"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Shaking our tree.

- 04 Oct 1957 - SPUTNIK!!!

This little dingbat scared the Hell out of many of us then ...
from citizenship typepad.com

Nothing but a polished metal sphere of 585 mm (23 inches) diameter with a mass of 83.6 kilograms (184 lb) and carrying only a radio transmitter, it definitely got our attention.

THEY got there FIRST! Oh, Man!!!

You see, this was the thrilling days of yesteryear when the Soviet Union was ruled by Nikita "We will bury you" Khrushchev who, just the year before, had sent columns of tanks into Hungary to crush a rebellion there (just his way of stating "THAT is a NO-NO!").

The days of "Duck and cover" drills in public schools (not at all insane; if a nuke hit several miles away instead of on top of you, that could make the difference between surviving versus being shredded by glass blown in by the shock wave if all you did was just stand there and gawk at the explosion. Nukes are powerful, but not infinitely powerful. They can be survived, and have been. See reports of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for hard evidence. (Although, in an essay on civil defense, Robert A. Heinlein advocated situational awareness (paying attention to what's going on in the world) and summed up surviving the bomb in seven words: "Don't be there, when it goes off!" ))

That innocent looking thing was placed into orbit by ...
from on6wj-sputnik.blogspot.com

... the R-7 launcher (for a long time referred to as T-3), which evolved from an ICBM whose primary purpose was to transport a thermonuclear bomb from Point A (somewhere in the Soviet Union) to Point B (somewhere in the USA).

The local newspapers ...
San Antonio Light, 05 Oct 1957 - from newspaperarchive.com

... published times of when to see it in the morning or evening, when it would be brightly lit by the sun.

To read or hear about the Soviets (listening to the radio when they were stomping on the rebellion in Hungary was heart-wrenching) while they were on the other side of the world was bad enough, but a bit abstract.

To walk out into your back yard and actually see this bright little silver dot in the sky slowly moving overhead, and realizing there they are;  well, that's a whole 'nother story.
(Originally published 03 OCT 2012 1239 CDT)

Friday, October 02, 2015

Riders on the Storm ...

... by Jim Morrison and The Doors.

The things you come across when you're looking for something else. While searching for a good video of "Riders on the storm", by Jim Morrison and The Doors, I found THIS piece by Ray Manzarek, keyboardist of The Doors, about how "Riders" came to be ...


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Moby Dick":

... The inspiration.

In 1820, the whaling ship Essex was attacked and sunk by a whale. The story inspired Herman Melville to create his masterpiece, "Moby Dick".

Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea (2015) covers the Essex story ...

Originally scheduled for a March 2015 release, the studio decided to move it to 11 DEC 2015, to make it more prominent to those who make Academy Award nominations, indicating a very high degree of confidence that they have a winner here.

This is VERY definitely on my "must see" list.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

If you remember THIS song, ...

... then, BOY, are you OLD.  :-)

While the video is obviously of fairly recent vintage, the song by The Four Lads was a #1 hit in 1953)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Blow 'em up REAL good :-)

THIRTY MINUTES of blowing up buildings, bridges and other structures ...

What MORE needs sayin'?  :-)

Monday, September 14, 2015

THIS you can trust.

... the philosophy of movie director John Milius.
He was a great believer in taking care of things yourself.
Conan the Barbarian opens with the casting, forging and tempering of Conan's father's sword, and concludes with the father telling a very young Conan ...
"Fire and wind come from the sky,
"from the Gods of the sky.
"But Crom is your God,
"Crom, and he lives in the Earth."

"Once giants lived in the Earth, Conan.
"And in the darkness of chaos...
"they fooled Crom,
"and they took from him the enigma of steel."

"Crom was angered,
"and the Earth shook.
"And fire and wind struck down those giants,
"and they threw their bodies into the waters."

"But in their rage,
"the Gods forgot the secret of steel and left it on the battlefield."

"And we who found it...
"are just men.
"Not Gods. Not giants.
"Just men."

"And the secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery."

"You must learn its riddle, Conan.
"You must learn its discipline."

"For no one,
"no one in this world can you trust;
"not men, not women, not beasts."

(Pointing to his sword):
"THIS you can trust."

