Cowboy Breakfast, San Antonio Style

Posted January 25, 2007 by slickwilly
Categories: General Thoughts

Each year, the North Chamber and others gather donations and cook a free breakfast for the public, South Texas Tex-Mex style! This is the traditional kick off to Rodeo here in SA.

Tomorrow is the day…

Here are two good stories about the event… which is across the highway from my office (convenient, huh?)

http://www.texashighways.co m/currentissue/destinations.php?rid =311®ion=5

http://www.mysanantonio.com /specials/rodeo/stories/MYSA011907.WK.johng. 705267.html

“Tasty food cooked on the premises—breakfast tacos, sausage-stuffed biscuits, and S.O.S. (ground beef and cream gravy served on a slice of bread)…”

(I’ll let someone else tell you what SOS really stands for, but a hint is that the toast or bread is called a ‘shingle.’ Ask any Army veteran for the graphic description!)

A few years back we made the World record for most served in a single hour: 18,941 hungry munchers! (not counting seconds!)

This year we plan on feeding in excess of 30,000 people.

Lots of fun and food for all!

Gasoline and Windmills

Posted December 11, 2006 by slickwilly
Categories: General Thoughts, Humor

When we were kids, we made up our own entertainment. TV had a total of three channels, if the weather was right, and video games did not really exist. This is circa 1979, outside a small town not really close to what you would consider a populated area today, much less a city, deep in the heart of Texas.

So we made do with what we had available. And in the summer, wildlife was available. So to speak. Wasps and fire ants were particular nuisances. (Note to self: Do blog on fire ants later).

This story is about fighting wasps, bees, and assorted stinging flying insects. Bear with me, the build up and background are important to the story.

Now I did not start out with a particular wish to do battle with miniature helicopters packing loads of Bad Attitude: that was where my cousin came in (who should remain nameless, because he knows who he is. Yeah, you, Larry Don!… oops)

I stayed at Larry’s house a lot that summer before fifth grade. We had just moved to the area, and our house was not ready yet, so my brother and I just lived with Larry and his family. During that summer, we did what all boys do when it is 100 degrees in the shade and there is no ready form of entertainment: ran wild in the woods with BB guns; explored land our families did not own; discovered new ways to mistreat fireworks; caught snakes, turtles, and assorted bugs (locusts were a favorite); tortured our little brothers (did I mention we spent a good bit of time unsupervised? We had a teenage babysitter, but she was more interested in a) her soap operas, b) the air conditioning in the living room, and c) running the children out of the house to preserve the sanctity of items a) and b)… ); and building tree houses out of scrap wood. But I drew the line at one of Larry’s favorite sports: fighting bees, wasps, etc… with a tennis racket. To be more precise, with his father’s tennis racket. Which we were not supposed to touch. Right.

I was not scared or anything; it just paled when I watched Larry hit the little beggars and they GOT BACK UP in a really bad mood… and we both would get to see if we could outrun a mad wasp/bee/whatever. Although I had to admit using a water hose with a pressure nozzle made some sense, you had to find a nest within range of the water faucet, which limited opportunities somewhat. But we had plenty to do, and then school started.

During the first few weeks of school, we still rode the bus home to Larry’s house, which required us to walk a half mile or so down a dirt road. Larry and I quickly learned that our little brothers would not follow us through the woods beside the road, and so each day was a race between two routes. On one of these jaunts we discovered the Windmill. There was an old abandoned homestead out there (okay, we were lost at the time: that happened quite often the first few weeks) without a house (tornado must have taken it) but there was an old barn (locked) and this old Windmill. The Windmill was rusted, and made a lonely groaning noise when the wind blew, a noise we had interpreted on several occasions as some sort of monster or ghost (we generally won the race to the house when it was windy). But we never had much time to explore the site because we knew that Larry’s mom would be home soon.

So one Saturday we went there on purpose to look the situation over. And we decided to climb the Windmill. Why? We were ten year old boys: because it was there, of course. No safety belts, no net, just tennis shoes and bare hands. And I went first. After losing paper/rock/scissors (I still think Larry cheated: I had never heard of dynamite until then, and Larry’s fondness for sharp tools made Rock my usual choice… but he would not LIE to me or anything).

Anyway, up I went, with Larry right below me (after several judicious applications of the term ‘chicken’ from six feet in the air). See, there was this platform, maybe four feet square, under the actual apparatus where we thought we could sit. I actually made it 30 feet up or so, to the underside of the platform when I felt a bug sitting on my left knuckles, followed by an explosion of pain. My first thought was “Spider!” and I let go with that hand and grabbed with the other. It was not a spider, but a paper wasp nest, what we called ‘yellow jackets’ for their brightly banded abdomens. Of course, my other hand got stung as well. And I let go with both hands, until I realized that it was a LONG way down. So I grabbed with my left hand again, wasp sting or no, and promptly got stung again. And traded hands again. And got stung again.

