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)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Untimely Social Media Posts - 20 Jun 11

As luck would have it, some missed the social media craze. My mind was wandering yesterday and I got to thinking what they might have put up if they had today’s technology available to them. Somebody else may have tried this before, but in any event here’s a few of my takes on the missed opportunity:


George Armstrong Custer: Currently on top of a good hill with ability to see in all directions. Hopping that predator drone and the F-16s are still on station.

Noah: Still waiting on answer. Not a word in past week. I’m seriously considering leaving these two mosquitoes behind.

Cornwallis: Just whose idea was it to move out here on this peninsula?

Rommel: That can’t possibly be the main attack! Patton is still in England.

Hitler: That can’t possibly be the main attack! Patton is still in England.

Adam: That crawley thing there; what’s he doing up in that tree?

Julius: Meeting this afternoon with some of the guys from the Senate on the steps.


George Armstrong Custer: Man! Where’s that help Washington promised? It’s just like them to adjourn when the going gets tough.

Noah: Been out here 31 days. Still not sure why a shovel was not on the basic load list.

Hitler: I understand that there’s a lot going on in Normandy, but Patton is still in England.

Crockett at the Alamo: Wow! There’s a lot of Mexicans out there. Maybe I should have considered staying in Congress at least one more term.

Capone: I'm not paying taxes. I don’t care what they say.

Dodo: It’s just one egg! (I realize this is a stretch, but it fits the theme.)

Marie-Antoinette: Cake should be just the thing.

Ike Clanton: Let’s walk over to the OK and see what’s goin’ on!

Never seen again: Mt Saint Helens is beautiful this time of year!

Also never seen again: Hey, the White Star line has a ship they say can’t be sunk!

Napoleon: I hear the Duke of Wellington is planning a get together in Waterloo this Weekend. We oughta go see.

Lincoln: Do I gotta go?

Ton Selleck: Offered the lead as Indiana Jones but have plans for the weekend.

Cell phone:

George Armstrong Custer: Hello Pentagon! Custer here. You ain’t gonna believe how many Indians there are in this little southeast corner of Montana. Over!

Travis at the Alamo: What’s that General Houston? Ya want me to hold on here. Did I forget to tell you just how many Mexicans are in town?

Ike to Billy Clanton: Let’s mosey over to the OK and see what’s goin’ on!

Do you have a rocker to add to the list? Please leave your untimely famous posting bas a comment below.

Blogger Problem

Blogger is once again having problems at Login. Don't understand why they can't keep this straight. Bare with me as I try to overcome.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quality BBQ - 17 Jun 11

Just what is it that makes quality BBQ? Why is one better than the other? I have some lengthy experience in this matter and I’m just gonna tell you.

I had an invite to join some people for dinner in one of Lockhart’s fine BBQ establishments yesterday evening. The wife took off early to be able to trip down there with the rest of us.

My just turned 74 first cousin and his new wife of almost 5 months got lost trying to find my house and this put us behind just a little bit – the BBQ place’s web site says they close at 6 PM during the work week. We were headed to meet up with two long time, but not quite as infirmed, friends of my cousin there. They were coming from the western side of South Austin. The wife had some concern when the cuz didn’t show at the appointed time. I wisely said to just hold on and we’ll see. Cuz’s wife eventually called and I gave her instructions from their current station to our abode.

While I was waiting, I took a look at the Lockhart websites of the four real BBQ establishments. Just Google “Lockhart Texas BBQ places” and you will find them prominently displayed along with fifteen to twenty reviews on each. In an attempt to stay away from any legal battle that might arise, I will not mention any names. The review screen looks like you are ask to rate the establishment from one to five starts. From the comments, I believe they should have included a zero star option—you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s some direct quotes:

1. **** “Went to all 4 BBQ restaurants in Lockhart. XXXXX's was best.”

2. ***** “Can you say Hatfields and McKoys?” XXXXX's got the pit and WWWWW got the ashes when the family parted ways. BBBBBB in Luling and XXXXX's in Lockhart. Best BBQ I've had south of the Colorado River.”

