Saturday, August 30, 2008

What I'm Up To

Last night I went to watch my first high school football game of the year. Canyon Eagles versus the Andrews Mustangs. My nephew is a senior this year and starts on Canyon's defensive line. He played well despite being double team most of the time. He did especially well in the second half when his size and strength began to wear down his opponents. The only down side to his game was when he took a 15 yard personal foul late in the first half for a blow to the opposing Quarterback's head.

Here is what an article about the Texas Panhandle's top recruits has to say about him ...

Josh Risner, Canyon

Senior, defensive tackle, 6-3, 275

Scouting report: Missed some time as a junior with an injury, but has the size and strength to be an interior force.

If you happen to know any college recruiters whisper his name in their ear.


What else is new? I have to work all three days of the long weekend. yes, even Monday. And you thought all postal employees got the holiday off.

I've been writing a new short story but I keep going back and forth on whether it should be told in first or third person.

Still trying to decide what my next novel length project will be. I actually have far more idea than I do time to write them.

I have been querying for my comedic novel, Plundered Booty. I've managed a few partial requests and one full but overall response times from agents have been slow in coming. Maybe things will pick up now that summer is almost history.

I've done a crappy job of keepin up with my blog reading as of late, so I'll try and pop around to your sites sometime over the next few days. Adios for now.

Friday, August 29, 2008

God Hates Who?

I told those that follow me via twitter that I'd blog about my being called the anti-christ by one of my coworkers, but that is rather a long story and I'm not quite up to it today, so I'm going to tell a shorter one along the same lines.

I work with a handful of people whose political and religious leaning are to the far right. I also work with some who are just as far to the left, but most of us, myself include are somewhere in the middle. One of my flaws is the fact i like to argue. A good debate keeps your min alive and when you are toiling between the windowless, cinder block walls of a governmental agency all day you need to infuse all the excitement into the job you can. More than once I've sparked a robust discussion by taking the contrarian stance to someone opinion even though I sort of agreed with them. It's a lot more fun to play devil's advocate.

There is one particular fellow that likes to argue as much as me. 99% of the time we get along just fine but we have had some doozy debates over the years. He is a staunch Republican, and a strong believer in the religious right. Today, I'll tell you about the first time I made him mad enough to spit.

A few years back a tornado hit the small town of Happy, Texas which is just a bit south of Amarillo. Here is a picture (see note at bottom) of that very storm.

The next day the newspaper headline read something like ... Tornado Kills Two In Happy Trailer Park.

The smaller story at he bottom of the page was about the same twister destroying the community's Baptist Church.

My coworker was reading the first story at the break table and had the paper folded so that I could see the other story while sitting opposite of him. It was upside down but I could still read the Headline. Tornado Demolishes Baptist Church.

Right about now my work buddy says of the article about the husband and wife who died in their single-wide trailer house, "This is further proof that God hates mobile homes."

I chime in and point to the other article, "He must hate Baptists too."

I was simply using the same logic as my coworker, but needless to say he wasn't amused.

I probably should point out I was raised attending a Baptist Church and most of my family are still Baptists. I find it funny that people often get the maddest when you turn their own words or logic back on them.

What's the maddest you ever made a coworker?

By the way the above tornado picture came from a website called Tempest Tours. If you ever wanted to be a storm chaser and chase down a tornado give them a visit to learn how you can.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Think I'm Pregnant

Sure laugh at that title all you want but look at the evidence.

1. My gut is swollen up like three day old roadkill. Sure it's been that way a decade but maybe I have a long gestation cycle.

2. For the last week I've been hungry all the time. Even after a Vegas buffet I was hungry a half hour later. this fact has greatly added to fact number one by the way.

3. I have odd cravings. How else do you explain that I spent nearly four bucks in the vending machines at work so I could have peanuts floating inside my bottle of Coke. The salty fizz was quite tasty yet it did not satisfy fact number 2.

4. As of yet I haven't cried for no apparent reason, but I did feel queasy this morning. Then again I feel that way every morning that I have to crawl out of bed and head to work.

5. I haven't been able to get comfortable at night and therefore haven't been sleeping well.

6. My bladder seems to be shrinking as I've had to get up several times a night the last week or so which has only added to the dilemma in number 5.

I would take a leak on one of those fancy sticks but I'm half afraid of what the results will be.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Smell Pigskin

This afternoon I make my debut as a head football coach. I've assisted an a dozen teams over the years but this season I am the man for the juggernaut St Mary's Catholic School 2nd grade flag football squad. Should be a lot of fun. We might not win a game, but I'll consider the season a success if everyone is smiling after the last game.

Now off to a meme that Steph tagged me with and since it' s been awhile since I did one.

The rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag six bloggers by linking.
5. Leave a comment for each blogger.

This isn't an easy chore since by now I've discussed most of my quirks, but here goes anyway. I'm keeping to a single theme.

1. I'm a mean video game football player. Madden or NCAA football by EA sports. Go ahead challenge but I'll warn you I like to run up the score, yes even on my seven year old. I have no mercy when the controller is in my sweaty palm.

2. I play fantasy football and have every year since 1991. Yes I am one of those guys.

3. Despite my tenure as a high school football ref I continue to curse the refs whenever I feel they have slighted either my beloved Nebraska Cornhusker or New Orleans Saints.

4. I once heckled Deion Sanders from the top tier of the Superdome. He played for the Cowboys at the time and the place was virtually empty. He was out there long before the other players to test his sore toe and I was fueled by one too many Blackened Voodoo Dixie Lagers and I harassed him until he shot me the bird. I was satisfied once I knew he'd heard my robust critique.

