Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Plans and More Plans

Planning is fine --
It must be done, I know.
But nothing is accomplished
'Til you get off of go.

I suppose if you're launching
A ship to the moon
Each and every detail
Must be in fine tune,

But most earthly projects
Are not so exact
In the requirements
It takes to enact.

It seems that quite often
The course one should take
Isn't quite clear
Until first efforts we make

Are examined.
It is then that we see
Where the course needs adjustment
To get us to where we want to be.

So go on ahead
And plan details, each one.
While you're doing that
I'll get the job done.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Golden Spur and Rising W

Last night, we traveled with some friends to the booming metropolis of Happy, Texas, to eat. A couple that I grew up with opened a steakhouse there called The Golden Spur Steakhouse. We all wanted to go down and try it out. The food was excellent.

They had a large crowd last night and it took a little longer than normal to get our food, but the wait was worth it. The steaks they serve are all Certified Angus Beef. CAB is typically much higher quality for tenderness and marbling than the cuts you generally find in the grocery store. They also make a tasty bread pudding or a dutch oven peach cobbler with homemade ice cream to top it off.

The Golden Spur is owned and operated by Jim and Debbie Walters. They have many years experience cooking and Jim especially enjoys chuckwagon cooking. He has a second business called Rising W Chuckwagon which is a catering business. They do a lot of cooking for company outings or special events. They can bring the wagon (pictured below) or not. They recently returned from San Antonio where they cooked for a large group of our wounded soldiers home from Iraq. They took the wagon to that event. I have included a link to their Chuckwagon Catering business in my sidebar. Check it out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my father's 77th birthday.

Dad grew up in Southwestern Oklahoma during the Dustbowl and Depression on a dryland farm in a family of 7 kids. After the untimely death of his father in 1943, those 7 kids were raised by their mother.

Dad became an expert shot with a rifle as he was growing up. Wild game was an important part of their diet and often the only meat on the table. My uncle once told of watching my father run along behind a covey of quail that was running down a fence line. As he ran, he would shoot the last bird in the line with a single-shot .22 rifle. He shot nearly the entire covey before stopping. His comment was that ammunition was scarce and every shot had to count.

Of the 7 kids, all but 2 received a college education. They did so through their own perseverance and initiative. Five of them, including my father, pursued careers in education. At one point in my own education I was required to interview my father about why he chose the career that he did. His response was that in Southwestern Oklahoma during his early years, teaching was one of the most respected and secure careers. I suspect that it was his calling because many times through the years I have heard people comment about how my father made a positive influence in their life through his role as an educator/school administrator.

Dad always made time for us as we were growing up -- and still does today. He played catch, took us hunting, fishing and camping. He taught us to work. And he does the same for his grandchildren now. He always made time to attend anything that we participated in -- and does the same for his grandchildren.

He and my mother have been married over 50 years and have lived in the same town all of that time. They will be moving in the next few weeks to the town in which I live. My mother has never lived anywhere else. They want to be close to their kids and grandkids.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ten Questions - Answer if you wish....

1. Should CO2, the product of respiration, be considered a "greenhouse" gas? If so, why?

2. If, instead of cattle covering the plains eructing gases, we still had buffalo covering the same area, would the environmentalists be complaining that belching buffalo were causing global warming?

3. If Fred Thompson had not entered the race for the Presidency, would Mike Huckabee have won in South Carolina and thus be in a better position to capture the Republican nomination?

4. Why doesn't the government cut our taxes rather than offering a rebate as a stimulus to the economy?

5. Is cryogenic preservation in anticipation of future resuscitation when medical and scientific advances might extend life provide realistic expectations of at least temporarily overcoming death? Does such a belief preclude belief in a soul -- in life-after-death?

6. Do the Giants have a chance at winning the Super Bowl?

7. Are the current "deep-freeze" weather conditions across the U.S. a result of Global Warming?

8. Will China eventually invade the Middle East in a quest for energy resources?

9. If a Democrat wins the Presidential race, will we move further toward socialized medicine over the coming four years?

10. Do you believe there is intelligent life somewhere in this universe? I'm beginning to doubt its presence here on earth....

