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)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Roosevelts - An Intimate History

Probably, by now you realize that I am a huge Roosevelt fan (TR, that is; but I do like the other two: Franklin and Eleanor). I wanted to share some thoughts on the Mini-Series that is currently playing on PBS (third evening of seven showed last night).

I have met and talked with two of the biographers commenting on the images and antics we have been watching over the last several nights.

First, there is H. W. Brands; author of the FDR biography; “A Traitor to His Class; The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” (by the way, I just finished Brand’s book on Grant: “The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant In War and Peace”). Both are excellent books that I thoroughly enjoyed. I run into Mr. Brands frequently at BookPeople and the Texas Book Fair. He seems to always be there introducing us to another of his really interesting and thought provoking manuscripts. Do not be misled: I do not know him personally, but he does seem to recognize people he has contacted before very easily. He can mesmerize an audience with little effort and is a strong argument for his way of approaching the history he expounds.

The second biographer we saw several times briefly last night (Tuesday). Candice Millard is the author of “The River of Doubt; Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey” (another by the way, I have also read Ms. Millard’s “Destiny of a Republic; A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President”James A. Garfield). Both of these are also excellent books and I highly recommend them. Ms. Millard is just as knowledgeable about the life and times of TR as anybody I have encountered.

I met Ms. Millard at the Texas Book Festival a couple of years back when she was there to speak about her latest release“Destiny of a Republic.” I was so impressed with her presentation that I decided to get a copy of “The River of Doubt.” Patsy had recently told me that she would leave home if I bought and brought into our home another book about Teddy Roosevelt. I mentioned this fact to Ms. Millard and told her as she was signing my copy of “Destiny of a Republic” that she may be the cause of my divorce because I was going to get “The River of Doubt” on my way home from the book fair. She responded that “I better sneak it into the house.” I timidly signaled, with my body blocking the view: “That’s her standing right there.” Ms. Millard just giggled and shooed me on my way.

While we are most likely through with TR as a subject in the Mini-Series, we are in no way through with his ideas and agenda. FDR pushes through most of the remainder of TR’s “Square Deal” agenda during his “New Deal” administration.

I am really looking forward (each day) to the next episode.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Grand Stadium Tour III - Part 7

Up early, we started back toward Seattle for our next Ball Game. Before getting out of the Vancouver area, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s for some coffee, sausage biscuits and hash browns. That’s the same Canadian fast-food chain that plans to be bought out by Burger King and move the chain’s headquarters north of the USA border.

Man! The coffee was HOT!

Back on the road, we weren’t far from the border and a wait that we knew we were in for.

Just before we arrived at the International Border, the Canadians took their last shot at us Lower 8 Americans with a huge billboard stating: “Expensive Medicine 200 meters” ahead. We had a good chuckle as we arrived at the border.  There are far more people crossing into the United States than into Canadawe had a good 45 minute wait.

International Border
Canada & the USA

 Welcome home!

 Flowers Flag

The Border Patrol guy (and US Customs) didn’t give us much grief and we were soon through the check point and back into the US. We headed straight for Seattle.

Finally in the downtown area, we started searching out the Sky Needle, not a hard task, but we needed to find parking also. We chose the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation parking structure and walked over to the needle, bought tickets and we were on the elevator and up to the top in no time.

What a view!

 Seattle's Space Needle from the base

One view from atop the Space Needle

 The Seahawks and Mariners fields - side by side

We spent time looking from every angle on the observation deck, then went inside and had a sandwich for lunch. Heading down in the elevator, we knew we would be funneled out where every exit at any tourist establishment drops youthe Gift Shop. We bought “stuff” for everybody back home and decided to walk the area around the Needle. We headed straight for the old Seattle Post-Intelligencer building that was next to the waterfrontDilin had wanted to visit the waterfront.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Building (with the globe atop)

 (now just an empty building - paper is on-line activity only)

Making our way back to the vehicle and having a lot of time left prior to the ball game, we decided to find our motel, check in and rest up a bit before leaving for the ballpark. Twenty or thirty minutes later, we were in our room.

We left south Seattle in time to get to the ballpark early and maybe catch some batting practice. We were lucky to find parking only a couple blocks from the park and were soon inside and hunting for the fan shopgotta get us a Seattle Mariners Hat.

With our new hats perched atop our heads, our next project was the two hotdogs needed to take to our seats. This done, we sat down. What a view we had here also!