5. Back in my younger days I sued to wager as much as $1500 dollars a weekend on college and pro football. and this was at a time when I only earned a fourth that much each week. Those were in the days I worked at the feed store and I stopped when my boss, who bet twice what I did, got subpoenaed after our bookie was arrested.

6. While in Vegas last week I bet a whopping ten dollars on the Saints to win the Superbowl this year. Should they actually pull that off I'll get $160 dollars back.

So tell me, are you a football fan? College, NFL, or both? Who do you root for?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Soaring -- A My Town Monday Post

This statue stands in the main concourse of Amarillo's airports. It is there to honor this man.

Rick Husband was born in Amarillo on July 12th, 1957. He attended Belmar Elementary, Crockett Junior High and Amarillo High School graduating in 1975. After college at Texas Tech University he entered the US Air Force as a commissioned officer where he became a test pilot and flew a variety of aircraft until being selected by NASA in 1994 to enter their training and evaluation program. In 1999 he fulfilled a life long dream and was among the Space Shuttle Discovery crew that made the first ever docking with the International Space Station.

January of 2003 Rick Husband left on his second space mission as Commander of STS-107. Sixteen day later he and his Columbia crew perished in the skies above Texas when their spacecraft disintegrated upon reentry.

Today the Amarillo airport's official name is is Rick Husband International Airport in honor of our local boy's accomplishments. His death as well as the others on Columbia was a great tragedy, but some soalce can be taken by the fact they died while living out their dream. May we all be so lucky when our time comes.


Linda McLaughlin -- Anaheim, California
Britta Coleman -- Stuck somewhere between Fort Worth and Denton, Texas
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada (Be sure and read all five parts if you can)
Reb -- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
PreTzel -- Des Moines, Iowa
Barrie Summy -- Niagra Falls, Canada
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Mary Nix - Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Davis Cranmer -- Cameroon, West Africa
Lyzzydee -- Delft, Netherlands
J.L. Krueger -- Kabul, Afghanistan
Debra -- Peninsula, Ohio
Theresa Meyers -- Port Orchard, Washington
Kimberly Willis Holt -- Amarillo, Texas
Clair Dickson -- Brighton, Michigan

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Do I look like heathen? Does the goatee make it appear as if my soul is in peril? Maybe it's the devilishness glint in my eye? Or my substantial belly. I guess it does speak of my gluttonous tendencies, but all in all I like to think I'm a decent enough fellow.

But apparently I look in need of salvation. I shall explain.

There I was this morning. Watching my money disappear as I gassed up at the Pak-N-Sak. Made me feel like I was back in Vegas for a few minutes.

Anyway, there were half a dozen other people doing the same as well as a handful of people trudging inside for their morning coffee or 32. oz carbonated wake up drink of choice. A rattle trap green car pulls right up next to me in the middle of the gas pumps. Inside is five young guys all dressed in suits. One pops out of the back seat and hands me magazine. "The Lord's word," he said.

I glanced at the magazine as he handed it to me. WATCHTOWER, the literature of choice from the Jehovah Witness religion.

As I see what it is I say, "No thanks, I'm Catholic." Not a complete lie since at this point I'm as close to Catholic as anything. My wife and boys are Catholic and it is the only church service I've attended for years, and should I ever feel the calling, it will be the religion I reach out for.

The young solicitor gave me a hard look at my reply, snatched the Lord's word from my hand. He got back in the car and the whole crew exited the convenience store lot and left. They didn't approach another person. Not before, during or after their failed attempt to douse my fiery soul.


Did I appear to be the only sinner in the lot? Were they going to try and convert others but my answer drove them away? Did they fear they had wandered into a hot bed of Catholicism? Maybe they thought I was going to offer them a beer, invite them to next months sausage and bingo fest? Who knows? But I sure know what my standard line will be next time they approach.

Maybe being in Vegas for a week stained me with sin somehow only the righteous can detect? Now there is a scary thought. I'd hate to think there is some kind of anti-halo hovering above my noggin. I suppose it would glow red and flash like those three X's above those truck stop adult bookstores along the interstate.

Or maybe it's more blunt and gives a direct indicator to the owners recent sins? Maybe I have a glowing red dollar sign for the gambling I did, or perhaps a hazy, three-quarters full rum bottle spins lazily above my head visible only to the pure of heart, body and soul.

Who knows what that car load of guys saw that propelled them to stop and single me out. I just hope there's room above me for all those wicked shapes. Must look like a card table at a yard sale by this point.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taking the Easy Way

I''m not feeling all that creative today so I'll post a few things others have created and get out of the way. I spotted this over on Linda McLaughlin's blog and thought I'd play along as well.

You Are Fencing

You're competitive but not brutally so. You compete to make yourself better.

You find having an opponent to be challenging and rewarding.

You are fierce when you're in a competition, but you don't wish your rivals any real harm.

All in all I'd say it's a fairly accurate description.

The comedy show was great last night, especially Daniel Kinno and the headliner Rondell Sheridan. You may recognize Sheridan since he's starred in several TV shows for the Disney Channel as well as other projects.

Kinno has a new CD coming out soon and he was hilarious though a bit edgier than Sheridan. Here's a little clip of him I got from his website. Check him out of you get the chance. There is a bit of language and sexual content so keep that in mind before you give it a watch. He had me laughing last night with some of this same material.

