as to sell the image handed down over the years; Thomas Nast’s classic Santa Claus was standing in the crowd at a wedding reception talking with my grandson, JJ.

“Why don’t you have your red suit on?” JJ pressed for more.

“If I wore that everyone would know who I was and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my vacation.”

“Then how will all the toys get made if you’re on vacation?” JJ changed to something more important.

“That’s being taken care of, I’m more into management and let the elves do most of the work anyway.” The conversation was about over as Santa reminded JJ to keep this under his hat. JJ nodded reverently and with sincerity of heart retreated to the company of family. Lucy and Bonnie had observed the entire episode, holding in their enjoyment of the moment.

“Do you know who that is?”

“Yes, but I promised not to tell.”

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tower of Babel in a Petri Dish

This painting by Abel Grimmer (1570-1619) depicts the building of the Tower of Babel. The Lord confused the languages of man at Babel. (Gen 11:1-9)
I read where there’s a “worldwide race to create life” by scientists intent on making life from some man made soup of chemicals. According to the article they might be within only a few years of accomplishing a single micro organism, something which in time might be able to save the human race from all manner of disease.

"It's going to be a big deal and everybody's going to know about it," said Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, one of those in the race. "We're talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways — in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict."

“That first cell of synthetic life — made from the basic chemicals in DNA — may not seem like much to non-scientists. For one thing, you'll have to look in a microscope to see it.”

"Creating protocells has the potential to shed new light on our place in the universe," Bedau said. "This will remove one of the few fundamental mysteries about creation in the universe and our role."

I remember watching the movie, Jurassic Park; the part where the Chaos Scientist pointed out to all the others, those overjoyed with having brought to life Tyrannosaurs, Raptors and all manner of previously extinct creatures in order to open a theme park; presenting them with the idea that just because they might be able to accomplish something as extreme as making a dinosaur from the remnants of the DNA found inside a fossilized mosquito with the aid of genetically engineered computer enhancements, had they considered the possibility that they shouldn’t.

My guess is there was a similar meeting while the Tower of Babel was being erected; bricks upon brick the structure reaching its way toward Heaven. The chief engineers all patting themselves on the back as they contemplated how much longer it might be when the gates of Heaven had been breached. There would have been a few reluctant ones, those who could see the dangers of violating God’s Plan through poorly thought out deviations, “You might just reach Heaven with this Tower of Babel; but have you considered the possibility that we shouldn’t?”

You could go on and on watching the scientists jump and dance around the murky Petri dish with electrodes fastened to the top of their Frankenstein Castle chanting the magic words, “Abracadabra”, “Why don’t you do something?” or lastly, “We don’t need no stinking God, We can do anything He can do.” I wonder what surprise is in store for us, confounded language and flooding have already been implemented and we haven’t figured it out yet.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Optimism Defines My Christian Faith

I read an interesting article posted by Dana at Principled Discovery, “The explanation of evil: religion, resentment or sin?” where she starts off with, “I must confess I have a bizarre fascination with Richard Dawkins.” I never heard of the fellow as I continued to sift through the linked articles which attempted to explain how the intellectuals, the real thinkers in our society, view religion in general and how those with faith in God might one day be cured of their illness. It’s possible I read more into the article than was there; but then again I’ve been suffering from religious delusions for much of my adult life.

I never considered my religious beliefs as threatening to others; my belief that I am made in the image of God, that my life’s purpose is to improve daily as my desire to become more like Jesus through service to my fellow beings and to eventually pass beyond this mortal frame and take on the eternities in an immortal and perfected body. If I’m right then my spirit goes on and on for time and all eternity, if not it all ends at the grave and the intellectuals still have no victory as we all lose; either way the outcome should pose no threat to those who remain among the living.

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39

The knowledge that mortality is not our total existence, that our lives are so much more than the challenges between that first breath at birth and the last one before dying defines the difference between the secular world and those with faith. It is this optimism that permits the human spirit to see beyond the tragedies of mortality. The sad part, at least for me, is watching so many wandering about without any clue as to their individual worth as pertain to the eternal nature of the human spirit.

