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.

The Biggest Christmas Gift


They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve

“I Believe in Father Christmas”, Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Songwriters
GREG LAKE, PETER JOHN SINFIELD, SERGE PROKOFIEFF

Published By
Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, MUSIC SALES CORPORATION

 

Peace on Earth.

What a deceptively simple concept.

All the people of the world, living together in harmony and bliss. No fighting, no bullets, no bombs, no dead warriors, no bereaved families, no lying governments. (In this case, at least.)

It’s a concept many of us don’t even think about until this time of year. For much of the world, war is as much a part of our daily routine as breathing, whether observed from a distance or experienced firsthand. War is just another fact of life, and we tacitly accept it.

Then, our minds get pumped with almost nonstop Christmas music, from every store and every radio station, and we get a barrage of Christmas movies and TV specials, and everyone’s heart softens a bit. We gush about what a wonderful time of year it is and, by Jiminy, why can’t it be this way all the time? Why can’t we all be kinder to each other? Why can’t we show more charity to our fellow man?

Why can’t we have peace on earth?

If only the answer was that simple.

 

It’s not my intent here to debate the causes for war, or its reasons, or its inevitability, or its morality.

There are many facets of war about which many of us disagree, but I would think, and I would hope, that we could all agree on this: war is overwhelmingly, unbearably, heartbreakingly sad, due to the terribly high cost of human lives it always exacts.

And to our stubborn refusal to ever, ever learn from it.

 

We can all wish for peace, we can pray for it, we can sing for it, we can petition for it, and we should do all those things, as long as we have to.

But tonight, when I go to sleep, I’m going to close my eyes, and dream of it.

And what a beautiful dream it will be.

As the song goes, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”

Merry Christmas, everyone. Love and peace to you all.

 

No Place Like It

 

Home.

Even the word sounds warm and cozy to me.

It’s the place I arrive at the end of the day, worn and frazzled from that cold, cruel world out there, to find refuge and safety and comfort. A place to rest, with a roof over my head, and walls all around to shield me from danger. Where my heart can find peace, and my mind blessed clarity.

My safe haven. Where I belong.

And, if that wasn’t enough, I find someone there who I love, and who loves me, who shares this home with me, this life with me. In my case, it’s a loving, devoted wife, and two precious kitty cats.

And home means even more to me.

This holiday season, when home plays such a central role, tell me: What does it mean to you?

Can’t wait to hear from you.

 

Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home

”Hungry Heart”, Bruce Springsteen

Angry White Men

A clear-eyed look at the cause, and the solution, for white male anger which, as we’ve seen lately, sometimes escalates to white male violence.

Note To My White Self

According to recent news stories and opinion pieces, America has a growing racial problem. It is a problem that can no longer be ignored and must be addressed. Shamefully, our nation has forgotten an entire segment of our population, disregarding their plight and their legitimate resentment. In the land of liberty and justice, these citizens have been neglected and marginalized. They are righteously angry and demanding our attention. According to these pundits, Donald Trump won election because he spoke to them, giving voice to their pain. And who are these long forgotten and mistreated citizens?  Angry white men.

Indeed, a recent national poll found 55% of white Americans believe discrimination against white people exists in the United States today. This same survey found 19% of white Americans have actually experienced a situation where they believe they were discriminated against for being white.  Many of these respondents were white men who…

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Selling Myself Short

 

Legendary Texas sportswriter Blackie Sherrod used to open his column in the Sunday paper with, “Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to ____…”, fill in the blank with the name of some famous person, sports related or not, who hadn’t been heard from lately, then regale his readers with short, but brilliant, observations on a variety of topics.

So, in tribute to him, and because I don’t seem to be able craft any narrative much longer than a paragraph lately, here are a few short takes. Here goes:

 

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Kellyanne Conway…

I’m so happy for the Houston Astros, who just won their very first World Series, and are now the reigning champions of Major League Baseball. ⚾️

It couldn’t have happened at a better time for the beleaguered people of Houston, whose recovery from the devastation left behind by hurricane Harvey is ongoing. They had something to rally around, to cheer for and finally, to celebrate. So, at least for awhile, Houstonians had a chance to forget all the troubles that still beset them, and party their Astros off. 🎉🎉

 

It’s come to this, I guess.

