You ask why I write about the Super Bowl? I tell you.

It seems as if I have written quite a bit here over the past 15 years about the Super Bowl and Peyton Manning. My justification(s) is that the Super Bowl is an event — something akin to an American holiday — worldwide. The number of television viewers alone for tomorrow’s game is a lock for an all-time high. The over/under for viewers, who knew that they had one, is 117 million-to-114.4.

The match-up of the teams in Super Bowl 50 seems destined to be one of the great championships since Super Bowl I. The No. 1 offense and No.1 defense in the NFL will tangle. Two great quarterbacks will also meet on the field, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. When I talk about destiny, I am not saying that this 2011 post I wrote was something of foreordination. Coincidence was the theme. You read this past post and you can decide whether this game was happenstance or was if it was in the stars. That is, if the piece doesn’t first drive you insane before you reach a conclusion.

Peyton's last game? We will wait and see. Photo by Capt. Darin Overstreet, Colorado National Guard via Wikimedia Commons.

Peyton’s last game? We will wait and see. Photo by Capt. Darin Overstreet, Colorado National Guard via Wikimedia Commons.

The linked blog post shows my admiration for Manning partly out of empathy because he has had a history cervical spine problems, as does his oldest brother, Cooper. I don’t know about brother Eli Manning’s neck. I think he might have had neck problems. Eli Manning, of course, is the New York Giants QB who twice led the Giants to Super Bowl wins. That is one more than is one more than Peyton can claim. Cooper Manning, the eldest of the Manning boys, was recruited as a high school wide receiver by Ole Miss but had to sit out of football the for the rest of his life due to spinal stenosis. I underwent surgery for a stenosis and currently have one though my doctors at the VA hospital say surgery on this one (which would be my third) could hurt more than help. Peyton has had four neck surgeries. I didn’t think he should have returned after his last operation, but he did and now he’s playing with a chance for his second Super Bowl championship.

Another reason I write this about Sunday’s big game is that this first one for some time in which the game interests me as well as the “Super Bowl” for TV advertising.

As well I wish well for the head coach and defensive coordinator for Denver. Gary Kubiak was fired after seven seasons with my team, the Houston Texans. His firing came after his earlier leaving the field on a stretcher for what was later determined as a blood clot. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips took over as head coach the rest of the season. Both of these coaches eventually reprised their roles as head coach and defensive coach when hired by Denver. Both of these coaches had histories with the Broncos. Kubiak played as a backup quarterback for the Broncos, playing second-fiddle to QB John Elway. The Hall of Famed member Elway is now general manager and executive vice president of the Broncos. As for Phillips, one should ask where this native Southeast Texan hasn’t coach. He was defensive coordinator some 25 years ago in Denver and head coach for about a year. You would have to check Wikipedia to see whether all three, Kubiak, Phillips and Elway, were together at what was known as Mile High Stadium. This this link contains an entertaining article about Phillips. He is not as outspoken as his storied Dad, coach Bum Phillips who coached the then-Houston Oilers. The late coach is a beloved folk figure in Texas. Both father and son graduated and coached in the area where I live. So they are beloved figures here in Southeast Texas.

Finally, I am writing about the big game on Sunday because I can. Plain and simple, I don’t have to check with an editor who wants me to work on a weather story. I’m not being paid to write this, so I think that allows me to write whatever the hell I want. ¿Comprende?

I would like Manning, Kubiak and Phillips to win this Super Bowl. There is speculation that Manning, 39, might retire after this game. One wonders how much longer Phillips, at 69, will go on as a defensive wizard. He did express interest a couple of years ago in head coaching, but not in an interim role as he did at more than a couple of NFL teams.

I have yet to speak of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who led his team to almost a perfect season last year. He’s exciting say some. Excitable say others. He likes to dance, in the end zone and even after running for a first down. A lot has been made of his race, as he is an elite group of black quarterbacks. Many wish he wouldn’t dance. I don’t know if that will happen. The question is, how many times will he dance?