3. * “Nothing worse than eating off of paper, and no table waitress. I live in lockhart and i do not eat out here much. I want to be pampered when i go out. The choices are limited at all the BBq places in Lockhart. I want my food and plate hot. Not paper and plastic forks. Thanks,”

4. * “The ribs were super. The side choices are limted. Once again no floor staff and eating off paper and using plastic. No Thanks,”

5. * “Another paper, plastic, no floor staff restaurant. No Thanks,”

6. * “Nothing worse than eating with plastic and off paper. No waitress. The meat was fatty. Thanks,”

7. * “I want to like this place because the food tastes ok, but the food was COLD...our meat was cold, our sides were cold and we were the only ones eating there at the time, My chopped beef had pieces of sausage in it, so THATS where they put their scraps...YUK It also gives me the TURKEY TROTS everytime I go”

8. * “I agree with Dawn. Lousy service unless they are servicing your men. A good place to go to find homewreckers serving up std's.”

9. * “The food is ok but the service is horrible. The only thing the girls there want to service is your husbands.... BEWARE!!!”

I do appreciate #2 giving my family name a mention.

As you might imagine #s 3, 4, 5 & 6 were written by the same (initials only) anonymous reviewer. The guy lives there and kept going until he had had practically the same experience at every establishment. Some people just never learn.

My question to the reviewer in #7 is: Why keep going back if EVERYTIME you go you get the turkey trots?

Boy, what’s up with #9? What’s this all about? I bet there’s more to the story here than what made it to the review screen! But wait there’s more; # 10 was about the same tone. But since these are anonymous, it is quite possible the same person may be jousting with windmills here. This is when I decided that the review screen had no choice less than one (1) star.

There were far and above many more REAL good reviews of all four establishments than there were these bad comments. I merely portray those that managed to catch my eye.

* * * *

My cuz and his wife finally arrived just after 4 PM and we were soon on our way. Actually we arrived at the appointed place in plenty of time; some 30 minutes before the missing other couple.

We decided that there was time for a beverage while we were awaiting our chums. I got a Shiner Bock and my cousin took one of those frou-frou Bud Lites. I had to share half of mine with the wife; she never wants one, but is extremely willing to take half (sometimes more) of mine.

Finally, the other older couple made their appearance and we moved to the serving line; leaving behind the currently most infirmed to guard the table and purses—like she could have really run off a fifth grader.

Most went for the beef ribs. Cuz ordered two pounds (took home one lb); the other ordered a pound of ribs and several slices of brisket. My wife had a pound of ribs (leaving several to take home later). I went for six slices of brisket and two rings of sausage. I was not allowed to finish off all of mine (two slices and one sausage ring went home for today’s lunch). I did manage to wipe out the bowl of red beans and most of the block of cheese before I was told “No more!” I will say that my wife managed to switch the two glasses of tea: mine sweet and hers un-sweet. Mine didn’t have enough ice—I’m not sure whose fault that was. Now I know good iced tea when I come across it. Being of the southern variety, I was handed a glass of iced tea by a nurse in the delivery room when I was born and have been drinkin’ it ever since—don’t try to pass off low quality iced tea on me.

It was a very pleasant drive back to the house. I constantly had to wake up the others with a poignant comment every now and then.

But what makes good BBQ? I’ve had this long-running argument with many others about just what it is that determines the quality of BBQ. Well, Ima gonna get to that but I must first establish my credentials.

First (maybe not foremost), I have been eating for a good long time and know what I like. Unlike my cuz and his same age friend, I do not yet collect social security. This, I hope helps you understand that I am no way as old as his just –turned-74. I’m a long way from that; but I do understand his generation very well—they just don’t hear much of what I’ve gotta say.

Second, I learned at the foot of one of the best BBQ people in the world; my Dad. I have documented evidence that he had a long career in the field. The 1930 census form lists him as a cook in a BBQ pig stand. There you go. I can remember from the time that I was about eight having to help with the fixin’s: wood, charcoal, pit prep, fire watch, meat prep, etc. Those were some HOT Texas summer days workin’ around the pit. Oh, I must mention that he did use propane, but just to get the fire started and evenly distributed.

Third, After managing to get the BBQ prepared; I helped serve it up and then I helped eat it. No matter whether it was beef, pork, goat, mutton or even some chicken for the females attending the feast—I don’t much go for that chicken, especially when there are far superior meats available.

