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Grazes With Cadillacs

May 20th, 2018 · Tags: Arts

Folk Art, Windmills Still …

May 19th, 2018 · Tags: Arts

The Answer My Friend Is Blowing In The Wind

May 13th, 2018 · Tags: Arts · Coffee Shops · Music


In Jim Stafford’s old novelty tune, “The Wildwood Weed,” the storyteller speaks of finding his brother Bill “naked, singing on the windmill,”  after a night of home-grown revelry.  (Ha … When my brother was a young boy, he once tried to fly off the windmill wearing a cape, but I think he was fully clothed.)

Interesting to note:  various Internet sources for song lyrics differ on whether brother Bill was “singing” on the windmill, or “swinging” on the windmill. I thought it was the former, but I am terrible at song lyrics.  Could he have been “pinging” on the windmill?  Regardless, all sources agree, Bill was, in fact, naked.  I digress …




I have climbed a few of the old galvanized towers, either to help turn the mechanism into the wind and “kickstart” the mill … or to look at an eagle’s nest perched at the top of the tower … or to take a photo or two.

Flash forward … In Fort Worth, planted between a new shiny Starbucks coffee shop and an even shinier Neiman Marcus store, there is a replica of the old farm-and-ranch style windmill.  But there’s a twist on this windmill.  An artist has added colored, transparent blades. When the wind blows, it is quite a light show.  Alternating colors, the sun’s glare, and shadows cast down on the bloggers below.

(I couldn’t resist shooting video of the stained glass windmill, and trying out some new skills with a video editing app.)



Today, greeting visitors to my home, there is an old, Aermotor brand  windmill vane hanging on the wall by the door — Aermotor, made in Chicago, “The Windy City,” I might add.  The art piece is complete with bullet holes from back-roads vandals, and an old stenciled inscription on the metal, stating “Adrian Mercantile.” “If that ain’t country, I’ll …” as the old David Allan Coe song goes …



Flash back … When we were kids, my brothers and sister and I would pause in the blinking shadow of the windmill, spinning on the ground down below, on a sunny day.  A fan of “Star Trek” as a young boy, I would pretend that the windmill’s strobe effect was me “beaming up” to some imaginary starship.  Fascinating!  Ha … I think “beaming up” was sort of what Jim Stafford’s brother was doing in the song mentioned above … maybe.


 “Star Trek” may have seemed far-fetched back in the day, but then again, now we can get photos of our old windmills from satellites in space. 


Pinging The Old PingFarm Place From Space


Windmills are so awe-inspiring … both the old relics that helped settle the plains, and the huge white monsters that are infiltrating the countryside as of late.



But, is there anything more refreshing that a drink of cold water on a hot windy Panhandle day, right out of an old windmill, direct from the aquifer beneath?


I’m a fan of windmills.



I’m not alone.  A simple Google search also found these lyrics, sung by one of the most sultry voices of the ’60s, Dusty Springfield.  Ha … dusty and windmills go hand-in-hand in my mind.


“Windmills Of Your Mind”


Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turning
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
Songwriters: Alan Bergman / Marylin Bergman / Michel Legrand
I like windmills.
Know what I sayin?

Dallas International Film Festival … The B-I-G Idea

May 9th, 2018 · Tags: Arts · Cities


Anthony Pedone

If you go to The West Village in Dallas — or “Big D” — you will see these two large, blue (probably concrete) letters that spell out “B_G” … No, it is not a tribute to a falsetto disco group.  The “I” is missing.  But you don’t have to “buy a vowel,” when you can “be a vowel.” … So there are instructions on a mat on the sidewalk, with a graphic, showing where you should put your feet, between the B and the G, inviting you to stand there and complete the word.

You don’t have to “you do you” for a second or two.  You can “be the ‘I.’”  BIG idea.

A few feet away, the creative folks at The Dallas International Film Festival have planted big red letters that spell out their hot hashtag #DIFF … however, the DIFF letters are not made of concrete.  I know.  I leaned on the not-so-tenacious “D” last night and just about knocked it to the ground.  Ha!  Yes, I did that thing where, as soon as one regains their balance, I looked around to see if anyone witnessed.  No one did … not even the diminutive gentleman who was almost man crushed on the other side of the big “D.” Ha! I almost inserted an extra “I” in the DIFF hashtag.


