Unlimited data my a**

I will keep it brief here. I am stuck in the data wall. Last week I hit 90 percent data usage on my phone and data plan. I was able to restrict my mifi use for five days by spending even more money. As it now stands I should not go over on my usage and start incurring more bucks as long as I coast and don’t go crazy until Friday when the usage resets.

It is preposterous that there isn’t really true unlimited data plans for consumer in the U.S. I know what some companies say. But saying and doing are two different animals. So coast shall I. More later!

Thoughts on the “t-word”

UPDATE: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake backtracks on her earlier comments using the word “thug.” Will President Obama do the same? Apparently not!


The riots in Baltimore may have solidified yet another word for which we must be careful with its use.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was widely criticized by activists and pundits in using the word “thug” during a press update in wake of the unrest. Activists decry “thug” to address black men who commit crimes.

The association between black criminals and the now-t-word is nothing new. Liberal pundits have for some time now — back to the Bush White House at least — noted that the right-wing was using certain “buzzwords” when it came to the identity of criminal black people. The word thug has certainly been such a buzzword. However, the main definition for the word thug is “a violent person, especially a criminal.” Nothing about that person being black. However, most detrimental terms for blacks, or African-Americans, do not mention that certain words are a slur. For instance, the word “coon” is defined as short for a racoon.

Some black friends of mine whom I haven’t seen in awhile but I mostly keep up with online seemed to find funny the mid-20th century descriptive “Negro.” Some laughed but others chafed at the term “colored” for black. As black friends asked to people who mentioned something involving a black person as colored: “Oh, what color was he/she?” I even knew some black people who, like me, simmered upon a white (or even black) using the offensive word “Nigger.” I also felt bad, and perhaps many blacks may have felt sadness, when little old white ladies of Southern upbringing using what they believed as a “genteel” word: “Nigra.”

Of course, there were other blacks and some whites who might just open up a king-sized can of whoop ass on some who used anything related to the N-word.

During the short time I covered secondary and higher education was when I first discovered the language of the disabled.

Activists who spoke for the disabled came to me with a whole big list of politically correct terms that they wanted me and the newspaper to use in coverage. I can’t remember most of them as this was 20 years ago. But these were the language from which “special needs” and “learning challenged” emerged.

But the fact is one cannot change all words for every group, every person in a group. I do not want to seem cynical here, but perhaps the only way to develop less hurtful words for usage is to develop their own language.

Think of this. If we change every single word that is offensive to one group, then what if these words have a special meaning to another group? Then what? What then? What does it all mean?

What questions for our times with answers to these questions way beyond my pay grade. And I’m not kidding.




Visit Baltimore, where you can’t see baseball

Yesterday my podiatrist told me take the week off and to come back next Monday. Sure! Why not?? He has to ask me each time I visit what kind of work is it I do. He has no idea whether I am single or do I have someone to help me. He kind of snapped yesterday when he asked when I stopped taking the antibiotics he had prescribed. “You know why you stopped” — I stopped because the medicine was severely f**king with my stomach — “taking them, why can’t you remember stopping?” he asked.

I told him I take so damned many medicines, I didn’t know what all I take. Then he said “never mind I gave you an antibiotic during surgery.”

Well, some people, even doctors, I wouldn’t cut any slack. But I think this doctor is a nice guy. He is obviously overworked. He was literally simultaneously seeing three patients at once. The other doctor at this clinic was off yesterday. I cut Doc some slack.

Lonely baseball

The rioting in Baltimore, as I told my Tokyo friend Poe Lou Chan this morning, both saddens me and sickens me. I watched what was happening there on Monday. I’m not really surprised the town went up in flames in light of the Freddie Gray death in the hands of Baltimore po-lice. But this was, the rioting, was done in a great portion at the hand of teens. Some looted. Others burned buildings. Having worked as a firefighter, I especially loath those who set fires intentionally.

These fires will be investigated by ATF, or ATFE, for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency’s url is still ATF. One can only hope they do a better job than they did out in Elk, Texas, some years ago. Elk was the closest community to the bungled ATF raid in 1993 and subsequent siege and fire, now simply known as “Waco.”