Thompson Out

Thompson drops out of GOP presidential race

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And It Snows

The cold wind blows
And it snows

So that drifts form
As the storm

Scours the field
And I shield

My stinging face
In this place

Where the bitter cold
Seems to enfold

While I desire
A roaring fire

Where I may warm
This frozen form

As the cold wind blows
And it snows.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's in a Name...

I found this over on Born Again Redneck Yogi.

What Christopher Means

You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.
You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.
A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.
Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia.
Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.
You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know.
You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.
You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.
You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.
You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.
At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.

You are influential and persuasive. You tend to have a lot of power over people.
Generally, you use your powers for good. You excel at solving other people's problems.
Occasionally, you do get a little selfish and persuade people to do things that are only in your interest.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.
At least part of it is probably on target...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Random Items

My posts seem to be coming more infrequently than I intended. I must admit that the plan was to slow a little -- to not feel pressured to post something daily -- but taking it to such an extreme was not desired.

It isn't that I am writing less. In fact, I may be writing more. My Ag blog is catching more of my attention. I am writing for the paper on a weekly basis (with a few exceptions), and I am working on Billy -- although not in as disciplined manner as I should. I also have been invited to participate in a collaborative blog that will be rolled out sometime soon. I will say more about that as the plans are firmed. A number of pieces that I wrote as educational material for work are being translated into Spanish for distribution throughout Mexico and South America. In a way, that will make me an Internationally read author! Too bad it doesn't pay any extra. But, I guess as bloggers, most of us are Internationally read authors. I also have been participating (although infrequently) in the American Conservative Forum (I had to have a political outlet!).

The Presidential race has me disgusted. The only candidate that I have any positive feelings toward is Fred Thompson (you can tell from my sidebar). His race seems to be faltering -- probably from a lack of money. I hope that he pulls a surprise showing in South Carolina, but I'm not optimistic. He is the only candidate that seems to consistently represent the values that I believe to be important. What bothers me most is that there isn't really a good choice among the others -- of either party. They each terrify me although not all for the same reasons.

It seems that our President has decided that he wants to add a Middle East Peace Treaty to his legacy. The Middle East has been the focus of his Presidency since 9-11. I suppose it fits. It also fits the Armageddon scenario of the end times. If you look at the world situation closely, there are many things that fit the foreshadowing of Revelation. The environmental issues, earthquakes, famines, volcanoes, unrest, wars, China and India, the European Union, the former Soviet states, the "villainization" of some world political figures, the rise of Islam, and on and on ad nauseum. I'm not convinced that God is ready to "roll up the scroll" and be done with it -- but He could be....

On the other hand, I'm amazed to watch my son as an 11th grader in High School, totally focused on the career that he wishes to pursue in either Aerospace or Aeronautical Engineering. He and his team are building a hover craft for their physics project. I was skeptical at first but now I seriously think they have a real chance of getting it off the ground. He also is working on a program with NASA in which he is going through a series of lessons with them through the Internet that if he passes will mean a two-week all-expenses-paid trip to NASA this summer. He is also working with another student on a NASA sponsored scholarship project that includes the design of a future spacecraft. He recently received score reports from both SAT and ACT and did quite well on both -- a near-perfect score on the ACT. He has a very high natural ability in mathematics -- almost intuitive. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!

So much for random thoughts -- I think I will end.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Sometimes I set aside
All those things that interest me
But that I am not yet ready to deal with decisively
Into piles
Waiting for further attention.

Books not read.
Notes to self.
Research material.
Things written.
Items to file.
Business cards.

It builds until
I must attack it;
Organize it;
Dump it;
File it;
Move it;
Do it.

Is it a sign
Of a disorganized mind?
Is it a sign
Of too many interests and not enough time?
Is it a sign
Of laziness?

It is a symptom
Of priorities
Of urgencies
Of importance
Of ... OK, laziness.

Efficiency is the product of laziness for it seeks the easiest path.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The IN Crowd

As often happens, this post was inspired by our pastor David Lowrie.

It seems to be part of our nature
To want to belong to a group.
Perhaps it is something genetic
Left from the primordial soup.

Whatever does cause this behavior
Starts way down in grade school
When we want to be a part of
The kids that we all think are cool.

Even when we get to college
It is important with whom we are seen.
It is usually the star athletes
That are thought to be really keen.

