WTF, Texas?

Texas is trying hard to show us what a dis-united states of America would look like. Vigilante-ism. No regulations, no laws. Rule by gun and intimidation. In just a few weeks here’s what the crazed TX legislature and Governor have done:

  • Passed a law that prohibits abortion after six weeks (actually, after a fetal heartbeat is detected), before most even women know they’re pregnant. Worse, they’ve included a bounty (!) for any citizen who reports someone assisting a women getting a post-six-week abortion. Random people with no standing in the matter can sue any participant they allege is part of the activity. Clinics and MDs will be overwhelmed by frivolous lawsuits incented by the new law. Pure vigilante. Chaos.
  • Passed a law that allows allowing all Texans to own guns (not a problem) and “to carry them in public, without a license and without training”. So now any dumbass with no training, no license, can carry a weapon anywhere in the state. That’ll help our nation’s gun violence problem.
  • Passed executive orders that prohibit mask mandates of any kind, in schools or otherwise. The rallying cry behind this is “my body, my choice”. Texans seem to fail to see the irony of this with reference to the abortion law.
  • From Digby: “On Tuesday, the Texas legislature passed the final version of the Republican voting bill that bans drive-through and 24-hour voting, both used disproportionately by voters of color; imposes new limits on voting by mail, blocks election officials from distributing mail-ballot applications unless specifically requested; gives partisan poll watchers more leeway to influence vote counting; and places new rules and paperwork requirements that deter people from helping others to vote or to register.” In other words, anything that makes it easier for people to vote, they’re against. And vigilante “poll watchers” are empowered. I detect a theme here.

I hope all those Californians who moved to Texas to take advantage of favorable job and housing markets, along with favorable tax rates, are happy with their new vigilante home. When an unlicensed, unhinged nutter tries to enforce his “understanding” of voting laws or school mask requirements and draws down on them, they’ll understand what it really means to be back in the wild, wild west.

This situation is not going to end well.

Hello September, goodbye Joe

The transition month begins with a lot of memorable news.

  • Yet another massive hurricane cripples Louisiana and the Gulf coast. It’s hard for me to understand why people continue to live in the low-lying areas there – they flood and get crushed over and over.
  • The Texas governor and legislature continue their attack on citizen’s rights, from voting suppression laws to a weird but effective (if left in place) repeal of Roe v Wade.
  • The forever war ends due to a courageous move by the Biden team. Yes, people died in the process but this is and was a war zone. The critics don’t have any better ideas; they’re just critics. I just read that the forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost us $300 million per day, every day, for twenty years! Imagine if that money had been spent on US citizen health, infrastructure, R&D and other constructive causes.
  • COVID-19/Delta continues to burn through the US. It’s now driving hospitalizations and deaths at the same rate as the worst days of 2020, before vaccines. Nature is a bitch.
  • My old friend and football team mate, Joe Hall, has his memorial service this weekend. I’ll be there.

It’s that last bit that I’ll elaborate on. Joe Hall died way too early of stage 4 cancer at age 63. Joe was an integral part of our championship 1970s high school football team, one of the players that kept our spirits high. He was funny, lovable, and tough as nails. I remember the time that Joe, playing linebacker, hit another player so hard that he bent his steel faceguard inward, very visibly. We were all shocked – those things just don’t bend. But Joe just carried on.

Joe was an orphan, raised in a group home (maybe the Ramey Home), so his high school buddies were pretty much his family. Joe married his high school sweetheart, Dawn Forrest, and they eventually settled in Florida. We’ll see Dawn this weekend. I spoke with Joe a few times over our adult years, but never visited (big regret there). He became a scratch golfer, which I was envious of. But good for Joe. I think the last time I saw Joe was at the 2003 reunion of the team at the high school, but I’ve combed through my pictures and don’t have any of him. I broke my yearbook out for the first time in years to see a few pictures of Joe. They brought a smile.

I suppose I’m at that age when more and more of the old gang will say goodbye to this life. Joe being one of the first is hard to take, and is a stark reminder that our time here is limited. Too short. But Joe is remembered, and this weekend his teammates and I will show up from all over the country to honor him. RIP, buddy.

News 8-31-21

Today is the actual 1-year anniversary of my knee replacement. I guess the warranty period is over.

In more interesting news, it’s actually raining today in Fallbrook. I can’t remember it *ever* raining in August. We have a wet monsoon coming up from the south causing this unexpected rainfall, lightning and thunder. It’s a nice surprise.

