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PingWi-Fi Backing Blue, Packing Smart Phone, On The Scene

April 24th, 2017 · Tags: Cities · Satire · Sports

My morning bicycle ride through a wooded park on the way to the Trinity River was virtually uneventful, except for the very, very large woman feeding her very tiny baby at the park bench — the absolute closest bench to the trail, as conspicuous as possible. So genteel and subtle:)

What’s the old baseball joke about that? … “Two out, one man on” or something like that .. I digress …

On I sped, peddling away.

On the return trip up hill away from the river, I saw an ambulance and two patrol cars parked very near where the La Leche League outing had once been.

Could there be a connection?  I don’t think so.  But, being the curious sort I parked the bicycle to watch.  Two police officers and some first responders were preparing to move a person from the backseat of a patrol car to a stretcher and then to an ambulance.

It was apparent that this wasn’t an ordinary call, when I saw the person’s hands cuffed behind … and then when the officers placed the person on the stretcher it was even more apparent — the person started flailing and trying to kick the officers.

I thought this could be bad.  And I for one — and many people I know — am/are fed up with the way peace officers are treated in the media after something like this gets out of hand .. a bad situation fueled by some fool not complying with the law.

Like just-one-more-clone-in-this-age-of-citizen-journalism, I quickly pulled out my iPhone and started shooting video … However, my biggest concern was for the officers doing their job.  Isn’t that a refreshing approach in these lost days, in an upside-down world?  A few seconds into the video one of the police officers waved and smiled at me.  I gave him a thumbs up and responded “Go Blue!”  He smiled again.

I shot a few more seconds when two women over by the ambulance saw me and slowly moved between me and the gurney … ha … they were trying to block my view … I know because they grabbed the bottom of their sweaters and spread them like Batman do.  (I won’t comment on their girth and whether or not they were already doing a sufficient job to block this live news event … I digress.)

Right about that point, the handcuffed person starting screaming. That was the first time it was apparent that officers were apprehending a woman  …

Then one of the video-blocker women turns, walks about 50 feet over to where I am standing.

“What’s your problem?,” she demanded, getting up in my grill a li’l’.

“Well, I have a couple of spinal injuries from football. Bad teeth … really bad teeth.  I am near-sighted as hell. One of my feet kicks out to the side all crazy when I walk … so … unless you mean that, I guess I don’t have a problem.”

“What’s your problem?  What do you think you’re doing?”

“Well  … I am a journalist and something of interest is happening here in the park, so I am shooting video.”

“Why?” she snapped.

“Two reasons.” I said.  “First, I’m a journalist, and it’s what we do.  Second, every day in America we see police accused of wrongdoing and I think I will just document that they are doing all the right things, in case something goes wrong.”

Ha … she told me that she was an activist too (what!?!), but that the police weren’t hurting the screaming person who was now tied down to the ambulance cart.

“Ma’am please re-read the paragraphs above in the blog.  I am hoping to document and protect the police officers, if needed.”  She never understood that part … and lots of people won’t.  (Ha … well … I told her that for reals, without the mention of the blog part …)

“What if it were one of your family?” she asked.

“Well … I guess I wouldn’t like it one bit if one of my family was resisting arrest … or if they were getting videoed by a journalist as they resisted arrest, as journalists tend to do.”

The woman walked off, joined her friend by the stretcher and soon they turned and were both videoing me … and I could hear parts of the nasty narration they were laying down on this, their latest viral-video project.

I smiled — which I commend them for … I don’t smile much … bad teeth and all that.  I waved at their camera phones and “put my hand in the air, made a peace sign and threw back my hair” … old song … Resurrection Shuffle … Google it … I digress.

Well … this thing … this situation didn’t escalate further.  The detainee yelled “Oh, oh, my knee hurts” once, probably hoping to lay groundwork for a defense and/or potential lucrative lawsuit … and that was about as interesting as it got.

Backing up just a bit in the story … back before the name-calling women started shooting me with their smart phones, their reactions and concerns suggested perhaps that the detainee had some issue that deserved special treatment … ha … maybe a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card, if you will … maybe … like tripping out of her mind? Or possibly needing a fix? … Or sadly, it could have been a mental disorder (which is not to be taken lightly) or whatever.  I will never know.  Ha … dirty laundry …

As one of the women pleaded with me, I said I would make a deal.  “I will stop shooting video if you give me a good reason why I should.  What’s the story?  Why is this happening?” Ha … the woman replied, “I am not authorized to give that information.” (Dang … she went all One Adam Twelve/Star Trek … and official all of the sudden.)

