Monday, March 31, 2008

Look at My Teeth...

I have just bought the last pair of braces I will ever need. Mary, proud to be required to wear braces longer than any of the other children, got them off today.

Will be fitted for a retainer next week.

Just a reminder to the other kids, that first $4000 was on me. Don't forget to wear your retainer.

I guess the next big dental will be falsies for me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Still Some Stuff From Vegas...

So all the eye business is over, back to work this week and really glad to be submerged in the rat race. It's real hard to be this famous Internet blog person you know. Well I guess you don't know, but It's been so nice to be back to my day job.

So I'll take time to post a little video link to Morgan's weapon form. It was filmed at the American Taekwondo Spring Nationals in Las Vegas. He did not place in the competition but a good form nevertheless.

Here is a link to my youtube site:

For some reason the youtube link on the side bar won't stay fixed so you must get to the site from links that are occasionally embedded in the blog text.

All video made by me or my very close associates.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

White Frog...

Here's an albino frog perched on the wall beside the front door. Maybe not really a frog, a toad most likely and with the coming of spring thousands will be greeting the new warmth with voices raised in unison. From the racket they make you would think I'd be mashing multitudes with a single advancement of each number 12.

I don't know if this is a particular kind of toad, maybe always white, but it is the first one like it I have seen. Most of the rest are colored and shaped like piles of small dog poop which I do sometimes mash with the advancement of each number 12.

Some get all excited about a perceived disappearance of frogs and toads or the seeming mutation which could be taken as a harbinger of end times for environmental reasons(Google is your friend) better stated elsewhere. I think frogs don't like to be around people, so people think there are no frogs and some frogs are like people in the way that they are just different from anything you have met before. Maybe this one was dropped off by an alien. They do things like that around here you know. And if you are wondering, no he's not swimming in my belly.

This frog does bring to mind a song that sometimes gets sung around here, it's sung after all other songs get sung. It usually starts with the statement "Blue Squirrel." This statement is repeated over and over Blue squirrel, blue squirrel, blue squirrel, blue squirrel, blue the tune of a root dominant 5th chord progression frantically franged on as many acoustic guitars that can be gathered in a circle. After the blue squirrel verse finishes, with the cowboy cords beating like drums another person is selected, bullied,pointed to and he/she blurts out a statement somehow connected to an animal like maybe "dog Puke" and the verse starts over, dog puke,dog puke, dog puke, dog puke...well you can repeat as many times as necessary there alone in front of your computer monitor to get the idea. Game usually ends when a bullied person says "I don't want to sing one" and then the last verse is I don't want to sing one, I don't want to sing one, I don't want to sing one... I used to be real good at this game, but I quit drinking. Made me like an athlete that got out of shape or something, I just could not compete anymore.

So to make a long story short, white frog, white frog, white frog, white frog...
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Of Course it is Election Year...

And that has me happy. So happy I think I'll give away a big screen TV. We haven't done that in a while.
This winner gets his big screen for writing to the Dallas Morning News and getting his letter published. I happen to agree with the letter as I do with many things the author, Mr. Gibson says. After all I have known him about 30 years and requested his presence as the best man at my wedding.
I am glad that this is not a political blog. I can just leave that stuff to others and sit back and report what happens.
Mr. Gibson, a big screen is on it's way to you. Hopefully the next leader we chose will see that it pays better dividends to provide jobs, education, health care and big screens than to spend a bunch of money killing people.
Click on the picture, should zoom up to be easy to read. Click on the big screen tag to read about other winners.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday Pictures...

Driving through the neighborhood to my mom's house for an Easter dinner we saw families engage in the age old ritual of Easter pictures in from of the azaleas.

We couldn't wait to get to my mom's and do the same thing. I think my mom's azaleas are putting on the best show on the block.

Well, maybe not the best show, check out the act these two are working up.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Stations of the Cross...

Good Friday at St. Patrick's.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Thursday...

