In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas and the Interstate

W.R. pulled his coat tighter, after closing and locking the door of his truck. Stopping for a moment, he took a deep breath, hoped for a hint of fresh air, but was rewarded with the odor of diesel and the exhaust of the tractor-trailer rigs at the pumps. Moving on, he hunched his shoulders in the cold, damp north wind. The faint smell of the grill in the attached restaurant made his stomach growl, although he wished he was smelling something more traditional on a Christmas Eve.

Glancing around the parking lot, he felt the familiar feeling all truck stops brought. They were all the same, but different. All had different faces behind the counter; some he knew, some he didn't; all were the refuge of those that led a huge portion of their life behind the windshield of a truck.

Across the parking lot, in a corner isolated from traffic, he noticed the small car, with the woman standing and looking under the hood. Steam rose in the cold wind and was whisked away; streamers of lost hope and anxiety.

W.R. paused, silently argued with his inner voice, but succumbed to the urge to help someone in trouble. Changing direction, he quickly walked to the car, stopped for a moment, then offered his help.

"Do you need some help?"

The woman looked his way. For a moment a faint smile crossed her face, but was soon replaced with the hardened expression of someone that felt slight fear and apprehension. She stared at his face, paused, but replied with resignation in her voice: "The engine light came on; the engine died; so I coasted to this spot."

W.R. examined the woman's face for a moment. The glance revealed a young woman with dirty blonde hair, a pretty face, and a determination found only by those unwilling to give up, when faced with problems. He guessed she was around thirty, down on her luck, and stranded in a truck stop, while travelling somewhere important. What little makeup she wore was overshadowed by her unkempt appearance: an old flannel shirt, faded blue jeans, and sneakers that had seen better days.

"Do you mind if I take a look?"

She hesitated before answering: "Go ahead; maybe we can figure it out."

He liked her answer. Unwilling to admit defeat, she wasn't about to defer to the advice of a stranger.

It didn't take long for W.J. to make an initial assessment. The coolant reservoir was empty, and the steam was from a cracked heater hose.

"Have you checked the oil"

"I was about to."

Pulling the dipstick revealed a gray, oily sludge. W.R. hesitated, but soon announced: "You've lost coolant, and you have a blown head gasket."

"Is that expensive to repair?"

W.R. looked at her face and found a worried look. He paused to reexamine the car before he replied: "Probably more than the car's worth."

"My phone is out of minutes. Do you have one I can borrow?"

W.R. felt a pang of apprehension. His kindness had led many places he never wanted to go, but he was raised to be that way. He immediately replied: "Sure", and handed her his cell phone.

She dialed a number, waited a few moments, then answered: "Hi, Mom. I'm broken down on the interstate, so I won't be there in time."

W.R. walked a few steps away to give her privacy. Although he couldn't hear all the conversation, he heard enough to understand the woman didn't have the money, her mother would need to wire her some money, and it wouldn't happen until a family member returned to take her to wire the money.

"I'll be alright. I'll stay in the car, and I'll call to give you the place to wire the money."

Lost in his thoughts, W.R. was a little startled when the young woman said: "Thanks. I appreciate it."

A thousand thought crossed W.R's. mind. Pushing sixty, a little overweight, and with a salt and pepper beard, he felt he looked the epitome of a trashy trucker. He felt any offers to help would either repulse, or cause fear to the woman young enough to be his daughter. He looked at the woman, and her face revealed a sadness that pulled at his soul.

Ignoring his instinct to flee, he asked: "How far are you going?"

He couldn't read her reaction, but she replied: "I'm going East, to Mobile. I was hoping to spend Christmas with my mother."

W.R's. heart broke. It was Christmas eve, Mobile was a few hundred mile away, and it would be after Christmas before she received her money.

"I'm heading East. You can ride along, and come for your car after Christmas."

The woman's face changed from apprehension, hope, fear and a guarded look in a few moments. Pausing, she soon spoke: "I'll wait until you come back."

Feeling awkward, and not really knowing what to say, W.J. responded: "I'm going to get something to eat, so it may be awhile. Why don't you join me?"

"I'm not really that hungry."

"I'm buying. I won a few hundred on scratch-offs at the last stop, so I need to pass my good luck on"

She examined his face for a moment, smiled, and replied: "I'd hate to ruin your good luck."

As they walked to the restaurant, she spoke: "I'm Cathy."

Stopping, he turned, held out his hand and introduced himself: "I'm W.R., and I'm pleased to meet you."

She shook his hand, and replied: "W. R. must stand for something."

"Wendell Roberts; everybody just calls me W.R.; I like that better."

Continuing to the door, she spoke again: "It's not a bad name."

W.R. laughed, and replied: "No, but it led to a few fights in grade school."

She laughed, started to say something, but decided not.

W.R. held the door, as they entered the restaurant. Mostly men sat at the tables and booths. A few looked at them as they entered, but most just continued eating, or staring into space.

Finding an empty table, they were soon seated. A tired waitress soon arrived to take their order.

W.R. responded: "I'd like some coffee, and a little time to look at the menu.:

Turning to Cathy, she replied: "I'll have coffee, too."

After the waitress left, W.R. cautioned: "There's a lot on the menu, but other than breakfast, I usually stick to the hamburger, or club sandwich. Unless they hired new cooks over the last few weeks, everything else isn't very good."

The waitress soon returned with their coffee. Speaking as she set the cups on the table, she asked if it would be one ticket, or two.

"Put it on one ticket", W.R. responded. "I'll have a cheeseburger all the way, with fries."

Cathy was quick with her order: "I'll have the same, but cut the onions."

Writing quickly, the waitress left to give their order to the cook.

Neither spoke, until they fixed their coffee and took the first sip.

Cathy was first to speak: "The coffee is good."

W.R. smiled and replied: "It's some of the best around. It's fresh ground and makes up for the food."

Cathy examined W.R.'s face as he looked out the window. Mostly unwrinkled, the only clear lines were his smile lines. His beard was neatly trimmed, a little curly and his pale complexion was free from damage by the sun.

"Have you driven trucks most of your life?"

W.R. turned to look at her face, when he answered: "Since I left the Army in my mid-twenties." I started working for others and eventually bought my own rig. I've hauled just about everything, but it's mostly been flatbed and long hauls."

"Do you have a home?"

"Not right now. My wife of 15 years got it in the divorce settlement, and I kept what little I had for my retirement."

"Do you have any children?"

"I have a step-daughter, although she's like my own. I was hoping to see her, but she's spending Christmas with her mom; and her grandfather. I'll see her when I get back to North Texas"

"Is that where you're from?"

"Amarillo. I was raised there, left for the Army, returned long enough to marry, and start trucking."

"What about your parents?"

My dad died in a farming accident, when I was in the Army. I wanted to request an early out, but Mom wanted to sell the farm, since there wasn't much money to made and she didn't want to keep fighting so hard for so little. She's living with my sister and her husband. We never really were that tight of a family, so I only see them a few times during the year"

Saddened, Cathy spoke without thinking: "That's sad." She wished she hadn't said anything, when she saw the momentary look of sadness, and defeat, in J.R.'s expression.

"I guess so. Those types of things just happen."

Cathy decided to be quiet, but W.R. continued the conversation: "What about you?"

Cathy stared out the window and replied: "I never married. I thought I would, but my ex was full of more crap than a Christmas turkey."

W.R. silently waited for her to continue.

"He had a good job offer in Houston, persuaded me to leave Mobile, so I went to find my dreams. One year later, he's fired for drinking on the job; six months later I had enough, and a little over two years after leaving, I'm here, fresh quit from a crappy retail job, and broken down on the interstate."

Before W.R. could ask any more questions, the waitress returned with their order. Placing the plates in front of each, she placed the ticket in front of W.R. and left.

Cathy spoke: "She could have asked if we wanted some more coffee."

W.R. laughed, and replied: "I'll flag her down in a minute. It looks like only half the wait staff is here, and I wouldn't be surprised she doesn't have a relief."

Cathy looked around, and realized W.R. was probably right. Feeling a little sheepish, she commented: "I should have known. I waited tables for a few months. It's tough to be helpful, when it's all you can do to keep up."

As they ate, Cathy remarked: "The burger is good."

W.R. replied: "They make their own patties, and cook them on an open grill."

As they finished, W.R. flagged down the waitress, and pointed at his empty coffee cup. She soon returned, filled both cups and asked if they needed anything more. Both answered "No; thank you", and she was soon gone.

Sipping her coffee, Cathy said: "I'm guessing my car will be towed before tomorrow night."

"Maybe not."

"It doesn't matter. It isn't worth the towing fee."

Sitting silently, W.R. thought of a friend, made an excuse to go to the restroom, and was soon away from the table to make a phone call. Returning to the table, he asked Cathy: "I have a friend that will buy your car for scrap; if you're interested."

Cathy sat for a moment before replying: "How much?"

"He wouldn't commit, but said he just finished repairing a tire down the road, and would meet us in the parking lot."

"Well, let's go find out."

Rising from the table, W.R. picked up the ticket, and examined the cost. When they reached the checkout, their waitress was there checking out another customer. When finished, she quickly rang up their bill, and announced the cost of a little over sixteen dollars. W.R. pulled a twenty from his pocket, peeled another with it, handed it to the waitress, and said: "Keep the change."

Shocked, the waitress started to say something, but didn't when she noticed his wink. A huge smile appeared, but soon faded, when a customer called from one of her tables. With a quick "Thank you very much", she was soon gone.

