Watch for those fiery tornadoes

This story in NatGeo online oddly attracted me. The viral You Tube video is what the story is about, the subject being a “fire tornado.”

These fiery whirling dervishes of nature are more akin to dust devils than to real tornadoes which can cause nine kinds of hell in practically every part of the United States. This partial explanation from Wikipedia comes pretty close to explaining these whirlwinds:

 “Dust devils form when hot air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler, low- pressure air above it. If conditions are just right, the air may begin to rotate. As the air rapidly rises, the column of hot air is stretched vertically, thereby moving mass closer to the axis of rotation, which causes intensification of the spinning effect … “

Most dust devils that form here in Southeast Texas are generally small in size. The same applies, though not always, for tornadoes. I would guess that the size has to do with the humid air we normally have here on the coast. I did see some larger whirlwinds when I have visited Colorado, where this fire tornado takes place. I have never seen a fire tornado although I have seen and been through a few tornadoes. I have seen firestorms as well. Or rather, I have seen at least one firestorm. This is a phenomenon which takes place when a fire is so large that it sustains its own wind system. This can occur naturally, as in a large wildfire, or in other instances such as happened most notably in the massive fire bombing of Dresden, Germany, in World War II.

The fire storm I witnessed happened during a fire that destroyed a plywood mill. It was what you would call a “massive” blaze. I could see the currents inside the heat and fire that drifted across the street and caught a wood yard on fire. A few hours later I went home, about 10 miles in the country from the fire. I found ashes up to a foot long and nearly as wide in the cow pasture. Had it not been spring and the area fair with rain, half the countryside could have been burned.

Nature can play all kinds of tricks with you and your surroundings. When that happens. You need to be elsewhere.

March Madness turns to white bass fishing in East Texas

My interest in March Madness ceased on Sunday evening. The reason is simple. My team was beaten.

That my team, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, lost to UCLA is not a surprise. The Lumberjacks had never journeyed beyond the first round before Friday. That was when the team from Nacogdoches, Texas, shocked the hell out of a lot of folks in their mind-bending overtime win over fourth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth. This is only the second time SFA had gone to the big dance.

The Bruins practically invented college basketball or sits as its master of the sport. UCLA hadn’t won it all lately so they got themselves a new coach. So did Stephen F. Austin.

UCLA had height, and a lot of it. SFA were relatively little people compared to UCLA.  But SFA had heart. They had soul. They had a long-haired boy called “Sunshine” who wore tie-dyed shirts when not attired for basketball. Oh, and he likes to hunt and fish. He told one sports reporter he liked fishing for white bass on the Angelina River. Yes, that boy,  Jacob Parker, is the real deal if he knows about white bass and the Angelina.  This time of year the white bass make their “run” along the Angelina.

My friends and I used to hang out at a place on the Angelina known as Shawnee Landing. The property actually belonged to the U.S. Forest Service and was a nice little place to come hang out, go fishing, drink a beer or fire up a doobie. Unfortunately, too many found the place and made Shawnee too good of a thing. I don’t know if it’s closed now or not. All I know is it’s a kind of place where long-haired country boys like to go. I used to take all country roads — one was barely paved — to the place from my house. And on days I’ve had like today, I sure miss that part of Nacogdoches County and those times.

Well, ol’ Sunshine will be back next year and so will many of the ‘Jacks who brought them to San Diego for two rounds of NCAA tourney hoops. Hopefully, the Jack’s now second-year coach Brad Underwood will find him some big ol’ boys taller than the ones he’s got and who can shoot. Meanwhile, the Jacks are back home and Sunshine is probably out fishing. Let’s hope so. The boys, the new “media darlings” at the big dance this year, are Jacks who are back in Nac. Take me home country road.

It’s not a bad place to be.

The days of grocers past

Does anyone remember the jingle: “Let’s go to Henke’s now, Henke’s now, Henke’s now … thrifty place to shop.”

Well, the song is a lot like the one you hear or may have had heard in the past that goes: “Let’s go Krogering, Krogering, Krogering … “

It’s all the same and with a reason. The giant grocer Kroger bought Houston-based Henke & Pilot chain the same year I was born, in 1955. The Henke name was no longer used beginning in 1966, or there about. Although the jingle seemed to hang on.

