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"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)

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lupe’s Tortilla - SFA Dinner - 27 Aug 14

Pretty good group last night. Lots of locals, two from Houston and two from Austin. We could really use a lot more locals and we wouldn’t have to compete for space with the other B/CS groups plying for attention at the local establishments.

As soon as I entered the room at Lupe’s, I was forced to report on the sad occasion of Bobby Buntyn’s passing and the funeral that Jimmy and I attended last weekit was so sudden and unfortunate, I will miss Bobby a great deal. He was one of my first friends upon moving to Bryan in 1954 and attending my 6th new school class in only the second grade. Bobby was one of the many that made the new kid from Montana/ North Dakota feel welcome.

On the other hand, I am glad to report that Sam Searcy’s knee replacement is finally working out for the better. Sam says “it gets better every day.” He and his wife had just recently returned from a short vacation to the Vermont areadoing a lot of day trips from their rented condo. Lots of time in the car and stopping just short of going into Canada; but he had several good anecdotes to relate. I ask him if while he was in the area in New Hampshire if he had the occasion to visit Mount Washington; I’ve always wanted to go there. For those not familiar, Mt Washington is located in upper New Hampshire and has the distinction of having the highest wind velocity (175=MPH) ever recorded on the face of the earth. Sam acknowledged that he did check the weather on Mt Washington on a daily basis while he was in the area.

I do not recall how the following came about. It seems we have inherited from our follow on graduates (Class of ‘66) their own Jerry Nance. Jerry has been at every dinner over the last couple of months or so. I have enough trouble having to Jimmy’s stories over and over; but now Jerry’s seem to be repeating themselves. While Sam and I were discussing adventures in Newark, New Jerseyone of Sam’s stops on his Vermont vacationJerry tricked us into listening his capture and utter humiliation of some scab he subdued and arrested in the San Francisco area some 35 to 40 years ago. Well, we eventually survived. I do not know if a ransom discussion with the Class of ’66 would do any good or not. Maybe we could take up a collection and they would come and get him (Ransom of Red Chief sort of situation).


The recent heat was the foremost topic of discussion around the table last night. Seems we are all looking for some place to escape it. I, for one, am considering trying to talk Janell of Cynthia into renting me a room in their northern abodes for the summer next year.


Thomas and his wife advised me of some of Thomas’ “musical” haunts that I intend to pass along to my brother. Thomas plays three or four times a week and I believe my brother would fit in with them.


The “girls” sitting to my right all seemed to be having a great time but would stopin mid-sentenceif I showed any interest in their discussion. I have no idea who they thought I was representingsome CIA eavesdropping effort, I assume. I never could break into their conversation.

The other end of the table was far too distant for me to hear what was going on down there. I thought Jimmy would give me the G2 on our way back to Austin, but that didn’t happen. As soon as we got in to my vehicle, he started up on the discussion we suspended when we pulled into our parking place. He didn’t miss a beat and took right up where he had left off.

Prior to departure, there was a secret meeting to select the meeting place for the end-of-September dinner. The vote resulted in the top of Mt Washington being selected. See you there!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grand Stadium Tour - Part 4

I have been hindered by non-AT&T charges while in Canada but promise to get caught up tomorrow as soon as I arrive in a cultured spot in the Land of the Free.

Please bear with me.

Addition as of 29 Aug 14

We arrived in Seattle around 11:30 PM and headed straight to the rental car lot, obtained a car and started for Bellingham, Washington where we had reservations that night. We finally arrived in Bellingham and surprised the landlord right at 2 AM. Quickly, we were asleep.

The next morning, we found an IHOP and achieved breakfast. Joseph had realized while we were driving last night that we had not scored the insurance card for the vehicle we were driving and needed it to get into Canada. Luckily there was an international airport in Bellingham and we made our way there first off. The girl at the Avis counter was real nice and fixed us up right away.

Only 40 miles from the border, we are there before we realize it. Just a short wait, maybe only 15 to 20 minutes or so and we are across the border and headed to Vancouver, BC. The line to get into the U.S. looks to be a couple of hours long.

Soon, we had arrived at the outskirts of Vancouver and decided to find our motel for the evening before doing anything else—the day was young and we had no real plans until tomorrow evening—Ball Game.

We spent an hour or so driving Vancouver and taking in the sights before we decided to head over to Victoria. We took out the map and decided our direction and headed to the ferry location.