Baltimore city officials worry that “Charm City” will be forever linked with the rioting that happened last evening. But Baltimore is surely not the first American city to experience civil unrest. And so far it’s not the worst. Newark, Watts, the riots after Martin Luther King’s death back in the 60s, all pretty bad. The “Rodney King” riots in 1992 Los Angeles killed 53. No one in Baltimore except Freddie Gray has died, so far, and while that in itself is tragic, hopefully it will stay this way. From what I am watching this afternoon, it seems that the young people may all come away from the protests with only laryngitis.

And while the media all remark the uniqueness of the crowdless Major League Baseball game tomorrow at Camden Yards in Baltimore a sporting game without fans is not something that has never happened. MLB is banning spectators for the Baltimore Orioles game with the Chicago White Sox due to fears of rioting.

During my stint in newspapers at a small weekly in East Texas, a high school basketball was once played in my time with no crowd. The best I can remember, some boys from a rival town shot and perhaps even killed another young man. The tension was so high the schools felt that closing the game to the public was the best course of action. I don’t remember who won, but I remember the media-besieged superintendent of the local schools told me: “That old saying is right: Don’t ever do anything on a slow news day.”

The media have a short attention span, or at least that is how they appear sometimes. Trust me, I was once a media man. I’m imaging a lot of people wish the media will move on along. Then off they will be.

They say it’s our birthday. Well, just missed it.

Our fair blog quietly celebrated 10 years of existence on Tuesday, April 21. Happy B-day!

All this, meaning eightfeetdeep, started as something to entertain myself as well as a daily writing exercise. This was while I was on unemployment from my last full-time job. I had worked as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor for the previous 15 years at five different Texas newspapers (One doesn’t count.) I had kind of tentatively planned to try my hand at freelancing by the time I was 50 years old. As it turned out I was about six months ahead of schedule.

I have kept up with turning out a daily blog for most of the past 10 years. However, I also have worked a decent-paying part-time job for about seven of those years. During the last year or so as I was given a steady dose of 32-hours a week, as well as serving free now for a few years as a regional vice president of my union local. Consequently, my output slowed down. The same can be said of my paying freelance jobs.

For a couple of years I made money as a freelance journalist. When I say “I made” money, I don’t mean I came out ahead. Neither did I “make” money, as in printing up my own $20-bills. Now what made me think of that? Uh, nothing Secret Service Special Agent Whatshisname.

All of the previous happened as I have become older and developed a few health problems, diabetes the most serious one. I really have improved my health as for Type II diabetes, my A1C falling on a downward trend to 7.1. I also had surgery on my toe Tuesday that was spurred by my diabetes. I developed a ulcer on my left second toe and it never healed completely. So my podiatrist suggested about a month ago that he do hammertoe surgery on that toe in order to keep from striking the injured toe and in doing so allowing my toe to “all hang out” so to speak.

I have a bandage on my foot that I was told to stay off of except for going to the bathroom or kitchen. I have had to do a bit more than that, though carefully, because I am a (confirmed or unconfirmed, I’m not quite sure which one) bachelor.

So, I don’t know what my toe is doing, if anything, and will not know until Doc unwraps it on Monday.

I have tried mostly through using my blog name as my identity to, not shield it, but to not necessarily expose it. I certainly am fooling nobody because so many of my stories have been spread among folks I know, who at the very least, can put two plus two together gets something between three and five.

This past decade has exposed me to some very interesting experiences. Some — like Hurricanes Rita and Ike — were exciting. Others, like living in my truck for about a month at one time, and losing two brothers last year were sad. Those hurricanes were a source of income for awhile, as I freelanced for a major metropolitan newspaper. I freelanced in suburbia for about six months as well while staying in the Dallas area with a friend.

I am in the beginning stages of gathering then culling some of my favorite posts over the last 10 years and, most likely, adding to them for a book. Whether it will be hardcover, e-book, or body art, I don’t know. I need a publisher. If you are a publisher and are not trying to scam me — I will check you out scrupulously — send me an e-mail to the address on the blog.

Looking at my Statcounter stats, I am pleased to see I still get an average of 20 page views per day. Only one or two are return visits, but that is understandable due to my recent lack of output. Most recently, those page views came from the United States and 20 other countries including Iran, Russia, Mexico, Vietnam and, oh, Canada.

By the way, the name, “eightfeetdeep,” yes, it did come in part from the HBO series “Six Feet Under.” I decided not to go along with convention by saying why six feet when you can go eightfeetdeep?