Here is a gift for Cathy that Katie picked up at the city garage sale in Austin. The Crucifixion stamped into a tray done up in what I guess you could call Greek Orthodox style.

Where does stuff like this come from? No hint of age, nothing known about previous ownership or country of orgin.

I guess one day we'll be gone. The kids will go through our stuff and put on a garage sale. It will be a big one. All the stuff like this will be off on another journey, will hang for an unknown number of years on someone else's wall and then will start all over again.

Guess that's kind of what Resurrection is all about.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

GoGol Bordello Live at Stubb's...

We saw the band Gogol Bordello at Stubb's BBQ Monday night. I was real careful because of my eye surgery, no crowd surfing, no slam dancing, no bouncing up and down and no Gypsy dancing. I did get some good pictures.

You may know that Gogol Bordello named this blog. They are named themselves after the Russian writer Nikoli Gogol (1809-1852) who is known as the father of modern Russian realism. Just goes to show you, like I have noted before, everything is everything.

Eugene takes the stage.

Shirts come off pretty quick.

Anything with an accordion can't be all bad.

Cabaret style punk.

I am working on getting all my photos online from this show. Check back later for a link.

Got the pictures posted.


Friday, March 14, 2008

When Spring Break Goes Bad...

It's that time of the year, students on spring break means too much fun.

Here we are in the squad car, looks like may have charge you with "Brittney on a sunny day."

Don't forget about Homeland Security. They get a piece of the action these days. Time for the old body cavity search.

Ok, so this was not the best choice for spring breakers. I mean this cell should be full of people that had too much fun. Where are all the cool people?

Thanks to a certain small town Police department for the use of facilities. You can tell it's not the local pokey because there would be average population 292 other inmates in this picture.
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Let Me Introduce My Redneck Friend...

Still recouping the eye. I am Ok to return to work on the 25th at full speed. No lifting, bouncing, running till then. So I am kind of stuck here at the house. I can take walks, read, cook and so forth but have not been able to do much else for fun. With the weather getting milder and the days longer I'd like to fish, but with Cathy working I better leave straining on boat hook ups and moving batteries around for charging and replacing alone.

Ever wonder about those long gone civilizations that seem to have just picked up and gone leaving all behind? That's kind of how it's starting to look around here. Just before all this eye business started the washing machine quit. Pretty sentimental occasion you know, it was a wedding present and all. I cried. But I dried my tears and marched down to Lowe's with explicit directions from my bride to purchase the cheapest machine available. It's an Amana, a floor model sold to me at a 10% discount by a young man I put the fear of death in long years ago because I caught him as a small mean boy, cornering my dogs in the garage and shooting them with a slingshot. I think the encounter did him some good, not because he gave me a good deal, but because he is now a youth leader at a local church. The old straighten up and fly right worked to great effect. It always does coming from a stranger, where such an encounter can be labeled "life experience" as compared to your own little secure circle where it is known as "family dynamics."

Anyway new washer installed before the eye trouble and the old one rests in peace, it's duty done with it up to me to find the best place for it to begin a new life as useful scrap metal. This is opposed to a night dump (I know, sounds nasty) on a lonely East Texas road where people will pass, point and say "I saw that on the blog."

Since I am limited on lifting for the time being I hope this period of rest does not get too restful. For the old machine that is. It's out to pasture, but it will soon be on to some other pasture as soon as I can lift. Until then, it looks like R.E.D. Neck business around here.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Ramirez...

Being off work with this eye sure gives me a chance to catch up on the news around here. Today we reach back to review a Christmas gift, a Guitar made for Cathy by our son in law Juan Ramirez.

This review has taken so long because we had this instrument in the shop for a few skilled tweaks and only recently got it back. Juan does not play guitar and this was his first attempt at building one. I was privy to the project through out the past year as he plied me with questions about guitars and the requirements of Cathy's playing style that I answered best I could.

Fit and finish is excellent. In this picture you can see theMother of Toliet Seat Pearloid pick guard and the painted headstock, all nods to the golden age of cool guitars.

