Thursday, July 24, 2014

Things Worth Dying For....

I have incredible respect and admiration for what he had done and true concern for what it had done to him. Marcus Luttrell sat at a table, eating a meal, quietly talking with friends and acquaintances. Operation Red Wings happened in 2005. This was September 11th, 2008. I sat in a banquet room with over 700 other first responders and family. Like the parent of a 2nd grader who had his first part in a school play, I anxiously watched every move and listened to every word. I was so incredibly proud of this man that, until a few minutes earlier, I had never heard of. I was also scared that at any minute he would lose his grip on the podium, or his mind, or his heart. He seemed to be teetering pretty much from the time he stood up to take the stage. This was a man who had undergone some of the most demanding training anyone can go through in order to survive under any possible contingency, but standing there he seemed completely vulnerable. He meticulously described, what seemed to be, every detail of the injuries and eventual death of his three dear friends and comrades. The worst had happened and it took more from him than any man should have to give. I think everyone in the room had the same feelings I had. When Marcus finished speaking over an hour later, the tension from all those knotted stomachs was released like a spring and everyone in the room shot to their feet in unison. Our second grader had just given a heart-wrenching soliloquy. We were proud and relieved. We were also grateful for the sacrifice that everyone involved had made. Not just the brave men who died or watched their friends die, but the sacrifice of the Pashtun villagers who risked everything they loved for a stranger. They risked everything for a code.."Pashtunwali"...a code of honor based on a belief that people are worth dying for. Listening to Marcus bare his soul on that night almost 6 years ago I had no idea that my thoughts and feelings about life and death would be forever changed by this man who, by the grace of God, was the Lone Survivor.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Estate Sales

I go to an estate sale once every two or three years, just to remind me why I am not an estate sale person.  On its face it seems to be an ideal situation.  A TWU professor lived in this house for 60 years; seems that it would be a treasure trove of interesting and useful items at a good price. 
Most of North Denton apparently agrees and there I find the first problem, parking.  In this case, the elevation is critical.  The further I travel down the street looking for a space, the tougher the climb will be back up the hill to the house.  I circle around and go one block to the south to remain on the same elevation and actually be a little closer.  (Tactical Parking should be my first e-book)  The other thing to prepare for, mentally, is the yahoo that parks illegally near the house and leaves the flashers on.  This could very easily put me in a dark psychological place.  I cannot allow that to happen because I will need a good attitude for the trials ahead.
As I approach the house the excitement grows.  I observe all the smiling faces of people walking to their cars, treasure in hand.  I see power tools, a folding workbench, and that gas can (which was the real reason to show up), all wonderful finds.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the second problem.  When you get to a 9:00am sale at 9:15, all the really good deals are already gone.  However, I don’t know that yet and my confidence is high, I repeat, confidence is high.
Now to get into the house; I understand that the sellers don’t want me to steal late uncle Bob and aunt Jenny’s stuff but the tiny opening by the backyard fence, which is the only hole in their defenses, is clogged with people paying for their purchases.  No one in this line is concerned about me getting in and I am not willing to push my way through.  Eventually, I am able to follow a large woman who apparently dressed for this predicament.  She wore a bright purple spandex sausage casing work out suit that allowed her to slide between people with very little friction.  I followed her and was inside searching through items in no time.
Once inside another issue is navigation.  There is just not much room in most houses for passing traffic.  My disposition and size being what it is, I count it a miracle that I got out to pen these words of warning to others. There is never anything in the bedrooms that are worth traveling to, for it is a dangerous trip indeed.  I was stuck in a bedroom for almost 30 minutes, as waves of people pushed me further from the door.  How can this happen you say…bedrooms are always full of purple spandex women and tiny 80 yr old ladies.  Both of these types of sale goers have the psyches of feeding sharks.  An elderly woman can dart in and out of crevasses and cover the whole house before I get clear of the kitchen.
All of the good garage stuff and yard equipment were gone.  Finally I have my two items, a book of poems (copyright 1923) and a cool little wooden cigar box.  I make my way out to the backyard checkout area to discover that the line goes all the way to the back fence.  As I stand there, sweaty and annoyed, my cigar box is suddenly not that cool and the binding on the book seems a little frayed.  I set down both items and wait for a blocker to exit.  I spot a woman with a large plastic purse that swings widely as she walks.  She is complaining loudly about the price of the dining room table as she leaves.  Everyone in line moves out of our way as we leave.
As I walked back to my car I declared to myself that I only wasted an hour, I would never do it again, and all would be right with the world as soon as I got to Starbucks.  It was.
I’m Beef and these are my tips

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's Just A Gas Can...