If Denver can pull off the upset win one might just see Peyton and Wade cutting a rug.

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An interesting discussion: Are O.J.’s problems all in his head?

Last evening I had an interesting conversation over dinner with a pathologist whom I had never met before. One topic on which we discussed was a news item that we discovered we both had recently seen on television concerning. O.J. Simpson. “The Juice” as he was known is, of course, the ex-professional football running back, who was acquitted of murdering his wife and her friend in what was called “The Trial of the Century.” Simpson, also an actor and car rental pitchman, is serving a prison sentence in Nevada for armed robbery.

I ate dinner at a place called BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, a chain that started out as a pizza place in the Bay Area of California and has spread nationwide. This one is in Pearland, a suburb of Houston. Dinner was several blocks from my hotel in a nice little, walkable, shopping center. I was by myself and so I sat at a table for two,  which was joined by about three other tables for two. It was a subdued place despite the three large TV screens in the bar. It had equal, extensive menus for both food and drink, which as expected, offers many different labeled and crafted beers.

This fellow walked in and asked if anyone was sitting at the next table and we struck up a talk that lasted for more than half an hour. It turned out this guy is a pathologist. I think the profession has become widely known for the forensic pathologists you see on the CSI and NCIS television franchises. Actual pathologists are either specialized medical or osteopathic doctors. This gentleman said that while he had done autopsies in the past his time is spent nowadays at the Texas Medical Center, as he called it, taking “whatever body parts a doctor removes.” His specialization are the ones who examine the cell tissues and other items taken in biopsies and surgeries to determine if they are benign or malignant. Since I learned a little about medicine from the time I spent as an EMT and now that I feel as if I spend so much of my time going to doctors, it seemed he enjoyed talking to someone who appreciated the man’s job. He had no airs like people sometimes think doctors may have when, many times, the physician is trying to compartmentalize to determine what’s wrong with you.

I don’t know what we were talking about when the doctor mentioned the story about O.J. Simpson. I told him yes, I had heard it too and thought how the subject of O.J. Simpson seemed like a bad penny that wouldn’t go away. The most recent O.J. installment is that a renown neuropatholgist has perhaps staked his career on the possibility Simpson might be suffering from a disease known as “CTE,” which stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Dr. Bennet Omalu first published research about CTE while he worked as a forensic pathologist in Allegheny County, Pa. The Nigerian-American physician found this disease in football players who had sustained multiple concussions. The disease can only be diagnosed for now on dead people, thus Omalu has made a pretty bold pronouncement.

The research on CTE touched off numerous lawsuits filed by families of NFL players and has led to a nationwide discussion on the dangers of concussions, from Pop Warner leagues to the pros.

Omalu said in an interview with ESPN that he would “bet my medical license” that Simpson has the disease. Different personality changes such as violence and poor impulse control are signs that one might have CTE as are other factors, according to Omalu. The former medical examiner has said he had not spoken with Simpson.

My “dinner companion” said that he was just as shocked as anyone else that the disease has led to as many lawsuits as it has. And he raised an eyebrow on Omalu’s contention concerning Simpson. I think we both concluded that most people realize, or should, that having a blow to the head isn’t a good thing. I suppose that for so long people thought that helmets and other protective gears worn by football players would keep players from more serious injuries. That may have led to a false sense of security. In reality, a number of factors are cited why that is so, Among the reasons is the fact that players are bigger and stronger than before. Weight training for football players isn’t just for college and pros anymore. It’s like the reverse of the saw, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” In reality, the bigger the are, the harder they hit.

I enjoyed my conversation with the doctor. It was an interesting way to spend a little time out of town, not to mention the pale lager and bison burger I consumed, “served with a side of tangy slaw tossed with Baja vinaigrette and topped with green onions,” according to the menu.

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PT Barnum bested by Trump: Uses vets for a prop

Here is a mark of honor: Donald Trump has surpassed P.T. Barnum as the all-time American huckster. His sleight of hand was masterful in capturing major media attention Thursday evening after declaring he would not participate in a Fox News debate for Republican presidential candidates.

