Tangled Up in Blue

 

These are my two favorite times of the year in Texas, in order:

Whenever the hot weather finally ends, and cool weather has moved in.

And right now, when all the bluebonnets are out.

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The bluebonnet is our state flower, and it’s about this time every year that they show up in force; amazing, broad, blue brushstrokes across the Texas canvas.

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And I love it.

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They also look good with some Indian Paintbrush mixed in with ‘em…

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And you can see them in the country and the city.

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It’s common to see drivers pulled over on the shoulder of the freeway to get a picture of someone, usually kids, standing or sitting among some bluebonnets. (What you don’t see, are those kids getting treated later for bug bites.)

Anyway, they’re beautiful (the bluebonnets, not the kids), so treat yourself to their splendor if you’re in Texas in the next couple months or so.

They’re purty, y’all.

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A Brief History of a Genius

 

We didn’t understand much of what he said; we just knew it was brilliant.

That such a singularly remarkable mind could reside in such a thoroughly disabled body should give you a clue as to the man’s heart.

Professor Stephen Hawking died at his home in Cambridge, England, at the age of 76. He was diagnosed with the crippling nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at age 21, and told he would probably live only a few more years.

His heart told him a lot longer than that, because that amazing mind had much, much more to share with the mere mortals around him.  Long after the ALS ravaged his body to the point of almost complete uselessness.

What he did have to share was way above most of our pay grades. See, Professor Hawking was a theoretical physicist, whose job it was, according to him, to figure out the origins of the universe. Why are we here, and how did we get here, in other words. His dramatic breakthroughs on black holes and cosmology paved the way for all other scientists of his field to follow.

Hawking’s landmark book, “A Brief History of Time”, is widely regarded as the least-read bestseller ever. Lots of us bought it, lots of us started it, but not too many of us got all the way through it. (This ol’ boy didn’t even attempt it.)

He spoke of things that often were even beyond the comprehension of his colleagues. His mind was on just that much higher plane than ours.

But, more significantly, he didn’t allow the disease that mercilessly attacked his body to deter his ability and determination to think, to explore, to theorize…

And especially, to communicate. To share his discoveries. To try and make them more accessible to the mortals, so they could share his excitement at what he had found.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper, the physicist played by Jim Parsons on the TV series, “The Big Bang Theory”, is undoubtedly shedding tears for his scientific idol today.

We were graced with his presence, awed by his brilliance, and inspired by his will.

Thank you so much, Professor, for giving us a piece of your mind. May we be good stewards of the knowledge you so generously imparted.

I Stand Corrected

 

“IF YOUR ACTIONS INSPIRE OTHERS TO DREAM MORE, LEARN MORE, DO MORE AND BECOME MORE, YOU ARE A LEADER.”

John Quincy Adams, American president (1767-1848)

The above quote is in my morning paper today, as the Quote of the Day, and it made me realize that, apparently, I’ve been wrong all this time.

I guess donald trump is, by Mr. Adams’ definition, one of the greatest leaders this world has ever witnessed. At least, when it comes to the qualifications Mr. Adams laid out, he certainly checks all the boxes.

I shall explain:

DREAM MORE: trump has Americans dreaming of a time, not so long ago, when this country wasn’t the unmitigated disaster it is now, and what it can become again, once he leaves office – the sooner, the better.

LEARN MORE: Okay, how much did you know about the environment before trump became President? Or health care? Or North Korea? Or tariffs? Or Stormy Daniels?

Well, here’s what we’ve learned about those things:

Environment – trump doesn’t give a $#!t about it.

Health care – Or this, either. At least, not when it pertains to folks on the outer fringes of society like, for example, women.

North Korea – It’s a little country led by a little “Rocket Man” whose button isn’t as big as donald’s. His words, not mine.

Tariffs – Despite what every economist and his mother says, trump is going ahead with them because, by god, they’re good for the economy, because AMERICA FIRST!

Stormy Daniels – A porn star who alleges an affair with trump, was allegedly paid $130,000 to keep quiet about it until after the erection, I mean, election, and now is suing because the alleged non-disclosure agreement was allegedly never signed by the alleged President. A guy so anxious to sign so many things, and he forgets about this one?