“Well, then I am not authorized to stop.” Sorry.  I was “pulling her chain” a little by this point since she had been in my face.  If it were me … I would have been over there tending to or trying to calm my friend or relative or whoever it was.

Summary:  Did I feel sorry for the detainee and the two friends? By all means!  Was I doing any thing wrong, shooting a video of a potentially serious situation in a public park with lots of people … including children nearby?  No way.

Is there a lesson to be learned?  Yes … don’t assume some person is a jerk and walk up to them and say that, if you have no idea of their intentions.  You might just be dealing with a jerk — one who will put your video on YouTube and Instagram and SnapChat … Or your actions may influence a nice guy to put the video up, although not the original intent.  Probably never a good idea to mess with the person who is going to get the last world — a member of media or even a social media johnny-come-lately.

Next … IF I am such a jerk, why isn’t my video of the situation circulating on social media right now?  Why isn’t the video in this blog, ensuring more hits?

Lastly .. if any PingReaders see me in a video circulating out there … Let me know.  I want a copy of the media hit.

Ping out.

Know what I sayin?

‘Bomb City’ – A Texas Clash Of Punks, Preppies

April 10th, 2017 · Tags: Arts

 

 

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“Bomb City” Entourage

If you hang out at a film festival it’s only a matter of time … right place, right time and you will meet celebrities … The PingTeam has been fortunate enough to rub shoulders with a number of stars in our Sundance Film Festival excursions … hah … one chance meeting almost landed us in an episode of “Entourage.”

 

Drama At Sundance

Drama At Sundance

 

 

Down at SXSW Film, Matthew “McCona-Longhorn” was herded in front of us on the red carpet in Austin. He big:)

 

SXSW-Matthew-Team-sized

For the record, the biggest star encountered by PingWF was obviously the seven-foot-plus Dirk Nowitzki at last year’s Dallas International Film Festival … And the favorite so far may be The Easy Rider himself, Peter Fonda …

 

hagman-fonda-sized

 

MAVS Dirk Plus Two

Show up at a film festival, and there will be some big names.

But this year, my approach was different.  The guy I really wanted to meet was not a star … not yet.  And luck of the draw, among several up-and-coming directors and actors on the red carpet, I didn’t recognize … But, I just happened to overhear two words from someone else’s interview.

“Brian Deneke.”

The one guy I really wanted to meet at DIFF 2017 was right in front of me.  No, not Deneke, but the director of a film based on the life and tragic death of a young Brian Deneke.

Do you recognize the name?

Well, the director of the film about Deneke is a young guy from Amarillo, one Jamison Brooks.  (And since the filmmaker and I talked, his film “Bomb City” blew away the audiences in Dallas — capturing the Audience Award Narrative Feature trophy.  Hmm … are the trophies called “Diffies?”  I digress …)

 

Jamison Brooks

Brooks

Why my special interest in “Bomb City?”  Well … although the film festival’s promotional materials never spell it out, “Bomb City” is a nickname for my old stomping grounds … Amarillo (the final assembly point for our country’s nuclear arsenal).

Is Deneke’s story coming back to you yet?

Deneke — at one time, was Amarillo’s most visible punk rocker about town — was killed in a horrible clash with a clean-cut young preppy from a rival faction.

This fracas was the stuff of which novels are made … or movies.  Kids from “opposite sides of the tracks” … “the haves vs. the have nots” … “old money vs. no money” “punk vs preppie”  … the “golden boy vs. the rebel rouser.”

What started as a boys-will-be-boys things turned into manslaughter.  What transpired that night differs from source to source, but the outcome is always the same.  A 19-year-old Brian Deneke was run over and killed by a Cadillac driven by a young man named Dustin Camp.

 

That is the basic premise of a nightmare that pretty much destroyed two families in Amarillo … and although it is terrible history, I have to salute the film makers for recognizing a story that needed to be told.  If this ugly story needs to be told … I am glad that someone from Amarillo took the job.  You know how it is … you can make fun of your own family … but you might punch someone else in the nose for doing it.  Lord knows the rest of Texas and the world don’t give Amarillo a fair shake … I digress …

But my fascination goes well beyond the Amarillo dateline.  Amarillo is a small city.  The Panhandle is a close-knit area.  Although the crime took place years after I encountered the Amarillo “punk scene,” I had seen Deneke around town.  I think most people had.  A tall mohawk just tends to stand out among Stetsons.