Live at the Fillmore Theatre from danielkinno on Vimeo.

And after the show Lady Luck was kind enough to show me a bit of favor. Which means I'm itching to get out there tonight and see how things go. I'm going to play one last Hold 'Em tournament before I fly home. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Funny Bone

Day five of seven here in Vegas.

Despite the fact I enjoy the town I'm starting to make tick marks on the side of the video poker machines to count down until I leave. A week here is too long. Tonight I have ticket for the Improv at Harrah's casino. I have not been doing much winning this trip and therefor though my evening would be better served laughing rather than crying.

I enjoy live comedy and I applaud anyone who can stand up before a crowd (an inebriated crowd in lots of cases) and deliver material they created. Writers at least are afforded a bit of time and space before their babies are judged and reviewed. A comedian's mental offering are up for immediate appraisal.

Sometimes in my crazier, or more insane moments I imagine that I could be a comedian. I make people laugh on a fairly regular basis and sometimes I even do it intentionally. I have a habit of noting the unnoticed as do many stand-ups. I'm not afraid of people or public speaking. I have read my fiction in front of groups of various sides and truly it doesn't frighten me much anymore.

And I'd love to make a living spouting off my ideas and thoughts, but guess what? If given a choice, become the next Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy, or Ron White. (make no mistake I'd fall into that Blue Collar Crowd type of humor), or the next Carl Hiasson, John Grisham, or Nicholas Sparks I'm joining my literary brothers.

I'd rather hammer out my diatribes in solitude than under the glare of lights. If I want a drunk heckler to point out my creative shortcomings, I'd rather print out a page and let my wife read it while I refill her wine glass. That means I'm never likely to get my own sitcom, but that's okay, because I've got my own blog.

Political Reporter Travis, Chiming In

This is the first of two posts I'm putting forth this afternoon. I really try to focus this blog on me, my life, my pursuits to peddle my fiction, and life as I live it. In a way I present myself on here much int he way I would present a fictional character in a book. I try to stay out of the mundane as well as my political and philosophical views on all issues of importance. Yeah call me a chicken, but I choose not to use my voice hear as a means dive into politics, religion, or many other explosive issues.

However, that disclaimer aside this post is political because I've had several comments and emails from those expressing to hear details of the speech Presidential hopeful Barack Obama deliver to the delegation of the American Postal Workers Union today. Senator Obama did not appear before the body of us in person but rather via live video.

Obama was welcomed by standing crowd that was already shouting YES WE CAN under the direction of APWU president William Burress. The candidate's first big reaction came when he said that under the Bush administration the Department of Labor had become the Department of Management. He promised to change that by making certain to appoint those friendly to workers not CEO's to those positions.

Obama's other pledges were to end tax breaks for companies that use overseas labor. He vowed to strengthen the protection afforded by the Family Medical Leave Act and to end the trend of privatization of all public service jobs.

Perhaps his biggest cheers came when he said he would be a president that would not choke on the word UNION. To that front he guaranteed his support of the Employee Free Choice Act which is an important piece of literature regarding unions and their rights and ability to organize.

That's it in a nutshell. Will post a blog more along my normal lines shortly.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Given a few of the comments and questions about my purpose here in Vegas I though maybe I'd better spell things out. I am not here on behalf of the United States Postal Service. The money you spent on stamps is not funding my trip. Nor does my employer endorse particular political candidates. I work for the U.S. Postal Service, but I am a member, an elected official, and a shop steward for the Amarillo Local #114 of the American Postal Workers Union. It is through the dues paying members that I am in Las Vegas serving as a delegate to the national APWU convention. It is the national body of that labor Union that has endorsed Barack Obama as they feel he will best represent the ideal and beliefs of the working class in this country.

And here y'all thought I was just screwing off and having fun while your mail was being delayed.

Also I wanted to point out to the world that frequent commentor to this blog and fine blogger and writer in her own right, Danette Haworth's debut novel for young readers was released today.

Check out Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning when you get the chance. I'm waiting for my copy to come in the mail right now. Of course it would arrive sooner of there wasn't more than three thousand of us rabble-rousing union workers away from our workstations.

Take a Walk In My Booze Splashed Shoes

I am a gambler. I've said it before, but if ever a vice lands me under an overpass with only cardboard and magic marker as my writing tools it will be that that adrenaline rush of excitement I get anytime I risk a part of myself. I am not alone in my addiction. The shiny lights of the Vegas strip are powered by the millions of dollars spent gambling here. Some know when to say enough and push away from the table or slot, some do not. don't worry I am still on the right side of that equation.

I like rum. Free rum is even better. Except like in life, nothing is ever really free in Vegas. You generally have to be partaking in vice number one from above to be afforded much in the way of "free" rum.

I like Vegas. Duh given what Ive already told y'all. But guess what? I haven't mentioned the thing about the city I like best. In truth I could play poker, and do often enough right in Amarilllo, even while at my trusty keyboard. I could and have bet on sports away from Nevada. (okay not legally, but the opportunity still abounds) I can afford to buy my own rum so what is about Vegas that suckers me in? Glad you asked.

It's the mob. No, I'm not talking about Italian guys in expensive suits. I talking mob in the purest sense. The many varied, crazy, whacked out, friendly, naive, hustling, awestruck, jaded, friendly, angry, people that live work, visit and meander through Vegas.

The people from all over the world that congregate and blend together to outshine every marquee on the strip. As a writer, they are brain food for me.

A recap of my day here at the American Postal Worker National Conference and out and about in Vegas.