I have thought at times trying to make money through a blog, not especially this one. I do still take donations. But I don’t know what’s to come in the future. I certainly never planned on blogging for 10 years.

One foot bandaged

Greetings. Irony of ironies that eightfeetdeep is recovering from toe surgery. I had surgery on my left second toe yesterday. Now I have one good foot and one foot bandaged. I remained awake during the procedure though I was dosed a bit with propofol and was injected in the foot with lidocaine or some other local anesthetic. I didn’t give much of a rat’s ass while under the sedative. Yes, I know propofol raises some alarm bells with the whole Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers thing. But I felt only slight pain for a few seconds during the surgery and some minor, dull pain afterwards.

The most aggravating problem with all of this is having to strictly limit my walking to avoid pressure on the affected toe. When I must walk the bandaged foot must be assisted by a surgical shoe. This limited mobility is very difficult when living alone with not a whole lot of money. But if the straightened out second toe is successful, I suppose it will be worth it.

Do not stay thirsty my friends.

To play (music) or not to play

“It’s never too late.”

That is a predictable comment when I sometimes openly wish I learned to play a musical instrument or speak fluent Spanish. Certainly, the response is an appropriate one for the latter. Too many uncertainties rise with regard to my learning guitar or even piano, the two instruments I would most prefer to master. One big reason is that I am not the most patient person in the world. It is a reason I give when people ask if I hunt. I do like fishing though, which can often take tons of patience. Go figure.

As a teen I enjoyed being around live music. I went to more than several dozen rock shows, mostly in the 1970s. A few shows I saw were during the prime of the performers’ careers. Included were Creedence Clearwater Revival, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Seger, while others concerts were likewise and remain popular. These were bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Doobie Brothers and the Grateful Dead.

When several of my friends developed the idea for a “garage” band I was glad to cheer them on and to help in anyway I could. I guess you could call me a “roadie” though the venues were never more than 20 miles or so away from home. The group also weren’t literally a garage band. Like my late brother John, who was a musician and played more regionally than local and were even once on local TV, their bands had adult sponsors who were very reputable in our town.

I was very pleased when I worked my first “real” job outside the Navy, as a municipal firefighter, and was able to afford a decent stereo system. It was an Emerson system, not a component system with a turntable made by one company, an amp by another and speakers which launched a wall of sound like the giant Klipsch speakers a friend had. My friend brought those gigantic speakers to a couple of parties, our annual chili cook off was one if I remember correctly. I lived in the country with a large pasture in front of my house and my nearest neighbor was about a mile away. Normally, the neighbors couldn’t hear music from my place although their daughter later told me she heard the music and liked it.

I have never felt regretful that I didn’t learn to play an instrument, being the avid music listener and as appreciative as I am of music. My feelings were really reinforced yesterday upon playing perhaps the best Eagles song ever: “Hotel California.” The song — which contains what several polls say is one of the best guitar solos of all time — and the particular incarnation of the band then was largely contributed by a man whose name you probably can’t pronounce but is on many hit CDs and albums. That is: Bill Szymczyk. Pronounced (Sim-zik’.)

Szymczyk is now semi-retired but he has engineered and produced artists from B.B. King on “The Thrill Is Gone” to The Who’s “Face Dances” recording. Szymczyk never played an instrument and considers himself “a professional listener.” He developed that ability as well as building his electronics acumen by serving as a sonar technician in the Navy during the early 1960s.

It was Szymczyk who having produced the James Gang — which featured vocals and lead guitar by Joe Walsh — brought Walsh and the Eagles together. Walsh and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder had some outstanding lead output before Felder was fired from the group in 2001. You can hear Felder and Walsh in that famous “Hotel California” guitar solo.

The Szymczyk-produced “Hotel California” LP title track was named the 1978 Grammy award’s Song of the Year. That’s pretty amazing for someone who was not himself a musician.

“Justified” end worthy of its motivator


Since Tuesday evening when the FX channel’s Elmore Leonard-inspired “Justified” played out after a six-season run I have seen the show mentioned in critiques as a “Western.” I find that quite puzzling from the somewhere after the show’s beginning. That is when the theme song cues up called “Long Hard Time To Come” which — recorded by a group named Gangstagrass — is about equal parts bluegrass and rap.