Closer look at the body. Note the butterfly, left bout and crosses in the sound hole. Inside is signed and dated. The tweaks at the guitar shop involved lowering of bridge and nut, items that the instructions for building encouraged be professionally done for best results.

Sides and back.

Sound wise it's ok. Stays in tune. It won't replace Cathy's number one axe, the guitar that was her mother's, but it is a fine little guitar to have sitting out around the house for those times with you need to grab up an instrument to work out a quick something. Saves unpacking the gigging instruments which stay cased and ready to travel. The other day in Houston I heard a Bob Dylan song on the radio, one of his old tunes, and I would liken the sound to that type of guitar.

Regular readers here have seen the stories in the past about the several guitars I own. Cathy is fond to point out that only one guitar can be played at a time. Guess who owns two now.

This weekend Juan presented me with a skinning knife made by his father, Mike. A great piece of work, well balanced, sharp and just the right size.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

My Eye is Fixed...

Saw Dr Diaz this afternoon and he proclaimed my eye surgery a success. All is as it should be with vision improving each time it's checked. I am cleared to return to work, could be as soon as tomorrow, pending paperwork making the rounds of concerned parties. I will still have the precaution of no lifting that may cause a valsalva maneuver, which is a fancy way of saying don't lift and grunt with your mouth closed. This will be in effect the rest of this week and then for two more weeks.

After this time has passed I will be free to resume all activities which will include Taekwondo workouts. No restrictions will apply. My vision is improving but I'll need to check lens in 3 months and return to Dr. Diaz in 8 weeks.

I will also be able to sleep in the bed tonight. I have slept sitting up for 10 days. That has been the worst part I think. What with poor sleep, the rain and just general inactivity I have been restless today. Glad for that to come to an end.

Well my boss just called and the work release says no lifting over 5lbs. Not what we talked about in the office at all. A gallon of milk weights 8 pounds I have surely been lifting that. Looks like a round of phone call tomorrow to straighten this out.

Here is my Doc. I heartily recommend him:

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Food Review...

Dropped Mary off in Sweeny Tx to spend a couple of days with Rose and Juan for spring break.

You know I had the idea to make a food blog, anonymous of course, for local restaurants. I'd go in and eat, maybe make a picture of the dish I had and I would play food critic. I would have a business card with the web address, maybe mail the card to the restaurant owner, leave the cards in public places to advertise. Be a nice little hobby, kind of an eat em up Zorro.

Any way we ate at a real good place, classic Texas Gulf coast style food called Bay City sea food. Here is a shot of Mary, Cathy and Rose outside one of numerous locations in the area. I had the 9-9-5,9 fried oysters, 9 shrimp and 5 scallops. Cathy had the grilled plate with oysters, scallops shrimp and fish. The fish was that good gulf coast grilled where the flavor comes from the grill instead of the spices like in a Cajun dish. A real nondescript piece of fish, they don't put no fancy name on him, but he is fresh from swimming in the gulf and is ready to swim in your belly, happy to please.

The fried stuff was not at all greasy. I talked to the owner and he reported only one or two myocardial infarctions per week and these were only amongst the oldest and most loyal customers.

Also the raw oysters, while fresh, were served on ice with no shell, clean, but in Texas I like a little grit. Good boiled crawfish, spicy, but not over done. I had a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, while not on par with the one served locally at Mexico Lindo, it will serve as a nice booster to my flu shot.

Good clean neon is no nonsense about what's happening inside and the small shrimps deserved a closer focus.

Friday, March 07, 2008

I just Gotta Comment...

I usually leave the political blogging to others but since I am idled while my eye recovers (doing fine) with boredom killing me this sitting around in my drawers in front of a computer screen has brought me to a subject I will comment on. My wife always warns me not to discuss politics in polite company. I can only assume this is polite company and visitors are here for reasons other than my tantalizing drawers.

