Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday .....

Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis, academician, author, and an aetheist who became a champion of Christian faith and struggle, was born on this day in 1898.

In a way, I first "met" Lewis through a mutual friend, as I was studying the life and works of John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien. Both were part of - for me, at least - one of the most interesting generations of modern English history.

There is a pretty thorough
Wikipedia entry on Lewis. There is also the website of the C.S. Lewis Foundation, dedicated to advancing Christian thought & creative expression throughout the world of learning, and this site from Harper-Collins Publishers.

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step ..... You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Women in the News .....

Let's see ... Sarah Palin and her book? naaah ... Michaele Salahi and her celebrity aspirations? uh-uh ... I'll go with Neda Agha-Soltan.

Who, you might ask? ... Exactly!

It's been less than a month since Queen’s College, in Oxford, England, announced that it had established the “Neda Agha-Soltan Graduate Scholarship” for philosophy students of Iranian descent. The scholarship is named in honor of a young woman that some have called the "Angel of Tehran" ... and, really, that's not much of a stretch, at all.

this report from the Telegraph/UK, Layla Ferani writes that "on a hot day in June this year, protesters gathered in Tehran to chant slogans against Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A 26-year-old philosophy student wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes looked on, before suddenly falling to the ground. She had been shot through the chest."

"Shaky video footage, captured on another protester’s mobile phone, shows blood streaming from her nose and mouth as several men attempt to stop the bleeding. Then, in what would become the most harrowing image of the post-election unrest, Neda Agha-Soltan’s eyes rolled towards the camera, and her body went limp."

Is it me, or has it been very, VERY quiet - in both the actual and the virtual worlds - regarding the events of this summer in Iran? With the exception of Eric at Fire Ant Gazette, no one in the local blogosphere (myself included) makes even a passing mention of it today.

But then, along comes the announcement of that scholarship in Oxford ... and the not-quite-unexpected response from official Iran, that the
"Iranian Embassy in Britain criticized University of Oxford's establishment of a scholarship in the name of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who was shot to death in the post-election events in Iran." ... all of which makes me think Queen's College did the right thing.

Happy Birthday .....

... to William Blake, English poet, painter, printmaker, and advocate for such causes as abolition, religious freedom and sexual equality. We've all had to read his poems at one time or another, in high school English classes, or college Lit courses ..... some of us have gone back, on our own, for more. A great man of words, I'll be the first to admit ..... but I've always been more partial to his pictures, which served so well to complement the images he conjured with his text.

Addendum: To this day, Blake's words continue to inspire ... here is "Tyger" by Guilhere Marcondes, who used one of his favorite poems, Blake's "The Tyger," as the starting point for his short film.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Simple Gifts at First Prez .....

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
(1st verse and refrain from the original by Elder Joseph Brackett; 2nd and 3rd verses added later)

First Presbyterian Church of Midland hosted its second annual Neighborhood Thanksgiving Party, Tuesday night, where friends and family were joined by guests from Breaking Bread Soup Kitchen, and others who do not have a place, a family, or the means to enjoy a shared meal for Thanksgiving. In addition to a traditional holiday meal with all the trimmings, there was plenty of fellowship, and dancing to live music from Jody Nix and his band. Also, a large number of meals were packed "to go" for delivery to the home-bound.

Organizers were pleased with this year's event, and are already talking about getting together once again, same time next year. For more information about Breaking Bread Soup Kitchen, call First Presbyterian at 684-7821.

Marines Out There Will Understand .....

... the added significance of this day. It is written that no Marines ever faced worse weather, terrain, or odds than those who fought at the Chosin Reservoir, begining on this day in 1950 and continuing for the next week-and-a-half.

Sign me, The Proud Son of One of the "Chosin Few" who Served with Chesty Puller and the First Marines ... Semper Fi

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Step by Step: Christmas for Our Troops .....

If you haven't checked-out and gotten involved in Christmas for Our Troops, you should. There's still time for you to show your support for the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States armed forces.
This is a Midland-based effort that "provides individual Christmas boxes full of a variety of gifts, necessities and goodies for our local men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. These boxes will be shipped the first week of December via Priority mail to ensure that our troops have a package from home in their hands before Christmas Eve. This is a non-partisan private effort to give West Texans the opportunity to give a little something back to the military folks who give so much for us and this country."

