Saturday, October 17, 2020

Ever been to a mule rodeo?

We've lived in Winnsboro for eight months now and even though I've known about mule rodeos, I've never actually been to one. Well, tonight was the first and definitely not the last time we go to one.

In the time we've been here, we've become rodeo geeks. We don't ride, but we love to watch and experience rodeo culture. The July 4th Rodeo was really exciting and Lilly was set on wanting to be a barrel racer. After I explained how we lived in an apartment, horses were expensive, etc etc, she quit harping about it.

Then last night she decides that we should get a mule because she thought some of the events looked fun. I have to admit, I think they did too.

Below, you'll see some of the photos and some video that I took. Have you been to a mule rodeo before? If not, and you get the chance, do not miss out on a lot of fun!

                                




                                 

                                 

                                 

                                 



Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Looking for Bigfoot and Other Haunts in East Texas

I grew up on the Arkansas line in Northeast Louisiana. Too far north to be chased by the Rougarou, we still had our share of haunts, haints, will-o-wisps, Bigfoot and a myriad of other supernatural encounters.

Morehouse Parish, where I lived, is home to the world's longest bayou, Bayou Bartholomew. It wanders 360+ miles through southern Arkansas into Northeast Louisiana to eventually feed into the Ouchita River, right outside of my hometown. Just an hour to an hour and a half east, you start to get into the Mississippi River flood plain that makes the soil great for growing cotton, soybeans and other crops. But the biggest export out of this area up to a decade or so back was lumber and paper products, until they started shutting down the paper mills. Yep, woods for miles and miles and you didn't know what was hiding in them.

In Morehouse Parish, we had reports of a Bigfoot roaming around. In fact, the local paper ran an article about a sighting on April Fool's Day. That didn't slow anyone down from believing it which shows how bad folks wanted it to be real.

In addition to Bigfoot, we had other weird places. One such place was a stretch of road called Girl Scout Road. I don't know where that name came from but there were always the rumors of devil worshippers to an old lady who was said to be a witch living out that way. We used to drive it late at night looking for anything out of the norm and the only time I saw any such malevolence was the night a friend and I took a short cut home from church. We witnessed a very large bonfire but didn't see anyone tending it. Of course that could have been because of the speedy departure when my friend gunned the engine of his '67 Cougar and got us out of there.

One thing that I did witness was in Southeast Arkansas. A girlfriend and I joined a couple that we knew and headed up to a spot that was simply referred to as the Light. The tale that was told is one that has been repeated all over the country. A long time ago, a train conductor was checking the track when he fell and somehow the train rolled over his neck freeing his head from his body. Through supernatural powers his body now walks that track, which has since all but disappeared, waving his lantern to and fro' looking for his head.

The male friend told us of his experience with it along with tales of his family who had seen it. We set up at a spot down the road a bit from where the light was supposed to appear. It was well after dark and nothing could be seen for about an hour. Then one of us noticed what looked less light a lantern but more along the lines of a patch dark that was not quite as dark as the rest of the night. A few more minutes and then, yes, it was a light that resembled the light source that a train conductor would use. Not a flashlight but an old-fashioned kerosene lamp. And it was coming towards us. It eventually died out and did not reappear, but it was enough for me. I will not say for certain that it is that doomed conductor, but something definitely did put on a show that night.

Where I live now in East Texas with the abundance of woodlands really reminds me of where I grew up. This makes me wonder what is roaming those areas, too. So what stories have you heard or actually witnessed yourself? Have you heard the calls of the Sasquatch or have you witnessed the will-o-wisps trying to lead wanderers deeper into the woods? Tell me your story, I'd love to hear it!


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Musical Memories

 I don't listen to radio much anymore. Pretty much the only stations that gets played in the car is one of the Kid's Pop stations with the same ten songs on repeat. There are maybe two songs out of the bunch that don't irritate my ulcer. And that's saying a lot.

When I do get to listen to something I like, it's usually met with sullen silence from the progeny and I will eventually relent. You know how it goes; It's better for her to be happy and you suffer in silence than the other way around.

