Monthly Archives: April 2009

Tripping over a fly speck . . .

When I began blogging I was determined to not enter the political fray. With this posting I have moved into it, but I will step out and away from it immediately afterward. Viewers should note that this posting takes no side in the current political fracas—it simply calls attention to the utter folly of investigating certain methods of interrogation which were used by the past administration is its efforts to protect our nation from terrorist attacks.

For anyone unfamiliar with its definition, a fly speck is a piece of organic waste material excreted by a fly. A fly speck is small, very small, tiny—really, really, really tiny. Granted, it could potentially impede the forward movement of an ambulatory organism (of an amoeba, perhaps), but it’s so small that it could not, or at least it should not, in anyway impede the forward movement of any person, group of people or organization, especially the forward movement of our president and his administration in the quest to bring change—needed change—to our country and to our planet.

Many highly-placed officials in the present administration, up to and including our 44th president, are tripping over a fly speck. That speck is the current discussion over whether to investigate and perhaps charge, indict, bring to trial and if found guilty in any degree, punish officials of the previous administration who authorized certain methods of interrogation of known or suspected terrorists.

I wish fervently that all who are involved in this matter would stop, take a good long look at what confronts them and desist—it’s a fly speck, nothing more. Step over it, step around it or step on it, but don’t trip over it. Be aware of it but ignore it and keep moving forward. Get on with your work in areas which have real meaning—keeping our country free from harm by those who would destroy us, fighting global warming, improving health care, reviving the economy, and improving the nation’s schools are several which come to mind.


Posted by on April 23, 2009 in Uncategorized


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A catastrophic M&M moment . . .

Today I was privileged to spend several hours in (and out of) the chemotherapy unit of Wilford Hall Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas (I had good reason to be there, but that’s fodder for a future posting). At mid-morning I left the hospital for a sumptuous breakfast at Burger King, a sausage-biscuit with strawberry jam and a senior coffee (yes, I’m a senior, and I want my discount, damn it!).

After breakfast I stopped to browse at the base Thrift Shop (it’s open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), and I picked up, at modest cost, a candy dispenser featuring the little yellow M&M fellow—at least I believe it’s a fellow, but one can’t really tell with an M&M, regardless of its color. He’s made of plastic and was probably made in China (everything else is). He’s wearing what appears to be teddy-bear-toed house slippers and sitting in a recliner which has a handle on one side, a handle which, in a real-life chair, would serve to recline the chair and raise the footrest. However this handle, when pushed down, raises the little guy’s legs and flips up a door in the chair’s front to release the candy. There is a small door at the top of the chair back through which the candy can be loaded.

This was the first M&M dispenser I had ever seen, but I learned later that M&M dispensers are ubiquitous—they are molded in several different configurations, some of which have become valuable items and are eagerly sought by avid collector’s—whether mine has any value beyond my cost remains to be seen.

Before returning to the hospital I made a second side trip to the base Commissary to pick up (and pay for, of course) two large  family-size packages of peanut butter M&Ms. I planned to clean the little fellow up, fill the chair with candy, and introduce him to the workers and patients in the chemotherapy unit.

I took him into the small restroom adjacent to the chemotherapy unit waiting-area, sat him on the sink and administered a thorough cleaning, or at least as thorough as I could by using tap water, hand-soap and paper towels. With the cleaning and drying complete, I opened a package of M&Ms, opened the filler door and began to load the candy, and a catastrophic M&M moment ensued. When I lifted the dispenser, I tilted it to facilitate loading and I inadvertently pushed the little handle down. Before I could stop the loading process the little guy unloaded the chair—his teddy-bear-toed house-slippered feet flew up, the door in the chair front flew open and a host of M&Ms flew out—a dozen or so jumped into the sink, and the rest chose the floor and scampered for the corners. A few slyly slipped under the door of the privacy stall, and several others congregated beneath the urinal.

I probably merit a Guinness Book of Records entry “for retrieving wayward M&Ms from the floor of a restroom adjacent to a chemotherapy waiting area in a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas at eleven AM, Central Standard Time, on Tuesday, 21 April 2009,” a record which is unlikely to be challenged and should stand forever.