The latest step in this year's effort took place this last week at First Presbyterian Church of Midland, where young people assembled and stacked shipping boxes, getting them ready to be filled, sealed and mailed overseas.

There are other steps coming in the days ahead ... and other opportunities to for YOU to get involved. For more information, please contact CFOT Chairman Scott Davis at (432) 620-8820, or e-mail . He'll tell you about ways you can contribute your time and effort, or about what is needed to fill those boxes the kids have assembled.

You can also make a financial contribution by contacting Western National Bank ("Christmas for OUR Troops Fund"), 508 W. Wall Street, Midland, Texas 79701.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Wonderful Little Film We Almost Missed ...

I'm a regular visitor to the video rental store ... and I regularly read every shelf of the 'new releases.' This past week, my search brought me to a wonderful little film I'd never heard of.

Nothing outrageous about THAT, really. There are a lot of films that don't make it to Midland-Odessa theaters, or make it into the pages of local media reviews ... that's why I read the shelves of new release so carefully, every week or so.

But you'd think a film starring Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman, William H. Macy and Marcia Gay Harden - all four of them Oscar nominees, and three of them Oscar winners - would have generated SOME buzz.

Submitted for your consideration,
The Maiden Heist ...

... a comedy centered on three museum security guards (Walken, Freeman and Macy) who devise a plan to steal the artworks to which they have become attached over the years, when they learn the collection will be transferred overseas to another museum.

According to
the film's write-up on Wikipedia, it had a tentative release date of May 29, 2009, before being shelved following the bankruptcy of its distributor, Yari Film Group. It made it to the large screen in June of this year, at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, before going straight to DVD this month ... and to our television at home, where both My Favorite Landman and I enjoyed it, and planned to rent a copy of The Accidental Husband, a romantic comedy starring Uma Thurman, Jeffrey Morgan and Colin Firth that showed in British theaters, but disappeared into that same Yari bankruptcy void before it could cross the pond to American theaters, instead going direct to DVD.

Let the Madcap Revels Begin ...

Understandably, most of the local buzz about the 2010 Texas gubernatorial election has been about Rick Perry and Kay Hutchison ... what they is and what they isn't, what they will and what they won't. But then along comes Farouk Shami, a Houston businessman who officially entered the race, last week, for the Democratic Party's nomination.

According to Shami's campaign website, "the day he becomes Governor is the day business as usual ends in Texas." We shall see ... and in the meantime, let the madcap revels begin. I'll be watching both parties' (Republicans and Democrats) progress with interest.

Crazy (and Creative) Young Canucks ...

Few entries in the University LipDub Project have gained as much attention - from news media AND prospective students - as this entry from Université du Québec à Montréal, in Canada.

"Present your own university with your self-made University LipDub video production," LipDub creators tell prospective producers. "Show the whole world that studying does not have to be boring. On the contrary, it is great fun!"

Boy, is it! With a 'good night' like this from the general student population, who needs frats?

This LipDub was produced during the integration (orientation) week of UQAM with 172 communication students. Shot and posted on September 10th, 2009, in just 2 hours and 15 minutes (though it was preceded by weeks of preparation and story-boarding). Did you notice the whole thing is one long shot - that's one of the trademarks, apparently, of a LipDub video.

Closer to home is this LipDub project from Texas State University in San Marcos.

Also, a good 'behind-the-scenes video from TSU ...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Conspiracy Uncovered at Midland Church ...

... though it's not the kind of conspiracy you'd find in a Dan Brown novel. Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption - a movement of Christ-followers who want to ...

● Worship Fully,
● Give More,
● Spend Less, and
● Love All.

It's a conspiracy without a hidden agenda ... every Sunday from November 29 through December 20, First Presbyterian Church-Midland will host classes devoted to Advent Conspiracy. The classes will meet from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. in Lynn Fellowship Hall. The classes will be preceded and followed by fellowship, with coffee, juice and a variety of brunch snacks.

There's Know Place Like Home .....