For adults it isn't much better.
We want to be with the IN crowd.
We talk about who we hang out with
And often it comes out quite loud.

No matter where our life takes us
We have a desire to fit IN.
Whether it be at work, at home, or in school
Acceptance is what we would win.

There are certain INdicators
That I seek in the crowd I desire.
It is lives full of love and service
That are filled with the eternal fire

Of the Holy Spirit of God
That tells me that He dwells within
Their hearts and their lives
And that makes them the crowd that is IN.

13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. __ 1 John 4:13-16

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Billy 11

The freighters sat talking for a couple of hours before turning in for the night. There was plenty of speculation about who the men were and why they might want the boy but none of them had any solid information. One of the things that stood out in the conversation was the quality and style of saddles and rigging that the men were using. Several in the group were certain that they were of Mexican origin. The men were dressed in ordinary fashion. Their pistols though were what would be termed “fancy” by most of the men. There seemed to be silver inlaid on a couple of them and all had ivory or bone handles. Such things were rare on the frontier. Most firearms carried for everyday use were fairly common in their finish.

The only one of the men who had spoken sounded like he had some kind of accent. His words were very properly delivered. Tom said that he had heard similar speech in Santa Fe and San Antonio. He thought the men might have come from Mexico.

Billy mostly just listened and asked a few questions. His mind kept racing back over the past days searching for clues in what Tad had said. He knew there was bound to be something that would help him to find the boy. The men would have a good start on him and he might have to hunt for their trail. He had a good starting point where he found the horses at the river, but he would need to wait for enough light to be certain of their direction before heading after them. The men probably wouldn’t be looking for him. In fact, if they quizzed the boy and found that he had stowed away with the freight wagons, they might not expect anyone to be following them. That could work to his advantage.

Daylight found Billy kneeling on the south bank of the Canadian River. He had found where the men apparently had left the river heading south. He was examining the tracks closely to be certain that he could recognize them. After a time he was sure that he could recognize the six distinct sets of tracks of the horses. One of them appeared to be carrying extra weight. It must be the one that had Tad. The men could have taken Tom’s horse for the boy, but they probably wanted to reduce the chances of being followed. Tom would certainly have tried to get his horse back if they had stolen it.

Tom wanted to come along on the hunt for the boy. The freighters would most likely be able to handle the wagons without him. If it hadn’t been for his wound and the weakness from loss of blood, he would certainly have joined Billy. As it was though, he loaned Billy his extra saddle gun and some shells and wished him luck. Billy was on his own which was how he liked it.

The tracks were fairly easy to follow as they headed southeast, angling slightly away from the river. It looked like they were heading in the general direction of Wild Horse Lake or maybe toward Goodnight’s place. There was also the T Anchor south of Wild Horse Lake on Spring Draw. Any of them would be places to get water for the horses. Water still determined where a man could travel on these dry plains. He could carry enough for himself, but the horses had to drink and there were only so many places they could get water.

As he rode along, Billy continually scanned the horizon for riders. The country was fairly rough all the way to Wild Horse Lake. There were plenty of places where someone could hide unobserved and watch the back trail. Even though the country was beginning to be settled, there weren’t many people. A man could ride for days and not see any other riders unless he rode up to one of the scattered ranches. Most of the Llano was still wide open. The few outfits that were taking root were on the few water courses that crossed the plains.

There were a few head of cattle scattered in the draws but not much else to be seen. Occasionally an antelope or deer would stick its head up to watch as Billy passed, but mostly it was just jackrabbits to keep him company. The monotony began to dull his senses. It was easy to think about vigilance, but it became more difficult as the heat of the day began to soak into him. It had been a dry summer and the grasses were mostly a dull gray with a coating of dust on them.

The hoof prints continued in their course to the southeast. There was no sign that they had stopped for the night. That meant they had about a twelve hour head start. He might be making up a little time on them but not much. Their horses would tire after a while and need to be rested. He had two so he could switch out occasionally and spare his own. That would work to his advantage.

Back to the southwest a few clouds had begun to build. July wasn’t known for thunderstorms, but they did occasionally happen. Billy didn’t pay them much attention.
Noon passed and still there was no variation in the trail. They appeared to be heading toward Wild Horse Lake. Where they would go from there was anybody’s guess.