But my familiarity with the story goes even beyond that.  When I was a young child, the grandparents of Dustin Camp lived in my home town of Vega.  Our families remained friends after the Camps moved to Amarillo.  Dustin Camp’s grandmother babysat me a time or two.  My brothers and sister were friends with Dustin’s father and uncle.  And while I would never, never try to say anything positive about what happened or try to justify it, I do know for a fact that the Camp family were “salt of the earth” people.

Obviously the Deneke family had their hopes and dreams for their son ripped from them  … And almost as sad … the other family was nearly destroyed as well.  What a horrible, horrible thing.

I know many people who know both families involved.  So, I was really sorry for, yet intrigued by the making of this film.   Hopefully the film will teach people to get along with those who look different.  On the other side of the coin, perhaps the alienated will try to get along with others as well.  We’ll see.

For now, it seems “Bomb City” and its gang were the darling of the festival from what I have seen. … Lots of buzz and awards and photos of the filmmakers and the cast.

 

 

I have not seen it yet.  I will … It may be a classic … Both Director Jamie Brooks and Executive Producer Major Dodge seemed to have an appreciation for the pain of both families … but they knew that teen angst and alcohol and testosterone make for a lethal tale.  Brooks seems to be a very nice guy, with an appreciation for his Panhandle roots, but his focus on a bigger world.

 

Dodge Intense

Dodge

As Dodge described the film, “It’s a mash up of ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘The Outsiders,’” referencing two classics books that came to life on the screen.

If I hear more about ways to see the film, I’ll post the information.  Meanwhile, the site for the movie is:

Bomb Site

Know what I sayin?

 

 

PingWi-Fi Grapples With Manhood At Wi-Fi Neutral Silos

March 28th, 2017 · Tags: Uncategorized

POSTCARDS

Did the city of Waco, Texas have any role in the inception of the worldwide phenomena that is Magnolia Market, Magnolia Bakery, Magnolia Farms and of course, TV juggernaut Fixer Upper?  It’s incredible!  Regardless … what a boon to Waco.  I have seen the show a few times, and I always walk away thinking “Why in the world are all those house-hunting folks moving to Waco?”.

Have you seen the show? ( … Asking the guys … Women, I know you have.)

 

https://magnoliamarket.com/a-peek-into-our-past/

 

The house-flipping, home designing, feel-good family show features a gifted, perhaps driven interior design marvel and a somewhat farmer/GQish, good-old-boy home remodeler.  This charming couple has developed a multi-media/retail empire … now housed in old grain storage facilities.

(Don’t forget the Season 4 finale of “Fixer Upper” tonight … btw)

Ha … not unlike most TV couples, the two seem to go at it occasionally, in a very loving, good natured way.  She of course wins and he smiles … perfect harmony … but you can tell they are wired differently, as the Creator intended.  Vive la différence! I was thinking about the couple and their different temperaments when I spotted the improbable …

 

BLAH CUPCAKE

Yes, as I stood on line, about a block from Magnolia Bakery, a young Magnolia staffer handed me an order card that listed all of the baked goodies.  “AHA!”  “TYPO!” I laughed that my journalism degree had finally come in handy as I found a typographical error on the bakery menu.

Ha … I bet money that the little incorrectly turned quotation mark — that minor deviation from Magnirvana perfecthood — was the sort of thing that would keep Joanna up at night (so don’t tell her).  But as for Chip … hell, he would probably just pile the cards in a stack, run over them with a Bobcat or a forklift and move on …

 

SILOS BAKERY

So anywho … at a time when Waco and Baylor — which are pretty much synonymous in a post-Branch Davidian world — have earned lots of bad press, The F.U.s (Fixer Uppers) are overshadowing the negative news from the college football team and rebuilding Waco’s brand.

(Interesting … the Baylor Bears football team and its abusive exploits have generated more bad press that their basketball team did a few years ago when one former player killed a teammate.  Go figure … I digress …)

 

DEMOGRAPHIC

Back to raving about Mr. and Mrs. Gaines:  The marketability of the Waco power couple even transcends political correctness, as the two profess their adherence to the truth of the Scriptures in an anything-goes world … their popularity grows even though they hold to traditional family values.  Unheard of!