The script for Conan is credited to Milius AND to Oliver Stone, but what I've seen of his movies tells me that speech above is pure John Milius, and describes perfectly his philosophy of life,


Saturday, September 12, 2015


Incorporating videos in my posts is new to me.  I've been blogging since October 2009. on an HP computer (the "Mack truck" of computers) that I bought around the end of 2003. Being an XP machine, with limited memory and on a dial-up connection, dealing with videos was an exercise in masochism. The old machine died a few months ago (hard drive crash).

I replaced it with a refurbished Windows 7 machine (HP of course :-) and took advantage of my apartment complex having outlets installed for Comcast/Xfinity, and got a good deal for activating high-speed internet and digital phone service. Like graduating from a Volkswagen to a Porsche.

So now, I'm learning how to incorporate youtube videos, play with the HTML code to adjust the size they appear here, and how to download those videos onto my computer (as insurance against them being pulled from youtube).

I started with 2cellos, a wonderfully insane music video.

Next came Insight from The Third Man ... , about a wonderful little speech that Orson Welles added to the movie.

And, NOW, here's my latest attempts involving the subjects of the title of this post.  Hope you enjoy.

The Brits know how to put on a show. During the Falklands War (when Argentina invaded the British Falkland Islands in 1982), one of these made an EXTREMELY long range attack down there.
 On its return, it made a demo pass over an air show outside of Houston, where I got a wonderful look at it.

The only surviving Messerschmitt BF109E-4 still flying. It was shot down and belly landed in a field during the Battle of Britain in 1940. It is currently with the Russel Aviation Group, Ontario Canada.
PS - If you like the background music, it's from DAFT PUNK's soundtrack for TRON: Legacy (2010).
On 21 September 1953 a North Korean pilot defected, flying a MIG-15 jet fighter interceptor to Seoul , South Korea. In the process the pilot collected a $100000 reward which had been offered by the United States Government. The United States Air Force quickly set about conducting flight tests to determine the capabilities, and limitations, of the Russian designed aircraft

Among the three test pilots was USAF Major Charles "Chuck" Yeager, the first man to fly faster than sound in the Bell X1 in 1947.  I remember Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff" mentioning that.


Insight from The Third Man ...

The Third Man (1949) 

Out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), arrives in post war Vienna to accept a job offer from ex-school friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), only to hear of Lime's death from a peculiar traffic accident.

Holly finds that Lime has faked his death and is involved in black market penicillin (diluted) that results in many deaths. He finds Lime and confronts him.
Based on Graham Greene's novel, the movie is faithful to it, but it was Orson Welles who added THIS little insight ...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2 cellos ...

... and now for something COMPLETELY different  ...
The absolutely incredible  2CELLOS - Thunderstruck [OFFICIAL VIDEO]  
Be patient with whatever ad that may (or may not) show up at the beginning. There might be a little one popping up in the middle, but it will have an "x" allowing you to dispose ot it. The video is worth it. :-)
(PS the image is small here, but at the lower right corner is a selection for "FULL SCREEN" - next to the youtube symbol. )
Update - 11 SEP 2015 - I edited the html to enlarge the image a bit, but the "FULL SCREEN" is still a good choice.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Death by a thousand cuts ...

... MY term for the billing practices of major hospitals.

Yesterday (Thursday, 06 AUG 2015), I made my third (and hopefully FINAL) follow-up visit to Ben Taub hospital, concerning the broken ankle and lower tibia I suffered in my accident of 23 MAY 2015, and which I wrote about in numerous previous posts going back to Sometimes, life just sucks ...

They want me to continue wearing this special boot for another week, but don't feel another visit will be required, as the bones appear to be healing just fine.

So, the major crisis in front of me is the billing system summed up by the title of this post.

When I had my broken arm accident  in late July of 2014, there were ultimately over half a dozen different accounts to deal with, as each department in the hospitals (TWO hospitals were involved in that accident recovery) and the various physicians ALL had their own  accounting services.

It took over two months after the initial invoice arrived before I had a fairly complete picture of the whole mess. Approximately $6000.00 in all.

The ONLY way I could deal with it was to make a (VERY) small payment to each every month.

This continued until the 23 MAY accident, at which point I stopped paying, as the paychecks ceased for about six weeks until I began working again.

I have NOT resumed those payments, as I was looking at a whole NEW nightmare from Ben Taub
to come.

