Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Election Prediction

The election for the next President is now less than a year away.  It has been interesting so far.  It is not just politics as usual though; it seems to me that it has already been politics on steroids -- and I'm not just referring to the battle for the Republican nomination.

The Campaigner in Chief has been lavishly using our taxes to fund his campaign jaunts across the country.  I am growing weary of the need to counter every headline afforded to a Republican candidate with a headline of the CIC -- often at a similar venue or on the same subject.  It is understandable that he would wish to maintain parity in the campaign, but to use taxpayer funding to do so is not right in my humble (OK, maybe not so humble) opinion.

I think that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg though.  I believe the tempo and vitriol of the rhetoric will only grow as we continue toward next November.  It may be the sleaziest in history before all is said and done.

My prediction?  In an attempt to appeal to the greatest number of voters, the Republicans will self-destruct.  The Campaigner in Chief will continue the great deception and return for another round.

Just my thoughts for now.....it's a long time until the election though......


Monday, November 28, 2011

Planning Ahead

In this instant world
It seems
Only the moment counts.

Beyond tomorrow's task
Are dreams
So why prepare for them?

Entertain me now by
Any means
For it is all that matters.

The future shimmers palely
In scenes
That have no meaning.

So, why should I plan ahead?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Clarity and Leadership

The extended version of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy is on television.  It goes on and on and on......

I read the books many years ago while in college.  I have read them several times since.  The movies are good, but the first releases left out many good scenes that were in the books.  The extended version restores many of those scenes and added some that were not in the books but are Jackson's interpretation.  I only wish it wasn't so long.  I suppose I have been touched by the instant gratification bug of this generation.

The movies are a visual masterpiece and do justice to Tolkien's works.  His fertile mind provided us with an amazing saga of good and evil that held true to the values of his Christian awakening. 

Although many have drawn parallels between the highly popular Harry Potter series and this master work, there is truly no comparison.  The Potter tales draw no clear delineation between that which is right and good and that which is evil.  Some would say they are a better reflection of society as we know it.  I agree.  This world is permeated with evil and even those who would claim moral superiority are tainted with it.  Our sense of clarity in regard to the two is clouded by the atmosphere of deceit promulgated by the Great Deceiver.  The distinction between black and white is as sharp as ever; our perception of them has changed.  We instead see shades of gray where there should be none.

We need men of courage to step forward and combat the evil which confronts us.  Instead, we choose from among those who would lead by selecting the one we feel would do the least harm.  It may seem a bit corny, but we need a Frodo, or better yet, an Aragorn.  With a shave and trim of his hair he could even meet that seeming requisite for a successful candidacy.

Just my thoughts.....


Friday, November 25, 2011

Rainy Afternoon

It is raining like I haven't seen in what seems forever.  It is the time of year when rain doesn't provide the immediate relief that we so longed for during the summer, but, it may actually do more good.  This one will be good for my pine trees.  Maybe it will replenish some of the soil moisture that was baked out over the summer.

We are listening to an eclectic mix of music as provided by my son and his iPhone on random and run through our surround sound system.  It is just a little while until the LSU and Arkansas game starts.  That's what we are waiting for.

The Aggies and Longhorns played last night.  I was very disappointed in the outcome.  It seems the season has been one of disappointments and poorly played second halves.  The Aggies have a tremendous amount of talent but, for whatever reason, have lost by slim margins in far too many games.  It's as though the other teams adjust at half and they don't.  Hmmmm......makes you think coaching issues.

It is the end of a long rivalry -- or not.  The two teams will play again although it currently looks as though the schedules will not allow it for several years.  I wonder if the War Hymn will be re-written.......

This is definitely the year of the Southeastern Conference.  The top three teams in the BCS poll are SEC.  A&M will be part of that conference next year.  They are going to need to step it up a notch to be a contender. 

This season was long.  Next season may last forever......


Thursday, November 24, 2011


I thought today it would be appropriate to write something profound.  After all, it is a special day for most families.  It is the day we come together and share.  It is a day that we partake of the culinary delights of the season (I'm referring here to the pies -- I'm not a big fan of turkey).  It is a day in which we gather around the television and watch football.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving always meant quail hunting.  Quail are my absolute favorite game bird -- both for hunting and for eating.  I think of quail as Biblical.  They certainly helped to feed the wandering Israelites for 40 years.

It is also the day of the big rivalry game between Texas A&M and t.u. (that's the University of Texas for all you non-Aggies).  This is the last year for that rivalry game.  When t.u. got greedy with the television rights, the rest of the conference went looking for a better deal.  After all, college football is big business and the revenue to the schools is huge.  A&M's move to the SEC was about the money -- television rights -- and what it would put into the coffers of the school.

