Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I’m Tellin’ Mom on You!

Laura, my little sister, has been in Florida for the past couple of weeks while my dad had surgery on both knees and had a chance to meet up with an old friend, Alice, from way back when. Alice thought Laura could use a break and sent a round trip airline ticket to meet up in Austin for an extended weekend that would include a jaunt down to Galveston where her parents had a beach house.

I jumped on the chance to visit, not having much of a chance to see her all that often seeing as how Laura lives in Hawaii. We met for lunch at a little place in Galveston, The Mosquito Grill on 14th Street. As an historical note, it was one of the surviving buildings from the Great Hurricane of 1900.

We took our digital camera to capture some shots of the two of us together, rare indeed. Lucy and Bonnie also went along and we all had different kinds of food, some from the breakfast menu and some from the lunch menu. Lucy and I had a variation of Eggs Benedict with shrimp and Artichoke Hearts on homemade biscuits. I never would have thought those would go together; but they did and the flavors were awesome.

Bonnie took a series of snapshots of Laura and me cutting up, pretending to be fighting as we did as children. I pretended to grab her nose and Laura came back with her regular line, “I’m tellin’ Mom on You!” We laughed and carried on, almost as if we loved each other and enjoyed each other’s company; imagine that after all the time we went for the jugular. This photograph is more for my folks than for anyone else; see, we really can get along.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just for Two

Mover Mike has a short piece on a little two seater car called the ForTwo. I didn’t see much to jump up and down about; reminded me a little of the first time I saw a Honda, the one with a funky looking rubber gasket that went around the back window. I thought the rubber gasket thing was for when you needed to store it away in the garage; just tip it over on the end to make room for the real car.

Cars with only two seats have limited appeal, they're not practical for a wide range of reasons, mostly the fact that only two folks will fit inside. Lucy and I have our version, the BMW Z3 Coupe which we purchased once the kids were grown and on their own. We still have a “real” car, one that will permit extra passengers; but the little green Z is my toy for Date Night, going to church and just buzzing around.

A fellow from church stepped out of line while criticizing my automobile purchase; indicating folks “my age” should show a little more common sense. I felt his toes pushing down on mine and rather than express anger for having crossed the line, “Lucy and I got this for when we go to live in the old folks home; we won’t have to buy those scooter things, this little Z will fit down the halls and we can go in style.” I smiled condescendingly in his direction; none of his business what kind of car I bought.

That reminded me of something I just read on Third World County, a line from Pat Paulson’s presidential platform many years ago, “I’ve upped my standards. Now, up yours.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23rd is Special

We mark certain dates on our calendars, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years Day would be on a list that would include July 4th and Memorial Day. Getting down to a more personal level most would add individual birthdays for each member of the family along with their anniversary date. With the passing of each year these sign posts act as reminders and hopefully as pleasant recollections with a hint of hope of many more to come.

Lucy and I were married on July 23rd, 1971; but we have an additional anniversary date, October 23rd, 1980 when we were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple for time and all eternity. What’s that you say, time and all eternity; you mean ‘till death do you part isn’t enough? Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself as I relate the importance of a Celestial marriage.

Long before Lucy and I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, before we had the young missionaries over to teach the doctrines associated with the “Mormons”, long before that the seeds had been planted by those around us. Lucy was at a business meeting many years earlier where one of her co-workers, a member of the LDS Church casually mentioned something about the concept that families could be forever, that a husband and wife and their children could always be together through all eternity if they so desired. The idea appealed to Lucy and was tucked away in her heart; no further discussion took place at that time and the seed lay dormant for quite some time.

While we were investigating the beliefs of the LDS Church we learned a little more about the purposes of the Temple and how special ordinances were performed which included the sealing powers for a husband and wife to join eternally, surpassing the civil marriage vows we had already taken upon ourselves. A little over a year after joining the Church we flew to Salt Lake and took the next step toward obtaining the added blessings available to all of Heavenly Father’s children. The link provided lends considerable insight; however, some remarks by Gordon B. Hinckley cover the basics.

“Was there ever a man or woman who, in a time of quiet introspection, has not pondered the solemn mysteries of life?

Has he or she not asked, "Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is my relationship to my Maker? Will death rob me of the treasured associations of life? What of my family? Will there be another existence after this, and, if so, will we know one another there?"