Forth, If you have sweated over the cooking, you are far in away the better judge of the quality. Most likely you have sampled so much meat by the time that the finish line has come over the horizon that you would rather just sit and watch everybody else chow down.

I can remember as a boy, my dad telling me, the server, to switch up what I told those in line. We usually placed the beef first and followed it with the pork, goat and mutton respectively. When the guests started passing over the goat and mutton, I was told to mix up the species and they never knew the difference. This happen more times than I can tell you. Good BBQ is Good BBQ.

Oh yah, so what’s the real qualifier determining good, better and best. It’s not the fact than one uses only wood. It’s not the fact that hickory is better than mesquite. It’s not that charcoal is better than gas. It has nothing to do with whether the meat was seared over an open fire on a spit that constantly turned by some little buckaroo

That was detailed just that job for the day. Actually none of that matters.

So what does matter?

Let me tell you my friends. There are only two factors that have anything to do with the quality of BBQ. I fully believe that if you think about my criteria you will be won over to my side and become a lifetime qualified reviewer of good BBQ.

Qualifier #1 is the quality of the beverage being imbibed. It doesn’t matter if you prefer beer, wine, hard alcohol, water or iced tea. As long as its good beer, wine, hard alcohol, water or iced tea; that’s all that matters. Come to think about it, in my example above my tea didn’t pass muster. This is why I have modified my criteria over time. As long as you are a master reviewer (you make this determination your self) you can over rule criteria #1 as long as criteria #2 passes the acid test.

Qualifier #2 is the quality of the company one has when devouring the BBQ. If the company is good and a good time is had by all; you have consumed good BBQ. That’s all that it actually takes—nothing else matters.

Woops, I see my iced tea pitcher is way low. I gotta make a new one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Plans – 13 Jun 11

Everybody got big plans for the summer. I hope so. It’s time to get out there and stir up the slagging economy. Let’s go somewhere and do something.

No better time than now.

I have a short trip planned with son and grandson to go watch the Texas Rangers in Chicago. Actually it was my son’s idea; but just the mention of ROAD TRIP and I was on board. On the way up there, we plan to stop and see a game in Kansas City. While in Chicago, the Cubs just happen to be in town and we will take in a game at Wrigley Field if luck is with us.

As one might expect, on the way back down from the far away north country, we plan to stop in and see the Cardinals who (because we ask the commissioner to schedule them this way – just kidding!) happen to be in town at exactly the right time. I haven’t been to St Louis and a Cardinal game since they were still playing in old Sportsman’s Park back in 1951 – a laps that I intend to correct.

I’ll report back to you as events get firm and transpire.

So what do you have planned for the summer. Leave a note, I’m interested.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Writer’s League of Texas Agents’ Conference Update - 12 Jun 11

Good conference and I learned a lot and may have picked up two of the best suggestions I have received so far in my attempt to turn my writing into a career. Didn’t tie down an agent, although I did get asked to send some of my work to several.

I will followup on these requests as soon as possible.

Met a great bunch of authors in the exact same boat that I am in. When the flood arrived there were plenty of us bailing—all looking for the same solution; someone to help them to the big time.

Ya just have to keep plugging away!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Writer’s League of Texas Agents’ Conference - 10 Jun 11

I’m ready and I’m pumped!

I have my pitch down pat. It’s short and to the point. There’s no way that the right agent can ignore what I have to say.

“Adventures in Everyday Leadership” provides advice and guidance to routine problems facing most managers and supervisors in their everyday world. The manuscript details actual stories of personnel that I worked with over my thirty-seven year journey of research into the reasons why people get into situations that they (most of them) would never attempt when in their right mind.

The project detailing real people and real events, not the contrived and composite personnel of most management and leadership books dealing with this subject matter. The data was not collected by a PhD with a team of graduate students under their direction, but by a member of their own organization who sometimes just happened to get involved in the who-shot-John as it actually took place.

I am really looking forward to this weekend and the association with those, who like me, are struggling to get somewhere in the publishing world. They all have unique stories to tell.

I discovered last year that close to 75% are hoping to get their latest attempt at a Twilight Saga or Vampire Classic to be picked up by an agent who thinks their story has just the right quirk about it to appear fresh and new to the market.