I was desperately trying to round up all the little candies before another restroom user entered, and I was successful. When the door opened to admit an elderly man, they had all been corralled and flushed (ha, ha, take that!) and I was back at the sink, holding the dispenser up to the light in an effort to discover what had caused the malfunction. The elderly gentleman entered, stopped dead in his tracks, watched for a long moment, returned my cheerful “Good morning” with a sadly negative shake of his head and then placed himself at the urinal. When I left, several minutes later after thoroughly scrubbing my hands, he was still in place—and could possibly still be there.

I decided that, given its propensity to malfunction, it would be unwise to place the unpredictable M&M dispenser in the chemotherapy unit. Instead, I gave the unopened bag and the remainder of the opened bag to a nurse, to be dispensed in some fashion other than the one I precipitated in the restroom.

Okay, that’s my catastrophic M&M moment—I suspect that there are viewers who have had their own significant moments with M&Ms, and perhaps they would share them with us. I welcome the discussion of any such moments (or lack thereof) in response to this posting.


Posted by on April 21, 2009 in Humor, Uncategorized


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The word is king, not kink . . .

Because the word kink has so many different meanings, one or more viewers may ultimately throw a punch at the King of Texas—the most obvious punch would be to refer to me as “the Kink of Texas.” I’m racing to beat them to the punch, to get there first by stressing that the word is king, not kink. The various meanings of kink, as enumerated in include the following:

1. A tight curl, twist, or bend in a length of thin material, as one caused by the tensing of a looped section of wire.
2. A painful muscle spasm, as in the neck or back; a crick.
3. A difficulty or flaw that is likely to impede operation, as in a plan or system.
4. A mental peculiarity; a quirk.
5. An unusual or eccentric idea.
6. Slang Peculiarity or deviation in sexual behavior or taste.

King has too many meanings to enumerate here, but suffice it to say that none lends itself to derogatory or politically incorrect connotations—oh, there may be some terms that, with a stretch, may conjure up other meanings—king of the fairies, for example. I’m sure there are others, and I’m also sure that viewers will happily point them out.

To which I say, “Throw those punches!” or, as George W. would say, “Bring it on!” I encourage it—with enough submissions we may be able to contribute something to the free dictionary’s definition.

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Posted by on April 20, 2009 in Humor, Uncategorized


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Do you ever misspell misspell?

No, I don’t stutter when I write, although I do tend to repeat myself. Now there’s a thought—our world’s population would explode exponentially if one could repeat one’s self. Given our narcissistic nature and our propensity for self adulation, the result would be a Malthusian catastrophe of epic proportions. However, that’s a subject for a future post, so back to the question: Do you ever misspell misspell?

Most Most Misspelled Words lists include the word misspell. I’ve always had difficulty remembering how many esses to use, so I’ve devised a simple (and simple is the operative word) formula to use as an aid, and I’m passing it on for the benefit of anyone who has the same problem. Just remember this formula and you’ll never misspell misspell again:

miss – 1 s + spell = misspell

If you can’t remember the formula, just remember your first-grade teacher whose name (an amazing coincidence) was Miss Pell. When you’ve recalled that, simply join the two words and you’ll have the correct spelling of misspell (that rule was never much help for me—my first-grade teacher’s name was Miss Helen).

You’re welcome.

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Posted by on April 20, 2009 in Childhood, Humor, Uncategorized


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A tale of two sisters . . .

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of—oops, wrong story—I’ll start over:

I’m posting this letter in its entirety, just as it was written, mailed and received more than 15 years ago, on the off-chance that the relationship at that time between me and two of my older sisters might be of interest. Fifteen years ago we were the only members left from a family comprised of two parents, one step-father and seven children (two boys and five girls). Not all at the same time, of course, because the total fluctuated with new births and deaths. Now the family has dwindled to one—I’m the last one standing—that’s not too unusual, since I was the last one to join the family. It’s a classic case of “last one out, last one standing.”

