Jeb versus the Clinton woman: Monarchy versus cronyocracy

This morning I discussed by email with my expatriate friend Paul the news that Jeb Bush is “actively exploring” a run for president in the 2016 election. My Tokyo-based “J” School friend, who teaches English there, pondered the wording of this news as if we really think it is news.

 “I suppose ‘explore’ might be sitting around drinking beer and thinking about it. ‘Actively explore’ might be sitting around drinking beer and paying Karl Rove to think about it,” said Paul.

To which I might reply, were Paul, Sir Paul of the Beatles: I am the egg man, they are the egg man. I am the walrus, goo goo goo joob … Ah but alas I am not an egg man, though I was an egg boy, one time, selling eggs from laying hens and yard hens. Also, Paul is not Sir Paul. But it is important as to how concepts are presented when you aren’t just another joob running for president. Because three Bushes are directly related to a bird in the hand. The next thing you know, you’ve got a damned monarchy, which I pointed out to Paul. His reply:

 “We probably should do it because then we could have Dukes and royal babies and shit like that — CNN would like that. The irony would be that the ‘King’ would eventually lose power and be a ceremonial inbred figurehead mostly attending charity balls, playing golf, and pardoning turkeys on holidays while trying to keep his daughters’ topless vacation pictures out of the press.

 “I’m good with all this,” concluded my friend, signing as “Paul the Serf.”

It’s certainly an interesting way to look at it. Will we fight another revolution if Jeb I or Bush III or whatever we would call him, wins a presidency?

Or, perhaps, we can just go ahead and elect a Clinton wife in the less than royal manner of the Texas Fergusons — a.k.a. “Ma and Pa Ferguson.

Oh but Ma was humane. Many say “crooked as a barrel of snakes.” She was good about getting folks out of the slammer in Huntsville. My Dad once told me a story about a less than savory cast of cousins, one of whom was in Huntsville. Pop said this unsavory cousin’s mother hitchhiked all the way from San Augustine to Austin — 232 miles one-way — to see Ma and get her boy, our cousin, out of prison. Our cousin’s mother, also a cousin, was successful and perhaps even stopped off in Huntsville on the way back and picked up her boy before returning to the red clay, pine-covered hills of San Augustine County.

So with Republicans one gets royalty and with Democrats the result is cronyocracy? Things are never that easy. But three Bushes? One at a time was certainly not so great where George I upchucked on the leader of Japan and George II was swayed into igniting another world war in the Middle East. Yes, the House of Bush, it bothers me plenty.




Here I use math to prove prevaricating pooches

Have you ever wondered whether dogs lie? I mean, yes they lie, as in down. But I mean dogs flat out telling a fib, or rather, communicating such an untruth in whatever manner a dog would use.

Now I imagine we have always known a dog or two that would cut a big foul-smelling fart. Big in volume where (4/3) pi r1 r2 r3.

In other words, where we have a big gas-filled ellipsoid. And the ellipsoid of funk — maybe we will even name it the Mighty Ellipsoid of Funk — floats silently but deadly across the room until it his you POW! right smack in the schnoz.

There is no one in the room excepting me. That is, no other human in the room. So our, mine, eyes turn quickly toward the dog. Yes, our loveable canine friend is the top suspect for the stinky ellipsoid so why don’t we just call the dog, the Mighty Ellipsoid of Funk, or MOEF, MOEF being sort of equivalent to the noise the dog makes while barking.

But the ellipsoid hangs all over the room and the dog smells it too. So what does MOEF do? Denies, denies, denies. No sir, nothing that vile could come from such a pure soul as mine, says MOEF dog. Of course, dogs do not talk or so it has been said. Is that a stupid f***ing sentence or what?

But MOEF looks outside and sees a butterfly and “MOEF, MOEF, MOEF.”

No, I am not buying it at all. The damned dog has just tried to divert my attention away from the ellipsoid but by the time this psychodrama settles down so does the ellipsoid.

Lying bastard dog!

See there. With the use of a formula for a fart-filled ellipsoid did I expose the dog for what it really is.  A lying $#@%$&&^% and  (#&&#**#! as well. Just *$(& it!


Ask any piggy you happen to see, what’s the best pork chop? Piggy of the Sea.

This is something that had always puzzled me. Thanks again to the “internets,” that George Dubya Bush spoke of and which Al Gore invented. (sometimes I do satire.) I’m speaking of “Chicken of the Sea.” That’s a tuna company of course. The name comes from what fishermen called albacore tuna because of its white meat and mild taste reminding them of chicken. Perhaps that is where the habit of saying different foods, particularly unusual choices for meat at least in the U.S., saying that the food “tastes like chicken.”