I have read a fair number of Western-themed books and watched even more television and movie “Westerns” for almost five decades. Likewise, I have read most of everything Elmore Leonard has written with the exception of “Raylan,” which I bought as an e-Novel last night from Amazon. Raylan, of course, is the deputy U.S. Marshal protagonist in the now completed series “Justified.” The character also appeared in some four of Leonard’s novels during this century.

A Long Hard Time To Come. Photo appears by Fair Use.

A Long Hard Time To Come. Photo appears by Fair Use.

Maybe it is the fact that Raylan Givens appears like a deputy marshal from the old West by mostly wearing a cowboy hat. Or perhaps the fact the series is set in Eastern Kentucky, which is west of the center of the universe New York City, that makes it a so-called “Western.”

Leonard was listed as an executive producer of the show so the series certainly bears his stamp of approval and his influence. If you have read any of the tons of Leonard novels — especially his crime novels mostly set in South Florida and Detroit — you will likely find violence, general criminality and humor in addition to exquisite writing. Likewise, there is often odd-ball, ignorant and just generally some very poor human specimens who chose crime for their careers. The series “Justified” fits all those identities including the marvelous writing.

Everyone has their own reason for liking or disliking television shows. Sometimes both come into play. Take for instance the legal drama “The Good Wife.” The show, to me, has a great story line and interesting characters. I do ask myself each week, though, why am I watching the show, mainly because the plot line, particularly around the star Julianna Margulies character never seems to come out ahead. Sometimes she wins. But never, or so it seems, that she emerges as a clear victor. Maybe I’m wrong, but the show is named “The Good Wife.” Of course, I know the title means she has been the good wife for her husband, played by Chris Noth, who was states attorney, then locked up, only to emerge as Illinois governor. But still …

Most comedies, dramas or combinations that I most favor are those with a strong ensemble cast. “Justified” has filled that bill with the central characters Raylan (Timothy Olyphant,) Boyd (Walton Goggins,) Art (Nick Searcy) and Boyd’s wife Ava (Joelle Carter.)

A sometime dizzying array of secondary, though not “one-and-done” characters, populated Harlan County in the story or elsewhere over the past six seasons. This also made for a strong story lines that fit seemingly seamless.

The series-ender — titled “The Promise” brought closure as I preferred. It didn’t all come from a dream like “Dallas” or whatever the hell it was that happened in “The Sopranos.” It certainly didn’t end with the whole cast in jail, as was in the unsatisfying end to “Seinfeld.”

But there was violence and and a little mayhem. Even some folks who ended up in the slammer. That’s all of the ending I shall tease.

Now if you have recorded “Justified” you best go ahead and watch it because the end won’t be hidden for long. It’s kind of like something you might find with an Elmore Leonard book.

I have one book to finish on Kindle and I will then read the last work of Elmore and Raylan.



Percy Sledge: King of the “belly-rubbing” sound dies

Another one bites the dust. I suppose that is inelegant way of starting a “web obituary.” But sometimes it seems, although I have not yet reached 60 years old, that I know more people who have now passed than I do live ones. That’s not true but it sure seems as such.

With that said, I note the passing of soul great Percy Sledge who died Tuesday in Baton Rouge. Sledge, 74, was best know for his lovelorn ballad “When A Man Loves A Woman.” It was an instant hit in 1966. That song and others he recorded like “Take Time To Know Her” were classic soul ballads of those and later years.

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He was without a doubt, back in the day, the king of what my Daddy used to call “belly-rubbing music.”

Sledge toured the rest of his life, never recording any later tunes that equaled his first chart-wise. But if you were of my age in the late 1960s and 1970s, you probably heard his songs on diner jukeboxes while eating greasy chicken-fried steaks to soak up some of the night’s intoxicants. And if you were lucky you also may have watched him play live during his 50-something years of touring.

I was lucky to see him although that didn’t happen the first time I went to one of his concerts. That first time was also my first time to visit a nightclub, which was in Vinton, La., near the Southeast Texas border with Louisiana. I was carded and was not allowed inside because I was 16.

The next time was successful and not only did I get to see Percy perform, but I also got to interview him during a break outside the back door of the club. I just told a band member some mumbo-jumbo, I had actually reviewed a Chicago concert earlier in the year for my hometown newspaper for which I had covered local sports.

My friend Nick and I got to talk to Percy for several minutes. Sledge seem preoccupied with a Houston Astros game on the radio of his limo. I can’t remember if I even wrote a story about our encounter with the great soul singer. Whatever, he and his band members were good enough to give a couple of under-age kids a few words of wisdom. Or something.