9 AM -- Noon- I listened to speeches from 4 different Union presidents, 2 US congressmen, and half a dozen other high ranking labor officials. Sure they all said much of the same thing, (the American worker is under attack and only Obama can protect us) but listening to these vivacious speakers and seeing the reaction they illicit from a people who span the country is a eye-opening regardless of your political beliefs. Barack Obama is schedule to directly address the assembly himself via video on Wednesday.

Noon- 230 PM- Took part in the state caucus for delegates from Texas to decide which way the state body leaned on certain issues regarding our national labor contract. Debate is another one of my favorite things and it is always interesting to see what spars emotion in others.

4ish- Took a taxi ride with what I can only describe as a Greek philosopher. For nearly twenty minutes the man spoke in his heavy Greek accent about his theory on life , gambling, drugs, sex, doctors, lawyers, and people who drive fancy cars. I say theory because he only had one that applies to all things in this world. His theory -- We are shaped by our very first experience of something.

A gambler who wins his first bet will always be a gambler regardless if he never wins again and winds up living in under the above mentioned overpass. Drugs or booze he said you basically became an addict if you enjoyed your first drunk or high. He said everyone likes sex because you can't really have bad sex unless you are forced and in his words those people will always be screwed up and never really find out what they are missing. According to Jimmy the Greek doctors and lawyers are all educated assholes whose joy in seeing human suffering stems from being left in their cribs alone as infants. His words not mine, so don't sue me. And guys with fancy cars are those who got told no by the girls they asked out in high school. Girls int eh same cars are just whores as best I could figure but by the time he got to that point he seemed quite agitated and the accent harder to understand. Interesting and somewhat expensive ride, but you can bet some of his diatribe will wind up in my fiction down the line.

8 PM until Midnight - I played in a poker tournament. I finished fifth, but could have done better had I not screwed up a few hands there at the end. But along the way I sat by a very good player from France who finished third, an obnoxious blowhard from Miami who cursed my good name upon his exit, a lovely lady from Canton, Ohio though I must confess she seemed to have trouble keeping her girls under wraps. maybe she was trying to distract my play I don't know. I outlasted her so I guess it didn't work. there were others as well from Atlanta, Baton Rouge, England, and of course the homer from Vegas who boldly calls himself a professional and tosses poker lingo around like a fat man does crab shells at he many all you can eat buffets. These guys never seem to be as good as they think but they are part of the scene that makes Vegas my kind of town ... to visit that is. Living here would not be good for my mind, body, or soul.

And how was your Monday?

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Blast From The Past - My Town Monday

A fifteen minute car ride south of Amarillo gets you to the town of Canyon, Texas. Canyon is home to West Texas A&M University and on the corner of that very campus you will find the largest history museum in Texas, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum.

The museum pays hearty homage to the area and it's inhabitants through the ages from the creatures of old to the dynamics of the people today. As a former student at WTA&M I have strolled the displays often but last Thursday I went to see a specific display on temporary loan.

As a hunter, a proud Texan who fully understands the pivotal role firearms played into the formation and foundation of the west, and a person who believes in the 2nd amendment to the constitution, I was eager to see this display and learn more about Samuel Colt's legacy.

I won't go into details of the man's legacy but he took gun manufacturing and technology to new heights and much material can be found about his accomplishments. Nor do I wish to go into the politics of gun rights and ownership for this post. So let's take a closer look at the the display and museum.

My first reaction. Utter disappointment. Not only was the price of admission increased because of the display but no pictures were allowed of the colt artifacts and while I found certain items intriguing my expectations were not met. I wanted to see more items of historical significance, more story behind the items on display and less on the when and chronology of the way Colt formed his legacy. I already knew many of these tidbits. And while there was a nice collection of firearms from the colt's personal collection the items on display were no better than Panhandle Plains Historical Museum's normal display on weaponry, of which I will get to later.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but that display aside, I a wonderful day at the museum with my wife and young sons. It's always fun to watch them learn and discover new things. Let me take along.

PPHM pays considerable homage to the oil and gas heritage of the Texas Panhandle and to that affect there is a huge oil pump rig that stretches both floors of the facility. It is visible from the street via the glass front. Here is the base.

As expected my boys were excited by the dinosaurs and impressive displays of skeletal fossils. Most of which were unearthed in the Panhandle area.

Without the windmill, the early settlers never could have sustained life and livestock in this area.

As I stated PPHM has a nice display of weaponry and many of the pieces give detailed descriptions of the former owner or owners an the weapons involvement in their life. (click to enlarge the last picture of the.45 peacemaker revolver to see what I mean) The writer in me likes those little details. They get my mind to churning and I can better visualize the time and place. From the outlaw west days up to WWII the museum has guns, knives, swords, and bayonets on display. The place is a goldmine for any historical researcher wanted to get good visuals and a sense of how things were.

There are many more displays and various art galleries but for the sake of brevity and my readers eyes I will wait and do a second post on the museum in a future installment of My Town Mondays.


Robyn - Sacramento, California
Penelope the Cat -- Houston, Texas
Patti Abbott- Detroit, Michigan
Debra - Peninsula, Ohio
Reb - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Terrie Farley Moran - New York City, New York
Mary Nix - Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada
Gina Black - Santa Monica California
Joshua - St Louis, Missouri
Kimberly Willis Holt - Around the block in Amarillo,Texas
PreTzel - Branson, Missouri
Barrie Summy - Killbear Provencial park, Canada
David Cranmer - Cameroon, West Africa
Clair Dickson - Ann Arbor, Michigan

Friday, August 15, 2008


Tomorrow I head back to Vegas. Six days this time on "Official" or at least work-related business. Pray that both my liver and my bank account can take a week's worth of Sin City abuse.