I’d have to ask the question, much as Peggy Lee did many years ago in song contemplating the futility of living a life of disappointment and sorrows along with the prospect of simply ending it all, “Is that all there is, If that’s all there is my friend, Then let’s keep dancing, Let’s break out the booze and have a ball; If that’s all…there…is.” The song was an interesting short study on the sadness associated with those with little or no faith in an eternal promise as found in the scriptures.

In many ways the intellectuals might have the upper hand; after all, the only way to prove my faith is to die and find out what happens on the “other side”. The intellectual secularist need only die with the understanding that the physical body will eventually dissolve and become part of the earth, no more, no less. I prefer my optimism and would prefer not to be treated as if I had some sort of infection.

I’ll go one step beyond, entertaining or even provoking many as I explain that I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God and is another witness to go along with the Bible as to the divinity of Jesus Christ as our Savior, that Joseph Smith actually saw God the Father and Jesus Christ as he testified. This is my belief and the information is either correct or it isn’t; there being no “half ways” to nibble with. If I am correct then I am no threat to my fellow beings as I go about serving those who will permit such simple service, all the while attempting to emulate my Savior through selfless acts with the hope of eternal rewards beyond the grave. I force no one to believe as I do, to conform through threat or coercion and if this is a “virus”; may the rest of society be exposed to it and take on the symptoms of my delusion.

Priority Mail Takes on a New Meaning

There are always going to be some folks who’re going to take advantage of a situation and turn a profit; sometimes legally, others not so legally. Take the company in South Carolina that bilked the Pentagon out of over $20 Million dollars in fraudulent shipping costs for things like washers and screws sent “priority” in order to get to troops in combat areas.

“C&D and two of its officials were barred in December from receiving federal contracts. Today, a federal judge in Columbia, South Carolina, accepted the guilty plea of the company and one sister, Charlene Corley, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder money, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald said.”

Apparently there was no oversight for payments made to military contractors, none at all. The only reason C&D got caught was a fluke audit. Sounds like the folks paying the bills at the Pentagon must have lived on one of those atolls in the Pacific; you may have heard of this one, the No Sense At All.

I wonder if the military needs any key blanks; and I won’t mind waiting in line at the post office to request “priority mailing”. It will be neat riding around in my new executive helicopter as I make service calls; and you thought transponder keys were expensive…

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nice Matters Award

Tigersue thinks I’m a nice guy for some reason and it seems there’s an award in the blogging community called the "Nice Matters Award", a little bit like the Thinking Blogger or the Nobel Peace Prize; but without the fancy trip to Europe or the million bucks. I commented that she must not have seen me driving; my Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde routine.

I’m supposed to nominate seven bloggers who come across as nice folks, ready to support and make the day go a little better. The limit of seven might not be fair seeing as how I’m the recipient of so many blessings through my associations in the blogosphere.

I’ll admit right off that the award, as pictured on
Tigersue’s Jungle ; how do I put this without… Let’s just say it looks a bit too cutsey-squeezy-huggy for the macho minded among us. Perhaps there could be a similar award for those of us who’d prefer to be simply “Okay Sort of Person”, an average “Joe” standing up for what he believes without being too pretentious or stepping on too many toes while going about life everyday; someone out of a Norman Rockwell painting would do just fine.

Okay, here’re seven off the top of my head, folks who should be considered for the “Nice Matters Award”, or the “Okay Sort of Person Award”

Zane over at Big White Hat

Mike at Mover Mikes

Mary of By Study and Also By Faith

Eugene the Teflonman

Jahn who has De’ fliengde Vuoglann’r

Al at Old Whig’s Brain Dump

Dana of Principled Discovery

I’m leaving off quite a few folks who I know should also be on this list, Ron from Starsplash, Probligo, DL, The Mary Hunter and so many others. Know this, I have so many friends in the blogosphere, folks who buoy me up when I need a pick me up and a kind word now and then does wonders for my soul. Thank you all.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back to Work

The doctors gave me the go ahead last week to “ease back” into work as long as I recognized that my body was still doing some serious healing. I cheated and did a couple of simple jobs on the Friday before I was to start back and was so happy to be doing what I enjoy most, locksmith work. I’d explained to Lucy that I planned to get my haircut that day and she wondered why I needed my work truck as I passed her on the way to the second “simple” lock job. I was caught dead to rights as she buzzed my cell phone wondering aloud where I was going since it wasn’t near the barber shop.