The answers to these questions are not found in the wisdom of the
world. They are found only in the revealed word of God. Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are sacred structures in which these and other eternal questions are answered. Each is dedicated as a house of the Lord, a place of holiness and peace shut apart from the world. There truths are taught and ordinances are performed that bring knowledge of things eternal and motivate the participants to live with an understanding of our divine inheritance as children of God and an awareness of our potential as eternal beings.”
I’ve obtained knowledge as I studied the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the teachings of modern day Prophets in conference talks and, I must add to that, the answers to my individual prayers as given by the Spirit which have given me to understand my relationship with my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. As a Child of God I am heir to all the blessings, one of those blessings is my wife. It is my goals to live my life in such a way as to have Lucy want to be with me for time and all eternity, to improve upon the foundation of our civil marriage relationship and enjoy that forever and a day. Yes, October 23rd is a very special day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

It’s been a tedious couple of days getting our computer back to operational status. We had a professional technician come out and he found too many corrupted files in our operating system. He was glad that we’d backed up our data files because he needed to clear off everything and start from scratch.

I’m still fidgeting with how the general appearance of everything is set up; working to figure out how to get Outlook to show up better, most all the rest looks okay. I lost some purchased songs in my iTunes file; but they can be restored, or so I’ve been told.

I put a different photograph as my wallpaper, one from our first trip in the BMW Z3 when we drove it back from Philadelphia after having purchased it on Ebay. We were crossing the Mississippi River on I-20 and Lucy snapped this picture, looking back through the passenger side view mirror. If you want the full effect, transfer this image to your files and then stretch to fit as wallpaper on your monitor.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Scared Stiff

The theme for October centers around Halloween and the frights that go with it; why not include yet another warning involving the pharmaceutical industry? According to an A/P article certain drugs commonly used to help with erectile dysfunction may also be linked with sudden hearing loss.

“It’s not clear that the drugs truly trigger hearing loss, but the Food and Drug Administration decided Thursday to add a warning about the possible risk after counting 29 reports of the problem since 1996 among users of this family of medicines.”

Now, hard as it might be to accept, you could go deaf while waiting for just the right moment. “The impotence drugs Viagra, Cialis and Levitra will bear the warnings. So will Revatio, a drug for pulmonary hypertension, which contains the same ingredient as Viagra.” Just reading the label would be enough to make you jump into a cold shower; I’d be scared stiff.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name…

We bought some ice cream on sale at the local Kroger’s store last week, the Private Selection brand was a “two fer”, down here that translates into; heck, y’all can figure that one out. They had one called Moose Tracks and another next to it called Extreme Moose Tracks; most any fool would know to get the one with more chocolate.

I did wonder why they called it Moose Tracks; picturing in my mind how a very large animal in the wilderness might leave indentions in the earth as it meandered about. What would Extreme Moose Tracks look like? I don’t think that should ever have been asked; continuing with the idea of a large beast wandering about leaving proof of its existence.

There are chunks of dark chocolate mixed in with Extreme Moose Tracks chocolate ice cream giving it texture and added flavor while the regular Moose Tracks has vanilla ice cream with chocolate chunks; that’s about the only difference I could see. I lifted a large scoop of Extreme Moose Tracks from the container and transferred it to my waiting bowl. A small portion of chocolate ice cream fell off the edge of the scoop and landed on the front of our white kitchen counter. It immediately melted into a dripping mess which had to be cleaned up.

Moose Poop, they could’ve called this stuff Extreme Moose Poop, not that it doesn’t have a great chocolate flavor; it really is a very good ice cream. I was thinking along the lines of mass marketing. In this day and age they could figure out a way to make Moose Poop the number one selling ice cream just on the name. One of the carbonated beverage companies might change to “Crap” or some similar disgusting term just for the slogan, “Drink a bottle of our Crap”; maybe not such a great idea after all. The truth in advertising folks would be happy; all the junk we eat should be labeled more accurately.

I’d better shut this down, the delivery truck is out front and the fellow wants to know where to place the two old fashioned high walled tubs. I don’t have a grape vineyard or a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and my neighbors might get the wrong idea if Lucy and I started dancing around naked in the front yard while waiting for the right moment.

Chopin Kind of Day

Robin Williams gave an interesting explanation of the internet; the ability to follow up on one idea and then a moment later go down a totally different tangent until infinity is reached; my apologies to Robin Williams for destroying his words. The past couple of days I was enjoying the vast amount of piano music available via YouTube and the many folks who have taken the time to increase that library of information.