Percy, rest in peace, man.


Age thrown into race-police struggles

Is the rash of police shootings part of some new worrisome trend or is it a constant that has stayed far from the limelight until recently?

That might be a difficult question to answer. But a “police-involved shooting” on April 2 in Tulsa, Okla. may throw all sorts of prevailing theories to the wind.

The fact is the number of citizens who die from fatal police shootings is not an answer kept and reported like the number of police who are killed in the line of duty. That’s hard to imagine but bureaucracies like to ignore or hide those statistics most meaningful to the public.

During my career as a newspaper reporter when covering cops I would inevitably be assigned to write a story about the latest FBI crime figures released for this or that city. I would go see the officer who keeps crime stats or the chief of police. Some might offer a reason for the rise in a particular crime index. Others would, in their best cop-ese, say these figures are worthless.

You see, unless you kept records on why such crimes were committed, it would be practically impossible to harbor a guess as to why the particular crimes go up or down. Oh, but the editor doesn’t want the latter. “There’s got to be a reason.” Okay boss, we’ll find a reason, even if there isn’t one!

Information researched in the wake of some recent fatal civilian deaths shows somewhere between 400 and 1,000 people are killed by police each year. Whether that is just by firing a weapon, or beating with batons or kicking perps when they are down or zapping them with a Taser, who knows? By hearing such recent and shocking deaths of black people at the hands of white cops might lead one to believe that most of those people killed are black. That would be surmised because most crimes committed are by black actors, right?


It turns out some stats are kept on who commit crimes. And the estimation of black and white perps is off the mark. One survey found people wrongly estimate that blacks commit more crimes than other races by sometimes notable margins. Even so, that doesn’t tell us much about the racial aspect of police-involved shootings.

Where does that leave us? Well, in some cases — rare until recently — local authorities who receive video proof of an alleged wrongful shooting are actually charging their fellow policemen who fire the shot.

Former police officer Michael Slager, charged with murder. In Charleston, S.C., jail

Former police officer Michael Slager, charged with murder. In Charleston, S.C., jail

The most notorious case is one in which a witness recently captured the video of South Carolina police officer Michael Slager while fatally shooting Walter Scott. Scott was stopped for a tail light violation and took off running, possibly because he owed child support. Slager has been fired and charged with murder. He remains jailed.

But now we have an even more recent shooting by a white cop of a black man in which a new twist is added. Another police video — this one from a body cam — shows Tulsa County, Okla., Reserve Deputy Sheriff Bob Bates saying: “Oh, I shot him. I’m sorry.” This is just after he fatally wounded Eric Courtney Harris. The 44-year-old Harris was shown being shot after allegedly resisting arrest following a gun buy sting operation. The new wrinkle, pardon the pun, is that Bates is 73 years old.

Bates can be heard yelling “Taser … ,” before the shooting and the deputy’s apology. The call-out supposedly meant Bates had meant to deploy his Taser. But he pulled out and engaged the wrong weapons, according to the sheriff’s office. Bates has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, according to Tulsa Co. District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.

 “Oklahoma law defines culpable negligence as ‘the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the lack of the usual ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions,’” Kunzweiler said.

The penalty for second-degree manslaughter in Oklahoma carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.

Regardless of the possibility of prison if Bates is convicted, the issue of age will likely rear its head in this case. Would a younger man get a Taser, many times bright yellow, confused with a handgun that worn by police these days are often black? Or is such a case similar to that comparison made by Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz, himself 72 and a fishing buddy of Bates, in which doctors make mistakes in operating rooms every day?

Justin Bieber, go talk to the Argentinian judges

Well at least one country will need not worry about their society going straight into the crapper due to Justin Beiber’s appearance.

Multiple news sources report that an Argentinian judge has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Canadian waste of global space singer. The judicial order is a result of an alleged assault of a photographer outside a Buenos Aires nightclub in 2013.

Diego Pesoa said Bieber and a bodyguard assaulted him after Pesoa tried to photograph him.

Bieber failed to answer questions about the incident. This week a judge ordered immediate detention of the 21-year-old who has been in a number of scrapes with the law.

Should Bieber feel as if he might want to jet down to Buenos Aires to make a fool of the Argentinian justice system, perhaps he should read this. (Warning: Graphic pictures and descriptions.)