My buddy that went to Seattle a few weeks brought me this magnet for my roll around toolbox at work.

The picture isn't super clear but it says WORK is for people who don't now how to PLUNDER. I'm starting to acquire a good collection of paraphernalia that plays off the word Plunder, but the one I really crave is a published novel bearing my name and the words Plundered Booty, but of course I wouldn't be one to argue of said publisher told me they were changing the name to Tampered Hiney or even Stolen Derriere though in my opine that is a bit too French sounding for a bunch of retched car dealers from Oklahoma.

What else is on my mind today?

The Olympics for one thing. I know millions of people enjoy it but I simply cannot get into all the gymnastic hub-bub. Matter of fact I take issue with any and all sporting events that are decided solely by a judge's score card. Gymnastics, diving, figure skating, ballroom dancing. I can appreciate the grace, skill, and even athleticism involved, but I much prefer head-to-head battle.

That is not to say I wasn't rooting for the two American girls, Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson last night, but I'd like to see a bit more boxing (yes I know it often comes down to a score card, but at least each combatant has a crack at their opponent) archery, field hockey, judo, wrestling. I want action over artistic impression.

My wife had to head back to school today to get her classroom prepared and the boys go next Thursday. It will be nice to be back in the routine again, though I doubt my wife feels the same.

I will have my laptop with me in Vegas and I plan to blog nearly everyday including a My Town Monday.

So how about y'all? Got any last of summer trips planned. Have a favorite summer Olympic sport NBC isn't showing? When does school start in your area. Received a cool gift lately?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Messing Around

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Just playing around with word clouds. The one from above is taken from my recently completed novel, Plundered Booty's, introduction.

And this one comes from the last chapter.

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And since I'm just screwing around today here is a cell phone snapshot of my highly nutritional lunch.

A handful of pills for my bout with poison ivy, a package of chocolate donuts, and a good Ol' DP to wash it all down. Yum.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Me I Used To Be

Last night my family and I stretched out on the trampoline in our backyard to watch the Perseids meteor shower. It was a little cloudy and the the moon was so bright that the shooting stars were hard to spot but we did manage to see a few.

While the star gazing wasn't quite as spectacular as we'd hoped the time prone of my did get me thinking to days gone by. As a kid I lived on my trampoline and lying there next to my boys took me back twenty plus years to all the nights I spent stretched out on the canvas in a sleeping bag chatting with my buddies.

Hardly a week went by in the summer when two three or four of my buddies didn't sleep over under the stars. We talked -- about girls, we would never impress but thought we could, about what we would do once we turned 18 or twenty one, where we would live, what job we would have. Sometimes we told scary stories that would get under our skin and drive us inside, though being boys we never admitted fear. We would nonchalantly say it looked like rain or that the wind was coming up, or the moon was too bright to actually sleep, though in reality very little sleep ever took place.

And one time me and my buddies spotted a burglar breaking into the house. that one scared us and we snuck inside to call the cops. They police showed up quickly and the guy was caught in the act but we always feared the burglar would find out we snitched on him and the outside sleepovers were always a bit fearful after that as we speculated the guy would come back to enact his revenge.

And of course me and my buddies played truth or dare. We have mooned passing motorist, streaked down the alley in front of cars, egged and toilet papered the house of those we didn't like. Snuck over to girls houses to tap on their windows only to be chased off. Yep, there are a lot of stories from thsoe days and last night I enjoyed remembering them and my friends as I stared into the heavens.

One of those friends who was nearly always there was this guy. Tomorrow is is his birthday. He doesn't have comments enable on his blog anymore but there is an email address. If you get the chance drop him a well wish and tell him Travis sent you. I remember one of our late night conversations under the stars where Jason said he wanted to name his kids shithead and dumb ass just so the teachers would have to say those words while taking roll and that he would have a chance to go out on the porch and call their name. Well he does have two kids but thankfully they have other names. Probably the truth of the matter that as teenagers he and I should have been called shit head and dumb ass. I'll leave y'all to speculate which moniker better fit me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Big TWO-FIVE -- A My Town Monday Post

Today marks my 25th My Town Monday post. First let me thank the 46 names below who have humored me and posted at least one blog entry about their town. If I missed someone please let me know. I wanted to incorporate links but it became a logistical nightmare so you'll have to google them if you want to visit their blogs. Most also appear on my rotating blog roll on the right hand side so wait to see their name and you can follow a link from there. Many of y'all have blogged about different places but I tried to go with the place I most associate them with.

David Cranmer -- Rayne, Louisiana
Robyn - - San Francisco, California

Reb -- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Karen Alaniz - Walla Walla, Washington
J.L. Krueger -- Kabul, Afghanistan
PreTzel -- Garden Grove, Iowa
Packsaddle -- Uhland, Texas
Alyssa Goodnight -- Houston, Texas
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Nan Higginson -- New York, NY
JenKneeBee -- Twin Cities, Minnesota
Gina Black -- Los Angeles, California
Cameron Williams -- San Diego, California
Laura Curtis -- New Yotk, NY
Linda Mclaughlin -- Anaheim, California
Clare2E -- New York, New York
Shauna Roberts -- Riverside California
Claire Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan

Lois Karlin -- New York, NY
Cicily Janus -- Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jason Scott Adams --Sugar Creek, Missouri
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Tiggysmum70 -- Louisville, Ohio.
Josephine Damian -- New Rochelle, New York
Ello --Brooklyn, New York
Laura Kramarsky -- East Hampton, New York.
The Anti-Wife --Southern Illinois.
Sex Scenes At Starbucks -- The Colorado high country.

