Saturday, January 30, 2010

My daughter is currently undergoing chemotherapy. The cost of one of her treatments is more than the cost of my first home. Fortunately, she has good insurance. To go to the ER for repair of a simple laceration can be over a thousand dollars. I realize that it cost to provide medical services but the costs have become ridiculous. The sad thing is that many people don’t have insurance and many are tooled around by their insurance companies.

We have excellent healthcare in this country but it should be more affordable and available to all. We need healthcare reform but our politicians can’t sit down and work out a reasonable plan. The Democrats want to push a pork filled, gluttonous plan down our throat in great haste just to say they accomplished this great feat. The Republicans just want to say no to anything the Democrats propose. We sure can’t leave it to the insurance companies to do something reasonable because their entire motive is profit. A government run program like the VA will only result in poor quality and less accessible medical care. To have an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, where doctors are not mandated to be providers, will make care less accessible with fewer people to deliver the care. No scenario is perfect. It looks like my party, the Independents, are emerging as a power and perhaps they will come up with the perfect plan. I want everyone to have quality care that is affordable and will not add to the national debt.

There is no way we can have all this expanded healthcare without the government footing a large share of the bill. First, we need to make certain that the cost is reasonable by stopping fraud and abuse, eliminating self-referral by doctors, curtailing malpractice cost, reducing the cost of drugs and having doctors accept reasonable fees rather than contributing to their million dollar a year incomes. All these things will adequately reduce the cost of care so that we can have an expansion of Medicaid for the poor and tax reduction incentives for individuals and businesses to purchase insurance. Doctors should be mandated to accept Medicare and Medicaid. Something this simple could solve the healthcare crisis. To accomplish this we need to abolish the Republican and Democrat parties and make me President for a day. This is about as likely to occur, as it is to snow in Texas on The 4th of July or the current plan to pass. It would be interesting to rule from the porch for a day. There is a lot more I would like to do but I better not write about it on the blog. I would also issue an executive order to remove all the deer from Salado.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My most recent blog mentioned a couple of folks in the piney woods who had excellent smokehouses. They were most interesting characters and I had the good fortune of exploring the woods with both of them and hunted squirrels with one. They were brothers and modern day Henry David Thoreau’s.

These guys knew the woods like the back of their hand. I would be hopelessly lost and they would look at a tree and comment about how many squirrels they had killed in that one. They hunted only for food and would usually kill a deer in off-season because they were afraid of the woods with city hunters prowling around and shooting at anything. They claim that the deer meat taste better in summer, so that’s when they hunted.

I have always been interested in birds and one of these guys knew them all. I almost had a wreck when driving down a country road and spotted a pileated woodpecker and thought I may have seen a rare Ivorybill. They set me straight. Geologist and archeologist frequently visited one of these guys to get his opinion on the lay of the land in the piney woods. In prehistoric times, much of the piney woods was under water and my friend could show them the water line from his location of fossils.

Neither of these guys ever worked for someone else except as short stints as a guard in the prison in Huntsville or for a brief period climbing a watchtower to spot forest fires. Their work was farming and hunting. One of them had never owned a car. They raised everything they needed. There was no such thing as TV and the only entertainment was a church meeting or to stand out in the field and watch an occasional airplane fly over at a very high altitude. One of them once told me that he thought that airplane was about 30,000 feet up which is the height of Mt. Everest. Can you imagine climbing that high?

Both of these guys were well read and memorized every page of Readers Digest when it used to be a good magazine. It was always an education just to be with them and I got some good ham and visited their smokehouses to boot.

Those guys are now long gone and nothing but a memory. Wish they were around to keep me company on the porch but I would be embarrassed to feed them any of my store bought food.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I hate to complain about the taste and quality of food with all the poor people in Haiti and many other places in the world who are starving. Nevertheless, many foods just don’t taste as good as they did when I was younger. One of my granddaughters recently said,” if food taste good it has to be bad for you.” So, I should probably just be quiet and put up with the bad tasting food if it is healthier.

My spouse and I have recently been in search of a good tasting ham. Hams that we once bought in a smokehouse are not readily available and the anemic ones you purchase in the supermarkets, that are suppose to be the real smoked thing, just don’t have the taste. When I was a kid I remember hams from a couple of fellows who had smokehouses in the piney woods of East Texas. I can still smell the heavenly aroma of those smokehouses and the rich flavor of the hams they produced. A slice of that ham heated in a skillet and accompanied by biscuits with ribbon cane syrup and a baked sweet potato was food fit for a king on a cold winter evening.