I was looking for something all together different, a Gershwin piece, Yankee Doodle Blues, which wasn’t listed; but kept following one link after another ending up with Chopin. The first piece on the list was a seven year old kid playing, “
Fantasie Impromptu Op.66”. I would have used the embedding codes to share this with you but this information was no longer available; however the link will take you to it, well worth five minutes of your time.

Instead of the seven year old kid I found a very old man, Vladimir Horowitz, performing the Polonaise Op. 53 in A flat major; please forget the problems of the world for a few more minutes, they will still be there when the music has ended.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Behave or I’m Taking You to the Park!

Mover Mike posted this on his site last week and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to share. He called it, “Chinese Toy Recall”; but what ever the slide’s origin, those last few sections will really grate on you.

Here’s my warning to obnoxious children, “Behave or I’m Taking You to the Park!”

Accidental Police Shooting Equated With Murder

The Houston Chronicle had a well written article by Lise Olsen, “HPD officer who shot boy failed firearms test” which explained how one tragic police shooting incident has made its way through the criminal and civil courts as it continues to draw public scrutiny into the methods and means whereby Houston Police Officers are trained in the use of firearms. I wanted to add my “two cents worth” while at the same time making a couple of points clear.

I wasn’t a witness, either at the scene or at the court proceedings and I don’t have first hand knowledge of the facts involved and it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific evidence involved regarding this case. I am, however, a retired Houston Police Officer and found some of the comments attached to the article disturbing, not that I was shocked to find them, disturbing in the amount of animosity generated toward police officers in general.

In the criminal courts, Officer Arthur J. Carbonneau was convicted of negligent homicide for the Nov. 21, 2003, shooting of Escobar and sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years’ probation. I find it unfortunate that any criminal court’s deliberations would find it necessary to include either jail time or probation when at no time was it ever shown that Officer Carbonneau criminally intended to harm anyone. The fact that he no longer was permitted to be employed as a police officer eliminated further danger to the public; any time in jail or reporting to a probation officer implies vengeance or the need for remedial training rather than justice, if in fact the incident was accidental as has been reported. So, was it an accident or was former officer Carbonneau involved in some sinister plot, a long developed antagonism toward the general public which required hard time in a cell?

The civil courts are now faced with determining all the rest; and that may prove to be the downfall of the entire system which we call the Houston Police Department. In our quest to assign negligence or areas which need improvement there is the danger of destroying the foundations upon which the Department operates, mutual trust that the officers and the citizens whom they serve have enough faith in their common goals. It is quite possible that such a foundation no longer exists in which case our civilization is doomed to chaos and mutual destruction as fear has replaced judgment.

I mentioned that some of the comments to the Chronicle article were disturbing; hopefully these are a small minority of the citizenry’s opinions regarding the Houston Police Department. I hope the following opinions are from those who hate all authority figures and are not representative of the majority.

fiddler55 wrote:
“There is nothing accidental about any police murder in Houston, TX. This article is a non-issue. Would this Escobar child be less dead, if Officer Carbonneau had been a sharpshooter? The only thing unique about this incident is that the cop is no longer a cop.”

epp1 wrote:
“Just another case of cold blooded murder by cop.”

HowdyHouston wrote:
“Wait just a dog gone minute....HPD and Harris County Deputies can do no wrong. That's what the people in this area think. The truth is that we have sure let a lot of poor performing officers into the ranks in the last few years. This incident is just another tip of the trouble iceberg.”

To “fiddler 55”, “epp1” and “HowdyHouston” I could say nothing that would touch your twisted hate filled minds; your words hold nothing back as they proclaim your total disgust and disrespect for our entire society, a society which includes the Houston Police Department and Harris County Deputies, a society which you claim to be part of. I find it sad that anyone would give ear to you; unfortunately your voices combine and resonate enough to chip away at the foundations in such a way as to eventually crumble our trust in each other.

My opinion is that the great majority of the individuals who serve as police officers hold the highest regard for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to such a degree as to desire to preserve these intangible rights for their neighbors while exposing themselves to great danger. Those individuals who fall short of these high standards will inevitably draw the spot light when found to be in error; however, let us remember that the Houston Police Department is a reflection of the society which it represents.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Did Judge Violate Executed Man’s Rights?