THIS prospect had me looking at Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and I was looking at going in for a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer, to see (among other things) if I needed to wait until ALL the parties involved with Ben Taub had sent invoices, and the whole picture was clear, before filing.

But then, a circumstance involving me possibly owning a small part of rural property belonging to my late mother made it look as if a small sum might come my way and make it possible to get my car running again.

As that possible ownership would complicate the Hell out of the bankruptcy (and the bankruptcy could have an effect on the property), I temporarily took the bankruptcy off the table.

But, I've heard nothing more, and frankly doubt it's gonna happen,  So, in a few weeks I'll go in for that consultation.

This is NOT something I'm keen to do; I went through a Chapter 7 in 2000, and the paperwork is absolutely HORRIFIC. (To paraphrase a classic Jack Benny routine: "The PAPERWORK, or your LIFE!"  Reply: "I'M THINKING." )

But, I HAVE to consider this.  The financial situation threatens to absolutely DESTROY me.

There's a REASON I still have the PayPal donation button near the top left of my page.

If you feel like helping, God Bless You,.

And, Thank You.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Eagle Has Landed ...

Patch from randomramblings-absentmindedprofessor.blogspot.com

... at Heaven's Gate, and so has its pilot ...
Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)- From guardian.co.uk

Yesterday, Saturday 25 Aug 2012, a genuine American Hero left us.

There's really not much I can say that hasn't already been said far, far better by people who knew him. The closest I ever got to him was when he passed by about 60 feet away in a parade in downtown Houston, shortly after his return to Earth.

I still envy the young man who did what I never had the nerve to do;  jumping over the retaining line, running over to the car Armstrong was in and shaking his hand.

As I recall, no undue fuss was made over the incident, but even if there had been, how on Earth could they ever take away from you the experience of shaking the hand of the first human to set foot on another world?

Of course, that's not even a pale shadow of actually being the man to set foot there, but as only eleven others qualify for that, you must settle for what you can get.

Rest In Peace, Sir.
(Originally published Sunday, 26 Aug 2012 2028 CDT.  Moved to top as today (20 Jul 2015) is 46th anniversary of Man's first visit to another world.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

NOT one of my brighter ideas.

Being cheap about cab fare.

There's a Kroger about half a mile from my apartment. Being unable to drive, I've been taking a cab each way to do my grocery shopping, usually around $5.00 each way (including a modest tip).

Tuesday, the 23rd, I went back to work for the first time in a month.  I go again tomorrow (Friday). I HAVE been walking some, in this cast-like boot, and using the bus again. But, it's still awkward and exhausting.

Today, I decided to walk to Kroger and just use the cab to get back with a load of groceries.

The STUPID part was going around 2:30 PM  in wonderful Houston summer weather, trying hard to not pass out because if I went down, not only would I need help in getting back up again, I'd be damned lucky if I didn't break something else in such a fall.

If I try that stunt again, I'll at least wait until later, when the sun has gone down.

I DO need to get better at walking, as it is all too possible I may not have anything to drive ever again (see "First blow ..." in Hat-trick:  ).  This situation just may KILL me financially.  The money is running out. I am grateful beyond words for the donations that have come in from friends, but as I mentioned in that post, I see no possibility of avoiding Chapter 7 in the near future.

So, I may be walking for the remainder of my life.

Christopher Lee

A couple of weeks ago, I updated "Of COURSE, they're naked!!!" ...  because of the sad news that one of my all time favorite actors had passed away, on 07 Jun 2015, at age 93.

As if the man wasn't already fascinating enough, I found this at
  http://buzzfeeduk.tumblr.com/post/121266080043/rip-christopher-lee ...

What more needs saying? :-)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Shower ...

... equals unfathomable luxury in my present situation.

For the first time in four weeks (since my accident of Sometimes, like just sucks ), I've been able to shower, instead of just sponge bathing. 

As with my broken arm accident of two years ago, deliberation in all things is the rule. If I sit in the tub, I have a Hell of a time getting back up, being weak in my arms and trying to brace myself against wet slippery surfaces. I prefer a shower while standing.  I DO have one of those Rubbermaid non-slip (with suction cups) mats for the bottom of my tub.

BUT, if I slip anyway, or lose balance from a spasm of pain by putting my foot down wrong, well, there might be a more dangerous place in my apartment for such an accident (considering the spigot, faucet handles and mixing valve at one end of a typical apartment bathtub), but I have great difficulty in conjuring it up.