"That was more than kind"

"She deserves it. Waiting tables is a thankless job, without tips."

A gust of cold wind caused both to bend their heads to the wind as they left the restaurant. Looking towards her car, they could see a service truck parked next to it, with a man looking it over.

As they walked up, the man held out his hand and spoke: "Howdy W.R.; Merry Christmas."

"How are you doing, Hank?"

"I'm tired, but the business is too good to stop. Most of my competition is off tonight, and I just had another call for a flat repair."

Cathy introduced herself and asked: "So, what do you think?"

"I'll give you a hundred dollars for it."

W.R. quickly responded: "The tires are almost new; you'll get twice that much for selling them used."

"Yeah, but I'll have to put them on, so there's labor involved."

Pausing, Hank offered another price: "I'll give you another fifty, but I won't go any higher."

Cathy looked at W.R. with a questioning look on her face. He nodded "yes", but she was hesitant.

W.R. waited, but Hank quickly responded: "You're killing me. As it is, I won't make much money."

W.R. replied: "Maybe not, but she's probably losing money."

"Okay, I'll give you one hundred seventy five, but that's my final offer."

Cathy quickly responded: "I'll take it; I even have the title."

"I don't need it, but I'll take it anyway. You sign it, and I don't have to worry about you reporting it stolen."

Pulling the title from her purse, she signed the back, and handed it to Hank.

"If you have anything in it, you need to get it now. I'll probably tow it before morning,"

Opening the back door, Cathy pulled out a suitcase and two Walmart bags, with wrapped presents. Placing them on the ground, she quickly took the money Hank pulled from his wallet.

Shaking her hand, he said: "It's pleasure doing business with you, but I need to get me a cup of coffee to go and get out of here. There's money to be made."

Quickly shaking W.R.'s hand, he was soon off towards the door of the restaurant.

Cathy stood quietly as he disappeared. W.R. could see her eyes were brimming, so he quickly said: "We need to go put your things in my truck. After that, you can go use the restroom, I'll get us some coffee to go, and we'll be off.

Hank was sitting in the truck, with the engine running, when she returned. The heater warmed the cab, which made him a little drowsy. Taking a sip of coffee, he watched, as she climbed into the passenger seat. Fastening her seat belt, W.R. put the truck in gear, and started from the parking lot.

Cathy was first to speak as Hank accelerated up the entrance ramp on the interstate: "I want to thank you for your help. I figured the car was total loss and I'd get nothing."

W.R. didn't know what to say. It was obvious she had almost nothing to her name, and little more to show for the last two years of her life.

Cathy's laugh surprised W.R. as she commented: "I only paid five hundred for it; and used it for months. Truthfully, I was surprised it lasted as long as it did."

W.R. continued to drive silently, but Cathy was in the mood to talk. He decided she was probably a little nervous and was glad for the company.

"I'll be home in time for Christmas with my mom. She'd have come with Uncle Bill to get me, but he doesn't drive on the highway any more; he broke both his legs last year, while driving to Florida, and is too scared to drive any farther than the grocery store."

"Your mother doesn't drive?"

"She doesn't have a car, and Uncle Bill won't let her drive his pickup. I'm sure he'd have brought her to wire me some money this evening, but he's visiting his daughter. Even then, I doubt they'd find any place open"

W.R. digested the information for a moment. Cathy soon commented: "You need to meet my mother. I think she'd like you."

"What about your father?"

Cathy's response was quick, and full of vehemence: "That sorry bastard is probably in jail, or shacked up with some whore."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Mom left him years ago, and if she hadn't, I'd probably shot him for beating her."

W.R. didn't know what to say, but Cathy did: "She's about your age, and she's still very attractive."

The comment made W.R. nervous, but raised he curiosity. If she was as pretty as her daughter, she might be someone to meet. He'd been lonely, since his divorce, and his life didn't allow much time for dating.

Handing Cathy his cell phone, W.R. advised: "You should call her, and let her know you're on the way."

Cathy felt guilty for a moment. In all that happened, she hadn't called her mother, and all she knew was she was stranded in a truck stop.

"Hi Mom. I found a ride, and I'll be there in a few hours...No, a kind trucker offered me a ride...I know, but I can take care of myself....don't worry, I'll call when I get close....I can walk to the house, it's not that far from the interstate.........okay, but tell your neighbor I'll give them some gas money......I love you, too....Bye.

"She's worried. I can understand that, she hasn't had much luck with men."

Both were silent for the next few hours, except for comments about the traffic, or things of no importance. Cathy eventually nodded off, so W.R. turned on the radio and listened to music as he drove.

When they were getting close to Mobile, W.R. spoke loudly, so Cathy would wake up: "We're almost there. You probably should call your mother."

Cathy woke, took his phone, and stared through the windshield for a few moments, before dialing.

"Hi Mom. We're almost there...I dunno....that's on 65, isn't it?"

Recognizing the interstate number, he told Cathy: "I'm heading north on 65. We can meet her somewhere there."

Cathy continued: "That's that Super Walmart past Airport?....I'll ask."

Turning toward W.R., he quickly answered: "I know where that is."

"Okay...I'll see you, when we get there...Uncle Bill's home?...Great."

For the next few minutes, Cathy talked about how Mobile changed, even in the short few years she was gone. They were soon at their destination, so W.R. pulled into the parking lot and came to a stop. In a few minutes, an older pickup pulled next to the truck.

Looking at the truck for a moment brought a huge smile to Cathy's face. Climbing from the truck, she hurried to meet her mother, who she hugged tightly and kissed on the cheek. Quickly hugging her Uncle Bill, she turned to find W.R. approaching with her suitcase and bags.

"Mom; Uncle Bill; I want y'all to meet W.R."

Both smiled, and held out their hands. W.R. shook both their hands and said: "I'm pleased to meet you."

Cathy's mother responded: "I'm Ellen, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help."

W.R. examined her face, and replied: "It was nothing. It was on the way."

Ellen was pretty, just like Cathy said. Far from young, W.R. could see Cathy in thirty years.

We'd like you to have Christmas dinner with us."

"I appreciate the offer, but I need to keep going. I'm due to deliver my load tomorrow and pick up another for delivery in Dallas in two days."

Cathy pulled a small pad from her purse, quickly wrote down a number and handed it to W.R.

"This is my Mom's number. Call, if you're this way again."

W.R. took the piece of paper, stuck it in his coat pocket, and replied: "It's nice meeting you all, but I need to get going."

Cathy quickly hugged him, and said: "Merry Christmas, Wendell Roberts; and God bless."

W.R. hugged her back, looked at her face, and saw her tears. Turning, he returned to his truck, placed it in gear, and waved as he pulled away. Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw them standing together, and waving in return.

Pulling back on the service road, he was soon on the next entrance ramp and accelerating into the traffic. Rolling down the window, he reached into his pocket and threw the piece of paper out the window.

For a few moments, he regretted what he did, but knew it was best. Turning on the radio, he found a rock station and turned the music up loud. He'd stop a few miles up the road; and continue on, after a short nap. He'd work on his log book tomorrow, while he waited for them to unload his truck.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

And the Winner Is....

Guardrail. What; you say? That's my post that received the most visits ever. Why? I have no idea, except it's ambiguous, and some might have Googled the word, which led to my blog.

Maybe I should put that word in every post....or not.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So, It's Christmas

Not quite yet, but it's real close, and I may not write anything until it's over.

Merry Christmas to all that read my blog. If the word "Christmas" gives you piles, Walgreen's is open on Christmas day and you can even buy a generic form of Preparation H. Don't place it too close to your toothpaste, if your eyesight is poor.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Problems Without Solutions?

I've been thinking about the current undercurrent of lack of respect for law enforcement officers. I'll call them Leos, since it's easier to write.

Two incident were grossly blown out of proportion by media outlets and groups of malcontents, without any real purpose, other than stirring shit. The results were riots and murders of police officers.

I don't like what's happening; mostly because of the erosion of not only my safety, but of the safety of those I care about. Where Leos are usually professional, quick to stop crimes, and protect citizens from criminals, they now are unwilling to enforce laws, since their actions not only are being distorted by the media, their safety is even more compromised than before. The willingness to perform the job of protecting the peace is now gone by many, and they're being taunted by the criminals that prey on society. They only want to do what's necessary; and the demand officers not act alone will only lead to longer periods of times for the most violent criminals to continue unimpeded.

I see many feeling there's an erosion of society that can't be repaired, but I disagree with that assumption. There are solutions, and they lie not in criminal courts, but in courts of equity, where the instigators of criminal instigators find they can't escape from the civil repercussions.

Al Sharpton is one that contributed to many of the problems. He is not alone, since the mayor of New York failed to defuse a dangerous situation with foolish remarks. They're accountable; and they should be sued by those that suffered the most from their actions.

Criminal attorneys, and judges, are very limited by law. Criminal actions are well described and the punishments are regulated. Civil attorneys, and judges, have a different forum for sparring with the intangible harms of society. Where no law is broken, a harm to an individual is still a matter of contention, since even a person that passed has family members harmed by the actions of those that contributed to their demise. They have the forum of a civil court to plea their case; and even a criminal that escaped from conviction of a crime can find they didn't escape the punitive damages demanded by their losing a trial in a civil court. Remember O.J Simpson?