By then I had convinced Larry that I was coming down and he could move or fall, his choice. We ran back to the house, where dad put chewing tobacco on the stings to draw the poison out (no, we had never heard of any medicine for such a thing…) and I went around for several days not being able to bend my fingers due to the swelling.

All of that story to get to this: I now had a fine hatred of flying insects in general and stinging ones in particular. So the next weekend, after the swelling was gone, Larry and I went to do battle with a bumble bee nest armed with water guns and badminton rackets (Larry had gotten caught with the tennis racket, much to his bottom’s chagrin). Now, I had NO experience with bumble bees and so trusted Larry’s opinion that we were a match for such large, slow flying insects (do you see a pattern here?).

Bumble bees do not generally attack by themselves. And for future reference, they are too large for the average water gun, circa 1979, to stop. If you are quick with your reactions you can knock them from the air with the rackets, but they get back up. They also hold a grudge far longer than a paper wasp, and are known to chase their victims for hundreds of yards… and they did. We did not get stung, but one bee in particular was upset enough to follow us to the house and chase us around the house several times. Then we had the bright idea to split up. Now the bee was chasing Larry and I was gasping for breath. Larry could not leave well enough alone, though, and ran back by me, thus giving himself a chance to catch his breath while I ran. We traded back and forth several times before I used my break to run in the house and lock the screen door…

Why didn’t we hit the single bee with our rackets? Well, uhmmm, we dropped those when we started to lose the fight. Okay, it was an error in judgement, but you show me the ten year old with the presence of mind to run from a dozen bumble bees and plan ahead at the same time…

That little story persuaded Larry’s dad (after he stopped laughing) to ask why we had not used a cup of gasoline to attack the nest. I can honestly say that this concept had never crossed my mind (but I’m not so sure about Larry: he probably remembers the whipping he got from an incident several years before involving gasoline, matches, and the brash gumption of an eight year old to lie to his father’s face when asked if he was playing with gas… while he reeked of the stuff…). Larry’s dad then took us back to the nest with a cup full of gasoline and… no more nest. No running. No water guns. And best of all, we got the badminton rackets back. (The bees had claimed them as spoils of war) Gasoline freezes the exoskeleton of any insect, then rapidly kills the victim without affording a chance at a last revenge stinging. Most wasp sprays at the time still involved running from partially hit insects who would eventually die, but had a dying wish to leave you a memento of their parting from this earthly existence.

From then on, we used lawnmower gas when fighting insects. And a Crusade was launched. You see, killing wasps was a Good Thing in adult eyes, so we had semi-official sanction as long as we asked first (when an adult was home: if we were alone, it was time to do battle). I’m sure Larry’s dad wondered why he was buying gasoline so often after that…

Lessons for would be Gas Fighters:

1) Oil does not product the desired knock down effect, although it is ultimately lethal to the insects, the grass, the flower beds… and most importantly, leaves too much evidence behind in the form of large brown stains under the home-owner’s eaves. All in all, best to wait for a clear volatile to become available.

2) Gasoline WILL eat through your aunt’s brand new plastic tumblers, and sneaking real glass tumblers out of the house is not a good idea. Telling your aunt that you have been filling her good glass tumblers with gasoline in an even worse idea. Stick to the mason jars in your uncle’s shop, but remember to put the nuts and bolts back in the jar when done to ‘cover the evidence.’

3) Do not stand under a nest you are killing. Not only will you smell of gasoline, but you might get stung by falling but not-yet-dead wasps. The stinger is active until the wasp dies!

4) Do not shoot a wasp nest with a BB gun before using gasoline: you want the wasps ON the nest, not in the air looking for you.

5) Gasoline will eat through a used plastic milk jug, so attempting to ‘stockpile’ a supply other than in the metal gas can will not work. Also note that storing gasoline in a glass bottle with a rag stopper is viewed in many parts of the world as possesion of a molotov cocktail and could result in jail time.

How times have changed

Posted November 15, 2006 by slickwilly
Categories: Family, General Thoughts

I had a thought on how our society has changed.  Or perhaps the change is in me?

 My grandfather grew up on a farm, using a homemade slingshot during the depression era (in Texas, that era lasted from 1920 to 1945, it seems).  They had guns, but could not afford bullets as much.  He wandered pretty much where he wanted and no one minded.

