Some things are just too funny to ignore: Origin of Sub-Species

This piece is shamelessly purloined from one of the dozens of email forwards that I get daily.  It’s funny, but not if you fancy yourself a liberal.  If so, then don’t read it.  My apologies in advance to my liberal friends — you know who you are.  This may warrant another

Dr-pepper 1150823376-15557

Dr. Pepper warning: Don’t read while drinking a Dr. Pepper at the risk of blowing it out your nose whilst convulsively laughing. Continue reading “Some things are just too funny to ignore: Origin of Sub-Species”

Funny stuff DOES happen in court

This file Texas Pleading, shows that lawyers do have a sense of humor. You may have heard about the lawyer who sought a continuance so he could see the Rangers in the World Series.  This is the motion filed by the lawyer.  Dr. Pepper warning: you don’t want to be drinking a Dr. Pepper or other carbonated beverage while you read this lest you snort beverage all over your keyboard!  A teaser:

And the motion goes on, and on, and .. ..

This proceeding also demonstrates that some judges, some, have compassion.  He got the continuance.

Castell in October — a bicycle odyssey for BBQ and beer

My good friend Don Bynum continues to organize bicycle rides that are hard to pass up.  One might think that if you had a 12 day layoff from workouts, you might, or might not, be up for a 36 miles ride … over hills.  Or, on the other hand, you might glibly minimize the situation then facing your 66 year old body.  Taking the latter approach, and with excitement as Ralph and Sherry picked me up early on Saturday morning (10/23) there was nothing that could hold me back.

About a dozen of us gathered at the Castell General Store and were greeted by the bard thereof, the famous (in his own mind) Randy Leifeste.  Check Don’s ride report for a starting group picture.  Don also has some sobering thoughts and suggestions at the end of his report about the exercise and health issues facing all of us.  My own starting photo was thus:

In front of the Castell General Store

Note the proper equipment is in place, I’m nattily attired, and obviously ready to go.  I’m on the trusty Peugeot Triathon bike, Osprey Raptor-14 hydration pack on my back with my Garmin Forerunner 305 sportwatch, and the Garmin Oregon GPS on the handlebars.  The Oregon is easier for getting a quick peek at the trip data or map.  Both the Forerunner and Oregon read my heart rate from the HR strap around my chest.  All of that results in a potpourri of statistics to later be recorded and analyzed in the SportTracks program.

The group was immediately strung out and I’m always impressed with this bunch of riders in the way they ride single-file. I see so many groups with riders two and three-abreast which is rude and dangerous. The round-trip route ending up back in Castell was chosen for very clever and quite obvious reasons:  that’s where the BBQ and beer would be at the end of the ride!  After all, this IS the Tour de Longneques — October edition.  Don’s wife Peggy was there driving SAG as usual along with his wonderful mother Ann.  I think Mrs. Bynum comes along simply to marvel at her plausibly foolish son and his classmate since not only is she Don’s mother, but was an English teacher when we were in high school and although (unfortunately) I did not have her as a teacher, I suspect I was a known quantity to her from “back then.”  The route lays mainly East-West (a fact which will later come to be important):

Bike route in Yellow, old kayak route in Blue

The temperature was about 74 degrees, a bit of cloud cover, a very light breeze, and just overall great conditions.  We did encounter a bit more traffic than usual — it’s almost deer season and those camps and deer blinds are being spruced up for the impending season.  It’s a good road, 152, with a decent surface although the rock-seal is sometimes rough. The ride to Llano was uneventful for me. In fact, it seemed easy. Overall it is downhill but only by about 250 feet total change in elevation.  The rhythm of the pedals going round and round was punctuated by the nylon shorts I had on top of my natty bicycling shorts.  Whoosh-whoosh-whoosh, over and over again.  The cadence was steady and strong.  My Osprey pack with three liters of water gave me a steady and safe swallow of water and contained the goodies I would enjoy at the rest stop in Llano.

Photo by Peggy Bynum catches me and Sherry Macfarlane just a few miles outside of Castell

Peggy Bynum did her usual “race ahead to a photo opportunity” routine to catch good photos of the riders. She manages to get some of everyone and is always there in case someone crashes:  either their bike or their body. Don’s ride report has a lot of good photos posted within it.

I made a mental note (one of a series) to get Mike McKenna (of MikesBikes) to do that conversion to put my shifters up on the handlebars. Every time I reached down to shift I would wobble a bit and each reach carries the possibility of getting my fingers into the spokes of the front wheel. Gotta get that done.