It’s not just ham. Even chickens are tasteless. The spectrum of taste from steaks is as broad as the rear end of a hippo with a flavor to match. Even ground beef is pretty bad. The healthy kind that is 99% lean is like cardboard on a hamburger. Unfortunately, the tasty fat associated with these meats is a killer and coats your arteries.

Even today’s eggs are anemic pale yellow, thin shelled tasteless things that lack the rich flavor of those from yard chickens who have had a diet of worms and other enriching creatures. Most of our vegetables come from south of the border and after they are disinfected for E Coli and other deadly pathogens they have little taste and don’t resemble those from the local farmers. The heat of summer is worth it to go to the local farmers market for homegrown tomatoes, peas, okra and watermelon.
When I was a kid the frozen food section in the grocery store was a small box containing English Peas and corn. All the vegetables were fresh and things like frozen pizza, waffles and the many things we see today didn’t exist. We had a lot less choices in my younger days but they were all much more flavorful.

Enough reminiscing. Guess I will have some yogurt for supper on the porch. I was going to have a banana with a cup of this low fat slime but the ones we bought at the store are completely green so I will have to wait a few days to catch it when it becomes yellow and rotten over night.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The church service yesterday was very interesting. The First Baptist Church of Temple was destroyed by fire on Tuesday of last week, so the church service was held in the Mayborn Convention Center. There was a big crowd, with a larger attendance than usually seen on a Sunday morning. The service was excellent with a lot of time lamenting the loss of the church building and also a lot of reminiscing about the church sanctuary playing a big role in the lives of the members including; worship services, weddings, funerals, Christmas and Easter pageants and much more.

The pastor emphasized how the terrible tragedy of the fire would bring the church closer together and serve to bond the members. With the attendance and the evidence of outside support this week, he sure seemed to be correct on that point. Whenever there is trouble, people seem to rally to each other’s support and forget their differences. Just in the past couple of weeks much of the world had come to the aid of Haiti. Many folks, who at other times would be rivals, rallied to the support of the church this week. It was announced that the Assembly of God Church was taking an offering to pay the expense of renting the Mayborn Center for our church service. The Methodist Church is offering its facility for our church services until we have something permanent. The Episcopalians brought food to the staff everyday and opened the doors of their facility for our various meetings. Everyone has rallied around to lend their support in the time of tragedy and in a time of need.

Isn’t that the way it is with many other things in life? Siblings may squabble and fight but will defend each other to the death if challenged by an outsider. The same goes with nations. In WWII when Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan and we were threatened, across the Atlantic, by Hitler the nation rallied to defeat this evil. The US now seems to be united on the issued of defeating terrorism and Bin Laden. Not everyone is completely on board with this last issue, but will be when we experience another direct assault like on 9/11.

One of my favorite movies is, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” It’s the same theme. The rest of the Universe was threatened by our stupidly on earth for making war and possibly bringing this into space.. The rest of the folks in space sent a spaceman and powerful robot to warn us to cool it or face extinction.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could always have the attitude of being united and helping one another every day? Unfortunately, we need a crisis or external threat to get our attention. Maybe the folks from outer space will do us a favor and invade the earth or we might even discover an asteroid racing toward earth to potentially reduce us to a cinder unless we work together to destroy it. There are things out there as bad as an asteroid or an alien like; hunger, disease, global warming, cultural and religious differences, war and the rapid depletion of earths supply of both water and oil. We sure need something to get our attention before it’s too late. The way things are moving my time on the porch is limited.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I have a little hope for some of humanity when I see the outpouring of relief for the people in Haiti. The US, of course, is the greatest contributor. I even saw a plane from China but it hogged the runway of the airport for a photo-op. Israel has apparently established a sophisticated field hospital and help is even coming from Venezuela. I still haven’t seen anything from the Muslim countries.