 My dad grew up around farms and in rural areas, and ran around unsupervised with a .22 rifle.  He shot bullfrogs, turtles, and probably anything else he wanted to aim at.  We are talking about a pre 10 year old, if I understand the stories right.  And it was okay at that time.

 I grew up with BB guns.  We did not buy pellets very often, and the first BB guns did not fire them anyway.  (But my dad did not let me have one myself pre 10 years old: Larry’s dad did <wink> )  We shot anything that moved, and quite a few things that did not.  Including each other, when the best gun we had was the Daisy Red Rider spring gun.  I’ll get into those stories another time.  We also wandered wherever we could walk to.

 My son will be ten next June and has never, to my knowledge, fired a sling shot, a BB gun, or a Pellet gun, much less run the countryside with one.  (He HAS fired a .22 and various pistols, rifles, and shotguns, but never unsupervised)  The only gun we leave to his discretion is a water pistol, and not in the house!

 Is it me, or have we gotten so protective that some great experiences are now lost?  Sure, society is more crowded, and in this era when anyone sues for anything we have to be more careful, but why do I have a vague sense of loss about this, for his sake?

 Yes, I am considering giving him a pellet gun for Christmas, but it will be locked away unless he is supervised.  It is to teach him proper gun range technique and safe gun handling, not for him to range the woods like I did at his age.  Of course, we do not have access to land like I did growing up (not that small matters like property ownership, vicious dogs, barbed wire fences, or armed residents ever slowed Larry and I down…).

Maybe I simply know what CAN happen now, and that stops me from telling him to run free.  I dunno.

Edited to add: My oldest finally told me what he really wanted for Christmas: a black Nintendo DS lite with the Avatar game.  No BB gun this year.  Although the story of how I got him the DS is good by itself…

Pics of the kids

Posted November 5, 2006 by slickwilly
Categories: Family

What blog would be complete without pictures of the kids?  This way, my relatives can’t complain… about this, anyway. This one is a bit old, but it will do… Mac Monsters

This is the Halloween 2005 Pic, but you get the idea…

The Modified Golden Rule Policy

Posted September 9, 2006 by slickwilly
Categories: politics and satire

Got a bee in my bonnet several weeks ago, and though you might enjoy a little rant…  This is not serious, and I did not come NEAR to going after everyone I could have (the GOP should be very afraid):  feel free to write me a few ideas of your own…  and pass it along if you wish.   

Modified Golden Rule Policy  

I would like to propose a new policy in our dealings around the world: Let us call it the ‘Modified Golden Rule Policy.’Under MGRP, the USA will treat others exactly as we are treated. Simple and direct. This policy has the bonus that if the ‘bad actor’ gets caught and convicted, they KNOW that they will get the same as they gave out.

For example, terrorists who are shooting at our troops will be shot at, regardless of where they are hiding, be it a Mosque, Church, Holy Ground, Indian Burial site, or civilian home. If you shoot out the window, we will flatten the building. (Wonder how much cooperation civilians would be willing to give at that point?) Collateral damage? Under MGRP, we will take the same caution as our opponents to prevent any: in this case, none. War is h_ll, get used to it.

Mexico: we put troops, tanks, fences and land mines on the border (like they do their own southern border) and shoot to kill, as they do. We violate their territorial integrity at will in pursuit of criminals (as they do today when guarding drug shipments into the USA), and reduce their foreign aid by $10,000 for every citizen of theirs we catch within our borders. (wonder how long it would take for Mexico to guard their own northern border as well?)

Saudi Arabia: All their women must wear bikinis in public when in the USA, and the Koran is prohibited (just being funny on this one) UN: Percent of annual dues paid will be the same as percentage of votes we win, or maybe the percentage of countries who support our initiatives. Have to think about them a bit more…Iran: Every rocket launched into Israel equals one conventional bomb dropped randomly in Tehran. Every IED exploded in Iraq equals another bomb in a major Iranian city. Every US soldier killed by terrorists whose funding comes from Iran equals one cruise missile into a power generating facility. Let them try to refine uranium by donkey treadmill!

North Korea: every nuclear bomb exploded or missile tested means the USA will hunt down and sink one military submarine, ship, or airplane. Every assertion that we are declaring war on them will be met with the sinking or capture of one non military ship.

All two-bit banana republics who rail against the USA (Yes, Hugo, this means you): Foreign aid reduced $10,000 by number of citizens caught illegally in USA, plus by $1,000,000 every time they voted against us in the UN within the past two years. This means Hugo might actually owe us some refunds…

Closer to home, we might want to try out MGRP on the Main Stream Liberal Media: for every slanted news report they lose one station license for a month. For every op ed piece they foist on the airwaves as news, they lose a station license permanently. Report the facts keep your agenda to yourself!