Last week I did two days worth of business on Monday, three days worth on Tuesday and finished the week feeling pretty good about filling in some of the dents made to my budget. July was a total disaster and thank goodness we’d planned ahead for the rainy days.

Today we were reminded that August in Houston can be dangerous for folks who work outside; temperatures touching the triple digit mark. I might not have the “ease back into work” figured out, at least not the way a sane person would implement the doctor’s instructions. I did three days worth of business today, much of it very labor intensive, while the heat index made it feel like it was 110. I soaked a towel with water and used it to cover my pointed head, held in place with the magnifying head gear I use while cutting keys. I kept a drying towel to wipe the beads of sweat out of my eyes and drank lots of water as I moved from car to car restoring lost keys. I did four in a row at one dealership, a tidy sum since two were programmable and one had lots of repair work in one door that had been abused badly. I did three difficult cars at the next dealership, again the totals looked good; maybe that’s what Lucy will have engraved on my headstone, “The totals looked good…”

I haven’t had much energy left to write articles at the end of the day, this evening I’m so tired I can’t sleep; a strange way to put the fact that I went to bed and couldn’t relax. I figure that shower I took when I got home took away some of the exhaustion and fooled me into thinking I wasn’t really all that worn out. Glad to be back working, gosh but I missed that part of my life last month.

The picture was taken a couple of years back, before I shaved off my beard; but this is where I do most of my work, the back of my service truck. Where ever my truck is, that’s where my business is. Some folks think I drive a Dodge Dakota, actually I have a Snap-On Tool Box with a 318 motor.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Human Evolution Theory Proven Wrong, Again...

If this were in the movie, Forest Gump, the opening line would have been, “Human Evolution Theory Proven Wrong, Again…” That might rile quite a few folks intent on preaching the Theory of Evolution as if it were factually founded; but those folks never bother with facts anyway, a strong feeling is good enough to run full out towards their intended goal.

I read an article which indicated that two different sets of skeletal remains found in Kenya, one which had been presumed as a direct ancestor from the other, had been living side by side for half a million years; making it more than unlikely that the one sprang from the other.

The article is more than gracious in backing off from the original “old theory” once it had been proven that the new evidence blasted the non existent evidence, which had been taught as fact, blasted it completely into oblivion. You might recall sitting in class with a text book which had laid out pictorially a steady improvement of our species, a cartoon version most school children have been spoon fed as factually accurate, one which implied that on the one side of the Human Evolutionary Chain was the ape like figure with his extended arms scrapping the ground, followed by various improved and more upright figures with sloped heads and then the magical transformation into the modern man.

“They have some still-undiscovered common ancestor that probably lived 2 million to 3 million years ago, a time that has not left much fossil record, Spoor.”

“Overall what it paints for human evolution is a "chaotic kind of looking evolutionary tree rather than this heroic march that you see with the cartoons of an early ancestor evolving into some intermediate and eventually unto us," Spoor said in a phone interview from a field office of the Koobi Fora Research Project in northern Kenya”

“That old evolutionary cartoon, while popular with the general public, keeps getting proven wrong and too simple, said Bill Kimbel, who praised the latest findings”

I loved that line in the article, the one where they jump right back on the dead horse theory of Human Evolution, a grasping for straws that may or may not be attainable, “They have some still-undiscovered common ancestor that probably lived 2 million to 3 million years ago, a time that has not left much fossil record, Spoor.”

Try to cover this the same way a trial lawyer would as if in the sacred confines of a court room, a place where presumption is a dangerous condition which must be substantiated with facts, and more importantly, the damage done when previously entered testimony is shown to be in error. When a witness is impeached, his value as a witness isn’t simply invalidated; his testimony undermines any ground previously counted as gained. The idea of proving the issue “beyond a reasonable doubt” is reserved for criminal proceedings; but what about civil findings where a mere “preponderance of the evidence” is required?

