Monday, July 17, 2017
Good reading. The Lawdog Files book is available today.
I admit I have a particular bias, but I do know objectively that this book is outstanding, and I highly recommend it.

LawDog's writing is evocative of the cowboy philosopher/poet that so many of us associate with the spirit of rugged individualism that defines the American spirit. The fact that these stories actually happened only makes them even better. Rather than making him seem lessened, the tales of his rookie errors (never insult a feral hog with a mere 9mm) serve as bona fides for his hard-won gravitas. Speaking in a voice that does not condescend or preach, LawDog inspires confidence that hearkens to the very best qualities we hope for in law enforcement personnel. I know many folks follow his blog, and much of this material is available there, through the years, but it is good to have so many stories collected in one volume. I hope you will read it. :)
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Monday, July 03, 2017
On Trump's Tweets

In case anyone hasn't noticed, Donald Trump is rather good at marketing. Image is something of which he has a keen understanding. To that end, he has effectively whipped his opponents into a perpetual froth for the past 8 months with his seemingly careless tweets on Twitter. However, his opponents don't seem to have figured out how soundly he has played their feigned sensibilities, these people who were upset about "grab her by the pussy" but felt Bill Clinton's Oval Office sexual exploits were "none of our business" and that his private life should remain thus -- talking out of both sides of their mouths.

After Trump played them like a Stradivarius over the Hamilton/Safe Space tweets, I thought they would finally figure it out and leave off having their chain yanked by tweets: not so.  The outrage will go on and on and on, because Trump haters are cats, and Trump's tweets are his laser pointer. They will never figure it out.

Kurt Schlicter brilliantly sums up the entire state of affairs while hitting some high marks of ribaldry in this post. Read it for a few good laughs, and take his message to heart, whatever your political leanings. This too, shall pass, and I suspect that when Trump's two terms in office are concluded, his tweets may eventually be regarded as the primary way he managed to keep his opponents off balance while he got down to actual business in his job as President.

Never in a million years would I have dreamt of Trump as a candidate, nor as President. But he is who we have, and I want the best for our country. I was no fan of Obama and I certainly wanted fewer of his policies to gain traction, but to wish him ill was to wish a harm on our nation. I wish more people on both sides of the aisle could have such clarity of thought when someone they don't like is elected to that office. Schlicter is right: never mind the tweets.
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Sunday, June 18, 2017
Happy Father's Day to the best Dad ever.
Like my dear Mom, I can't say enough nice things about my wonderful Father. I am well, truly, richly blessed for parents, and I couldn't be more proud.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017
To my dear, sweet Mother on Mother's Day:
I am so grateful for the countless ways you have supported me, Mom. Your encouragement means more to me than I can possibly convey. I love you. Thank you for everything.
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Actual mileage may vary.
Today is my first full day as a college graduate. :)

Earning my degree took longer than I expected when I buckled down to finish about 2012, but I also knew that road bumps were a possibility. Road bumps happened. The important thing is that the journey that technically started in August 1987 has officially concluded successfully. 

I have not blogged about same, but the third semester of nursing school, I hit a snag from which recovery was impossible. I knew nursing school would be tough, but I didn't see the fatal blow coming. I'll never forget the saccharine in the voice of the teacher who dealt the blow. I was stunned at such casual cruelty. But sometimes, you have to Roomba that shit, back up, and take another tack. After that hideous exchange on that day, I walked to the English department on campus. Truly, I was reeling, but I needed to get a backup in place, and to do so quickly. That moment was when the story turned to gold and the sailing smoothed out tremendously.

One vital element to my success in my new path of study was the kind stewardship of an incredible advisor/mentor on faculty. A chance discussion on Shakespeare with another professor in November '15 resulted in me delivering a lecture to his class on a particular film adaptation of one of Shakespeare's plays. Another esteemed faculty member came to sit in on that lecture in April last year. No pressure, right? Well, actually, I was quite comfortable and excited, because I knew my subject. The Shakespeare professor has asked me to deliver the lecture I prepared for his Shakespeare class in the coming Fall. The topic of that lecture is the plinth on which my Master's thesis will be built. Funny how things work out, innit?