Concerns the Race for US Senator here in Texas. A number of candidates in the Democratic field trying to win the right to face a Republican opponent in November. Good common folks interested in good government need to pick a worthy person because the one picked will surely be mowed down by the huge campaign money war chest already raised by his November opponent.

One guy throwing his name in the hat is Rick Noriega. Ask the questions typically asked of candidates. Experienced? He's a state senator. Is he a hero? Answered his country's call to serve in Afghanistan. Looks like point Rick, to me.

Then take this guy. Gene Kelly. Retired. Gets his name on the ballot for some state wide race each election. Never Campaigns. Has not made enough public statements for his opinions on anything to be known. Runs on name recognition alone for votes since he shares a famous name which causes people when they get in the voting booth to say, "sure like his singing, acting, dancing and the time he helped me get my cows off the farm to market road when they got out." In other words we don't know who Gene Kelly is.

Guess who won the popular vote in Angelina and several other East Texas counties? Gene Kelly. Thankfully he lost state wide.

So if you voted for this guy you should be ashamed. If you did not vote you should be ashamed for letting Mr. Kelly get so far along toward success. If you don't think your vote counts, well feller, it would have counted here. If you need information any East Texas newspaper will reveal what a poor choice Mr. Kelly is as a candidate.

All the while our country calls itself spreading democracy around the world.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Las Vegas...

As you may know I usually vacation in spots where music is a main thing going on. I guess a lot of music goes on in LV, after all Elvis made a big comeback here, the Rat Pack is the height of cool as evidenced by several tribute shows available and numerous pop stars now appear here having made the successful transition from hard working touring band to money sucking corporation.

Couple of shows of interest, the percussion groups Stomp and Blue Man Group would have been good to see, but we have seen Stomp before and Morgan and Mary as high school drummers have had a chance to put on a similar show with the spring percussion concert each year.

Shows like these start at $100 a ticket. Taking a family there you end up spending more than the plane and hotel price. I am used to those Austin/New Orleans shows for $5-$25 a ticket and you stand up jiving and thrashing the whole time. And if you pass out from the jiving and thrashing you are kind of held in place till the crowd thins out. That way you don't miss any of the show getting medical attention. And no one has any second thoughts or asks questions when you mention you don't remember anything from the show.

Besides for $100 a ticket I would expect there would be some expectations that people's manners would be good. Remember $100 is the starting price. Folks paying in excess of this would not consider it good value to have a fat man pounding their back all through the show.

A taxi driver mentioned to me that on Fremont St. there were sometimes free shows going on outdoor stages. He said it was often old seventies rock bands and I thought well maybe we could see the Eagles or something but it turned out better than that.

Here is a free show I saw with old chitlin circuit blues man Bobby Rush. A funk/soul/R&B revue Bobby still has the moves and the chops of a man much younger than his 70 odd years. The band was smoking and flanking Bobby you see a long time staple of his show, the big booty dancers. Their costumes were really fabulous. A special construction of two compartments in posterior of their skirts allows for the insertion of a weasel in each compartment, which happens to be positioned exactly over each buttock. These young ladies then turn around (I know this violates a show business rule) on Bobby's cue of course, with their back to the audience and the weasels wiggle and jump for all they are worth. It's a prize for the poor to find I guarantee.

As for music in the casinos there is the occasional cover band blasting from a lounge off the gaming floor and sometimes piped in music which I would assume is the latest pop hits. Then there is the big water spew show at the Beligio Hotel. Done to music of course and free to the public I had seen this set to a nice impressionistic piano piece. This year the water was matched to the Black Eyed Peas hit "My Humps"

Hot babes are big business in LV. This was the side of a truck going down the street. I don't know if there are babes inside but that's the MGM Grand in the background.

More old Vegas.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Latest Eye Update...

Went for a follow up here in Lufkin this morning. Not with my surgery doc, but one of the others from that practice who I guess it was his turn to come to Lufkin. He looks at it for 5 minutes, says all looks good, I can actually read an eye chart with it, something I could not do last week, I could see the lighted square they project but that was about it and he tells me to come back Monday when my surgery doc can see me.