Of course the secular world continues to take shots at their faith, fame and fortune, including more that one (in our opinion) frivolous lawsuits attempting to glean some easy money from the Silos home improvement team.

 

SEPIA

Who would ever have thought a couple could repurpose old grain silos to create a tourist attraction.  I once repurposed a very small grain silo in my home town.  There was a silo partially caved in and unused in my home town, about a block from the courthouse.  Perhaps less creative than Joanna and Chip, I hid my beer stash in the silo for the weekend festivities.  There’s the proof.  I guess silos are the ultimate multi-purpose storage facility.

Funny … one of my high school buds back in the day, told me he dreamed he and I invested in an old grain elevator out on Route 66 and that we made a cool bachelor pad high atop the western icon … What a great idea … some 35 years ago … I digress.

Moving forward … Thinking the sky is the limit for the Gaineseseses and seeing how most marketing entities are trying to incorporate more social media and social networking into their mix, I have to wonder if the Christian pair might someday start an online dating service, also called Fixer Upper … I jest.

So … anyone wondering why the PingWi-Fi team was in Waco at Magnolia Market?

Well … Wi-Fi was the excuse, but that didn’t fly.  There were several Wi-Fi networks that popped up around Magnolia World, but none were intended for visitors.  What the!?! Oh well … I put away the Wi-Fi devices and concentrated on cupcakes.  For once, I passed on red velvet and steamed through a lemon/lavender cream cupcake.  Incredible.

 

pingx6-score

 

 

Despite the Wi-Fi deficiency and the typo, there were lots of activities … food trucks, bag toss games, swingsets (beware future law suits), selfies … 6 pings on a scale of 7.

 

SWINGIN

Did Risk Manager Approve Swing?

Also amid the crafty atmosphere, I really had to question why one guy and his son — in a throng of women, arts and crafts, toddlers, young kids, etc. — felt the need to throw a football on the courtyard turf.  Ha … it donned on me that the wannabe QB was juxtaposed with a largely female demographic group shopping that day.  He probably just wanted to make sure his manhood was still intact, since admittedly we probably all gave up our “man cards” at the door when we set foot in Magnolia … at least temporarily.

 

CORNHOLE

Mom Hasn’t Mastered Bag Toss … Yet

Regardless … great time … and I spit and scratch rather manfully now as I retell the tale and do all the required man things … and I inform you a-matter-of-factly for the record that I did a hardcore, high-speed motorcycle tour of the backroads of Texas before I parked and waited in line for cupcakes.  It seemed like a great idea for a nice little ride … and “who knows” … I figured the King and Queen of Waco might visit the store on a slow Monday. Ha … incidentally, during the Waco stop, more guys missing their man cards eventually migrated over to the bike to talk motorcycles and man stuff …

So no Wi-Fi, and back on the Triumph Thunderbird … man card in check … fighting the beautiful urge to stop and take photos of the bluebonnets … everywhere!

Know what I sayin?

Permian Smoke, Little Wi-Fi Among Dunes – HardWars

March 18th, 2017 · Tags: Uncategorized

CARLSBAD CACTUS

 

For the first time ever, I really struggled with heading out to work at “The Dirty Gig” the other day. Our disaster recovery team is working healing magic on a hospital.  And sure, I was tired from long hours and lack of sleep, but it was something else slowing me down.  I made the mistake of turning on a classic movie channel during breakfast.  Before I knew it, I was engrossed in one of the best movies of my childhood — “The Flight Of The Phoenix” … not the recent cheap imitation, the original with Ernest Borgnine and Gary Stewart.  Darn it.  Just as the toy airplane mechanic was about to snap as the stranded men doubted that his German engineering skills could lift their crashed airplane out of the Middle East desert … I had to go to work.

The coincidence didn’t occur to me at first, but a couple of days later, I was up before sunrise to traipse around in the sand too — the biggest sand dunes I’ve seen this side of White Sands, New Mexico. Have you ever been to Monahans Sanddunes State Park?  What a surprise.  Pretty awesome in my books, at least from a photography standpoint.  Hmmm … I might have to go back and try my hand at sand surfing in one of those sand-sledding discs they hand out at the park.

