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Fred Siemens, a Missing Person find . . .

During the early 1980s I was one of two second-level Customs supervisors in the inspection force at the port of Brownsville, Texas and on a very special evening I was performing my supervisory duties on the swing shift—4 pm to 12 midnight—at the Gateway Bridge. At some time near the middle of the shift, a pedestrian of a different kind walked in from Mexico and the officer on sidewalk duty referred him to my office.

The pedestrian was an elderly Anglo male, probably in his sixties, wearing slacks and a white shirt, his tie still knotted but hanging loosely. There was blood on his face and his shirt was stained with blood, apparently from a nosebleed. He walked erratically and seemed oblivious of his surroundings. My first thoughts were that he was either drunk or under the influence of drugs, but his answers to my first questions were always the same—I don’t know. My most pertinent question was Do you know where you are? His answer was simply No.

I asked him for his name and he said Fred Siemens. I asked him where he lived and he said San Antonio, and my next question was Are you an attorney? He said Yes and I realized that he was Fred Siemens, a prominent attorney in San Antonio, nationally and internationally known for his work in criminal law. Because of him and an article on him that appeared in one of San Antonio’s local newspapers, I became a devotee of Henry David Thoreau’s writings, specifically Walden or, Life in the Woods and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. The image on the right is my well-thumbed copy of the work on which Mahatma Ghandi based his passive resistance movements. Click here for an explanation of how, when, where and why I first met Thoreau and his writings.

I suspected that he could be the subject of a missing person alert, and I immediately called the Brownsville Police Department and asked for an officer to come to the Gateway Bridge. Two officers arrived in record time, and I told them that they should contact the San Antonio Police Department and would probably find a missing person lookout on the man. They thanked me and gently escorted the attorney to their vehicle.

Now read about the non-existent grateful appreciation expressed by the Brownsville police for giving them a well-known missing person and the opportunity to shine a bright light on the coordination between local and federal law enforcement in the city of Brownsville. I never heard from the Police Department—I called the Department the next day and the people on duty claimed to have no knowledge of the incident.

However, several days later a lengthy article appeared in the local daily newspaper detailing the fine work done by Brownsville’s police in returning a missing person to his home in San Antonio. The article stated that in the early evening on a certain day Mr. Siemens was found wandering around in the vicinity of the Gateway Bridge, apparently unaware of his surroundings, and an investigation determined that a missing person lookout for him had been made by San Antonio police. Obviously there were some really ambitious officers on Brownsville’s police force!

I should have known what was going to happen, because the two officers that took custody of the missing person neglected to ask for my name or for my position in the Customs hierarchy. If I gave that any thought at the time, it would probably have been that they would return for the specifics of the interdiction, and also to tender the thanks of the local department to the Customs officers on duty that evening, specifically to the inspector on pedestrian traffic duty and to the supervisory officer on the shift, the person that recognized the missing person and initiated the investigation. I mean, like hey, everybody likes to shine!

So I can only offer kudos to the local police for their fine work in solving a missing person lookout and returning a brilliant and nationally-known criminal law attorney to his home and to his loved ones. Good work, guys!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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Ode to a cheesecake . . .

Below is a recent post from my daughter’s blog at cindydyer.wordpress.com. The posting features a poem,  An apology to the wood anemone. Her poem pays tribute to a beautiful flower, one she thought was long dead but survived last winter’s record snowfalls in Alexandria, Virginia. Not only did it survive—it appears to have thrived following its burial under snow throughout the fierce snowstorms last winter.

This is her tribute to the wood anemone:

An apology to the wood anemone

Lovely eight petal wood anemone
please accept my apology
More plants, I surely did not need any
but your price was reduced to a hundred pennies
Relegated to your preferred shady spot
remembering to plant you, I most certainly did not
Lost in the shuffle of spring and summer
as the King of Texas says, “what a bummer!”
you braved well over two feet of snow
yet still come spring, you put on a show
Please accept my apology
lovely eight petal wood anemone

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Her posting continues:

I must preface my father’s poem by explaining why he felt the urge to wax so eloquently about a cheesecake. In February we hosted a very scaled back Chocoholic Party for friends—aptly renamed the “Cabin Fever with Chocolate Party.” It was scaled back from our annual soiree because of the unprecedented piles of snow in our area, obstructions that resulted in limited parking for guests from outside the neighborhood—our annual party usually brings in 35 or more chocoholics, so ample parking is necessary! This year, our guests needed to be able to walk to our house through some 30 inches of snow!  As for the cheesecake, earlier in the week we bought a huge one from Costco during our rounds to gather food for this semi-potluck party. I was sitting at the computer working a few days before the party when Michael came downstairs—a brown wrapped package in one hand and a shovel in the other—and unlocked the patio door. I watched him, wondering if he was going to dig a path through the almost three feet of snow to the back gate (and why?). He dug a hole into the snow bank just outside the door and buried the package. I then asked, “What in the world did you just bury?” “Cheesecake!” he exclaimed. “There wasn’t any room for it in the refrigerator and since the party is just two days away, I figured it would keep.” And it kept—such a resourceful man—I think I’ll keep him.

My poem, An apology to the wood anemone, inspired my father to write his own poem, a work related to my Apology. Bravo, bravo, King of Texas! His comments to my original posting include his wonderfully crafted poem, Ode to a cheesecake.

Here are my comments to my daughter’s posting of her poem:

In advance of posting this comment, I humbly offer my abject apologies to the preacher John Donne, to the poet Joyce Kilmer and to the author of An apology to the wood anemone . . . It’s not my fault—it’s in my nature—it’s something I cannot control. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa maxima.

Ode to a cheesecake

Breathes there one with soul so dead
That never to one’s self hath said
Methinks that I shall never see
A word so lovely as anemone.

Offed from my tongue it rolls
Sadly as the bell that tolls
Nor for thee and nor for me
Nor for the lovely anemone.

But for the cheesecake ‘neath its bower
Nor ‘neath trees nor plants nor showers
Nay, ‘neath snowstorms full of power
Lying ‘neath the snow for hours
In wait for the chocolate party
To be eaten by guests so hearty.

But wait, what do I see
Beside the cheesecake ‘neath the snow
The anemone arises ready to go
With the cheesecake to the table
Petals eight to be divided
Among the diners so excited
A ‘nemone to see.

They smell the petals
They hear the bell
They’ll come to know
As time will tell
Whether snow and cheesecake
Sounds their knell
Or leaves them alive
And well.

H.M. Dyer (1932-     )—All rights reserved.

I neglected to give credit to Sir Walter Scott for his poem ‘The lay of the last minstrel’ in my ‘Ode to a cheesecake’—credit is now given. I also neglected to say that I loved your poem,  An apology to the wood anemone. It is well crafted and exceptionally well done!

Your anemone arising from the snow in the spring is reminiscent of Thoreau’s “Walden,” in which he tells of a golden bug that in the spring gnawed its way out of a table after being entombed in the wood for many years.

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See more of my father’s pondering, hypothesizing and philosophizing, musings, comments, lectures, diatribes, royal reflections and revelations, essays, memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, tall tales, fables, childhood memories, yarns, jokes, poems, political and social commentary, and my favorite of his topics—excellent grammatical lessons—on his website, thekingoftexas.wordpress.com.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2010 in Books, Humor, poetry, Writing

 

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Notes on a tiger and its stripes . . .

This posting will present my analysis of, and my comments on, the path that Tiger Wood has followed over the past few years, leaving behind a trail strewn with prostitutes, broken hearts and broken promises—if one can believe the prostitutes that claim their hearts have been broken.

I have my opinion regarding Tiger’s so-called sex addiction, his stint at a rehabilitation center, and his recent apology to his legions of admirers and to the rest of the world’s population, admirers as well as non-admirers—and in my opinion there are far more non-admirers than admirers. I do not believe his apology was sincere, and I don’t believe the sex addiction clinic will work any miracles, even though it is in the sovereign state of Mississippi.

Many of the non-admirers are envious, however, both for his dalliances with hookers and his ability to place a little ball, less than two inches in diameter, atop a large ball some twenty-five thousand miles in circumference and hit the little ball without touching the larger one. They admire his golfing skills, but they do not admire his lack of restraint in sexual matters.