... especially if you're an old Kansas fan, like me. They're in the midst of a reunion tour, right now, which I was able to 'attend' - in a matter of speaking, from the comfort of my living room, watching a broadcast on HDNET.

I 'discovered' them ... kind of the same way Columbus 'discovered' America, really. They hadn't (yet) raised much of a ripple on the east coast by the mid-70s, so my introduction to them didn't come until I headed west, and came within earshot of album-rock FM radio, which provided a friendlier setting for the longer, more complex songs that comprised so much of the band's canon of works. My introduction to them was the release of their third album, "Masque," and the single, "Icarus Borne on Wings of Steel" ... and I was hooked.

From there, I moved backwards, and got copies of their first and second albums, "Kansas" and "Song for America." Then came the release of their fourth album, "Leftoverture," which included some AM-friendly cuts that quickly rose in the charts - and from there they REALLY took off.
That was all 35-or-so years ago. But last night, they showed me they still had it ... and I still love 'em for it!

Happy Birthday (#?) to The Doctor .....

Doctor Who, one of the most popular and longest-lived franchises in science fiction, premiered on this day in 1963.

In a day when a show's life is measured may be measured in just a short run of episodes, it's hard to imagine that one could remain - and grow - over 45 years. I think that's been helped by the near-limitless opportunities for story and character development. The series has taken viewers back and forth through time and space, in and out of alternative realities and - with the 10th Doctor at the controls of the Tardis - across the barrier between parallel universes. Occasionally, those travels criss-cross with one another, creating opportunities to resolve old issues, anser old questions from previous episodes ... and start new ones.

Add to that a changing cast, as well. This Christmas season, British viewers of the series will meet the 11th Doctor ... did I tell you the character is an alien with the ability to regenerate when mortally injured? He comes back as the same character, but with a new appearance and personality. Also ever-changing is the Doctor's companions, usually women, whose appearance does not always coincide with the Doctor's regeneration ... Rose Tyler accompanied the 9th and 10th Doctors. The 10th Doctor has had two companions since then.

It's really hard to overstate the show's impact. It continues to be referenced in just about every medium of pop culture ... the most recent I've seen was a quick sight gag/play-on-words on Robot Chicken, and an episode of American Dad ("Escape from Pearl Bailey," 2008), when a candidate for class president courts the vote of those who are "obsessed with an old British TV show," much to the approval of students in the bleachers dressed at the 4th Doctor.

... wish I had a scarf like that. Happy birthday, Doctor!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Worth the Trouble? .....

Last week, at the West Texas Regional Collegiate Symposium, one of the smaller break-down discussions was addressing social media in general ... and "Second Life" in particular.

That's because one of the participants in the discussion was a professor from UT-Permian Basin. As you may - or may not - know,
the University of Texas is one of a number of major colleges nationwide that have 'Second Life campuses,' including the University of North Carolina, Texas A&M University and Harvard University.

But colleges are relative newbies to Second Life. Last month, it was reported that just over 16-million accounts were registered, and most of those accounts are held by private individuals, including people here, in West Texas. While watching practices from the sidelines, a fellow soccer dad has been updating me on where his Second Life avatar has taken him.

Me? I dunno ... it seems like a lot of work to get started, create an account of my own, maintain that account, develop my avatar - physique, hair, clothing, etc. - and then go exploring this virtual world ... all with what little time is left to me from activities in the actual world. On the other hand, though ... according to e-mails I've received from Second Life, I could end up like this guy, in the picture at the right ... hmmmm ... maybe I should give Second Life a second look ...

What Do YOU Think? .....

"We need 'Philosophy of Journalism,'" says professor and columnist Carla Romano in this post at the Chronicle of Higher Education. I'd like to know what you - especially those with experience in the business - think about that.

Romano suggests that, "every journalism student should be required to take a course in 'Philosophy of Journalism,' to develop the intellectual instincts and reflexes that will make the approach to truth of both practices a permanent part of his or her intellectual makeup."

Not a bad idea, really ... and it's an idea that that could, with serious application, yield tremendous and positive results for both news producers and news consumers. But, really, what do YOU think?

Thanks to Frank at Books, INQ. The Epilogue for the heads-up.

A Different Kind of Casting Call .....

