Three tacos and a flashback of a side of empathy

It is another rainy Southeast Texas day and I felt like wherever I ended up is where I should stop for lunch. As the work clock ticks down to about 10 minutes — I thought I was supposed to start at 3:30 p.m. but beginning time is instead 1:30 p.m. — I will have to quickly relate my lunch and flashback.

Where I ended up was Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp, 5555 Calder, Beaumont, next to the popular Willy Burger and their new pizza place. I have eaten at Willy’s a few times. It is usually crowded and though the place is aesthetically funky, and the food is good, it’s far from my fave local joints Chuck’s Sandwich Shop (486 Pearl St.) for its wonderful old cheeseburger basket, and Daddio’s, up the street on Calder at Lucas, with their wonderful buffalo burger and hand cut fries.

Tia Juanita’s has gone through quite a few incarnations of food places. But it still has the huge covered patio and a darkish inside setting. While it has a Spanish name and a Mexican owner, the place is, unsurprisingly, seafood-oriented. The menu includes fried fish and shrimp as well as poboys, gumbo and tacos of a different variety. When I say that I mean fish, shrimp and beef. You can order a three-taco plate with either or a combination of the three. One also has the choice of flour or corn tortillas. So I chose shrimp tacos on corn tortillas. The three tacos for $10 ($9.99)  comes with a small salsa cup with a great-tasting spice enough to last through about nine tacos. It’s hot yet very delicious. It likewise comes with an equally small cup of charro beans. I likewise got an industrial-sized glass of unsweet tea.

The tacos came with cooked and spicy salad-sized shrimp, cilantro and shredded red cabbage inside two small corn tortillas each. With the salsa it was delightfully spicy and a treat. Although I really didn’t leave hungry, I was a bit put off at the size of the bean amount. Of all that was served, the beans were certainly not made of gold so the serving could have been twice the size I received easily.

Also, I am unsure if chips and salsa are automatic or if they are an extra charge. The waiter asked if I wanted anything else, I suppose I should have asked her what else was there, without sounding like a smart ass.

While I felt I waited a bit longer than normal for my food, I didn’t mind it at all. A large screen with ESPN Sports Center was on as well as a rather loud stereo system playing a number of tunes from the 60s and 70s by Jerry Jeff Walker, James Taylor and even Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Buffett. The rain also played a steady, though not heavy, beat outside the fenced patio. It was watching the rain and hearing Loggins and Messina’s rather sugary but nonetheless pretty “Danny’s Song” that I had a flashback from my military days overseas.

This recall was not from war. It was from sitting inside a pizza joint in Olangapo outside the Subic Bay Naval Station. I chose to order a few cold beers inside the big picture windows of the Cork Room Cellar watching the goings on of a hot, dusty day on Magsaysay Drive. Passing by those large windows to the world would be the whores, the Philippine constabulary in their fatigues, boonie hats and M-16s slung around their shoulders, as well as those who did everything from selling cheap trinkets to picking pockets. Inside, listening to the same songs from the same Loggings and Messina’s albums I remember feeling such sadness for those who made their living from can to can’t. Maybe it was — at 21 years old — my first discovery of empathy for those I felt who were less fortunate than I. Perhaps not the first, but perhaps the first time as an outsider of a foreign land looking in. Or maybe it was just the cold San Miguel catching up with me. I don’t know. But today I remembered it as if it was earlier this week.

The tacos were great though. Were I not scheduled to work later, and had an icy San Miguel been around — doubtful, as you don’t see San Miguel around too often in these parts — I might just have stayed for awhile.

A sick puppy speaks up

Sick and tired? Ever heard of being sick and tired of being sick and tired? That’s kind of how I feel right now.

I feel as if I have an old fashioned cold. I stopped having those in my middle 20s. Same went for “upper respiratory infections.”

Now, I seem to get an URI (Upper Respiratory Infection) about once a year. It starts off with a slight bit of congestion for a couple of months. It doesn’t seem worth it to bother the doctor when you can’t even see the phlegm. Then all of a sudden, you are stopped up like a 30-year-old pickup that wasn’t driven in the last 10 years.

Plus my back hurts. And I’m gassy.