Safeco Field (I don't like the new trend in sponsor parks)

Checking the division standings - Texas Rangers in last place

Joseph taking our "seats pix" prior to game

Tickets in the Nose-Bleed Section

Game time and the Mariners take the field. I am ready for this to happen. We've waited a whole year to get to this point once again.

Mariners take the field

I have mentioned this before, but one of my self-challenges on these trips has been to try to get “odd ball” pictures during the games we have seen. I managed some pretty good ones during the game tonight and am proud to present them here.

Ball leaving the bat

 Ball leaving the pitcher's hand

Ball in front of outfielder

Ball in front of batter’s swing
The Mariners get a home run in the bottom of the first inning and that’s the last of the scoring for the remainder of the gamelots of close innings where the Blue Jays threaten, but every threat was handled.

Home run ball headed into the stands

Of course, the ground crew in Seattle has to match the rest of the major leagues (and now the minors also) with a dancing exhibition during the field sweep at mid-game.

Ground Crew dancing

The Mariners even used a Big Shift with the Blue Jays’ big designated hitter. I’ve seen this many times now, even one more drastic last year against the Red Sox’s David Ortiz where all the infield is on the first and second base side of the diamond. 

BIG Infield Shift

Real excitementjust like it oughta be in the top of the 8th & 9th innings where the Blue Jays put men on and the Mariners’ closer shuts them down.

Game over! Mariners WIN!
We make our way out of the stadium, find where our car is parked and head south to our motel. Up early the next morning we are at the airport in plenty of time and await our multiple flights back to Dallas and eventually my drive to Austin.

Another Grand Stadium Tour with tickets in the Nose Bleed Section under our belt. Looking forward to planning our next outingthat is, if we don’t come across playoff or World Series tickets. The Cards are leading their divisionyou never know!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Grand Stadium Tour III - Part 6

Early the next morning, we were up and out of Victoria as soon as we could make it happen. We headed straight to the ferry for the mainland and had no more than a fifteen minute wait this time.

Once loaded, I went right up to the top deck and found the fresh air. Very soon I was talking with a guy named Steve, a civil engineer by trade and born in Saskatoon, but now living in Edmonton. Steve talked a mile a minute without breathingI do not remember seeing him take a breath for the next two plus hours. Steve had built roads all across Canada and had done construction in the Middle Easthe had some fascinating stories to tell about working in hospitals in Jordan and Israel.

It was almost a full hour and a half into our discussion that Steve finally revealed his mission this morningSteve was there to convert me and save my soul for Jesus Christ. He had taken early retirement from his job and his entire life was now spent saving the needy from their doomed fate. I learned all about the Four Beasts: the Lion with eagle wings – England and the USA, the Bear – Russia, the Leopard – India and the Dragon – China. He even showed me where I could find 666 at any timethe numbers serve as the parentheses for all bar codes patterns according to Stave. The guy was a wealth of knowledge.

Because of Steve’s breathing pattern, I never had the chance to tell him I was a converthe coulda tagged me and moved on to some needy soul. So I sat and listened for the entire trip, all the way up to the announcement to head back down to our vehicles.

Once back on the mainland, we headed for North Vancouver to spend the morning in one of their really nice parks. Without much insight as to where would be best, we took the turn-off to first one we came to, Lynn Valley Canyon Park. This turned out to be a real surprise.

 Lynn Valley Canyon Park

Suspension Bridge entrance to park area

Baden Powell Trails

 Beautiful area

On our way back to the highway, we stopped into Browns Social House for the Granville Island Brewery –Seasonal (Hey Day Hefelweizen at $5.25 a Sleeve) and a Hickory Burger. Soon we were refreshed and on our way again.

Getting to the Ballpark (Nat Bailey Stadium – over 100 years old), we were in time for batting practice and had a chance to take in the real flavor of the grand ole’ parkreally a treat.

Nat Bailey Stadium (100+ years old)

 I got one of the ushers to take our photo (Dilin, Joseph and me)
Check out our new hats!

 Nat Bailey Stadium Scoreboard

I tried my hand at getting a shot of the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand or the batter’s bat, but due to the protection screen between us and the field, I did not get any real good shots this time.

Ball leaving the pitcher's hand

Action on the base paths

 Minor League digital dot race (more live 
action that at the Big League ballparks)

All the ground crews seem to have taken up 
dancing during their mid-game refurbishing tasks
The Tri-City Dust Devils scored early and never relinquished their lead, defeating the Vancouver Canadians 4 to 2. A great minor league ballgame with a whopping 4006 in attendance.

Before you knew it we were on our way to the Surrey Day’s Inn and a good night’s sleep after the ball game.

More to come soon.