Sunday, February 7, 2016

Prediction

This morning, Honey got up, walked into the kitchen and announced, "Something's wrong."
"What?" I asked.
"I don't know.  Something about today just doesn't feel right."
Well, she is not a witch, or anything like that, but her intuition has been such over the years that I've learned to believe in her feelings. 
I'm going to be extra careful and observant today.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Willy Peter



The video above is strictly for reference.  If you've never seen white phosphorus munitions explode, you probably should watch it -  otherwise, just settle back and read:
My old friend Kirk Dabney is publishing a sort of a serialized memoir on  Facebook.  Something he wrote the other day reminded me of an event I witnessed at Ft. Hood back in 1966.
As the one-man radio and TV section of the 2nd Armored Division's Public Information Office, I often observed field training of the various line units that made up the division.  One day, I joined an infantry company as they began training on the use of the four-deuce mortar.
The company was seated in bleachers out on the range, and the training sergeant and his cadre started the lesson with a fire-for-effect  of six mortars firing white phosphorus.  Their timing was perfect - all fired at once at a group of old junk cars out on the tank range.  The result was a huge, roiling white cloud with sparkles shooting out of it that had all the soldiers in the stands cheering and hollering.  
Then from out of the smoke came an an old VW Beetle with a young couple inside.  She was desperately trying to get her blouse back on and he was just trying to maintain control of the car as they - as the training sergeant called it - unassed the area. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kindred Spirits

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In 1847, the Indians of the Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma, donated $170 to Ireland during the Great Famine that killed approximately one million people. It may seem like small change by today’s numbers, but back then the donation amounted to thousands of euro.
What makes this gift especially impressive is the fact that the Choctaw were having major problems of their own at that time. But the suffering of the Irish moved the tribe, and so the Choctaw, who firmly believe in charity, dug deep into their pockets to help a foreign nation across the sea.
The Irish continue to remember the Choctaw to this day. In 1992, Lord Mayor’s Mansion in Dublin unveiled a plaque reading, “Their humanity calls us to remember the millions of human beings throughout our world today who die of hunger and hunger-related illness in a world of plenty” to honor the tribe.
A monument honoring the Choctaw Nation called 'Kindred Spirits’ was unveiled in Cork in August of last year. The monument features nine steel eagle feathers towering 20 feet into the air arranged in the shape of a bowl.
On his website, the sculptor of the monument, Alex Pentek, wrote about the symbolism of the bowl of feathers, saying:
“By creating an empty bowl symbolic of the Great Irish Famine formed from the seemingly fragile and rounded shaped eagle feathers used in the Choctaw ceremonial dress, it is my aim to communicate the tenderness and warmth of the Choctaw Nation who provided food to the hungry when they themselves were still recovering from their own tragic recent past.”
The monument can be found in Bailic Park, Midleton, Cork.
www.RareIrishStuff.com

Thursday, February 4, 2016

For the Birds

One of the things we enjoy most about living at the old Boggy Thicket is the presence of a large variety of birds - from Hawks to Doves, and everything in between.  We actually host  two species of Hawks, and at least three types of Woodpeckers.  A couple years ago we actually had the only Baltimore Oriole I've ever seen visit our Hummingbird feeder.  We are not ornithologists, not even amateur bird watchers, but we do enjoy seeing them.
Rather than list the variety of birds we do have, it might be easier to mention the ones we don't.  Two that come to mind immediately are Sparrows and Pigeons.  
Pigeons abound in downtown Houston - so much so that an umbrella could come in handy near City Hall.  Just 22 miles to the northeast of downtown as the crow flies (couldn't help myself - we are talking about birds)  we have never seen a single Pigeon here at the Boggy Thicket.
In the last couple months, our bird feeder has drawn the first Sparrows we've ever seen here.  They never seem to get in the feeder, but we often see them on the ground below, picking up whatever the other birds have spilled out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Teaching

I have mentioned several times before that I spent my last years before retirement as a technical trainer, teaching maintenance procedures and trouble-shooting techniques to service technicians in the office equipment industry.  I don't think that I have ever mentioned my first experience as a teacher.
We had just moved to Alvin, Texas, and I was a junior in high school.  I signed up for a class in Solid Geometry, and I think I was the only junior in the class; everyone else was a senior.  Just before the start of the year, the math teacher suffered a mild stoke which had him out on sick leave for the semester.
Frank Leathers, the Alvin High School principal, took over the class, but quickly admitted that he really didn't have a head for math - he'd been an English major - and was in way over his head.  The subject came easy to me - it was almost intuitive.  There was one other student who "got it" as well, and he and I ended up teaching the class.
I prepared the lesson plans, wrote and graded the tests, and stood at the blackboard and lectured every day.  Mr Leathers sat at the teacher's desk and tried to follow along.
Needless to say, I got an A in the class.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Almost

I almost didn't post anything at all today. In fact, it looked last night like my old Toshiba laptop had died.
I came back to the computer yesterday afternoon to find the screen totally black, and nothing I could do would bring it back.  Restarting the computer would give the Toshiba log-on screen momentarily, and if I hit F2, the bios screen would flash on - but both screens were dark and the colors were off, and neither would stay on more than a couple seconds before going black.
This morning, I tried hooking the laptop up to a remote monitor and voila! the computer was working fine - it was just working in the dark.
This arrangement takes up a good half of the dining table, and there are wires running everywhere, so I'm pretty sure it is going to have to be temporary.  Still, things are better than I thought last night.