For Elitist Liberals (think Mikey Moore): for every capitalist pig company that they rail against but actually own stock in, loss of the right to live in the USA for one month, going back five years.

For the democrats: for every unfounded accusation, one child loses a government provided school lunch for one day (this one could really cause hunger in America After all, they accuse the GOP of this anyway). Every time they vote to tax the elderly, or limit Social Security, they lose a like percentage of their own retirement benefits (this one works for all politicians, come to think of it). Every time they break a law, they actually get punished for it (what a concept) instead of merely correcting the fraudulent paperwork once caught (Yes, dirty harry, this means you).

For the Supreme Court: every house taken for private development results in the loss of one house owned by a member of that body for the same purpose… starting with those that voted in favor of that law.

While on the topic of Eminent Domain:

For every politician who votes to take houses from citizens to give to private companies: they are the first to lose their houses at the same percentage of market value to that developer.

For every developer who wants to take land using Eminent Domain: Force them to pay 150% of market value (as determined by the sales in that area just like any real estate transaction) to the owners they would like to steal from. If they cannot make a profit at that rate, do not take the land! Why should the municipality be paying for this property? The developer is the one making the real profits! /soapbox

Smokers: never mind, they are already doing it to themselves

Criminals:Rapists: you guessed it… in whatever orifice they violated. This would have to follow a below the waist/above the waist rule…Hit and run drivers: same injuries, with the same wait for medical services as their victims.Murderers: In Texas, we already ‘do unto,’ we would just use whatever implement the criminal used and cut the appeals process much shorter.Enron type executives: confiscation of assets (and distribution to the victims), and a life relegated (after prison) to social security.I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the idea…Anyone have ideas for other MGRP justice?

A Bad Day

Posted August 28, 2006 by slickwilly
Categories: Life happens

  

I had a really bad day last Thursday, and thought I might brighten someone else’s day by sharing it.

 

 ————————————— 

Got up this morning early to get a good start on the work day.  Helped the wife get the kids dressed, fed , etc. and ready for school.

 

Oldest child (9) was so tired I gave him caffeine to wake up; the youngest (4) drank most of the Dr. Pepper I gave the oldest.

 

Yes, sugar and caffeine will wake up a four year old.  Getting her off of the ceiling is another matter.

 

Went out to start the motorcycle: noticed a strange glow from the bike barn.

 

I left the motorcycle tail light on all night, draining the motorcycle battery.  However, the battery is new, so the bike starts.  As I warm the bike up, I note that gas is a bit low, but should be more than enough to make town and the gas station. 

 

Three miles from edge of town, traffic is stopped cold due to short cycling traffic light.  (Why do they put traffic lights across US freeways anyway? Isn’t that why God invented overpasses?  Oh yeah, TxDOT does not believe in God.)  Go into reserve tank while in traffic.

 

Traffic moves one car length at a time, causing cramps in my clutch hand.  I use neutral and coast to massage my clutch hand against my leg. (Motorcycle riders know what I’m talking about)

 

Half an hour later when I cross the light, I note that I can still make work in time even though I need to stop for gas.

 

Run out of gas in heavy traffic at 65 miles per hour.  You have not LIVED until you navigate a dead motorcycle across three lanes of traffic while coasting.  No longer need caffeine to wake up at this point: pure adrenalin, baby.  (Note to self: a half hour in traffic will drain motorcycle reserve tank)

 

Gas station is still a mile away, up hill.  Call my boss to ask for help.  Boss is stuck in traffic and is bumming a ride in any case; suggests I call my coworker, who we will call Fred as I am sure he does not want to be associated with this story in any way.

 

Fred goes off looking for a gas can to buy and fill with one gallon of premium (never use anything else in a motorcycle!) gasoline.

 

Although my bike is four or five feet from the actual traffic, I opt to sit on the concrete barrier that separates the freeway for the access road.  The blazing heat from the morning sun is cooled by the steady breeze created by hurling semi tractor trailers just missing the narrow shoulder I am sitting on.

 

As I keep watch for any inattentive drivers who might make me hurdle the concrete barrier to avoid bodily injury, I notice that several ants are attempting to climb said barrier.  They get so far, and then the wind from a passing truck knocks them back to the bottom of the barrier.  They never stop climbing, even though there is nothing at the top of the barrier that could conceivably interest an ant.  I try not to ruminate on possible parallels with my work at the office.  (Just kidding, boss!)