Terrie Farley Moran - New York City
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California.
Stephen Parrish -- Bad Kreuznach, Germany.
DebbieLou -- Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshsire England
Carleen Brice -- Denver, Colorado
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England.

Wordvixen -- Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Pattinase -- Detroit, Michigan
Suv Mama -- Seattle. Washington.

Lana Gramlich -- Abita Springs, Louisiana
Merry Monteleone -- Cicero, Illinois
Polka Dot Witch -- Castleton-on Hudson, New York
Patti-O -- San Angelo, Texas
Carleen Brice -- Denver, Colorado
Sarai -- Kansas City, Kansas
Alex Keto -- Globetrotter
Britta Coleman -- Fort Worth, Texas

My goal in starting My Town Monday was to fins out more about my fellow bloggers and the various places we call home. I also wanted to eventually get at least one post about each of our fifty states as well as posts from at least that many countries. I'm not there yet, but I still hope to get there eventually. Patti Abbot has been the most prolific participant but may of you have participated nearly every week I hope you continue to do so and I hope you encourage some of your readers to join in and tell us about some new places as well. In that spirit I'm doing a meme-esque post this week. A fill in the blank type of My Town Monday that anyone could readily use by simply plugging in the facts about their town.

HOMETOWN (past, present, or future - your choice) -- Amarillo, Texas

POPULATION -- 183,021

YOU SHOULD THINK OF MY TOWN WHEN ... You eat beef. One quarter of the United States beef supply is process in the Texas Panhandle and much of that comes from locally raised cattle as well.

YOU SHOULD CUSS MY TOWN WHEN ... You hear the grating sound of Dr. Phil's voice. Yes, Amarillo is to blame for Oprah's so-called life guru even though he is not an Amarilloan. If you missed the very first MTM from me, click here to read the details.

ONE MUST SEE IF YOU VISIT -- Nearby, Palo Duro Canyon State Park

ONE PLACE YOU SHOULD AVOID -- Any chain restaurant along the interstate. Lots better food abounds if you are willing to venture off the well lit path. My local flavored favorites. El Bracero Mexican grill on both Grand and Bell streets. Barnaby's Beanery and The Golden Light both serve great burgers on Sixth street as does the Coyote Bluff Cafe on Grand. And the Stockyard Cafe serves up a fine steak right in the same building where they sell live cattle every Tuesday.

FAMOUS RESIDENT -- I've listed many over the weeks but I'll throw out a name that has been in the news a lot lately because of the energy situation in this country. T Boone Pickens is a shrewd businessman who grew up and lived in Amarillo for a number of years. His name generally draws frowns in town these days as he seems intent to take what little water we have in this area and funnel in down to the Dallas/FT Worth area.

RENOWNED ATHLETE -- Since the Olympics are going on I'll go with Brandon Slay who won the gold medal at the summer games of 2000 in Sydney, Australia. Brandon actually lost the gold medal match in controversial fashion to a German wrestler named Alexander Leipold, but Leipold then tested positive for steroids and Brandon was awarded the gold medal during a broadcast of the Today show on NBC. Brandon graduated from Tascosa High School here in Amarillo the same year as my wife Jennifer.

WITHOUT MY TOWN, THE WORLD WOULD NOT HAVE ... The goatee saver. This little creation comes from the mind of Amarilloan Scott Bonge. It is a template to help you maintain the perfectly manicure goatee. No I do not use the product because my goat is a bit broader than his design. I go for the bushier pirate style of goat, but if he wants to give me one I'll try it out in a live webcast for you viewing pleasure.

I LIVE IN MY TOWN BECAUSE ... I was born here and I've been too lazy to crawl very far from the crib. Besides, I can't think of a better location for a carnivore such as myself to dwell.

I MIGHT LEAVE ON DAY BECAUSE ... I get sick of the wind blowing fifty miles an hour more days than not, or I become rich and famous and could afford a cabin in the mountains where I could hunt and fish to my heart's content.

Okay, there you have it. A My Town Meme. What better time to join in?


J.L. Krueger -- Kabul, Afghanistan

Linda McLaughlin -- San Francisco, California

Debra -- Peninsula, Ohio

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Joshua -- Columbia, Illinois

Jason Scott Adams -- Sugar Creek, Missouri

Davis Cranmer -- Yaounde, Cameroon, Africa

Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada

Patti Abbott -- Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada

Barrie Summy -- Toronto Canada

Clare2e -- Paris, London, and San Antonio, Texas

Stacy -- Milan, Michigan

Reb -- Whitemud Creek, Canada

Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan

PretZel - Wisconsin Dells

I'm sorry for the slow updates, but I'm battling a re-flareup of my poison ivy and I'm adding these between doctor visits. I now have rash over a substantial part of my body and the doctor seems to think I have a secondary infection that has spawned from my relentless scratching. I'll make the rounds and update when I can.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

This and That

Bear with me but I feel the need to do one of those random catch up type of posts to answer a few questions and get organized.