To his dishonor, Trump used his Iowa sideshow to his political advantage by cooking up a telethon for veterans causes, although there are vets who say the event was a con. Trump said he raised almost $7 million which will be distributed among a number of veterans organizations. Several of these groups I recognize but others I don’t — not to say anything is amiss with these organizations.

As a veteran, I have and still do champion veterans and legitimate vet organizations. But I am not alone in feeling that his stunt did little more than use veterans as a prop.

While there are only early ratings numbers — and the first primary vote has yet to be cast for the November General Election — but Trump is a shoo-in to surpass the long-gone Barnum as the All-Time World Champion con man.

Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum was a celebrated 19th century showman who founded the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He was likewise known for sideshows with “freaks” and coining the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Like Trump, Barnum also dabbled in politics as a Connecticut legislator and mayor of Bridgeport, Conn.

P.T. Barnum, king of the hucksters until now. The King is Trumped. Wikipedia Commons photo.

P.T. Barnum, king of the hucksters until now. The King is Trumped. Wikipedia Commons photo.

Also like Trump, Barnum was a human contradiction. PT vigorously denounced slavery although he was the founding father of the black-face minstrel show. And although he used that form of entertainment for financial gain, the shows were often satire of the white men who felt superior to blacks.

Barnum also sponsored legislation that had a long-lasting effect, with that law’s judicial abolition leading to the “Sexual Revolution.”

The Connecticut General Assembly passed the law Barnum sponsored in 1879 which led to the ban on means of preventing conception. That state’s laws were among the most severe anti-birth control measures. It was only in 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut that the law was overturned. Even beyond a change in the nature of American sexuality, the case also concluded that certain articles of the Constitutional Amendments established the right to privacy.

Trump might have been an equal, or perhaps a better, than Barnum had The Donald lived in the 19th century. Of course, Trump came up in a time — aided by his financial gain by birth — when media is faster and more (world)widespread. Were Trump just another of Sam Walton’s rich offspring his effect on society might be barely noticed. That might be true to a lesser degree even if Trump was a Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

But Donald J. Trump is The Donald. He’s had his ups and downs but at least says he is the one on top. He created big worlds and married world-class beauties. And to top it off, he became a TV star in his “reality” series, “The Apprentice.”

Will Trump become president is the multi-billion-dollar question. Early on after his initial announcement, I thought “no way.” I still feel that way but the older I get the more the “way” out weighs the “no way.”

I think if people who support Trump realizes how he would walk over his mother to get his way — though he might shed a tear doing it– perhaps they would understand how similar PT and The Donald were.

Donald Trump isn’t the first presidential candidate, nor if elected, president, to use the military and veterans as props. It is certainly beyond distasteful to me as well as other veterans. But hey, it’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

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Trump, doofi everywhere, but Bob Seger is still there, like a rock

The only thing I’ve heard that I agree with today awash in the Trump story du jour — his boycott of tomorrow’s Fox debate — is his tweet:

 “The statement put out yesterday by @FoxNews was a disgrace to good broadcasting and journalism. Who would ever say something so nasty & dumb.” — Donald J. Trump.

I think Fox News is pretty much always a disgrace to journalism and broadcasting. But then again, at least in this hissy-fit saga, The Donald can be blamed for some of those failures.

The chaos in this weird chapter in U.S. politics was enjoined with the missive purportedly sent out by Fox News el jefe Roger Ailes:

 “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Jeez, what a carnival side show. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to demean carnival side shows.

Unless you were hiking in the Himalayans during the past 24 hours, this very bad political theater is supposedly over Donald Trump pulling out of Thursday night’s Republican debate on Fox News Channel. Trump wants Fox’s debate moderator Megyn Kelly off the panel which will query the Republican presidential candidates. Kelly tossed Trump a hard ball question during an earlier debate. Since then Trump has had a running feud with Kelly in which the feuding has been mostly Trump’s than that from the blonde newscaster.