San Antonio Int’l Airport
February 22, 1994

Dear schwesters,

Schwesters is German for sisters. It gets worse. You are schwesters to me, but to Alta you are schwesterschafts, or sisters-in-law. And you thought being a schwester was tough! So that’s our German lesson for today and will probably be our only German lesson, because I’ve forgotten almost everything else (except for a few of the naughty words).

President’s Day has come and gone, and I’m sure we are all the better for it. A school teacher was telling her class about George Washington, and how he was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” A kid in the back row (probably little Johnny) hollered, “Yeah, but he married a widow.” That was funny when I was a kid. I never really figured out just why, but it was funny. We told it over and over, and it got funnier every time we told it.

It’s 7:30 in the evening and I’m at work, waiting on a flight from Mexico City. I worked 8-5 today, but stayed to work the 6:30 flight on overtime. So the 6:30 flight is now an 8:00 flight. I guess they had a maintenance problem and left Mexico City late. I sure wouldn’t have stayed if I had known it would be late. I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut.

Hey, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow is up to 40 million dollars, so maybe by the time you read this I’ll be up to my ears in money. Don’t really know what I would do with it. Can only drive one car at a time, or live in one house at a time, or wear more than one pair of pants or one pair of shoes at a time. I guess I could have more than one wife at a time, except Alta would take a very dim view of that. Speaking of wives, Oscar Wilde has been quoted as saying, “Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.” No doubt about it, that Oscar was a clever fellow with words.

A guy who recently won $7 million here in Texas was told that $7 million won’t  buy happiness. He said, “Maybe not, but it’ll make one helluva down payment.” Or as Jackie Gleason said when told that money won’t buy happiness, “Just give me the money and I’ll do my own shopping.”

February 25, 1994

Well, I’ve been gone 3 days but now I’m back, and I’ll bet you didn’t even miss me!  It’s Friday now, about 3 p.m., and I’m working the day shift. And I’m NOT up to my ears in lottery winnings. The $40 million was won by a black 36-year-old female city bus driver in Houston, Texas. Only one winner. Her first check was for $2,100,000, and she gets one just like that one every year for the next 19 years. Pretty hard to take, huh!

The lady I work with (Doris) went home with me for lunch and we stopped at a garage sale. I bought a large (14 inch wide) Fostoria punch bowl with 15 cups for $30. I asked the lady before I bought it if it had any chips, and she said no. I got to the car with it and found a chipped place on the rim, under the piece of masking tape that had the price marked on it. So I took it back, pointed out the chipped place, and she gave back my money. I wanted to tell her what Mama always said, that “You’ll go to the bad place just as quick for lying as for stealing,” but I didn’t. Maybe it was just coincidence that the tape was placed exactly over the chip. Yeah, sure it was! If you believe that, you’ll believe anything, right?

We had lunch with Alta, got back to work, and Doris had a new price list on Fostoria that came in the mail while we were at lunch. The bowl is listed for $240 and the cups are $14 each. In other words, I could have bought $450 worth of Fostoria for $30, and didn’t because of a teeny-tiny chip! So I called Alta, gave her directions to the garage sale and told her to go buy the bowl and cups, and to play ignorant and try to get them cheaper because of the chipped place. It’s probably been sold by now, but she is going by there just in case. I’ll let you know how this turns out, probably in a few minutes. Isn’t this exciting? See how bored I am? And I don’t even like Fostoria!

Told you it would just be a few minutes. Alta just called. She bought the Fostoria, but didn’t have any luck trying to jack down the price. So I now have an extensive collection of Fostoria – 16 pieces! Are either of you interested? That doesn’t look right. Is either of you interested? Still doesn’t look right. Anyway, if either of you is/are interested, I’ll make you a great deal – just $300 for all 16 pieces. You’ll get a 33 percent discount of the estimated value and I’ll make a profit of 900 percent—such a deal! Just don’t look under that piece of masking tape!

I’m kidding, of course. I’ll let either of you have the set for $250. And if that’s too much, I’ll give it to either of you, but you’ll have to pick it up in person at our house. And if you both show up, I, with the wisdom of King Solomon, will divide the 16  pieces equally – one half of the bowl for each of you, and seven and one-half cups for each of you. That way you’ll have to get together when you want to party. You can stick the bowl and one cup back together, then split them up again afterward.