Around the corner from the big letters, I saw the Tesla demo automobiles, mentioned in the previous blog.  I had to get to the bottom of this. “Señor Tesla,” I called out to the promo person.  “If Tesla is cool enough to orbit the earth, do the cars also have Wi-Fi?”  Nyet. But, he said they do have cool LTE wireless technology.  Meanwhile, the specs on the Tesla site list Wi-Fi … more research required.

In other news … another great night of shooting the up-and-coming on the red carpet.

Just two days left for the festival, btw:

DIFF 2018 Schedule


Daveed Diggs

Last night, I suppose the biggest “stars” on the red carpet were Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal.  Diggs — as most people on the planet other than me know — won a Grammy and a Tony for his role as Jefferson in “Hamilton.”  Casal starred in HBO’s “Def Poetry.”  Well I won’t give my thoughts on “Hamilton,” but Diggs became an instant favorite of mine when I watched him interact with a special-needs child (Make-A-Wish?) off to the side, beyond the red carpet activities.  Diggs and Casal co-wrote for the film “Blindspotting” — perhaps destined to be a DIFF festival favorite.


Diggs, Rafael Casal


As for the intense, ongoing PingWi-Fi one-on-one coverage … ha … I corned the man of many hats — co-writer and director, Anthony Pedone — of the film “An American In Texas.”

Pedone’s film is a coming-of-age story of a punk rock outfit in Victoria, Texas of all places. Wonder if the band hung out at Moo-Moo’s Chicken and Ventura Mexican Food … I digress …


Pedone “had me at ‘punk,’” so our conversation soon turned to The Clash.  He is a fan too, although he is about 10 years younger than me and what’s left of that band.  BUT … get this … one of his colleagues from the film played in Joe Strummer’s solo band (not The Mescaleros).  Well, “rock my casbah!”

American In Texas

Next up, Pedone said no more music films for now … but he has a really interesting unsolved, true Texas murder mystery in the works.  Can’t wait.

Know what I sayin?

GunsUp But Shooting Nikon At Dallas International Film Fest

May 8th, 2018 · Tags: Arts · Cities · Wi-Fi


It’s time for the annual pilgrimage to Big D for the DIFF, The Dallas International Film Festival … does that make me a film pilgrim?  I digress, (with assonance, I might add) …

It’s great fun … and sometimes I actually get to see a film or two, but a lot of the time is spent on the carpet … the red carpet.  The other night I rushed over to meet, greet and Nikon-ize the directors and talents paraded through the reporters/photographers’ gauntlet.  

But before all that, I spotted the festival’s Artistic Director James Faust and stopped by to surprise him with a big Texas Tech #GunsUp hand gesture and greeting … pretty neat that one of the coolest events in Dallas has a Red Raider overseeing the content.

In a brief outtake, Faust seemed to agree with my assessment that the DIFF has gone the way of social media, so to speak … “a more compact, energetic” iteration of itself.  This year, the festival is centralized at the Landmark Magnolia Theater, which puts the activity in the heart of Dallas’ oh-so-swank West Village.  Man!  That little restaurant/retail area has exploded … with many a street cafe table to view the stars and near-stars.  Great atmosphere, beautiful people and you don’t have to rush across town to get to your next screening.  I like it.


Ha … shooting many up-and-coming talents and young directors, I spend most of my time trying to identify the people I photograph. (Yes, there is a tipsheet available, but me trying to be organized would take all of the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?)

But meanwhile … as I sift through all of the still photos, it seemed I needed some type of graphic content for this blog.  Thus the video.  If you’re interested in the “how to”: I opened about a hundred photos in Photos, and as I scrolled through them on my computer, I shot the screen images with my iPhone.  Then I took that raw video and edited it in iMovie and added a zippy little tune from the Garage Band app.  Kinda fun.  A poor man’s collage.  Red Carpet Noir, I call it.

Earlier in the week … I missed Director Rob Reiner on the carpet … my big chance to throw out a pithy, bigotry-laden, tongue-in-cheek one liner to Reiner … yes, call me “Meathead” for missing out on that.  Even I would know Reiner …

OH … did I mention I was way early for the Red Carpet event?



Walking around, I had a chance to check out a couple of Tesla automobiles strategically parked to show off their beautiful technology for all of the film festival traffic.  No one offered, but I would have said “Nyet” to a test drive … still nursing a wounded wing from my two-wheeler incident.  

Hmmm … I should have checked to see if the two Teslas offered Wi-Fi … but I gotta wonder if Wi-Fi would eat up too much battery … you know for life support systems on all those trips into deep space … I digress.