I went out last week to buy a gas can. I wanted a 5 gallon plastic can like the one I bought 10 years ago.  What I found has driven me to blog. Not only was the price incredibly crazy, the nozzle looked like it was designed to fuel the space shuttle. I flipped all the levers and pulled at the trigger.  I actually read the directions and it still didn't make any sense.  I finally gave up and left.  When I got home I looked up the manufacturer for the can, that I had, and discovered the company was bankrupt.  Several websites implied that multiple lawsuits forced the company out of business. The newspaper, The Southeast Texas Record, tells of one such lawsuit:

According to the plaintiffs' complaint, the incident occurred on Dec. 18, 2009, as Brooke Crouch was sitting around a camp fire with high school friends. One of the boys attempted to rekindle the camp fire using a Blitz gas can.
Allegedly, the gasoline vapors were ignited outside of the can and flashed back inside it and exploded. Brooke was sitting across from the fire and the gasoline shot onto her hands and legs and under her cheerleading skirt causing severe third degree burns, according to the suit. She was taken to a burn unit, required surgical procedures, skin grafting and extensive physical therapy. 
The gas can manufacturer, Blitz U.S.A., is being sued for strict liability and negligence.The plaintiffs argue that there are safer alternative designs that could eliminate the risk of the gas can exploding, including the use of a flame arestor device or the use of a gas can closure that would prevent flammable gas fumes and liquid from escaping the can. 
Blitz is also accused of failing to produce a reasonably safe can, selling a gas can that was defective, failed to contained adequate warnings and instructions, unfit for its intended and anticipated use, failed to properly test its can, failed to take remedial measures such as post-sale warnings or recall the can, failing to report incidences and lawsuits involving other consumers and for spoiling evidence.

You can't fix stupid....but, the courts try every day.  Warning: this cup of coffee contains a hot liquid that might burn you, duh! If you pour gasoline onto a fire, you might get burned, hello? 

Another thing that supposedly makes new gas cans so complex is environmental laws. Gasoline is considered a volatile organic compound (VOC). VOCs are supposedly greenhouse gases. I found the following online:

The EPA regulations are based on requirements started in Califormia by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in 2000 and updated in 2007. Since 2000, individual states have been slowly following suit, but the new EPA regulations will bring all states in line and by January 1, 2009 all new PFCs produced and sold in the United States will be compliant.
    The regulations impose:
  • A single, self venting opening for filling and pouring with no separate vents or openings
  • A treated can body for minimal permeation of fuels
  • Automatic closure, meaning a nozzle which automatically springs to the closed position when not pouring
  • Childproof features as designated by the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act
So what does this tell us?  My old gas can is apparently destroying the baby polar bear's home, really?

This makes me long for simpler times.  It is, after all, a can that holds gas.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Today the complexities and roadblocks are created by an over reaching and over bearing government that regulates away our liberties, while spending our grandchildren's futures. 

This is America.  I want companies to be able to make money in this country.  Occasionally, bad things will happen to good people.  They are called accidents; they are not opportunities to get rich and put hard working people out of business.  For now, I will have to buy a "vintage" gas can off ebay where there is a remarkable selection of pre-2009 cans.  I want my gas can and my country back.
I'm Beef...and these are my for tort reform and a complete overhaul of the EPA.  Also, take care of your gas can, it's more valuable than you think. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cold Concrete

This morning it was 46 degrees when I got up. Jake always loved the first cool crisp morning of fall. I mentioned my dog Jake in my blog post yesterday. Coincidently, yesterday was the first time since Jake’s death last June that I got up and went to the back door as if to let him out. I don’t know what prompted this. It was the first time that I had slept the entire night for many weeks. Perhaps I dreamt about Jake and didn’t remember. Jake was a Samoyed. Samoyed’s are sled dogs and great athletes. As sled dogs, they are equipped to deal with very cold, snowy conditions. Jake's toes were webbed to run better in snow. He had a dual layered coat to stay dry and warm in cold, wet conditions. Sammies are faster than Malamutes, but stronger than Huskies which usually puts them somewhere in the middle of a sled team. On normal summer days in Texas, Jake would go outside, stride briskly to his preferred spot of the day, do his business and run back to the door. For Jake's comfort and safety, I always took the position that if I was too warm, Jake was too warm. He spent most of his time with us, in the air conditioning. Days like today were special for Jake. He would go outside and raise his nose, twitch his ears a couple of times, look at me and start sprinting around the yard. He was so fast and agile, even as a senior dog, it was a sight to see. As he would make his laps around the yard, he would slow just briefly as he passed me as if to say, “Isn’t this great?” Jake was a great dog that always loved to play. I miss him, particularly on crisp fall days when the breeze is fresh and the concrete patio is cold on my bare feet.

Keep playing Jake, I’m not that cold.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Friend

I came to the airport to have breakfast with my friend. I’ve had a lot going on lately and sometimes you just have to say things out loud to work through them. Sometimes the things I say don’t make any sense. I ramble on about one thing then another. Occasionally I talk about things I’ve seen at work, horrific accounts of things most people wouldn’t want to listen to. Sometimes we discuss my health or my beautiful family. I confess my failings and vow to do better. My friend doesn’t judge or question. She just stares at me with a knowing look of unconditional love and acceptance. We sit in our shady spot and share a couple of apples. My friend is a bay filly that I call Sugar. I don’t know her real name and she doesn’t seem to mind. Sugar is normally in the pasture, just east of the tower at the Denton Airport. Today she was not there. I called her on the PA in the truck and watched the tree line. I expected her to walk out and come to the fence like she always does. I waited but no luck.

