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)

Friday, November 25, 2011

It’s all about where you're aiming

Up early because my pups though going outside at 0400 was a good idea, I found myself in the kitchen with little on my mind than last night’s Aggie loss to tu. Oh yah, it was a loss despite what they teach you at A&M when you first get there—the Aggies don’t loose, they may get outscored, but they don’t loose.
Well last night they lost. I blame it mostly on the coaches; the kids played hard and most of the night was the better team—play calling was the biggest downfall; both on offense and defense. In the final minutes the defense was coached into the loss. Had they played the way they got to the final two minutes, they just might have won.
But let us move on to the larger issue, that being the role of the red-header step-child. That is where Texas A&M has found themselves ever since its creation as a land grant institution back in 1876—the first public institution of higher learning in a reconstruction state in the south. Later the school on the 40 acres was established—you know the one I mean. The Texas Legislature controls this stuff; if you are knowledgeable of the situation you already know how that situation goes—it’s not a pretty sight.
Where’s the beef might be the appropriate question that next pops into mind. That would be the Permanent Fund that provides a great deal of the funding for both A&M and tu. The fund was established as far as I can remember from oil revenue garnered by the state lands producing the revenue. Right or wrong in my belief, the fund is divided evenly between tu and A&M: two thirds going to tu and one third going to A&M—the Legislature you understand. From some perspective this may have seemed to be a good idea; giving the greater even share to what was envisioned as the state’s greater institution of higher learning.
Through the years tu did become the major institution of higher learning within the state; routinely three times larger than any other—public or private. Is there any question why the lopsided records of the schools slant one way and not the other?
Upon the scene comes Earl Rudder and the changes of the 60s. A&M began to grow but still remained in the shadow of tu. If I recall the stats correctly, from 1975, A&M actually holds a slight advantage in the athletic records. Quite coincidently, this is about the same time that the two schools became comparable in size.
The kitchen has become over populated all of a sudden and keeping my two fingers headed to the correct keys has become more of a challenge; I will do my best.
At any rate, changes were for the best and A&M progressed, becoming larger and larger. Under the leadership of Robert Gates, I had no doubt that this would be the right course. Then came the call from Washington and Gates was snatched away for a higher calling.
Plans had been established to take A&M into the future and the progress is still in the works. Money is being spent that will provide for more and more development and still the cronyism of the Governor seems to be the largest impediment to real progress.
A&M continued to flounder with its selection of coaches of the major sport—football. The last two selections just haven’t worked out. When you are trying to grow a program, why would an administration settle for anything but the best available? Franconia was a failure right up to the point in time that he had probably figured out the right direction—too late though. Sherman brought these questions to my mind: Who? And then Why? With all those available: Who? And Why?
Talent was present and nationally it was recognized. But the coaching staff figured out a way to hinder that talent—failing to make half time adjustments and giving away game after game and eventually leading us to where we are now—disappointed again.
Now the school is headed off to the South East Conference (SEC). According to one former coach; the Aggies are gonna play all there home games in Texas. I guess this means that we are to be satisfied by this rhetoric. We really deserve better information than has been provided.
The news and sports media claim it has more to do with money, sports networks and mostly egos. Regardless the reason, the move is ready to happen and it’s too late to alter the course. The decision is a done deal! The course has been set.
The media guys all say that A&M will not compete in the SEC any time soon. This can’t be good. They have to do better than they have, but that course is doubtful with the current coaching staff—can you say outclassed?
This brings me to the question of traditions. What are we to do about the traditions that we have all held dear for so long? Leaving the SWC or the Big 12 means that changes will have to be made—some will be tougher than others.
OK, so the War Hymn still refers to the orange and white; but that is the War Hymn. That didn’t change even with the upgrade from college to university. It stands for something bigger than a football game with tu once a year.
The Bonfire. This is a question that will have to be addressed—sanctioned or not. It can not represent the burning spirit to beat a school that isn’t being played. Outlawed by the administration since the tragedy that killed 12 students; it has become a yearly student activity, authorized or not. AS much as I hate to say it, the Bonfire should be abandoned until the game question is resolved. I know this is not a popular idea but that’s my thoughts on the situation.
The Corps of Cadets represents the real tradition of A&M. More than any other it is the longest lasting tradition and stands for what the hearts of all Aggies love about the school. Whether they are members, were members, wished they could have been members or stood with those that were members; it’s the Corps that still functions almost as it once did. This tradition has to remain and should be addressed with a stronger approach than it has attracted in the past.
The Corps itself should examine it’s traditions with a hard look to the future. I know that LTG Van Alstyne had this in mind and is probably high on the list of BG Ramirez also. The school can no longer be considered the West Point on the Brazos. Time has moved on.
Again last night, like it was when the Aggies had an opportunity to finish as the last champion of the SWC; A&M chose to come in second in what might have been their last chance to beat the hell outta tu! But second is not where we want to stay.
I know this has run long and I may have rambled too far astray. I’m gonna blame it on the interruptions that kept happening here in my morning kitchen with my pups.
It’s all about where you aim. If you want to win second place; the aim has been right on target. If you are not satisfied with second, the school’s aim must be altered

Friday, November 11, 2011

For a Soldier died today

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

I have removed the post as I found later that it was copyrighted material. Please visit the post above to read the poem. It is well worth your time.