I actually thought serious about changing my title to “Adventures in Leadership without Vampires” just so I could get maybe the slightest bit of attention. I would even add a disclaimer that established the fact that “not one vampire, werewolf or zombie was harmed during the events depicted in the stories or during the transcribing of same.” I may still have to. I’ll let you know after the weekend has run its course.

The one disclaimer that I do have to mention is that some of the names of those involved in the accounts detailed in the project have been changed, like Joe Friday’s announcer used to say “to protect the innocent.” It’s not a problem that you might recognize the actual culprit; it’s more to keep them from bragging about their involvement and//or embarrassment in what really took place. Some would feel downright ashamed that they ever did what they did and some others might start a giggle fit that would do them in at the age they have eventually reached. It’s better to be safe.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Writer's League of Texas Agents' Conference

I'm spending a great deal of time this week getting ready for the Writer's League of Texas Agents' Conference this coming weekend.

I have high hopes of something good coming out of my preparation and and my bubbly personality - I don't see how anybody could pass my stuff up - say it just ain't so!

I really look forward to presenting my stuff and meeting with those that are in the same boat as I.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Drawbacks to culling – 01 Jun 11

Over the last few weeks or so, my grandson Dilin, after finishing his first year of college, had been down to help with some stuff around the house. His last task was to repaint the inside of the kitchen pantry. That he did and then restocked it with the stuffs he had distributed all over the kitchen and dining room. That is all except the nearly six foot high stack of cookbooks he had left out on direction from his grandmother—my wife.

As you might expect, I was tricked into helping sort out and cull what cookbooks were not to be retained. I accomplished this from my chair completely across the room from Patsy who actually handled the material—I was not allowed to touch it.

The first item in the stack tackled by my better half was a three ring binder with lots of loose and punched items stuck in it more or less randomly. The good stuff looked to be a compilation of what looked good and needed saving at the time. Some really interesting keepers I thought as Patsy read them out as she went through the binder. I thought most of it deserved retaining—I was obviously out voted and as she claimed that she was the collector of the good stuff, she was also the final decision on whether to keep or cull.

There were such items as: (1) a newspaper clipping with the recipe for chocolate chip pie, (2) recipe for deluxe Mexican cornbread, (3) warranty and operating instructions for a 52” ceiling fan we no longer possessed, (4) same with a char-broil grill we no longer possessed, (5) page after page of clipped recipes I had never used or seen, and (6) a book entitled “Famous Chili Recipes from Marlboro Country” that looked like a keeper. I would estimate there were over two thousand recipes carefully clipped and pasted to yellow pages neatly filed away for later use. I’m not sure when later is going to be; I haven’t seen that binder off the shelf since we moved into this house.

The last item in the binder, I did think was of special note and thought I would give it a little more attention. I ask Patsy if I could review it just a bit. She relented and took it out of the binder and gave it to me. The item peaking my attention was a pink colored brochure that was most likely picked up at the Alaska State Fair in 1972 (see pix of prize winning 38 & 1/4 lb cabbage below) titled “Making Mukluks and Mittens With Fur.” Now I know you will side with me on this one: this is a keeper!

I am positive that I fully intended to make a pair of mukluks at one time or another. I always liked the ones the Air Force wore; we didn’t have that option in the Army—we had the VB boots though: better and cool looking. But still, I always liked their mukluks and wanted a pair.

The pamphlet looks to have been distributed by the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service’s division of Statewide Services (Pub #4). Page one provides a list of materials required to construct a quality pair of mukluks. The first item listed is “One pair Eskimo crimped soles, or soft soles of moose, caribou or hairseal. Only oogruk soles, prepared by Eskimos, are water proof.” Nuff said: that’s what I need. Step two did allow a little leeway on the fur requirements: “Two square feet of short haired fur such as hairseal, calf skin, caribou shanks or ground squirrel for tongue and ankle of mukluk.” I just might be able to acquire a few squirrel hides. My back yard seems full of them some days. The instructions for the trimming strips allows one to use “long haired fur, such as rabbit, fox, or otter, for tops.” That fox or otter may be just a tiny bit hard to come by but I bet I just might be able to come across a rabbit or two. I do believe I’m agonna leave off the pompons though. It was nice of them to allow one to use dental floss instead of the nylon thread.