I want to share my opinion with my viewers, limited in number though they may be, and in that endeavor I will invoke the words of some of the wisest men that ever lived. That will include conjuring up long-passed notables such as Henry David Thoreau, Omar Khayyam, Jimmy Carter, Red Foxx and Sir Walter Scott. Note that I have lined out Jimmy Carter, not only because he has not passed as of this writing, but because I do not believe he qualifies for membership in this group of thinkers—I will still quote him, regardless.

As for the remorse voiced by Tiger Wood, the greatest golfer in the world, one of the world’s most prolific seekers of sex for sale and the purchaser thereof—in my opinion the remorse rings hollow. Tiger is not sorry he committed an outstanding, perhaps record setting, string of indiscretions. He’s just sorry that his wife finally got fed up with them and with him, and announced her displeasure with the help of a #9 golf club. She would have to be blind and deaf with no knowledge of Braille to not have known that something was rotten in Denmark (with apologizes to Denmark).

If she did not know, or at least had strong suspicions that Tiger was, and is a serial philanderer, she would have to be the ultimate victim of ADD, the attention deficit disorder that has become so prevalent in recent years. In my opinion, she is not ADD.

I refuse to believe that legions of his admirers believe the story that his wife shattered the windows of his Cadillac Escalade in order to rescue and administer to his injuries, if any. I believe that she truly meant to minister to him, but not to care for any injuries he may have suffered in the crash. I believe she had it in her heart to inflict some deadly serious injuries on him, up to and including a death blow.

Tiger’s wife says she found Tiger inert, apparently unconscious after his vehicle took out a fire hydrant and smashed into a tree near his home. I believe that Tiger was simply and wisely playing possum, a feint that may have saved his life, or at least lessened the possibility of a death blow from the #9 iron.

This just in: GM has recalled all its Cadillac Escalades for demagnetization. The company has concluded that the vehicles are over-magnetized, as evidenced by the recent malfunction of Tiger Wood’s Cadillac SUV at his home—drawn by the magnetism in his Escalade, a metal golf club flew out a window of Tiger’s home and shattered the Escalade’s windows.

I will now invoke the words of Jimmy Carter, a former president of the United States, as told in an interview that appeared in Playboy magazine. The ex-president from Georgia said something on the order of:

Although I have never transgressed, I have lusted in my heart.

Carter is an honest man—not the brightest card in the deck, but honest.

And now for a quote, one that I have badly corrupted, from Sir Walter Scott’s, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (the italicized and bolded words are not Sir Walter’s—they are mine):

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land! Hot dang, I’d like to have some of that!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand! Las Vegas.
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentrated all in self, A
Living, shall forfeit fair renown, perfect
And, doubly dying, shall go down description
To the vile dust from whence he sprung, of
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung. Tiger!

The point I am making, however crude and obtuse, is that no man has ever lived—at least no manly man—that did not lust—perhaps with little more than a twinge of lust, but lust nevertheless—in his heart at the sight of a beautiful woman, whether in magazines, in the movies or on the street, whether fully clothed, scantily clad or nude, whether in a gentleman’s club or pictured in enticing positions in many of our nation’s magazines for men. And in my opinion no man will ever live and not have the same thought in those situations, namely, Hot dang, I’d like to have some of that!

Tiger can be likened to a tomcat, and we are all aware of a tomcat’s activities, mostly nocturnal but no tomcat has ever waited for the cover of darkness if the conquest is available in daylight. And trust me, once a tomcat’s proclivities and his routine are established, nothing will ever change him short of death. His routine will continue even if he is relieved of his ability to sire offspring or even to minister to members of the opposite gender, or the same gender should he be so inclined.

Nope, it will not keep a tomcat at home nights even if he is subjected to a surgical process, the very thought of which causes nightmares for the male of the human species, and probably for every tomcat. Be advised, however, that the tomcat will still make his rounds every night. The only difference is that following the surgery he goes out as a consultant.

Now let’s bring Red Foxx into the discussion: Red Foxx, when he was accused of being a dirty old man replied,Yes, I”m a dirty old man, and I’m gonna stay a dirty old man until I’m a dead old man!

‘Nuff said, Tiger?

A leopard can’t change its spots, nor can a tiger change its stripes. Those spots and stripes will be with those animals as long as they live. No amount of money spent at a sexual addiction treatment center will change Tiger Wood, and no amount of new births, a process offered by the Buddhist religion he professes, will change him. The urge will always be there, and the best thing he can do is accept its presence and control it.

