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!

Gore and darkness awaits one on the movie screen

Lately I have become a devotee of the Redbox. It is not any red box, but rather the Redbox standing so prominently outside local grocery stores and pharmacies and the like. I don’t know why, but I never watched movies on my laptop computer much before. Since I bought a new laptop I have begun to play the discs on my computer screen.

I haven’t watched movies, relatively new ones at least, very much in the past several years. I am not big in going to the theater unless someone goes with me. And I have kind of been a loner in the majority of the last decade with a couple of exceptions when I was dating. So most of the movies I have watched were on TV, either cable or otherwise.

There are a couple of down sides of watching these movie-in-a-box rentals. First, the DVDs aren’t always in the best condition. I got a couple of discs a week ago that I couldn’t watch because it wouldn’t play, or it would play and stop for long periods of time. Redbox did, to their credit, give me a couple of promotional codes for free movies in the future.

And, I don’t know if it is just me, but some movies have become way too gory for me to enjoy or are either too dark. I will give a couple of examples.

I should have expected a pic with Arnold Schwarzenegger to be filled with a lot of action and a certain amount of blood. But I wanted to see one of “Ahnold’s” films since he left the California statehouse for another run at Hollywood. The movie “Sabotage” is one of his recent flicks.

The story is about an elite DEA team that finds itself being depopulated one-by-one after stealing millions of dollars in a cartel cache. Now I will spare you some of the ways the rogue agents are taken out. That is not only to spare one from scenes being spoiled. Also, some of the manners in which the agents are killed are just simply full of more gore than most folks need.

A movie I also watched with some cringe factor at work was a South By Southwest premiere last year by the title of “Cheap Thrills.” The E.L. Katz directed work is listed as a ‘black comedy”but its darkness far exceeds its comedic factor.

The show’s plot is about a working-class Joe and would-be writer who finds himself, his wife and kid in financial straits and about to be thrown out of their rental into the street. The character, Craig, finds out he is laid off just after pulling an eviction notice from his front door. Like every good man in the deep doo of financial ruin, Craig goes to a bar. While there Craig runs into a buddy he hadn’t seen in five years.

At his core, Craig is an upright — and a bit uptight — guy who loves his wife. But his foundation gets shakier and shakier as the film goes on. The two old buds runs into a seemingly rich and definitely twisted couple in the bar who are supposedly out celebrating the wife’s birthday. That celebration gets higher on the Perverse o’ Meter in each frame.  I will just give a tame for instance. The rich guy says he will give one of the old friends $200 to say something to a good-looking lady that will get one of them slapped. And believe me that is as tame and injury free as it gets from there.

I have never been much enchanted with gory slasher-style movies. For some reason though, lots of graphic shit bothers me. Even one of my favorite TV shows, NCIS, has scenes that I will have to turn my head away from especially when a body is on the coroner’s table burned to a crisp. No doubt, my head turning in that case isn’t surprising because such instances in real life as a firefighter and as a reporter revealed similar scenes of what we would call in our own dark humor “crispy critters.”

I don’t have nightmares about some of the repulsive stuff I saw in real life, at least that I know of, who knows what all there is lurking in the deep recesses of our beans.

One thing is for certain though, if I am to continue my movie watching, I think I will have to watch the ratings more carefully. When they say bloody, or scenes too graphic, maybe I will just leave the disc be. After all, what’s $1.20 for a movie disc when it comes to your sanity?

‘Weather’ or not you like it, a change is going to come

The first “cold” front of the Fall has just passed through after a rainy afternoon with some nice thunder to accompany it. It is technically a cold front because of cooler air. But in reality it is a cool front. The cooler weather makes that abundantly clear.

I took some movies back to the Redbox at a local Walgreen’s and when I got out wearing a polo and shorts, it felt definitely more chilly than it has been for several months now. The wind helped make it so. From what I can tell, the temperature is in the upper 60s. I expect the temps should fall to the lower 50s tonight or the upper 40s at its lowest. It is just a nice little “cool spell” that usually makes it down south here in Beaumont, Texas, at this time of the year.

A respite from the summer heat is usually welcome by this time. It hasn’t been one of those super hot summers that sometime creep into late September or early October. We don’t normally have too much variation in weather in these parts though it isn’t a place which has no variation in climate as I’ve hear some people complain.

Those who know me and/or have read this blog over the years will know I am a warm weather person. But I enjoy a little change in the season. Actually, if I had my “druthers” I would prefer a constant temperature in the daytime because I am not a person given to dressing in “layers.” I know that particular style is something that one probably does not think much about if they reside in a place where layer dressing is just a fact of life.