Do you know someone whose home deserves an Extreme Makeover? If so, then the producers of an ABC television network program want to hear from you!

"Ty Pennington and his Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew have been all across the map," we are told, "and they are ready to drive that famous bus to Midland, Texas!"

"What does it take to be picked for an 'Extreme Makeover,'" you might ask ...

According to an EMHE press release, "we are in search of deserving families and deserving people - people who have amazing strength of character and who put their own needs aside to help others. Whether it’s a mom, a soldier, a teacher, or a fireman, we think a deserving family, are families who inspire those around them. In addition, the producers are looking for families whose houses need major alterations or repair- homes that present serious problems for the family and affect the family's quality of life."

"To be eligible," that release goes on to say, "a family must own their own single family home and be able to show producers how a makeover will make a huge difference in their lives."

The press relase recommends that interested families or those who wish to nominate another family should e-mail a short description of their family story to Nominations/submissions must include:

1. The names and ages of each member of the household
2. A description of the major challenges within the home
3. Explanation of why this family is deserving, or a positive role model in their community
4. Photos of the family and a photo of the home
5. Don’t forget to include a contact phone number

The deadline: for nominations is December 1, 2009.

For more information on how to apply please visit EMHE's website at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Bow? .....

I feel more than a little sympathy for President Barrack Obama when it comes to the criticism he has received over 'the bow' and what it represents to a new generation of virtual, international Miss Manners out there.

Some, however, have taken a more historical perspective in the coverage of the bowhaha ... err, brouhaha. The Associated Press notes ... "Obama's gesture on Saturday was not without precedent, however. Neither was the outrage. U.S. presidents from both political parties often have been criticized for attempts at culturally sensitive greetings to high-ranking foreigners" ... including former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.

For my part, I think President Obama was poorly advised by his diplomatic corps on how - and how not - to bow. Sure, it's a nice gesture ... but it's especially nice if it's done properly, and in line with that culture's standards for the gesture.

And THERE is the added rub ... in countries such as Japan, the bow conveys A LOT about the place of the person offering, and the person receiving, in Japanese society. President Obama probably received many bows such as the one he offered ... but those were bows being offered a visiting head-of-state by Japanese who considered their position beneath his.

I had a similar experience last year, in Thailand, with their own traditional greeting, the wai. "Relationships are an important part of Thai culture, and the wai is one measure of those relationships," I noted at the time. "Who is the first to wai, who bows lower, who raises their hands higher, how the wai is returned - if at all ..... all are indicators of the relationship between the two individuals that are greeting one another."

In a way, that's something that goes against the grain of a more egalitarian society such as our own ... where many people are more inclined to offer the same greeting, the same handshake, the same hug to all they meet, regardless of their standing in American society.

It's not better, it's not worse ... it's just different. And I wish someone in the U.S. Department of State would better prepare our presidents - past, present and future - for that difference.

It's On! .....

One sure and certain sign in the Tall City, that the Christmas season is approaching, can be found just a couple blocks from home, where work on this year's edition of one of Midland's premier light displays is well under way. Here's a snapshot taken at an early stage in that work.

Statistically Significant Birthday .....

Journalist and adman, academician and market researcher George Horace Gallup, a pioneer of survey sampling techniques and creator of the Gallup Poll, was born on this day in 1901.

Polls are a bane or a blessing ... that determination usually being made on a case-by-case basis, and depending not so much upon their general effectiveness or accuracy, but rather on how their results square with our own, personal point-of-view. Sometimes, we also err on just what we ask the numbers to do, or how we "spin" them to suit our purposes.

All of which doesn't take away from the fact that polls are an effective tool, thanks to people like George Gallup. Sure, sometimes the numbers erred - "Dewey Defeats Truman," anyone? But if the pollsters know and love their craft, those errors are used to develop better methodologies for polling, and better procedures for analysis.

Here is
his write-up on Wikipedia, and a nice Time Magazine profile of the man and his methods, from 1948. And from the businesses of which he was once part, here is his bio page at, and a tribute page at Gallup & Robinson.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lyrical Birthday Wishes .....

Canadian singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, whose voice I coveted when I was a teen, was born on this day in 1938.