I read an article in the Houston Chronicle, Lawyers say judge violated executed man's rights, which asserts that Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller is responsible for violating the constitutional rights of condemned murder Michael Richard when she cut short the appeals process.

“The complaint to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct says Keller improperly cut off appeals that preceded the execution of Michael Richard on Sept. 25, even though just hours earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had accepted two Kentucky cases on the constitutionality of chemicals used for lethal injection.”


“Judge Keller's actions denied Michael Richard two constitutional rights, access to the courts and due process, which led to his execution,” the complaint states. “Her actions also brought the integrity of the Texas judiciary and of her court into disrepute…”

I don’t think this has anything to do with constitutionality or anything to do with a possible violation of Michael Richard’s rights. It has to do with bad judgment on the part of Judge Keller who could have waited for Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the well publicized Kentucky cases. Texas law was carried out as prescribed and Michael Richards was executed within established existing parameters; which include opportunities for the Attorney General and the Governor to intercede. No violations of rights were involved unless we are forced to presuppose future rulings of courts yet to be convened take president over current reality; something which might work well in Sci-Fi stories but has little merit in a court of law.

The movement to abolish the death penalty and those involved firmly believe that any and all avenues used to accomplish that end are acceptable, to include bending the truth in order to persuade and paint a picture which includes false information. While I do not agree with Judge Keller’s timing, I could not fault her for following the law as it stands today.

Who said this?

(1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

(2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few, and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity."

(3) "(We) can't just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people."

(4) "We have to build a political consensus, and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own turf in order to create this common ground."

(5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."

(6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy - that they are being watched."

Now you might think these were the famous words of the Father of communism, Karl Marx.

And you would be on the right track in thinking so.

But you would be wrong. These pearls of socialist/Marxist wisdom are from none other than our very own, home-grown Marxist. . . . Hillary Clinton!

Dick Morris worked with Hillary and knows her well. He says that at her core, Hillary is a sincere, committed Socialist that truly believes in the redistribution of wealth for the common good. Her public statements tend to confirm his assessment of her political philosophy.

Be afraid, Be very afraid!!

This came to from my friend Richard Sutton and deserves to be shared. The unfortunate part; those who revere Queen Hillary will ignore the dangers in favor of anyone who isn’t a Republican.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Tonight’s Player of the Game is…

Lucy and I were watching the last couple of innings of the Indians/Yankees ball game this evening on TBS. The Indians had a three run lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning. The announcers had the audacity to proclaim the Player of the Game before the last out had been recorded; something which has become part of the standard it seems.

I recall watching a football game, not too many years ago. The University of Texas was a couple of touch downs behind with only a few minutes to go in the game. The Player of the Game, from the team temporarily ahead, was announced as the clock ticked away; except the Real Player of the Game, Vince Young, figured out a way to score multiple times and Texas went on to win the game. You mean to tell me that these announcers can’t wait until the game is over to jabber out that information?

The same thing occurs during most of the Olympic events, doesn’t matter which event; after the “chosen front runners” have performed the announcers casually mention that the “also rans” still have to be given an opportunity. There’s something wrong with that; can’t put my finger on how to solve it, just bad manners at the very least.

I did feel badly for the Indian’s pitcher, couldn’t tell you his name since I don’t follow the American League much. These same idiot announcers put the jinx on him by telling their listening audience, “This fellow has faced the top ten home run hitters all season and never given up a single home run”, or something very close to that.

“Whoosh!”, two pitches later A-Rod smacked one over the left center field wall. This was simply another in a long line of, “Fred, am I mistaken or is this the seventh inning and nobody’s reached base, a perfect game?”, or, “He’s tossing a no-hitter” or “My record show he hasn’t made an error all year long”. What these idiot announcers need is a knuckle sandwich, maybe a bit crude; but that would shut them up until the game was over.

Before I quit for the night; did anyone else notice the one announcer, the one interviewing folks in the stands during the game when the cameras should have been focused on the game, how he was dressed; somewhere between the Soprano’s with his black pin stripe suit, black pin stripe shirt and yellow tie he borrowed from Stevie Wonder. Did his mother not teach him anything, “Gezza Louise!”

