Recently posted quotes:

"There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.” -Will Rogers (1879-1935)

"Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it." -James Madison (1751-1836)

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported." -John Adams (1735-1826)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How do you defeat the “Not my job, Man!” complex?

This is an organization and company culture problem. Oh, you say: “there’s always some bad apples!” Well, maybe that is true. But if you practice ‘management by walking around’ (MBWA); you just might find that the problem is bigger than a few bad apples.

The answer to the problem starts at the top and drives itself all the way to the lowest rung on the totem pole (organizational chart). I top management does not outwardly hold to the principle ‘it’s everybody’s job’ nobody will. The practice has to be an integral part of the fiber that holds the organization together. If the practice is not everybody’s job; then it is nobody’s job.

Everybody has to be responsible to everyone else in the organization and open communications must be part of your answer. This is not to say that the CEO’s door has to be constantly swinging. It has to start at there; but real results are experienced through empowerment and action at the lowest level of supervision – the guy on the shop floor that is tightly involved with the real problems – he//she is the best source and the best answer. Spend time training, reviewing and evaluating this asset and you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Leadership gurus on the web

I recently commented on a well followed lady’s leadership blog website primarily because she had said something that I wholeheartedly agreed with – I don’t often agree with the guys//gals expounding leadership theory on these sites. Quite often, they have no idea about what they speak and more often they don’t really say anything close to the edge – maybe it’s a fear of being challenged if they do say something definite or more likely, they don’t really have the background, experience or knowledge to be discussing the topic they have just regurgitated mumble-jumble throughout the internet.

In any event, after checking back a day or so later, I found that the self-professed leadership expert (her website’s claim – not mine) had misunderstood my point. She had even gone so far as to speak my point for me (incorrectly, mind you) and then tell me where she differed with me in this area. If she had understood my point, it would be one thing, but to not have understood and then correct me, that’s another thing entirely.

I have a huge problem with these wanta-be-leadership-gurus. Most I find have never worked a day in real leadership positions, but have taught a numerous seminars here and there, maybe took a class and some even received a degree that allows them to squawk on leadership – but generally, they know not. The particular guru I communicated with claims to have “personally coached over 100 senior leaders” and has a background that allows “her to provide valuable insights about individuals and organizational systems.”

These people are dangerous especially if their followers believe strongly in them. The followship has only the very basic understanding of the subject as the gurus are never really clears and absolutely don’t answer any specific questions that would lead to better understanding of the role of a leader. My fear is that some will try to put these half-baked truths into practice and pay the penalty for the shallowness of the guru. A real misfortune in any event. Nobody is gonna learn LEADERSHIP over the internet – NOBODY!

Be careful who you follow, subscribe to, and put your faith in. There’s a lot of shallowness involved in the guru level of expounders on leadership.

As I peck this into my computer, another thought came to mind concerning these short answer//short idea//short advice websites. They just may be dumbing down their information and advice for the generation they see as their audience – the short attention spanners of today’s world.

Let’s hope the situation improves over time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Little Gus has a plan

I have begun to notice. There’s always that strange look in his eyes. I don’t quite know where he is going with this, but I can tell he is on a journey. He seems to work at it everyday. Not all the time mind you – but he puts time in on it everyday.

With the addition of Little Otis to our humble group it now appears that he is in on it also. I just can’t imagine that KnuckleButt Otis is gonna be that much help in whatever Little Gus is planning to pull off. Although Little Otis’ ability to negotiate any fence and gate in the area just might come in handy to whatever knavery like Little Gus has in mind.

They think that I am not watching, but I catch them whispering to one-another while they sit on the rug in front of the dishwasher and other places. They look like they are warming from their last trek outside on these December mornings. I know different. They are up to something and Little Gus is the ring leader; that is obvious.

One of his tricks is to lure me back outside by pretending that Little Otis has to go. It has nothing to do with Little Otis; it’s all about Little Gus. He just wants me to throw or kick his ball. He will chase a ball all day long if you will oblige him by making it leave the close proximity of anywhere you just might happen to be at the time. He will go get the ball (or his big orange bird if that is the object he has chosen for this trip out). He will bring the ball back, but it is not to be your turn just yet. Not at least until he has thoroughly shaken the ball, he has growled at it for sufficient time (measured only in his mind), he has probably shaken it again for good effect and then he stands there with one foot holding it in place still not having given up control just yet. Then and maybe only then he will back off and bark at you as if giving instructions on velocity, direction and altitude for the next throw. If I don’t respond and kick it or chunk it quickly enough he will repeat the preceding instructions again; this time a little more emphatically and gruff emphasis. I launch the object and the previous takes place again ad infinitum…

It looks as though that Little Gus is having a champion of a time, running here, running there, catching the ball on the first bounce; I believe he has an ulterior motive in mind. While the game almost includes Little Otis, I don’t really think that being run over, stomped on as others pass above him and the possible dislodging of teeth as he attempts to grab the ball as it passes near comes anyway near to being classified as inclusion. The result most of the time is a pretty well beat-up Little Otis not one third of the way into the game; maybe a little more than pretty beat-up might be more appropriate. Little Otis just keeps coming back for more.

No, I don’t think a game is what Little Gus is all about during these incidents; I’m just not convinced. Little Gus is an astute player of the human kind. His mind is always working several steps ahead – not so much with KnuckleButt Otis. I’m not really sure his mind is ever engaged – no proof in his short tenure yet.

I wonder where he got the idea. Maybe this was passed along by Buck before he departed our group. This could be how one generation passes along thoughts, aspirations and goals – I don’t know.

Upon lengthy cogitation of the events I have described above I have decided that Little Gus’s purpose has nothing to do with a dog’s life but has everything to do with a dog’s purpose on this earth. As I sit here and type away (utilizing both fingers that I have train ed to do so) Little Gus jumps up causing me to turn in his direction, placing both front paws on my chest, looks me straight in the eyes and jesters to the back door. Not getting his point across immediately, he gives me one of those little licks on my chin, pats on my chest with one paw or the other and then hugs his head up against my chest and holds it there while he looks up into my eyes again mournfully with those cold dark brown eyes of his and then jesters toward the back door once more. All the while Little Otis nips at Gus’s hind feet – a nuisance none-the-less. Still not getting the response he insists on as I return to typing; he sticks his head up between my body and arm and pushes and shoves as I try to continue – it is down right impossible to type (even with two fingers) under these circumstances.