When asked to name "THE" music of the 70s, some might say disco, while others will say rock. Actually, I think it was both, and plenty more, besides. For example, it was a great decade for folk songs and ballads, too. There were many during that decade, who took some really fine poetry, and set it to music ..... they included Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Seeger, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, Harry Chapin .... and Gordon Lightfoot - with that sound of his, that wonderful baritone voice, and that combination of acoustic and electric guitars.

Here is
Wikipedia's write-up on Lightfoot, an entry in, and his page on myspace.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday .....

Yesterday, a man who created a distinctive American sound for music. Today, a woman who created distinctive American images for painting. Georgia Totto O'Keeffe, who emerged as a major figure in American art in the 1920s - and remains so today, twenty years after her death - was born on this day in 1887.

She is chiefly known for paintings of flowers, skulls and natural landscapes. But she also had an eye for urban subjects, as one of my favrite paintings by her,
Radiator Building, will show. And while she is most closely - and rightfully - identified with New Mexico, she was also at home in New York ... and Texas. Early in the 20th-century, she was an elementary school art teacher near Amarillo, and later an instructor in the art department West Texas A&M University, in Canyon. While there she created many beautiful images of nearby Palo Duro Canyon. During a trip through the Panhandle, My Favorite Landman and I spent the night in Canyon at the Husdspeth Inn Bed & Breakfast, a former boarding house where a young Georgia O'Keefe once took her meals.

I saw O'Keefe once, fleetingly, from a distance, as a crew of us were heading through Abique and Ghost Ranch on our way to a dig. I would have liked to meet her sometime, although she had a reputation as a very private person who did not encourage visitors, especially those who would show up, unannounced, at her doorstep.

Here is
Wikipedia's write-up on O'Keefe, and a pretty good, comprehensive online gallery of her paintings. You can also visit, online, the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. And here's an audio/video tour of northern New Mexico in the company of O'Keefe, herself. The quality of the video isn't very good ... but the content is wonderful!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday .....

... to a favorite American composer of mine, among the most of 'American' of composers, Aaron Copland, born on this day in 1900.

A number of compositions are among what is called 'those old chestnuts' ... works that show up perenially on concert programs ... works such as
Appalachian Spring, which displayed Copland's genius for finding a balance between modern music and American folk styles, capturing the essence of an ideal America while forging a distinctly American style of composition, and earning the title, “dean of American composers.”

Here is Wikipedia's entry on Copland, and a really nice, multi-media Copland Artist Page from NPR Music. Another nice stop is this site for Copland House.

Here's the man himself at the keyboard, in a performance of one of his lesser-known works ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Advance Notice .....

At the start of this year, when I mentioned that we had rung-out the old year with a concert in Lubbock by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the most frequent response was something like, "ohhhh, I wish I'd known they were coming!"

With that in mind, here is advance notice on the
Trans-Siberian Orchestra's return to Lubbock, Thursday, December 10, 7:30 PM at United Spirit Arena. Tickets are on sale NOW through Select-A-Seat/Lubbock.

According to TSO's website, "When Paul O'Neill first conceived Trans-Siberian Orchestra, his goal was as straightforward as it was ambitious. 'The whole idea,' he explains, 'was to do a progressive rock band that would push the boundaries further than any band before, following in the footsteps of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd, the Who ... but take it way, way further.'"

A performance by TSO IS an awesome experience ... and I hope, this year, you get to enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

... and The Written Word .....

One of the neat things about Veterans Day observances in the blogosphere is the niche coverage blogs provide, offering detailed looks at particular facets of the occasion, drawing upon the unique perspective and expertise of the bloggers.

For example, there is my e-friend, Frank in Philadelphia, book reviewer and proprietor of
Books, Inq. - The Epilogue ... who suggested a link to a post about "Trench Literature – Reading in World War I" and what soldiers read in the midst of the great conflict that would eventually give rise to Veterans Day.

"The literature generated from World War I is well documented and will hopefully serve as a reminder of how the world can fall apart," Richard Davies, Udo Goellmann & Sara Melendre write in
this post at "From Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, the poetry of Sassoon, Graves, Brooke, and Owen to All Quiet on the Western Front, there are numerous examples of acclaimed writing inspired by the Great War."