I have accepted an Assistantship in the English department of my university, and for two semesters beginning in Fall 2018, I will be Teacher of Record for two classes. I will have first crack at crafting a syllabus with continuity that will help incoming freshmen adjust to reading and writing at university level. I plan to craft a syllabus of material that will be easily affordable and one that I hope will be engaging to readers. I will try to find copyright free works of short fiction that students can read free online. The first piece I definitely want to use is An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce. Books that must be purchased will be ones that are available for $4 or $5 and free shipping at eBay or Amazon, or free on Kindle. Student assistants often do not pass muster with their syllabi, so that is why I am not waiting until a year from now to craft mine: mine will likely be fully formed by the end of this year. I will be most deliberate with my choice of literature.

After I receive my MA, I will be qualified to teach at Junior College or Community college level, and that will suit me well. Meanwhile, I have many irons in the fire. I have several streams of creative activities, and this summer will be pivotal for cleaning my house and organizing, and launching into a different mode.

My parents came to town for my graduation ceremony, and that means so much to me. Their support and belief in me has been steadfast, and I truly would not have crossed the finish line without their help in so many ways.

I also owe a debt of thanks to my sweetheart for his unwavering belief in me. When I had to turn on a dime, he was right there to encourage me in that new direction.

I am so relieved to have finished this degree. While I would not have chosen the bitter lessons, the rest were all the more sweet. Thanks to all my friends and family for the support and encouragement. I promise not to take 29.75 years to complete the next degree.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017
Sunday, Puppy Sunday: My sonny boy sun bunny
It's been in the 50s and 60s here the past few days, and it has been glorious. If you didn't know better, you'd swear it was January! I love it. Chuy, however, hates to be in the shade, and the sun was toasty. I caught him sitting with his eyes closed, basking. Then he turned to me and those gorgeous little ears snapped up, and I was able to get my camera out before he approached me to demand scritchins. He's my sweet boy.

Since Sunday is really over, let's just say 19 days until graduation. It's getting so close.
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Monday, April 17, 2017
Nearly finished with school...
I have less than a month remaining in the completion of my undergrad degree. It is dazzling to consider, because it's been so long since I half-heartedly enrolled in a few courses at NTSU for the Fall of 1987. I have a raft of papers to write, but I expect only one to be difficult. I only have two tests remaining, but I expect them both-- in Spanish-- to be difficult. I feel confident of passing Spanish, but it is still stressful. I will get my campus work done early tomorrow so I can come home with a free afternoon to knock out much of the remaining assignments for the semester, as well as complete a job application.

Of late, I have engaged in some therapeutic gardening, and things are bursting into bloom here and there in the yard. I have chosen plants that complement the native perennials that are established, and I have chosen plants that particularly appeal to hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. I expect that everything will be hog-wild by this time next year. It's odd to cast ahead to a year from now when my commencement will be rapidly shrinking in the rearview mirror. Odd, but good.
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Thursday, April 13, 2017
Speaking of good reading...
I have blogged so infrequently in the past year that I am remiss in spreading news on some good books that have come out.

My dear friend JL Curtis published a good book not quite a year ago. Rimworld is available on Kindle, and is a fun new take on the Sci-Fi adventure.  He populates his work with capable people who have the skills and intelligence to troubleshoot and come out on top in otherworldly situations. There's something to be said for people who can get things done, and who wants to read about a one dimensional character who never got axle grease under their fingernails?  Good stuff. His Grey Man series is worth checking out, too, even if Mom was a little peeved at Curtis for giving one character a more difficult row to hoe than Mom thought she deserved. ;)

I've read a bit of more stuff that he has in the hopper, and it's just getting better and better. I'll try to be a little more on the ball and let you know as soon as his next book is published.
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Monday, April 10, 2017
Monday, Puppy Monday.
Y'all is owed a puppy photo.  Here we have the butts of the elder pooches, while Mochi's head is sticking out. Yes, Chuy's claws are long and evil. It's hard to get out of bed, though. they are such sweethearts.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Sorry for my silence!
I can't believe it's been more than two months since I posted. In my defense, this is my final undergrad semester, and I'll be graduating in mid-May, so things have been brutally hectic. Considering that I first enrolled in a college course in August 1987, approaching 30 years to obtain a degree is perhaps stretching it, a bit. Call me a late bloomer.