I hope the survivors of the two murdered police officers, as well as the merchants that suffered in Ferguson, use the power of the civil courts to demand compensation for the actions of those that contributed to the mass civil disobedience, and criminal actions, that caused them so much harm. It's not only their right, it's their duty to punish the media, the likes of Al Sharpton, and the organizations that were so willing to cause so much damage for personal gain. Criminal law may allow latitude in such things, but civil law is crap shoot, where skillful debaters can find "pocket book justice", partially right wrongs, and those that tread in disturbing the peace of individuals find they're not only bankrupt, they become examples of poor decisions.

Let the games begin. I'll sit and let my feet hang down.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake - Ian Anderson

I stole this from "The Feral Irishman".


I submitted the following story to "Science Fiction Magazine". They rejected the story, which is what they're paid to do, but I thought it was good. That's why I'm posting it here, before I place it in my other blog; which isn't getting enough visitors at this time. 




Waking immediately, Captain Dawn Nguyen quickly responded: “Go ahead.”

“Captain, we need you on the bridge.”

“I’ll be there shortly.”

Looking at the time, she noted 2200 hours ship time, slipped from her bunk and was soon in uniform. Glancing in the mirror, she took a moment to examine her appearance, dragged a comb through her short hair and quickly washed her face. Hurrying, she brushed her teeth and spent a few moments examining her face. She didn’t like the lines around her eyes. Her friends told her it made her look distinguished, which only made it worse; she knew they were being kind and she didn’t like feeling patronized.

Dawn was third generation military, although her ancestry was full of those that fought. She even had a distant relative that fought during an infamous war in Southeast Asia, which fascinated her. Old photographs of the time revealed people she hardly resembled. Centuries of genetics had led to her; medium height, no epicanthic fold and green eyes. Her hair was black, but curly and her pale skin was the result of Nordic ancestors.

Leaving her quarters, it was only a short walk to the bridge. As she entered, her XO announced: “Captain on the bridge.”

In a moment, she noted all on the bridge. Finding things satisfactory, she quickly spoke: “What do you have, Commander?”

“At 2150, orbiting probes recorded a burst of ionizing radiation from T-1. At 2145, sensors picked up 20 targets rising from the planet. They’re now 800 kilometers below our position and holding steady.”

“Place them on the screen.”

She examined the screen for a moment and commanded: “Increase magnification to just one of the targets.”

The increase in magnification revealed an oval object somewhat rough in appearance. The surface appeared scorched. Nothing protruded and there appeared to be no hatches, or windows.

“Are there any communications?”

“Negative, Captain. There is some ionizing radiation above background.”

“Call Dr. Proust to the bridge.”

As she waited for the doctor to appear, she thought of the last 6 months and the events that led to this mission. She knew it was important, but she wasn’t happy with her command.

Fifteen years ago, she started her career at the beginning of the Canopus Insurrection. Like many of her peers, she achieved rank out of necessity. The attrition was terrible and only the best - or lucky - survived to take over the empty positions. She was part of the best and proved her skill in the Chadron assault.

The fleet came under attack, when she was on a reconnaissance patrol. Quickly returning, she assessed the battle, realized the fleet was outnumbered, and made a decision that changed her career.

Instead of rejoining the fleet, she attacked from the flank; with only the thought of causing enough confusion to give the fleet some time to retreat. Hindsight revealed it was a suicide maneuver, but Fate allowed her destroyer to remain unnoticed, until it was close enough to the enemy command ship for a full barrage. The result was more than she expected.

The heavily armed carrier was launching a second wave of short range attack fighters, which was a mistake the enemy must have made out of arrogance. Vulnerable, and obviously thinking the battle was soon to be won, they never anticipated her attack. The result was catastrophic to the enemy. As the carrier came apart; and before the enemy could regroup; the fleet attacked, scattered the attackers and won the battle. The ship received a commendation and she received a distinguished service medal.

Toward the end of her time on the Ulysses, the visit of a member of Congress led to the events that resulted with her current command. While she didn’t regret the event, she wondered why things happened the way they did.

The Congressman, like too many politicians, was glad handing the “troops” for exposure and political gain. While eating in the wardroom with the Captain, an Admiral and the senior officers, he made a comment about how he was pushing for peace and the rebels seemed interested in negotiations.

He went on to describe how he felt the rebels were operating in good faith, which led Dawn to make the simple remark: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

The Congressman rolled his eyes and ignored her, which made her blood boil. Before she was through, the congressman stood at the table, looked at all in the room and left. It all went downhill from there.

The rest of the meal was quiet, but Dawn knew she stepped in it and the smell probably would never go away.

She was right, but the final result wasn’t what the congressman wanted. If it was up to him, she would have been busted in rank and placed in a useless administrative position on some God forsaken planet.

Since everyone else that attended the dinner agreed with her position - and her combat experience proved she was one of the best officers onboard - she kept her rank of Captain, but her future of command on a carrier ended.

Distracted by her thoughts, they were soon whisked away by the arrival of Dr. Proust.

“I hope you have a good reason for awakening me at this dreadful hour.”

She turned, stared at the doctor for a moment, hid her disgust and smiled as she replied: “Of course, Dr. Proust” her sarcasm thinly veiled, “I wouldn’t dare wake a person of your stature without good reason.”

The doctor only stared; she pointed her finger at the screen.

Dr. Proust acquired his typical arrogant pose, examined the screen for a few minutes and spoke: “I’ve never seen anything like that. Is it a craft of some type?”

Captain Nguyen started a sarcastic reply, but noticed the doctor’s arrogance was gone, he was obviously perplexed and her hope of a quick answer had ended.

“I was hoping you might know, doctor.

Turning to the on duty communications officer, she commanded: “Lieutenant, Dr. Proust needs to be briefed on everything we have up to this moment. Allow him the use of your console, and assist him as necessary.”

The young officer replied “Yes ma’am” stood and motioned for the doctor to take a seat. The doctor was soon seated, asked a few questions on operating the console, and was shortly engrossed in the data.

As Dr. Proust analyzed the data, he’d comment to himself with remarks. The analysis ended with a comment that the captain wasn’t expecting: “From the information we have, I can only conclude the objects are some type of living organism. They are obviously maneuvering together, yet there are absolutely no readings that indicate a fabricated vessel.”

Captain Nguyen asked: “Is there the possibility they’re ships for an alien race?”

“I doubt it. Any vessel, regardless of where it’s made, requires external appurtenances. These have none and I’m trying to ascertain how they’re even propelled.”

Turning back to the screen, Captain Nguyen resumed studying the objects. Turning back to the doctor, she found he was again pouring over the data.

She studied the doctor for a few seconds. In a different context, and if he wasn’t such a pompous ass, she might find him attractive. Near her age, not unpleasant to look at, and obviously in good shape, he could be someone to spend time with. Since her first experience when they met was so unpleasant, she could only think of him with derision and found him revolting.

They met, when he came aboard after she received orders to take part in a science mission. Since her cruiser was only a few years from decommissioning, the insurrection was on hold thanks to concessions she found unacceptable, and her superior officers wanted to make sure she stayed away from Earth, the Constellation was chosen for the mission. She loved the old cruiser, was proud of the ship and the doctor’s impression when coming aboard was more than insulting.

They were just finished with supplies; the engines were in the final stages of preparation; and she just finished a disciplinary hearing with a machinist’s mate assigned to the engine room. If the chief hadn’t been adamant about his qualifications, she’d have busted him and had him removed from the ship. She’d since learned he’d made the mistake of trying some exotic recreational beverages and was terribly upset about his poor decision. He was all spit and polish whenever she ran across him in the passageways. She could only imagine what special projects the chief assigned him to perform after he went out on a limb to keep him onboard.

When Dr. Proust came onboard, with his four subordinate scientists and eight assistants, she knew he would be a problem just by his look of disdain. His cursory glance around the shuttle bay, sour looks and remark: “Well, I guess this will do” only increased the anger that hadn’t ended after the intoxicated machinist’s mate complimented her on her breasts; right before he vomited in the engine room passageway. The dislike only increased over time.

The mission was to assess, collect data and hopefully observe a supernova of a certain star type. The doctor’s theory was that class star was instrumental in creating the element used for the interstellar jump. If the data proved his theory, the surrounding systems of those that went supernova in the past would yield the ore necessary for the existence of interstellar travel.

The star had an interstellar classification, but it was shortened to T-1 for security reasons; and it was much easier to use when referring to the star. They were in an eclipsing orbit behind a dense planet orbiting a red star. At four light years from T-1, there was enough distance to survive the supernova; as long as they held their orbit; and that was still only for a period of time less than an hour. A close planet jump was necessary before that time; and like all such jumps, foreign objects could create a problem with the mass of the ship and the jump could end somewhere unintended.

The science team collected enormous amounts of data during their stay, but the crew was becoming bored with the monotony. Crew members were starting the pranks, the chiefs were becoming surly and the morale was slipping daily. Captain Nguyen was not happy with the current status and almost longed for the days when the insurrection was in full swing. Every day was terrifying, but the exhilaration of the danger was much better than the lackluster assignment she now commanded. The addition of Dr. Proust’s snide comments, condescending air and obvious dislike of her ship only made things worse.


Captain Nguyen turned to find Dr. Proust studying the console.

“It’s time to launch the array.”

“You better be sure doctor.”

“If I wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t have spoken.”

The array was a single device when launched. After a short jump to a planned location, one hundred smaller probes were launched. They made a short jump and ended in a matrix several million kilometers in size. The matrix was designed to collect huge amounts of momentary data, since their existence would be very short in the aftermath of close proximity to a supernova. Before destruction, the data was jumped in communications probes a set distance from the initial launch point of the array.