It’s no wonder I feel sick and tired. Too much information? Too bad. But that’s it for today so consider yourself one lucky mutt.

Forty years past. Ah, and a slow ride around the town square listening to Humble Pie.

This year marks some interesting anniversaries in my life as a scholar. I graduated from high school 40 years ago. And received my college degree 10 years later. It will be the high school anniversary I focus upon this year. There are several reasons why but mostly because it is the most distant year from the original date. A few of my high school cohorts — most I have known from as far back as the first grade — and I have kept in touch with Facebook. That shows perhaps that social media isn’t as bad as many portray it. A wider circle of classmates came together and we have put together some events for our 40th anniversary.

Our hometown is about 60 miles away so it shouldn’t be much difficulty to physically attend. However, I somehow mixed myself into the planning portion of this celebration. Although we come from a small town and school, we will not have just one event. We’ve got a brunch on the Saturday of Homecoming followed by a parade. Later that evening we will have dining and dancing. Plus there will likely be some private parties. There are other groups celebrating including my brother’s class who graduated 10 years ahead of us. I don’t know if the classes of ’84, ’94 or ’04 will get together. I have only been to a 10-year reunion and one, I suppose that was 36 years after our graduation, which was a small, improvised gathering. I have been selected as the “go-to” person for the parade this year. I do not know why.

I need to get this wrapped up so that I might call a classmate who supposedly is supplying a tractor-trailer for our parade “float.” I don’t know that for a fact. I suppose if worst comes to worst, we can hitch a trailer to my ’98 Tacoma pickup. If we can get some of my classmates occupied like in the old days they might not even know the difference.

I remember while practicing for our high school graduation on the football field, we inserted some of our eight-track tapes (yes, it was awhile ago) into the sound system including Humble Pie’s “30 Days In The Hole.” We can blast some music like that while riding around on our parade float. No one should know the difference.

Fall brings the good, bad and indifferent of television

With fall comes new TV shows for however long. The seasons seem shorter with the advent of cable programming. That beats seasons-long reruns all to hell although it leaves viewers wanting more of a particular product should it be worthwhile.

A friend mentioned on Facebook her joy at the return of “Sons of Anarchy.” It will be the final season although I am sure to watch many of the early episodes down the line as reruns, or hopefully, that is. I think SOA was on for several years before I came an avid viewer.

Since the new season aired only last night, I won’t give away much to prevent spoilage. I will say the show seems much darker and bloodier than in the past. I mentioned to my friend that the blood and guts are cause for my stomach to considerably weaken. The “autopsy shots” and those of “crispy critters” featured on “Duckie Mallard’s” table in NCIS episode absolutely make me turn away. As I told my friend, Tere, I don’t know if all the horrors I saw as a younger man –as a firefighter/EMT and later as a reporter — have finally caught up with me. The last real “Doctor” psychiatrist I spoke with about 10 years seemed to think it inevitable that I had PTSD, though it was never a real diagnosis. WTFK, right? (Who the f*** knows, if you wondered about the acronym. )

I am glad to see Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” returning on CNN. Bourdain is known as a chef, though since his books including “Kitchen Confidential,” unearthed the dirty business side of restaurateurs and chefs, Tony has become much more well-known as a TV travel guide. Bourdain combines eating and drinking along with traveling, done in almost equal parts humorous and poignant, he is definitely a favorite multimedia-type of mine.

I  suppose that I live somewhat vicariously through Tony Bourdain since I doubt I could find anyone who might finance me on a junket to explore sights, sounds, eats and drinks in exotic places. Most of the exotic travel I did was as a 21-year-old in the Navy. I could write about my exploits and have to some degree. Some of said exploits might be a bit too harsh for certain loved ones. Strolling down Magsaysay Drive in Olangapo, Philippines, at night while toasted, a cold San Miguel in one hand and a piece of barbecued monkey on a stick, could pass for a young salt in the 70s. But other entertainment, while certainly amazing in some respects, might also seem to others as somewhat perverse.

Television standards prevent, supposedly, an on-air person getting baked on ganja or s***faced on some foreign assortment of liquors. Nonetheless, Anthony Bourdain can be seen at the end of some evenings in his exotic travels, looking much worse for wear though no doubt happy for it.