In front of Llano courthouse

I wound up in Llano in pretty good time (1:19:03) and not too beat — notwithstanding the helmet-hair (non-hair?) shown in this self-portrait (sure wish the DROID X had a front-facing camera — the only thing of which I’m jealous of the iPhone).  After a banana, some nuts, a few good swigs of water and brief enjoying of the band that was playing some nice country in the gazebo on the courthouse lawn, I was ready to go.  Sherry made fun of my pack with all of the stuff I was pulling from it.  A few riders had already taken off, and others were just arriving as I slipped my feet into the pedal baskets.  Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh as the nylon shorts again counted out the cadence.  I rotated the crank pretty briskly all the way to the city park/fair grounds thinking I would overtake one of the clusters of riders, but they were nowhere in sight.

At about 5 miles out, after several short but steep climbs I was getting some leg fatigue and stopped for a couple of minutes but was able to strike out again at a decent clip. Another 3 miles and I needed a rest and then another 2 miles after that I was beginning to get cramps in the left leg. Over the next 4 miles my average speed was steadily dropping as I just did not have full power with the left leg.  At about 32 miles Peggy was sitting at a turnout and I seized the opportunity to get a ride the rest of the way.  I felt like I could struggle through it but decided that brains needed to trump testosterone!

The wind was predicted to be out of the SSE. Turns out that on the way back toward Castell — a predominantly East-to-West route — it was more like out of the SSW which put it  more into our faces. Everyone struggled with the wind which was both strong and gusty. One gust almost put me into the weeds off the edge of the road.  Added to the hills as shown in the elevation profile from the Garmin Oregon GPS device, the wind just added too much for me.

The group still let me have a beer and the always delicious BBQ!  That came after the ribbing and the pointer that I should have had Peggy drop me just outside of town, around the bend out of sight and then ride in  🙂

A fun day and thanks again to Don for trying to kill me!  And as always, the vital stats:

Total distance:  31.1 miles in 2:28 (time moving), total 2:48.
Moving average speed just under 13mph.
Heart rate avg/max:  130/160

I think that maximum heart rate is probably my target max for training purposes. For running, it’s 200. Interesting (at least to me).

The SportTracks program shows total 3:08 moving, but that includes the Llano stop which was recorded as a lap.  Here is the documentation output from SportTracks, which gives a huge amount of analytical power to what the Garmin Forerunner gathers:

SportTracks (via an optional plug-in) produces a really detailed summary plus details of the entire workout. On the left you see the overall summary plus the splits, and on the right you see the heart rate plotted with speed.  The last page, below right, has the elevation. Those three charts can be used to show what runs up the heart rate, how you are doing on climbs, and along with the split times and data, can tell you even more than I know how to interpret.

Be careful with your friends

That’s careful with, not about, your friends. More on that later. Caution: this is long and probably only of real interest to friends from “back home.”

My friend from about the 7th grade and all through high school had a personality that some considered “odd” in ways.  From the hot West Texas summer just before the start of the 7th grade when my folks built that house toward the end of Dallas Street in Big Spring, Texas — and I discovered my friend just a block away up a street that was really an alley — until we both made good our escape from the clutches of high school and home, we were constant companions and “soldiers in arms” in many ways. Due to my shyness (unknown to most even today) I was thought by some to be “stuck up” and no doubt thought to be a bit odd of personality also, at least by some. We were, therefore, somewhat the “odd couple” long before Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon brought that on the scene.

Although not a “stud” in high school I blended across many groups, but my friend was marginalized by many. Not shunned, but significantly marginalized. Yet, underneath what sometimes manifested itself as a Napoleonic complex (my friend was vertically challenged), and in spite of his constant attempts to finally win the “War of Northern Aggression,” I saw a strength of character there that I did not then fully understand — nor adequately appreciate.  That strength would later manifest itself in another, significant way. Day by day, he was a friend upon whom you could count and he asked nothing in return.

Those of you who knew me back in the “olden days” (as daughter Melissa often referred to any time more than just a few years ago) also knew John “Jay” Raymond Hatch, Jr.  After high school we went our separate ways, me off to college and then winding up in the U.S. Navy; Jay starting a family with the birth of John-John and eventually ending up in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer, where his strength of character shone brightly.