Here is today's eye picture. You can scroll down and compare the last one. Apparently folks don't usually bruise this bad is what I gathered from the doc today.

I should get a return to work date then. I still have to sleep sitting up and hold my head tilted to the left till the gas bubble disappears which should be by tomorrow. This sleeping sitting up in misery. I got up once to pee in the night and that bed sure looked cozy. Lucky Cathy was at work, if she had been then I might have climbed on in and cuddled up.

So even though I am kind of functioning at reduced speed I can still manage to stir things up with the blog. Check those last two sentences, people will tell my mom I said pee on the blog and my grown children are vomiting at the thought of their parents cuddled up.

"I walked into a bar, a man came up to me and said..."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Sitting around waiting on this eye to heal is for the birds. In that case I'll post some recent bird shots.

Flamingos at the flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Flamingos were the ultimate symbol of lounge cool at one time. This hotel had quite the little waterway system which is even more impressive considering that this is the middle of the desert.

Some times I like to sit in famous spots and watch as people Pose in front of the scenery to have their picture taken. I took a couple of shots for folks, hope they turned out ok considering this was before my surgery and I was not seeing too well out of my right eye at this point. I like to imagine their blogs and the things they write or what their thoughts might be, like if I leave just a little space between me and this guy I can crop him out later if I have too or if I hold my legs really close together maybe I can show this picture to my mom and she won't notice how short my dress is. In the process of all these thoughts and picture making a woman grabbed my camera and made our picture. Turned out ok, I can show it to my mom, I am married to that woman and since I was having some vision problems I got lucky and looked right at the camera. Also notice how she has her hand on my knee. Might as well stay married, can't crop her out.

Wood Ducks at the Flamingo. We hunt these in east Texas. Fly south sometime guys, swim in my belly. I also noted some of the largest koi swimming in these little creeks around the hotel I have every seen. The koi is a popular tattoo subject. If pictured swimming up, means there is a struggle, against the current so to speak.

Through out this exquisitely designed system of ponds and swimming pools (too cold to swim, no one around) I noticed signs that proclaimed "European Bathing Here" What's that mean, they like swim without water?

Ok now skip to Houston. During my surgery I stayed at brother in law Jim's house. He has Mexican Whistling Ducks that summer around his feeders and they returned from the south on March 1st. He has had three broods hatch out in his duck boxes so far, returning each year.

This is a whole different set of ducks waiting on the roof till those pictured on the ground finish eating.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

National Honor Society...

In all the eye business I failed to note that Mary was selected for the National Honor Society. Selection is not just grades but leadership and community involvement. I think 50 kids from LHS were selected this year. That's my mom, Mary and Cathy at the ceremony.

The eye is doing fine today. Getting tired of sitting up and holding my head still and tilted to the left. Went by work, went by the TKD school, it was terrible to sit on the side lines at both places. Still feel a little weak, couple of hours of activity wears me out. I can read some large print through my surgery eye today though. I have finished allmeds and have a follow up Wed. here in Lufkin.

On a side note that has nothing to do with smart kids and damaged eyes, be sure to go vote tomorrow.
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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Just ran into a Door...

Now I know there will be a furious search at the TKD school to see who has a fist about this size but I assure you, this is your eye ball on surgery.

Looks like all went well at this point. I had a follow up this morning in Houston and the doc says it looks fine. I must sleep sitting up with my head tilted to the left to keep the gas bubble that holds my retina in place correctly positioned. I have a list of things to watch for and things that should be and so far all is in accordance with this list.

I got to take it easy with what I lift for a while but after returning from Houston I walked up and down the road several times and Mary drove me to Huntington where I directed her in some grocery shopping. That pretty much tuckered me out but that beat yesterday when I was stiff and sore from sitting in a chair all day.

One of the Houston doctors will be in Lufkin on Wed. so I have a follow up with him then. I'll keep you posted.
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