Some TV shows disappearing or reappearing do not matter at all to me which way they go. The “reality” programs are high up on that particular scale. “Big Brother,” I never watched it. “Naked and Afraid,” sad to say, yes. But it is ridiculous to a high degree. If the embarrassment would fall to another’s face, I might watch it if I was without reading material. However, since I just took control of a new HP laptop today. I don’t foresee that happening.

Now, if I can just get used to Windows 8 and things going “bounce” in the day, I will find myself okay. Catch you here or there this fall.

Serving up a tad more Rice

Nothing of great significance in the Ray Rice saga today. Baltimore Ravens Coach John Harbaugh had a brief news conference last evening and clearly wanted to talk about football rather than his indefinitely suspended star running back. The “Ravens Nation” should clearly thank their lucky stars that their coach is John Harbaugh rather than his brother, San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh. Sometimes known as “Mr. Intensity,” the West Coast Harbaugh brother might one day be gone from the Niners not because he is a poor Xs and Os guy but because his team and its big dogs can’t stand the coach.

Today, newlywed Janay Palmer Rice released a fireball on Instagram ripping, practically, mankind on the most recent video of her taking a forceful blow to the face from her then-fiancee Ray Rice in the now famous Atlantic City elevator incident. One could shake their head and “tsk, tsk” all they want but she has every right to shout and blame her exploitation. It doesn’t matter that her husband deserves some time behind bars and into a court-ordered program for such abuse.

Finally, no matter how much of a violent bully Ray Rice may be, the question must be asked whether a person should lose their livelihood for one documented episode of domestic assault? I say “documented” because no proof has yet to surface that Ray Rice has a history of such behavior. Even convicted robbers and murders get a chance at gainful employment after serving their sentences. True, Rice has yet to face charges for the recorded brutal assault.

I am by no means defending domestic assault. I was repulsed seeing Mrs. Rice knocked out brutally by her now husband. I am only saying this is one of these terrible moments, perhaps exploited by the media, that raises more thoughts and questions than answers.

Perhaps even some good may come from what has become much larger than a sports story. Let’s hope so. It would be such a bummer for such a sordid story to be just one more blip on the media screen.

Uncle Ray and the NFL’s perverted Rice

For those who make a living talking — especially those who talk about sports — this afternoon could end up a gold mine since the announcement that the Baltimore Ravens fired star running back Ray Rice.

Rice was handed a two-game suspension after a hastily-crafted domestic violence policy by the NFL evolved in the wake of a sordid video of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancee from an Atlantic City, N.J. hotel elevator. The running back, with fiancee Janay Palmer, at his side, later performed a televized mea culpa after the incident in which Rice had cold-cocked Palmer in the elevator. The pair soon wed. That show, and the now seemingly meager suspension, felt millions of light years away when gossip site TMZ released this morning a video from inside the elevator prior to the previously released clip.

The clip shown today, which was apparently sold by a person or persons not identified by TMZ, exhibits the now Mrs. Rice arguing with the ball star upon entering the elevator.. As Palmer-Rice  moves toward the three-time Pro Bowler, he pummels her with a closed fist, knocking the woman against the elevator rail and onto the floor. The woman appears unconscious as Rice picks her up and drags her out the elevator, before she eventually regains consciousness.

Since the story broke early this afternoon of the firing and indefinite suspension, the talking began and I guess it continues to flourish. I would not know, as I took a break to write a bit. It isn’t that I have anything particularly profound to write. I have seen people knocked out before though never quite a mismatch in such an exhibition of domestic rage. From what I could tell of the brief battle, or rather, violent assault, it appeared Mrs. Palmer-Rice is lucky to remain alive.

There are many angles from which to view this sordid story. First is, naturally, the vicious blow Rice made upon his now wife’s face. I am well aware how complicated domestic abuse can be although I tend to see it more one-dimensionally. If a spouse or significant other assaults the other party, that should pretty much be the end of that relationship unless some type of intervention is made that will ensure such never happens again. I tend to think that things end right there however. There is no excuse to assault anyone.

This affair shows as well the type of knee-jerk management that the NFL and its affiliates employ. A player can lose a quarter of a season if he tests positive for smoking pot. For beating a defenseless spouse, one will sit out at least two games.