February 26, 1994

Looks like I’ll never finish this one. Just to bring you up to date on the Fostoria punch bowl—I had a time finding the chipped place on the rim when I got home. Seems like the “lady” sanded down the rough spot after I left, and told Alta it didn’t have any chipped places. I guess I’m going to have to add garage sales people to my list of less than trustworthy persons. They rank right up there with used-car salesmen, insurance agents and realtors.

The Winter Olympics are over, and I’m sure you’re as happy as I am. I’ve had enough of figure skaters to last me forever. Did you hear about the commercial Tonya Harding has with a baton company? “Who says nothing beats a great pair of L’Eggs?”

All the medal winners in figure skating are coming to the Alamodome in San Antonio in June. Alta wants to get tickets, but she’ll have to get someone else to go with her. Too many people, and too much hassle getting into town and back out again. They built the Alamodome right in the middle of downtown San Antonio where parking was already at a premium. People use Park and Ride areas, then take a city bus to the Dome. And they wait sometimes for two hours and more for transportation after the game is over. Not me. No way. I’ll stay home and watch it on television.

Did I mention that I got a scanner for my computer? Well, I did, about two weeks ago. I now have the capability to scan in just about anything, change it in just about any way I want, then print it out. Maybe I’ll add a few photos to this letter— a picture of the house perhaps, so you’ll be able to tell the taxi driver where to stop when you come to visit. Lauren just had some really nice school pictures made so I’ll try a shot of her also, and maybe one of Landen.

The scanner is a lot of fun. I put in a recent snapshot of some friends, a couple we knew in Donna, and spruced them up a little—took all the lines from the lady’s face and neck, touched up her hairdo a bit, de-wrinkled him and took the light reflections out of his glasses, straightened his eyebrows and gave him a full head of hair (he is nearly bald). Boy, they look great! Yep, I’m having fun with the scanner, but I’m not making any money with it, naturally.

It’s about 3 p.m., and I’m at work. Nothing to do, as usual. We have three flights from 9 to 11, 1 at 3 p.m., then nothing else until 6:30 p.m. Saturdays are nothing days, because we do no administrative functions, just work international arrivals, and since they drop down to almost nothing on Saturday, our biggest problem is staying awake. I guess I’ll stay and work the 6:30 flight—not because I want to and not necessarily because I’m needed—it’s mostly because I get paid double-time for the overtime and it counts on retirement, so I’m not turning any of it down.

Did I mention I bought a barbecue grill? Did. Didn’t want to but I did. The results are not worth the effort of getting ready and cooking and cleaning afterward. But I got out-voted on the matter. Alta wanted me to get one, so I did. I feel a bit better about it because I discovered a great way to clean the grill. No muss, no fuss. We grilled two nights ago and I put the cooking grate between newspapers, hosed them down and left the grate in the yard overnight. My dog Mikki got the paper off and you wouldn’t believe how clean she left that grate—it was ready for the next cookout.

What is it they say about necessity being the mother of invention? I have accidently invented a no-cost hands-off way to clean barbecue grill grates. Well, there would be some initial cost to my system if a person didn’t already have a dog, because they’d have to go out and buy one – unless they could borrow one from a neighbor. Come to think of it, that might well be an ideal entrepreneurial enterprise, renting out dogs overnight to serve as barbecue grate cleaners, with special rates for a full weekend. I know there are some companies which have rental guard dogs, so maybe the guard dogs could be utilized for my system and do double duty for the renter.

Hey, don’t laugh! Just look how much money the hula-hoop and the slinky and the pet rock made for the people who invented them. And I saw on television that some people in a small town near San Antonio have begun selling manure—no, not artificial manure but real manure, bono fide manure, as in horse-apples and cow-pies (dried, of course) sculpted in the shapes of animals. They give them such names as turdles (get it?), doo-doo birds (get it?), barnyard bagels (get it?), cow-pie pigeons and other shapes and names I don’t remember.