In 2009 I went to Niger.  In January of this year I went to Kenya.  I have been to inner-city America and I have seen the poverty of the southern border.  Yet, here we sit in our abundance, over-eating, watching football (which is all about the money) and never thinking of those elsewhere who are struggling to feed themselves and their children.

I know today is about giving thanks, yet, I wonder if we are giving thanks for the right things.  We thank God for our many blessings, but, I have to ask, do we really understand what it means to be blessed by God?  It isn't about material possessions.  It is about Jesus who provides a way for us to escape the corruption of this world.  If God places an abundance of material possessions in our care it is so that we can help meet the needs of others who don't have such.  Those possessions aren't the blessing, it is the trust He places in us to use them for the work of His Kingdom that is the blessing.  If we fail to do so, we have succumbed to the corruption of this world and those possessions are no longer the source of blessing but, become a curse and a condemnation of our life.  After all, it's not about us (me), it is about Him (Jesus).

But, we make excuses and we justify our behavior.  I'm no different.  I think this year I'll use another Biblical reference.  My son is home from college.  No, he's not a prodigal, but, I think it is a great excuse since he is home to have a celebration.  It's time to kill the fattened calf -- er, turkey and ham and potatoes and green bean casserole and on and on and on......

Feeling a little guilty.....


Monday, November 21, 2011

The Debt Super Committee Failure

I'm shocked.  Who would have thought that our Congressional Leaders would lack the political will to attack the excessive spending of, uh, themselves?  That's what it is -- a lack of political will.

I am tempted to enter into a lengthy discourse on why the committee was doomed to failure from the beginning, but, I think I will try to distill it down to something a bit shorter.  Let me see if I can put it in bullet points.

  • Money drives politics.
    • It fuels political races.
    • It buys influence with politicians.
    • It buys votes.
    • It lines the pockets of politicians who always leave office wealthier than when elected.
  • There are no true Statesmen in government any more, only politicians.
    • Compromise is impossible when self-interest drives the process
    • Politicians are all about holding office, not about serving the people.
  • There is no common moral compass to provide guidance. 
  • The people of this country are divided.
    • There are those who do what it takes to survive and those who wait for someone to take care of them.
    • There are those who think government should redistribute wealth and there are those who wish to be free to create wealth and keep it.
    • There are those who feel defeated and those who will fight to overcome.
    • There are those who think government is the solution and those who think it is the problem.
  • There are creators and there are takers.
Ultimately, it is the last point that has shaped the debate.  It is a difference in philosophical approaches to life.  There are those who seek to create in everything they do whether it be business or social work.  They are those who wish to empower people to succeed.  The converse is the group whose philosophy is to take what they want from those who have it already.  They are very numerous in Washington these days.  They don't create, they take -- through taxes, through legislation, through regulation, through the courts, and by impeding creation.

The problem with the Super Committee was rooted in this point.  The trouble though wasn't the difference between the creators and the takers, it was much worse than that.  They couldn't decide on the best way to take from the creators -- the American people.  Rest assured, they'll figure it out.

Just my thoughts.....


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Following The River

Sometimes my travels are done with very short notice.  If you had asked me early in the week if I would be traveling my answer would have been, "Not likely!"  However, plans change.  Wednesday evening it became a possibility.  Thursday morning it was a certainty.  A quick trip to East Texas was in order.

It was a good trip.  The Fall weather was cool and large stretches of my route have been blessed with recent rains.  I saw more cattle grazing than I have for a long time in any part of Texas.  The Fall rains have finally provided a measure of relief to some areas.  Hopefully there will be adequate winter moisture to bring a good Spring to cattle country.

My route lay primarily along the Red River.  Canyon, Texas, where I live, sits on the headwaters of the Red River.  Less than a mile from my house is the confluence of Rita Blanca Creek and Palo Duro Creek.  The two flow together and tumble into Palo Duro Canyon before continuing eastward where, joined by several other streams of no consequence, become the Red River which borders Texas and Oklahoma.

From Canyon, I traveled by Farm-to-Market Road to the thriving Panhandle metropolis of Claude where I entered onto U.S. 287 which took me to Clarendon, Memphis, Quanah, Vernon and Wichita Falls.  (My pardon to the smaller burgs along the way -- such as Hedley and Chillicothe, Goodnight and Goodlett and many others.)  East of Wichita Falls I left U.S. 287 at the town of Henrietta and then proceeded along U.S. Highway 82 until exiting at Bells where I left my river route and entered into the wilds of East Texas.