She signed the agreement under her pseudonym, Peggy Peterson. If she wanted to avoid any suspicion of having sex with donald, she should have used the name, Melania Trump.

DO MORE: Gotta give credit; this guy has done more to inspire Americans to action than anyone in recent memory. From a more vigilant and persistent press corps, to more numerous and determined voices of protest, to all those individuals and groups, newly emboldened by this President, who spew their hate-filled rhetoric unashamedly, and follow that up with despicable, cowardly acts of cruelty and violence.

Just remember, doin’ more ain’t always doin’ better.

BECOME MORE: Need anything be said here? trump inspires us as individuals, as well as a country, to become more caring and compassionate towards each other, and towards our planet, since he and his minions have absolutely no concern for either.

So, yeah, I guess trump is really one helluva leader.

Thanks, Mr. Adams, for ruining my day.

 

 

For the Fellas

 

Men. Guys. Dudes. Brothers.

Listen to me right now. If I could, I would grab every single one of you by the lapels on your coat, pull you right to my face, and say, “Pay Attention!!”

Here’s why: There are two professional basketball players who have something very important to say to all of us guys.

So, I want all of you to go straight to The Players’ Tribune, a website where professional athletes connect directly with fans, in their own words. Once you’re there, read Everyone is Going Through Something, by the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, about the panic attack that woke him up to his mental illness.

Then, read about DeMar DeRozan, of the Toronto Raptors, opening up about his struggles with depression and anxiety.

Go ahead, do it now. I’ll wait here.

 

Done? Good.

Could you identify with some of what you read? I sure could. I think lots of men can.

But nobody ever knows that, because to speak up about it is to admit to a “weakness”, which, of course, no real man can admit, right?

Plus, in our culture, “mental illness” is synonymous with “looney toons”, and it’s time we all get past that way of thinking.

What I hope sticks with you, fellas, from Kevin and DeMar’s stories, is that it’s okay to talk to someone about your mental health. You’re not any less of a man if you have a problem.

You hear me? You’re not any less of a man if you have a problem. And you’re not any less of a man for talking with someone about it. The fact I have to practically shout it to you just shows how much STIGMA is attached to mental illness in America. Especially, with men.

And, the way to make that go away is for more of us to talk openly about it, like Kevin and DeMar, and so many before them, and not just athletes, either. Men from all different walks of life.

Because, the truth is, big boys do cry. We just never see them do it.

Mental illness isn’t something that will just go away with time if you wait it out, and it sure as hell isn’t something you can fix, yourself; I don’t care how badass you think you are.

I’m gonna keep talking about mental illness. My mental illness. My depression. Because it’s something men need to talk about a whole lot more. Not just about sports, or cars, or politics, or women, or our physical health.

Our mental health is as much a part of who we are as the rest of it, guys. So, let’s make it part of the conversation.

I just want to remind you of what Kevin said at the end of his essay:

“So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.

“Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me.”

It was for me. And, with all my heart, guys, I promise you, it could be for you.

It really is okay.

Here’s to the Women

 

I am strong, I am invincible, I am Woman. – Helen Reddy

Girls just wanna have fun. – Cyndi Lauper

 

Today is International Women’s Day! Women of the world, I celebrate you all!

According to the International Women’s Day website, “International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

You have certainly achieved much in our history, and for that, you should be proud. However, the mountain you’re climbing, as you well know, is very high, very steep, and very treacherous.

Some men, with their cultures, their religions, their double standards, their smug condescension, their supreme arrogance and horrifying violence do everything they can to break your spirit, to break your will.

And still, you continue the fight; for respect, for equality, for your rightful place in this world, a world to which many of you deliver our next generation. And you love and care for those children the best you can, in the face of any adversity or hardship.

And you laugh and you sing and you dance and you hurt and you cry and you mourn and, most of all, you love.

Oh, yeah; you inspire, as well.

Be proud of who you are, today, women. We men could learn so much from you, if we would just freakin’ admit it.

I admit it. I’m just a little slow to learn, sometimes.

But you have my admiration and respect, today and every day.

Bless you all.

Versatile Blogger Award

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Well, check out your boy, now.

I recently discovered that another blogger nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Many thanks to Becky’s Open Book  for this honor. You would do well to visit there sometime. Lots of book reviews, for you readers in the audience, but she offers her take on other subjects, as well.