But anyway .. You probably know, there’s nothing like a Texas sunrise and/or sunset.  This area, The Permian Basin, is no exception. Oh the purples … Oh the pinks … Oh the soft baby blues … Oh the oranges.  You get it.  Now imagine all of those hues and more hovering in a near cloudless sky, but also reflecting off miles of white sand hills in every direction.  And then there’s that whole light and shadow thing, dividing and outlining the borders and unique shapes of all the dunes.  Pretty.  Definitely beyond my abilities to capture the scene with a camera … but worth a try.

 

(Editors’s note: The original post was supposed to include information regarding the sand.  It is gypsum, rather than quartz … somewhat rare on the planet … kind of cool — http://sand.xboltz.net/white.html )

 

DUNE Hill

I never thought I would feel bad about tracking footprints across sand, but at Monahans the dunes were so pristine at dawn, it seemed as if I had defaced God’s handiwork … the contrasting and contouring ripples stretching for miles in every direction … unspoiled and so abstract in their perfection.

 

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Thankfully I do have a pretty decent camera that helps, but I had struck out in the sand without a tripod.  Pity.  So, the ol’ farm boy inside kicked in, and I grabbed my hardhat out of the van and cradled my Nikon inside it, tucked the safety garb and photo equipment in the sand, set the timer.  It worked ok.  Ha … but soon the helmet had become an object de art too, as I noticed its white dome resembling a dune. Ha … in my mind the two had become one … the white, round mounds of sand and the reinforced fiberglass helm that protects my noggin …  I digress …

 

DSC_6934

Time to leave.  I had more ambitious plans.  Next I headed due west of Monahans toward Pecos, but pulled over when I saw the ruins around the small hamlet of Barstool … er … Barstock.  How cool.

Barstock

Barstock

It has some of those run-down gas stations that you would expect to find on Old Route 66, only more rustic.  I cruised through town and did a u-turn for a photo, just as a freight train barreled through.  And then I noticed I was being followed.  The friendliest looking dog … perhaps the only dog in town, was watching every move and padding closer toward me.  Not knowing his intentions, I commanded “Stay!”  Ha.  He froze in his tracks, complete with one foot in the air, mid-stride.  He looked some kid frozen in a game of “Red Light Green Light.”  Funny.  Or the mannequin challenge … He stayed alright … just like that for the entire time I checked out the cool old building that sadly would not be resurrected from its fate.  Demolition was already underway.  Pity.

I told the boy to run on home, as I drove away.  He was still there, doing the statue thing as I headed west to Pecos. Forever to be known as “The Dog Who Stayed” … Ha. Kind of sounds like a children’s book title.

 

The Dog Who Stayed

The Dog Who Stayed

Pecos … another interesting town with lots of southwest flavor and run down regional architecture that is beautiful in its own deteriorating way.  Turning, the camera and I headed north toward some big hole in the ground.  Ha … Carlsbad Caverns National Park, just across the Texas/New Mexico border near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

I would be lying if I said the drive was beautiful.  It was mesquite and sand and scrubbrush or something like it and oil/gas rigs … and only a few cars for the next hour and a half … or was it two hours.  Heck.  It should have been 45 minutes … but for some reason New Mexico chose to leave that isolated little road in a time warp with a posted 55 m.p.h. — with no good reason, unless it is to collect federal highway dollars or something absurd like that.

Being the rule-following, law-abiding, goody-two-shoes that I am … I drove 55, while being blown off the road and cussed vehemently by every oil rig-funded monster truck in the area.  Ha … I also abide by the law because “Big Brother” was riding shotgun.  The van is equipment with a GPS tracker that rats on me if I speed.  So … who knows what life-threatening events were happening all around me … I was busy “being safe” and staying under the 55 m.p.h. on an empty road. Hell, there could be an earthquake opening the land down to the bowels of the earth beside me, and this device would only capture statistical analysis on whether my cruise control is accurate or not.  There is safety and there is the illusion of safety.  But don’t get me started on how those little “safety devices” have all kinds of unsafe practices built in … more distracting than cell phones when they fail to reset properly and then sound like a “test of the emergency broadcasting system as you drive down the road” … I digress.