Now take the hodge podge of information presented as the Human Evolution Theory, that which many would have us ingest as the Human Evolution Story. Show the world court some facts, empirically solid evidence related to the issue that has survived; add to that the numerous times the “scientific community" has shuffled their feet as old information which had been presented as factual has been discarded when proven wrong; where is the case for defending a hole ridden theory, one which even the top scientists call “chaotic”?

If I were one of those Creationist Nut Jobs, I believe that’s the current logo for Christians who believe the Bible’s explanation that God placed man upon the Earth, I’d be laughing at the mud hole the evolutionists are falling into, holding on with great hope that a small piece of rope tied to a tree, the length of which is far too short and the only means of getting out of the mud hole are if all the supposed links to our evolutionary human tree, all the imagined beings from gorilla to Kenya man with all the variations of purported existence were linked arm to arm. I hope these guys know how to dog paddle.

God, sometimes referred to as Intelligent Design (ID) by folks unwilling to give Him credit where credit is due, created our Earth and all the creatures of the Earth for a reason; of this I have no doubt. More Specifically, God Created man in his image, there being a reason why we are His heirs, that we enjoy the blessings intended for His children. The fact that some creatures are able to adapt in order to survive does not create a problem for my faith based set of beliefs; but then again I’m not attempting to teach my beliefs as facts to children in schools all across the nation. I’m satisfied with knowing some facts are outside the scientific community’s ability to either prove or disprove.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Basic Journalism

Some headline stories leave you wondering if the reporter has a clue to what the job requirements are for journalism. I read one that falls into the category on the Fox website in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep, “South Carolina Highway Closed After Cops Find Explosives in Car’s Trunk ”.

I wanted to find out who was driving the vehicle; was it an environmental whacko, a militant Islamic terrorist or some local on his way to blow up tree stumps on his farm. No information was given other than, “Julie Johnson, assistant special agent-in-charge for the FBI in Columbia, said there was "no immediate threat," according to The (Charleston) Post and Courier.”

It must be my week to remember old black and white movies; the one that comes to mind is Teacher’s Pet , with Clark Gable and Doris Day. Clark Gable plays a city editor who came up the hard way and has little regard for college types, those who don’t fit his idea of a hard nosed reporter. Doris Day plays the college professor who teaches journalism as the two are set for a head on collision.

Gable ends up taking her class, under an assumed name, and proves that he’s good at his job; reporting news in as short and concise a space as possible, “I have six little friends; their names are Who, What, When Where Why and How.” I hope I got that line right since it has everything to do with why I started this article. He then takes on the added purpose of any newspaper, “Newspapers don’t make money from their stories they make it from the advertising space they sell. Each word that isn’t needed in a story takes up space that could be used for advertising.”

I didn’t learn much from the Fox news article; nothing that would indicate the need to waste valuable space that could have been used more wisely. I’d like to have watched as Clark Gable had his blue editor’s pencil in hand, going through each line, each word, and slashing anything which didn’t answer those necessary questions who, what, when, where, why and how. It would have been even more fun watching him bellow at the reporter as he reminded him/her about the basic rules every journalist should know; that would have been more enlightening than what Fox printed as a headline news story.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Crackpot or Genius?

Some stories beg for questions, something that will put our fears to rest while we wonder to ourselves, “What the heck was he doing?” This morning on the Fox website I found, Radioactive Boy Scout Charged with Smoke Detector Theft”. The headline grabbed my attention as I found the details listed within.

“Investigators say Hahn was arrested Wednesday after a maintenance worker saw him stealing a detector from a ceiling in an apartment complex where he lived. They later found the other detectors in his apartment in the Detroit suburb of Clinton Township.”


“Hahn learned that a small amount of a radioactive isotope could be found in smoke detectors during his experiments in the 1990s, according to a 1998 article in Harper's Magazine that later expanded into a book by journalist Ken Silverstein.”

