Hell of a thing, I tell you

Photo by Jeff Kubina through Creative Commons.

With nothing to do but think, President Lincoln thinks that the neighborhood is going to hell in a hand-basket. Were he not a momentous mass of marble and almost 209 years old, he might well get up and traipse back up to Illinois or Kentucky and split logs for a cabin.

Happy New Year! Stick it up your a**!

This is my first post for 2018. So, I took a month off. Sue me.  Remember this:

“If we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown,” Trump said of the nation’s immigration laws. “We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.”

Yeah President Money Bags, you don’t face sleeping in your van if a have a shutdown, like me. Yes sir, Cadet Bone Spurs (that’s a great nickname, thanks to Sen. Tammie Duckworth, Illinois Democrat. You do know how to screw a lot of things up. Take, perhaps, like the economy. The Dow Jones Average took another big nose dive today — 1033 points. Is that the Orange One’s doing? Why not? Whenever something good happens, he claims credit for it. Why shouldn’t he take the good with the bad?

How much 45 has do with the Dow good and bad is speculation. The market seems to live in this territory of gravity. You know, what goes up must come down. The last couple of days find the market in a “correction.” That is what people say when they, like me, don’t have a f***ing clue as to what is happening. It’s like the price of gasoline, you may have an increase in crude somewhere of $1 a gallon. It could be the weather. It could be global warming. It might just be two squirrels in a death match over an acorn located somewhere in the oil patch.

We, I, dodged a bullet last month with that long-weekend shutdown. We even got the furloughed four hours back without missing a beat.

But why? Why live and die with the whims of congress and that straw-headed orangutan?

It’s a hell of a thing, I remember hearing someone say one time. Yes. It definitely is a hell of a thing.

 

 

SE Texas visited by Harvey, and Santa in 2017

Back am I at the old keyboard after more than a month. And in looking back over the past year — soon will 2018 come, next week to be  exact — likely the largest story where I live and one that was prominent nationally was Hurricane Harvey.  Harvey made three landfalls, the last being some 40 miles southeast of where I live as Tropical Storm Harvey. The most extensive damage from Harvey was from a continual rain and flooding, also in my area.

Tropical Storm Harvey takes it rain-soaked ass outside of Texas. NASA photo

Some 15 or so miles down the road from where I live is Nederland, Texas, which set a new rainfall record of more than 64 inches of rain over five days. The area closest to where I live in Beaumont had a bit more that 54 inches.  Permit me to add that the average annual rainfall for the Beaumont metropolitan statistical area is more than 50 inches a year.

Harvey plowed into the central Texas Gulf Coast area near Rockport on Aug. 25. Not much in the way of forecasts came forth to indicate the upper Texas Coast would be hardest hit, though not from hurricane winds, from Harvey. It is also not, I should add, correct to imply Southern Texas was not walloped by the hurricane. It was.

When the storm moved out of the Coastal Bend area some weird natural trickery took place that would make Houston and the Beaumont areas familiar to those who keep up with national news. I present the trickery, as described by the Weather Prediction Center of the weather service’s parent agency NOAA, for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

 “Harvey weakened as it moved north-northwest toward central Texas. Regaining tropical storm status on the 26th, Harvey slowed significantly east of San Antonio. Remaining within Texas borders for 60 hours, Harvey wrapped dry air around its southern and southeast portions of its circulation showing up as a dry slot on satellite imagery and forcing convection with heavy rainfall into its northeast quadrant near Houston near a thermal boundary, appearing extratropical. As Harvey moved east offshore Texas, thunderstorm activity began to focus within its northern and northwestern quadrants which prolonged the heavy rainfall across southeast Texas between the Sabine River and Houston.

 “Harvey moved back ashore across southwesternmost Louisiana on the morning of August 29. Harvey weakened to a tropical  depression during the evening of August 30 and continued tracking north-northeast, becoming fully extratropical on September 1. “

As I have noted here before, I have long enjoyed the rain. Coming from Southeast Texas, one doesn’t have much of a choice. I suppose one might consider me a “pluviophile,” that being one who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. It has since snowed here and a cold rain is falling outside now. I am now reexamining my pluviophilia. As it stands, only rainy days that ARE Mondays bring me down.

A whole lot of folks felt a whole lot of hurt this year. Some continue to feel it. They may be spending their days fixing up their waterlogged homes while sleeping in a camping trailer or even a tent.

One of the several people who stirred my interest in storytelling and journalism is the late Charles Kuralt. The bald and comfortably-appearing newsman traveled from town-to-town in search of “real American people” in his “On The Road” segment of the CBS Evening News. That segment celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Kuralt died 20 years ago. Steve Hartman was given the On The Road segment starting in 2011. I bring up Hartman in this missive because of a recent segment that, as sometimes his spots do, tugged at heart strings. But this time, it was in a post-Harvey environment. It happened in Beaumont.