I can't help but think of historical events that occurred along the routes I travel.  I guess it is the way that I am wired.  The rolling plains of the eastern Texas Panhandle were once covered with buffalo (or, American Bison if you prefer) that were slaughtered for hides, for meat and ultimately as a way to tame the Comanche and Kiowa Indians of the Southern Plains.  The town of Goodnight was named for Charles Goodnight who drove the first herd of cattle into the Texas Panhandle after the Indians had been mostly moved to the reservations in Oklahoma.  The town of Quanah was named for a half-breed Kiowa chief, the son of kidnapped Texas frontier daughter, Cynthia Anne Parker and Nocona, one of the most renowned chiefs of the Kiowa nation.  All three are commemorated by place names.  The towns of Quanah and Nocona and the Parker county are tokens to their memory.

To the east of Nocona is the little town of Saint Jo.  It is also known as Trail Town, one of the infamous stops along the great Chisholm Cattle Trail which stretched from the wilderness of the South Texas Brush Country to the frontier towns of Newton and Abilene in Kansas.  Later, when Oklahoma closed its borders to Texas cattle due to the Texas Fever Tick, the trail branched in that vicinity and angled westward before crossing the river near Doane's store and heading north along the western border of Oklahoma and eventually to the new trail town of Dodge City, Kansas, which was formerly a hide shipping point for the buffalo that were slaughtered in the Panhandle.

Just to the north of my route is the location of Spanish Fort which wasn't really Spanish at all.  It dates from the 1700's and is the site of an infamous battle long before Texas declared independence from Mexico.  You can read about it if you follow the above link.

What can I say.  I could go on and on but, that's enough for now......


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Many times as I work in my home office I will have iTunes playing in the background.  I usually leave it on "shuffle" so that I get a mix.  Sometimes the songs fall in a way that is humorous and sometimes they almost fit together to tell a story.  I'm not sure how many are in my library, but, something over 1,000.  They are from many different genre of music.

Right now I'm listening to "The Minnow and The Trout" by A Fine Frenzy.  A few minutes ago it was Brad Paisley's "The Cigar Song" and who knows what will be next.  It could be Rachmaninov.

I guess it's a good illustration of what life throws at us.  We never know what might be coming next but, we know it will be interesting!

OK, it wasn't Rachmaninov, it's "Whatever" by Steven Curtis Chapman......appropriate.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Games on the Computer

Why, oh, why do they put games on computers and on Facebook and other sites on the Internet?  Why are kids and teenagers and young adults and even some supposedly mature adults obsessed with video games?  Why are we driven to constant, mindless entertainment like those games or television?

I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop."  I think idle minds are the Devil's workshop and video and computer games are his tool to put them in idle!

I frequently find myself playing games.  I like Bejewelled Blitz on Facebook and I like Spyder or Mah Jong on my laptop.  The first is merely mind-numbing, the second requires a minor amount of thought in Expert mode and the third at least requires a modicum of strategic thinking.  None of them are productive.  All of them are addictive.

I am attempting to limit my time spent on games.  Maybe that's why I'm writing today -- because I need something to occupy my mind that gives me a break from strictly work-related activity.

I usually, although not always, start my work day fairly early.  I often get a lot done before 8:00 a.m.  It seems that interruptions after that magic "start-the-workday" time make it difficult to focus on tasks requiring sustained thought.  I generally fill the "in-between-interruptions" time with minor tasks that require less focus.  If there is a project that needs uninterrupted attention, I shut off the phone and e-mail and whatever else might distract for extended blocks of time.  There is rarely anything so urgent that it can't wait an hour or so.

I got into the habit of keeping a game such as Solitaire or Spyder up on my computer as something to do during phone calls.  Prior to such diversions I would often Doodle.  We don't realize how much unengaged time our minds have during a conversation.  That's why we are often thinking of what we are going to say or of something totally unrelated while in the middle of a conversation.  It is the rare individual who is fully engaged in a conversation so that it is their only focus.  In fact, I think that I am a better listener if I am playing a game or Doodling than if I'm not.  Otherwise, my mind drifts and I find that I have missed something that was said.

What if we could utilize all of that idle thought time -- or at least a big chunk of it -- in something productive?  Maybe that's what differentiates the truly successful from the also-ran.  As for me, I think I will try to fill it with a variety of things such as writing and work-related tasks that are perhaps, a little more strategic in focus.

As Captain Kirk of Star Trek always said when heading out on a new journey, "Engage!"