With the horrible fire that destroyed the First Baptist Church in Temple this week I also saw and heard about numerous offers for relief. Most of those were from fellow Baptist Churches and other churches like the Methodist, Episcopalians, Bible, etc. I didn’t hear much about offers from the cult churches. Some of these folks are afraid to offer their sanctuary for use for fear that the infidel Baptist will contaminated the place of worship with musical instruments or might desecrate the alter.

One group that is always there in time of need and emergencies is the Salvation Army. Their wagon was on the scene of the church fire almost immediately. They furnished coffee and doughnuts and mostly set an example of providing help. I checked the internet to see what they were doing in Haiti and it’s a mass effort with medical teams, supplies, food and everything to help the victims of the earthquake.

I served on the board of the local Salvation Army for several years and I came away feeling great about that organization. There are no high paid executives making off with the money. The money goes to help those in need. I have always said that if Jesus visited our town for the weekend he would most likely attend church at the Salvation Army.

The other thing I like about the Salvation Army is the bands. They are big on having brass bands that play in small groups to help proclaim the gospel of Christ. Their music gets you in a worshipful mood, especially around Christmas time when they are playing around the red kettles. They even had a large band in the Rose Bowl Parade.

Anyway, it’s very reassuring to see the willingness of folks to help others in need. I’m sure the US will be criticized for the slowness of our response to the people of Haiti. We just have to move on and do what’s right and remember that a man was once crucified for helping save the world. In my little way, I’m glad I got off the porch a few years ago to spend a little time with the Salvation Army Board.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In years past my main sources of information were the newspaper, radio and TV. Now that I’m retired the main source is my spouse via of the beauty shop. The beauty shop is proving to be much quicker and more reliable that he previous methods.

This week the First Baptist Church in Temple burned. My wife’s appointment at the beauty shop is at 7:30 AM. The fire started about 5:30AM and my wife knew the details soon after she arrived for her appointment. She called and filled me in on all the details. I tuned into the local radio station, which has absolutely no local coverage. We could be having a deadly tornado or earthquake and all we would hear is the morning commentator bad mouthing the liberals and President Obama. Radio no longer exists to inform the public about news events. It’s all preprogrammed stuff or political commentators, bad music and horrible advertisements. In contrast, when I was a kid we had good shows like; Lum and Abner, Green Hornet, Fibber McGee and Molly and a lot of other great entertainment. I also liked to tune into the Joe Louis fights and other sporting events. We also had news.

The TV is not a lot better. The main news channels are CNN and Fox and it’s all national stuff about politics, liberals, conservatives and panels of these people screaming at each other. The programs by the main networks are of no interest to me. I really don’t care about survivors on some island or jungle and idols and awards ceremonies.

Recently, my former employee was about to negotiate the purchase of another hospital. I was told by a board member that this was top secret stuff and not to breath a word about it. The day after I was provided this confidential information, my spouse was informed of the details at the beauty shop.

The beauty and barbershops are also excellent sources of information about the current political situation and upcoming elections. They are usually much more accurate than the national polls. The beauty shop information center is also great because there is a lot of neat gossip about things like; affairs, divorces, deaths, sickness, bargains at various stores and of even greater importance, healthcare advice. The beauty operators are great doctors as well as counselors and their fees are not much different.

Anyway, I’m provided all this great information on the porch without even turning a dial or changing a channel. I hope Michelle Obama gets her hair done at a beauty shop. She could give Barack some tips on how to run the country to get his healthcare bill passed and the troops home.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I thought Radiology was a good career choice in Medicine but today I might choose Rehab Medicine because it is in such great demand. Rehab docs are in high demand these days. Everything needs rehabilitating. For example, Tiger Woods just checked into a rehab unit in Arizona for rehabilitation of his sex habit. I didn’t even know that sex was addicting like a drug. I thought everyone was addicted to it in a natural sort of way, even those attracted to the same gender. Movie stars are always checking into rehab units for drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, etc. Since obesity is an epidemic many of these folks are in need of help by rehab.

Politicians and other high profile people are always checking into rehab units to help treat their misbehavior, whatever the cause. It helps lying, cheating, infidelity and a whole variety of human misbehavior. Another malady that is in need of help is the mouths of TV and radio commentators. People like Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, James Carville and a lot of CNN reporters could use help. Rush Limbaugh’s recent statement about the Haiti tragedy being great for Obama, so he could again gain the confidence of the black community, is pure poison from his mouth. That kind of statement only hurts the Conservative movement. Harry Reid’s statement about Obama being a light skinned black and not having a Negro dialect was as equally damaging for the Democrats. I just won’t listen to panel discussions on CNN or Fox anymore. Everyone is shouting at each other and it’s either too conservative or too liberal. The tongue can be a terrible thing and needs to be harnessed by rehabilitation.