This is the kind of crap on which the media is falling all over. It’s all simple why. It is because Trump has made himself uber-available to the media, especially the cable and broadcast media. He seemingly calls Wolf Blitzer on CNN at least once a day and, of course, The Wolf takes The Donald’s calls.

Of course there is always the probability Trump will show up on the debate stage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked on unannounced. Oh my.

I really say to all this: Stop. We need issues, not showmanship. I guess a lot of people liked Trump from his TV show “The Apprentice,” where his catch phrase was “You’re Fired.”

Donald, and I speak for who knows how many, we’ve had enough: You’re fired.

—————-

I hope there isn’t some kind of bloodbath — or more bloodshed — at the Oregon standoff with the militia doofi.  CBS News reported this evening that standoff leader Ammon Bundy, who was arrested in the incident in which his group’s spokesman was shot and killed by police, spoke through his attorney that those remaining at the wildlife refuge headquarters should leave peaceably.

 “To those remaining at the refuge, I love you. Let us take this fight from here,” Bundy wrote. “Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours for now in the courts. Please go home.”

There is some sound advice.

—————-

I wondered when, or if, this day would come. Driving back from downtown Beaumont this afternoon I caught on the radio what was most of the entire exquisite ballad, “Like A Rock,” by long-time rocker Bob Seger.

It’s a beautiful, pensive song of looking up all of a sudden and realizing how quickly time passes in one’s life. Seger told The New York Times that he wrote the song after having ended an 11-year relationship.

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 “You wonder where all that time went. But beyond that, it expresses my feeling that the best years of your life are in your late teens when you have no special commitments and no career. It’s your last blast of fun before heading into the cruel world, Seger said.”

I wouldn’t particularly pick my teens as the best part of my life. They weren’t the worst. I remember when that song was released. I had a short relationship at the time, but man, was it passionate! Oh, I  was 30, and she was 31. But advertising execs eventually hijacked the song and made it an anthem for Chevy Trucks. The campaign lasted from 1991-2004, one of the longest such runs. I remember just trying to tune the song out during those Chevy commercial years. I got sick of it. And I wondered if someday I would ever hear and love he song again.

Well, today was the day. Oh, and I am 60.

 “My hands were steady/My eyes were clear and bright
  My walk had purpose/My steps were quick and light
  And I held firmly/To what I felt was right
  Like a rock … “

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Thar’ she blows

I have no idea what happened to the complete draft of my post. I went through it all, editing here and there, making sure the links linked. And all of a sudden, all but the first four paragraphs were gone. Maybe Donald Trump’s folks did it. He was the one who was my subject of wrath today. No, I think it is a combination of my carelessness and my computer that did me in this time.

So, sorry.  I will try again. Maybe tomorrow.

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Glenn Frey checks out. So do the Eagles.

What can you say about the death of Glenn Frey?

A founder, guitarist and singer in the Eagles, Frey died Monday at age 67. I didn’t know until after Frey died, from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, that so many people hated the Eagles. It seems as if most people in my world, at least most that matter, loved or at least, liked, the band’s music. At the very least, the songs Frey and the Eagles produced was background music for most of the 1970s and 80s.

It is very difficult talking about Frey — no matter that he did better than okay as a solo musician — without talking about the Eagles. Often times the band seemed more like a modern version of a soap opera. Something like a reality show, even though I imagine during their more drug-fueled days their lives  were more of an “unreality” show.

"Glenn Frey" by Steve Alexander - originally posted to Flickr as Glenn Frey. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons . Thanks

“Glenn Frey” photo by Steve Alexander – Courtesy Creative Commons

I rediscovered the Eagles last year after seeing some You Tube videos from a concert the Eagles did in 1977, promoting their “Hotel California” album.

I don’t know how many people see music concerts today. I certainly don’t but then I am 60-freakin’ years old.