The odiferous objects d’art are intended to be placed in flower and vegetable gardens to enrich the soil as they slowly dissolve in the rain and sun and wind. I know – you’re wondering who did the sculpting, and how. So am I, but I don’t want to know bad enough to call the station and ask. Anyway, I believe if people will go for manure in the shape of animals, my COMBINATION BARBECUE  CLEANER AND BURGLAR  CHASER should be a winner.

Guess I better wind this thing down. I’ll take it home, add some photos on Sunday and mail it on Monday.

Lots of love, from all of us and ours to all of you and yours.

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Posted by on April 19, 2009 in Family, Humor


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Australia—one of the worst movies ever made . . .

Having read the reviews of movies made by various reviewers over a period of many years, I have decided to try my hand at the process. This effort was prompted by my having ordered the movie Australia from Time-Warners’  Movies on Demand.

My review of Australia is as follows:

I sincerely regret ordering the movie. More than just ordering it, I regret that I actually watched about half of it. I regret buying it ($5.99), and I regret watching it because of its poor sound track (fading in and out), its Beverly Hillbillies/Dukes of Hazard musical score, its childish dialogue, its never-ending depiction of (and its fawning over) the vaunted mysticism of the Australian aborigines, its amateur directing, its atrocious acting and its computer-generated images, ostensibly showing Australia’s magnificent scenery—some of the landscape scenes were genuine, but others would rival scenes from the Harry Potter movies. Seared into my brain is the segment showing the cattle drovers galloping their horses at full speed on the edge of a precipice and cattle falling into the abyss—that memory will stay with me forever.

I endured about half of the film before I gave up in disgust. I don’t know how it ended because I didn’t wait for the ending, and I don’t want to know how it ended because I really don’t care. The entire cast and crew and everyone else who was even remotely connected to the movie should be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to watch the film in its entirety, credits included, for at least 500 of their waking hours (143 times) with their heads clamped in a stationary vise and their eyelids taped (or stapled) open.

Australia is one of the worst movies ever made—it easily qualifies for a spot near or at the top of any Worst Ten list. I have difficulty believing that Nicole Kidman actually earned her nomination for best actress in Moulin Rouge!, and it’s even more difficult to understand why she was awarded an Oscar in The Hours for the best performance of an actress in a leading role. I haven’t seen either of those movies, and because of her silly, superficial and inane performance in Australia I don’t plan on ever seeing them.

However, I must say that I enjoyed her performance in the movie Billy Bathgate, but only the part where she dived (yes, dived, not dove, is the correct past-tense of the verb to dive, regardless of what the dictionary shows) into a secluded waterfall pool after standing, well-illuminated in full-frontal view of the camera, for several heart-thumping seconds before diving—and that scene was enjoyable only because she was sans swimsuit. Actually, she was sans everything—she wore only a smile, and showed considerable evidence of not having used any sort of depilatory preparation. Since the scene did not require the actress to emote in any fashion, she therefore rocked it (she did this scene with Dustin Hoffman watching, and I have envied him ever since).

My rating system for movies consists of five stars, with films being rated from zero to five—the more stars, the better the movie.

Australia earns a well-deserved zero.


Posted by on April 19, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Brown University and Columbus Day . . .

Today I learned that the faculty of Brown University, that  prestigious Ivy League university which sits atop College Hill overlooking the city of Providence, Rhode Island—yes, that university—has capitulated under pressure from some of its students—the “learned” members of the faculty have “killed” Columbus Day.

From FOX NEWS: Wednesday, April 09, 2009

“Fall Weekend” will be taking the place of the holiday formerly known as “Columbus Day” at Brown University this fall.

The faculty of the Ivy League university voted at a meeting Tuesday to establish a new academic and administrative holiday in October called “Fall Weekend” that coincides with Columbus Day, but that doesn’t bear the name of the explorer.

Hundreds of Brown students had asked the Providence, R.I. school to stop observing Columbus Day, saying Christopher Columbus’s violent treatment of Native Americans he encountered was inconsistent with Brown’s values.

“I’m very pleased,” Reiko Koyama, a sophomore who led the effort, told the student newspaper, the Brown Daily Herald. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The change will take effect this fall.