 

An hour later, Fred comes walking up the freeway with the gas can.  (How can they charge $12 for a 1.5 gallon plastic container?!?).  Fred assumed, quite correctly, that it was unsafe to pull a car off of the road where I have been sitting, and so parked up the access road.  As we assemble the nozzle to the $12 gas can (I still cannot believe the can cost more than the gas!), I notice the can claims to be spill and leak proof.

 

The gas can leaks… 

 

…and does not pour out gas when inverted.

 

After much exclamation, I note that the now gasoline-soaked sticker on the can has a small ‘peel here’ arrow .  It won’t peel, of course. 

 

Finally, instructions are revealed under the sticker, along with many warnings of all of the dire things that can happen when you buy a gas can at a convenience store at 7:45 am.  Ignoring the warnings (what else can go wrong?) we find out that THIS gas can is for cars only, and you have to perform surgery on the nozzle to seal it to ‘prevent possible leakage.’  So we attempt to follow the directions while any part we happen to set down are blown into traffic by those hurling semi trucks.  We also discover that you have to pull back on the nozzle valve (as if you were inserting the nozzle into a car gas tank) to get the gas flowing.  On a more positive note, this 1.5 gallon gas can boasts a ‘two gallon per minute flow rate!’

 

So I get the now not-leaking can into position and pull back the nozzle valve.

 

Two gallons per minute into a three inch deep metal hole produces one heck of a splash.  I am now covered in gasoline along with my bike, the freeway, and Fred.  Fred happened to move my helmet away from the bike just before this (thanks Fred!) so one item I will be wearing does not stink of gas.

 

The motorcycle still does not have any gas in it.  We figure out how to rig the silly thing well enough to fill the bike, and Fred takes the gas can back up the road with my profuse thanks and the cash contents of my wallet to compensate him for the trouble and expense.

 

I make it to the gas station, where I fill the bike and go inside to clean up.  The door to the Men’s room is locked, so I wait.  My exposed skin is burning from the gasoline when, 10 minutes later, a lady approaches with a key that says ‘Lady’s room’ and unlocks that door.

 

I get the key to the Men’s, (strangely enough, attached to an 8 by 10 picture frame) and clean up.

 

I am now over an hour late for work.  I get back on the freeway… and notice that traffic is stopped again.  Not wasting any thoughts on the ironic fact that my former squatting spot is now not getting any breeze, I duck off down an exit ramp, and take an alternate route to work.

 

At work, my boss, who sold me the bike, razzes me about him owning that motorcycle for 13 years and never running out of gas… I refrain from homicide by reminding myself that killing your boss will most likely get you fired.

 

And the time is now 9:30 am.  Boy, can I not wait to see what else happens today…

 

 The rest of the day went well, since so many have asked…  

I AM NOT AN IMMIGRANT

Posted May 25, 2006 by slickwilly
Categories: politics and satire

It would seem that certain ‘people of indefinite nationality’ would like to assert that the United States, or large portions thereof, belong to a certain ethnic group, and the Caucasians should leave, or at least shut up.  We are just immigrants, they say, and stole the land for the true owners, the ‘native americans.’ 

Yes, my great-great-blah blah grandparents came to this country as immigrants, but their children were NATIVE American Citizens. Not native American as in teepees and buffalo hunts, but in terms of citizenship in the United States of America.

If you want to start the game of saying that makes ME an immigrant, we can do that too.

It all just depends on how far back you wish to go…

My family started showing up in the 1600s.

Most hispanics have European blood from Spain starting back in the 1500s: that makes them immigrants to the entire new world just as I am.

According to the Smithsonian, the ‘Native Americans’ (Incans, Aztecs, Apache, you name ’em) invaded the new world via land bridge around 7,000 years ago, and were not the first to do so. They were Asian Steppe people (for the most part) following the game; those already here (Clovis people, with European skull characteristics) were either destroyed, enslaved, or died out.

The Clovis people arrived as much as 12,000 years ago, and could still be considered immigrants, since man ‘evolved’ in Africa and NOBODY originated in the new world!

Since 99.999% of the hispanic and indian inhabitiant of the new world have ancestors showing up as recently as 7,000 years ago, they are also immigrants.

Heck, the Arabs and the Jew are STILL arguing over land disputes from 5,000 years ago: who is an immigrant there?

Back on point: What does it matter if your family arrived in America 400, 600, or 7,000 years ago? We are not talking about ancient history, but about civilized nation states, who sign treaties, make war, conquer, or cede land to each other.

Mexico gave up her rights north of the border when she scrapped the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, telling the INVITED gringo Mexican citizens in Texas that they were no longer citizens and had none of the rights promised them when they moved there. That action led directly to the loss of Mexico’s northern provinces, and is binding to this day.

And the ‘norteamericanos’ (aka ‘gringos’) will fight to keep it that way.