I recently heard someone say that those who doubt the existence of God have not spent enough time studying nature. I say that one of the ways God clearly reveals himself to us is in the eyes of a horse. I’ve had dogs who were great friends, most recently 15 years with Jake, our Samoyed who died last June. Jake was a great friend and family member but I’ve never felt, with any other animal, what I feel with a horse. Hopefully, Sugar is visiting friends or getting her hooves trimmed or something like that. If she is not there next time, I may have to find another horse friend for my morning therapy sessions. Sugar won’t mind because where ever she is; she is helping some confused soul to understand their existence.

I have two apples in a paper bag behind the seat. I hope my bay filly comes back before they go bad.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Golf Clubs

I am a Golfer.

Were I a Hunter, no one would be surprised if I had several rifles and shotguns. If I were a Fisherman, would anyone even look twice if I had 6 or 7 fishing rods. Why, then, is it so suprising that I have several sets of golf clubs?

Early in my law enforcement career, my hobby was competitive revolver shooting. I reloaded about 500 rds a week, travelled to competions all over the southwest, and acquired several firearms. No one, I cared about, said I had too many handguns. This was an expensive hobby. After several years, I stopped competing.

At some point I focused more of my energies on softball. I eventually owned several, high-end, DeMarini bats. Not once did anyone on the team say,"We have too many good bats". These were the tools that our teams needed to be competitive.

As I got older and more brittle, I looked for other competitive outlets. My wife was by my side through all these activities. I started working on my golf game. I played as often as I could. Why then was she surprised when, I started acquiring golf clubs. I bought cheap clubs, then built custom clubs, then bought proline clubs, as my game progressed. At one point, my wife exclaimed,"How many sets of clubs do you need?".

There are 2 or 3 golf bags in every room. I tried keeping them all in one room but Donna complained that we couldn't use the room. So...I spread them around. This reduces the impact on the household and provides a common theme that increases flow through out the interior design (I read that some where). If this all makes perfect sense to you....welcome to the fraternity. I probably saw you at the HP Byron Nelson Championship this week. The only people at the Byron this year were Jesuit High School students and parents(thanks to young Jordan Speith, 16 yr old high school golf phenom who became the 6th youngest golfer to ever make the cut in a PGA event), and serious golf enthusiast. Anyone else who attended was there for business or the party.
So..why does someone need this many sets of clubs?

Today...I discovered the need that everyone will understand......

When you are watching TV... and you look down on the floor in the middle of your living room to find an, albeit small, snake, it sure is handy to have a 3 iron within easy reach. I'm not sure how he got in, but I am sure that he is out....thanks to "Mr. 3 wiggly". Proof also that there is still a good use for a 3 iron in a modern golf bag. A rescue or hybrid would not have been the right tool for the job. A 7 wood? Forget about it! The 3 iron...unloved, unappreciated, but needed.

I'm Beef....and these are my tips for those who live in wild west.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Some days I wonder...

We just got a summary, from the city's insurance consultants,concerning the major points of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, which will follow the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The summary that outlined all of the "free stuff" that the big bad insurance companies are now required to give us, was accompanied by a statement. "The City is still evaluating how this will impact our plan and we will be incorporating these provisions...". We know how it will impact the plan. It will drive costs through the roof, just as it was designed to do. This bill is designed to bring the european model of socialized medicine to the U. S. Prices will soar which will allow the gov't to come in and save the day with single payer just like they admitted that they wanted to do from the start. I use to think that the destruction of the greatest healthcare system in the world was the worst that this administration could do. Then I realized that in the process they could also destroy the economy. That was my worst fear. It is no longer my worst fear. Now I fear that they have divided and irreparibly damaged the nation. A large portion of society thinks this "change" is good, they trust those in power. A large portion believe we are on the road to societal and economic ruin. Islamic Jihadists are no longer worried about destroying the "great satan". We are doing it to our selves. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, or how you feel about the issues, there is a widening abyss between the factions and unrest is in the air. This always makes things difficult in my profession. We just learned of a radical, right-wing, extremists group called the "Hutaree" who planned to kill law enforcement officers and then bomb the law enforcement funeral in order to exact as many casualties as possible. They saw law enforcement as the face of an oppressive government. This is an extreme example but the examples are everywhere. I guess what I am saying, and this is my tip( although it is usually more of a story, but not today), understand what is going on around you. It's not time to go to the bunker or get all depressed, but it is time to take care of your people. Realize that the times we are living in may worry and concern normal people, but the world is full of abnormal people. Have a plan, have a go bag if you need to get out of town fast. Go to any preparedness website and learn about this ( is as good as any).
I'm Beef and these are my unusually foreboding tips.
P.S. Mom don't worry about me, I'm fine. :)