I request a continuance of just a minute or two hoping to get the last of the current thought recorded. Gus implores me to not but descends to a prone position somehow knowing that I will be true to my word.

No, I have decided that Little Gus motive is a dog’s purpose on earth – to improve the childhood of his human companion no matter how long it takes him and his kind to do so. I know it is a long and hard journey as my canine companions have been working at it for some sixty years or more. I truly wish them luck; I intend to assist them in any way I can. My childhood really needs improving.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Remembering Dandy Don – 06 Dec 10

I remember when Chicago picked Don Meredith and then traded him to the new upstart Dallas Cowboys. The year was 1960. I had watched Professional (Fighting) Football several times before – Lou Groza and George Blanda; even John David Crow and Bobby Joe Conrad on the Chicago Cardinals. Those Aggies made the Cardinals my favorite team. Then here comes Dallas and we no longer receive the Cardinal games. What was I gonna do? A little known fact about the Cardinals that many forget: Ken Hall also played running back for the Cardinals in 1959.

Now I was being forced to watch a team that never existed before. Why and how could this happen? These guys didn’t even have a draft pick this year. They got cast-offs from the other teams in the league. Their first draft pick finally came in 1961 with Bob Lilly being taken as the first ever draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys – good pick by the way.

There was nothing else to do but roll with
the flow.

I took a quick liking to the team, although they didn’t do very well. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t play that guy Meredith guy more than they did. He was always alternating with Eddie LaBaron.

I liked Meredith even though he was a Mustang. He just seemed to be the right guy. He played hard and there was some hard playing those first several years – real hard playing. They didn’t win many; but they were our team.

I can remember watching the Dandy One playing with tape all over his face – broken nose – and a stiff shoulder – broken collar bone. But he played. Some of today’s sissies are in street clothes with these minor injuries.

Year after year, the Cowboys hung in there and started to get some real talent – competitive talent. Finally the difference maker – Bullet Bob Hayes – and the game has never been the same. Meredith to Hays and then on the next play – Meredith to Hays. Could football get any better than this. A lesser quarterback would not have made the difference that the Dandy One did.

Those that came later: Danny White, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman owe their fame to the one who started it all – the Dandy One – Don Meredith. You remember him?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Frustration of becoming a Writer-Author – NOT!

I spend a good deal of time on the websites Writer’s Digest Community or Writer’s Market and in groups titled: Nonfiction, Memoir, How to Improve your Blog for FREE, Self-Publishing. Additionally taking in the innumerable Blogs that offer input on:

- How to get your book published

- How to write a query

- How to write a proposal

- Etc.

This has brought me to the conclusion that there is no right way to do any of this. If you search even the minimum amount of time, you will find conflicting opinions on any subject out there. It doesn’t take long.

In addition, EVERYBODY seems to think they are an EXPERT. I do mean everybody. Just take a look. You can not escape it.

I have probably downloaded and subsequently studied, I’m not kidding you, 50 gig of files describing the very best way to get published. One could spend the rest of their life studying how just to accomplish this feat.

So what’s a guy to do?

It seems to me the best solution is to write every day and when you have accomplished that; start writing more every day. Next you have to edit your work every day and then edit it more; trying to make it the best you can make it. There seems to be one object lesson that not one shies away from: “If it is good, they will buy!”

I sent out many queries, most prior to finishing (what I thought was finished) my project and did not receive one valuable response. I wasn’t ready and neither was my project. I have now self-determined that it was no way near ready and still isn’t. I learn more every day on the route that I should take to make the work better. Most of this knowledge comes from listening to what others say and deciding whether their thoughts are worthwhile.

I will continue to work on improving my craft. This I have decided after looking back over my career and realizing that I continually improved my former craft constantly through out my entire career. I didn’t get to be good at what I did right away; it took years of getting better all the time.

I don’t have years to accomplish this new craft but I have time to make it better. There is always time to do something right!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Introduction to Leadership

Over the last two years I have been recalling and documenting my professional career and the strife, trouble and opportunities that presented themselves to me and just how I handled each of these. I have thoroughly enjoyed this task. It has brought back some great memories as I tried to recall the exacts of what actually took place during each of these moments.

Some of the events were not that hard to recall as I had found opportunities to use the stories over and over all during my civilian career. These stories were tagged about one third of the way through my tenure in manufacturing as Moose Stories by a young man who worked for me in multiple capacities at several organizations. I discovered Warren Sanford as he jumped up and down and hollered at me from behind a production line during my time at Tandy in their Personal Computer Division in Ft Worth, TX. Warren was just the guy I needed for a come-in-late and stay-late printer and PC specialist during a software implementation project converting Tandy from a homegrown system to a standard MRP system. Warren also worked for me as my Network Administrator during the time we spent at Sun Engine, a remanufacturer of automobile engines in Dallas, TX.

During the twenty-five years I spent working in numerous manufacturing assignments; I found opportunities to use what I had learned from the people and situations I had previously been associated with. Many of the learning points were associated with my experiences while in the Army. While they were military in nature, the situations were still all about people. These adventures with people resulted in a much more basic understanding of those people and their thought processes. While most of those I was associated with in the manufacturing arena had little if any military experience they all related to the characters and the predicaments in the stories. The people lessons that I took away from these stories helped in making both me and those around me understand better what we could do to improve our lot in life. People, their actions and the results of their actions are the major time consumers that take up the majority of most manager’s and supervisor’s time; both good and bad people are the real players in the continuing story of our daily endeavors.

When a particular situation presented itself that I thought the relating of a previous experience with a core theme aligned with the current situation might be appropriate I would gather those on my staff and do just that. I told them a story. Then we discussed the predicament that I had just related to them and through our discussion I pulled from them the outcomes I desired. They worked out their trouble and routinely were better off as a result. As it seemed to work each time I tried it, I continued to use this tactic more and more.

Usually after working with an organization for some time and recognizing the need to relate one of these adventures, I might start in and then be interrupted by one of those that had been there for some time asking: “Is this gonna be another moose story Howard?”

I should digress a bit here and give the reader some background.