The cost for the array was an amount that astounded Captain Nguyen. She was given this information before they sailed with the warning to avoid a frivolous launch. The "powers-to-be" would rather have it returned for a future mission, than see it collecting data for a non-event. Once launched, there was no way to recover most of the components.

Turning to her weapons officer, she commanded: “Lieutenant Chin, prepare to launch the array. Set the information return point to 500 kilometers out planet of our position. Wait for my command to fire.”

“I have to ask; why do you think this is the right moment?”

Dr. Proust looked up, gave her a look as though she was a petulant child and explained: “The current data indicates the last outburst has spectral lines of heavier elements. The amount is sufficient for me to believe T-1 will collapse shortly.”

“Lieutenant; launch the array.”

The Constellation was jostled at the release of the array. Too large for any weapons bay, it was fastened to the hull. As the jettison thruster launched the array, the “nudge” against the Constellation was sufficient to be felt by those onboard. The entire crew felt the movement and some on the bridge – especially the helmsman – had a shocked nervous look on their face after the event.

The captain soon commanded: “On screen”; and the array appeared. “Lieutenant Chin, you have one minute to check for damage.”

The next minute passed slowly and accented by heavy sighs from Dr. Proust. Anxious and tapping his foot, he couldn’t control his impatience and commented: “Captain; we don’t have much time!”

Now irritated, tense, and wondering if she was about to throw away the hours of many, many people, she commanded: “Report Lieutenant Chin.”

“All’s well Captain.”

“Complete the launch.”

Within a second, the pre-jump haziness surrounded the array; and it soon disappeared.

“Captain, we have movement with the targets.”

Captain Nguyen had almost forgotten the targets. The new information returned her concentration to the unknown objects.

“Course and speed, Lieutenant”

“One hundred thousand kilometers per hour; the course is outbound; parallel to our position.”

Over the next few minutes, she raised the magnification of the screen to watch the targets. In a line, they held the same distance between and were soon far from the planet that offered protection from the supernova.

“Dr Proust, I recommend you awaken your team. If you’re correct, you’ll soon have tons of information incoming.”

Dr Proust gave her a hateful glance and soon left the bridge.

“Lieutenant, I want the neutron cannons targeted on the objects. I don’t want any problems if they decide to interfere.

“It’s already done Captain. They’ve been targeted since they rose from the planet.”

“I’m impressed Lieutenant. I usually have to tell my weapons officer to do their job.”

The lieutenant smiled. She knew the captain couldn’t see her face and she knew the rare compliment was out of respect.

“Captain, I have a signal from a probe…and another. They’re arriving at the correct position.”

Pressing the P.A. button, Captain Nguyen announced: “All hands recovery team; ready for recovery. Dr. Proust; come to the bridge immediately.”

“Navigator; plot the course to the recovery position.”

“The course is plotted and ready Captain “

“Helmsman; ahead one third.”

“Aye Captain; ahead one third.”

“Lieutenant Chin; what’s the status of the objects?”

“No changes Captain; they’re still outbound and holding steady.”

Pushing the communications button, the captain soon called to the recovery team: “Chief, are you ready for recovery.”

“Aye Captain.”

“Start data recovery as soon as you have signals.”

The probes weren’t designed for long range transmission. Each probe was able to broadcast the data in pulses and the pulses would only last as long as their power supply lasted. Considering what they were exposed to, having faith the time allowed procrastination was foolish.

“Report Chief.”

“Data is arriving Captain. We have 75 separate communications and more arriving. The data is being transferred into the main computer.”

The arrival of the burst of energy immediately dimmed the screens. What light was allowed showed a brilliant halo around the planet as the thin atmosphere boiled away in the intense energy.

Dr. Proust soon entered, stopped near the bulkhead and stared at the screen. His mesmerized expression told he was awed at the event he’d only studied and imagined. He spoke after a few long seconds of staring: “Look at the star!”

Captain Nguyen increased the magnification on the star that kept a perpetual hold on the only thing shielding them from radiation more powerful than most in the universe. The outer atmosphere, now being carried away in the energy wind, gave it an appearance like that of a giant oblong reddish egg.

“Captain, I’ve lost all sensor readings on the objects.”

“Go to visual, Lieutenant.”

What appeared was amazing to all on the bridge. The objects were still in a line, but appeared to be growing. The harsh energy wind made them glow, but the glow was soon replaced by what first appeared as a haze. Thinking they were being destroyed, the captain watched as the haze grew in size.

The bridge was silent, until it was broken by a communication from the recovery chief: “Captain, we have 90 separate data sets. I think that may be all. I’ll keep you posted.”

“Can we physically recover any of the probes?”

“Negative. They’re too hot and we don’t have enough shielding in the recovery bay.”

“Carry on and keep me posted.”

“Aye Captain.”

In an amazed tone, Dr. Proust commented: “Look at that.”

Returning to the screen, the captain was amazed at what she observed. The farthest outbound object now had what appeared as a large envelope protruding away from the wind. As she watched, it grew in size, until it took on the shape like a large parachute, or sail. Knowing the distance, she could only think it was thousands of kilometers in size.

Like a sailboat on the ocean, the object was now pulling away from the others, which were taking on the same appearance. They, too, were soon following the lead object; magnificent in size; in a formation like some migratory bird; and strangely beautiful against the black background of space.

“What can you tell me, Lieutenant Chin?”

“Tracking shows a converging course, but their speed, and acceleration, will have them crossing across the starboard bow in three minutes. They’ll be far enough to not cause a collision.”

“What about you, Dr. Proust? Do you have anything to offer?”

Dr. Proust only shook his head. The look of awe on his face was an expression she didn’t expect. For once, his façade of importance was gone, and his smile was that of a small child with a shiny balloon.


Captain Nguyen turned to her X.O. and waited.

The commander spoke as he stared at his console: “The initial time for departure is not nearly as long as anticipated. We have fifteen minutes and that may be cutting it close.”

The captain was soon overtaken by a sense of remorse. Something she never anticipated was now a reality that demanded her attention but her time was too limited. As she sat quietly, she suddenly had a thought.

“Dr. Proust, I think you’re well aware of my orders.”

“I am,”

“Well, orders can be stretched and those objects are something I can use for just that purpose. We don’t have to return immediately, but I’ll need your help in convincing my superiors.”

Dr. Proust paused for a moment before he spoke: “I don’t have “orders”, but I answer to some powerful people that pushed hard for the information this research has now acquired. They’ll want me to return immediately.”

“I can understand that, but I think you can convince them; if you want. I can tell you’re just as intrigued as I am.”

“It’s not my specialty.”

“I disagree. You started your studies in biology, according to your file.”

“My file?”

“Surely you don’t think they’d send a cruiser off to the ends of the universe without some information on those that think it’s important?”

“I never thought of that”

“Your file is long, complete and I can tell by your expression you’re more than interested. Look at this way: You’ll be spending months with your data, years developing methods of finding ore, too many days lecturing and just writing your results will pretty well end your ability to make another research voyage again. Even if you have the time, if your theory is proven, they’ll never let you out of their sight again. You’ll be too important to lose in the far reaches of nowhere.”

The doctor slightly nodded his head and continued staring at the screen.

“So, why did you change your major?”

Dr. Proust quickly answered: “I loved the thought of studying biology, but realized I didn’t want to specialize and accept a career that wouldn’t be fulfilling.” Pausing, he soon continued: “I had no problem with specializing in my other favorite thing, so I pursued astrophysics. “

The objects were now at their nearest point. Their proximity revealed the sail was attached to the original objects by multiple cables. The entire sail was laced with a lattice that resembled the web of a tiny spider spun during the night; gossamer treats in the brightening morning; dainty structures hanging between blades of grass; covered in dew and sparkling in the morning sun.

Nobody on the bridge spoke for a minute. The sight was too fascinating and intriguing. As they watched, the gossamer sails accelerated, started shrinking in size and the moment was soon broken by the captain: “So, what do you say doctor?”

Dr. Proust replied: “The radiation might be too heavy for us to stay with the objects”

“I thought about that. I can divert some power from the drives to the shields and I think we can reduce it enough if we stay just in front…it’s worth a shot.”

“I think you might be right, but what if you’re not?”

“We’ll just make a jump. You might not be able to have babies, but I don’t think the universe could stand another just like you.”

Dr. Proust, shocked by the statement, turned to find the captain had a sincere grin. He laughed, waited before he replied and said: “I think I can write a report that will give us a few months of time.”

“It will all be on my terrible ship.”

Dr. Proust grinned and replied: “I forgot about that; can I change my mind?”

“No way”

“Lieutenant, plot a course to keep us 500 kilometers in front of those objects.”

“Aye, Ma’am”

“Helmsman, are you asleep?”

Startled by her question, he answered: “No Ma’am.”

“Why haven’t you reported on your status?”

“Sorry, Captain. We have full power and all systems on line.”

“The course is plotted, Captain.”

The bridge became quiet as the crew waited for her command. Deliberately waiting, she pondered on the start of what she knew would be her last adventure in command of a ship. Her career was winding down, her superiors respected her enough to keep her from the politics of higher command, but they knew they could never allow her to advance any farther.

“Flank speed ahead”, she commanded in a tone all on the bridge could hear.

Suddenly thoughtful, she added softly: “We have an appointment with destiny.”

The helmsman turned to the captain, offered an insubordinate smile and replied: “Aye Captain, flank speed ahead.”