Veterans Day 2011

"Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations." -- George Washington Farewell Address, 1796

My wife & I just returned from the Austin Veterans Day Parade.

I had the distinct pleasure of standing with SGM Gill; retired Air Force and Army - 44 years service in active and reserve. He started his service in 1942 and retired in 1977—having served in three wars: WWII, the Korean War & the Vietnam Conflict. He is 92 years and has been slowed just a bit by a recent stroke. SGM Gill stood and saluted every American Flag that passed, color guard unit or not. His son kept putting him back in the chair that he had brought which just made the standing task harder each time. I guess anybody that’s been with us for 92 years deserves to take longer to get to their feet each time they do so. What a pleasure this was. We promised each other to meet again next year on the same street corner to watch the 2012 Veterans parade.

SGM Gill and his son

Standing along side of also was Perry Jefferies, the manager of the TexVet Initiative of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, College of Medicine in Round Rock

Perry is an interesting guy and doing fine work. He coordinated a visit with SGM Gill and his son to meet and record the Sergeant Major’s story. This, I want to hear—44 years, it oughta be a good one.

Another one of my favorite entries in the parade every year is the Retired Chief's Association. A continual participant is Dale Lyons who also happens to sit on the board of directors at the credit union where my wife, Patsy, is the VP of Human Resources.

Dale Lyons

This was the longest Veterans day Parade that I can remember. We watched for an hour and a half at least. The entries just kept coming.

The one thing that struck me was the number of youth enrolled in the ROTC programs at the local high schools. What a bunch of good looking young leaders of tomorrow. I have included some shots of the various groups below.

James Bowie High School ROTC unit

Akins High School ROTC unit

William B Travis High School ROTC unit

Bastrop High School ROTC unit

I hope you got out today and showed your support. It kinda makes you feel good inside and has the same effect on those around you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Yesterday was Election Day - Fond memories of Jesse James & more - 09 Nov 11

Did you get out and vote yesterday?

Sitting here in the kitchen this morning, I got to remembering elections of the past. Nostalgic, you might say? I’m OK with that? It was just me and my pups so the feeling wasn’t rampant and actually took us exactly nowhere.

In my early adulthood days and primarily during the 1970s I was in the military serving in such foreign lands as Alaska, Virginia, North Carolina and New York—foreign to a Texan, at least. Because of this fact, I was left to cast my ballot via absentee.

Every year I would send to the State of Texas for my ballot and finally receive it in the mail with plenty of time to study it and return it via the same, U. S. Mail—regardless of the foreign land I was currently stationed.

I always took the opportunity to take that same ballot to work with me and brag a little bit about my activity—a pure Texan activity you understand?

Pursuing the names on the ballot always brought a bit of laughter from my associates. The reason will become obvious the further I relate the specific circumstances.

For most of the 1970s, one name always appeared on the Texas ballot at the State level regardless of who else was running. This name brought the questions of the validity of the document that I would proudly show around the area. Most thought that I had somehow made the entire document up and was just doing it to get a laugh—not so, not by a long shot. It was as real as it could be.

Right there about the 3rd or 4th office down was the name: Jesse James, a Democrat running for State treasurer. Most of the office holders at that time in our state’s history were Democrats—not nearly the case today. But there it was, one of the most famous names in American History and obviously not a name anyone would associate wit the position of State treasurer.

For those that don’t remember, Jesse James (Oct 1904 – Sep 1977) was the longest serving Texas State Treasurer; having held the post from 1941 until his death in office in 1977—appointed to the position by Governor Coke Stevenson when Charley Lockhart became ill and could no longer serve. Then duly elected and reelected over and over, year in and year out from that time on.

The second point of contention associated with my absentee ballot was the device furnished by the Secretary of State to be used in the recording my votes onto//into the actual ballot. The instructions included a statement (I wish I could locate the copy I have retained all these years; I think maybe my wife might have thrown it out.) advising (more like a warning than a piece of advise) me that I was “to use the provided device to punch the holes in the ballot and only the provided device to punch the holes.” This was odd for reasons I will clear up in a moment.

I would show the warning and the device around the office and have my associates read the instructions. They all would look at me with this dear-in-the-headlights grin and ask: “How they gonna know?” My only response was: “Oh, they’ll know. We’re dealing with the State of Texas here!”

The ballot itself was sort of the consistency of one of those manila envelopes and had a Styrofoam backing—those hanging shads had to go somewhere. I was always amazed that the State allowed me to keep the poking device—after being so specific about it’s use, one might have assumed that they would want it back to reuse next election day. Not so, they never requested it back.

The all-important device came taped across the bottom of the ballot itself. Right there for all to see was one of those large paper clips—not just one of those used to lip three or four pages together, but that big kind—suitable for heavy duty work. Now, it wasn’t just your everyday paper clip. No, not by a long shot. This clip had one of the legs bent straight so you could get a real hold on it prior to tackling and punching that ballot—a task not up to just your ordinary man without the aide of such a device which could be supplied ONLY by the State of Texas.

Needless to say; I followed the instructions to the letter. I didn’t want a all expenses paid trip to Huntsville the next time I showed my rosy red cheeks in the State.

I welcome your comments and remembrances of election days past. Please leave a comment.