During the earliest years of my career, I was serving in the United States Army and stationed at Fort Richardson (Fort Rich), just outside of Anchorage, Alaska. Initially I was assigned to B Company (Maintenance & Supply) in the 172nd Support Battalion of the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate & Light). In an attempt to improve operations the platoon I was assigned to was detached from B Co. and attached to the 54th Transportation Company to form a Supply & Transportation unit; my first stint in a provisional//test unit - this remained a central theme throughout my entire military career. I started as the Section Leader of an element in the Supply Platoon. Having the dubious luck to follow two First Lieutenants who were relieved as platoon leader and petroleum officer, I being the only Lieutenant remaining who had not yet wandered into tragedy and trouble, found myself as the Supply Platoon Leader with the additional responsibility of being designated the Accountable Officer for all supplies coming into and going out of the Brigade.

172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate & Light)

172nd Support Battalion

The platoon’s mission was to provide supply and service support in the areas of rations (food), petroleum (POL), ammunition, clothing, general supplies (tents and the like), construction and barrier material (building material, concertina wire and other like material), and major item re-supply (weapons, vehicles, helicopters, etc). The only classes of supply not provided by my organization were repair parts and medical items; these came from two sister units within the Support Battalion. After almost three years of testing the organization the unit was designated as Delta Company (Supply and Transportation) and assigned to the Support Battalion. Change didn’t always come in a timely manner in the Army of the ‘70s.

Support operations conducted while in Alaska

Oh yes, the Moose connection. During the four years I spent in Alaska, I experienced more than several sightings, encounters, confrontations, happenings, run-ins, arguments, disagreements, quarrels, rows, conflicts, clashes, and skirmishes with moose – many more with moose than any other animal in Alaska.

An animal that takes up as much room as your run-of-the-mill Bull Moose and weighs in at as much as twelve to fourteen hundred pounds demands attention and most of the time, the right-of-way. In the far, far woods, as my son would come to call the area adjacent to our quarters, I would frequently find myself during the deepest part of the winter playing tag with a bull or cow moose in and around Ship Creek which passed just one hundred yards or so behind the home the US Army was so grateful to allow us to utilize during our stay.. These encounters would routinely make my wife furious as you might imagine – at me, not the moose. Tapping a moose on the nose and dodging behind a tree was akin to the same game we would play with a bull or mean white-eyed momma cow back in Texas during my teen years.

Moose out our back door

These encounters might also involve a run-in with a moose in the morning formation just outside the Battalion’s barracks area. Or maybe the incident might take the moose through the glass doors into the building itself. Once observing a confrontation between a moose and a VW Bug on the highway into Anchorage gave me a real healthy appreciation for these antlered obstructions. We even experienced a hungry bull that had crawled on his knees under our back porch in order to get to the only grass available that winter just outside the dryer vent coming from the basement of our quarters.

Well, not everything revolves around a moose experience, it’s the people who work with and for you that step into, instigate, or cause a problem that makes up a manager’s day. During the thirty-seven years I spent in the management, supervision and consultation of operations, both in manufacturing and the military; I continually found myself in the study of these people who cause the situations to happen to and around me. While a good deal of the stories are somewhat military in nature, largely due to the fact that I spent time at more than sixty posts, camps and stations; they are primarily just stories of people, the situations they find themselves in, what got them there and how we//they sometimes resolved the dilemma(s) that we found ourselves in.

Ft Greely Alaska, Feb 1974 -98°F

Ft Greely Buffalo herd in area later the same day Feb 1974

Eventually I realized that often I really had to watch out for that guy, Warren, knowing that I enjoyed telling the stories maybe even more than they enjoyed listening and learning from them. During routine meetings he might say something like: “Tell us another moose story Howard.” This was sure to lengthen the meeting’s duration and kept managers and supervisors away from their intended responsibilities.

2LT Brown & Sgt Garcia standing on top of 10,000 of Jet Fuel

The adventures I have documented are all true. I know that for a fact. I was there when they took place and often was the one that they took place to. Usually they all had reasonable endings; some more reasonable than others. The situations I intend to relate in the book (should it ever become such) taught me more than I could have ever learned in a management or supervision class tucked away somewhere on a college campus or a one-two-or-three day seminar taught by the very successful presenters of that type material. Just like many of you out there; the lessons of life are much more real than the case studies that professors will ever cause you to study. You all have been involved in just as many as I have and through this volume of work I will endeavor to spur just the slightest amount of memory and realization that you may know more about what leadership, management and supervision is all about than you previously thought you did.

I had this same jeep the entire 4 years in the command

I hope you find the stories and information to be enlightening, helpful, sometime even humorous, and at least interesting – the original cast and their actions were just that. Some of the names will have to be changed, but please remain assured that the stories are true and the dubious names may be factious only to save embarrassment; a point readers will subsequently understand. This understanding of people and their reasoning is what I took away from some very interesting, sometimes stressful or physical demanding but always memorable people experiences.

Monday, November 15, 2010

National Museum of the Pacific War 13 Nov 10

My son (Joe Pat) came down from Forney and my brother (Kenny) came over and with Patsy, the four of us drove over to Fredericksburg to visit the National Museum of the Pacific War and take in one of their re-enactments. We were very glad that we did.

We started with the re-enactment. This was probably a mistake. We shoulda waited until the sun would be shining on the seating area. It was breezy and really cool sitting there. BUT, all-in-all, we really enjoyed the show. The volunteers putting on the show were very knowledgeable of their areas and the live fire (blanks) may for a real good show. They demo’d every individual and crew served weapon used in the theatre by the Marines during the war.

They also had several landing craft and a tank or two – only one of the tanks was operated during the re-enactment.

But, man, that flame thrower was impressive. You were not gonna get away from it.

The big Marine with the cigar stole the show. You just had to like the guy.

We next went up to the museum to see the new exhibits there. This place was fantastic. We spent over 2&1/2 hours going through it and could easily have spent another 2 hours in there. There is just so much to see. I especially liked the conversation spots where they had six or so (at each spot) recordings to listen to from actual GI//Marines telling their story. These were fascinating.

This is a museum to not be missed. Everybody I know has some link to WWII and most to the Pacific Theatre. You should all go and see this.

Kenny and Joe Pat resting up before going to find grub!

After all of above we walked back over to Main Street and found a Beergarten to eat in. Good German food and a Great Museum; you just can’t beat it!

Here’s the website to check out:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran’s Day Parade - 11 Nov 10

Did I see you at the parade this morning? The parade was supposed to start at 0900 hrs, but it looked more like 0925 hrs before I saw movement down the route. No big-a-deal. What’s fifteen or twenty minutes when watching a parade is involved? So, we waited. Then it came. The turnout was pretty good for a Thursday morning. There seems to be more and more Latinos showing up on the sidewalks every year. I’m glad to see that. If you served, you served and need to be proud of that fact. Did I see you there?