By mid-afternoon, Billy began to get concerned. He thought he knew their first destination, but feared he would lose their tracks if it rained. The clouds had continued to build and a massive thunderstorm had welled up virtually covering the southern sky. Heavy rain would wipe out any tracks and he would be left searching for their trail. He also didn’t relish the idea of being stuck out in a thunderstorm. The rain wasn’t a problem it was the hail and lightening that he dreaded.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Billy 10

There was a fire blazing and the cook putting together something for the crew to eat as Billy and the other three made it back to camp. It took a while to catch the mules in the dark and get them tethered, but it wasn’t long before everyone but the night guard was gathered around talking about the events of the day. Freighting was usually extremely boring work. Most of the freighters had seen action fighting Indians and in the war so they were getting worked up about going after the men who had taken the boy. Tom was the only casualty of the brief encounter and Billy wondered why.

As the men began to eat, it quickly got quiet except for the rattle of the tin plates and mugs. Eating was serious business for the men. They knew that on the Plains, a good meal was never a sure thing. It should be eaten when the opportunity presented itself, so they wasted no time.

Finally, as he handed the cook his plate, Billy said, “OK, Tom. What happened? How did you get shot?”

Tom said, “It was my own fault. They had us cold. They gathered up our weapons in a sack and hauled them off with them. They left them about a mile down the trail. Houston had already collected them and brought them back when you rode up. They got all of them except my spare saddle gun which was in my bedroll in the cook wagon. As they were leaving, I took a chance and pulled it but one of them shot me before I could get a bead on them. I’d swear he shot high intentionally. I think he just wanted to take me out of commission without hurting me too bad. He could have killed me.”

Billy was full of questions. “Tom, you’re going to have to tell me the whole thing. I need to figure out who these men are and why they’re after the boy. Tell me everything that happened since you left Tascosa.”

Tom said, “We were a couple of hours out of Tascosa when the boy stuck his head out of the wagon. Buried under those bones like he was, it must have been beating on him pretty good as the wagons bounced along the trail. I happened to be riding beside the wagon when he looked out and I grabbed him by the arm and asked him what he was doing stowing away in my wagon. He told me there were some men after him and he needed to get out of town. I told him that I normally didn’t put up with runaways, but if he’d behave I’d let him ride with us until night camp and then we could discuss his situation further.

“We made pretty good time with only a brief stop at noon to eat a bite and check harness. We didn’t see anybody until about mid afternoon. Travis was on the lead wagon and when I talked to him around 3 o’clock, he told me he thought we were being trailed off to the north. Normally I would have thought it was just some ranch hands, but after that boy told me he had someone after him, I figured it was worth keeping an eye on.

“I rode back along the line and told everyone to keep a sharp eye out but no one saw anything else all afternoon. Then, as we topped that hill back there, they came at us from out of nowhere. Like I told you earlier, there were six of them. They came at us from both sides. I never noticed it before, but that hill is perfect for an ambush. They could hide below the bluffs on either side until all of us were over the top. There’s no place we could turn. We were trapped.

“They let Travis in the lead wagon get even with them and then one man stepped out on his horse. He had a bandanna over his face and just pointed his pistol at us but didn’t say anything. The rest of them came from the sides and were staggered so they each covered a couple of wagons. No one had a chance to grab a rifle or anything. Coming off the hill we were all busy with brakes and lines and had our hands full so we just sat there while they rode along relieving us of our weapons.

“Then, the one who stepped out first told me to get the wagons moving to the flat which is where we are now. He had us circle and then gathered us in a group. Three of them kept us covered while the others unhitched the mules and stripped the harness. Then the one who spoke before, he must have been their leader, said for us to relax, he only wanted the boy. That boy was white as a sheet and kept saying ‘do something mister, help me.’ There wasn’t anything we could do. We just stood there while two of them drove the stock off. Then the other four headed out with the boy and the sack full of our guns. That’s when I tried my fool stunt and got shot. It was the leader. He didn’t even say a word after he shot me. One of his men stepped down and picked up my rifle and they headed off. They were about as cool as I’ve ever seen. That’s about it. Nothing much happened after that but what you already know.”