So, this IS progress, of a sort.  I'm getting better at walking with that awkward boot (like walking on a cast), and may attempt a bus ride in a couple of days.

Tomorrow, I'll call Randalls to find out if I'm on next weeks schedule.

But, STILL a long way to go on recovery, including financial, so if you can help, I desperately need it and would be very grateful.

Paul Gordon
3433 West Dallas, # 1102
Houston, Texas 77019

(Or, you can use the Paul Gordon Medical donation button (PayPal) near the top left of the webpage, just below the main title picture.)

Thanks, in advance. :-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


In some sports, a triple win (or more).

Could NOT find an antonym, which would best describe my current situation (described in my previous posts).

Yesterday (Monday, 15 Jun 2015), I went to Ben Taub Hospital for my follow up to my checkup and diagnosis of a week ago (Described in my post: Where things stand ... ).

After spending about six hours there, they gave me a doctor's note saying that on Sunday, 21 Jun 2015, it would be Ok for me me to go back to work. When I got home, I had my apartment manager fax a copy of that note to Randalls , so (maybe) I'll be on next week's schedule.

Ben Taub wants me back for another follow up in a bit over three weeks (Thursday, 09 Jul 2015), and they want me to keep using that boot until then.

So, in another week, maybe I can begin earning and collecting paychecks again.  I sure hope so.

What makes me look for an antonym for "hat-trick", and has made me so despondent and desparate lately, is a series of trevails I am sufferring, to the point of feeling my options have been reduced to the numbers 7 and 44:  Bankruptcy - Chapter 7, and .44 Special hollow-point.

First blow ...
In early January, my car died on me when I pulled into a restaurant parking lot. I couldn't restart it and had to have it towed home. The next morning, I had it towed to Pep Boys, who couldn't find anything wrong with it. Was able to drive it home, but when I drove it to Kroger's later, it died again. Thinking possible fuel contamination. I got a bottle of STP fuel cleaner and put in in the tank. Made it home alright.

The next day, on my way to work, it died again. I managed to push it off the street into a parking lot, and called Pep Boy's towing. When it arrived, the car  (after sitting awhile) started again, and the driver thought it would be a waste of time taking it back to Pep Boys as they would have nothing they could check. So I continued on to work, while he followed.

After a few days it seemed to get better, and for a couple of months I thought it might be a fuel contamination problem that finally just passed through.

Then the problem returned with a vengeance. After a few miles driving, it would die and not be able to restart until it had sat for 5 or 10 miniutes. Numerous trips to Pep Boys and then to the Honda dealership did no good because they could not reproduce the failure.

Having a car I simply could not trust resulted in me depending on walking and riding the bus (free with my special pass for being over 70) and awaiting my tax refund before trying again on service.

Second blow ...
In April, my 11 and 1/2 year old computer died and I was pretty much cut off from everyone except for trips to a local branch library where I could use their computers. Horrible!

The bus rides may be free for me, but the time involved really sucks. To go there, and to come back involved about and hour and a half each way, using two busses, to have an hour's access to the computer.

So, when the tax refund arrived, my first use of it was to go to Micro-Center and get a refurbished Windows 7 desktop unit. To get back in business online.

A few months back, the apartments in my complex were wired up with cable outlets for Comcast/XFINITY and I took advantage of that to get one of their high-speed modems with a telephone package, figuring that I would drop my landline telephone to help offset the cost.

Coming up on the Memorial Day weekend, I figured on using the rest of my tax refund seeing about the car. The Honda dealership told me that they could do a VERY thorough analysis for $112.00 and I was going to have it towed to them the following week.

THIRD (and possibly DEATH) BLOW...
Friday, 22 May 2018, the event in Sometimes, life just sucks happened, and everything just went to HELL.

This has cost me FOUR paychecks so far, and the bills soon to come from Ben Taub may literally KILL me.

Obviously, the car problems have been put on hold, I am literally running out of money, and am scared to death about what's in store.

So I would truly appreciate whatever help you can provide.

Paul Gordon
3433 West Dallas, # 1102
Houston, Texas 77019.

(Or, you can use the PayPal donation button near the top left of the page, just below the title picture).

Thank you.