Please tell me there’s a cash prize involved.

No? Oh, well…

 

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award (VBA):

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award. (Yay, I won!)

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

1. Thank the person who gave you this award. Okay, done.
2. Include a link to their blog. Also done.
3. Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!) Fifteen? Okey-dokey, here goes, in no particular order:

The Off Key of Life

Look For the Good  Spoiler alert: my niece writes this one. And it’s darned good.

Extra Dry Martini   

Endless Bitchen Summer

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Stuff That Needs to Be Said It really does.

Girls and Their Cats See cheekiecat Zeke 

Giddy Up America

Ends and Beginnings Longtime favorite of mine. Same as the next one.

I Am Begging My Mother Not to Read This Blog

Note to My White Self

Sascha Hjort This girl will stimulate your mind, guaranteed.

Katie Kuo

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Let Me Be Frank With You This guy is funny!

Whew! Did it.

4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site. On it.
5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. I did that; she found them fascinating. 🤨

Thanks again to Becky’s Open Book for this recognition. Long may you write!

Spring Hopes Eternal

 

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Getting close to Opening Day. It’s exciting!!

Opening Day of baseball season is one of the best times of the year. If you’re a baseball fan, that is. Nothing like going out to the ballpark to cheer on your team, yell at the umpires, partake of some concessions (peanuts and sodas for me), go wild when one of your guys hits a home run (or one of the opponents strikes out), and just enjoy yourself for a few hours watching this great game.

And Opening Day is great, because every team has the exact same win-loss record. Every team has the same chance of getting all the way to the World Series, and winning a championship.

Anything can happen. Two years ago, the Chicago Cubs won for the first time since 1908. Last year, the Houston Astros won for the first time in their team’s history.

Who will it be this year? The fans can’t wait to find out.

 

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Baseball has always been in my life. When I was a kid, we lived close to a minor league ballpark, and went there often during the summer to see a game. I’ll always remember my dad catching a foul ball one time, and handing it to me. I was probably about eight or nine years old. He was about as big a hero to me then as ever.

Then, in the early 1970’s (yes, I’m that old), Major League Baseball came to town, and I have followed the triumphs and travails of the Texas Rangers ever since.

(The 2011 season is still a sore subject. I tell you, we were this close, this close, to our first ever World Series championship, and we blew it. Some heartbreaks, you never get over.)

I had always watched the game, but it wasn’t until 1997 that I came to understand and appreciate the subtle nuances of it, after reading a book called The Baseball Fan’s Companion, by Nick Bakalar. It was that book that taught me the strategy behind pitching, hitting, baserunning, base stealing, signs and all the rest. Turns out, baseball is a much more complicated game than it appears to be.

And that’s what makes it great. It looks simple, but there’s a lot more going on than just scratching and spitting.

 

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One thing that will make this season more interesting is the implementation of some new rules intended to speed up the game. Now, when I first heard about this, I was kinda worried. Speed up the game?, I thought, That’s the beauty of baseball, that it goes at its own pace! What are you guys doing? I mean, there was even discussion about adding a pitch clock, so pitchers would only have so much time between each pitch.

I might have boycotted baseball if they’d gone through with that!

Fortunately, they didn’t, but some other changes will be implemented this season, on a trial basis, to try to make the game move along a little faster.

I guess it’s a good idea; we’ll see. Hardcore baseball fans are very resistant to change. It may take awhile to win ‘em over.

Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining way to spend some time. Even just listening to a game can be entertaining, just to hear the announcer call the game in a language all its own: “One on, one out, here in the top of the seventh. Hamels is trying to get Altuve to hit into a double play, so the Rangers can get out of this inning with no runs scored on them. Hamels sets, here comes the pitch…strike on the inside corner, and the count is now two and two! Hamels froze Altuve with a slider that time…”

There’s just something hypnotic about it. I think so, anyway.

It’s a terrific game. If you’ve never checked it out before, why not give it a try? If you want to get into it a little deeper, I recommend the book I mentioned earlier. And if you’re lucky enough to live near a stadium where a baseball team plays, even a minor league team, go attend a game or two.

And try to catch a foul ball for me.

 

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Go Rangers!!!