Dawn quietly stared at the screen and the alien objects that appeared like huge, dainty flowers against the black background of space. Deep in thought of the future, and realizing the depth of her comment, she spoke quietly to herself: “Indeed, I do have an appointment with destiny.”

Friday, December 19, 2014

Don't Just Fire Him; Throw Him In a Cold Lake

The director of DHS forgot the Pledge of Allegiance. ; and admits it.

Fire him right now. Carry him to the nearest lake with cold water and throw him in. Such a metrosexual confession, with his position, should automatically disqualify him from having any part of national security.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Reality the Media Ignores

Much of the media is parading Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush as the contenders in the next Presidential election, while they ignore how neither represents the majority of the U.S. taxpayers and how both have political ideologies that cause concern.

A strong leader emerges during such times. The common promotion of this leader was once found on television and in the written press. That's not the situation any longer, and the strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the direction of the U.S. is reflected in the huge internet community. It's there the next leader will emerge and the media will either embrace the will of the majority of the nation, or find their slide into economic despair will accelerate.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

False Indignation

The reaction to the intelligence committee of the Senate release of a the report on the interrogation methods used at Gitmo is starting to seep through the filters of the media. Most of the reactions by those actually involved are similar, which is anger and betrayal.

Feinstein, and the rest that were so bold to release the report are using the false premise it's not what the United States stands for and the exposure was necessary. Their "righteous indignation" is only a ruse to distract from the facts revealed by Gruber and a punitive action by Feintstein, who thought she could put the intelligence agencies in place by exposing classified information.

They've tread where only fools go. Their actions will lead to death, violent demonstrations, and a mistrust of those trusted to protect the United States. Not only have they betrayed their office, they betrayed innocent people, that will be the focus of retribution.

Feinstein is done. So are the other members of the committee that abused their trust. When the protection their power allowed is gone, they will not only be the focus of attention by those that work in intelligence, they will be targets of those that want the information they've acquired. They'll spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders, and they deserve the uneasy life. As my grandmother use to say " They burned their butts; now they can sit on the blisters."

What will be the outcome? An unwillingness to share information with Congress, more brutal field methods of interrogation, and a realization Congress can't be trusted. Maybe that's best. War is a brutal business and the fast methods of fighting the enemy may allow the shortest outcome. We saw the incompetent reactions during the Vietnam war. Our enemy was defeated, and Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  If they are willing to weaken the United States to promote their party's agenda, they don't need to be involved with the protection of the citizens they swore to protect.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Freshpet Holiday Feast - 13 Dogs and a Cat!

Just when you thought you've seen all the internet, Joanne finds something you never saw.

It's Never Too Late in a Street Fight

I'm seeing some signs of anger, a willingness to fight back, and a determination to win by some of those that felt a polite discourse was the best method.

I compare this to a street fight. In such things, the winner is the one that will bite off an ear, gouge an eye, or pound unmercifully on the genitals of their opponent. It's a brutal encounter, but the final outcome is only one winner, and you can still win if you're not on the ground and your opponent is breaking your ribs with sharp kicks.

Politics became a street fight years ago. It's time for the polite nature of gentle folks to end, unless they want to gasp for breath with broken ribs.


Some people follow my blog. You can find them on the right side of my page above my blog list.

Some have hundreds of followers; some few, but I feel I'm a blessed because those that follow my blog are unique. While not all have their own blog, most do and have something worthwhile to relate, when they post, or when they post in the comment,

I'm honored to have such followers and want all that follow to know how much I appreciate your time spent examining my writings.

Thank you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feinstein is a Pinhead

Sen Diane Feinstein released a report that was not for the general public. While she felt it was the right thing to do, it was her duty to not release what was classified. Still she did and the final result will probably not be good.

Personally, I consider her actions as those of a traitor. Occupying a Senate committee with access to classified materials placed her in a position where she, too, would be the subject of constant investigations. When she found out she was being covertly investigated, she allowed her anger at what she should have known would happen to override the oath she took as a member of the Senate intelligence committee, and used her authority to punish. Releasing classified information allows foreign enemies access to interrogation methods, can lead to retribution, and the ones that suffer will be those that were following orders, or those innocent of nothing but being United States soldiers or citizens.

Feinstein isn't alone with her actions. The Senate Intelligence committee members that voted to allow the release are culpable, also. All should be punished for their actions. They not only failed in performing their duties as committee members, they failed the United States and dishonored those that died defending the greatest nation on Earth.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tens of Millions Not Working

Tens of millions of people able to work are not working. That's bad; especially when you consider how many are not working that dropped out of the labor force and found a place on the public tit.

Meanwhile, there's a push by a minority of U.S. citizens to allow millions of illegal aliens to have a streamlined plan to citizenship...on the the taxpayer's dime, with borrowed money.

I'm tired of the insanity.

I Blame It All On the Judicial System

The Constitution, for some reason, doesn't have enough restrictions on those that practice law. Why? Either a gentleman's agreement had more bearing, or too many attorneys were involved with writing the Constitution.

We've reached a point where the number of laws, threats of legal actions, costs, and legislative horse crap stifle liberty. That needs to stop, but it will never happen with the attitude everything is solved by another piece of convoluted writing. Either the judicial part of our government cleans up its act, or they'll find the amount of lawlessness will lead to a larger lack of respect for the law, and the ultimate complete lack of respect for the law, where citizens revert to instant justice, without any qualms. At that point, those in the judicial branch of the government will find they're the preferred prey.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ignoring the Quiet Riot

The media is constantly bombarding us with videos of a few hundred people rioting in places where such things are more tolerated than most places in the country. They ignore the "quiet riot" by millions of taxpayers that protested the Federal Government by voting for what they hoped to be leaders for changes in the cesspool called Washington, the District of Columbia. They might want to pay more attention; if these taxpayers ever become really angry, they might not like the result.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Peril of Lawlessness

Every larger community has a section where not only is crime prevalent, the unwillingness of the citizens to help stop the crime is also prevalent. What's the result? An unwillingness of law enforcement to make any efforts to keep it to the minimum. Regular patrols are limited, since it's not uncommon to have police cars struck with objects, or fired upon. Even when a crime demands attention, with the knowledge the neighborhood can erupt into riot conditions, due to the ignorance of the citizens, the officers are prevented from doing their job, only want to do what's necessary, and soon leave to the relative safety of anywhere else.

It's best described as anarchy. It's accepted, even though peace and security are never to be found. The most violent, and feared, criminals control the politics, which changes with a few murders. Anyone that doesn't participate is certainly a victim, since they're now prey.

Nothing will ever change this section of society. It's existed since the beginning of time and will continue as long as humans are a species. What does change is the size of this community and harsh reactions to any efforts to wander into sections of society unwilling to accept anarchy.

From my vantage point, this thug society is venturing too far from their home territory. They may think it's a good time to expand this territory, but they don't realize the huge effort to become armed by citizens wasn't to go target practicing. The thugs will become the targets, and the orderly system of criminal justice will vindicate those that insure their own safety.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Reasonable Expectations

When I was young, police officers were respected. I'm not naive and believe there weren't any corrupt officers back then. Most of them, just like today, were honest, decent people that took their job to heart and wanted to preserve the peace of a healthy society.

Today, due to the efforts of the media and special interest groups, there's an effort to portray law enforcement as a rogue group, with tyranny in mind. It tears at the fabric of our society and the intended perception is unfounded by facts.

The riots in Ferguson, New York City and various places around the country are not happening to express a grievance for the lack of a forum to express societal concerns; they're criminal mob events, with violence and unbridled criminal lust. The few involved with actual concerns are far outnumbered; they too become victims of assault and robbery, while showing their ignorance and unwillingness to examine facts.

It's a reasonable expectation to demand the crime of rioting is suppressed as soon as it starts. Mobs of people become out of control and revert to savagery. Any hope of political discourse disappears and people with good intentions become prey. Innocent business owners lose their life work and entire communities start the slow process of withering away.

Police officers are hired to stop such crimes and trained to protect not only the victims, but the criminals too. When they're hampered by errors in reporting facts, or an unwillingness of a few citizens to disperse, the anarchy that follows destroys what took generations to create. The sacred peace of a community disappears and the cancer of crime slowly destroys what remains after the rioting.

I blame media outlets for many of the problems. They portray rioters as credible citizens with a right to assemble for changing a supposed problem. The actual problem is a lack of civility and ignoring the basic laws that allow people to live without the fear of becoming a victim of crime. Rioters are criminals and the media that continues fanning the flames is culpable in the criminal acts. They have nothing to lose; ratings are what they seek; and they can leave without their own lives being affected. That's wrong; they should be held accountable by society and their own peers.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Well, That Poll Sucked

Between the formatting, which I couldn't change after a vote, and the participation, the poll about Republican leadership sucked. 

That is all, we now return you to your regular internet browsing. 

Friday, December 5, 2014


I added a poll section to the right. It's not scientific, since it's not performed by a major media outlet. Answer away. There will be a pop quiz at 2:00 am.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Race Relations and Media Hype

I'm betting the majority of the people in the U.S. have no problems with people of different races. If you go by the media, it's just the opposite; and the continuing portrayal of the supposed problem is causing harm.