Sunday, October 07, 2007

But Officer…

There was a knock at the front door a while ago, some of Bonnie’s friends dropped by. Randal Flake came inside the entry way wearing a Roman Centurion’s garb, complete with sword. Randal is plenty tall to begin with; wearing his helmet, might have been a converted broom, he nearly brushed the ceiling.
I commented on how interesting it might be were they to be stopped for some kind of traffic violation. I'd pay good money to see that, "But Officer, I don't even drink, really!"

A trip through Gomorrah

This morning was spent listening to General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It wasn’t offered on the cable network, no great surprise; however, I can get it via BYU television on the internet. Still I marvel at the many and varied programs that are available on the internet; anything from hardcore pornography to heavenly promptings from God’s Prophet, I alone would know which to watch as I travel down this path through Gomorrah.

The included photograph was taken through the front window of a subway train in New York City several years ago. My wife and I enjoyed a few days together sight seeing and visiting places where I grew up; change that to places where I lived when I was young since I’ve never truly grown up. I use this picture as wallpaper on my computer every now and again, that wallpaper being changed regularly from all the digital images I’ve collected.

I couldn’t tell you which particular train we were riding or the name of the station we passed when I opened the lens to capture the image; all the same it has a certain quality that holds my attention when I stare down that long dark tunnel, the flash of bright light off to either side and the steady blue illumination directly ahead. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what symbolism might be involved; remembering the movie, City Slickers, where Curley held up his index finger and explained how it represented, “the one thing”; well, as he said, “That’s for you to decide”.

I hope you take some time in the up coming weeks to visit the archived sessions of General Conference . This morning’s session had many valuable moments, the Tabernacle Choir singing “A child’s prayer” being among them. It takes a day or so for these sessions to become available; however, later in the week each individual talk can be brought up in a variety of ways; transcript, audio or full streaming. The invitation to pick what you view on your computer is up to you as make your way through Gomorrah.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fake "Microsoft" Updates

To begin, this e-mail scam has to do with the Windows Updates that come out every second Tuesday of each month. The hackers involved with this scam are pretending to be Microsoft and they're sending out fake e-mails, telling users they need to install a critical update right away. They give you a link to follow, which takes you to a false version of the Windows Update Web site. You are then presented with a series of links you can use to download the update, but in all actuality, you're downloading a Trojan virus and other malicious patches. If your computer becomes infected with the virus, the hackers can then obtain complete control of your PC.

I got this warning via my email from the Retired Police Officer’s Association this morning and thought I should share it with the four or five folks who stop by to read my blog. I have not checked “Snoopes” to see verify this threat.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Halloween Preparations

Lords of the Manor has an article, Infestation, a reminder that Halloween is creeping up on us. She asked for some ideas and I could only think of something devilish I’d done. Several years ago I was asked to help out with a church Halloween party for the Primary age children. I was supposed to hand out candy from a booth of my own design, something to give the kids a fun/fright night in the safe confines of the church building.

I kept the expenses to a minimum with a little creativity. I wanted to duplicate something I’d seen in the Flash Gordon movie, a test of bravery where the kids could put their arms down inside the unknown cavity of the bravery beast, a chance to either be rewarded or die a horrible death if they got stung, bit or what ever happens if the beast inside gets angry or perceives cowardice.

I used a five gallon bucket to create the belly of the beast, a plastic bucket that originally had been used at the local donut shop to hold a berry mixture. I then added a couple of short lengths of dryer vent tubing and some papier-mâché to cover the contraption to make it look organic. I cut a couple of holes in the bucket and attached the dryer vent hoses on the inside of the bucket, the bottom of the bucket becoming the top. I then covered it to make it look like a tree stump or rock looking thing, painted it brown and black and placed it on top of two tables that had a large cloth draped over so I could hide below, having access to where the open part of the bucket rested between the tables supporting it.

I enlisted a partner in crime and we took turns standing as a greeter in front of the table wearing a brown hooded robe to hide our faces and pretend to be sinister while the other was under the table to hand out candy and/or scare the bejeebers out of the kids. We could tell a child was about to reach in because we could see them as they stood near the table. When their arm came down one of the openings they had to go through the tubes, their arm hairs alert for any contact along the way. We could spray a mist of cold water, tickle it with a feather or, when we wanted them to yell out in panic, we would grab their arm. Eventually we’d reward their bravery with some candy.

The total cost was under ten dollars and included the cost of the candy. I don’t recall any of the children being stung or bitten, none of them developed permanent psychological issues that I’m aware of and a good time was had by all.