In 1951 there was a black and white movie, The Man in the White Suit, starring Alec Guinness; a wonderful romp to be enjoyed watching this reclusive inventor as he steals away space from local manufacturing facilities in order to create the perfect fabric, a fabric which will never wear out and never get dirty. He “borrows” whatever he needs, chemicals, explosives, materials as if they were donated for the common good; blowing up chunks of private factories, small and large chunks, all the while his goal getting a bit closer. Was he a crackpot or a genius; I’m not sure that was totally resolved as the movie ended, a familiar gurgling sound from the corner of yet another borrowed manufacturing facility.

Perhaps our “Boy Scout” falls into the same category, hard to justify the boundaries crossed when taking items not his own or putting his neighbors at risk with unknown quantities of hazardous materials; but what about his goal? Does this young man have something to offer that might be worthy? Is there a “White Suit” hidden away in the recesses of that creative, if not damaged mind? I only ask because the idea came to me as I read; what if this kid only needs a little guidance and funding to find the answers he’s been looking for, wouldn’t we be better off helping him rather than branding him as undesirable?

Friday, August 03, 2007

That Plastic Bottle May not be Harmless

This is just as serious, maybe more than a bridge collapse; just not as mind numbing since the damages can’t be exploited with digital photographs. For years I’ve been listening to my wife’s warnings not to “nuke” stuff in the microwave unless it was in a ceramic container because there was some kind of nasty chemical that might be released from a plastic container.

Turns out that there are other dangers associated with plastic containers ; dangers that go way beyond microwave issues. It seems that, “Bisphenol A is used in all polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, as well as large water cooler containers, sports bottles and microwave oven dishes, along with canned food liners and some dental sealants for children. Some scientists say it likely causes reproductive disorders in people.”

{. . .}

“The scientists' statement and new study intensify a highly contentious debate over whether the plastic compound poses a public threat. So far no governmental agency here or abroad has restricted its use.”

This might sound ever so simple; but isn’t there a similar product called “glass”, one that hold liquids and is easily molded into bottles that doesn’t pose a health risk from chemicals? I recognize that such an antiquated form of bottling might cost a little more; but isn’t the public health issue worth a few pennies extra? Let’s see how long it takes a clever marketing director; Coke, Dr Pepper, or some similar product, to stage a media blitz and capitalize on the Bisphenol A issue. The clock is running…

Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play…

You may have noticed; I’m beginning to feel a little more like my old self. I stayed up late last night to watch the Astros eventually win a game from the Braves. It only took fourteen innings; but it was worth waiting for.

Our pitching staff may not be able to keep the other team from scoring; at least they can get a pinch hit now and then. Our starting pitchers have been less than effective; pardon me while I stop laughing, “Ooooo hhhaaaaa, hhaaaaa, hoooooo!” I keep waiting for my phone to ring, wondering if I might be able to fill in for any one of these failing athletes.

Jason Jennings might not be able to get anyone out; at least he knows how to use a bat. He delivered a pinch single with two outs in the top of the 14th to put the go ahead run, and this time our relief staff was able to hold the lead and put a W in the books. That’s more that can be said about our “closer” who gave away a two run lead in the 12th inning.

I better wrap this up, I think my phone is about to ring and I need to be ready. The way I figure, for those who’ve never met me; I’ll be the only pitcher in the league who uses a walking cane to get to the mound. I couldn’t do much worse than the ones the Astros have right now; unfortunately the trade deadline has passed and I won’t be available for post season games, “Ooooo hhhaaaaa, hhaaaaa, hoooooo!” Wait till next year!

Wood You Say That Again?

I was reading the headlines on our local KPRC website and came across, “Body Found in SUV by Tree”. I’m not without feeling for the dearly departed; all the same, how does that go down in a police report.

“Officers were called to the scene by a large Oak, believed to be of the Pin Oak family. The yet unidentified Oak claimed there was an SUV abandoned in the yard with a human corpse. No other information was obtained from the reportee.”

When asked for other details the Oak refused, “Leave me alone.” No charges have been filed and the tree is not considered a suspect at this time.

You have to wonder about how much medication I’ve been on; don’t you?