My favorite interviewer on TV is Brian Lamb the founder and CEO of CSPAN. He used to do a program called Booknotes. He interviewed an author each week about their nonfiction book. I have never heard anyone who was more objective and unbiased. It was impossible to tell if Lamb was a Republican or Democrat. In all his years on the Booknotes program he never once called his own name. He was just after information in his interviews and in general I ended up wanting to read the book regardless of the political views of the author. I guess most folks would think Brian Lamb was boring but I found him refreshing compared to the loud mouthed, egotist listed above.

Anyway, I wish Tiger Woods success in his rehab treatment. His medical record would make interesting reading. A movie version of his experience would be a box office hit and would certainly regain most of the fortune he has lost from his advertising and missed golf tournaments. I probably couldn’t buy a DVD of the movie for viewing on the porch because the grandkids might watch it and they don’t need to be exposed to that kind of stuff by me.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The earthquake in Haiti is a terrible thing. It’s probably the worse natural disaster in my lifetime. There may be as many as 100,000 deaths and utter destruction of the Capitol of Haiti. Yesterday, Televangelist Pat Robertson, of 700 Club fame, said the quake was because the people were cursed and because they had a pact with the Devil. It’s like they had the same fate as the city of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible where the place was destroyed because of the wickedness of the people. I thought that the quake was produced by a shift of unstable faults in the earth and the pressure associated with the faults. This will likely happen in other places with similar unstable faults like Los Angeles and has already occurred in San Francisco. Pat Robertson could argue that these are also sin cities and get what they deserve. Things were made worse in Haiti because of the shoddy construction and extreme poverty associated with these descendants of slaves.

I have had some friends who were very strong Christian believers who experienced terrible tragedy in their lives and it’s hard to believe they were cursed. I think we are cursed to have someone with a mouth like Pat Robertson who is judging folks and meddling in the Lord’s business. It’s seems like he would do much better as an spokesman for God by telling us how we can cope with tragedy and then trying to help the folks in Haiti by sharing with them some of his considerable wealth and good fortune.

Speaking of help, I noticed it’s the Ugly Americans who have come to the rescue of the poor people in Haiti. I haven’t seen any planes from the Muslim countries flying there with aid. There haven’t been any Russian planes either. The Muslims don’t care. They are a little like Pat Robertson and think it’s okay for the infidels to die. They are getting what they deserve by not believing right.

The other thing of interest about the Haiti situation is the news coverage. I don’t care a lot for some of the folks on CNN but they have given the most extensive coverage. On Fox, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity continue to bad-mouth Obama as if nothing else matters. It’s also interesting how slow the aid is coming to Haiti. It’s almost like Katrina all over again. The media is down there in full force several days before the help that’s really needed. I’m sure it’s George Bush’s fault. I think the news media should be in charge of the relief effort with Anderson Cooper as the leader.

I’m sure with all the maladies I have suffered Pat Robertson would say I’m cursed. I think otherwise, because the Creator has provided me a piece of heaven here on earth with the comfort of my porch and the support of my family and friends.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My spouse gave me a set of DVDs of “On the Road” with Charles Kuralt. These are old TV shows by CBS featuring Charles Kuralt, the fellow who started “CBS Sunday Morning.” I really love these short stories about ordinary people doing interesting and unusual things. You don’t read about these folks in the paper and most are in small towns. There are stories about a man who built large models of famous structures out of toothpicks, a fellow who fixed and loaned bikes to poor kids, a master maker of large wooden ships, an old woman who cooked everyday for the poor and anyone who wanted to come to her home for a home cooked meal, a man who made and flew kites everyday, a local bottler of ginger ale who made his own brew and ladies who made lace doilies by the lost art of tatting. There was a great story about a lady who built a library in her small town that was open 24 hours a day and people could come a go as they pleased. It was run on the honor system with no fines and she never lost a book.