It is sometimes just way too easy not to put forth the effort to do what’s right. Stay in bed, stay home and watch the tube. If you had to work or were on your deathbed (or standing at another’s); you get a pass. But if you didn’t have to work you shoulda been there or somewhere honoring a Vet. There’s just no excuse.

When I arrived, there was plenty of room for more to come; places right on the curb. Soon the festivities began. Bucky Godbolt of the Bucky and Bob Morning Show on KVET was our MC this morning.

Then came the bands. Not just one but many.

There’s always room for pretty girls and these are just an example of those that showed up.

Three Navy WAVs are always there. I think they served in WWII.

The Purple Heart gang.

Time for military vehicles.

A new group, the Emergency Service Pipes and Drum Corps; They were really good.

A guy in a Texas Flag shirt singing the Ballad of the Green Berets was outstanding.

The Knights of Columbus representatives are getting up there in age; but still impress.

The Austin Retired Air Force Chiefs are always represented. That’s Dale Lyons, a friend of mine, driving the car.

Of course there are always some REAL old soldiers from the Revolutionary War and the Confederate contingent always shows.

I had a good time. Wish I had seen you there.

Friday, November 5, 2010

59 Summers later, Finally a World Series game

While walking out of the Ballpark in Arlington the other night after the Giants ended the World Series’ hopes of the Rangers I was thinking back to the first time I ever saw a Major League ballgame. That was 59 summers ago at the old Sportsman’ Park in St. Louis, Missouri. My family was living in Taylorville, Illinois at the time and had traveled to St. Louis with another family assigned to the same seismograph crew as my dad. We made two trips that summer to see the Cards play. I was just a kid but I can still see it just as clear in my mind today as the day I was there.

The first game we attended was between the Cardinals and the Dodgers – the Brooklyn Dodgers – of the 1951 version. I had never seen so many people in my life as there were there that day. The crowds were terrifying. As we were making our way to our seats from the ticket stand and the entrance we were held up by security – my family at the very front, my brother hand in hand – while the Dodgers came out of their dressing room and made their way to the tunnel to their dugout. My brother, only thirteen months younger, and I had not seen very many black people (colored people as they were called at the time) in our short lives – even after having lived in Louisiana and Mississippi up until that time. As the Dodgers passed by my Dad pointed out certain players to us as he recognized them by their jersey numbers: “That’s Pee Wee Reese. That’s Gil Hodges. There’s Duke Snyder, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.” We just stood in awe of getting to see players we had only heard of over the radio; this was three years before we were to see any of them on TV – we hadn’t even seen or heard of TV at that time. Soon we were released to go down the aisle.

Having traveled not very far we encountered a family of colored folk heading to their seats also. The mother had three small children about the same size as my brother and myself in tow. My brother in his always inimitable fashion looked up at my mother and said in a somewhat elevated voice: “Look mama. There goes a bunch of little Jackie Robinsons!” Needless to say, there was some immediate shushing taking place even though my brother nor I understood at the time what he had done wrong.

We were Cardinal fans and I remain true to them to this day. My favorite player was always Stan Musial – there was no one better than Stan the Man.

You see the Cardinals were the most western team geographically in either league and therefore the team most familiar to those of us living in the Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma areas and listening to radio stations broadcasts. It was our team, my dad’s and I, and that’s the way I liked it.

That day I had the opportunity to see in action seven players and managers who would eventually make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame: St. Louis- Stan Musial (6), Red Schoendienst (2), and Enos Slaughter (9); Brooklyn- Jackie Robinson (42), Roy Campanella (39), Pee Wee Reese (1), and Duke Snyder (4).

Later that same summer we made another trip to see the New York Giants play the Cards. That was also a treat as I got the chance to see Willie Mays in his rookie year and several other Giants that were of note during that time and later on also: Leo Durocher (manager), Al Dark, Monte Irvin, Sal Maglie, Eddie Stanky, Bobby Thompson. Three of the Giants have been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Willie Mays (24), Monte Irvin (20) and manager (and former player for the Dodgers) Leo Durocher (2).

That year the Cardinals finished third behind the Dodgers who lost in a three game playoff to the Giants with Bobby Thompson’s walk off home run. You remember Bobby Thompson don’t you – he hit the shot herd ‘round the world and “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”

I checked the Hall of Fame website and validated the numbers. I currently have seen live 71 players, coaches, or umpires that are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is still time to increase that number as I continue to attend ball games – who knows where the final count will end up?

My son and I at Cooperstown and Stan's locker.

Having said that, I really didn’t see any player that might eventually match a hall of fame type career at the Ballpark in the two games I saw over the weekend. Tim Lincecum for the Giants and Cliff Lee for the Rangers are building their reputation but as yet do not come close. Maybe over time; we have to wait. But as far as the position players go, nobody stuck out. Josh Hamilton might have the goods, but he accomplished only a solo home run and the team was already out in front with a lead that was never overcome. He has to do more.

I did enjoy every minute of both games. I wish the Rangers had done better, but they were there and there were 28 teams that weren’t.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big Cottonwood 25 Oct 10

The morning was pretty bleak out, but a cool, although somewhat damp, breeze was blowing making the walk a little above bearable. Little Gus and I eventually made our way to the park and stopped under the big cottonwood tree. I love to hear the wind blow through the leaves on a cottonwood tree – it’s hard to beat.

I stood there still and listened. Gus stood over by the trunk; I think the tree-side leg was lifted as usual. I didn’t care. I closed my eyes and just listened. The breeze blowing the leaves against one another, the rustle and crackling sound is the second most soothing racket produced in all of nature – I think it ties with the breeze blowing through pine needles particularly in East Texas while not the same but just as good.

I can stand there forever and just listen and imagine. Maybe I can hear the sound of the aspens in the Boundary Waters of the Quetico north of Ely, Minnesota or the Burch trees atop Bear Mountain as you gaze north toward West Point or east to Poughkeepsie across the Hudson. It could even be the Aspen down on the Kenai Peninsula or the Aspens and Alders on the west side of Hatcher’s Pass outside of Willow when you are waist to armpit deep and hear the horrible growl of a Grizzly that won’t stand and show himself – a frightful feeling nonetheless.