Arriving at the ferry dock, we found that we had just missed the loading and we were quickly staged for the next departure. We headed into the gift shop and restaurant combination and shopped. After about a forty-five minute wait, we were loaded and started our two plus hour trip across the sound.

The best place on the ferry, in my opinion, is on the top deck, out in the open and the wind in your face. There, you are able to move from side to side and see as much as possible as the scenery passed by. That’s where the guys and I headed as soon as we were able.

Joseph and Dilin on the ferry deck crossing over to Vancouver Island

Nice weekend (or everyday) abode on island crossing the bay.

Just how did that guy get the materials up there?

Friends and neighbors watching us go by!

Finally across the bay, we were directed off the ferry and headed straight to Victoria to see what we could find. Noticing that the day is disappearing on us and if we attempt to get back across the bay today, we might be in trouble—at a minimum, we will have no time to look around Victoria. This part of our trip is scripted to any real detail and we have the luxury of winging-it just a bit.

We stated looking for a motel/hotel on our way into Victoria. We passed a few, having spotted the establishment after it was too late—road signage in Canada is not up to U.S. standards.

Soon, we had spotted a Comfort Inn & Suites and I went inside to inquire as to availability. A cool $203.09 later, we were situated for the night. We unloaded the stuff and went upstairs to clean up a bit and decide our next course of action. Loading the elevator, I ask maintenance guy pushing a cart where the best place to get sea food was in town. He immediately said: “Pescatore’s Fish House” and pointed out the directions on our map.

Deciding we would give it a try, the decision was made.

Come back here soon and I’ll tell you all about it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Grand Stadium Tour III - Part 3

A quarter after six in the evening of day 2 of the Grand Stadium Tour III and we are finally leaving Denver -a full 24 hours after we should have.

A little behind schedule we are!

Because of yesterday's troubles, we have spent the largest part of the day in Denver.
After breakfast in the nice hotel Joseph found us, we took shuttle back out to airport: checked on our bags (told that they left on first aircraft to Seattle this morning) and bought express bus tickets to downtown Denver.

From Union Station we walked over to Coors' Field hoping to get into the National Museum of Ball Parks. Evidentially Billy Bib had other plans for Sunday morning and he never opened the door.

With time on our hands, we made our way to 16th Street where the city has blocked it off to function as a mall. Nice area, real nice! There were bicycle guys performing ramp tricks that we watched for a while before moving on.

Feeling the grumbles, we started looking for a place to eat. We found the Blake Street Vault and had a great meal, great craft beer and was waited on by a nice young lady from San Antonio, TX.
Time running out, we headed back to the airport and prepared to get outta Denver.

For some reason, I have been designated as TSA PRECHECK and get expedited security screening (I do not have to take off shoes or belt. I do not have to declare liquids either. I just put my bag on the rack and my cell phone (laptop or iPad) on top of it and walk through the RADAR.

Well, it has not worked either security screening time this trip, I don't care what they say; I know my shoulder replacements are setting off the RADAR. I then have to do everything I shouldn't plus some.
Net result: I have had to be completely patted down in both Dallas and Denver. There I stand needing help and my companions are halfway across the airport.

Maybe it will be better at SeaTac coming back!

Still a lot of day left yet. After we get to Seattle we are driving north to Bellingham, WA and then to Vancouver tomorrow.

When I started this post, we were just leaving Denver. We are now in Phoenix with a two hour layover before we start once more for Seattle.

Please hold your breath!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Grand Stadium Tour III - Part 2

Best laid plans are always changeable, our's were!

Flying Southwest is not always the most direct; we were scheduled through Kansas City and Denver to Seattle. The KC leg came off with no hitches - not so with our approach to Denver.

The Denver airport experienced big weather while we were in route - winds in excess of 100 MPH. First we stayed aloft in a holding pattern for 30 - 45 minutes and were told we could land. BUT, before that could happen we were diverted to Pueblo to take on fuel and to wait the reopening of the Denver airport.

We were on tarmac in Pueblo for over three hours; so long that the plane ran out of hand washing water for the laboratories.

Eventually, we got the call and rushed to Denver. While in route, I received an email announcing the cancellation of our Seattle leg. The only thing worse than this news was the pilot's landing in Denver. I don't know who fixes runway divots but he has his work cut out for him now.