Still waiting, prior to the event, I walked around West Village then scoped out a nice bench in the shade, as the afternoon sun was slipping away, but still a factor. Ha! As I approached the bench, I saw another long-haired, bearded, gentleman … much younger than myself.  As I sat down, and I quipped, “They told me that ‘the longhairs were all supposed to sit over here.’”  He smiled a little, uncertain about me, this conversational old “Wavy Gravy” guy with a camera.

Nice.  Later when I took my assigned spot on the carpet — lo and behold — guess who was stationed right beside me?  Yes.  “Us longhairs gotta stick together.”  Nice guy.  Get this.  He was covering the event as a freelancer, and was still in high school.  High school! I couldn’t have grown a beard in high school even if VHS would have let me … 

Know what i sayin?

Bad Things Happen To Good Pings

May 6th, 2018 · Tags: Politics

A friend of mine responded with kind words to a post about The PingWi-Fi motorcycle crash, as seen on Facebook.  My friend’s family had experienced the horrific loss of their precious daughter at the hands of a drunk driver …years ago.  But I am sure it doesn’t hurt any less today …

I want to share part of the dialogue between friends, because  I just streamed my church’s services and today’s sermon recalled part of this … one of the points I tired to make.  Today’s sermon was “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People” …


From Facebook:

“Connie: Thanks so much for your kind words and for sharing a part of your family’s tragic story. People need to hear stories like that to learn. Also, I want you to know that you guys were in my thoughts shortly after my accident … for a couple of reasons. 1) I thought of “Kev” and his new motorcycle, and my setting a poor example. I know he will still have the most fun on his bike … But, if hearing about my accident makes Kevin more safety conscious on his beautiful new Harley, then it was worth it. 2) In the blog I mentioned retrieving one of my possessions from the roadway, after the wreck. But what I didn’t say was that I had to limp over about 20 yards the opposite direction, in a different intersection to pick up my shoe. As I picked up my should, I immediately thought of you guys and the shoe being such a powerful icon used in the retelling of the terrible car accident that took your beautiful daughter’s life.



I will never forget what a sad, sad day it was when randomly, a TV commercial first told me the story of you and Kevin losing your daughter. Since then I have grieved for you, mourned with you, and prayed for you, but also rejoiced in knowing that you will all be together again someday.

Connie, I truly believe that everything that happens is God’s will — good things and even the horrendous things that happen, for reasons we may never understand. If we think about it, the most horrible thing that ever happened in this lost world was pre-ordained by and carried out against our Savior — all for the good of us … the undeserving.

When people tell me that they don’t believe good comes from bad, that miracle comes to mind. (Don’t get me wrong, I know you and Kevin know/believe this as strongly as anyone.) Good things make us appreciate how wonderful this world can be. Bad things have so many ripples we may never see. And bad things turn our focus to our God and to eternity — when life will be perfected for believers. I digress …

Could my accident have been a message or a wake up call? Probably. Has it changed my thinking? Most definitely. But as I was saying, if it makes Kev tighten up that helmet just a little more — then excellent. If some new father reads about it and decides to sell his moped … then awesome. For me … I will probably get out of city limits more. I can’t put into words that the act of riding a motorcycle and communing with nature in a special way, makes me feel closer to our Lord … weird, huh?

The point … of course, that life is short, regardless.

We could be randomly sucked from an airplane …

… thrown from a horse …

… hit by a car …

… fly off a motorcycle …

When it is our time, it is our time.

We should all be ready in our hearts.

Another friend said “Yes, God determines our fate to a degree, but don’t tempt fate.” Well … I agree to an extent, but that is like saying don’t leave your house … don’t swim … don’t try a new food … don’t go to the zoo … don’t talk to new people … don’t go to new places …

Ha … knowing me, I will probably accidentally cut myself with a can opener while prying open a can of green beans on some wilderness trip … and go out like that:) Who knows!?!


The most significant thing about the accident has been the effect on my heart. My heart has been warmed by so many friends who have reached out … but my heart hurts that there are people in this world who just don’t care enough about others to be more watchful.”


Know what I sayin?

Fortress Festival, Year Two Draws Big Names

April 28th, 2018 · Tags: Uncategorized


Day one of the second annual Fortress Festival in Fort Worth’s Cultural District, I caught Cure For Paranoia, the Dallas Observer‘s Best New Act in 2016 and Best Group Act in 2017. The highlight of their rap set — the lyric “but I digress …”

De La Soul later tonight … Father John Misty tomorrow night.

Fortress Festival Line Up



Know what I sayin?