What's the solution? Accurate reporting. If there is an actual incident of a racially motivated criminal act, report the incident; regardless of the race of the criminal. I think that would do more good than the one sided reporting we're now getting. Of all the people I know, regardless of their race, the sickening actions of a few of their race is not accepted. Most people are good, willing to work on real problems, and the media only increases problems by not doing their job of presenting all facts.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Michael Brown Wasn't Unarmed

He wasn't. Between his size, weight, and strength, his ability to cause terrible injury, or death, to an individual were far beyond a person of average size. He was a dangerous man, high on marijuana, which is much more potent than in the "peace- love-dope" days, and on a violent, criminal rampage.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ferguson Folly

The right of free speech is Constitutionally guaranteed, however what's happening in Ferguson isn't free speech; it's anarchy, with the seal of approval by government agencies that are causing problems. Rioting, destroying private property, and loitering are not free speech; they're criminal activities and if it requires clearing the streets of anyone causing problems, then that's what needs to be done.

Start with the media, since they're contributing to the problem. The story is over, they're only contributing to the congestion, which is ruining local business, and they can hire a local reporter to keep them up to date.

Demand groups representing special interest file for a parade permit, wait in line for the permit and politely ask them all to stop gathering on the streets, impeding local commerce and scaring the public. If they refuse, arrest them, bring them to the edge of town, and tell them their next stop is jail.

As far as locals, they know their boundaries. People like their peace, and I have the feeling only a few are involved. Those causing trouble will find they're unwelcome, will toe the line, or find their life has become miserable.

As far as federal government representatives, there's not reason for hundreds to be there. If there are people breaking federal crimes, arrest them and leave. Otherwise, leave it to local authorities, and citizens, to handle their problems.

Elton John - Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters (Live)

I might have posted this before; maybe not; I don't remember. It wasn't a top forty hit, but one of the best Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever wrote.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Family Stuff

My family has dwindled to just a few. My grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, some cousins and two brothers have passed on. That leaves very little, and the coherent bond is now shattered forever.

I don't know about those that visit. I have glimpses into their lives, but it's not the day to day stuff that gives an accurate assessment. For those that have family, the next few weeks are what brings families together, and gives the hope there will be someone to share the quiet moments of the holidays. It passes in a fleeting moment; and you don't know what you lost, until it's gone.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Call it Terrorism

The events after the grand jury announcement in Ferguson can only be described as terrorism. The people that live there, the business owners, and the decent people that live in surrounding communities were terrorized by organized groups that wanted to instill terror, destroy property, and harm anyone they felt deserved to be brutalized. There was no demand for reason, or a peaceful protest of the decision; there was only a brutal effort to cause mayhem and destroy the peace of those that once lived in a normal community.

Who's responsible? The media, supposed leaders such as Al Sharpton, Michael Brown's father, who called for burning the city down, and Barack Obama. They all could have called for the crowds to disperse, demanded an end to the violence, and accepted all the evidence that pointed to an out of control, violent thug assaulting a police officer that was killed before he could continue his rampage.

It's obvious the media is out of control. It's, also, obvious the President of the United States isn't willing to throw his political agenda aside. The likes of Sharpton need not explanation; they're bottom feeders on society. So, what's the solution? I don't know, but the continuing threat of violence towards peaceful citizens has led to a tremendous amount of gun sales. It's obvious people fear civil unrest, and don't trust their government to protect them, as defined in the Constitution. Future protesters may find they're unwelcome and considered a threat. Since they're in unfamiliar territory, and they're outnumbered, their ventures into terrorism may end in a manner they didn't expect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back From Galveston

I left Monday, started a small job, finished this afternoon, and I'm home again. I didn't bring my computer, so I couldn't comment about the stark raving mad pieces of crap  protesters in Ferguson.

I've decided there's a small group of people in this country that wander from one protest, to another, mooching on the freebies provided by subversive political groups, and can only be described as derelicts. Too many are criminals or substance abusers. When they come to a city, the danger to citizens increases, municipal costs rise due to increased law enforcement, and only a tiny percentage of the people that live near the protest wish they were there.

What's the solution? Water cannons, tear gas, armed citizens, and a media that's willing to condemn their actions. They'd go away, if there weren't so many freebies, potential crime victims and a media that panders to those that have only anarchy on their mind.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Decency and Honor

The news has been revealing the last few days. From Obama's obvious lack of character, the revelations pertaining to Bill Cosby, and the civil unrest in Ferguson, the undercurrent of a lack of decency is apparent. It's not good to see this; most people don't accept such things, and it's a failure of the media to not portray these things as undesirable. Sensationalizing bad behavior is itself bad behavior.

I pick through the stories, and find things that give me optimism. The finding of lost Lerner emails is one. To me, that indicates there are some that realize the majority of the people in the U.S. are unhappy with the government and will demand accountability. With the change in Congress, it's apparent the handwriting is on the wall. Those involved with the subterfuge can't hide forever, and those under their management will not be willing to face criminal charges for involvement.

I may be wrong, but from my vantage point, most people are decent. They understand the implications of accepting a lack of honor, and how it leads to a corrupt society. They don't want that, because they know how the lack of either can damage simple relationships and families. Expanding that understanding to government isn't a huge leap.

Time will tell how this turns out, but I have the feeling the pendulum has started a swing in the other direction. The pendulum swings both ways, and it never swings lightly.

Friday, November 21, 2014

After the Speech

Well, Obama gave the illegals amnesty, except he didn't. He just told them he'll turn his head and they can all sign up on a government website.

Of course, this is fantastic news to those illegally staying in the United States....or not. What happens if enough officials take their oath to follow the law to heart, and they arrest those that happen to fall for the ruse? Will they be welcomed with open arms? I doubt it.

Most U.S. citizens are tired of this bullshit. Illegals are breaking our laws and that's as simple as it gets. If there was a real effort to get them to leave, it could be accomplished with one federal law making it a crime to rent, lease, or offer shelter to anyone that can't provide documentation of being in the United States legally. Make it a felony crime, give the illegals one month head start, and I'm betting the majority will be gone within that time frame.

Of course, there will be those that refuse; they might even gather to protest. That would make it easier to round them up, and bring them to the border. I'm willing to pay for the deportation transportation. Of course, it might dig into the President's lavish travelling budget, but that's just how the cookie only, and low calorie...that's so Michelle doesn't have to worry about calories.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Watching to See What Happens

From what I'm seeing with the President's address hype/preview, he will announce he won't enforce existing laws. While he might get away with that, since the media still fawns on their dear leader, what about those working in the government that also swore to uphold laws and the Constitution? Will there be enough to say "No, I'm not going to break the law."? I doubt it, but for those that stand up, there will be a time your effort is vindicated.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scrambling To Hide The Truth

It's almost comical to watch much of the media doing everything they can to hide the fact the President is a liar. It must be tough for some, when they realize all the things they probably tried to relate to their family, or hoped to find in their legacy, are bullshit, when anyone figures out what a sorry path they followed.

Personally, I hope they look in the mirror and are filled with a shame they find so unbearable, they turn to alcohol and spend the remainder of their lives passed out in an alley.

Monday, November 17, 2014

False Patriotism

I usually don't like pointing out faults, since we all have them, and we all can learn from the mistakes of others, but I'm tired of false patriots that refuse to turn the channel on their televisions, cancel the subscription to local papers and refuse to do business with those that they know subscribe to the progressive agenda aka today's Democratic Party. Feeding the beast will not weaken it.

The media is one of the biggest reasons the United States is where most of the citizens are not represented by those they send to Washington to take care of the business of government. Starving those outlets that contribute to the subterfuge and refuse to report the facts is the only current peaceful way to change the direction of the United States. Politicians failed miserably at this process, bureaucrats have no concern for those they bleed, and even the highest court of the United States has members unwilling to follow the mandates required by the Constitution.

Things won't change, until people change. Expecting those that failed to protect the United States to suddenly be effective, and ethical, is madness.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's a Crying Shame

There are many dark things that occupy our society. They overwhelm, destroy, subjugate and cause harm to those that only wish for peace and liberty. It's a crying shame we've accepted such things, and our government is full of those that would rather acquire power, than accept the will of those that allow them to exist.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Grubering the Taxpayer

Jonathan Gruber was instrumental in the language of the Affordable Care Act. Called the "architect" of the act, recent videos of Gruber show him talking of the deceit used in the language for the bill, To add this disrespect for U.S. taxpayers, he goes on to explain the reason for the obfuscation was to take advantage of the stupidity of citizens.

I really don't think he realizes the ramifications of his stupidity in talking publicly about his deliberate effort to mislead for his personal gain. If it was a stock, or even a soft drink, the recourse could lead to civil suits, or even criminal charges.

Over the next few weeks, as the media finally realizes they can't keep this hidden, the anger will build. Gruber will be the focus of Congressional investigations, taxpayers will demand answers, and even M.I.T. will find they have a legal responsibility, since they pay Gruber a salary to teach his brand of economics, which obviously are not what people would call ethical.

Personally, I think Gruber should be run out of town on a rail; after they find out if he was directed by anyone in the Federal government to deliberately distort the language of the law. Also, I think M.I.T. should be held legally responsible, if they allow Gruber to remain. He's a criminal, in my opinion, and if M.I.T. allows him to stay, they're culpable with his criminal actions.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


I started another blog. It's called Scratching for Change. Why? For posting fiction and the hope I can commercialize it and make some spare change.

I have some problems, which one is discussed in a post. Another problem will be keeping the commercial blog from this blog. I don't want both to be Adsense blogs, so I'll do some research on whether that's feasible. If not, I'll try something else.

So, I have stories I've posted here to place there, and new stories in my mind. I'm also still working on my novel, but chapter 17 has become as tedious as chapter 10.