Whatever you hear, it takes you back in time and at the mere cost of closing your eyes and opening your ears – cheap at any price. Try it

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SFA 45th Class Reunion

Returned home this morning from a short weekend in Bryan for my 45th high school reunion. The Class of 1965 of Stephen F. Austin High School. There were a lot of guys at the ball last night. I didn’t get a chance to talk with them all, but had a GREAT time discussing and cussing the old and current times with many.

The girls all look really good, but the males of our class have not held up quite so well. Some of them are REALLY OLD. I can not understand how they got that way and I didn’t. They can’t possibly be having as much fun as I am – I just know that’s the reason.

I firmly believe this should be scheduled as a four day event and nobody is released back to their life until everybody has had their fill – wouldn’t that be great if we could pull it off?

I saw people last night that I hadn’t seen since we left high school or if I had seen them, I didn’t recognize them. There were many last night that I could not recognize. I had earlier recommended that we all wear 8 ½ x 11 inch name tags. Dianna did her best and the tags we wore last night were larger than any I had previously come across and still not be easy enough to read from a distance where the reader was not caught by thy readee.

Man, I gotta hug a lot of GOOD lookin’ women as a result of just showing up. Sometimes growing just a little older has some very pleasurable side benefits.

Spent a great deal of time talking with long term friends that are always at the reunions but I think this time I actually spent more time chatting with some I hadn’t seen for many years. I don’t want to hurt any feeling by leaving some out but just to name a few really enjoyable short chats: Michele Melcher, Mike Scogin, Ronnie Arrington, Ed Glazner, Steve Henton, Bladge DiLeo, Thomas Faubion, Ernest Luna, Carol Ogg, and Tony Zemanek.

Great time guys and already looking forward to the next time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lamenting a chance at a World Series Game

Remembering 10 Oct 80 when I was sitting in the right field bleachers for the ALCS, the Yankees leading 2 -1 when George Brett hit a 3 run home run into the short porch, also in right, knocking the Yankee’s outta the World Series and my best chance to ever see a World Series game.

I remember it well. There we are the ball off Brett’s bat headed just to the left of us, the cops watching it travel also and the short little guy climbing the steps of our section chanting his wares “Yankee Youints.”

Some real goods names playing in that game and making a great memory. For the Yankees there was: Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Rick Cerone, Tommy John, Ron Guidry, Lou Pineilla, Graig Nettles, and Willie Randolph. For the Royals there was: George Brett, Frank White, Oscar Gamble, Dan Quisenberry, Willie Akins, Darell Porter, and Willie Wilson.

I need to look for that score-book and see the details.

Well, if the Rangers can just keep hitting like they have the last two games, that Yankee Stadium chance will soon be history. I will get another and even better chance – I have the tickets on the way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tearing up -13 Oct 10

I’m setting here watching the miners come outta the ground from that Chile mine disaster and its hard to not tear up when an event like this takes place – real hard. I don’t care what kind of tough guy you might think you are – emotions are emotions.

Over the years I have been involved in many search and rescue missions, the great majority while I was in the Army. Most of my experience was gained during my Army career while in Alaska. Every spring, we were constantly on some kind of rescue mission especially with the spring run-offs of the rivers and the native villages along them.

I also recall the Baby Jessica rescue from that backyard well that took place out in West Texas not so long ago. Do you remember the elation you felt when she was finally out of the well and seemed to be perfectly OK? Its like that today.

I guess my best memory of all came on 25 January of 1981. That’s the day the 52 Hostages that Iran took when they stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held the hostages for 444 days. Now I didn’t have the slightest thing to do with the rescue of the Hostages. But I was one of the few who saw them first set foot on American soil after their release.

At the time I was stationed at the United States Military Academy (USMA) and living at Stewart Army Sub-Post where their plane actually landed upon return to the U.S. We were not allowed to get anywhere close to the Hostages but we could make them out as we squinted to see inside the busses that transported them to the Thayer Hotel at West Point. There was some cheering that day – just as there is in Chile every time a new arrive is seen atop the shaft and freedom is once more gained by the miners.

Try to keep a tear outta your eyes.

1st Look at the Busses after Hostage arrival

Busses rolling out.

As close as we got to the Hostages

Bus headed to West Point - Everybody HAPPY

Monday, October 11, 2010


I have become fascinated with the several different woodpeckers I have recently found in the park. I don't know if they are just passing through. I haven't noticed them before. There is one that seems to be around all the time but the other two species are different.

This morning there was a pair (looked to be) that had a top notch like a blue jay, but they were definitely woodpeckers. I've seen them on the picture page. They stayed all the way up in the top of the tree and behind enough branches that I don't think I got any pix of them (I haven't looked yet!).

They are just fascinating!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Current project

I had this idea on Tuesday afternoon and tried it out on the group Tuesday evening. Both Courtney and Fred thought it was pretty good. I still have to polish it up some.

I am trying to find a place to submit it. Courtney suggested "Reader's Digest". I looked there and found that they want really, really short stuff (more jokes than stories) from the general public. Most of their story content comes from their regular authors or contract authors, so this doesn't look like a possibility. Have to look just a bit harder.

The finished product looks and reads a whole lot better than that I tried on the guys Tuesday evening. There still might be a change or two that can improve it, but I like it as it stands right now.

We'll see!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gunners come out again

The Gun Control fanatics (those from both sides) will be out for their quarterly rampage on our sensibilities. They will be ignited by yesterday’s little show over on the tu campus (TU for you non-the-wise).

This event had very little to do with guns and more to do with someone just wanting to commit suicide. As yet there is only four shots reported (officially) to have been fired while the individual was entering and walking across campus to the library. Once there, he evidently shot himself, his intended act all along, firing at least one more shot. Our total seems to have been five shots. Anyone with any experience with automatic weapons will tell you that it is very hard to control the numbers of shots fired on auto – three-four-five-six, it’s hard to keep the number down.

The weapon was most likely not an AK-47; probably only a look-alike. At best it may have been a semi-automatic knockoff.

Before we get too carried away by the gunners, we need to step back and look carefully at the facts.

Would have the ability to have legally concealed handguns on campus have made any difference? Maybe, that’s a qualified maybe, at best.

The entire incident was over in almost no time at all. But the lockdown continued for quite some time. Why? The answer to that question is very easy. Excitement! Yes, excitement is the reason the incident continued for some time. Those around the action were excited. They couldn’t get the eye-witness facts straight. They couldn’t describe the shooter or what he was wearing. They couldn’t count to one, the actual numbers of shooters involved. Oh yes, there were some that remained cool, calm and collected and gave appropriate information that allowed the police, both campus and city, to follow and pressure the shooter into quickly completing his intended purpose – suicide and nothing else.