The whole gender issue is one I will not address. It is more complicated than I have time for discussion. Obviously, men only play NFL and major college football. That doesn’t preclude women from being ardent fans of the sport. I have known a number of female football fans. Some of those were likewise my fans.

Whether this will become what the president calls “a teachable moment” is difficult to predict.  One can hope something good can come from something so sordid. Hopefully, it might be something more than “whole lotta jaw flappin’ going on.” Or, at least one may wish.

It happened again

Who knows why, but for some reason or other I lost about an hour’s worth of writing earlier. What went wrong probably has something to do with the newness of this mobile version of WordPress. It worked earlier and I imagine it will work later, but for now, I lost the damn thing. Perhaps in a week or so I won’t have to use this tiny keyboard. Yes, I have ordered yet another laptop. Another HP. This makes my, what, fourth new laptop. I also had two used ones. This has been in nine years.

Hopefully, this tablet will help me with my more mobile needs. And there will be zero coffee, iced tea or any other liquid within a mile of my laptop. I promise. Otherwise, I will have to put down a bunch of bucks for one of those military-grade laptops, the kind that can take an atomic bomb blast or something another..

Here is the deal, Wendy

Wendy keeps sending me emails, asking for money. I don’t know why. She knows I  am probably not going to give her any money. I don’t think she is going to be elected governor of Texas. If I thought that she would beat Greg Abbot then I would give her money. But I don’t think she has a chance in hell.

I can only imagine a combo of Greg Abbot as governor and Dan Patrick as lieutenant governor will make for Texas. Piss poor is what comes to my mind.

Boy howdy do I wish Texans would let go of those bugs up their collective asses that are driving our state back into the dark ages. I was reading today about these so called “Patriots” streaming into the Rio Grande area. The Patriots say they area being welcomed in by the Border Patrol, and the Border Patrol says the Patriots are full of frijoles.

Those misguided souls who follow the likes of Greg Abbot will, in the end, only feel as if they had slept with a $2 hooker. The will wake up to find their homes looted and heads feel like they drank from the city sewer system.

Here is a deal I will make with you Wendy Davis. If you can get elected this year as governor, I promise I will support you with fiscal niceties when you run for reelection. How nice, I don’t know, but nicer than zilch.

Sorry, but that is the best I can do.  Surely there are people with more money than myself who can who can help give Wendy the support she needs for this term.

it is the best I can do. Plus, I won’t be supporting the Republicans either fiscally or with my votes. That’s something isn’t it?

Going Mobile

Well, finally some good news from the blogging realm. I finally figured out how to open the blog dashboard on my Android app. This means I am able to publish from my tablet which I am using to write since my Inspiron’s coffee collision. That takes care of the right now although it is difficult typing on this teensy-tiny keyboard. Since I am sure no one out there cares about my computer woes I will cut this short.

Giving blogging the finger and my sleeping health

Live from tablet world! I don’t yet have a wireless keyboard to, hopefully, make this more blog-like. I have also not figured out how to get my WordPress platform–if that is the correct terminology–working on this particular Android operating system. It is a real pain in the ass to train my opposable thumbs to work on this quote-unquote “virtual keyboard.”

So what does a quote-unquote blogger do? Hellafino. I have to later shower, eat and drive uptown to a private medical facility for a sleep study. It has been about 14 years after I covered my own sleep study at a VA-DOD center out near Fort Hood and discovered that, yeah, I indeed have sleep apnea. My picture was on PI above the fold and everything.

A look at the computer chip in my head CPAP machine by the VA revealed I wasn’t getting as much sleep as was thought during the pregnant pauses in my breathing during night-night. An echocardiogram recently showed I have a slightly enlarged heart. The heart doc at the VA said it can be a byproduct of sleep apnea. So we will look and see eventually. If you see me writing about a stress test some later, you too will know. I kind of wonder about the VA sending me to a local private mini-hospital and that happening PDQ. Is it me or the scandal nationwide that this sudden burst of medicine is about?

My fingers or finger, one, index, right, is about to give out. So it”s off to hopefully a good night’s sleep, with a touch of weird science.