PingWi-Fi Does Aerial Acrobatics & The SongBird Has Flown

April 19th, 2018 · Tags: Cities · Politics · Satire · Uncategorized · Wi-Fi

2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT


Even my friends who hate motorcycles (and blogs about motorcycles) have probably heard or seen the slogan:  “Loud Pipes Save Lives.”

Apparently I needed some louder pipes the other day.

A young lady in her SUV caught up with me after following me at a distance for a quarter of a mile — headed east — away from the sunset, after the four-way stop south of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.  She apparently never saw my brake lights, my right-hand turn signal, or the 1,000+ pounds that make up me and my favorite mode-o-transpo.

Thank goodness my guardian angel was working over time … 

No seriously, praise the Lord that I was able to crawl up off of the asphalt and limp out of the busy street.  But I think there was another safety phenom at work that day, and I am living proof.  Accordingly, I have a new slogan:

“Long Hair Saves Lives”

You see, I am now a little embarrassed to admit it, but in the past, on a few occasions, I have ridden my motorcycles without a helmet … but not once within the last couple of years.  Why?  Well … crazy as it is at my age, it’s because once again I am growing and donating my hair to the Locks Of Love organization.  And you know what?  Despite the long-hair-easy-rider photos you might see on some old Doobie Brothers album — long hair, motorcycles and Texas wind do not play together nicely.  With long hair, after a 30 minute ride at or near the speed limit, the rider might as well shave their head or accept that they now are growing natty, knotted dreadlocks.

Are you a fan of “word pictures?”  Here is the best word picture I can conjure.  If you have ever ridden a fence line, pushing cattle along through the pasture from the back of your horse you’ve seen it … or if you’ve worked on a cattle operation that had barbed wire fence that needed mending, you have seen those orange (Hereford) or black (Angus) wads and rings of hair wrapped around the barbed wire … well, picture clumps like that on my head.

 Those tangles don’t come out.


The Helm

So … anywho … thanks to long hair and the plan to donate that untangled hair, I was wearing head gear and avoided any unwanted donations of more important Ping parts.

Man down!

Actually, I said I crawled off the asphalt for dramatic effect.  I hopped up off the street faster than a football player jumps off the turf in an agility drill.  As quick as I was, I left a little flesh on the ground that day.  Shock and the body’s adrenaline are wonderful things, although I will try to use them more sparingly in the near future.  I hit the ground hard … really hard … but I never considered lying there.  Immediately, I was up and walking around on the protective median.


A Few Of The Souvenirs


Ha … I bet passersby thought there was a crazy man on the loose.  I was hunched over, like some old cowboy who had just taken a really strong, big shot of rot-gut whisky … bent over and staggering around and cussing at the top of my lungs like a mad man … Not cussing at anyone, or to anyone … just cussing out of pain and frustration and disbelief, as if that were going to help the situation.  Cussing was about the only thing that felt good at that moment.  I know I must have looked scary insane.  Ha … maybe I was.

How could someone be so careless?  I hobbled across the intersection and sat on the curb for a few minutes as the first responders responded, and then I saw something lying in the roadway.  My .45 pistol was smack dab in the middle of one of the adjoining intersections, despite the holster still attached at my lower back. (Yes, licensed to carry …)  So, as quick as I could, I hobbled over to retrieve it.  Funny.  Some woman was pretty much standing guard, watching the gun, as if it were going to also hop up and sound off at everyone.     I could tell she was terrified by the weapon.  I would have bit my tongue if I didn’t think that would hurt too.  Nevertheless, I refrained from saying, “If I were you, I would be more scared of the ‘three-thousand-pound weapon’ that just ever-so-casually knocked me off my bike.”

If only people driving cars would realize those things are also deadly weapons … much more deadly than guns, statistically.  I digress …

Kinda surreal.  I scooped it up and popped it back into my holster.

“So what was it like?”  some friends asked.


A Weapon


Well … it was strange.  I had been keeping an eye on this car since the aforementioned four-way stop sign.  I ride this route every day on my way home, and I always have anticipated this very accident scenario, crazy and futile as that seems.  At the four-way stop, I always separate myself from traffic, knowing I have the right turn coming up. (Ha … there is a safety median that prevented me from getting over further to the right to turn …)  IF I am at the back of a group of cars, I slow down and let them get well ahead of me.  IF I am the leader of the pack (P-I), I always “jump on it” … accelerate rapidly to create space between my bike and any cars behind us.  I did the latter on the day of the accident, and jumped way ahead of any cars.  But, in my rearview mirror, I saw a white vehicle leave the four-way stop, and whip around another car to get in the lane behind me.  But she was way, way back behind me.  I guess she caught me.