I suppose if you are under 30 and grew up in the U.S., most grocery stores have always been a constant. I know the grocery chains in East and Southeast Texas haven’t seemed to change much over those years. Where I live, in Beaumont, there aren’t a lot of grocery choices. There is Kroger, of course. Two larger regional chains seemed to have elbowed out any potential large competitors with the exception of Kroger. H-E-B, which was once pretty much a Central Texas chain has grown like crazy and even some of the smaller towns around here have mid-sized or small versions of its stores.

H-E-B has mega-stores in different locations in the state. Two were built when I lived in Waco. There is one humongous H-E-B in Beaumont on Dowlen Road that anchors a small strip mall. When it first opened it featured a small “Central Market,” which is the company’s gourmet grocery chain. One may find all the hipsters at the Central Market in Austin (that should be ‘Markets,’ and they are littered with ‘foodies’ in major suburbs like Plano and Southlake in the DFW area.) I will give the tres chic  H-E-B that it does have many great items one would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Beaumont isn’t a hipster town — at least not in reality — so its H-E-B Central Market was gone and installed was a doc-in-a-box. A new, and presumably likewise large, H-E-B is now solid ground but will be coming up at the site of the old Baptist Hospital at South 11th Street and College. This is next door to the booming Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital and its surrounding medical village. This is kind of a crossroads of where Beaumont’s  mostly Black, goodly-sized Hispanic and minority White population all have to go at one time or the other. If they don’t go to Baptist they usually go up 11th to Christus St. Elizabeth or to Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Of course, the “Golden Triangle” also has an abundance of Market Basket stores. It is a chain in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana some half-century old, based in Nederland, Texas, that has seemed to do just fine.

Various other stores either went out of business or got bought out. The Brookshire Brothers chain, based in Lufkin, can be found pretty much in the Big Thicket and Deep East Texas areas. The company has also moved into areas of east Central Texas and parts of Central Texas as well.

One need not mention Wally World.

I think about some of the stores that were once here in Beaumont: Albertson’s, Gerland’s, gosh knows who else. In Nacogdoches, where I spent a great deal of my life, Safeway was once a huge, unionized store. Kroger was also unionized there. One of the first girls I dated upon first moving to Nac, I met at Safeway. Those are the kind of memories one likes to have of a grocery store instead of getting stuck in line to no end. The Safeway girl and I parted quicker than some of those lines, I would suppose. But we left amicably as she wanted to move back to Houston and I said, well, if someone wants to move to Houston then I guess I have no great opposition to it. I was fine just where I was at that time, and several other times.

Also I remember the little East Texas town from where I came. We didn’t have any of those big-named stores. Maybe a couple of years after I left a Brookshire Brothers came. It was a familiar brand because my uncle Sox retired from the company. Uncle Sox then worked part-time after retirement in a little town outside of Lufkin called Huntington. Uncle Sox worked for Boots store, named after a man called Boots. Sox and Boots. Seemed kind of proper, yet still gets a big family chuckle.

Some of the small-town stores I remember delivered. Dick’s Grocery, whom I am named for (Dick, not Grocery), used to set their fruits and vegetables out on the curb. I remember one store, owned by Ira Bean, sold a little of everything. Then there was Joe Harrell’s who we saw for smoked meats and his homemade sausage. And like family was J & J’s, the corner store, but not like in a convenience store. I remember they had a big old wheel of cheddar sitting on top of the butcher case. John & Juanita were as good of people you could find.

Man, those were the days. Well, excuse me because I have to go to Kroger’s. Have a great weekend.

Will the isolation give up the ongoing Malaysian mystery?

Perhaps Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 is located in the Indian Ocean. Perhaps not. After the immense speculation and leads given the public from corporate and government sources one could think the Boeing 777 jet with its contingent of almost 300 lives aboard might just be anywhere. It is heartening to think a possible crash site might finally be spotted, according to media reports.