A few asked me about Twitter. Twitter is sort of like a mini blog. You can post a quick snippet of what is going on (you only have 140 characters so it has to be short) Many make the updates from the cell phone but I haven't made that plunge. basically it just a way to communicate with others via the web or your phone. But you conversations are for the most part visible to all of your friends.

So this time next week I'll be on a place bound for Vegas again. This time on work-related business but I'll manage to squeeze in time to play a bit of poker. I'm also taking my lap top this time so I'll be posting a few times direct from Sin City. I also plan to hit the bookstore and dive back into reading. I've been really lax lately and I've missed the distraction of falling into a good story.


My friend Steve just took a little trip out to Seattle. While looking through the pictures he took I came across this one and made him send it to me so I could put it on here.

Steve was trying to get a shot of The Blue Angels and he was a bit annoyed that this bird got int he way. But it is the bird that I love. Look at it. It's wings are banked at he same angle as the jets as if it is practicing and inspiring to fly as fast and high as they are. That's how I feel some days about my writing. That bird can already fly and I feel like I can write, but dang would it ever be nice to streak through the atmosphere with the big boys.


Guess who showed up in Amarillo this week? Sir Paul McCartney. It ain't everyday a Beatle is spotted tooling around the dry dusty countryside in these parts. You can read the newspaper article here. Or a first person account from my friend and fellow blogger, Bea here.

I know not everyone is a sports fan but I'm excited about both the Olympics (the opening ceremony was stunning in HD) and the fast approaching football season. Here's hoping my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers get back in the groove of winning under new coach Bo Pelini. On the NFL side i root for the New Orleans Saints which isn't always easy to do living in the heart of Cowboy country, but I can't stand Jerry Jones.


Ont eh writing front I'm working on a few short stories and seeing how things go with Plundered Booty before diving into another novel project. But I do have several ideas for what comes next. Soon as one speaks louder than the rest I get back to work on what will be my fifth novel.

What going on in y'alls world?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Happy, Joy Joy

I've often heard people say ... "It was the happiest day of my life."

Well, I've got a confession. I can't say that about any particular day or event.

I can rather easily tell you when I was my angriest, saddest, proudest, or most scared. Matter of fact, for just about any emotion you come up with I can tell you the date, time, and place of my most extreme emotional output -- except for happiness. And I'm not sure why.

It's not that I'm not capable of happiness. Actually I am happy 99% of the time. I tend to be a glass-half-full kind of guy who doesn't let all the small gunk of life cloud my view.

If anything I'm guilty of being to sure that something good is just a stone's throw away. I'm quite the Polly Anna in that fashion.

I know a lot of parents will say that the births of their kids count as their ultimate moments of happiness, and I do cherish both of my boys, but confession time again. Their actual births were nerve racking affairs of futility for me. I hate to worry, but that is all I did those days.

Both boys were C-sections. The second planned, the first not. Being a life long hunter who processes his own meat, the blood and what not didn't bother me, but watching a doctor dig in my wife's innards isn't exactly a zen moment either. And then trying to check on her, tend to a squalling bundle of placenta covered joy, listening to her doctor's instruction, the boys pediatrician, the nurses, ... all while family and friends chimed in ...

Well it was stressful as hell for me. I count the days and weeks later when it was just my family at home, when the boys cooed softly or opened the eyes to stare up at them as I fed them, or the first time a soft baby fist reached up to brush my stubbled cheek. Those are all much happier times than the big event everyone else seems to describe as wondrous and miraculous and the happiest day of their lives.

Yeah I know as a dutiful husband I could say my happiest time was my wedding day. But I'd be lying. I love my wife and will forever consider myself lucky to have found a gorgeous and intelligent woman blind enough to overlook my many faults, but again the stress and pressure of that day keeps it from being my definitive moment of joy. The demands of trying to talk to every family member and friend I have, while decked out in fancy but uncomfortable duds, smiling for a thousand pictures many from an extremely irritable photographer, while waiting for everyone to go home so ... well I won't go into that.

Anyway I have so many fond memories with Jennifer that I couldn't possible designate one as my most happy time.

There was my big plan to propose at the top of a mountain, but halfway up she was out of breath and gasping from lack of oxygen, as was I, so that my visions of the sun reflecting off her diamond ring atop a majestic mountain peak, actually became a yes under the shadowy pine covered side of a mountain slope.

There are the thousands of whispered conversation we've had and still continue to have each night as we lay in bed and talk about our day.

There are the trips we've taken together, to New Orleans, Vegas, the mountains, to beaches. The many songs that remind me of her for a jillion different reasons. The memory that I ate spaghetti for supper every other day for the first month we were married. Not one of those memories overrides all the others.

Maybe my most happy moment is yet to come. Maybe I'm holding out for it. Maybe I'll never be able to define it. But I'm not complaining. If this is as good as it gets then I'm still pretty damn lucky, whether I have that one spotlight moment of happiness domination or not.

So how about all of you? Can you define your happiest day?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I accidentally posted a one word post yesterday called MINE that has generated some great comments. I've already exceeded that word count with my explanation but here's my blog to day.


Click on the link to see my profile.

I'm new to twittering and I don't have a firm grasp of the application, but if you twitter look me up. I can already see where it has its advantages. (and of course time suck disadvantages as well)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mine's Bigger

Before I give y'all my lines for Two Line Tuesday, I want you to check something out. A friend of mine googled my name trying to find this blog, but instead he landed on this page. Go ahead click over and have a look. It won't take but a second. Look at the picture. Come one humor me just go look before you continue reading the rest of the this post.