I looked in the rear view mirror one more time just as she got up on my tail.  I was already turning into another intersection — and about to cross that second intersection with cross traffic. So I didn’t have a lot of options.  I started my turn thinking “there is just no way.”

It was so weird.  Yes surreal.  Almost like being transported into some other strange reality.  It seemed as if I saw the white vehicle out of the corner of my eye in slow motion, and I think I heard its motor, but no braking or screeching tires … right at collision. I had a fraction of a second to think, “Oh my … is this it?”  Then my feet went straight up in the air, and I think I completed a full flip and landed hard on my right shoulder and right hip, to the side of the actual collision.  That was lucky. Lucky that the white SUV didn’t run me over as it had my big bike … and lucky that cars in the second intersection didn’t run me over too.  (I was traveling at approximately 10-15 m.p.h. in the turn, and I estimate the other vehicle must have been traveling around 60 m.p.h., having left the other cars behind and overtaken me … ha … literally.)

Have you seen that police chase strategy where the patrol car rams the back tire of the fugitive’s car in a car chase?  The result is that the wheel may be stopped for a brief moment causing the car to skid out of control.  I think that happened.  The initial point of impact was the white vehicle’s front right bumper to the rear left side of the bike.  The motorcycle apparently swerved around, violently, to the left … increasingly in front of the car.  The damage on the left front side of the motorcycle would seem to support that, since I had been making a right turn away from the car … going the opposite way.  The good thing was that the violent swerve threw me to the right … out of harm’s way, or partially.

In that split second, it was as if I could sense that something unknown and powerful and menacing had taken over.  It must be like what a person experiences as a great white shark snatches them up off of their surfboard. (Ha … another word picture …) In both cases, there is that first sign of danger, but by then it is too late, with nothing to do but kind of wait to see what’s next … to kind of ride it out for a split second … before landing.

Another friend asked me what it was like, and I answered, “Imagine being body slammed by a sumo wrestler who is moving faster than 40 m.p.h.”  It was like that.

Perhaps it was in the back of the ambulance — yes, I actually rode the ambulance to the emergency room thinking my hip, shoulder and/or collar bone might be broken.  Ha … and yes, of course I was texting all the way, strapped into a gurney. (I found no Wi-Fi …)  I think it was in the ambulance that I started to analyze more and more how lucky I was that the injuries were not life-threatening.  Yes, PTL!  I realized how unlikely it was that the crashing vehicle completely separated me from the bike … like separating wheat and chaff. Or better yet, I thought … it was like the old trick where the magician pulls hard on the table cloth, and the table cloth comes out cleanly, leaving the food and dishes and place settings still on the  table.  Well on that day, the other car was “the magician.”  The motorcycle was “the table cloth” that was whisked away, out from under me, with surgical precision.  And I was like “Mom’s best china” … left behind on the asphalt “table top” … with nothing shattered and not much spilt.

I am happy to report all of this … ecstatic that the road continues to go on forever.  The ultra-expensive X-rays, and ambulance ride were all for naught. Nothing was broken.  The shoulder was severely sprained, and possibly dislocated, swollen and pretty much frozen for a couple of weeks.  The hip is but one more joint that now pops out of place at semi-regular intervals.  But I live to type another day, and the pain subsides more every day.  I’m more than lucky.  I am so blessed!


‘Birds Of A Feather

At this point, I haven’t replaced the 2014 Triumph Thunderbird.  It was declared a total loss … such a shame to lose such a beautiful piece of engineered art … and performance.  In my humble opinion, my bikes — especially the nostalgia-lost Thunderbird — added much to the blog … a new dimension … another facet … perhaps influencing me to take journeys that otherwise might never have been … or perhaps might have been more mundane in a car … like the ride to Columbia, Mo., through the The Ouachita Mountains and The Ozarks, on a “Dirty Gig” assignment … or the interesting, insider’s look at “biker culture” at the first- or second-largest bike rally in the country (depending on who you talk to) for Bike Week in Daytona, Fla., … or the Total Eclipse of the Sun in Fort Laramie, Wyo., … the numerous trips through the Texas Hill Country, sometimes just to sample a swimming hole … or the College World Series … or a couple of trips to and up-and-around a dormant volcano near the Texas/New Mexico border … or the weekend trip to Nashville, including a stop at the American Quilt Museum of all places … about a dozen college bowl games … and so much more.  In four years, the bike and I blogged for more than 50,000 miles.