When I had my Google Pixel (original) I would listen to my 91X app through an audio plug into my dashboard. 91X is a station that's been around since 1983 starting on the Baja Peninsula and eventually moving stateside to San Diego. I was first introduced to them while I was stationed in San Diego for electronics training with the Navy. They played alternative which back then included my favorites The Cure, Oingo Boingo, and The Cult, just to mention a few. Unfortunately, since I've upgraded to a Pixel 4, I can't wire it to the dashboard because the Pixel 4 does not have a headphone jack. That's really the only problem I have with the phone though. Time to upgrade to a Bluetooth jack I guess.


I also listen to 91.7 KTX out of Denton, Texas. It's format is AAA (Adult Album Alternative). I've always been a fan of this format because it's playlist varies just like my tastes. This playlist is just a forty-five minute sample of what was played this morning. They also have shows that highlight World Music, Jazz, Blues and much much more. I can pick it up on the car radio on a good day, but if I drive down a hill I lose signal just a little. Fortunately, there's an app for that!

So, question of the day is this: Are you a radio listener? Apps? Or do you value your silence (there's a future blog post about this)? If you do listen to radio or apps, what are they? Inquiring minds want to know!

91X Alternative San Diego

91.7 KXT AAA Denton, Texas

Thursday, June 25, 2020

First Impressions

So, I met Carroll and we had a date or three before I had my next shift DJing at the bar. Walked in and my best friend Dave looks up at me as I walk through the front door. Typical bartender pose, smiling at me over the glass he was polishing. "She's the one, huh." It was just a response to the big grin that I had been wearing since the first night I met her. "Yeah, it's a little early to tell, but I think she might be." He puts the glass down still wearing that grin on his face and says, "Thank God! For a while there I thought you hated women!" That was in response to the many times I had come back from a first date shaking my head "Nope, nope, nope, nope!"

And to any of the ladies that I dated and am still friends with (and there are some of you here) this story is not about you. Trust me.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Ideas Behind The 'Defund The Police' Movement

I have to admit when I heard the call to defund police, I was like most and thinking that it was a crazy idea. Then I did a little homework and checked out some articles about the ideas behind the movement. 

The overall idea is to cut police department budgets and redistribute that money to outside agencies that would then handle certain areas that the police were handling before, but weren't qualified to do, such as mental health calls, homelessness, etc. Though there are calls to abolish police departments, I think that is very drastic.

It's crazy to think that the New York City police department's budget is $6 billion dollars. That's $2B more than the World Health Organization and greater than the GDP of 50 other countries.

Here are some links to mull over. Please read. Make your own judgement. Don't take someone else's opinion and make it your own without doing your due diligence.





Thursday, May 28, 2020

Brain Work

Idiocracy (2006)
We've always had to deal with rumors. Hearsay. Opinions pushed off as facts. The internet allows for the faster propagation of ideas, both good and bad. Critical thinking must be applied to weed through the chaff and we fail miserably at that.

I posted on my Facebook page about an article pointing out how photographers can take pictures a certain way that skews perception. Photogs will take a picture of a beach that shows it overcrowded and people not complying with social distancing, but when you look at it from another angle, everyone is pretty much compliant. The same thing happens with news articles and opinion pieces by media agencies. They'll spin a story in one direction, omitting important context and you've got people wanting heads to roll.

In the age of the internet, we've gotten lazy with thinking and when looking for answers. We reach for the article at the top of the page that has been positioned there by an algorithm. News articles show up in our Facebook feeds, chosen by algorithms and most of the time these algorithms don't pick it because it's factual. It's picked because it may have key words that might fit your demographic or you might find it interesting, though most of the time I don't think Facebook even really knows me.

We don't look to experts for guidance anymore, we look to Hollywood celebrities, athletes and Youtube stars. Facts be damned!

To weed out the bad ideas, we have to learn to become critical thinkers. Of course, critical thinking was never formally taught in school, at least not mine, but we are taught some critical thinking tenets. They just aren't labeled as such. After you grow up and get out of school you get lazy. You've got a job, family, kids. Or a nightlife. Or some other stress. Thinking! Ain't got time for that. So we rely on websites like Facebook and Twitter to do our fact-checking for us. As a society, a community, or a responsible citizen we should put on our big pants and do what it takes to form our own opinions and make our own decisions. That means search and find relevant articles from reputable news services. Apply a little critical thinking and come up with our own results. But that's hard work and few people are willing to put in the time to do that. It's just easier to share something that we've seen online.