Of course, I am not particularly fond of it being really cold outside and then having to go inside where it is stifling hot. Then again, the weather is what the weather will be and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it except complain or praise it.

The truth be told I am usually up, by the time it normally comes, for one of those “blue norther” cold fronts where the temperature goes shooting down at a really drastic manner. I have seen the temperature over time drop 40 or more degrees in a short period of time.

Change is just one of those little things we deal with in life. We may like it, dislike it, or not care but the weather isn’t one of those parts of life which complaining about it will do any good. As the saying that has found it’s way to the land of sports cliches during the last few years, it is what is. I might add, it isn’t what it’s not. I’d go on but I am worried someone might want to hit me on the head with something and that would be something that is what it is but isn’t what it should.

Race ‘n’ age. Age ‘n’ race. Can’t touch this!!

A few minutes ago I was walking into the local convenience store. A “Brotha” somewhere in his 20s to 30s was about to walk into the store. I intended to open the door for him, my being closest to that door. Now, I was raised to open doors for no matter who it might be. I don’t think it is a traditional custom across our country because you don’t see someone opening doors for others, or at least I haven’t, very often in places outside of the South. I’ve seen people delighted by the custom while others were perplexed.

Brotha Man beat me to it though. He said: “Let me get that door for you, pops!”

I have to admit that I have never heard anyone call me “pops.” I used to call my Dad, “Pops.” I don’t believe any of my siblings ever called him that. I guess it was because I was in my late teens and early 20s, I wanted to be cool. Calling him “Daddy” was, I don’t know, just a bit on the little children side. I didn’t call him Pops out of disrespect. I am sure if it had offended my Father he would have let me know.

Back to the neighborhood sociodrama. I was laughing and muttered: “Pops.” The black guy said: “You never heard that?” I said that I didn’t. He went to the ATM and I picked up what I needed and headed to the cashier, who was herself black and in her early 20s.

“Did you see that?” the girl asked me. I asked her what she had seen

“That guy came in the door and grabbed his junk,” motioning about her mid-thigh. “I’ve seen guys do like … ” as she was raised her hand to a much more believable level for a crotch grab. Whatever length that may be.

I didn’t want to entertain her with more of the stereotypes I’m sure she always heard concerning, uh, size. The truth was that I have seen young black men, not all of course, grab themselves and wondered just what the Sam Hell that was all about? This is not some recent fad. I have seen this phenomenon going on as long as I can remember. Race always being the sensitive issue, I never even though to ask about it.

Thinking of something quick, I remembered about a comedy routine I heard Richard Pryor do one time. Pryor said that black guys hold on to it because the whites took “everything else we had.” I didn’t know what kind of reaction I’d get as a “Pops” telling that to a young, black girl. She laughed. A little embarrassed but a good laugh all the same.

I decided to look for some learned explanation for the crotch grab. Apparently it has been adopted as of late by the young white boys, the likes of Justin Bieber. And even some of the young princesses are doing it. “Crotch grabbing is the new twerking,” says Cosmopolitan.

The new twerking thing leaves me more puzzled. What ARE those young ladies doing?

About the only scientific explanation, not specifically related to the subject, comes from the self-testing for an inguinal hernia. It sounds torturous, the hernia, much like my fear of developing shingles. I have got to take that vaccination and make it prompt!

In less than three weeks I will turn 59. Yes, almost 60 years old and still so many questions. Faced with a situation such as the one I faced today, I left the store doing the only thing that came to mind.

The brother again opened the door for me.

I said:  “Hey thanks Junior. Be cool now.”

Shocking new drinking game: Prepare to get Blitzered!

Here is a way to get totally blitzed and somewhat informed, for awhile at least, at the same time.

Watch Wolf Blitzer’s show on CNN. Take a drink every time the bearded newsman says “shocking!

“Shocking!” “Shocking … ” ” … shocking … ” “Shocking … Well, better drink beer. Better drink light beer or 3.2 beer. If you take a shot of tequila or whiskey you will definitely be Blitzered.

Trying to wake up for the Texas November elections

The Texas General Election in November has failed to capture my attention so far this year. Why is really not that important to discuss except that some candidates have done their best to keep away from the news media. I especially note Republicans Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton, respectively, candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

Patrick did manage to surface from meeting with small influential crowds long enough to debate Democratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte last night in Austin. I tried finding the only scheduled debate for Texas Lieutenant Governor on the TV last night but couldn’t. Oh well. Media stories covering perhaps the one opportunity to see the two candidates say it was pretty much what I expected, charges and counter charges about raising or not raising taxes.