Here is my first love letter to the Thunderbird (see link) … a bike only recently nicknamed “SongBird” partly because “Thunder Chicken” was already taken by my old buddy’s Ford Thunderbird … and partly because of a belt on the bike that squeaked and even chirped on occasion …  Did you know the British motorcycle company loaned the name Thunderbird to Ford?  Did you know Marlon Brando road a Triumph in “The Wild Ones?”  I digress …

The link is the first journalistic review that I blogged about the bike:

Triumph Of The Will — 1,422 Miles — Cheeks Branded, Intact

Ha … fly free my little wing:)

Know what I sayin?

Pocatello, Mocatello, Potatoes & Mo — Wi-Fi Idaho Blogging

April 2nd, 2018 · Tags: Uncategorized

Blogger’s Rendering

It is so unusual that two of my favorite bands are so polarized and so different and yet, I love them both … Over the years, I have seen numerous examples of one of these band trashing the other and scoffing because they used the same producer despite the different genres they represent. Well … I love them both for different reasons … Blue Öyster Cult for its heady, bizarre sense of humor and musicianship — “Joan Crawford has risen from the grave …” And The Clash … well, for being The Clash — should I stay (and justify that with an explanation) or should I go?

Why just the other night, I watched a documentary about Paul Weller, — British solo artist and former front man of The Jam and Style Council — in which he made a snide remark about BÖC. What’s up with that? … well it figures, since everyone credits The Clash for influencing The Jam.

I digress …

What’s this got to do with today’s topic — Idaho? Well, I’ll tell you. One of these favorite bands was plastered all over the side of the road everywhere I went in Idaho. No, not from a car jam while under the influence … “plastered” as in its group photo was all over the place on billboards. Yes! Blue Öyster Cult has arrived. The band is scheduled to play a mid-April date at the Fort Hall Casino north of Pocatello, Idaho — which would be several weeks after I left. Who knows, had I hung around, I might have worn a gas mask and attended the show in an almost sure-to-be-smokey casino. The smokey haze would probably create a nice effect, complementing the laser show during “Godzilla.”

Mostly it is the musical prowess and clever arrangements I like in the Blue Öyster Cult catalog, but there is also a special reason. In the beginning of this blog, guitarist/vocalist Buck Dharma gave an interview. Furthermore, since that time he and I have been business connections on LinkedIn — you know, the serious business networking site. Ha … I take much joy from having a rock star for a business-not-social contact. Sadly, I never made a selfie with the BÖC billboards.

All The World’s An Oyster … Blue Öyster Cult Embraces Cowbell, Etc.

I digress …

So … to wrap up the Pocatello visit. What a beautiful place in a high-desert/mountainous sense. The town is surrounded by decent mountains and there are sizable peaks visible in the distance … and the place is only a hop/skip/jump from the famous Snake River … the river that proved to be Evel Knievel’s nemesis when he unsuccessfully attempted to fly a rocket cycle over that chasm.

Evel Jumps Snake River

More important than the scenery and the weather, was the calendar during the visit. “The Sweet 16” NCAA Men’s Basketball playoffs were in full swing, and I was pretty excited because my team — Texas Tech — was in the thick of things. I hadn’t watched much basketball in 20 years or so, but this year, I overindulged. And I could tell it was having a strange effect on me. Every time I turned around, it seemed I was throwing away some water bottle, or paper-wadded memo or gum or whatever … and I was “air dribbling” the item, giving a headfake, and shooting the object into the trash can. Ha … reliving the “glory days” one piece of recyclable waste at a time.


Then I noticed a second thing. I was making everything … I was on fire … in the zone … I couldn’t miss. If I “shot” from 20 yards away, the paperwad found the center of the target. Water bottles were defying all known properties of aerodynamics and wind resistance, and twirling in the air … and dropping in dead center. I couldn’t miss. “Silly,” I thought to myself. Then one night while lying in bed, after turning off the sports channel, I finished a bottle of water. I grabbed the featherweight plastic bottle by the neck and threw it hard and high across the room, an impressive arc in the general direction of the trash can. The bottle hit the lip of the can, bounced up high and landed on the desk nearby … and then it spun a second, rolled off the edge of the desk, fell down toward the trash can, again hitting the rim of the can … and then it dropped in.