Although the students had asked the school to take another day off instead, Brown will remain closed on Columbus Day, in part to avoid inconveniencing staff whose children might have the holiday off, the Daily Herald reported.

Many other colleges are open on Columbus Day but give students short breaks later in the semester.

Last month a Brown Daily Herald poll found two-thirds of the students supported changing the holiday’s name to Fall Weekend, the newspaper reported.


I have a serious problem with the faculty buckling under to the students’ request. No, more than serious, I have some major heartburn, and as a result I have taken steps to revise my will.

I have directed my attorney to immediately prepare a revised will for my signature. Instead of Brown University profiting by my demise when I have “shuffled off this mortal coil,” the bulk of my assets will now, instead of going to Brown University to bolster its efforts to achieve PPC (Perfect Political Correctness) it will, following my departure, go to a far more worthy cause—it will go to NATBUF (National Association To Benefit Unwed Fathers), with the how-and-when to use those assets to be determined by the “learned” members of the NATBUF faculty. At this point I direct attention to the name of my blog (thekingoftexas), and stress that unless my fortunes take a turn for the worse, my final assets will not be unsubstantial (particularly when one considers the generous federal government stimulus payments enroute to my state).

As everyone knows, the expression “shuffled off this mortal coil” is borrowed from Shakespeare’s works, and now I must borrow another of his expressions: “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” To apply this to the actions of Brown University’s faculty members, this coming October 14 will still be a holiday for the school although the students “. . . had asked the school to take another day off.” However, the faculty refused the request—the school will be closed, ostensibly “. . . to avoid inconveniencing staff whose children might have the holiday off.”

Kudos to Brown University’s faculty members! Columbus Day will continue to be observed at Brown, but will simply be observed under a different name. The result is the same—students who wish to use the day for remembering, contemplating and honoring the achievements of Christopher Columbus can do so without restraint or criticism, and the day off “will smell as sweet” as Shakespeare’s rose.

In view of the faculty’s decision to deny the students’ request to choose a day off other than the second Monday in October, I will consider reversing the revision to my will. I’ll mull it over and get back to you with more details. The revision will definitely not be reversed if Brown University is closed on the second Monday in October this year—Columbus Day.

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Posted by on April 17, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Columbus knew the world was round . . .

Columbus was a sailor, and any experienced sailor of his time (at least one with a modicum of reasoning ability), would have known that the world was round. The human eye can perceive an object—the complete object—at a maximum distance of 12 miles, on land as well as on water. Beyond that point the object, whether coming or going, begins to appear (or disappear) as it follows the curvature of the earth. If the earth were flat, a lookout in the crow’s nest would see an approaching vessel in its entirety at first sight—a very tiny object, of course, but a vessel complete with its tall masts under full sail, and the vessel would increase in size as it drew nearer to the viewer.

Conversely with a round earth, the lookout would first see the tip of the tallest mast, and more of the masts and sails would be discerned as the vessel drew nearer (or drew nigh, as some would say), and finally would be seen as a whole sailing ship, complete from topmast to the waterline and from bow to stern.

Obviously the earth is not flat—it is round. We know that—we routinely sail, fly and walk around it, and Columbus knew it in 1492. We know that as he plotted his course he severely underestimated the circumference (as in round) of the earth in his efforts to prove that a ship could reach East-Asia (the Indies) by sailing west. If true, the trip  could be completed in far less time than required by the current method of traveling eastward through Arabia on the overland trade route, and the new route would allow Spain to participate in the lucrative spice trade.

That underestimation landed him in the Bahamas Archipelago in North America, on an island he named San Salvador. Believing the island to be the East-Asian mainland (the Indies), he named its inhabitants “Indios.”

None of this in any way diminishes Columbus’ accomplishments. He discovered the New World, and proved that a vessel could go east by sailing west, thus improving Spain’s commercial trade efforts. He successfully made the round-trip across the Atlantic in vessels which may have been state-of-the-art at that time, but in which few modern sailors would choose to make the journey.

We know that Columbus began his journey with four ships—the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, but only three completed the voyage (it’s not well known, but one sailed over the edge!)