 

IMG_3801

Carlsbad.  Most of my childhood friends and siblings all have explored the cave.  But not me.  Until now.  Man I wish I had made it sooner.  It is a hike, not to mention scenic underworld on overload. I chose the natural entrance into the cave, while I noticed the 20-year-old college excursion group took the elevator down.  Go figure.  Down into the chasm … it got pretty dark in a matter of minutes, with the large opening of sky, shrinking above and behind me.  Definitely, I would recommend late February, early March for a visit.  The desert lands are already pretty warm, and the cave is not crawling with tourists.  I travelled down.  Funny thing, although the hike downhill seems so easy, it is also stressing on the old thighs and calves, as you resist gravity and its desire to throw you down the dark path.

Although I spelunked solo, next time, I think I will do a guided tour and get the full experience when they turn out the lights.  How haunting that must be.  The cavern is pretty ominous with the lights on.  Back to the hike … don’t do like I did.  The hike became a mental challenge that needed conquering.  I was determined to march through, take photos, and get back to the car knowing that I had mastered this little bi-otch.  What a dummy.  Next time … walk, sit, study, walk, sit, marvel … and so on.  I breezed through and I should’ve meandered.

Ha … did I mention I made the mistake of doing a gut-buster fried miniature chicken taco in some little dusty town on the way to Carlsbad?  IF I were a more “public” person I would share the fears I was experiencing, as I delved deeper into the abyss … stomach rumbling loud enough to break the silence in a theater carved out over a millenium:) Ha … could one relieve onesself in dark silence … or would there be another tourist nearby in the dark?  Would sounds amplify and boom throughout the dark cavern? You get it:)

One of the times I did stop was to ponder this: I watched water dripping on a huge boulder, which had formed a huge deposit of sediment on one side of the rock and thought how cool it would be if you saw that final water droplet, full of calcium or lime or whatever, that was just enough weight to finally overturn the balance of the rock, causing it to tumble and create a cave in or whatever.  Ha … that would be awesome.  Deep thoughts:)

To exit, I did ride the elevator up, which all-too-conveniently dropped me off near the bookstore with its souvenirs.  I am pretty picky about t-shirts and found the wares to be a bit gawdy.  I sat my sights on coffee mugs, and didn’t love those as well.  Finally, I settled and grabbed a generic cup with a bat on it … for like 19 bucks.  Oh well … it will hold good coffee.  Then … I discovered there is a better gift shop in the restaurant under the same roof … with better mugs.  So … I returned the more expensive cup that I didn’t like and replaced it with one I fancied.  If I had to do it over again,  I might have just bought both instead of suffering the ordeal of returning a coffee cup inside a cave for a refund administrated by an almost-senior citizen who was not a member of the computer generation, nor the cash register generation.  The cavern was tough, by the gifts shops were the true gauntlet.

AND get this! No Wi-Fi in the cave, which may be for a good reason.  Someone get the research department to check out the effect of Wi-Fi on bat sonar … hmmmm ….

Back on the road.

I don’t make it out to this far west quadrant of Texas very often.  I don’t think anyone does, unless they live here or drill for oil and gas here.  My first visit … the most impressive thing, all of the nice homes in Midland that didn’t just have basketball goals in the driveway … they had big glass, real gymnasium style basketball goals.

A few more days into the job, I rushed to the burned hospital only to smell smoke.  It was everywhere and strong.

 

MONAHANS SUNRISE

When I smelled the smoke in Monahans in the morning, I assumed the surrounding grassland was on fire … a fairly logical assumption.  My wrong conclusion seemed to have support.  At a “major intersection” in Monahans, the traffic light turned green and I was heading through when my path was blocked by a parade of stray dogs.  They were trotting down the middle of the main road, against the lights, through traffic with a sense of urgency.  Surely, there was fire and the animals were starting to sense the danger and flee …

Two hours later I heard that the clouds of smoke had travel to West Texas from extreme North Texas … The Panhandle.  One whiff of the smoke and it took me back to my childhood on the farm.  I could picture lying on my back with the siblings, resting on the cool tin roof of our barn and catching benign flying ashes, transported by the wind from farms that were miles away, where wheat stubble was being burned.  And I thought of the nights we drove by a neighboring farm and saw the “neon” glow of a controlled burn, enveloping a field at night … smoke rising to the stars.