Frog legs? Tastes like chicken. Rattlesnake meat? Taste like chicken. Rocky Mountain Oysters? Tastes like chicken. No, no, wait a minute now. Mountain oysters taste like calf fries to me.

But Chicken of the Sea. It’s a hell of a name, especially when you extrapolate a bit. Turkey of the Permafrost. Zebra of the Lower Fourth Ward. Gecko of the Locker Room. Dog of El Camino Real. You see what I mean?

Back to the whole tastes like chicken thing, have you ever had chicken that didn’t taste like chicken? It can happen. So what do you say when that happens? Tastes like grout on a cracker. Tastes like honey badger. Tastes like … Well, you get it. It just doesn’t make sense.

I’m just glad that Chicken of the Sea wasn’t named after some dude who was afraid of the ocean. So let’s say he goes back to dry land and moves somewhere out West where Kenny Rogers writes a song in his honor called “Coward of the County.” No? Okay, I gave it a shot.


How I somehow got on a discussion of roadrunners

Seeing a roadrunner is not an everyday kind of event in my neck of the woods.

This ground-dwelling cuckoo known as a roadrunner may have coyotes to worry about in some places but there are fewer high places on which to launch a dangerous bank vault. Bureau of Land Management photo/S. Schmidt.

This ground-dwelling cuckoo known as a roadrunner may have coyotes to worry about in some places but there are fewer high places on which to launch a dangerous bank vault. Bureau of Land Management photo/S. Schmidt.

The Geococcyx californianus  as they are scientifically known aren’t completely alien to the pine forests of East Texas, where I was raised. Neither are roadrunners completely foreign a little south of the Pineywoods, in what is the Big Thicket area and into the coastal plains of Southeast Texas where I currently reside.

Scientists who study these sort of things say these speedy ground-dwelling cuckoos have been found in each of the 254 Texas counties. The North American Breeding Bird Survey shows the roadrunner habitat through most areas of the Southwest U.S. and into areas of states bordering Texas. This is in conjunction with the areas of northern Mexico where one may also find these birds.

Roadrunner habitat in the United States from the Breeding Bird Survey. USGS map

Roadrunner habitat in the United States from the Breeding Bird Survey. USGS map

The map provided by the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) — a U.S. Geological Survey/Environment Canada effort — shows that one is most likely to see a roadrunner in the Chihuahuan Desert, the North Texas plains and the Rio Grand Valley in Texas as well as the Sonoran Desert in California. But other than a two or three day adventure in Big Bend National Park — in the heart of the Chihuahuan — the only roadrunners I have ever seen were in the wooded areas of eastern Texas.


Sometimes called the chaparral or chaparral cock, this cuckoo is pretty damn smart when it comes to ferreting out the sustenance it needs to survive and doing so just about wherever it needs to survive. The first roadrunner I saw was while riding to a picnic with my neighbor kids and their mother. We kids recognized the bird, of course, because the “Roadrunner” cartoons had recently begun its run on network TV. Folks around the area where I grew up said the first such birds they had seen were sometime in the 1940s or 1950s. The birds actually spread pretty rapidly because of the changes in land use. Whether that growth has stopped or slowed down, I don’t know. But the BBS map shows that they haven’t traveled very far from eastern Texas. Once again, the physical terrain and vegetation, whether changed or not, probably is the major factor.

I have to admit that the roadrunners are curious-looking, as well as curious-acting, feathered fellows. I think they are quite majestic and quite handsome even though its long legs and neck do somewhat resemble the flightless ratites. The major difference between the chaparral and ratites such as the emu is that roadrunners are capable of a weak effort at flying. As for photogenic, I’d have to say the roadrunner wins hands, or feet, down. And while the emu is not generally given to aggression they are apt to cause humans to hurt themselves as the “smarter creature” takes flight. The good old roadrunner just takes off instead of fooling with humans. Then again, I have had strange encounters with emus. I think I will just leave it at there, for now at least.

Although I certainly hold no claim as an expert on roadrunners, I can say without reservation that I’ve never hear them utter sounds such as “meep meep.” Also, since coyotes can be found just about anywhere I wouldn’t draw any conclusions.


Fishing tale: The one that got away didn’t

Some fisherman ply the waters for sustenance while others fish for sport. It has been awhile since I have fished. But I generally find it a relaxing exercise and one in which I care little whether I catch a fish or not. I say “generally.” I suppose if I was paying for a deep sea trip or booked a fly fishing journey in the Rockies I would definitely want some return for my dollar. Some fish freshly caught for grilling would certainly be one return to enjoy. Still, going fishing is many times more than wetting a hook. And sometimes the hunt is better than the capture. For instance, every fisherman worth his or her tackle box has a story about “the one that got away.”