Just kidding! However, I believe he may have begun the voyage with four ships, but one had some serious problems and returned to port.


Posted by on April 17, 2009 in Uncategorized


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In Van Johnson’s footsteps—NOT!

As a prelude to this post, here’s some background on a Hollywood matinee idol who died a few months ago (the info was taken from an Internet entry):

Van Johnson (August 25, 1916–December 12, 2008) (born Charles Van Johnson) was an American film and television actor and dancer who was a major star at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios during World War II. Johnson was the embodiment of the “boy next door,” playing “the red-haired, freckle-faced soldier, sailor or bomber pilot who used to live down the street” in MGM movies during the war years. At the time of his death in December 2008, he was one of the last surviving matinee idols of Hollywood’s “golden age.”

And now for my posting:

I lived in Midland, Texas for several months during the summer of 1948. My mother, my stepfather, my older sister (older by 18 months) and I were wedged into a single motel room with no air-conditioning and no fans – our only relief from the West Texas heat was through an open window (no screen) during evening and night hours. The motel was directly across from the municipal swimming pool. Admission was free, and because of the heat in the motel-room-from-hell I spent many hours in and around the pool.

One memorable day at the pool an attractive young girl, a complete stranger who appeared to be a bit older than my age of 15 years, approached me and said (unsolicited), “You look just like Van Johnson.”

It changed my life—Van Johnson at that time was 32 years old and the toast of Hollywood, the “golden boy” of Hollywood’s “golden age.” Because of that chance remark (I repeat, unsolicited) equating my looks with his, I strove mightily to look like him. I mimicked his walk, his speech and his facial expressions, even his haircut, and for a long time I “walked on air.” The walking on air was probably an attempt to mimic his height, but with little success—he was over six-feet tall and I topped out at five-seven (several years later).

After awhile I outgrew the effort to be someone else. I must admit that it never got me anywhere, not even close, neither financially nor physically, and I reverted to my real self. I never tried to mimic his red hair and freckles, and I also never, EVER, tried to imitate his sexual orientation – yep, Charles Van Johnson, one of the golden boys of Hollywood’s golden age, was (said to be) gay.

The few short months that I spent in Midland included many more memorable happenings, including some details of my job as an attendant at a self-serve laundry (I learned how heavy a number-two washtub filled with wet clothing could be), details of my job as a lumber-yard clerk (I learned about Texas-sized wasp nests), and my subsequent relocation to El Paso, Texas. That relocation was followed by an odyssey  which included an overnight stay (on my 16th birthday) in the Valley Park, Missouri city jail, a brief stint in New York City’s Greenwich Village (at 21 University Place), a return to Mississippi and then off to Alabama as an indentured farm worker.

All those happenings are fodder for future postings (that’s meant as a promise, not a threat). When, and if, they happen will depend of whether such postings are of any interest to viewers.

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Posted by on April 16, 2009 in Childhood, Humor, Uncategorized


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Petulant political posturing

Hispanics have a saying: “Quien no se atreve no pasa el mar,” loosely interpreted as, “Those who want to cross the ocean must first throw themselves in.” A similar proverb in English, used often by my mother, would be, “The longest journey begins with the first step.”

In his efforts to maintain our country’s position among the world’s nations, President Obama has taken the first step and embarked on that journey. I use the word “maintain” rather than “restore” because, contrary to the current petulant political posturing, the United States is still the freest, richest and most powerful nation on Earth.

The following was gleaned from the Internet: “In a letter written in 1900, a year before he became president, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “I have always been fond of the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” He repeated what he called this “homely old adage” in a speech as president in Chicago in 1903, and twice again in his writings after that.”

Apparently Obama is heeding Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to “speak softly and carry a big stick,” as evidenced by his actions in a recent international incident. Three Somalians were killed in the successful rescue of Richard Phillips, an American ship’s captain held captive by the so-called “pirates” (read “terrorists”). The president used that “big stick” with remarkable effectiveness.