I did watch a debate between Republican Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott and Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, the two candidates for Texas Governor. It was of slightly more substance. Of course, I have been getting email up the ying-yang all year from Wendy’s people and Obama and every Dem politician running for public office it seems. It seems as if they want money. Hey, I will clean your windshield. Sorry, it’s all ho-hum. It just seems like the election has already been determined and we will have a repeat of all these Republican nut jobs in state offices, as well as a majority in Legislature.

Perhaps I will be surprised. Maybe at least Van de Putte will win, that would put her in what is constitutionally the strongest office in the state as head of the State Senate. Of course, Good Hair Perry did put a sizable dent into that power by his ability to appoint people to boards and commissions.

Maybe I will feel more like becoming a part of the political process as time goes on toward the election. I hope I do. It will take my mind off other things like the spread of Ebola.

Forest Service proposal could endanger First Amendment

Over the years I have generally supported the efforts of the U.S. Forest Service. That has not been without difficulty considering certain policies which have surfaced over many vastly-different presidential administrations. I won’t go into details about which ones because that would require depth beyond my intentions for this post.

I have camped at several national forests in recent years with the most recent in the Angelina National Forest in East Texas. A particular spot I like is Boykin Springs Recreation Area, located off State Highway 63, between Zavalla and Jasper. Most of the pertinent information on the park is contained on the linked site above. Mainly, I would stress to anyone interested that it is a place that should best be visited in off seasons — fall and winter if camping is your bag — due to the limited spaces. Of course, spring and even summer in East Texas hold some majestic scenery, if you can keep cool during the hot summers.

This isn’t a travelogue though. I wanted to link to this article in Firehouse.com, the Website for what is considered one if not the most thorough firefighting publications in existence. I began reading it when I first became a firefighter more than 35 years ago. It was founded and edited then by retired New York City firefighter, Dennis Smith (not related to anyone I know), who also wrote several compelling books including his most famous, “Report From Engine Co. 82.” The article I link is reprinted from the Mail Tribune newspaper in Medford, Ore. I thought it important enough that I mention both publications.

The gist of the story is that the Forest Service has a proposed rule that would assign permits and charge fees of up to $1,500 to journalists who cover “non-breaking” news stories at national forests. This is as opposed to “breaking news” such as a big wildfire. An example from the article is forest management policies. A forest service official said the rule was meant to preserve the “untamed character of wilderness areas.”

I think the rule is the proverbial “slippery slope.”

This serves as a shining example of how government agencies can trample upon the First Amendment rights by restricting a free press. I don’t know specifically about the Forest Service but I know of other agencies that restrict the American people from knowledge about their government by charging excessive fees for public information or even copies.

The linked story says it as good or better as I how misguided a proposal the rule could be if enacted. It is already difficult enough for some journalists, such as myself sometimes, who freelance. We may or may not have credentials from a newspaper or other publication and thus encounter difficulty in access to news and areas where a story may happen.

Today was the first I heard of the proposed rule and it concerns me just how sheltered my fellow citizens are from rules that endanger our Constitutional freedoms. I found other news stories today after searching that told of fears citizens had that the rule would prohibit innocent picture taking. The Forest Service clarified the information about the rule to say it “only” applied to commercial media.

One always seems to ask what else are they, the government, hiding. The Forest Service is probably well-intentioned. I also support keeping our wilderness areas wild. But it should not be done at the cost of our freedom.

Coppers and copper theives; Travolta, make the local news news

Our local daily had a couple of interesting stories online today. The interest is personal, like me, to use other words. One story is about something I saw. The other is about something I didn’t see.

Heading back home from the office I saw Beaumont police cars and SUVs parked downtown on Main while others parked on Liberty Street. They seemed to be looking for something. It turns out they were. The coppers were looking for copper, or rather, a copper thief. The Beaumont Enterprise story said the men were found in a vacant building there. A “K-9 Officer,” a dog in other words, and his “partner,” I won’t touch that one, discovered one man in an upstairs bathroom stall. The suspect reportedly possessed cutting tools and strands of copper in a large plastic bag. Police caught the other alleged copper thief as he was leaving the building.

Copper appears to be the modern-day gold, except it is copper, and gold is gold. Got that?