After “the war” in about 1974 Jay found me in Austin where I was then practicing law. We were in touch there briefly and we talked only minutely about the Vietnam conflict. You see, while I was aboard an aircraft carrier 75 miles on in the Gulf of Tonkin with freshly made ice cream most nights, Jay was slogging through the muddy jungles of Vietnam and leading men into real battles. He wouldn’t say much in detail but I did learn that he had most of an entire platoon “shot out from under” him as he put it. He was troubled by his experience but not complaining.

The rest of Captain Hatch’s story is that he was decorated with a Purple Heart and

three Bronze Star Medals, plus the Army Commendation Medal. He never mentioned those commendations to me, nor to others around him over the years. As happened with many Vietnam vets who served in-country Jay was greatly affected by the experience and his new friends tell me he never really recovered from it. More later about his new friends.

He surfaced again in about 1983 or ’84 when he came to see me in Big Spring while he was starting a new venture in El Paso.  Fading away after that he called me in Marble Falls one day about 10 years later while he was living and working in Brady — just 80 miles up the road. As had been the case for several decades now, the contact was brief and I did not fully appreciate the emotional toil that life had taken on him.  Jay and his wife Carla wound up in Smithville eventually, a fact unknown to me until recently when John contacted me through Facebook.

Thus it was with mixed emotions and a hurt heart that today I attended a memorial service for Jay, who died on October 11, this past Monday.  The main sanctuary of the First  United Methodist Church of Smithville, Texas was packed.  A military honor guard presented the flag.  John-John (who chuckled when I made reference to that nickname) and his family were gathered with a huge cadre of Jay’s “new friends” — those gained after he moved there from Brady and who nurtured him during what would become his final, difficult years.  Several of us made brief remarks about our parts of Jay’s life (mine are below) and the service adjourned to “Charlie’s” — a typical Texas small town bar and pool hall — for a wake. Jay and I always talked about that, about having a wake when we were gone, and I suggested to prop me up in a burnt orange recliner with a scotch in my hand.

Jay was certainly present in spirit at his wake as friend after friend came up to tell me about Jay in their lives. In spite of repeated surgeries and increasing emotional wreckage they tell me he never complained, that he was always giving an ear and gentle counsel to them all. They knew him as an avid hunter, fisherman, golfer, philosopher and writer. Turns out that Jay and his deceased wife Carla had written a book – an audio book – Turtle Trap.  Gotta get a copy.

In chatting with folks around that smoke-filled bar, sitting on the edge of a pool table sipping a Shiner bock and munching on my share of 80 pounds of BBQ chicken, the picture became clear.  Jay had become a giant of a man in that diminutive vertical frame.

As I drove home I mulled over the afternoon. I was proud of my old friend and glad to hear of part of a life well-lived. And, yet, I was sad to have lost all of the years in between as happens so often with both friends and family. Time grabs us and the lives of our friends pass us by, and then they’re gone.

Thus I say be careful with your friends and relationships — time is not your friend, especially once you have almost six decades under your belt.

Here are my remarks, best I can recall what I said during the remembrance:

Jay and I grew up together– well, I say grew up but … (laughter) at least we got older. From about the 7th grade we just lived a block apart up an alley and traversed it often. There is a lot I could tell you since the statute of limitations has run — but not at church (more laughter from the crowd).

We learned things as young boys:  cars, Coors, girls, hunting rabbits, golf — took lessons at about age 10 from golf pro Shirley Robbins at the Big Spring Country Club. Jay was always a friend.

After high school we went our separate ways — he eventually to the Army and me to the Navy. We would have contact occasionally over the years, but not enough. So I tell you to be careful with your friends and don’t let time pass you by.

I’ll leave you with just one piece of advice, with something Jay told me every time we parted company: “Don’t take any wooden nickels.”  (big chuckles — turns out he was still fond of the phrase).