One of my favorite stories was about this guy who refused to move his business of preparing chickens from live poultry right in his store. This guy had his building engulfed by large skyscrapers and was finally forced to move by the city for the purpose of widening the street. It was fun watching him prepare the chickens right there in the store so you knew you had a fresh bird. He dipped the feathered carcass into boiling water to extract the feathers then scraped the skin clean.

I liked this chicken story because I used to raise chickens when I was a kid and prepared them the same way as the fellow in Charles Kuralt’s story. We then cut up the chicken in the proper way so there was a pulley (wish) bone. The pulley bone was always the most delicious morsel of meat from the chicken and was my favorite. Now days it’s incorporated into the breast and you can’t even tell it exist. Today, the breast of chicken are much too thick and it’s hard to cook them all the way through. They now breed chickens so that they are nothing but breast. Of greatest importance is that there is nothing like fresh chicken rather than the frozen stuff. This story about the guy preparing a bird for cooking with a fresh kill right before your eyes was terrific. I think I could have been happy with a business like that but, like so many things, the modern age snuffed him out.

The Charles Kuralt stories were filmed in the 70s and early 80s. I did meet one of his characters who is a Park Ranger at a remote mission in New Mexico. That was a thrill. It’s sad to think that most of these interesting people with unique stories are now dead. I sure hope that there are folks today with similar stories. It would be great fun to travel around like Charles Kuralt in search of these folks. That would even be a better job than preparing chickens or rocking on the porch.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I loved my career in medicine but if I was starting again I might choose anthropology or a combination with medicine. Anthropology is a most interesting subject. It’s basically the study of humanity and asks the question “what defines Homo sapiens?” It is the study of our behavior.

Some folks study animals beside homo sapiens and attempt to correlate the similarities between humans and the apes. Jane Goodall devoted her life to studying chimpanzees and Dian Fossey studied Gorillas. Margaret Mead studied the people of the South Pacific and their attitudes toward sex. There are many subjects to be explored about our behavior and culture. I would probably choose the religious practices of homo sapiens.

Our religious practices are numerous and varied. They range all the way from human sacrifice to meditation. To begin with, there are some major differences in religion and our concept of a supreme being with the major groups being; Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, Scientology, New Age, etc. etc. I would probably narrow my study to the many religious practices associated with Christianity. That would take a lifetime of study and I’m sure would end in major confusion as to which practice is correct. Most everyone thinks their way is the only correct one.

Christianity has two major divisions: Catholics and Protestants. There are several orders in the Catholic Church and the sects who are non-catholic are as numerous as the grains of sand on the beach or the stars in the sky. Just out of the local phone book here are some of the non-catholic groups: Assembly of God, Baptist, Baptist Independent, Baptist Missionary, Bible, Brethren, Christian, Christian Disciples of Christ, Christian Science, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Church of the Nazarene, Episcopal, Interdenominational, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran, Evangelical Lutheran, Methodist African Episcopal, Methodist United, Non-denominational, Pentecostal, Pentecostal Church of God, Pentecostal Free, Pentecostal United, Presbyterian, Seventh-Day Adventist, Unitarian Universalist, Unity and even Cowboy. In larger cities there are many more and several not mentioned that I know of even in smaller communities.

The worship and practices of worship are as varied as the number of churches themselves. Some roll on the floor until they get the Holy Spirit or babble in unknown tongues. Music ranges from no instruments to rock bands with drums, electric guitars and the whole works. The songs range from chants to traditional and praise. The sermons vary from power point lectures to screaming and pulpit pounding and faith healing.

All this is enough to leave a body confused, at the least. Most of us follow the practices and beliefs of our ancestors in the hope that they were divinely inspired and were set on the right path by God himself.

Anyway, the study of anthropology and our various methods of worship would have been interesting but I’m afraid non-conclusive. I have been told by members of some of the groups listed above that I am going to hell because I am not a member of their group. I just hope my parents were correct in their choice.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I enjoy old western movies and have enjoyed some writers of western novels like Zane Grey and Elmer Kelton. One thing I like about the westerns is the justice system. If they caught a rustler or horse thief he was taken to the nearest tree and hung. There was no getting a lawyer and waiting around for months. There was no reading of the criminal’s rights or easy handling for fear of political incorrectness or action by the Civil Liberties folks.