But there were no picturesque stories coming from the Amarillo area … “The Perryton Fire” … only horrible stories of thousands of animals suffering in the blaze and the tragic loss of young heroes who tried to save their livestock from the insatiable fire.  How horrible.  Even later, I learned of the connection between Monahans and the Panhandle blaze — that one of the three deaths first reported from the fire was a young woman from Monahans.  As if any more verification was needed — the word had spread around town about as fast as the grassfires, that the small town had lost one of its own. At the same intersection where I saw the parade of dogs, I saw a reporter in a little car covered in TV station call letters, with some “Action News”-type marking on the car.  Later, someone sent me a link that had that very reporter’s account of the unimaginable loss the town of Monahans had suffered.  Horrible.

A day later or so, despite the normal, dry weather report I had just confirmed with the Weather Bug app., it started hailing and pouring just as I snatched up  insulation pallets and building supplies with my trusty forklift.  To a farm boy, it was akin to finishing the day on your tractor, just as the rain hit … when you get soaked on the way to the pickup … but it feels so good.

There was no way to avoid thinking of the Monahans families who were suffering the loss of a loved one … and feeling that she was in the comfort of our Lord as the rainbow formed above the tiny church.

Rain smells awesome in Monahans.  Like my dusty farm memories, the combination of rain and the soil fill the air with a one-of-a-kind earthy perfume.

 

MONAHANS RAINBOW

As the hail pelted me through the open roof of the forklift, I looked up to see a great rainbow over the church across the street from the jobsite.  Ha … it is the church that is 100 feet from my temporary office … the same one that’s bell tower serenaded us 2-3 times a day.  More than once I had given supply trucks specific instructions to find my office — “park right in front of The Virgin Mary.”

As for Wi-Fi, I was not invited to use the hotspot from the hospital, nor the church for that matter.  I had to rely on my iPhone and its cellular technology to power my Internet needs.  Hmmm … I swear I think the bells chimed loud enough to knock me offline a time or two … but I love me some chimes.

Only a few days prior to the big Panhandle fires I was laughing at an interesting “weather report” on the local news station.  The weatherman was warning people of the dangers of burning their lawns.  It sounded so funny at the time … and I actually saw some people doing this on my drive to Carlsbad, in another city. Burning their lawns!?!  But then … the death and destruction in the news from up north was an all too grim reminder of how quickly any fire can get out of hand, no matter how small the source.

It seemed everyone in town knew the young fire victim, or knew someone who did.  The owner of a local hardware store was no exception … her daughter’s best friend, as the story went.  I spent a lot of time buying supplies at two hardware stores … in a town with only one donut store (which closed for a week during Spring Break!?!).

About these hardware stores.  One had the old ‘location, location, location” thing down, situated in the heart of the town.  The other was south of town a mile, but brand new.  The downtown hardware seemed to care little about customer service.  They knew they would get your business, because they were convenient.  Don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly capable of carrying any hardware I purchase, but I thought it was very strange that I made four trips back to my vehicle, to carry all the paint I purchased, while 2-3 employees watched and shot the breeze with the locals.

On the other hand, the employees and even the owner of the hardware south of town knew my name after a couple of visits, greeted me, conversed, offered to carry stuff to the van … etc. … you know, they treated me — a stranger — just as you would expect from the nice people of a small town.

Now I am calling it HardWars.  The difference in the two businesses — night and day.  And as Paul Harvey was prone to say, “Now the rest of the story.”   I learned the two stores are own by rivals who were once family.  That’s gotta be tough in a small town.  There seemed to be know love loss between the establishments …

More tiny towns … I finally saw Kermit, the early boyhood home of one of my middle school running buddies.  Hmmm … I wonder how many Kermit The Frog jokes that town has endured.  But me, I wanted to pick on Jal … Jal, New Mexico … a rival of an old girlfriend from New Mexico.  I wondered if Jal High School ever considered “Hogs” for their mascot … Jal Hogs … think about it … think about the old Beverly Hillbillies … I digress.

My other new favorite town name from this trip is Pyote.  Anyone besides me think the good townspeople of Pyote need to buy another vowel and call the trippy little place Peyote? OH … just as I saw the sign for that hamlet, a scrawny scavenging varmint crossed my path.  Had the city founders done a better job with the name, I could have said it was a coyote at Peyote.  Missed opportunity.