The New York City Marathon took place Sunday, mere days after a terrorist killed eight people in Manhattan by running over them in a truck. Several people participating in the race were understandably worried about such a thing happening again during the marathon, so the city and the police took the following precautions:

From the Associated Press:

“The security detail will include hundreds of extra uniformed patrol and plainclothes officers, roving teams of counterterrorism commandos armed with heavy weapons, bomb-sniffing dogs and rooftop snipers poised to shoot if a threat emerges.”

This was for a footrace, folks. I mean, good grief!

Fortunately, there were no incidents. Congratulations to the women’s winner, America’s Shalane Flanagan, and the men’s winner, Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor, and to everyone else who participated. And to New York’s Finest for keeping them safe.

You people are masochists, though, running that far. Just sayin’.

 

Well, the floodgates have opened, haven’t they? As predicted, Harvey Weinstein was just the beginning. We’re hearing story after story of men in positions of power abusing that power with women. Women are discovering strength in numbers, and speaking up about instances of harassment and abuse from powerful men, instances they previously stayed silent about for fear of reprisal.

I just read about former and current women in Congress being harassed by certain men in Congress, some of whom still serve. (Nobody was named specifically.)

Actions have consequences, even for powerful men. Time for all this hideous behavior to be called out and punished. Ladies, I salute your courage. Gentlemen, it’s time you were truly gentlemen. Way past time.

And that goes for you, too, Kevin Spacey.

 

donald trump has actually changed my opinion of him. He’s reinforced it. Exponentially.

 

Some people just…shouldn’t… be…parents.

Courtesy of CBS News:

“SAUKVILLE, Wis. — A Wisconsin woman is facing charges after her 9-year-old son was tied to the roof of their minivan to help hold down a plastic pool.

“Prosecutors allege (the woman) had her son hold down the molded pool they’d just picked up because it wouldn’t fit inside the van. CBS affiliate WDJT reports a driver called police after seeing the incident on Sept. 9 in Saukville, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee.”

She later explained to police, she thought it was okay, because her dad used to let her do that all the time. Proof positive that stupid is hereditary.

 

These are certainly different times we live in. I recall a time when the thought never even entered my mind that I might go to school, or to the mall, or to church, and wind up getting shot. There truly is no safe place left anymore. That’s a terrible feeling.

I guess no one is gonna get off their ass and do something about all the gun violence in this country until every single citizen ends up shot. Apparently, that’s what it will take.

 

Model Chrissy Teigen left a waitress in Ohio a $1,000 tip recently.

I know it’s too much to wish for, but I hope she catches a ride on my shuttle sometime.

Later, y’all.

 

 

 

Wow

 

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You know what’s really cool about blogging on the Internet?

People all over the world can read what you wrote.

It’s just absolutely mind-blowing to me to realize my blog has been read (so far) in forty-six different countries, over six continents.

Come on, Antarctica, you’re lagging behind! Don’t all you penguins need something to read while you sit on those eggs?

Seriously, to write about what’s on my mind, and know that someone in Vietnam, or Australia, or Russia, or Costa Rica might read it, is not only astonishing, but immensely gratifying.

So, a big Thank You to all of you, wherever you are, for looking in on my humble little blogsite. I genuinely appreciate it.

Some of you are repeat visitors. I’m glad you like what you read enough to come back. Others have visited one time, and may never again. That’s okay; since there are, I don’t know, a few billion blogs out there, I feel fortunate that you looked in on me, even if it’s just once. For my regular customers, I hope to keep supplying you with a quality product.

And, all you social media buffs out ther, you’re certainly welcome to share anything here you like on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Chatsnap, Mmm-Bop, Da Doo Ron Ron, whatever.