We need some of that western justice today in the cases of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the fellow who tried to blow up the plane over Detroit, and also Nidal Malik Hasan the Fort Hood soldier killer. These two guys are not suspects, they are in fact the killers as identified by numerous eyewitnesses. For the airplane criminal, this shouldn’t be treated as a civil case. He is a terrorist and should be treated as an enemy. Both of these thugs should be hung or put before a firing squad without further ado.

Many cases do require investigation but these two are about as straight forward as you can get. Hanging may be too good for Abulmutallab and Hasan. Since they wanted to commit suicide they should have a bomb strapped to their body and then dropped from a plane into an Al Quaeda camp in Yemen. They could exit the planet as they had wanted and go to meet Allah along with some of their buddies.

Obama refuses to use the term War on Terrorism because it was used by former President Bush. I did hear him say that we are at war with Al Quaeda, so I’m happy that he finally acknowledges that we are at war with these swarthies. They should be treated like war criminals and not permitted a trial in our civilian courts with some slick lawyer trying to defend them.

Anyway, if one of these terrorist gentlemen manages to be successful and blow up a plane it will paralyze air travel and be devastating to our already weak economy. We should use any method to screen passengers and forget about racial profiling and offending someone. It’s not 80-year-old grandmothers but young swarthy types who have done all the bombing so these folks should really be frisk.

Anyway, it’s time for a little old western justice. Maybe we should put Clint Eastwood or someone like the characters in Lonesome Dove in charge of homeland security.

Friday, January 08, 2010

College football ended for the season with Alabama defeating Texas for the national championship. The outcome may have been different if the great Texas quarterback Colt McCoy had not been injured in the first quarter. I felt sorry for the freshman backup quarterback, Garrett Gilbert, but he almost pulled it off when Texas came within 3 points. The Alabama coaching, the star Mark Ingram and the rest of the Crimson Tide were just too much for the Longhorns.

It’s amazing how the strength of one person makes the team. McCoy was the strength and soul of the team. On a much smaller scale the same thing happened to Baylor when their quarterback Robert Griffin injured his knee at the beginning of the season and Baylor when down the tube after that.

Last nights game was a rare thing because they actually showed some of the half time show with the marching bands of each school. That is my favorite part because it reminds me of my marching days in high school. The usual halftime is filled with beer commercials and some former big time athletes who are now high paid announcers making comments about stuff I already know or advising what the losing teams needs to do in the second half.

I didn’t need to look at Colt McCoy’s X-Ray to tell that he didn’t break or separate anything. Unfortunately, it sounds like he may have a nerve injury and I suspect he is having an MRI done today. I’ll bet he doesn’t have any trouble getting worked into someone’s schedule.

Football season is almost over and now all we have to do now is watch the Dallas Cowboys get eliminated from the playoffs. I’m just happy I can watch things from the porch on my HDTV, if I choose, rather than fight a crowd of 100,000 people. I know it must be fun but it is a long and expensive trip home for Texas fans.

With 18 degree weather outside, it’s just nice being on the warm porch.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I’ve been taking inventory of some of the goodies I received for Christmas. Usually, on Christmas day I’m more interested in what the grandkids get under the tree than any of my presents. There is so much wrapping paper and boxes I’m mainly confused on Christmas day. I wait until things have simmered down before I take my own inventory.

This year I cleaned up with a lot of small gifts in baskets. It’s sort of like an over stuffed stocking. I had packages of gourmet coffee, various candies, cookies, and exotic dip mixes. There were books (my favorite gift), toys and games. I love all this stuff and it reminded me of the stockings stuffed with goodies when I was a kid. I liked some of the goodies in the stockings more than the other practical things like clothes. The stockings always contained candy orange slices and old-fashioned chocolate drops, which are still my favorites. It’s almost impossible to obtain the chocolate drops anymore. My spouse has to order them from the Vermont Country Store.

During this inventory, I like to sit down and look at the Christmas cards more carefully. I especially enjoy the personal notes and little newsletters describing the activities of the family during the past year. It’s interesting that many of the cards just say Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings and make no reference to Christmas or the birth of Christ. I can understand cards like that coming from an atheist but many of them come from so called Christians. I think many of these folks believe their brand of religion is the only one and they give the excuse of saying they don’t want any symbolism in worship including a cross, pictures etc. I have labeled these people as the Christian Taliban because of the narrowness in their belief. As far as I’m concerned they do more harm than good but obviously they don’t care because they just want their small cult to reach the Pearly Gates. It must be a blissful thing to know that you are absolutely right and everyone else is doomed to a an eternity of hell fire. At lease the fundamentalist Muslims just go ahead and kill us infidels and get us out of our earthly misery.