I remember sitting across from a gentleman a few tables away at a restaurant recently and listening to him repeat pretty much everything I've seen on Facebook already. Not a single idea that was his own. Of course, he was a little liquored up but I'm sure it wouldn't have been any different if he was sober. We've become meme repeaters and we as a society are turning into the movie Idiocracy.

All I ask is that when faced with an article of news, just take a second to ask yourself a few questions. First of all, who published this? There are so many fake news sites that sometimes it's hard to distinguish them from the real news and it seems that some real news sites have an agenda. If it's a meme and it's touting that someone did something, then for Pete's sake, search and see if anyone else is reporting it. The first big clue is just that statement, "No one else is reporting on this!" Well, that's probably because it's not factual. Check it!

This has kind of turned into a rant, which was not my intention, but times have changed over the years and especially now, we need to embrace critical thinking and work our brains a little more. Below are a few articles to help you in this endeavor. One is a sort of cheat sheet and the other is for instilling critical thinking in kids. In fact, that one is just as good for adults as well. Enjoy!





Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Murder Hornets Ain't Got Nothing On The Murder Frogs

Movie Poster for Frogs (1972)
Just look whose in this movie!
My daughter and I took a walk right after sunset. I've got a bad back and so when she decided she wanted to take the long way, I reminded her that I needed to take the short route.

"Honey, we need to go this way so if Daddy's back gives out I don't have to crawl so far. Plus, in that direction you can hear the Murder Frogs and they will eat you one leg at a time. Just like we do them."

No argument over direction.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Staying in Touch!

White square highlights my camera
used as a webcam with the
DroidCamPro app for Android.
With everyone staying home because of the present situation we find ourselves in, most people are either using their computers and webcams to do work from home, staying in touch with co-workers, or keeping in touch with family and friends.

Below are two articles that I came across that I think could benefit all parties. The first is from the Dropbox Blog and is about how to rock the conference video meeting, but can be of benefit to anyone using webcams for staying in touch.

A BBC reporter on how to be a video conference rock star


This next link is how to use an old cell phone as a camera. I have two webcams and a DLSR that I use as cameras, but that camera on my phone is pretty sweet, too. I use the free version of DroidCamPro and it works great.

Zoom, Google Meet, Teams: Can't get a webcam? That old phone in a drawer can help.

Hope this helps you when you are communicating with work or friends and family.


Monday, March 2, 2020

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Aside from major events like marriage and the birth of the Kid, we made a really big change last month. We moved out of the Dallas area, but stayed in East Texas. Kind of like shouting distance from DFW. We couldn't move any further than that, otherwise the grandparents, and the Girl Scout troop leader would have had my hide. We're still close enough that we can visit and not take a day to travel to do it.

But we're even closer to my parents now. Mom is just down the road about 10 miles and Daddy is about 35 minutes away, half the distance that he was. Hopefully, as they get older, I'll be close enough to help out around the house for them.

There were several benefits that we looked to capitalize on by moving to the country and a smaller town. The cost of living is way down. My apartment that I'm in now is about $500 cheaper and just as nice, if not nicer than the one in Dallas. We are approximately five blocks from downtown Winnsboro, Texas. I can get out and walk without having to cross hazardous streets. There are trees everywhere! No traffic! Lilly can ride her bike all over creation and I'm looking to get one for me and then we'll start our own bike gang. The stars at night are gorgeous and I'm preparing my telescope as the evenings warm up. There are several lakes in the area. Plus,  there is just something about the country. Yes, there is a train about five-hundred yards away and it passes at three or four in the morning, but it's a train. I love trains. The church down the street chimes every half hour or so. I love that sound. It's just a whole different world and I missed it and I'm glad that I'm back in it!

As the days go on, I'll start introducing you to my new town and maybe you'll want to come and visit yourself.