I’d say from high school up until I got out of the Navy, I went to as many concerts as I could. While stationed on the Mississippi Coast there were several prime venues nearby. I saw concerts at the Superdome, City Park and at Loyola University in New Orleans. I went to several concerts in Mobile. I saw three separate shows which were excellent at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg that were excellent: Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Review during which he was joined by Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Mick Ronson and Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. Later, I watched Jimmy Buffett, fresh from “Margaritaville” come back to the college he attended, USM. Buffet was, he told the audience, a hippie who’d hang out in the Commons with his guitar playing songs such as “Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw” as all the school teachers from the outback of Mississippi walked by on their way to continuing education classes.

Yes, concerts, I’ve seen a few.

I’m sure those who have seen many performances of any kind have seen musicians or bands, “phone-in” what is just another gig. These videos that I found that includes “Hotel California,” “Take It To The Limit,” and “New Kid In Town{” are incredible. That is not so much the songs are exceptional — well, “Hotel California” is — but the performances were nothing one heard on the radio, much less the AM radio I mostly had to hear during this time, nor is there much one can tell about quality listening to these songs on a bar room jukebox.

I have a couple Eagles albums on my computer and phone including “Hotel California” from the album. They are good but great Graham Crackers these videos are outstanding.

These songs also provide a soundtrack to our lives, as trite as that line sounds these days. But f**k it if you think it’s trite, or whatever you may think. There is no denying that music forms memories of the portions of our lives we choose to remember. “Johnny come lately, there’s a new kid in town,” “New Kid In Town” hit No. 1 on Billboard in January 1977. It was just one of the singles that were a hit on “Hotel.” Following were “Hotel California” and “Life In The Fast Lane.” The songs became more meaningful for me when I transferred from Gulfport, Miss., to a ship out of San Diego, by way of Long Beach.

I never went to “Hotel California” but I spent the night in some motel in San Clemente, not to see my former commander-in-chief, President Nixon, but to stay near a military town in order to get my whites cleaned. The laundry was outside what is now called Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and the cleaners had no trouble getting my dress whites ready, so I could report on my ship which was in drydock in San Pedro. I did think about “Life In The Fast Lane” as well, both the mundane of  navigating the California freeways and later that life that so many people seemed eager to find.

Regretfully, I never saw the Eagles either. And I guess with Frey gone, the group is officially kaput. I thought the group kind of gradually split up, first with bassist and group founder Randy Meisner and later lead guitarist Don Felder. The band’s inner workings are one of the most written-about for a rock group. Glenn Frey, some would say, was an arrogant bastard. Well, so aren’t a lot of folks, even some of your friends?

We close a chapter in rock history. But a family loses their loved one, and one might say a public both old and young lose a favorite band. And the band was also like a family with all its fighting and drama. Hopefully though, not now for, Glenn Frey. May he rest in peace.

 

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Story makes one wonder why we have law enforcement if they can’t protect us?

The Washington Post has a scary story today: “Sheriffs issue a call to arms: Take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm.”

Sheriffs across the country who the Post quotes sound virtually impotent in their abilities to stop the spate of mass shootings whether by terrorists, or just plain loons. The article notes the call for civilian help from those law enforcement officials such as Sheriff Wayne Ivey of Brevard County, Fla.,

“If a terrorist attack or active-shooter scenario can happen in California, Texas, South Carolina or Paris, it can happen right here in our own backyard,” Ivey said in a Facebook video titled “Enough is Enough.” “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

That last phrase has become an updated cliche meant to appeal to those who have long adhered to the timeless NRA line: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

The problem with the line saying only good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns is that the argument is fundamentally flawed.

A so-called “good guy” with only a minimal amount of training needed to pass their state’s handgun license course may not know the necessary tactics to stop a shooter, especially a gunman who has had even more training such as that from the military, terrorist groups or even those with law enforcement education.

Then there is the “collateral damage” problem. Will a civilian be the only one who is armed to take out a shooter? What if four our five other licensed gun carriers in some crowded restaurant decide they should be the one to dispatch a hostile foe? It looks easy on TV for someone to shoot an armed man in the head who is holding someone hostage. But really, you don’t have much, if any, room for error. I see a tremendous opportunity for innocents, even other armed citizens, being harmed in an active-shooting situation.