I'll just hum a little while I wait for you to come back. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Isn't that strange? What are the odds that there would be two of us, both writers, though he appears to have a good bit more talents than myself as he can write songs, sing ,and play a variety of instruments, would have such similar pictures. I just thought it a funny coincidence. Also we both have goatees though mine is more of the bushy Sasquatch variety whereas his is more Shaggy-esque. (as in Scooby Doo)

Okay for two lines I've read this week I'm going to cheat a bit and use a quote that plays heavily into my novel, Plundered Booty. It comes from histories most notorious female pirate Anne Bonney and it is said to be her final words to her lover and pirate brethren Calico Jack Rackham just before his hanging.

"I am sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you needn't be hang'd like a dog."

Yeah, I know it's only one line and not two, but I love the quote and like I said it plays a role in my novel. An interesting tidbit is that after Calico Jack was hung, the then governor of Jamaica had Rackham's body gibbeted and caged at the mouth to Port Royal. An ode to that act is shown at the beginning of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie when Johnny Depp's character Captain Jack Sparrow is approaching to he port city near the start of the movie.

And in what will be the final two sentences I post from Plundered Booty for Two Line Tuesdays here is a couple from the last chapter. Matter of fact they are the last two in book.

"They say that good guys never win. They may be right."

So what do y'all think? Do good guys ever win?

Be sure and check out the originators of Two Line Tuesday over at the Women of Mystery Blog.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Taos, New Mexico - A My Kind of Town Monday Post

The word Taos means "People of the Red Willow" in the Tiwa language.

There are actually three different parts to Taos. The actual town, population 4700, the nearby ski valley, and the 1000 year old Taos Pueblo and reservation. For this post, I am only going to focus mostly on the town itself with a few pictures of the surrounding scenery. Here is a shot of the road bewtween Questa, New Mexico and Taos.

Taos came into being as a result of the Spanish conquests of the Indian pueblos in the area. Years of unrest, between the Spanish and the various Indian tribes, occurred until the United States took over the State of New Mexico in 1847. That occupation led to the Taos revolt of which you can read more about here.

In 1899 artists began to settle in the town and they eventually created the Taos Society of Arts. The Taos art scene is very much alive and vibrant to this day. Most of the galleries frown on pictures but here is a shot of a weird creation that I captured through the front glass.

The Taos Plaza also has the distinction of being one of a handful of places congress has granted the right to fly the American flag both night and day. The story goes as such ...

In 1861, Southern sympathizers ripped down the flag over the Plaza. A US Army Captain named Smith Simpson, along with the famed Kit Carson picked the tattered flag up off the ground and nailed it to the top of a tall cottonwood pole and raised it over the Plaza. They threatened to shoot anyone who tried to do the flag harm. Backing up their threat they guarded the flag both day and night. Word spread and congress later granted official permission to fly the flag at Taos Plaza round-the-clock

English novelist, D.H. Lawrence traded the original manuscript of his self-biographical novel Sons and Lovers to New York socialite Maybe Dodge Luhan for a ranch in the area. (Here's hoping I can one day trade one of my manuscripts for a ranch in the mountains.) The author's ashes lie in a memorial bearing his name at the ranch. Lawrence was also an artist. In 1929 thirteen of his paintings were confiscated by London police. Nine of those forbidden painting can be viewed at the La Fonda de Taos.

I could go on and on talking about the various rebel, free spirits and artists who have called Taos home, but the thing I love the most is that the town still has that creative vibe to it. Walking around stories and characters idea fill my head. It is something that has to be experienced as there are no words to capture the town's true essence.

The smell of pinon, the occasional whiff of reefer (Taos was home to two separate Hippie communes back in the 60's) , the pine-filled breeze of the mountains. In Taos, uniqueness is rewarded and favored. The uncommon is applauded, the creative cheered, and the questioning respected. It truly is an artisan's town.

Julia Roberts, Val Kilmer, and Donald Rumsfled (seems like an odd fit, but then again he is said to be an avid fisherman and the area certainly offer that) own homes here.

Now here are a bunch more shots I took from the area. If you get picture overload be sure to scroll down to find the links to this week's My Town Monday participants.

The following bookstore is located right on the square. It is a nice smallish store that sells mostly books of a local flair but they also carry classics and a nice children's selection.

Now this next bookstore is off of the main square. Don't you love that name. They have a nice fiction selection upstairs.

Look what I found. Lottery by fellow blogger Patricia Woods. For those of you who haven't read this novel yet what are you waiting for. It's out in softcover now. Read it you won't be sorry.

Speaking of books. Look what I spotted on a stop sign. I had to circle the block three times before Jennifer got a good shot.

Here is a shot of a Catholic church and an approaching rainstorm.

A shot of my wife's favorite restaurant. She recommends the stuffed sopapilla I prefer the blue corn flower and pinon nut pancakes. But stay away from that nut in the gaudy shirt. (He's my father-in-law)

The last two shots are of the Rio Grande River as viewed from a steel span bridge. Yes, that is the same Rio Grande that eventually separates our country from Mexico. No, I did not hike down there to fish.


J.L. Krueger -- Kabul, Afghanistan

David Cranmer -- Rayne Louisiana
Patti Abbott -- Detroit Michigan
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan
Reb -- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England
WordVixen -- Lititz, Pennsylvania
Clare2E(Women of Mystery) Mamaroneck, New York
PretZel - Saylorville Lake, Iowa
Debra -- Blue Mountain Lake, New York
Barrie Summy -- Fenelon Falls, Ontario