But still, the police, due to bad descriptions kept the campus on lockdown for several hours while they searched for the guy they already had laying under a sheet.

Had some of these description givers been armed, they just might have taken innocent lives in their attempt to be the next Lone Ranger. The concealed handgun license (CHL) requires certain abilities be met for its issuance to take place. Not one of these abilities requires or proves that the licensee will be able to act cool, calm and collected when Chicken Little becomes the message giver. Even the police have a problem with this fact. This is one of the main reasons that the Austin Police Department (APD) no longer assigns two patrolmen to a vehicle – cuts down on the excitement level under exciting conditions. Remember these are the guys carrying weapons everyday. If they fear excitement levels being elevated; what would one expect from the CHL guy//gal who is not under this level of pressure everyday or at this level of training and discipline routinely?

Imagine what those SWAT and other responders have to face when they start rolling up to a campus of 50,000 and are surprised by 20,000 to 35,000 students running around with their guns awaving – hopefully not afiring. Lets hope we never have to worry about those around us coming unglued due to the excitement around us and firing off their concealed handgun in our proximity.

Firing a gun is not an action one can take back – once its done, its final!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A long standing RANT - Military Officers portrayed on TV

I was watching the “Closer” last night and once again TV did a terrible job of portraying a military officer. They can’t get it right. How can they be so stupid time and time again.

The guy playing the part did his job fantastically. He played it just as they had written it; he couldn’t have been better. The basic drawback is that I never met an officer that was that stupid and the guy playing the part of a major in the United States Army didn’t know how to wear the uniform. It is not easy to deck yourself out correctly; but, on the other hand, it is not very hard either.

The little catch is the epaulets. Epaulets, you know the epaulets. That’s right, those little decorative deallies up there on the shoulders where the put the officer’s rank and maybe a unit crest when appropriate. The epaulet is actually too long for its intended purpose and needs to be tucked under the collar of the jacket. If it was just a slight bit shorter, it would not matter – but it isn’t. Take a look at the rerun of this episode if you get a chance. You will see that not one soul on the set knew what was wrong with the epaulets. It wasn’t just one side either. The problem switched from side to side in almost every shot that the dunderhead was in. He must have gotten so tired of taking off and putting on that coat, that he just didn’t care any more. It is obvious that not one soul on the set of the show had ever served a day in the military service – they would have hid their head in shame. And a shame it is that not one soul on the set of the show had ever served a day in the military service.

Getting back to the portrayal - during my entire time in the service, I never came across an officer that acted as the dunderhead did in the script that was presented for our viewing. This almost always seems to be the case. The “part” played last night couldn’t see the obvious if it had a two-by-four and whacked him up aside his head. All things considered, it was as far from reality as it could be. It matched the Hollywood version we are lead to believe; but only that version. Where are the directors and producers who used to put forth a worthwhile product? It wasn’t always this way. What happened? Where did these guys go? You would think they could get it right just once. The military we see in the news these days absolutely does not fit this image – well except General McChrystal and his guys, but they were exceptions. It just really makes me mad.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roger Clemens and the MLB Hall of Fame

There has been a lot of talk around the Austin area about how poor Roger is getting a raw deal. I don’t buy it for one minute. I have no proof, never will. I also don’t have a vote, but if I did – there would be no Roger Clemens voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There also wouldn’t be any other “steroid period” (drug period) player voted into the Hall of Fame. They do not belong – just my opinion for what it is worth.

I visited the MLB Hall of Fame website and extracted the names of those players (players only) that have been inducted into the Hall since I saw my first major League Baseball game in the summer of 1951. I made careful study of those elected to the hall since that time. I could not find a druggy among them. Some were confirmed boozers and some probably worse. After all they had a lot to live up to in order to match or better the inaugural class (Ruth and the like).

As far as I can determine the “steroid period” (drugged period) player has stolen our pastime from us with falsely obtained records and performances. They were not real. There is a big bunch of them that would have most likely made the Hall on their own un-enhanced performance had they not have chosen the route they took; but that is no longer in question.

I counted, through the 2010 class of inductees forty-eight (48) members that I personally, with my on eyes, have seen play and not one of these guys deserves to be in the same lot with any one of the “steroid period” (drug period) players.

That’s my take. You are welcome to your own.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Old Man in the Sea

While recently in Maui, I had a bout or two with the ocean. I somewhat whimsically called them encounters between myself and the Old Man in the Sea. This just seemed, at the time, to be the right way to categorize these situations.

The first time out the Old Man nearly did me in, or so I thought. His accomplice, the lava outcropping and coral attached to it near the bottom cut me up so bad that I had difficulty walking for the next several days. The Old Man kept bashing me up against it as I tried to hang on in an attempt to keep from going under.

Later in the week I just nearly succumbed to the Old Man having a real hard time just getting back to shore.

Each and every time out, the Old Man took something from me; monetarily not big losses, but still losses nonetheless.

I have completed writing the story and am currently in the edit//re-write stage. Should be finished real soon.

I am not sure to this day who really came out on top in the two encounters that took place. Although I am still walking around, this, in itself, does not truly make me the winner – I’m conflicted yet.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sea Turtles – 01 Aug 10

I swam//snorkeled with the turtles - 3 of them. I had brought one of those Walgreen's (good to 35') cameras and took what I hope are good pix with it. They may come out, the water was pretty clear where we were, so they may be OK. Patsy stayed in the shallows to watch for trouble. We had tried the same area the evening before and it was really, really rough. This morning much calmer but still the undertow was hard to manage.

The Old Man in the Sea took a couple of skirmishes this time, but I still took the major battles and the WAR. I have some wounds to show for it. I was so tired when I arrived at the turtle sight that the waves knocked me around and I got some cuts on the coral, but I didn't draw any shark-like creatures. I also got some pix of the fish the turtles were after. They may or may not be good.

Lots of kids and adults in the area trying to get their own looks.


I will provide an injury update later. I still on the TURTLE HIGH!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shirley Sherrod - Missing a crucial point!

Ref: “Walk on Eggshells, get egg on your face” and “others”

You guys call yourselves journalist. I believe you have missed the larger point in the Shirley Sherrod debacle. It seems that everyone is too quick to jump to the race issue and completely overlook a value that has been around much longer – Truth.