In more important news, the headline from MSNBC: “Joe Biden ended the war in Afghanistan after 20 years.  That’s a BFD. ” I agree completely. Argue if you wish about how the exit was conducted, but Biden made the hard call and got the job done. We have no business trying to build democracies in the Middle East when our own is crumbling. Take your last shots at Biden over this and then let’s get on with doing something useful here at home.

Tomorrow it’s September, the transition month between summer and fall. For our KY home, that means the beginning of cooler weather, harvest time and leaves turning from green to red/brown/yellow. For our CA home, that means the beginning of hard-core fire season and Santa Ana winds. Fall in Socal is very different than Fall back east.

Negative news

Hurricanes and floods. Pandemic part two (or is it part three?). Fires in CA, including close to home. Extreme heat across the US. A sad end to the endless war. The polar ice caps melting. Political corruption and incompetence. Constant evidence of man’s inhumanity to man. (Or woman. Or pick your noun/pronoun.)

It just doesn’t pay to watch the news these days. A constant diet of that and you wonder “…what’s the point of it all?”. Nihilism creeps in, when in fact there’s plenty to be happy and thankful about in the world. There needs to be a news channel that isn’t all disaster-porn.

Why *do* the news channels all focus on the worst of the world? Obviously, they do it because it sells, it makes them money, but why? What attracts the masses to a constant feed of negative news?

I’m sure one of my psychologist friends could come up with a good explanation. For now, I’m just lumping this in with my general disdain for people on average. On average or viewed in large numbers, people have very disappointing behavior. To be clear, there are plenty of people I like and respect a lot, but en masse…not so much. Homo sapiens have some very rough edges.

The absence of pain

In just a couple of days I celebrate the first anniversary of my knee replacement. Time flies; much has happened since August 31, 2020. I thought of this because today I’m heading out to play golf, and I’m walking the 18 holes. A year ago that wasn’t possible – too much pain.

Having a pain-free knee really is life-changing. I knew I had to get the surgery when I was in KY in late spring last year and I had to turn back on a short walk with the grandkids. It became clear that I could not / did not want to be the weakest link in our family outings. I wanted to be able to keep up with the grandkids. Hence, the surgery.

Great surgeon, dedicated rehab regimen, and it all turned out well. My right knee is now the strongest part of my body. It does get stiff if I fail to stretch it for a few days, so it’s a good reminder to get up and do something, to move around. But this week I celebrate the absence of pain, gratefully.


Reading this most excellent article on this morning, I learned several things.

First, a new word: “orogen”: a geology term referring to a belt of the earth’s crust involved in the formation of mountains. Also orogeny, orogenies, orogenic and orogenesis.

Second, that my eastern KY roots in the Appalachian hills are ancient. From the article: ” It’s difficult to imagine, but this range contains some of the oldest mountains in the world. Even comparisons fail; for example, the Rocky Mountain range was formed about 80 million years ago. The Appalachians? 480 million years ago.”

You can accrue a lot of ghosts and memories in 480 million years. And the Appalachians feel old – worn down and weathered. The deep hollows (hollers, for some) contain a richness of shadow and mist – they can be spooky or spiritual, depending on your mood.

For me the Appalachian hills are definitely spiritual. I feel at home there like nowhere else. Some of my earliest memories are of running through those hills and hollows, discovering plants, animals, rock formations, pools and waterfalls. That was an idyllic time in my life, and I get a little glimpse of that even now when I enter the Appalachians.

Here’s a picture from the winter of 2002 that I took not far from where I grew up. Subtle beauty.

Willfully dumb

Well, this was predictable. We’re just not a very smart country. We have so many things to be thankful for and to celebrate, but we piss it away being short-sighted and willfully dumb. Unreal.

Today is day 3 of a self-imposed healthy month, in which I aspire to eat better, drink zero alcohol and get some exercise. My son-in-law gave me the idea (he’s a week or two into his regimen), reinforced by the fact that I’m at an all-time low in terms of general health. It helps that I have no big events or travel scheduled for the next month – those seem to be the triggers for my most unhealthy habits.

Health and fitness – it’s certainly a journey. Just five weeks ago I walked myself into a reasonable level of cardio fitness, making it possible to walk 5-6 miles per day in the heat at Oakmont Country Club. That went well. But just five weeks later, after doing not much fitness-wise, I’ve lost that little bit of cardio health. I know it comes down to this – a (likely) shorter and unhealthier life from here on, or a (again, likely) longer and healthier life if I adopt better habits. Should be a no-brainer, but for some reason I’ve resisted choice this for years. Maybe it’s back to that willfully dumb thing.

But if I’m going to make the harder choice, there has to be something to look forward to. Here are four things I’m looking forward to:

So the couch potato in me has plenty to look forward to. Yay November!