Anthony Wichman may truly have been better off if the fish he hooked had escaped.

A Navy Times story reports that Wichman, 54, hooked a 230-pound Ahi tuna while fishing last week off Kauai island, Hawaii. While reeling in the monster tuna it capsized his 14-foot boat and pulled the man under the water. As if that wasn’t enough, Wichman also managed to entangle his leg in his fishing line.

He managed though to hang on to the overturned hull and used his cell phone to call his wife, who in turn, notified authorities. A Coast Guard helicopter found the capsized vessel and plucked Wichman out of the water. A couple of his friends also showed up to help tow his boat to shore.

A Honululu Coast Guard spokeswoman said Wichman sustained minor injuries. But one important answer was difficult to find out in the otherwise entertaining story.

What happened to the fish?

Well, a picture accompanying the story shows the angler and his friends holding up the giant tuna. The cutline beneath the story explains that Wichman and friends were able to save the Ahi as well as the boat.

What other details that transpired is hard to say: Like whether the giant tuna was worth the ordeal and whether Wichman might have wished he had not even hooked the fish in the first place.

One has to admit though, it is one hell of a fishing story.


Inaugural address was worth wake up; Local native killed in Algerian attack

A text message from my friend Tere woke me up this federal holiday around 10:30. That was quite all right of course. I needed to get up. Plus I woke just in time to see Barry O’Bama, my black Irish president, get sworn in a second time. Just kidding on the “black Irish” thing. I consider it a compliment since I am part Irish plus, everyone knows the President was born in Kenya!

I missed the infamous yawn laid down by little Obama Sasha, but did get to see the bizarre hat worn by Mr. Justice Scalia. I’m not going to link to the story about Sasha’s yawn because I don’t think it’s a worthy story. A photo maybe, but not a story about an 11-year-old who yawns at her daddy’s speech. She’s 11 years old, for God’s sake! And since I won’t share a link concerning a yawn, I won’t link with Justice Scalia’s strange hat. You all can be adventurous enough to find either one on the Internet if you so desire.

All inauguration speeches don’t have to be inspiring. I wouldn’t say President Obama’s second inaugural speech was totally inspiring although he uttered some inspiring phrases and thoughts. His was more a “let’s get to work” speech like you’d hear in a State of the Union address. But that is more than all right and even sort of inspirational in it own way. Perhaps the most uplifting paragraph the President said was:

 “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

Those words are reminiscent of the great “I Have A Dream” speech given by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on whose birthday American’s presidential welcoming party coincided. There was one big difference and that was “when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty,” and not “I have a dream that … “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” In other words, the first black President of the United States of America has gone beyond hopes for just the little black children and little white children and instead wishes all little children will have freedom and equality. That, in itself, is inspiring.

The President’s other lines which I felt were encouraging, instructional or both:

 “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

 “Our brave men and women in uniform tempered by the flames of battle are unmatched in skill and courage.”

  “America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad. For no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.”

And finally, Obama issues a call for those who feel their great gift to the union is to call others names is to get a civic life:

 ” … For now, decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

Barack Obama, whose favorite sport is shooting hoops, basically sounded the call to opponents and supporters alike that he is here to help to the best of his ability. But to ensure our nation accomplishes its needs, the ball is in the people’s court.

State Dept.: County native killed in Algerian raid.

The U.S. State Department confirmed today that a Jefferson County native was among the three Americans killed in a siege by Islamic terrorists at a BP gas plant in Algeria.

Family members of Victor Lynn Lovelady 57, of Houston, were notified of the BP conctract worker’s death, said KFDM Channel 6 News Website. He is a native of Nederland in mid-Jefferson County.

Early Wednesday, Algerian time, heavily armed militants attacked the BP In Amenas gas operation almost 20 miles west of the Libyan border. Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said his country’s special forces regained control of the site and killed about 29 of the militants, according to Euronews.

The oil and gas drilling news Website Rigzone, has reported 85 people were killed as a result of the invasion and resulting raid. BP group chief Bob Dudley this was the first time such an incident has happened to one of their plants.

 “As a precautionary measure we are of course, reviewing security at our other locations and operations in the region and elsewhere around the world,” Dudley said. “There will undoubtedly be government investigations into the horrendous events of the past few days. And we will participate in them fully.”