I have seen the same thing happen once in all of my basketball diary days — for real — when a young Randy Roark (my teammate) was in the zone during a road game in Hart, Texas. He took a shot that bounced high off the rim, hit the top of the backboard, rolled on the edge of the glass, dropped off the front side of the backboard, hit the rim again, bounced against the backboard … and went in. Randy was in the zone that night (even if he didn’t “call ‘glass.’”) I digress …

Yes … I was in the zone this time. So naturally, I assumed this was an omen that my team was supposed to win the NCAA Tournament this year. Well, the team made it to the Elite Eight, but the referees, or whoever picks the team that is supposed to win games had ruled against Texas Tech. I digress …

Back to blogging on location … In Idaho, there were only a couple of days for me to explore. Day one, I rushed to what appeared to be the most interesting attraction in the area — Craters Of The Moon — a national monument celebrating the other-worldly terrain created by lava flows a handful of millennia before. I was so intrigued. Purportedly, NASA has used this place as a site to test Mars rovers and the like. Travel tip: call ahead to see if it is open, before you drive a couple of hours. It wasn’t … the park ranger said the roads inside the park were closed by snow. But he invited me to hike on in, through the snow, to the nearest lava flow, which was covered with snow. Pass.


Craters Of The Moon


Another day, I drove to a trailhead up above the town of Pocatello, which included a driveby on the dirt road beside the women’s prison. Ha … I laughed about the signs warning me not to pick up any women walking alongside the road in that neck of the woods. I saw the saddest thing behind the barbed wire crowned fences. The basketball goal for the inmates looked like the cheapest pole and backboard available at some discount sporting goods store. I mean … a crappy, plastic goal is just cruel and unusual punishment in my books. I waved at what must have been two “trustees” who were hanging out by themselves behind one of the small storage buildings, with no one else in sight … hmmm …

My quest for coffeeshops in Pocatello began on day one, just after checking into the Hampton Inn. Ha … best name in town went to a drive-in called MocaTello … pity I don’t do drive-ins. From the hotel staff, I had a lead on a place called CoHo. So, my first free afternoon — a Sunday — I zipped on over by Idaho State University. But the shop was closed … and therefore forgotten.

I found 2.5 Starbucks locations, counting the pseudo-bux in the neighborhood grocery store. The other two were legit, but just okay. One lacked any comfortable chairs, and the other lacked any customers for people watching. Unimpressed. The Wi-Fi was better than most of the hotspots I find in Starbucks these days, for the record.

Then after several jaunts, I found a little place called College Market. Surely it was a coffee shop, since it had a few cars parked outside on a Saturday morning. Ha … there were a few parking spots available, however, they were reserved for “compact cars.” I assumed the Chevy Suburban wasn’t down to those standards, so it took a minute to find a place … But College Market, at 8th & Clark (yes as in the explorer) was worth it. They whipped up a frappuccino-like drink on one visit and a hot coffee on another. I liked both. AND … yes! … College Market had excellent Wi-Fi and easy chairs. A minor deduction on the score though. One point penalty because they close so darned early — six pings.

Another afternoon, the troops were turned loose early for the day, and a friend and I headed to what we hoped would be the definitive Idaho experience — The Idaho Potato Museum. Calling ahead, we were encouraged that the museum was supposed to be open until 7 p.m. (That didn’t sound right, but my co-pilot assured me …) Well, I am going to blame the person on the phone at the museum. In fact, the potato exhibits actually close at 5 p.m. Naturally, we pulled up beside the giant fiberglas potato (crowned with a dollop of fiberglas butter and/or fiberglas sour cream) at 4:55 p.m. It was not looking good. The doors were locked. So we peeked inside to try to catch a glimpse of potato greatness. Ha! There was a woman still inside, and eventually she saw us and opened the door. But she wouldn’t let us in. I mentioned that I am a journalist, but this didn’t matter. “No potato soup for you!” (The museum received no score on the PingWi-Fi meter, and the staff member received poor marks in media relations … I mean … how did she NOT know there are some very important, thought-leaders in the Ping blog’s 30 readers???



So … I have blogged several times about Idaho, but I still haven’t seen the Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho. One can only wonder what treasures are inside. Are there lots of Irish artifacts? Are there Devo spud collars? Is there a special section dedicated to The B-52s and their new wave hit “Private Idaho?” Is hot potato just a game or a time honored ritual? We may never know.