Elsewhere, I did multiple trips on The Dirty Gig (the disaster recovery job) to pick up supplies in Midland and Odessa.  In all fairness, that is not the most interesting drive — the most interesting part being the huge drop in elevation, which I will assume marks the edge of The Permian Basin. I mean, that would be basin like … I never thought about that one before.  Until now, Mojo is about all I knew of the area, so it was special when I passed by the storied Odessa Permian High … Home of Mojo and subject of the decent movie and pretty good tv series.  Interesting … the local news casts refer to their coverage areas as “Your Basin” and things like that.  I suppose that would not seem unusual, had I been native.

Last call … I was intrigued by The Kent Companies — they had Huddle House — a diner chain I have seen in other cities, and for me at least,  a new entry in the big world of tiny convenience stores called “Kwik Kent.” Well now … that made me think of many funny things.  I will leave it at … hoping it makes old friends think of a sense of humor.

 

Know what I sayin?

Peace For A Life Advocate, Despite Role As ‘Roe’ Vs. Wade

February 18th, 2017 · Tags: Uncategorized

I just heard that Norma McCorvey passed away, perhaps best known as the “Roe” of the landmark Roe vs. Wade case, which of course paved the way for millions of legal abortions in The United States.

In the late ’90s, I got to visit with Ms. McCorvey when I gave her media training in Dallas. She was not the person I have read about today in some of the articles about her life. I will always remember how she spoke of being misled and even railroaded into her dubious position as the poster child for the abortion movement.

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Happy Birthday Joe Ely … Thanks For The Memories

February 10th, 2017 · Tags: Uncategorized

I am late to the party — a day late and a dollar short — to wish Lubbock’s Joe Ely a happy 70th birthday.  It sounds like quite a party they have planned down in Austin … jealous.

Let’s talk Ely. 

 

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Bad Wi-Fi Leads To Miraculous Astronomical Observation

January 12th, 2017 · Tags: Uncategorized

DILLON Moon crop

 

Last night my two high school spinal injuries were talking to me, keeping me awake past the normal cut off point for my day.  I counted sheep … well, no, I didn’t.  I am lying.  I read Facebook and Twitter and such.  No likes. No dice.  Still awake.  Then I decided to fire up an HBO movie in bed with my AppleTV unit.  Was that Costner?  Some detective show was just about to suck me in, when the picture froze, the scene buffered, and I began to curse AT&T Uverse Wi-Fi for the poor reception way back in the bedroom.

Naturally, I headed to the kitchen to see what’s to eat.

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Throwback Army Running Attack Outlasts Highflying Eagles

December 30th, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized

Two minutes left in the game and 75 yards of natural turf ahead of you … who would you want as your field general? The two-minute drill. Many might say Graham Harrell, if they have seen the replay of arguably the biggest come-from-behind upset in college football in the last 10 years.

 

Harrell On The Offensive

Harrell On The Offensive

That was the scenario at the 2016 Zaxby’s Heart Of Dallas Bowl matching the West Point Black Knights of Army against the North Texas Mean Green Eagles … only this time Harrell was offensive coordinator, rather than the quarterback who threw that famous touchdown in ’08 to Michael Crabtree vaulting the receiver to instant stardom and a lucrative NFL career.

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Your Wi-Fi FlipChart Of Heart Of Dallas Bowl:)

December 29th, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized

LA Tech Prevails In Armed Forces Bowl: Shootout Of The Year

December 23rd, 2016 · Tags: Uncategorized

A cloudy Fort Worth sky prevented the pre-game fly over at The 2016 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.  There wasn’t an air-raid offense in sight, per se.  But the bowl matchup still set a new record for points with 93 cumulative — 48 of those tallied by Louisiana Tech in a three-point win over Navy, with a walk off field goal.

LA Tech set tone early, with Carlo Henderson’s 86-yard return of the opening kickoff, setting up the game’s first score, 7-0, with 13:35 remaining in the first quarter.  Navy followed up with a fumble at the LA Tech 48 yard line on its second play from scrimmage, shifting all momentum to the Bulldogs. LA Tech answered with its second score, a 22-yard field goal by Jonathan Barnes, 10-zip.  On their ensuing possession, Navy moved the ball only seven yards on three plays before punting and it looked as if it could be a long day for The Midshipmen.

Forget that. On the next series, the Navy defense took control, sacking LA Tech quarterback Ryan Higgins for a seven-yard loss.  After three and out, Navy fielded the Bulldog punt at their own 45, with 6:50 left in the first quarter.

 

Game Photos

 

lmafb-3-in-traffic

 

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