SLAM! We were finally in Denver - no luggage which equates to no clean underwear for the next leg of our trip.

I now realize as I will be wearing Saturday's clothes on Sunday, I over     packed by one day's worth as a result of our unfortunate track. This isn't the first time I have been in this situation - twelve years in the Army offered numerous opportunities.

Joseph got ahold of Southwest and managed to get us on a flight that takes us south to Phoenix first and finally turns us nnnnorth to Seattle - finally. This route was all that was available without waiting another day in Denver. We will miss our scheduled Mariners' game SUNDAY afternoon but they start a new series with Toronto Monday so we will figure something out.

Joseph also got ahold of his company's travel help and found us a hotel near the airport. We made it there and found some supper nearby.

I am finishing up the day wearing my oversized index finger out here on my phone screen pecking out this entry before closing down for the evening.

More info tomorrow.

Grand Stadium Tour III - Part 1

Today, we restart our quest of touching every Major League Ball Park in competition today. We are in our third summer and have hit eight parks so far.

Our quest is sometime hindered by scheduling problems. For instance, this summer we are adding only one park; the Seattle Mariners. We are OK with only one given that it will take us some time to complete the total round trip.

The "we" are my son, Joseph P Hatfield, my grandson, Dilin Hatfield, and myself.
We have tickets for tomorrow afternoon's game and by luck the Vancouver Canadians (a minor league team) are in their home park for a few games and Joe has secured tickets for one of their games also.

We are stoked and can't wait!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Do you remember?

"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!" Mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet is really the greatest superhero of them all who "fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cell Phone Use – Texting and Snakes

If things go as planned by the Public Safety Commission here in San Jose East (Austin. TX), the great populous will no longer be able to use our “constitutionally enabled” cell phones as we here to fore have beenit’ll be illegal. All that remains is the City Council (those guys that will be out of a job come the elections in November when the “great electoral” change takes place.) to vote for the fast-tracking of an ordinance “banning the use of hand-held communications devices and electronics while driving.”[i] Of course, if you possess a vehicle that allows for a “hands free” device, the proposed law will not affect you.

I wonder how they will enforce the ordnance once it becomes law. Greater than 30% of the citations issued under the current ordinance banning “texting” have been dismissed in Municipal Courtso what will make this ban easier to be upheld. Is the answer better policing? I don’t think so. It’s not the police that are the problem here; they’re out there writing the tickets and the cases fall out of the system for one reason or another.

Several Texas cities have laws prohibiting the use of hand-held devices: San Antonio, El Paso, Amarillo and Corpus Christiall according to the same Statesman article.

If this area of concern is so big a problem, why hasn’t the state done something about it? Oh, that’s right, they did. In 2011, by votes of 28–3 in the Senate and 80-61 in the House, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (HB242) which banned “texting” while driving.

Our “always-watching-out-for-us” Governor Rick Perry vetoed the legislation. The “Gov” cited the overreach of the legislature to “micromanage the behavior of adults” and “an intrusion into Texans’ lives.”[ii] He went further to recommend that we all get better education on the problem. Well, we all know where trying to improve education has gotten us!

This all reminds me of the Waco city statute that was struck down in the courts that required pedestrians on south facing sidewalks to hop their way east and west, but skip their way if heading north or southa real micromanagement if I ever saw one. We are lucky the courts saw the light. Maybe the courts will approach the Austin adventure with the same frame of mind.

As important as all this safety talk is to each and every one of us, we still do not have the problems that other states and communities have. Consider the fact that the legislators of the Great State of New York are expected to meet in special session early next week to draft and pass legislation prohibiting the wearing of snakes around one’s neck while driving.[iii] The proposed legislation is being called “DWS”driving while snaked! Maybe they should not overstepthank you Governor Perryand title it “DWSS”driving while stolen snaked. I bet they wouldn’t want to swing the scales of justice way too far to the overreaching side.

[i] Austin panel calls for ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving, Philp Jankowski, Austin-American Statesman, 04 Aug 14

[ii] Perry Issues Vetoes, Nixes Texting-and-Driving Ban, Brandi Grissom and Thanh Tan, the Texas Tribune, 17 Jun 11

[iii] Stolen python found wrapped around neck of drunk woman in crash, Natasha Velez and Kevin Sheehan, NY Post, 05 Aug 14