Page 2 followed with very detailed instructions on laying out, cutting, preparing and assembling of the finished product. Shouldn’t be that hard once I get the material together. The second half of the pamphlet deals with mittens and as I have a perfectly good pair of Arctic mittens I’m just not going there.

The next item I reviewed later that same day. It looked to be very interesting: the 315 page “Recipes from Old Virginia” compiled by The Virginia Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs and first published in 1958. I remember seeing this book on the shelf many times. Upon review I discovered only one page with any real use and that looked to have been me; it was no doubt that the notes appearing on that page were in my writing. I don’t remember making molasses spice crisp but must have at some time. The recipe was contributed by N. Lula Pope of Southampton County. Looks good though!

My wife remembers obtaining this book on our first trip to Virginia upon entering the Army in 1970. The price sticker says $2.65. She also remembers seeing the same book (no change) in Williamsburg on our last trip to Virginia just a couple of years back—price at the time as far as she remembers was in the $15 – 20 range; I guess ya might say that was the change. My review of the collection pointed out a couple of quizzical options in some of the recipes. I had to giggle just a little at the use of the term slow oven and the attachment of 300ºF with that term. I finally found a note up front that explained that some of the older recipes came from long, long ago when ovens had not the fancy instruments we have today; thus slow oven is 300ºF, medium oven is 350ºF, etc.

It looks like they turned no recipe down that the testers (two pages of) pasted judgment on as being worthy. Why else would you need cocoanut icebox cookies I & II (Mrs. John W Gunter of Appomattox County and Alice Garrette of Appomattox County respectively), icebox nut cookies (Mrs. C G Siebert of Norfolk County), icebox cookies (Mrs. O S Crute of Augusta County), vanilla icebox cookies and almond icebox cookies (both from Mts. H Van Vleek of Norfolk County), mincemeat (Stella Dellinger of Shenandoah County), mincemeat (Mrs. Tom Boyer of Grayson County), mincemeat (Mrs. W A Sherman of Orange County), homemade mincemeat (Mrs. Stanley Dawson of Westmoreland County), grandmother’s mincemeat (Churchill Wright of Orange County), and green tomato mincemeat (Mrs. Frank Trainer of Prince Edward County). It does look like they eat a lot of mincemeat in Orange County and a lot of various icebox cookies in Appomattox and Norfolk Counties.

There were a couple of humorous entries, at least I thought so at any rate. On page 50 I came across a recipe for Scrapple for Canning (Mrs. M H Pannill of Orange County). I don’t know many people that eat scrapple anymore and I am sure I haven’t seen one of the ingredients on my HEB butcher’s shelf. There were only two ingredients: (1) 4 hog faces and (2) 16 feet. You did need to clean the faces and feet and cook until the meat falls from the bones. Next you had to “Remove bones and all liquid fat, but leave right much of the other liquid.” I do want to point out that both scrapple recipes were NOT in the index.

It was interesting to me that you had to wait two months for the “Best Ever” cucumber pickles of Mrs. Marcellus Boyer of Shenandoah County when I can go over to the HEB and get them this afternoon if I want. I could cut my wait in half by taking up the 14-day sweet pickles recipe of Mrs. Leslie Gordon of Appomattox County.

By the way, I did see a great number of really interesting recipes that I just might try down the road.

The primary drawback of culling is that ya just don’t know unless ya spend the time lookin’ close at each and every item in the stack what ya just might chunk that might be of use just around the corner or some time in the future. I’m more in tune with finding another place to store it and hold on; there’s plenty of corners in my future.

I know if I’m in need of scrapple that I can find pigs feet but I guess that I’m agonna have to call my HEB butcher over to the side and see if he can get me some faces; I just never see them on the shelf.

I am also in a quandary as to where I might come across some oogruk soles prepared by Eskimos. There’s really not a large population of any Eskimos, regardless the tribe, any where in Central Texas. I guess my mukluk project remains a No-Go without proper Eskimos tradesmen or women residing close by. Anybody out there got any contacts I could use? I’m still not much for this new fangled culling idea.