He shouldn’t waste time trying to extinguish something that burns with a flame so bright and hot that it cannot be extinguished—its flame can only be dampened by the use of free will. It’s his flame and it will stay with him. It will still be with him when he departs for that ultimate golf tournament, the one hosted by Saint Peter and the angels—or the one hosted by Lucifer and his minions, whichever is the case.

Had Tiger come to me for advice before staging his return to the media’s bright lights, I would have advised him to decline the opportunity, no matter how well staged—and it was staged, with nary a question permitted. My expert advice for him would have been—and still is—just five words:

Shut up and play golf!

And now to support that sage advice, a quote from Khayyam’s Rubaiyat:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Tiger should pay heed to Omar’s words—he cannot change one iota of the past, so he should shut up and play golf!

An important footnote: I have oft’ quoted and will continue to quote an author that I admire above all others—even above Bill O’Reilly! In Thoreau’s  Walden, or Life in the Woods, one of the most important works in the history of this country and the world, Henry David Thoreau says:

I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.

‘Nuff said?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Humor, marriage, Travel, Writing

 

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Government: A three-legged stool theory . . .

Over a period of many years I have spent, and continue to spend, considerable time in the waiting rooms of various clinics in two military hospitals, Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Medical Center, both in San Antonio, Texas. I often take a paperback copy of Thoreau’s Walden along to help pass the time. In addition to Walden, the book includes Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, his classic protest against government’s interference with individual liberties. From the back cover: One of the most famous essays ever written, it came to the attention of Gandhi and formed the basis for his passive resistance movement.

While in the waiting room I also read any literature that might be available. There is always a wide selection from which to choose, donated by patients and staff—paper back books and hardbound books, detective novels, romance novels, westerns, self-help books, children’s books, medical literature, and periodicals ranging from Reader’s Digest (I love the Humor in Uniform section) to Cosmopolitan with its ubiquitous tips for good sex, usually professing to be “what women really want” or “what men really want,” all probably written by men—and then again, perhaps not.

Any publication, regardless of theme, has the potential of increasing one’s store of knowledge—one simply needs to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Prompted by a front-cover blurb that read, Exclusive interview! President Barack Obama, I recently read an article in Black Enterprise—Your ultimate source for wealth creation, in the issue dated April 2009. The article was written by a Black Enterprise journalist following a 15-minute telephone conversation with the president, an interview purported to be “the first black publication to get an interview with the president,” and “the first magazine to gain an exclusive with Barack Obama since he took oath on Jan. 20.” From that 15-minute phone interview, Black Enterprise journalist Derek T. Dingle produced a well-written article that covered all, or part of, five pages in the 8.5 x 11 inch, 96-page publication.

I recommend the article to any reader, regardless of one’s political affiliation. Different readers will have different opinions on its content, but there is definitely knowledge to be gleaned—and although I run the risk of repeating myself, I will repeat myself—one simply needs to separate the wheat from the chaff.

This is the pearl I gleaned following multiple readings of the article and an unbiased—really—attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff (yes, it’s another repetition, but it’s one that is important).

The president’s stool is wobbly.

Yes—I said it, and I believe it. The president’s stool is wobbly, and at this point I feel an urgent need to define stool, a word that has many meanings. In this context (from Wikipedia), it means a backless seat consisting of a small flat piece of wood resting on three or four legs, and specific to a milking stool, a low three-legged stool used to sit on while milking a cow.

My contention that the president’s stool is wobbly was formed on the first page of the article. The last sentence in the article’s third paragraph reads as follows: In less than a month in office, he signed the $787 billion economic recovery package, purportedly the largest overhaul of the U.S. economy in history.

The first sentence in the next paragraph reads as follows: That action, the president asserts, represents only “one leg of the stool” in his mission to revamp the economic and financial system.” In the same paragraph, the president refers to three other plans; to ensure the financial stability of banks, to help struggling homeowners modify their mortgages and stabilize home prices, and to review structuring plans of domestic automakers.

By my count the president created a four-legged stool in those two paragraphs—one leg for economic recovery, a second for bank stability, a third for mortgages and home prices, and a fourth for restructuring plans of domestic automakers. Of course, as all are aware, he has created many more “stools” in the interim, and it’s a sure bet that all have at least four legs.