The strange paths this Beijing-bound flight supposedly took and the elements to which the flight pertains is certainly a mystery worthy of fiction. If indeed this jet is found in almost completely the opposite direction from where it was headed, then that too seals the mysterious flight which headed out just after midnight from Kuala Lumpur on March 8. And while the 24-hour media has raised the possibility the 777 might perhaps had been en route to as far north as Pakistan, the possibility the aircraft and its passengers and crew may lie in the Indian Ocean east of Western Australia seems to make more sense than any other ultimate destination.

It didn’t really hit me at first when a newscaster commented this morning that the missing place could in a place as “remote” as to the east of Western Australia. When one looks at a map it really can understand just how far removed from civilization such a place really is.

I made a trip once sailing out of Fremantle, the Swan River port city for Perth, Western Australia, headed for Jakarta, Indonesia. I don’t remember much about the passage, our two warships alone  out on the Indian Ocean. We had spent the better part of two months visiting ports all up and down the two major New Zealand islands and to three Australian ports in a semi-circular journey from New South Wales, to Tasmania and up to Perth. The majority of us sailors, under 25, had just experienced “sailor-man heaven.”

So I really cannot comment too much one way or the other about the trip across the western Indian Ocean and into the Java Sea. The only thing that really sticks out in my mind about the Indian Ocean is that it was generally hot as hell, it being during the heat of the southern winter. I did notice what appeared to be dirty-looking ocean water, it being one of those odd instances one comes across when at sea after awhile.

Few islands of the Indian to the west of Australia other than Madagascar are noteworthy.  The only place in the Indian Ocean where I have known people to go was Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, home of the major U.S. Navy facility that was built in the 1970s mostly by Navy Seabees. A number of my Seabee friends were deployed there at one time or another. One even sent me a B.I.O.T. T-shirt though I don’t know what happened to it.

Yes, I would have to think that area west of of Perth is pretty remote as many ocean areas might be. Still the ocean is tranquil and desolate in many areas of the world as it is there. Hopefully, this remote area will soon uncover this ongoing mystery and provide some comfort to those with loved ones on Flight 370.



Putin needs to get a life

It beats me whether I was wrong or right about Russia and its intentions in Crimea. There has been a near orderly and bloodless transfer of power as Russia annexed the portion of the former Ukraine, something upon which Americans pride themselves.

If, however, the whole Crimea exercise by Russia is a means to the end of a separation from the once Soviet Union then that would not be good at all.

There are more than just one splinter of countries in that portion of the world in which people are connected with Russia by language and history. People who have come of age these days — those both in the East and in the West — have grown without the worry of nuclear annihilation.

It doesn’t seem very long ago at all that I graduated from college, in 1984, and saw a brave new world out there for myself. And though it was fading, the Cold War in which I had served as a sailor was fading. The USSR was something still “evil” though fading as Ronald Reagan said, as an “Evil Empire.”

I think there are many good Russian people in the world and those who would rather see a stronger more than weaker relationship between their homeland and the United State. Yes, we are rivals and probably always will be as such. But rivals need not be enemies.

Vladimir Putin is a latter-day Commie spook. He wouldn’t make a wine stain on Mihkail Gorbachev’s head. Let us just hope these flights of Soviet fancy are just that.


Some heroes gets their rewards and others get, something else

EFD Celebrates 2,500 posts since 2005. Weird huh?

It was nice, if only for a short time, to view something on TV news other than blatant speculation over what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. I speak of the somewhat solemn ceremony that is taking place in the White House as I write this. Of course, the airing of the ceremony on CNN didn’t last long because Jake Tapper had to come in and talk and talk some more. The White House to do is honoring 24 soldiers from World War II, Korea and Vietnam with the Medal of Honor. These were Black, Hispanic and Jewish soldiers — the majority awarded posthumously — who were originally presented the Distinguished Service Cross. A congressional review upgraded the awards from the nation’s second highest for valor to the top decoration. It isn’t stated on the special “microsite” but because these brave soldiers were Black, Hispanic and Jewish is why they were not originally awarded the Medal of Honor.