Speaking of training, the law in Texas that allows those with current handgun licenses to openly carry their weapon in a belt or shoulder holster requires no extra training. Only those in new training courses will undergo a bit of added education for open carry.

“Training curriculum for new applicants will be updated to reflect the new training requirements related to the use of restraint holsters and methods to ensure the secure carrying of openly carried handguns.  The new curriculum will be required for all classes beginning January 1, 2016” according to an explanation by the Texas Department of Public Safety of new laws.

Well isn’t that great? Folks can go buy their new belt or shoulder holsters and start practicing “quick draw” techniques. I wonder how many folks will be showing up in their local emergency rooms with wounds from those playing “Deadeye Dick?”

I suppose it is either telling or maybe it is that I am just not noticing, but we are into the third week of the new open carry law in Texas and I’ve yet to see anyone who appears to be a civilian carrying around a handgun openly. If or when I decide to buy a handgun and go through licensing, I would likely not carry it in the open. I can’t see buying a handgun in the future, but I will never say never. I have nothing against handguns per se. I own a pump shotgun, if my friend will give it back to me one day. One reason for not buying a handgun is I would imagine my aim could be somewhat hindered by the benign tremors I have had in my hands now for several years. I think in most instances with the exception of close quarters outside of my home, a shotgun is just as good or better as a defensive weapon than is a handgun.

My problem these days aren’t with guns. The problem is that something needs to be done to stem the daily violence resulting in deaths from criminals, the mentally unstable and the occasional terrorist. One of the Democratic candidates for president last night, I think it was Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who said that any hunter worth his salt would not need an AK-47 to kill a deer. Or something to that effect. I don’t think we need more guns. I certainly believe we don’t need more deaths from guns. That is why the statements in the WaPo article so alarm me. It seems as if these sheriffs don’t believe they can protect their citizens unless those citizens are armed.

Such an abdication of responsibility makes me wonder: Just why in the hell do we have sheriffs and law officers in the first place if they can’t do their jobs? I think that is a fair question to ask of those who call for armed civilian help.

 

 

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Sex toys and lube: A dirty story of a militia siege in Oregon

One wonders how long the U.S. government will let the militia takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon continue.

Apparently the media can come and go as they have for however long ago this crap — and yes, it is crap — started. The so-called “militia” members, hail mostly from out of county and even from out of state. The scruffy-looking patriots who occupy a welcome center for the Malheur National Wildlife Center have mostly been a source of ridicule, especially after sending out a request for various needs such as coffee creamer.

The ridicule has risen beyond absurdity as the “tough” rugged Western militiamen are receiving a smattering of hate mail along with various sex toys. A co-founder of a popular “adult” game even sent a 55-gallon drum of “personal lube” to the boys.

An unknown number of armed individuals have broken into and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility near Burns, Oregon. While the situation is ongoing, the main concern is employee and public safety; we can confirm that no federal staff were in the building at the time of the initial incident. We will continue to monitor the situation for additional developments. -- This note and the picture is from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge page. US Fish and Wildlife Service

An unknown number of armed individuals have broken into and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility near Burns, Oregon. While the situation is ongoing, the main concern is employee and public safety; we can confirm that no federal staff were in the building at the time of the initial incident. We will continue to monitor the situation for additional developments.This note and the skunk photo is from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge page. US Fish and Wildlife Service

Freedom fighters, they ain’t! Nor does it appear that they are the brightest headlights in the dark. For instance, one of the militiamen was arrested today in Burns, Ore., the nearest town to the Malheur center, when he was found at a Safeway store in a government vehicle that was stolen from the refuge.

One shouldn’t blame the government for avoiding a protracted standoff with catastrophic endings such as the Ruby Ridge incident or the raid and subsequent siege with the Branch Davidians outside of Waco which ended with nearly four score dead.