In my far distant past, in addition to numerous other farm chores, I spent a significant amount of time sitting on a milking stool, one positioned properly to facilitate extracting milk from one of various milk cows. And guess what? The stool had only three legs.

A true milking stool—a professional milking stool, if you will—has only three legs. Three legs only, not four, with each leg cleverly placed equidistant from the others. The terrain on which the milking operation is performed will always be level if selected by the milker, but if selected by the milkee, the terrain may not be level. With a four-legged stool the milker will constantly be required to maintain equilibrium while milking the cow. A three-legged stool will always be stable, regardless of the terrain, and the milker can concentrate on the intricacies of his task.

Hence the three legs as opposed to four legs—the three-legged stool will provide the milker a steady platform from which to operate. The four-legged stool serves the milker well if on level terrain, but if the terrain is not level the stool will wobble, and as any old-time milker will testify, the job is precarious enough without a wobbly stool adding to the discomfort and dangers already present. The stool may be a bit canted from a true horizontal surface—in that event, the milker must compensate for the slope in order to finish the job.

In those long-gone and little-missed good old days, a milker arrived at his work site by a circuitous route, stepping over, around and sometimes in barnyard patties that often lurked in unlikely spots. Given the fact that young milkers sometimes milked in the half-light of morning and evening, plus the fact that such milkers were wont to go barefoot in summer, some missteps were predictable and numerous.

A milker often worked in extreme cold, or in extreme heat in a malodorous atmosphere, all the while ducking a constantly swishing tail and dodging hind-leg kicks aimed at the milk bucket or the milker or both, all the while attracting and stoically enduring the attention of flies, fleas, wasps and mosquitoes—a milker had no choice, because both hands were gainfully employed.

If we look closely enough, we will find that the president faces similar obstacles and distractions in his administration. I believe we can compare the president’s job with milking a cow, albeit a far more complex job, far more intricate and in a much more favorable working environment, and the effects, whether success or failure, are far more reaching than a botched milking. In a botched milking only the cow will suffer—if the president’s job is botched, our people, our nation and our future will suffer.

In summary, the president’s stool is wobbly because it has more than three legs and is not on level terrain. He should remove all legs above the count of three, ensuring that the remaining three legs are equidistant from each other. And if his stool (his presidential platform) is canted, he must compensate for the slope—he must hang on (please ignore the inadvertent pun) by using whatever muscle or muscles are available in order to finish the job .

Some may feel that I have taken an inordinate amount of time to support my contention that the president’s stool is wobbly because it is not on a firm foundation, and that he may be—nay, will be—distracted from his mission by the need to counteract its action and thereby risk failure to attain his goals, or at best attaining some but not all of his goals.

I offer no apologies to anyone—not to the president nor to my readers—not for my analysis of the Black Enterprise article nor for my analogy of the milking stool. The president is working from a precarious perch on terrain that is not level—he should either change the terrain or remove some of the legs on his perch. I believe my three-legged stool theory of government is  as plausible, as reasonable and as workable as any theory that has been formulated in the past, and I offer it up for consideration, whether for our nation, for other nations, or for the world.

An afterthought that comes to mind:

I frequently hear the term double down used in reference to political operations, meaning that by adding additional items, usually to bring specific people on board, to a change that is not gaining wide acceptance, in hopes that the change might be pushed through.

Double down is a gambling term used in blackjack—if a player is initially dealt a pair—any pair, whether aces, face cards, tens or other values—he is allowed to double his original bet by splitting the pair, giving him the opportunity of besting the dealer on two hands rather than one. However, it also means he may lose two bets instead of one. If the player splits the pair, the dealer will give each hand one or more additional cards, face up, as requested by the player using the term, “Hit me.” In all instances the dealer will insist that the player “make one hand good before looking at the other.”

I mention the term double down only because it has often been used in this president’s administration. I submit that my three-legged theory, if followed properly, would produce far better results than doubling down. However, the gambling metaphor still applies—the president should make good the first three legs of policies offered for consideration before proposing further changes—in other words, make one hand good before looking at the other.

This is a note for any readers of this posting:

There is some wheat in this posting, wheat that warrants your time and effort to search for it among the chaff and then separate it. Yes, I know, it’s another repetitionI said it’s important, remember?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2009 in Humor, Obama administration, politics

 

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