At 2:34 p.m. Central Daylight Savings Time today, gold was moving at $1,216,96 USD per ounce, down 0.37 percent, according to Goldprice.org. When you look again it will be different, marginally up or down. But some experts think gold prices are bottoming out. Who knows? Gold is more mysterious than gasoline when it comes to prices. It’s been that way a lot longer than I have been around.

This chart from MetalPrices.org shows that copper prices have hit a three-month low.

Still, with local recyclers paying between $2.40-2.60 per pound — USD about 3 p.m . CDST — for copper, it wouldn’t take a whole lot to pay for a couple of 40-ouncers and pack of Kools.

Whole lotta 40-ouncers here. Photo via Creative Commons by Giovanni Dall'Orto

Whole lotta 40-ouncers here. Photo via Creative Commons by Giovanni Dall’Orto

Yes, copper is a much sought-after metal. It has been for awhile now. The last Texas legislative session enhanced penalties on copper theft. But, just remember, prices for everything are like gravitation laws. What goes up, must come down. It is a cliche, but it is the easiest way to say it.

The local Enterprise, then later The Baytown Sun, reported Beaumont police nabbed two more alleged “modern copper miners” yesterday who may be involved in more than 70 thefts of the metal. Man, you could buy a s***-load of 40-ouncers with that. Of course, if you are going to steal copper you might as well steal beer and cigs, not that I am advocating that. It’s just an observation.

Also, the Beaumont daily reported that some folks trying to exorcize a few pounds at the World Gym last night were taken aback when John Travolta showed up. The actor, who was a fancy dancer more than 30 years ago in “Saturday Night Fever,” was sporting a full beard (no touch of gray) and told the management he was looking for a place to workout while shooting a move about 20 miles away in Sour Lake. The drama “Life on the Line” is a film set for next year about electrical linemen who do all kinds of stuff (my characterization.)

Now I like some of John’s movie. “Fever” and, OMG, “Urban Cowboy” are shows a dude would only see for a date. And that’s the only way I have seen them at the moving picture show. I think I have admitted this before, but I stopped wearing Western-style shirts when the “Cowboy” sparked a Western-fashion craze.

I have been highly critical in private lately about our local daily. It has been kind of crappy for awhile if you want to know my opinion. These stories are good and are of the kind a “community paper” would have. Maybe you don’t care for Travolta. I am interested in movies being shot in the area. I have once thought of doing location scouting for films. I became a newspaper reporter instead. Now that I am not doing that so much, who knows, maybe I will scout a location for some picture. You never know.

But you take stories such as these, something that grabs your interest because you saw something happening or have some dog you would like to have a hunt in, then you got yourself some journalism. Thanks, BE, but don’t bask too long in the glory. There are always deadlines to meet.

 

Happy 40 and 30: Celebrating the old, the older and the odd.

This year marks my 40th anniversary for graduating from high school. I could say the same for marking 40 years ago that I joined the Navy. On the other hand, I received my bachelor of arts in communication 30 years ago this year. That’s a lot of anniversaries for one year.

In a year that saw physical difficulty with a ba for a major portion of 2014, it sadly also saw two of my four brothers pass away within two months of each other. That is the way it goes sometimes, triumph and tragedy, or vice versa. The last time I saw my Dad was at my college graduation. I suppose that if there is a time when it is right for someone to last see one another, perhaps that time should be on the upswing.

But I sit here not to sound a melancholy note. Nor do I write here to praise one milestone as opposed to another.

The fact is I have been a bit more involved in the planning for my high school reunion than for that of my college reunion. The reasons include simple arithmetic. There were between 80-to-100 students in my high school graduating class. I wouldn’t venture a guess for the numbers who graduated with my college class. I do know that that during the spring semester of 1984, when I graduated from college, saw a record enrollment that has since been broken once or twice. About 11,800 enrolled during that semester at Stephen F. Austin State University. The college is tucked away among the “pine curtain” of East Texas. “Home of virgin pines and tall women,” we would joke.

I have a fairly simple role in my high school reunion next month. It is our entry in the parade. Yes, parade. Survivors of my class get to ride on a trailer of some sort pulled by some mean machine. My friends involved in the locomotion aspects are in the forest products industry and so the ride itself doesn’t seem like a difficult part to pull off. The hard part is to find out where we should meet our chariot and how should it be decorated. Oh well, it’s a small town. We will likely figure that all out by the time the parade actually takes place.

As for my college reunion, I have no immediate plans. The reasons for that is that my college friends seldom were in the same graduating classes. Most of these friends were younger than I was. I doubt many of my friends will attend festivities at SFA. There are varying reasons for that as well including wives, kids, and/or living in far away places like Tokyo.