Still, this ridiculousness needs to end and the sooner the better. Perhaps the government should try an approximation of the Trojan Horse, sending in a tractor-trailer loaded with French vanilla creamer. Or maybe they could even employ an 18-wheeler carrying Trojan condoms. Whatever the tactic, such foolishness needs a safe and hopefully quick ending.

The militiamen need to know from the feds that they are finally gathered at a place where the — ahem — rubber meets the road.

 

 

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There is a billion-dollar lottery out there. Be prepared to win!

It’s Powerball Fever. Well, I don’t know if I’d call it that. I’m not running a temperature. But that’s what lazy local TV stations do to avoid some kind of in-depth piece that might actually report some news. I suppose one fact is often touched by these attempts to cover an interesting portion of a large, multicultural social event. That is the fact that people, lots and lots of people daydream.

You never hear this in a story about a large lottery jackpot, not even from CNN or Fox News:

TV Person: “What would you do if you won that big pot tonight?”

Geek on the Street: “I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. I don’t know why I even bought it!”

Pants, severely, on fire.

No one buys a lottery ticket without a plan in the 1-in-292, 201,338 chance — those are the odds for a grand prize printed on my two $3-Powerball tickets I purchased — that they will instantly win more money than they likely have sense.

I have given good thought to this over the years. That is mainly because I have never been more than lower middle class. Of course, the IRS or VA will think you are right up there with Mr. Buffett. That’s either Warren or Jimmy.

TV Reporter: “Would you quit your job if you won?”

Geekette: “Uh, probably not. I like working where I am, stocking shelves and sweeping floors, and cleaning up baby doo.”

Please! Give me a gun, Texan! That person is definitely too stupid to live.

If you want to know my opinion — I accept Pay Pal — I feel it would be terribly irresponsible for one not to daydream a little bit. At least have a general plan if you win the lottery. Hell’s bells I have had enough time and plenty of big jackpots to think about it.

Of course, some of the media are trying to rain on our pre-lottery winnings parade with some of their stories. For instance, there is a number that has been used in the media quite extensively that says 70 percent of lottery winners end up broke. The figure comes from the National Endowment for Financial Education. I tried to find a story with that figure on their website, and was unable to do so, even though it was a pretty cursory search. And it seems as if these folks know what they are talking about. I just kind of wonder how they compiled that research. I think that would be fairly interesting. Of course, I’m a geek too.

In speaking with a few knowledgeable people, some of whom either won a lottery jackpot or have advised such winners, I have a very rudimentary plan if I wake up on Thursday only to discover that Hell has frozen over and those released from Hell will have all the ice water they can drink forever. The ice water will be flown into varied strategic spots by the United Nation’s Pig Force — no, not police cops, I’m talking pigs, four legs, big snouts, and wings. And to know that I must have won the jackpot, I will see upon opening my door to the morning sun, a sky covered in rainbows that are periodically s**t out of unicorn asses. Here is my plan.

  1. Take a day of sick leave.
  2. Have a couple of cups of coffee while continuously  and obsessively running the numbers over the “Check Your Numbers” page on the Texas Lottery Website.
  3. Once I am convinced I won this s***load of money, I will try to contact an accountant I know who had advised a jackpot winner. My acquaintance said to NEVER hire an accountant who wants a percentage of your jackpot as a fee. Find someone you trust.
  4. Hire a lawyer who specializes in financial matters. Make sure you run his background and that the attorney has good references.
  5. If the lawyer knows of a good financial adviser or one is recommended to you, take that professional into the flock.

Whatever you do, no matter how much you want to get your hands on that check, or its facsimile, take your time to assemble a trustworthy and savvy team. And you should have already placed a winning ticket in a safe deposit box after making a copy of the ticket. There is a certain period of time for claiming a winning ticket. I have no idea where you have to go to get your money, probably Austin. It certainly won’t be at Azmud’s Fast-R-Mart.