First U.S. WWII hero. Dorris Miller, remains without Medal of Honor

First U.S. WWII hero. Dorris Miller, remains without Medal of Honor

It is always a glimpse at a real hero to read the citations for the MOH dating back to the Civil War. Well, some may argue that certain ones didn’t deserve the award. Read the citations and make your mind up on your own. And, it’s certainly not to say that a few of the awards are, shall we say, unusual, such as the Unknown Soldiers of Rumania (now spelled Romania) and Italy, both from World War I.

Speaking of unrewarded heroes, which we were, I see there is a development in getting additional recognition for perhaps the first American hero of World War II. I wrote a story more than a decade ago as to how locals in the Waco, Texas, area had made a push to upgrade a Navy Cross — now the Navy’s second highest — to the Medal of Honor. The award was third highest behind the MOH and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal when Cook Third Class Doris Miller received the medal.

Miller was a Black farm hand from the Waco area when he joined the Navy in 1939 and ended up as a mess attendant and cook, one of the few jobs open to African Americans back then. Miller, called “Dorie” by his shipmates, was stationed on the battleship U.S.S. West Virginia berthed in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Miller responded to the attack along with shipmates. Miller helped move the ship’s captain, whose wounds proved mortal, to a place of greater safety on the bridge. Although he had not been trained to fire anti-aircraft weapons, Miller took over such a gun battery and began shooting at Japanese planes. Stories passed down through the years say Miller even shot down one of the planes, though it was never proven. Miller was portrayed in the 2001 movie “Pearl Harbor” by Cuba Gooding Jr.

There remains a long-held notion that Miller would have been a Medal of Honor recipient had he have been white. To the day, the effort to have Miller nominated for the MOH has failed. It is most fitting, though not a substitute for a Medal of Honor, that the Republican U.S. House member, Rep. Bill Flores, who represents that area of Central Texas, is leading an effort to have the Waco Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital named after Dorie Miller. I used that facility for my VA primary care for some seven years. And I believe that I played a pretty major role as a journalist in keeping the facility from closure. I know that sounds conceited and probably is. But it is nevertheless the truth. The publication I wrote for back then has the hardware to prove it . That isn’t taking anything from them. Papers like rewards and they got recognition for my work and that of a couple of others.

Okay, so now what? We go back to endless coverage of Flight 370? It is a mystery, though one wonders how long it will sustain the coverage cable news is giving it? Only fate and the suits know for sure. So until next time, … “All Right. Good night.”

Happy Pi Day. Go eat a pie!

Happy Pie Day, ya’ll.


An honest to Archimedes Pi pie.

Yessiree, this is the day you should go out and get you a big ol’ pie and share it with someone you love. Or you might share it with someone you lust for, or hell, just eat the whole thing yourself!

Actually, pies are just a manifestation of what is really “Pi Day.” It being March 14 (3.14) which is the number closely related to the arithmetic constant pi, or the symbol π. Now I’m sure you might have encountered pi at some time or other. That is, if you ever had geometry in high school or college, or you are a mathematician. Other than seeing pi on ridiculous, made-up holidays such as this, I can’t recall seeing the symbol, especially if it was used in its real setting as a ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The common mathematical approximation being 3.14149 which rolls on out to either something akin to infinity or just to a point in which you are tired of another number popping up so you just want to blow it off.

So π has really as much to do with pie as a frank does to being frank or even being a man named Frank. And please, no images of frank pie, a.k.a. Weenie Frank Pie.

MS2  Joshua Derode from Minneapolis, Min., prepares pecan pies for the big Thanksgiving dinner aboard the carrier USS George Washington. U.S. Navy photo by PHAN Rex Nelson.

MS2 Joshua Derode from Minneapolis, Minn., prepares pecan pies for the big Thanksgiving dinner aboard the carrier USS George Washington. U.S. Navy photo by PHAN Rex Nelson.

I’m not much of a pie-eater. A few times a year I might divulge into a slice of something handy and inviting, or vice versa. I like cake better, as a rule, and a candy bar even better but those too are seldom tasted by these lips. I am not much of a sweet-eater of any kind these days, and even when I was, I still didn’t touch much candy, cake or pie. Well, maybe certain types of pie.