Blessings on all of you, and Peace on Earth. 🌎

 

Barista Cat Cafe In Auckland

Reblog for all my feline lovin’ friends out there:

Katie Kuo

IMAG5965The perfect thing to do on a rainy and chilly winter’s day is to spend the afternoon at a Cat Cafe. This was my third time going to a cat cafe, my first time was in Taipei and my second time was in North Shore. Each cat cafe has a different atmosphere, with the music, food, drinks and of course the darling cats. Barista Cats are home to a number of rescue cats, and you’re able to enjoy an hour of cuddles and patting for $15. This comes with a complimentary coffee, tea or iced beverage. They accept cash, EFTPOS and credit cards, or you can book online.

Cats are such beautiful and intelligent creatures, and unsurprisingly one of my favourite animals. Each cat has its own quirky personality. The service was very friendly and the cats are well taken care of. The weekdays tend to be bit more quieter…

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The Weekend I Was Cool

 

I spent this weekend celebrating my high school class’ 40-year anniversary.

You heard me. Forty years.

(I know some of you geezers out there got that beat, but forget you. This is my story.)

I have to say, it was a lot of fun. The celebration lasted over the course of two nights. The first night featured an informal gathering at a bar with an outdoor courtyard, where a band played and we all tried to hear each other over the band, with mixed results. I SAID, WITH MIXED RESULTS!

And, obviously, seeing these folks for the first time since graduation was a bit of a shock to the system. Granted, some of them hadn’t changed much, if at all, but many of them had changed significantly. We were all walking up to each other, hesitantly, and saying something like, “I may have known you back then. Who are you?”

The second night was the official reunion, which featured (thank goodness) name tags! (Of course, many of us had to put on our glasses to read them.)  There was a buffet of hors’d’ouvres, a cash bar (which appeared to be doing very good business), another band and a dance floor, which many of us, yours truly included, made good use of throughout the evening.

And we all spent the time talking, laughing, eating, drinking, dancing, taking pictures and reminiscing. And I had a GREAT time!

Which, if I’m being honest, surprised me somewhat. Maybe I should explain:

 

High school, for me, was not always a pleasant experience. (Admittedly, I know it wasn’t for many other people.) I actually think it goes back to junior high, when cliques began forming among the students. You know how there’s always a certain group that you would just kill to be a part of, but you were pretty certain there was no way that was happening? A group that was just popular with everybody at school. The cool group.

I mean, yeah, there were some people I liked who liked me, and we hung out a lot together, but I still wanted to be part of that group. You know how it is. The desire for acceptance in your teen years is very strong.

So, I felt like I didn’t belong with those cool kids.

Well, as I found out this weekend, time is a great equalizer.

 

I had only been to one class reunion previously. My 10-year one. It was awful. Ten years after graduation, and people still gravitated to their old cliques, and I felt those old feelings of alienation. I swore I would never go to another reunion.

Then I got an email from my best friend from back then, saying he was flying into town for our 40-year reunion, and asking if I was going to be there.

Well, truthfully, I didn’t even know about it until I got his email. I knew, of course, that this was our 40-year anniversary, so I figured there was going to be a reunion sometime; I just didn’t know it would be this weekend!

So I thought about it, and I figured, well, maybe now, we’re all far enough away from the experience that I wouldn’t feel like that, again.

And, even though a little voice asked,  “But what if you do?”, I decided to go anyway.

And, amazingly, I found myself talking and laughing with people I wouldn’t have dared approach in school. We weren’t kids in cliques anymore; we were grownups, with families and bills and jobs and prescription medications. We were equals.

And I loved every minute of it. I’ll never, ever forget it.

Lawrence D. Bell High School, Class of 1977 Blue Raiders, it was an absolute blast! Thanks to everyone who contributed their time and effort to making these events as special as they were. The rest of us appreciate it more than you could know.

I wish you all continued happiness and blessings. And love.