"But what did the ordinary soldiers of World War I read on a daily basis during life in the trenches? Reading material was in heavy demand from the men living in cramped conditions in a war that was static for long periods of time."

Interesting stuff ... and thanks to Frank for the heads-up.

Veterans Day: The Spoken Word .....

As President of the United States, it is Barrack Obama's responsibility to give voice to our nations regard for our veterans. Today, at Arlington National Cemetery, he did that ... and did it very well ...

Here's a report from the Associated Press on today's Presidential tribute ...

And here is audio/video from of the President's speech ...

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Google Gets It on Veterans Day .....

You can never be sure what significant occasions Google will mark with a specialized logo ... but today, they got it. Those of you who - like myself - were military brats, should find a special appeal in the graphic Google is using to observe Veterans Day.

Rockin' Roboticists .....

The road to a future career in engineering and design, electronics and more, is being navigated NOW by robots conceived, built and directed by Midland youngsters.

I had the great pleasure, recently, of traveling to Lubbock-Estacado High School for a day of high-tech, high-excitement competition. The 2009 BEST Robotics Contest attracted teams from schools across the Permian Basin, High Plains and Panhandle regions of West Texas - including Coach Curt Cowdrey and the Pegasus Project of Midland's San Jacinto Junior High School.

This is just the latest venture of perhaps the most extraordinary academic program in the Tall City ... and certainly the most fun. These are the same boys and girls (at the Lubbock contest, SJ had the highest percentage of girls on their team) who, late last year,
built and launched their own rockets. This spring, they'll take the field at Midland College - with a full-size trebuchet in tow - to defend their championship in last year's West Texas Milk Jug Chuckin' Competition.

ADDED NOTE: This year's competition in Lubbock featured teams from two Midland schools, with a squad from Midland-Trinity taking the field with their robotic entry. It was a small, fledgling entry into to the contest - but I suspect that will grow, now that outstanding science teacher Chuck Bell has made the move to Midland-Trinity.

In the meantime, here are some photos of SJ's squad at this year's contest ...

Different Ways to Thank Our Veterans .....

One suggestion comes from this post at the White House Blog, about President Obama signing an Executive Order creating "an interagency Council on Veterans Employment to advise the President and Administration on how to set the bar for hiring and employing veterans."

The post goes on to quote U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, co-chair of the new council, saying, "veterans are an important part of our nation's past, present and future. They deserve our full support as they reintegrate into the civilian workforce."

She's absolutely right.

Call It What You Will ... But MARK It .....

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John Alexander McCrae, MD - Canadian Expeditionary Force

Here in the U.S., one doesn't see the poppies on people's lapels so much, as we used to when were children ..... One of the most ridiculous victories in America's 'war of drugs' was the declaration by 'drug czars' and their staffs that the poppy reminded people of addiction to drugs, rather than appreciation to those who gave the 'last full measure of their devotion' in service to their country. Such is not the case in Canada, England, and other countries that once formed the 'Commonwealth.' The paper poppies - and the fundraising for veterans' relief that they represent - have been prominent in photos and video the past couple weeks.

Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day ..... call it what you will ..... but find some way to mark this day. Here, in America, the focus of the day has been expanded to honor all men and women who, throughout history, have answered their country's call to serve. There have been many in our own family, but - mindful of the origins of this particular holiday - I will tell the boys of their great-grandfather Frederick, a sergeant with the 102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, and his service in France during the First World War.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Colorful West Texas .....

You couldn't have asked for better weather this past weekend, or a better opportunity for going somewhere in Texas where autumn is an especially-colorful occasion.

Which is what brought Younger Son and I to the McKittrick Canyon Trail of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, in far West Texas.

What we found was something new and wondrous for Younger Son, born and raised here, in the heart of the Permian Basin, where autumn is a time of evergreen and muted brown, with only an all-too-rare splash of red and gold to break the monotony.

For me, a dang-Yankee-from-back-east, it was a recollection of other times and other places, walking through sparkling forests, canopied and carpeted in color, and vistas of incredible crazy-quilts of color that were forested hills and mountains.

I'd like to offer the following images from our day in McKittrick, and to suggest that you make the trip, yourself, someday.