On April 10, 2010, an explosion rocked the BP project on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 and injuring 16. The explosion and subsequent sinking of the rig led to the largest marine oil spill in history. BP had spent $16 billion by the end of 2011 in costs associated with the spill and rig incident, according to the company. Many other legal challenges and costs are anticipated.


Another jewel cast from “Pearls”

“Pearls Before Swine” is my favorite comic strip. It has remained on my blogroll for about as long as I have written in this space. The egotistical Rat, his dense but lovable friend Pig and a seemingly endless cast of characters which include the creator, attorney-turned-cartoonist Stephan Pastis, himself populate one of the most unusual “funny” of today’s funny pages.

But just as Pastis pokes fun at himself and the funnies world in general, he likewise produces strips that aren’t always simply funny and are often incredibly poignant. The not-so-funny pages he has produced generated complaints and threats to cancel subscriptions. Still, Pastis draws powerful statements with help from his simple friends who don’t even have to speak, as is the case with Monday’s strip.

It took me maybe a minute or more to get it. There set Rat and Pig, staring at the endless stars that spelled out what, after counting, came to 20 names. The tally was the names of those little children, innocent like those very twinkling stars, who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook massacre last month in Connecticut.

Stephan, through his work, proves that often the simplest sentiments are the most powerful.



Kidnapped Navy goat found safe and sound: Soldiers suspected in goat rustling

A Maryland kidnapping had a happy ending despite a crime that was more than enough to get anyone’s goat.

Bill the Goat 43 or 44? That is among those unanswered questions in goat-rustling. U.S. Defense Department photo

Bill the Goat, the Navy Academy mascot, was taken over the weekend from Maryland Sunrise Farms. The farm, which provided milk for more than 80 years to midshipmen as the Naval Academy Dairy Farm, is home to the two Navy Goats Bill XXXIII and XXXIV. The farm manager told Navy Times that it was not known which of the two mascots were kidnapped but he suspected soldiers stole the goat. The Angora was found safe and sound tied up on a median near the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

Let’s see a military goat was kidnapped and taken across state lines. That sounds serious. But strict punishment for any perpetrator who might be caught is doubtful. Stealing the Navy goat is a tradition leading up to the annual Army-Navy game. That contest will take place 3 p.m., December 8 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

The Navy Department said they didn’t know who took one of the Bills but suspect it could have something to do with the upcoming game.

Although the goat was unharmed the farm manager was none too pleased it was left tied up on a busy highway median and suggests that it might be time the goat-rustling tradition ends. West Point official said they had no knowledge of the Bill heist and said that both academies have pledged not to steal each others’ mascots.Then again, who would want to steal the U.S. Military Academy’s mascot, a mule, unless they were planning to go plow the back 40?


Ill but probably not sick with West Nile

What a vacation week this has been. Two fun-filled days with appointments at my local VA clinic and the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC in Houston. To top it all off, to paraphrase my Daddy, I feel like I been dragged through Hell hanging on a sack of crap and the sack busted.

What’s wrong with me? Ask 10 doctors and I bet you would get 10 different diagnoses. I’ve had slight fever, on and off, chills, various lower GI complaints, and just a general malaise. And no General Malaise wasn’t an infantry commander for the Confederacy. Malaise also isn’t the South Pacific nation with its capital in Kuala Lumpur.

I fear my problem is West Nile Virus. That is because I was swarmed a week or so ago by mosquitoes over in Orange County, Texas, near the border with Louisiana. I was in a lady’s yard on business. She invited me to sit down outside her mobile home and we commenced to be pounced upon by mosquitoes like a duck on a June bug. Oooh. That hurts me just thinking about it. Crunch!

Since then I began carrying  a can of Off in my business car but have yet to need it. But it has been quite some time since I was eaten alive by those contrary little bastards as I was that day. I am paranoid about West Nile because it can be quite uncomfortable and make one pretty sick. It can even kill you. The latter is enough to make you want to have a can of DEET spray in a holster on a Sam Browne belt. “Excuse me, ma’am, Mosquito Police.” In this area of Texas we have “mosquito districts” that are part of the county government. They are not as the word, literally applied would indicate, districts that are explicitly set aside for mosquitoes. I wish such districts existed as I would be certain not to visit. Actually, they are called “mosquito control districts.”

As I have mention a number of times before on this page the district in my county flies over in a couple of planes, usually it a Beechcraft King Air — if I am not mistaken. It is a twin-engine turboprop plane used as a “cropless duster”  that could probably blow the skivvies off a skinny gal 100 feet or so below on terra firma. The district also uses trucks that spray. The aforementioned Orange County also has spray planes and trucks. These brave pilots and ground sprayers, as well as those who test areas for mosquitoes, do as much as they can to get rid of these disease-carrying menaces. This area of the Gulf Coast has seen all types of mosquito-borne illnesses over time ranging from malaria and full-blown yellow fever. The latter reportedly killed about 100 people in the Jefferson County during an 1862 epidemic. West Nile has showed up here as well including some cases this year. No deaths have been reported so far but WNV has killed here before.