Who knows, I might decide it was a bad idea and get rid of it. Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Memory of the Flu

When I was much younger - around 25 - I caught the flu. I'd never experienced the illness as an adult, and it was a sobering experience.

I was at work one morning, when I started to have a mild headache. As the day progressed, the headache became worse. What started as a mild annoyance, turned into a distracting pounding that made the fatigue of working all day in cold weather much worse.

When I arrived home, the chills started. I was uncomfortably cold one minute, and within a few more minutes, I was burning up with fever.

As the evening progressed, the fever became worse. I tried to watch some television, but I can only describe the experience as like being delirious. I couldn't concentrate; the headache and fever were now accentuated with muscles aches.

I went to bed, after taking some cold medicine, and awoke during the night feeling worse. That's when the fear started. I had no memory of feeling as bad as I did before going to bed; feeling worse was more than just an unpleasant thought. Thoughts were jumbled, the aches were worse, and the congestion had started. I fell asleep again.

I woke in the early hours of morning, drenched with sweat; even my bed sheets were wet. The worse of the headache was gone, but the congestion was worse and my throat burned just from breathing. Added to the symptoms were diarrhea and nausea.  

I ended up staying off work for two days.  The first day was miserable, and the second wasn't much better. I needed the hours, so I went back to work on the third day; still sick, but not so much I couldn't manage with my sinuses running, a cough that sounded like my lungs were coming up, and a sore throat that made swallowing food an unpleasant task.

It took a week for the sore throat to end, and I coughed up phlegm for weeks.

So, if you haven't gone for a flu shot, you might think about doing so. Influenza kicked my young, healthy ass to the curb, and gave me a fear of a deadly illness.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Three members of my family were veterans. Due to fate, they all died either from an illness, or tragically.

So, I'm guessing some of you might be thinking where this is going. It doesn't go much further, since the only thing I want to write about is that every veteran has, or had, a family. Someone loves, or loved them, and spent anxious moments waiting for them to return home, or grieved when they died. They traded low pay, crappy conditions, the loss of freedom, and most did so willingly. Even those drafted served honorably as a whole.

Never forget every veteran is changed by their service. Some of the changes are good, but many are not. All changes were for something too many ignore, or understand, which is liberty. Liberty is never arrived at by chance. It only happens when some members of society actively participate in preventing the evils of tyranny from becoming strong. Those people are our veterans. Honor them; they deserve much more than we give.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Phenomenon of Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy has an interesting effect on people. Over time, their intestines create a vacuum, which eventually pulls their head into their anal orifice. In spite of the lack of input, impacted waste, and total loss of productivity, the bureaucrat remains alive, and continues to draw a paycheck.

There really should be a telethon for this horrible condition. Unfortunately, I have the feeling most people don't really want to help bureaucrats, and wish they'd just continue the path created by the vacuum; and eventually disappear.

Cold Weather on the Way

A blast of arctic air is on the way. It's early in the season, but the conditions are right for the cold air to push far enough south to clear the Gulf Coast.

Winter cold is reinforced by early cold air masses, and even if the rest of Winter is relatively mild, the rest of the season will reflect the early cold.

For those in the colder parts of the United States, it might be another season of misery. I hope not, but it's not looking good at this time.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Day of Virga

Most have seen virga, but most just have no idea what they observe.

Today, due to weather conditions, the radar was full of precipitation, but no rain was found at the ground.

I was driving, and a few drops of rain hit my windshield. To the North, long streamers of virga hung from the clouds, never reaching the ground, and it was obvious the same streamers were overhead; except a few drops of rain lasted to strike my windshield.

It's not a rare occurrence, but it's remarkable, when observed.

Eric Clapton - Somewhere Over The Rainbow HD

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Apple Fritters Last All Day

I stopped to get a cup of coffee this morning around 8:30. I was hungry, so I had an apple fritter with the coffee. It was good; and it was treat I seldom enjoy....for a reason.

I was driving home at 5:00 pm, took a swig of water, and belched apple fritter. I don't know what brand of industrial strength shortening they used to fry the fritter, but it must be good stuff....or not. With that lasting power, I need to get a few thousand of 'em and build a deck.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Well, I Suppose I Should Comment About the Election

A huge shift in party alliance shows the fickle nature of U.S. citizens. That, and the ignorance. Neither party has made any strong effort as a party to follow the Constitution and accept fiscal responsibility.

Time will tell how this turns out, but I have little faith in anyone that supposedly represents me, or allows the rot in Washington to continue. If they did, a few thousand people would be walking down the highway, covered in tar, picking at feathers, and wondering if they should expect more of the same when they continued on their journey of shame.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Weather, Aches, Pain and Whatever

Weather affects me; especially in the colder months. Old aches and pains return, I find the less amount of light makes me sleepy really early, and I find myself in a type of stupor that demands rest.

Some might think I'm full of crap, but with the approach of wet, and colder weather, I can feel the change. The best solution is a light amount of alcohol, a nourishing bowl of soup, a hot bath, and a good night of slumber.

After the soak, the heat goes to the bone, and the covers of my bed are like a cocoon. I'll sleep well and awake full of energy.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Musings About Tomorrow's Election

After tomorrow, most of the radio and television ads should end. Of course, if there's a runoff, the mud will turn to feces and the non-human primates we call political advisers will be flinging poop two handfuls at a time.

Meanwhile, if the predictions of political whores  pollsters is correct, there is the possibility the Senate will be controlled by Republicans, which will be better than the Harry Reid controlled Senate; but considering the wussy attitude, strong dislike of conservatives by the entrenched politicians, and the lack of intestinal fortitude by the supposed champions of liberty, it's looking more like they'll gnash their teeth, offer platitudes, and cower in the corners of Washington.

Things won't change in the nation's capitol, until the industry of politics is brought to its knees, banished from doing business, and those that are willing to sacrifice honor for wealth, and power, are punished for their transgressions against the liberty of those that pay their salaries.

Me? I'm tired of the obvious disrespect for those that earn the money they take, waste, and foolishly use to buy votes. Much of the hard-earned money they skim from the top was made in brutal conditions; with blood, sweat, and sometimes tears, to be washed from my weary body at the end of a hard day of labor. I've worked with flu, bent over from back spasms, limping from a sprained ankle, so weary thinking was compromised, and went home knowing the next day would bring more misery. It wasn't a pleasant thought, but I chose the life I've lead, and frivolously thinking their actions are ignored is folly on their part. I produced, while others rode. That's not right, and it can't last forever.

I'm one of many that turn the nuts and bolts that keep this nation together; and I'm not alone in my anger. Things change, the pendulum swings both ways, and the pendulum never swings lightly.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Something I Noticed While Voting

I voted early. I had the time on Thursday evening, slipped away from work a little early, and went to cast my ballot.

What I really liked was being asked for identification. That's the law in Texas, and mail in ballots are limited to certain people. I even told the election workers I wished they had a bottle of ink, and everyone should be required to dip their finger after voting. They smiled, and didn't say a word. I have the feeling they walk on eggshells, due to rules.

One thing I noticed, and it pissed me off, was the "Spanish" option on the screen. That sucks. If you can't read English, you don't need to vote. That should be removed, and anyone asking for such a thing should be escorted from the voting site.

"Oh!. That's racist!"

"Nope. That's common sense."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Circadian Madness

They steal an hour from me every Spring. They call it "Daylight Savings Time"; I call it bullshit.

In my line of work, the light of the day determines the working hours, so the crap about saving energy means nothing. Tools are loaded, equipment is prepared in darkness, but the starting time doesn't change; it starts earlier, if they stole an hour from you.

So, tomorrow I get it back. I'll get an extra hour of sleep, and I'll continue to despise those that are willing to make others suffer, so they can watch their kids play soccer in the evening. Daylight Savings is crap, those that think it's a good idea are full of crap, and only the likes of Jimmy Carter can find anything useful about changing the clocks, instead of changing the time of awakening.

Friday, October 31, 2014


...I will be hoarse. I spent the day teaching three bricks how to run a hot poured rubber joint sealing kettle, and to seal cracks in asphalt paving.

Like water soaking into a rock, the information will penetrate only to a shallow depth, and my inspiring diatribes will bounce around the earth; growing fainter and eventually only being an echo of a physically tiring day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Calibration Hocus Pocus

There's been more than one report of electronic voting machines casting ballots in error. Observant voters caught the error, but there's not any way of knowing how many didn't.

What is a calibration error with an electronic voting machine? Somebody screwed up the computer code, whether intentionally, or by accident. I'd say both are responsible, but lean more to the intentional reason for most incidents. There is no "calibration". That's a word that is misused in this application.

Since voting machines are used by locals for entering candidate names, or ballot initiatives, the opportunity is there for fraud, and the data can easily be manipulated after an election.

The solution? No electronic voting. Paper ballots, voters get their finger dipped in indelible ink, and anyone caught intentionally trying to subvert votes is shot on sight. I have a feeling elections after this method is implemented would show a different view of the nation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Analyze This

I wrote about my new cell phone the other day. Yesterday, an automatic survey called and asked me to take a survey. Being the nice guy I can be, I took it.

The first question was whether I thought the customer representatives did a good job. Using the options of entering a number between one and ten, with ten being most satisfied, I entered 10.

The next question was about my opinion of the cell company, with the same method of entering my opinion. I punched in a zero. I can't stand the company for what they did to my wife years ago. They screwed up a bill, wouldn't back down, so she told them to go suck eggs. She refused to pay thousands of dollars over what was usually a bill of a little over one hundred dollars.