I would set a date for claiming the money and have my team concur. There would be a lot of matters that need attention. You need to figure out what in Sam Hill are you going to do with all that money. Feed the world, yeah, nice try.

I wouldn’t mind a house or two with some acreage in a scenic spot. Buy a couple of vehicles that I might need for a year or two. Investing? That is something that would really make me nervous. I don’t mind spending a dollar or two for the lottery or to win a shotgun from some local volunteer fire department trying to raise some bucks. I would even buy a fire truck for some needy department. All the while you are thinking of where this money might go — an extensive tour of Europe is okay — just giving away money to a relative or a friend outright might not be such a good move. It all depends on taxes. You can bet I’d find a way to help people, especially my friends and family. I’d just have to be wise about.

As for the job, well I will come up with some kind of story. Like, I’m going away for a while. I don’t know when I will be back. Don’t hold my job for me.

Seriously, we are talking about a big freaking amount of money, and not if just one person wins. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see quite a few hitting the big pinata. Even more players are likely to hit “smaller” million-dollar

Yeah, I know the kind of crib I want along with furniture and infotainment system. Haven’t figured out the colors yet.

Good Damn Luck! You’re going to need it.

 

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Bowie’s life was a work of performing art

Yesterday I finally managed to “sync” the 376 songs from my laptop onto my iPhone. These songs were courtesy of the numerous CDs owned by my friend Bruce and which I recorded  onto my laptop when I visited him a few weeks ago near Dallas. I wouldn’t care to guess what percentage of the collection I managed to copy mainly because Bruce and his companion Cindy have a vast number of discs ranging from the complete works of Led Zeppelin to more than one “Hits Of The 70s” compilations. I know I barely scratch the surface of my friends’ musical collections.

Although it might sound to the contrary, I am not a total technological idiot. But I did have trouble transferring the music from my PC laptop to my iPhone. Researching a way to do this task, I even read something which purported that it couldn’t be done. Well, it could, and it only took a few seconds while talking to an Apple tech support lady to do so.

I was about 20 miles out of town this morning, headed toward the Houston VA Hospital, where it seems I spend at least one day every two weeks, when I realized I had left my ear buds at home. I had looked at my iPhone music this morning, with an intention of listening to some of the songs on the nearly 120-mile round trip. It didn’t seem strange at all that the album up next was that space-glam-rock classic, David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider From Mars.” It wasn’t all that weird, that is, until I looked at Google News a couple of minutes later and saw the stories reporting that the musician-actor was dead.

Bowie died at age 69 after an 18-month struggle with cancer.

When “Ziggy” was first released more than 40 years ago, I was a long-haired country boy from East Texas. I had heard his “Space Oddity” (“Ground Control to Major Tom) from 1969 and it struck a cord since I had grown up with the U.S. space program and the triumph around that time of the first moon landing. A literal chord was struck during the next century by Space Station Astronaut Chris Hatfield.

Back in my little world, in the early 1970s, however, I didn’t know what to make of Bowie. Stories of him in all of his androgyny — all of this taking place during the days of the “glam rock” thing — was really not my cup of, well, Boone’s Farm.

As I grew older and experienced more of the world and musical tastes I became fond of Bowie’s music. I liked a number of his popular songs: “Young Americans,” “Rebel, Rebel,” “Changes,” among them. The album “Let’s Dance” in 1983 caught my attention in particular because Texas blues rocker Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar work on the album was mind-blowing. I saw Vaughn the first of two times in our dark-little college bar in Nacogdoches, Crossroads. From what I gathered, Vaughn had gone to Europe for work on Bowie’s LP, and it was in fact Stevie Ray’s big break. Apparently, Vaughn had made some prior commitments and there was Stevie Ray in this little club, the Crossroads, honoring his promise to play.

For all of its pitfalls, growing older has made me more appreciative of music and the genius behind it. It’s taken me many years to fully enjoy the whole of Bowie’s work, not merely a songster or writer, but whose life was one of performing art. Few like David Bowie come along. It’s cliche, but who cares — he will be missed.

 

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