Our president is trying, and with none of the  “bring it on!” mentality which pervaded the last administration. I pray that he will succeed. Yes, I’m a Reluctant Republican, unable to accept the direction in which my party is moving (a direction it seems determined to continue) but reluctant to criticize it. If everything continues “as is,” the United States will become a nation with only one political party. To this observer, the GOP’s efforts appear largely defensive, with little emphasis on an offensive to slow the party’s descent into nothingness.

I will follow Obama, but only as long as he carries that big stick and uses it, when circumstances dictate, to maintain and enhance (not restore) America’s position among the world’s nations.

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Posted by on April 16, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Why “The King of Texas?”

The Queen and I have three daughters, one of whom lives in Virginia. Some years ago one of her closest friends wrote a beautiful story about a “princess” who lives in the neighborhood and does kind, beneficial and beautiful things for her friends. The princess does all these things in a purely altruistic manner with no thought of recompense, asking only that those friends appreciate their mutual friendships and all things beautiful.

Her friend began the story by saying that the princess came from a “far-away kingdom” known as Texas, a beautiful and bountiful land ruled by her parents, the King and Queen of Texas, both dearly beloved by their subjects. I gratefully (and gleefully) accepted the mantle of Supreme Ruler—I felt fully qualified for the job, and it seemed to be the natural thing to do. The title stuck, and that’s why I chose it for my blog. So “now you know the rest of that story.” I solemnly promise that I will make every effort to avoid besmirching that mantle (and if I should happen to stray, please help me return to the proper path).


Posted by on April 6, 2009 in Uncategorized


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Progress in North Central San Antonio

I awoke this morning at 2:56, a time not unusual for me. Normally when I awaken I am fully alert and ready to arise, and this morning was no exception. Immediately after awakening I heard six loud “pops,” the sound of gunfire. No, I did not confuse the sound of firecrackers with gunfire (today is April 6, not July 4), nor did I confuse the sound of auto exhaust backfire with gunfire.

It was gunfire. I am very familiar with the sound, a familiarity developed during 22 years of military service including combat tours in the Korean “Conflict” (1950-1952) and the Viet Nam War (1969-1970), and another 26 years of service as a federal law-enforcement officer.

This morning at 2:56 I heard five “pops” in quick succession, then a pause and then a final “pop.” The sounds came from behind me and to my left, placing their origin in the western portion of the up-scale apartment complex behind my home.

My first thoughts were, “Five quick ones to down the target, then a final one to administer the “coup de grace” (I know what you’re thinking—you’re thinking that I’ve been watching too many gangster movies). Possibly—but I’ll be watching for the report in our local newspaper and on our local “blood and guts” television news channel, and I’ll “get back to you later with more details.”

The gunfire was not followed by a motor being gunned and the sound of screeching tires, so it wasn’t one of San Antonio’s frequent drive-by shootings. Drive-by incidents in apartment complexes are unusual (I don’t recall any in San Antonio) primarily because of the difficulty in executing the numerous high-speed turns required to successfully exit the complex with its crowded and crooked thorough-fares.

Yep, progress has come to North Central San Antonio. Night-time gunfire is common in many neighborhoods in other sections of the city, especially on the near south-side, near east-side and near west-side—sometimes the gunfire comes from private-party goers over-celebrating, or from disputes between individuals but many, perhaps most, incidents are the result of drive-by shootings. Some families in such areas refrain from sleeping in rooms which front the street, and some even refrain from spending too much time in such rooms at other times, even during daylight hours.

Yep, progress has come to the North Central section of San Antonio. At the risk of being politically incorrect and fully realizing that censure may follow, I attribute this particular “progress,” at least partially, to such factors as Hurricane Katrina (people displaced by the disaster and relocated to San Antonio) and to the migration of persons from the inner city to outer sections of the city. Cities grow in concentric circles—newcomers initially are drawn to the inner city, then expand outward as economic conditions permit.

FYI, a civics professor taught me the “concentric circle theory of city growth” in a course I took while attending  the Municipal University of Omaha. I was somewhere in the middle of the last class to graduate (1968) before the city college became UNO (University of Nebraska at Omaha).

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Posted by on April 6, 2009 in Uncategorized


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