John Raymond Hatch, Jr. “Jay” 1944 – 2010 Born in El Paso, Texas, on January 14, 1944. He would circle the globe, including a Tour of Duty in Viet Nam, before spending the remainder of his life in the Lone Star State, where he finally rested in Smithville, Texas on Monday, October 11, 2010. Jay Hatch, son of John Sr. and Mary Nell Link, graduated from Big Spring High School, spent three years in Viet Nam in the US Army achieving the rank of Captain. He earned three Bronze Stars, Purple Heart and an Army Commendation Medal. He married the love of his life, Carla Madison. He was an oilman like his father, but his true passion was golf, fishing and pool. Although he was a “mans man”, he would be the first to let you know, Carla was “The Boss”. After losing Carla, Jay was adopted by his Smithville family that included his friends at Charlie’s, La Caba?a Restaurant and Lost Pines Golf Club. They were a different kind of “Band of Brothers (and Sisters)” and they were his rock helping him weather many of his life’s storms. He is preceded in death by his father, mother and wife Carla and is survived by a sister, Ginger Dudley of Hugo, Oklahoma, brother Richard “Dick” Hatch and wife, Fran, of Kissimmee, Florida and son, John Hatch and wife Rebecca, of Buda, stepdaughter Kathy Carroll in Big Spring and stepson Cody Carroll of La Grange. He is also survived by several grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at the Smithville First United Methodist Church on Friday, October 15 at 1:00 p.m., with wake following at Charlie’s. Jay will be interred at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Military Cemetery on Wednesday, October 20, at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions can be made to the American Legion Post 180, P.O. Box 28, Smithville, Texas 78957.

There is a guest book to sign at that link.

Daniel Henninger: Capitalism Saved the Miners

A couple of days ago I pondered whether the main street media would cover the role of the U.S. in assisting the rescue. They did cover it, even giving some mention of the role of faith and prayer. Kudos for that. President Obama even acknowledged the role of American enterprise (in fact it was a multi-national business effort). Good for him in that. But will that faint praise alter the political rhetoric against capitalism? I bristle at the forces that would move America away from capitalism … the business of America IS business and it has done wonders for all of mankind in every corner of the world. Are there faults where change is needed? Of course, as with every endeavor. But really now …. Consider this fine article:

Amid the boundless human joy of the miners’ liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost. The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:

“The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.”

Uh, yeah. That’s a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that’s right. Ask the miners.

via Daniel Henninger: Capitalism Saved the Miners –

Henninger goes on to make the case quite handsomely. Read it. He describes in great detail how the profit motive is fundamental to the successes that were brought to bear in the accomplished rescue. The rescue was not a miracle — it was entrepreneurship at its finest that put the tools and technology in place.

But that capability is in ever-increasing danger, as Henninger capsulizes so succinctly:

The U.S. has a government led by a mindset obsessed with 250K-a-year “millionaires” and given to mocking “our blind faith in the market.” In a fast-moving world filled with nations intent on catching up with or passing us, this policy path is a waste of time.

America is a great country that has always been full of hope and change. We don’t need a bunch of ivory-tower professors to try to change fundamental American principles.

In fairness, there are criticisms of the business world that can be made in connection with the Chilean mine accident, as discussed in the Huffington Post article linked below. But a balanced view taken across the entire landscape and over the entire history of America, can fairly yield a conclusion no less than that free enterprise, especially within a constitutional republic, has advanced the human condition like no other system has done — or will do.

I hate timeshare postal scams!

Apparently a new one going around.

It comes from the “Award Verification Center” in North Richland Hills, Tx and has quite a spiel on the backside (click the thumbnail on the right).  Do a little online searching and you’ll find a LOT of squaking about these dudes.  The lure of vacations, a Benz, a BMW (gotta admit, that had MY attention for a sec), etc. Beware.

Travails of an internet-bound nerd

Linksys BEFW11S4 Router Sitting on a Cable Modem
Typical router like my old one

OK, I confess. I’ve been called worse. But with the law and “judge stuff” being increasingly and ever-present in the “cloud” (which is the new reference to everything being hosted on and stored within “the web”), it can’t be avoided. Legal research, court calendars and emails, instant messaging to the office when in a remote county or at a conference, and more, makes a good internet connection essential.  Add to that the ability and desire to be a bit “green” and work from home when not hearing cases and that connection is essential. And thus began the week. Continue reading “Travails of an internet-bound nerd”

Revolutionary writings — Abigail Adams to John Adams Oct 1782

Massachusetts Historical Society

Just as families today are separated in wartime, and in other measures of public service, Abigail and John Adams  were separated for 10 of their 54 years of marriage. He left for Philadelphia in 1774 for the Continental Congresses, spent time in France, and eventually rejoined her in 1784. (Source: Our Country’s Founders: A Book of Advice for Young People, Ed. William J. Bennett, Aladdin Paperbacks, 2001)  She wrote many letters that are preserved and they demonstrate superior strength of character and conviction, along with undeniable love. What appears to be a complete archive is housed and digitized at The Massachusetts Historical Society.  Here is one of them (in part), dated October 25, 1782 written at a time that they had been continuously separated for three years. The comments in [ ] are from the Historical Society.  Note the quaint language and odd (to us) spelling, and especially note her references to a “the untitled Man to whom [she] gave [her] heart’ and then to her “titled Husband.”