As for me, I like to look at the nativity scene on the porch. I’m sure not worshiping those little figures, but it does serve as a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas and that there was once a little baby born to a virgin in a manger in Bethlehem who would later die on the cross and be resurrected. He did that so that we might all have the promise of eternal life regardless of how we choose to worship him through our sometimes distorted and narrow views.

Monday, January 04, 2010

In the last blog I wrote about the demise of the great Southwest Conference. To me that was the National Championship because as a kid I hardly knew that any other teams existed. I did mention that the Southwest Conference Champs always played another great team in the Cotton Bowl. Out of concern for one of my blog readers, I want to mention that one of those great teams to play in the Cotton Bowl was the Nebraska Cornhuskers who played in 1965 and 1974. The other foreign team that made many appearances was Notre Dame. They were also great.

The first Cotton Bowl was in 1937 and the Southwest Conference team was TCU featuring the great Slinging Sammy Baugh, who was born in Temple, Texas. UT and A&M have made the greatest number of appearances. Not only is the Southwest Conference now history, so is the Cotton Bowl. The game is now played in Cowboy Stadium.

As a kid I didn’t even know pro football existed. There was no TV and not one single team from Texas or the South, so I had no way of knowing. I had several football heroes as a kid. The football I owned had a printed autograph of Sid Luckman. Someone told me he was a great quarterback for the Chicago Bears but I had no ideal who the Chicago Bears were. My other heroes were Doak Walker of SMU and Bobby Lane of UT. Both of those guys played together at Highland Park High School in Dallas. Other heroes were Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis of Army. I also knew that Army and Navy had teams but that was about the extent of it. All of these heroes went on to play pro ball but I lost track of them because pro ball didn’t exist in my world. It was later that I learned of the curse of Bobby Lane on the Detroit Lions. After being a star for Detroit they traded him and he said that the Lions wouldn’t win another championship in 50 years. He has been right, it is one of the losing teams of pro ball and they have never been to a Super Bowl.

That’s about it for me and football. I have now completely lost interest and don’t care about a bunch of millionaire jailbirds playing between commercials on TV. I do want to go on record saying that the Nebraska Cornhuskers is a great foreign team.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

In years past I was always glued to the TV watching the football bowl games on New Years Day. For the past couple of years I have not watched any of the games. The bowl games really ended for me with the death of the Southwest Conference. To me the National Championship was always the Cotton Bowl, which was the Southwest Conference Champs and some other great team. The only other bowls were the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl and those featured teams in which I had no interest except to watch on New Years Day.

Now there are so many bowl games, it’s just mass confusion and they are played all through the first few weeks of January. The Cotton Bowl wasn’t even played on New Years Day this year and I really don’t care because there is no Southwest Conference anymore. The Big 12 is made up of a lot of teams that I have no interest in, like Kansas. When I was a kid it was just the great Texas teams of the Southwest Conference and the outsider Arkansas. Arkansas really didn’t count to me and Texas Tech and University of Houston were just new kids on the block and really didn’t matter. My team, Baylor, never won anything but I was proud they were a member of the elite Southwest Conference.

The so called National Championship doesn’t hold much interest to me unless there is a Texas team playing. The only Texas team that has a shot at that game is UT because of their great size and wealth. UT should now be a professional team rather than being in the college ranks. In the old days SMU, TCU, Rice and even Baylor were contenders and had a shot at the Southwest Conference title. Even in the old days, Texas and A&M were the powers and their great match up was on Thanksgiving.

There are now so many pro teams playing every night of the week that the Super Bowl will eventually be moved to spring. The Super Bowl has even become just another average event. The demise of Tom Landry and America’s Team made me lose interest in the pro world much the same as occurred with the breakup of the Southwest Conference in the college world.

So, I’m now just content with watching old movies on TCM during the New Years Holiday. I prefer the black and white movies just like I once preferred the Cotton Bowl and the Southwest conference.