The capability to sway large and somewhat informed throngs in the age of “anything posted by anybody (signed or anonymous) on the internet – true or not” has almost overtaken the print media in readability.

In this country, since the time of Ben Franklin the populous has looked to journalist to be the watchdogs of our well being. We have always asked the journalist just for the Truth. Are we at a point where we will not be able to believe anything we read, see or hear? I hope not.

In a society that wants to regulate everything, the largest task confronting Truth may well be “internet journalism.” Maybe it lingers in the mind as too large to tackle. Well, here’s your chance. In the past week, journalist you were not! How could you have ignored this? Well, except for Arnold García Jr. who came as close as anyone to addressing the issue.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Roomin’ with Dutch

I am having a real kick getting down the events that took place during the summers of 1966 & 1965 and might go into 1966 just a bit if I still feel like it.

Giving up summer baseball and asking Dutch if I could spend the summer as a full time hand on the rig was a big decision for a guy who had just finished his Junior Year in high school. The previous summer had been my last in Babe Ruth League ball. Now I had to decide on Pony League and possibly high school ball. The big problem here was that Bryan was going to be on probation for the next two years and hopes were not high.

There would be no more lazy mornings and afternoons laying around and doing absolutely nothing; well maybe going to the pool every now and then. There would also be zero time with my friends; I would be somewhere else. Oh, maybe I would see them on a weekend every now and then but probably not many times during the entire summer.

Who knows where the jobs would take us, but you can bet they would – and they did.

Remembering back to those high-line days cutting across country and the greasy, warm cheese, hang down and onion lunches is fun to do. Operating the dozer and towing the rig, water truck and pickup from hole to hole up in East Texas sand was about the filthiest part of the first summer – not necessarily the muddiest, but filthiest.

Then there was the summer of 1965 and the travel unmatched by the previous summer. We seemed to be everywhere and pretty much were.

Good days, great guys to work with and some tough, but sometimes funny experiences.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Justice Sonia Sotomayor let us DOWN!

I don’t believe the committee meetings taking place with candidate Elena Kagan are the real issue of the last week’s Washington news. To me it’s the Gun Control – 2nd Amendment case decided by the Supreme Court and how our trust has been dashed by the most recent addition to that court. I provide the following as evidence.

Quotes come straight from the Austin American-Statesman article posted in today’s paper:

Justice Sotomayor sided with Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the dissent. Jonah Goldberg (Tribune Media Services) put it this way:

“However, the more newsworthy opinion came from rookie Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She concurred with Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent, which held that there is no fundamental right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution. "I can find nothing in the Second Amendment's text, history or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as ‘fundamental' insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes," Breyer wrote for the minority.”

I believe this to be a real threat to the U.S. Constitution.

Goldberg continues:

“But when Sotomayor was before the Senate Judiciary Committee one year ago for her own confirmation hearings, she gave a very different impression of how she saw the issue. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy asked her, "Is it safe to say that you accept the Supreme Court's decision as establishing that the Second Amendment right is an individual right?"”

When can you believe Justice Sotomayor? She says one thing in her conformation hearings and then does another when it is time to do her job. The world did not change between those two occasions. What are we to believe?

She even got favorable treatment from the Dems after her testimony. There is supposed to be a definite distinction between and a check on the balance of power between the three branches of government. If there isn’t and the wool has been pulled over our eyes; is this not a threat to our Constitution?

You tell me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The McChrystal beat down!

I wanted to finish reading the Rolling Stone article
before I made any comments on the McChrystal situation. Having done so now, I would like to pose this question to you: How do you keep at it year in and year out? Eighteen hour days (sometimes probably a lot longer), seven days a week for years on end – just how do you keep the momentum to live a life like this?

Have you ever been a General? Have you ever been a Lieutenant or a Captain or a Major or a Colonel for that matter? I have held a few of those ranks and know what the days//weeks//months turn into after a period of time. It’s not pretty and it’s not something that those who don’t have the right make-up would never be able to hold up to – not even a little bit. This is just what is facing Gen McChrystal and Gen Petraeus and their staffs and have been now for some nine years ongoing.

The President said in the Rose Garden after accepting Gen McChrystal’s resignation today: He had “great respect” for the General who had “earned a reputation” as a fighter. But the “war is bigger than any one man or woman” and the “conduct did not meet the standard of a Commanding General” and it “erodes the trust.’ There has to be a “adherence to a strict code of conduct.” We have to “hold ourselves accountable “ to a “unity of effort across the national security team.” Overall this will be “a change in personnel, not a change in policy.”

Both Gen McChrystal and senior members of his staff said things (as quoted in Rolling Stone) that are totally inappropriate for members of the military to utter to anyone, especially after having sworn the oath that each has done. It was out of line and they deserve what comes their way.

This was not a case of McChrystal against the administration. This is all about the oath of office that they swore to.

Remember what Charles de Gaulle once said: “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.”

To me it’s black and white. Make up your own mind:

The Oath of Office (for officers):

"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance tot he same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."

The Oath of Enlistment (for enlistees):

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Friday, June 4, 2010

What it is, is Baseball.

Lots of people suddenly want baseball to be something that it’s not. Lots of people suddenly want baseball to be – gulp – football (Bill Plaschke – Commentary from the Los Angeles Times, 03 Jun 2010 8:55PM, Replay isn’t needed, perfect isn’t the point). It’s Baseball – ‘nuff said.

All this just because an Ump missed a call. It’s happened before and will happen again. We’ve probably all seen it; possibly more than once.

Any more whining and you are on the bench. We don’t need no stinkin’ replays in baseball.

For over a hundred years, we have done without replays and the game has gotten along fine. Adding replays to the game will only make it longer – a problem with only the short-sighted of us who think it goes on too long already. The game is perfect just as it is – well, maybe except for that pesky designated hitter rule in the junior circuit. That could still use some fixin’.

The game renews itself every day.

While we are at it; lets don’t go off on a tangent and decide there’s a need for an asterisk while we are at this point in time. We don’t need any stinkin’ asterisk in the record book – ‘nuff said.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Random thoughts, maybe questions

Just some thoughts; maybe they are more questions than thoughts.

Oil leak – Has anybody really got a handle on this situation. We all know who should be in-charge. Obama has said that the Government is but they sure haven’t shown that they are.