My Dearest Friend

The family are all retired to rest, the Busy scenes of the day are over, a day which I wished to have devoted in a particular manner to my dearest Friend, but company falling in prevented nor could I claim a moment untill this silent watch of the Night.

Look — (is there a dearer Name than Friend; think of it for me;) Look to the date of this Letter — and tell me, what are the thoughts which arise in your mind? Do you not recollect that Eighteen years have run their anual Circuit, since we pledged our mutual Faith to each other, and the Hymeneal torch was Lighted at the Alter of Love. Yet, yet it Burns with unabating fervour, old ocean has not Quenched it, nor old Time smootherd it, in the Bosom of Portia. It cheers her in the Lonely Hour, it comforts her even in the gloom which sometimes possessess her mind.

It is my Friend from the Remembrance of the joys I have lost that the arrow of affliction is pointed. I recollect the untitled Man to whom I gave my Heart, and in the agony of recollection when time and distance present themseves together, wish he had never been any other. Who shall give me back Time? Who shall compensate to me those years I cannot recall? How dearly have I paid for a titled Husband; should I wish you less wise, that I might enjoy more happiness? I cannot find that in my Heart. Yet providence has wisely placed the real Blessings of Life within the reach of moderate abilities, and he who is wiser than his Neighbour sees so much more to pitty and Lament, that I doubt whether the balance of happiness is in his Scale.

I feel a disposition to Quarrel with a race of Beings who have cut me of, in the midst of my days from the only Society I delighted in. Yet No Man liveth for himself, says an authority I will not dispute. Let me draw satisfaction from this Source and instead of murmuring and repineing at my Lot consider it in a more pleasing view. Let me suppose that the same Gracious Being who first smiled upon our union and Blessed us in each other, endowed him my Friend with powers and talents for the Benifit of Mankind and gave him a willing mind, to improve them for the service of his Country

You have obtaind honour and Reputation at Home and abroad. O may not an inglorious Peace wither the Laurels you have won. * * * *

Adieu my dear Friend.

Ever Ever Yours Portia

They had adopted pen names

The Social Network

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase

If you’re a social animal you probably have many social networks.  It may be friends you have breakfast with, a coffee group, organized “500 of your closest friends” events, email lists organized around a common interest, MySpace, Friendster, Friendlee (by HP but I don’t think it ever took off), Twitter or Facebook.  In the online genre of social networking there is even Friendfeed and other services that pull all of your networks together. And now, there’s even the movie “The Social Network.”

Before we talk about the movie, let’s talk about this matter of socializing via the internet. Are we being social there? Or are we hiding? Some people check their social media occasionally and some “live” on and for it. Of course, today the main such network appears to be Facebook and it lends itself to either an occasional check or constant monitoring.

Do you know people who have become Facebook hermits? You know who you are! Is Facebook (I’ll limit my analysis to Facebook now) contributing to a de-socialization process — one where face to face human interaction decreases to an extent such that relationships are damaged or simply disappear from benign neglect?

But, what exactly do we mean by “de-socialization”? It’s more than the border-line anti-social practice of sitting alone on your computers g-chatting with people in the next room, or a group of friends all in the same room talking on their cell phones to different people. Because social media skills are becoming more and more necessary (ironically while, at the same time, social media policies in the work place are banning more and more websites like Facebook, Twitter, and most photo sharing sites), people are being led to develop computer skills, Internet search know-how, and popular social media site profiles.

via The Social Media Trendline: De-socialization | Social Media.

As you ponder these things, also ponder the creation of the place where most of my friends can be seen:  Facebook, as portrayed in “The Social Network” movie. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you but I’ll share a couple of thoughts after Jen and I went to see it today. For both nerds and geeks (and there is a difference) — and for anyone who knows someone fitting either description — you will recognize those types and find humor there. Facebook was originally a college-only system, originating at Harvard where Zuckerberg was a student. Then there is the matter of the additional students who claimed to have originated the basic idea and with whom Zuckerberg has settled. There is a lot of drama — and a not insignificant portrayal of college partying — surrounding the story.

After you see the movie, here is the money question:  do you feel differently about using Facebook?