My college days were not what you called traditional, to be honest. The fact that I was in the Navy for four years before going to college is a big factor. It wasn’t so much I was “an older guy.” I also got a job before starting school as a firefighter. All but two of my final semesters were spent working. I also didn’t worry much, if any, about finances. That was fairly odd for most of my college friends. Tuition was cheap back then. I received a stipend of around $200 a month from the GI Bill for those semesters I was enrolled. I didn’t do much in the way of summer semesters. It would have been too difficult to manage working and going to school every day, which basically entailed one’s day in summer school all five days of the week. I wasn’t a typical firefighter either, for that matter. Most guys got off work and would go to a second or perhaps even a third job. I worked one summer off-duty, before school had even started. It involved moving mobile homes and getting dirty, not exactly in that order. When I decided to take a week’s vacation, I recruited my best friend, Waldo. I finally left this part-time mess. Waldo, who wasn’t exactly working in his master’s in speech field, stayed on for a little while.

Even the days moving mobile homes was something to look back upon with, while not exactly fondness, amused memories.

All in all, I could not have asked for a better college experience. Oh, my final semester was sheer hedonism. I wasn’t working and we, as was the saying back then, partied like the proverbial big dog! There are lots of differences between looking backward at high school and taking the same long look at college. Especially when you come from a small town, school is literally growing up. It’s tribal. Although I haven’t seen some of my high school friends since we graduated 40 years ago, we are bonded by years, age and place.

But for college, it will always be about walking out into the field on a hazy, warm December morning and hearing Canned Tuna playing on the gigantic Klipsch stereo speakers a friend brought over for the weekend-long party. Or that girl who, no matter what happened between us, will always be your friend. And of course, throw in a couple of fires some that were to be celebrated and others to be extinguished …

Will NCIS pull off the hat trick?

One never knows how a “TV franchise” will pan out. It isn’t that a group of similar shows with similar sounding-names and often sharing actors or producers is an invention of the Dick Wolf-produced Law and Order franchise, and his newest franchise Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. Not all of the Law and Order bunch were as successful as the original and Special Victim’s Unit. Criminal Intent only lasted 10 or so seasons.

I wondered if, as a fan of the Mark Harmon-starred NCIS, the program would die from over-exposure once its NCIS: Los Angeles previewed more than five seasons ago. Apparently not, as a third franchise vessel NCIS: New Orleans debuts tonight.

To put an exclamation point on the NCIS franchise, the original itself is the third most popular show on U.S. televisioin and the most-watched TV drama in the world.

For a show to have the popularity of NCIS it must have aspects that viewers share. I would say the show’s quirky humor is probably what I like the best about both NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. I saw the pilot episodes of New Orleans and it will hopefully keep that funny groove that has made the other two shows very likable. I have long been a sucker for a successful ensemble cast, shows that made many of the 1960-80s-era memorable as a “second TV Golden Age,” such as Taxi, Barney Miller, Hill Street Blues, and yes, even Andy Griffith and the Beverly Hillbillies. Of course, clever writing helps.

The fact that NCIS has become such a hit is a bit of a wonder, even though it did spin off from the Navy lawyer drama JAG. Even though I am an ex-sailor I had no idea that NCIS, for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, was even called “NCIS” when the show premiered. I remember the 70s agency as “NIS” for Naval Investigative Service.

Sometimes when one experiences something in real life, there may often reign confusion when its portrayal is in fiction. So it was with NCIS. I had met a couple of idiots during my naval service who were NIS agents, so when I saw Mark Harmon and the others acting as Navy civilian agents, I wondered how was this action about to work? Likewise, I wondered about the title of the succeeding show based in Los Angeles. Even though there was still a Navy station in Long Beach long ago when I stayed there with my ship in drydock, LA didn’t seem like a big Navy (or even Marine) town. Why wasn’t the show NCIS: San Diego? Well, I guess the two largest cities in California aren’t all that far apart. And,  San Diego and Los Angeles really aren’t separated by much more that a jumble of city limit signs, for that matter.

Like the DC-based original NCIS, New Orleans actually is home to a NCIS field office. Back in my Navy days in the 1970s, when I spent a great deal of time in New Orleans, the city had two Navy stations: Naval Support Activity New Orleans and NAS Belle Chasse. New Orleans makes a great backdrop for a drama or many other types of fictional work. Let’s face it, New Orleans is an odd place as it is fun. Hopefully, the third program will be a charm for the NCIS franchise, not to mention charming.