Arizona Law – Who do we believe? I believe we all know that the Government – Democrats and Republicans alike – has not moved to control immigration, nor does it look like they ever will.

Texas School Books – How can a state allow “voted out” elected officials make any real decisions on what the up-coming school children will be studying in the future; especially the way the votes indicated the public felt? The Legislature must move to correct this next January OR we should move to correct them at next opportunity. Elections should mean something and have impact on the agenda.

Don’t ask – Don’t tell – Congress has moved ahead with speed that has outpaced the military leadership’s study on implementation. I support the “open serving of members of the military” as it has always been there regardless of what the Leadership – Congress – the President said or believed. Anyone with a different viewpoint should extract their head from the sand and get on with business. This has a ways to go yet and we still haven’t seen all the “heads rolling//moving on” that will eventually take place.

What’s your take? I sure don't have all the answers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Austin drivers

Arriving back in Austin late Saturday evening after a long day spent at the grandkids birthday party up in Frisco, TX we were just about done in. The majority of the day, as usual, having been spent on the highway – that’s three and a half hours up and another three and a half hours back. The wife drove the entire trip – you see, I am definitely not allowed to drive her automobile unless there’s some maintenance objective involved. I offered to drive my truck but we would have to put gas in it and she was ready to go at 0700 hours and didn’t want to expend another minute I Austin if she could get by without doing so. Overall, we spent seven of the fourteen and a half hour day on the highway.

Both the trip up and the trip back was pretty uneventful as far as the traffic was concerned. Then we found ourselves back in Austin and cruising down MOPAC. Just pas Camp Mabry the outlook changed.

Flying up from behind comes a white suburban hauling lightning rods. The wife says: “I’m gonna have to get outta this guy’s way.” She had recently passed some cars just a while back and was still moving at the posted speed limit in the far inside lane. I took the opportunity to look around and there wasn’t a car, other than the white suburban, within one hundred yards of us – in front or behind.

Well as you might expect he//she gets right up on the wife’s rear bumper and rides there never attempting to go around. The wife is in no mood after three and a half more hours in the car and looks to move to the inside lane. She turns on her blinker and negotiates her way over one lane – no big effort involved as there wasn’t anybody around – except that big white suburban.

Overall we haven’t been in competition for the inside lane for more than a few seconds. We couldn’t have been as we were moving at 65–70 MPH. Now we are safely outta the way of the big white suburban.

As soon as the far inside lane is clear, the big white suburban speeds on by us. No sooner than clearing our front bumper he//she immediately, without a blink involved, cuts through our lane and into the far outside lane and brakes immediately to make one of those looping exits just south of Camp Mabry.

Can you say RUDE? Is there any other word for this kind of driving? I bet you that his//her momma didn’t bring them up to act like this – at least I hope she didn’t.

I did notice a large burnt orange tu longhorn sticker on the back bumper of the big white suburban – maybe that’s the reason for his//her actions?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Boycott Smoycott!

Texans, boycotting Arizona is absolutely the wrong approach to take. After all, this has been the goal all along. Why else would we have allowed the State Board of Education (SBOE) the opportunity to act as consultants to our sister states? Their work has been extremely successful.

As Texans, we should stand proud, gather and chant, “TEXAS is 49, TEXAS is 49.”

After looking west and our plans so successful, it is time to turn our plans east and send the SBOE to Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.

Why settle for 49 when 45 is very easily within our reach?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The World has gone to Hell!

Watching the grandkids playing in the backyard over the weekend a few days ago, I was amazed at their resourcefulness. During the most recent sojourn to A-Town the rain limited their outside activities quite a bit. They were finally outside in the back in PupLand and up, down, on the slide and swinging own their own at the PupHouse.

The six-year-old (just a month shy of seven) decided to resurrect the Club she had initiated the last trip. We had to run over the secret Hand Shake, two strong glad hand movements and then the thumb to the forehead and four fingers waving in the breeze. They remember the sequence well and are proficient in no time whatsoever.

Then once again, the old argument as to the appropriate name arose. I suggested, as usual, my old standby: The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club. If it’s good enough for Spanky, Alfalfa and the rest of Our Gang, it’s good enough for a run of the mill backyard PupLand club. Well the six year old is having none of that and soundly rejects my suggestion. Mind you, she doesn’t have a better choice, at least not right away. But still I say: The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club and still she insists on having her way, well eventually. Her almost-four-year-old brother doesn’t care one way or the other. He’s still workin’ on the handshake.

The six-year-old again asks my advice on a club name and I repeat my suggestion: The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club and again, as you might expect it is once more vetoed. If she doesn’t want my opinion, she shouldn’t ask. But maybe that’s asking far too much for a six-year-old to undertake. Grand Dad’s just outta get more respect, don’t ja’ think?

Time passes and she, the six-year-old that is, comes to inform me that she has now decided on a name for the club. It turns out the feller getting the glory this time is my pup Gus. The club is to be called The Gus Club. Grand Dad lost out to his own dog, imagine that?

The play continues and I keep somewhat of a watchful eye. They have decided to try swinging from the ladder to the clubhouse. This is a rather unusual feat for them as they aren’t usually that adventuresome. It all works out OK and nobody is snagged on the swing chain that the almost-four-year-old has somehow managed to unravel completely. The last time it took me un-told hours of manipulation to get this deal back in working order. I remove the bad swing seat from the immediate area and the club functions continue.

The next departure from the norm was the assignment of individual secret codes to every member. The six-year-old has to make positive sure, that each of us has our own code and it is scribed on a piece of paper that we are to maintain individually. No one is to know our code. It doesn’t seem to matter that we are all discussing this feature of the game aloud so the entire neighborhood can eavesdrop on our code.

I insist on a three-digit code. I’m old, I tell the six-year-old and cannot remember a string of numbers longer that three. It somehow seems that I am finally granted a waiver and can have a three-digit code. Next up for assignment is the almost-four-year-old. He cannot begin to come up with a code on his own. For some reason it just isn’t in him. The six-year-old tries combination after combination. Every set meets with failure from the four-year-old. Finally, through shear determination the six-year-old and the almost-four-year-old settle on the set: 1-2-3-4. All seems to be right in the world now.

I had removed myself from the immediate area of the Club and was observing the club play from the deck when I was astounded by the new requirement for club membership and activity compliance.

The six-year-old announces to all within earshot that we must now, using our secret code, LOG-IN to secure entrance to the club house.

I tell you the World has gone to Hell in a hand basket!