Secret Santa is generic name for one who provides gifts for those who may be unknown to the recipient and the giver.  Sometimes, those gifts may be larger than others. I remember of hearing of one Secret Santa in particular who comes out of nowhere and usually gives no less than $100 and sometimes more. This guy may have been featured by CBS in past years, I don’t know. I just know that Hartman of CBS gave this year’s report that Santa is alive and well.

I leave you a link for that piece of story-telling where I live. Hartman visited here in Beaumont a week or so ago when the real Santa was here to spread cheer. Among those involved in helping spread the cheer were a number of Beaumont police officers — a department where my late brother Robert spent more than 30 years — with many of those officers who didn’t have to work due to their homes having been flooded but still came out to do their jobs.

By the way, over the past, I do not know how many years, I have been told there is this war on Christmas. Supposedly we are to believe that saying “Merry Christmas” has been banned among the general public. These right-wing fools like 45 (who lives now in the White House) try to sell  such division to a mostly ill-informed base. What an ass. I asked Santa if he would bring me a new president. Perhaps by sometime in 2018. That would really make for a happy new year.

To paraphrase “Harper Valley PTA” we should sock it to the hypocrites

The past week or so reminds me of the summer of 1968. It wasn’t because of the tumultuous Republican National Convention held in August of ’68 in Miami. That convention ended with the nomination of Tricky Dick Nixon and Spiro “the Crook” Agnew.  Still, some similarities were seen in the Summer of 2016.   The later Democratic Primary during August 1968 in Chicago, during which local police launched a beat-down against anti-war protesters was even worse. But neither Chicago, Miami nor even Prague –during the Warsaw Pact crackdown with 750,000 troops marching in to curb Czechoslovakian liberalism — bring any particular memories. That was 49  years ago. I was almost 13 years all.

Instead, it was a song from August 1968 that seems so appropriate these days what with “Gropegate,” the unearthing of dirty deed allegations against many prominent and not-so-prominent men.

It would be 10-to-15 years before I came to fully appreciate story-telling-songster Tom T. Hall for the genius of his writing. A song he wrote and performed was best well-known by the version recorded by Jeannie C. Riley. Her version of “Harper Valley PTA” became a No. 1 Billboard “Hot Country” single, as well as that publication’s No. 1 “Hot 100.” For me, it was from that song that I learned the meaning of and the harm from the word “hypocrite.”

The song, “Harper Valley PTA,” tells how a daughter came home from school with a note from the PTA demanding her mother, the Widow Johnson, appear before the parents-teachers group. The note accuses:

” … Mrs. Johnson, you’re wearing your dresses way too high
It’s reported you’ve been drinkin’ and runnin’ round with men and goin’ wild
And we don’t believe you oughta be a bringin’ up your little girl this way.
And it was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley PTA.”

It happens that the PTA was meeting that very afternoon:

” … And they were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room … ”

The widow Johnson commenced to launch a verbal whupass into some of those members assembled.

“Well, there’s Bobby Taylor sittin’ there, and seven times he’s asked me for a date. And Mrs. Taylor seems to use a lotta ice, whenever he’s away.
And Mr. Baker can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town?
And shouldn’t Widow Jones be told to keep her window shades a pulled completely down. Well Mr. Harper couldn’t be here cause he ‘s too long at Kelly’s Bar again. And if you smell Shirley Thompson’s breath you’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin. And then you have the nerve to tell me, you think that as a mother I’m not fit.
“Well this is just a little Peyton Place, and you’re all Harper Valley hypocrites.”
The Hall-written lyrics lay it all out there for all to see, the very obvious examples of hypocrisy.

 

Recent allegations of sexual abuse by prominent people beginning with Harvey Weinstein, to former president George H.W. Bush, to Alabama Christian Right Wing GOP senate candidate Roy Moore, to sitting liberal Democrat, Sen. Al Franken, and many in between has made one wonder: Who’s next?

The Twitter #Me Too phenomenon may continue to produce more and more men to be confronted with past sexual abuse. President 45 has a multitude of such accusers. So, it is quite hypocritical for 45 to blast Franken’s indiscretions, for which the Senator apologized, and yesterday the complainant accepted the apology. That didn’t stop that asshole 45 from making one of his stupid Tweets against Franken.

And it is likely our 45th president, who may have been helped in winning his election in November 2016, by the subject of his bromance with Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not apologize for his alleged sexual abuse and his hidden tape recording during which Trump bragged about his ability to grab a woman’s crotch without any ramifications.