I probably don’t have West Nile. It’s probably no more than some kind of stomach disruption or IBS (I Bite Sheep). I don’t know. I do know to be vigilant and pretty much slather oneself with mosquito repellent, at least here where I live. Mosquito spray doesn’t always smell all that hot, but usually it’s at least better than Brut and most times will keep the skeeters at bay.


Dogs don’t shoot people. Chickens shoot people.

For some reason I feel as if I should explain why I missed writing a few days during the latter part of last week although I cannot think of too many rational reasons for or against. I suppose someone might wonder if I am sick or whether my arthritic and diabetic infirmities have taken tight hold against me. Then again, most people who know me can find out that is probably not the case by looking at my Facebook page. Pardon me, I’m just thinking out loud. I was busy last week with work. Every now and then I have to work evenings and it so happened I had to work two evenings in a row, which pretty much bites.

To round out my personal life, this weekend I attended the 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my oldest brother and his wife. I find that a remarkable achievement this day and age, thus I likewise declare myself very proud of the couple for their accomplishment. I also spent the night at the next brother in age — I have four brothers, all older — who is the only to live in my hometown. I even slept in what was my room during my high school years, a wonderful room it is though a bit different than during my tenure there.

I am very fond of my hometown, a small East Texas former sawmill town, with a population of near 2,500. The number of folks living there has not changed too terribly much since I grew up and left for the Navy — and more or less for good — in the mid-1970s. It’s, as some folks like to say, a great place to be from. That means it is nice. It is full of fond memories and good people. I am not very big on everyone knowing my business though and that is something you get everywhere but most especially in a small town. Nonetheless, I suppose if a place popped up for next-to-nothing in the country near there it might be a place where I could retire. I mean retire retire and not play-like retired as I sometimes find myself doing.

Dogs dig trucks. Even this one in Louisiana parked next to me.

One thing for certain, when I do move again it will be to a place where I can have an animal or two. That would be a dog for certain and maybe a cat as well as a pet aardvark or llama. That is jest on the latter two, as in jest fooling. I certainly wouldn’t want to keep a llama. They can be amiable but I have just had one too many llama spit at, though luckily not on, me. Just as I would not want a dog to bite a visitor — an intruder is a different story — I would not want me llama es Llama to spit on someone who came calling.

I really would like a dog. It’s been about 25 years since one lived with me, the last being the remarkable Cochise. I say remarkable in that it was remarkable he, it, didn’t injure someone. Cochise, as I have spoke of this wonderful dog in the past, was a half-Doberman and half-great Dane. He was a beautiful animal with the Dane size and mostly Dobie features. He didn’t have a docked tail nor did he have cropped ears. A college friend gave him to me since I lived on a cow pasture. I sometimes call it a farm but nothing was raised except cattle. The place was a couple hundred acres in size but certainly it wouldn’t pass in Texas for a ranch.

Cochise liked running the fields and chasing a tennis ball or retrieving a tree limb bigger than the both of us. He was well-trained for a number of feats such as jumping up in my pickup bed on the command of “mount” and the opposite “dismount” to get the dog out of the truck. Once, I drove up to the little convenience/liquor store about a mile from the house. I didn’t take Cochise and he followed me all the way to the store.

I was horrified to see Cochise had “mounted” but in the bed of a pickup belonging to my grumpy neighbor. I got him out of the neighbor’s bed just as the man was coming out of the store. I couldn’t do much more than apologize. This was the neighbor who didn’t like me too much because we would do some shooting up where I lived. You know the usual, shooting cans, targets, beer bottles, watermelons, couches … This fellow was uptight about that sort of thing, concerned his cows might get shot. He also had a general worry about firearms due — according to the man’s account — to his getting shot in the ass by a chicken in a German farm yard on the last day of World War II. The soldier had laid his sub-machine gun on top of a chicken coop and the chicken jumped up and triggered the gun, giving this fellow the distinction of earning a Purple Heart earned in combat with a fowl German. Or maybe that was a German fowl. Oh hell’s bells.

If there is a point to be made here — maybe there is and maybe not — it is that it is nice to have a dog around the house, or a cat, even a llama if you can keep it from spitting.  Chickens have their place as well, but it certainly isn’t around a firearm.