After entering the zero, the computer generated babble creator wanted me to leave a message with my name and a reason I felt they deserved a zero. I hung up the phone. I don't give a crap about surveys and really didn't think they want to know my reason.

Today, I received a call from a strange area code. Due to past experiences with telemarketers, I let it ring; if it was important, they could leave a voice mail....they did.

A woman, with a name, was concerned about my reason for punching in a zero in their survey. I didn't even allow the voice mail to complete before I deleted it.

So what's the deal? My impression is they've finally realized they're losing revenue, and trying to find out why people think they're a huge cluster of puke shit ass wipes. It serves them right. If only a few percent of customers were screwed like my wife was, millions of dollars were at stake, and they didn't care to examine their crummy way of doing business and rectify the problems.

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Official - I'm The Old Fart

Every industry has them: the old fart. I never thought I'd find myself in that position, but I can't deny facts.

As I was driving along, summarizing a comedy of errors, and thinking of how too many involved were what I consider woefully prepared for their position, I realized I was one of the old farts of the local construction industry. Out of thousands of workers, there are only a few like me; somewhere around 40 years experience, tired of the bullshit, and not as willing to pull miracles out of their asses each day to cover the inexperience of others.

So, I accept my position and growing apathy. I don't want an award, or anything else. What I want is a big bosom secretary, in a short skirt, to ride along with me all day and keep my coffee cup full.

Sexist? Damn straight. Being an old fart entitles me to be a dirty old man.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Some Things Make Me Wonder

I was shopping for some miscellaneous items and things for my lunch. I'd waited until late, since it was such a beautiful day; and I determined grocery shoppers would have completed their business so they could enjoy the last of a day with an azure sky, high temperatures in the mid seventies, and  a feel to the air that can only be described as wonderful.

When I finished, I looked at the checkout aisles, saw all had at least one person, and settled on one with one customer. There were two clerks helping the customer count a pile of change. Normally, I would have gone on to another aisle, but the situation was too unique to pass up, and I knew I could find something to write about, if I spent some time just observing.

The customer was buying a large pumpkin. Considering her size, it was a task to carry it. I'd say she was about eight years old. Her curly, dark blonde hair was unkempt; probably from the wind, or just needed brushing. She was wearing leopard skin capri stretch pants and a dark blue peasant blouse. Her horn rimmed glasses were almost too big for her face.

She turned every once in awhile to look behind; not to see who I was; it was more of a glance by someone looking for someone else. She returned my smile, when she finally looked at me, and quickly returned to watching the clerks delve through the piles of dime, nickles and pennies.

The eventually had enough change. One clerk completed the sale, and the other helped the young lady push the remaining change back into the zippered purse she had hung around her neck. When finished, she carefully spent some time making sure the zipper was completely closed, grabbed her pumpkin, and was gone.

The clerk gave me an apologetic look, so I commented: "You have to admire her for having the confidence to buy the pumpkin by herself." She smiled, told me how much I owed them for the small amount of groceries, and I was soon headed for my truck.

I looked around the parking lot, but the girl was gone. Whether she climbed into a waiting car, or disappeared into the local neighborhood, I'll never know. I do know such things make me wonder: Where were her parents? Were they outside waiting? If not, did they know their daughter was spending her money on a pumpkin? Does she even have a parent?

A girl that age alone is an oddity today. Considering how she was dressed, with the colors not really matching, and the need of a trim for her unkempt hair,  I'd wager she spends a lot of time on her own; wading through her youth with too many responsibilities she doesn't quite understand. Still, I admire her tenaciousness and ability to function with what she has. Hopefully, her experiences will lead to success; and she'll have the opportunity to laugh about her purchase of a pumpkin; way back in 2014. If not, and this is the only record of a unique experience on a beautiful Autumn afternoon, may it be enough. She deserves that much at least.

Joe Bonamassa "Introducing Eric Clapton" to "Further On Up The Road" fro...

Safety First...Or Not

I was driving down a local highway this morning, which has a rail crossing. The crossing will probably be replaced with an overpass one day; but for now, it's one of those things that are dangerous. (I had a friend that hit a train broadside years ago at the crossing. He was too tired, not paying attention, and his life ended late that night.)

There were police cars redirecting traffic, since there was a train blocking the crossing. The fog had mostly lifted, so I could see them from a long distance.

I slowed down, stopped and asked a police officer if the train derailed, or something was leaking. Either was a possibility; the cars were loaded with crude.

What was the problem? The crew became lost, ran out of the mandated time they could run the train, and they shut it down where it sat. The police officers were keeping traffic moving, until the relief crew arrived.

Now, I can understand rail safety. Tired crews can become dangerous, but somebody will have to explain how it's safe for a train to be parked in the middle of a busy highway to prevent a tired crew from continuing to run the train. Couldn't they call someone and explain the situation? How about common sense?

I'm guessing the penalty for going over the allotted time is death, or worse: getting fired. I don't know, but the penalty for ignorance should be worse.....dumbasses!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saltines and the Periodic Table of Elements

Don't let the title confuse you. It will all make sense, when you reach the end.

Honda makes a car/mini-van/something or the other called the "Element". It looks better than it originally looked, but it still looks like a saltine cracker box, with a clear coat, wheels and some pin stripping. It's popular, because I see many of them around.

I've thought about the name "Element", and wondered what element the designers had in mind.

I don't think it was hydrogen. Hydrogen is light, has the potential for great amounts of power, and is number 1 on the table. While I'm sure the designers like to think of their product as number 1, a quick survey wouldn't find the same reaction with car enthusiasts, when given "Element" in a list of favorites, which includes Jaguar, Mercedes and Royals Royce.

Helium? Nah; that's an inert gas; and inert isn't what anyone wants as a description of their car.

Copper might be the element, but I kinda doubt that. It tarnishes and is thought of as what pennies are made of, which they aren't any longer. Pennies are made of zinc, which is cheaper than the amount of copper required for a penny, which is more than a penny of copper. I know that makes little sense, but this is my post and I can wander from subject, to subject, at will.

Gold comes to mind, but gold is heavier than lead, expensive and thought of as an investment. I know some might think "That's exactly what they were thinking. An Element is like gold; a long term investment." I doubt that. It's not a long term investment and pretty silly to expect anyone with a little sense to think otherwise.

Plutonium is radioactive, used in bombs and not a good selling point for an automobile.

There are 109 elements on the periodic table of elements. That's a bunch, and I could write that many chapters about each to expound on why I don't think it's a good choice for an element to use in reference to a saltine cracker box with wheels. That's why I'm thinking the name came from someone hung over, without a clue of what they were doing, panicking because they spent the weekend partying, instead of working on their sale pitch, and they had a moment of inspiration, while their boss eyeballed them like a heron standing over a frog. They probably received a bonus; and pissed it away on a weekend of partying.

One passed me the other day on the interstate. I had the cruise control on 75, and it was probably going about 80. I was impressed, but a little worried. Until I took an exit, all I could think of was finding it was caught by a gust of wind and tossed to the shoulder like a trash can lid in a thunderstorm; the driver and passengers looking confused as they tried to figure out how to turn it back over.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sorta a New Phone

I bought a new phone; or I should say the company I work for bought a new phone. It's a Samsung Convoy 3, which is my third Convoy. I've had a one and a two. Number one was run over by a tracked excavator, when it fell from the pouch. Number two must have had too many snorts of sulfur fumes. It would turn off by itself, had a half-assed way of transferring photos to the card, and the ear piece sound was getting what can only be described as rotten.

If you happen to look up the phone (no, I didn't provide a link. I'm lazy this evening and....okay, now you have link.) you can see it's a flip-top phone, which is what I like. Officially, I guess it's considered a "smart phone" because it can access the internet, and this version allows what the 1 and 2 didn't offer, which is the software and capability to actually surf the web; if I was so inclined. I don't, except to look at the weather, or to find a phone number.

The big drawback is the lack of a keyboard. Texts require alphanumeric juggling, which really affects my driving, when I've had a few, am eating a hamburger, and driving through a school I don't do that. I never eat, when I drive.

Still, it's compact, rugged as hell (Have I ever told you how many scars my old phones had after I dropped them on the pavement?) and it's the best alarm clock I ever had. Not only can I hit snooze, I can easily hide it under a pillow and ignore it completely.

To complete my informal product review, I have to comment on the battery charge life. It can go for days, if I don't use the phone very much. Considering I'm liable to forget my charger, that's a plus for me.

I'd recommend the phone to anyone that likes a flip-top, plain Jane phone and has a pocket full of money. Even with a rebate, and an upgrade, it was still a hundred dollars to purchase. The sales person told me it retails for $450. I can understand that. It's not a chicken-shit phone and if you want to communicate, even when you have a tendency break things, work in an abusive environment, need an sd card for preserving photos and messages, are hard of hearing, like to place the phone on vibrate, stick it in you pocket and have a friend call you for five minutes, and don't care if your phone is relatively small... and it haunts you to think yours is small... this is the phone for you.

Considering this is version three, I have the feeling I'm not alone with my preferences. With the typical one year life expectancy for the production of a phone, and the fact this phone has been around for 7 years that I know of, my preferences are shared by enough to keep Samsung churning out these phones and laughing all the way to the bank.

So there you are. Buy a few dozen and use them for stocking stuffers. Samsung will appreciate, if I can only get them to pay me for their product endorsement.