My favorite is pecan pie. I think in some parts of the world it is pronounced PEE-can pie. Where I am from it’s Pee-CON pie. Six of one slice, half a dozen of the other. Since I was a big sweet eater when I was a kid, I don’t know why I wasn’t a fan of pecan pie. Goldarn it is sweet, why it’s as rich as six feet up a bull’s a**, as some firemen I worked with would say. I can’t say they knew all that much about a bull’s anatomy. Several of the guys I knew were real cowboys and I remember them talking about jumping up and down on top of a calf to get its heart started after a bovine cardiac arrest.  Well, maybe it has something to do with breeding cattle. Either way, if one might make it up that far inside that orifice, I would just have to say “Good luck, mate!”

l can’t remember for sure if my Mom made pecan pie. I’m sure she did and I bet it was good. It’s just been so long since I remember. A few pecan pies I remember in more recent years. I do recall this female friend in college making one from scratch. I mean she went out in the yard and picked pecans and made them into a pie. Even if it wasn’t the best I’d ever eaten, I certainly had to give the girl a big ol’ Alpha for effort.

The best pecan pie ever was at this popular Galveston restaurant called Gaido’s. This across-from-the-seawall seafood place has been there for years. Texas Monthly  has, for probably the past 30 years, rated it one-star for “extremely good restaurant” with prices averaging $31-50.  It may be one-star but that is one hell of a star as far as I’m concerned. It’s been a year or two since I have been to Galveston. I can’t remember if Gaido’s still has a motel beside it. I stayed there one weekend along some fellow newspaper people for a convention. One of those nights we all ate with one of the tightest bosses I had ever known footing an “eat what you want” bill. Boy howdy did I eat what I wanted, and then more. I was afraid to eat any desert for fears I might explode! But my boss’ daughter, who was my best advertising rep ever, talked me into “just a little piece of pie.”

Lord almighty that was the richest, best pecan pie or any kind of pie I ever had. A bunch of us went to a room and we watched “Barnaby Jones” reruns as we sat there like mummies, wrapped tight in big sweet pie crusts. I don’t know how much we all spent on Alka-Seltzer that night.






A conservative world? I don’t care. I don’t care.

Now if 6 turned out to be 9,
I don’t mind, I don’t mind,
Alright, if all the hippies cut off all their hair,
I don’t care, I don’t care.
Dig, ‘cos I got my own world to live through
And I ain’t gonna copy you.

Pvt. James Marshall Hendrix, 82nd Airborne Division, 1961

Pvt. James Marshall Hendrix, 82nd Airborne Division, 1961

White collared conservative flashing down the street,

Pointing their plastic finger at me.
They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
But I’m gonna wave my freak flag high, high.
Wave on, wave on
Fall mountains, just don’t fall on me
Go ahead on Mr. Business man, you can’t dress like me.
Sing on Brother, play on drummer.  – “If 6 Was 9.”Jimi Hendrix

The old First Sgt. must have really loved him,

this young misfit who became known as “Jimi” Hendrix.

Still, he was discharged unsuitably, Honorably.

He may have even given some of the younger bros

something to look forward to once they got “out of

country.” All of them didn’t make it. Mr. Hendrix didn’t make it for very long in the world either.

Still, “it don’t mean nothing,” as some said way back when. Back when 6 may have tunred out

to be 9.


No writing today

Some shit is going on with respect to having my knee surgery approved. It has turned into a whole big “thing.” I just don’t feel up to writing today.

Number 2,495 and still going …

Welcome to post no. 2495. Five more and that will be … five more. Will I still be sitting here waiting on surgery or will I be in post-op world for 2,500? We shall see what we shall see. Best I can do.

Daylight Saving Time. Here we are back at Central DST. The days stay light during the summer until almost 8 p.m. I used to like it, a lot. I have not had the opportunity to enjoy it much in more recent years. One thing I have noticed about DST today more so than in past time. Time seems to speed right on by.

That’s about all I have to say about things today. Time has sure sped by. I look up and it’s time for the evening news. Now isn’t that a quaint little thought?