Hypocrisy has been ignored as a sin by the Republicans for many years as well as some Democrats. The bar has been placed way, way too low. This seems, perhaps, on the cusp of change. But I will see it when I believe it.

Lyrics of “Harper Valley P.T.A.” written by Tom T. Hall and the You Tube video are presented under the Fair Use doctrine.

Dawning of the Web age, redux

This afternoon I came across something on the Web, an ad, perhaps. Hell I can’t remember. What it was, in fact, was a gateway to my life on the internet.

Some years ago, maybe two or three, I can’t remember these things, I lost my password on my Yahoo Mail account. I spent about a week trying to coax the yahoos at Yahoo into returning me to my mail. It didn’t happen.

I took this with a disposable camera back in 2003 or 2004. I was on the top of Enchanted Rock in Central Texas. Yes, ye old rock climber, just walked on up to the top.

I eventually got onto Google Mail. I had Google everything else, so why not Google Mail? I had a learning curve, but a symbiosis developed between Google and I.

This afternoon, with the opportunity to revisit my Yahoo Mail account, I traveled ahead although I felt that if that chance failed, I wouldn’t sob too loudly, and probably not at all.

As it happened, Yahoo had my telephone number and it offered a code sent via text. Then, taa-daa! There was my Yahoo mail account some two or three years later. Daunting was the 9,999+ unread messages that await me. I know probably 95-plus percent of these messages are spam, or mail that is what I now consider as spam.

I did manage to access some files and found messages from as far back as 2001. Among the messages were some photos of mine of friends and those pictures I took. One of those photos is the new header media. This was one of two of the best pictures I took with a disposable camera back in 2003 or 2004. I didn’t even have a personal computer, well at least one with internet connectivity. Most of my internet usage back then was done  at my job as a journalist in Central Texas.

After leaving that job for a short-lived freelancing-only career, I had a jerry-built desktop, constructed by one of my computer science friends. I don’t know how identifies himself professionally these days since he has been on what is seemingly an extended vacation since at least summer 2016. That is when Ross and I went on a week-long expedition of the southeastern U.S. During Hurricane Rita in 2005, I was freelancing for a large U.S. metro newspapers but didn’t have laptop. I needed a laptop. If you are going to work outside an office, you pretty much have to own a laptop. So I bought a rebuilt laptop in Dallas less than a week after Rita hit. Since that time I have had  four, five, crap, I don’t know.

The picture that is my header now was taken on my way up to the summit of Enchanted Rock . As is suggested, Enchanted is a rock. It is a large dome of pink granite located near Fredericksburg, Texas, about 100 miles northwest of Austin. A Texas Monthly article about the rock said its incline is about 30 degrees. I was in much better shape when I walked, yes, walked up the rock, than I am now. I was somewhere around 47 or 48 back then. I walked a lot and did some hiking.

I have no idea how, or if, I will deal with the thousands of emails on my Yahoo account. I am glad to have recovered some of my early web days though.

Veterans Day 2017 — Who are we

Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces celebrate Veterans Day today, Nov. 10, the official federal holiday, and on Saturday, Nov. 11, the date of the WWI armistice.

World War II veteran Daniel Lau attends a Veterans Day ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Nov. 11, 2016. Lau served in both theaters during World War II and fought in The Battle of the Bulge. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Aiyana S. Paschal

Veterans Day is a day of memory. Memory of days past, when we wore the uniform, during both war and peace. We remember those veterans who are no longer with us, and those we strongly remember, among those are our friends.

So one might ask, just who are the veterans? Here are some interesting statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:

Veterans Day 2017: Nov. 11
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary marking the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation
in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation and a remembrance ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The ceremony honors and thanks all who served in the U.S. armed forces.
The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys. We appreciate the public’s cooperation as we continuously measure America’s people,
places and economy.

Veterans
18.5 million
The number of military veterans in the United States in 2016.
Source: 2016 American Community Survey
1.6 million
The number of female veterans in the United States in 2016.
Source: 2016 American Community Survey
11.6%
The percentage of veterans in 2016 who were black. Additionally, 78.0 percent were non-Hispanic
white, 1.6 percent were Asian, 0.7 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.2
percent were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and 1.3 percent were some other race.
(The numbers for blacks, non-Hispanic whites, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives,
Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and some other race cover only those reporting a
single race.)
6.5%
The percentage of veterans in 2016 who were Hispanic.
9.2 million
The number of veterans age 65 and older in 2016. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.6
million were younger than age 35.

For more information on Veterans Statistics, see https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/newsroom/facts-for-features/2017/cb17-ff22-veterans-day.pdf