Devo Spud Collars

By the way, PingWi-Fi blog and all was in Idaho for what I like to call “The Dirty Gig.” (Hard to say which is the “day-time job.”) This time the clean-up job consisted of a crew of technicians cleaning machines and computer controls at a food processing/packaging/shipping plant. My team was small, and we had little interaction with the crews of laborers who were there cleaning the walls of the facility. I did take time out, however, to point out a sign to the non-English-speaking workers I met. I explained to them that one particular machine — a giant, industrial-strength dough mixer — could be deadly. So of course, I added they should never clean any machine if it had power. (None were powered up … but safety first and all that …) To emphasize my point, I directed their attention toward the small warning sign, with one of those funny stick figures, who had ran afoul with the machinery. In my best broken Spanish, I told them … “Don’t let this happen to you. DO NOT do this dance with death!” Ha … can avoiding tragedy be humorous too? I digress …


No, No Baila Con Muerte!


On a second Sunday excursion, I headed northeast to an area with more active volcanic activity … or at least geothermal activity … the healing waters of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Lava Hot Springs is definitely “commercial” but wonderful all the same. There’s hot steam with a pool temp. for every taste … 102, 105, 112 … It seemed prudent, so I started at the “luke warmest” and proceeded up the thermometer cautiously … In the last pool, it’s definitely a bit more difficult to linger … What a great facility! …


Soaking in the steamy water, leaning back … watching remnants of snow falling on the hot water, and the rugged cliffs, directly above.  Pretty peaceful.


Hot Lava Springs

But, I was a little shocked at the unfriendliness of the staff. It was a Sunday morning … who knows, perhaps they were nursing a hangover, and/or mad because they were not nursing the cigarette of their dreams. I went in and enjoyed anyway … even if I was the only happy person there. Eventually others filed in.

Ha … I got out of the hottest pool to go grab my iPhone for a quick photo or two, and that was when I learned there is a sharp edge somewhere inside the locker room. Well, I found out a few seconds later, as I returned to the pool, looked at my hand and saw blood gushing. Crud, I couldn’t get back in the water, although I am sure there was a little bit of everything else boiling in the water.

“We’ve got a bleeder!,” I imagined some other bather announcing in horror …



I wrapped the finger with a towel and dressed, and went and asked for a bandage at the front desk. They couldn’t care less that I had a minor injury at their facility. It wasn’t a big deal, but in my customer experience, I always tended to be attentive if someone injured themselves in my workplace. The attendant kind of threw the bandage at me and another seemed as if I were putting her out when I asked to throw the wrapper in the hidden garbage can. But I understand, it was rush hour … two or three people were waiting to pay. The one and only customer-oriented person I encountered at the hot springs was in the adjoining gift shop. It was so obvious she liked her job, when she literally sang out “one, two …” and so on as she counted change for my $20 bill. Unfortunately, no Wi-Fi hotspot at the hotsprings. Five pings of varying temperatures.


Surrounding the piping hot pools, a great small town with a ski-bum, film-festival feel to the place … a few restaurants and bars, museums … the usual on one long, main street.

Lava Hot Springs




Previously, on the same day I struck out at The Craters Of The Moon, I also turned off the highway when I saw signs promoting the oldest nuclear power plant. “Now there’s a collectable t-shirt,” I thought. Well, the world’s oldest nuclear power plant museum and gift shop was also closed. But I poked around anyway to see if I could take home some souvenir radiation.

Nuclear Reactors

The very last day in town, I finally found what I was looking for in a coffee shop. CoHo was open this time! What a funky little place … like a bachelor pad or college apartment that is designed to generate revenue. I’m just saying, the place was empty, and some of the loud, off-color conversations by the staff were a bit offensive … but they were nice when they visited with me … So I stayed for a bit. I really liked the decor and the Wi-Fi … there was an old, hand-me-down, circular/modular couch, a Grand Funk album sleeve on the wall, and music coming from an old-but-beautifully crisp/clear-sounding set of Klipsch speakers — some of the very best high-end speakers back in the day.



Interesting, but sad … CoHo offers boba tea — on the menu anyway — but they were sold out of the tapioca-ball concoction on this day, which kind of ruins the whole boba thing. Good Wi-Fi though — five pings!

During my very last hours in town, I scored the best. The Bru House — where I met the nicest, smiley barista I encountered in Pocatello. The place has quite an eclectic vibe — Native American art juxtaposed with found objects and contemporary art. The cafe has a creative layout, with side rooms, funky hand-crafted table tops, creative booths … just fun. Good Wi-Fi too, although the smiling barista said it had been acting up. I saw no acting. It was solid — six pings!

Know what I sayin?

A Tail Of A Cat, Wi-Fi Tales To Come

March 29th, 2018 · Tags: Uncategorized