Things have mostly gone swimmingly well this semester. I sang a couple of small roles in an opera workshop performance, and it was great fun, and the second night of the show was a personal breathrough, of sorts. There's a regional opera workshop I've been asked to participate in, but I don't think the timing will be right with all my other commitments this summer. It's good to be singing again, in any case. Most likely, nothing more will come of it, but it feels good knowing I broke through some old challenges. :)

In this area of Texas we've really not even had a winter, so I have managed to eke out a little time to work on gardening around the house, and it's starting to look better. To my dismay, though, my rock rose (labdanum) seems finally to have given up the ghost. It has thrived on my neglect for years, but I think I finally let it get too dry for too long last fall. In any case, it's gone, and I need to track down another specimen.  Even though it's been a warm winter, I was surprised to see a big black swallowtail butterfly in the area on Monday. They are my favorites, and I've already potted a bronze fennel for them, but I thought it would have time to get up to size before the swallowtails sailed through. I need to get a few more of those and put them in various places and see if I can't lure more of those lovely creatures.  The butterflies love that type of fennel, and they lay their eggs on the plant, and they look like tiny bright yellow grapes on the stems.  The caterpillars eat the ferny foliage all the way to the stems, often, and then there are more butterflies. It's a fun cycle to watch. I am thrilled to see many new shoots of a tall, sky-blue salvia I love, as well as about a dozen shoots coming up from my Texas Star hibiscus, and they'll get to be about 6 feet tall, or more. :) It's odd, though, seeing perennials appearing that I normally wouldn't see growing until April or May. I hope this summer is not too brutally hot, but I'm not holding my breath, either.

I will try to write more before I graduate in May, but no promises. I have tons of papers to write, and a few huge final projects for various classes. They are largely pleasant tasks, but there are so many, and miles to go before I sleep. All best to all of you, if anyone is still reading.
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A new western novel from Peter Grant
My friend Peter has just published his second in a series of western novels. Rocky Mountain Retribution is out on Amazon now, and it's already had a handful of nice reviews. :)
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Thursday, January 12, 2017
Glorious music for a new year
I'm sorry for yet another grand pause in blogging.  The holidays were a bit rocky, and I'm learning a couple of parts for Opera scenes at school for my final semester.  I'll be singing Dorabella in Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan tutte, and I'll sing a nice role (not the ingenue, thankfully) from Rossini's Le Comte Ory.  Should be fun, and it's wonderful to sink my teeth into singing these days. I am studying with a superb teacher who was a student of Cornelius Reid for more than 25 years.  I feel like nearly every lesson is a breakthrough, and I daily feel closer to singing with my true voice. These three final semesters of school have been a real gift for me as a singer, and they have come in the nick of time, or at least right when I had decided I'd never sing again.

In opera, I'm generally more fond of the baritone or bass singer in any opera ensemble, but I came across a glorious recording of an opera today on a long-time favorite opera site.  This is a 1959 recording of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, and the role of Nadir is played beautifully by Alain Vanzo, a tenor of whom I was sadly unaware.  His voice is like satin.  In truth, the tenor can be impossible to escape or ignore, and often feels like audio trepanning, but Vanzo is magnificent, truly.  You can read more on the link about his performance career, of which there are too few recordings.  Do yourself a favor and click here to listen, scrolling down to the audio file and click on the green play arrow.  It's not a long opera- under 1.5 hours, but the music is outstanding, and is at its finest in this recording.  If you have something to do around the house, crank this up and listen while you do chores.  I think you'll find yourself pausing simply to listen.  This recording is impeccable.  If you listen, please let me know what you think.  I am so delighted to learn about Vanzo, and I hope he will be a happy discovery for you, too.

If you happen to be a fan of opera, or of classical voice, the authors and commenters on that site, Parterre Box, are some of the most knowledgeable and passionate fans of the art, and the discussions are lively and entertaining. Indeed, their enthusiasm gives me hope that the art of opera will endure for centuries to come. 
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Sunday, December 11, 2016
Howdy, folks!
Life continues apace.

Sorry for my long absence, but this semester has been hectic.  I applied for May graduation in early October, and although I await confirmation from the Registrar, I am reasonably confident of that date for finally finishing this degree.  I'm sure I'll have more to say on that subject as the time draws nigh.  I worry that I shan't sleep for the months of April or May-- I will be in full terrier mode at that point, I expect.  I'll sleep-- lightly, occasionally-- on top of the covers with Praline, ready to spring into action at any moment.  That, or I'll be wrung out and simply too tired to spaz.  At least I have no 8 or 9 AM classes in the Spring, which makes me more happy than I can convey.  I am more the type to get up at the crack of noon, so 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00 AM classes this semester have been major factors in how tiring this session has been.

My music minor is going well.  It's good to sing classical repertoire again, and I happened into the most superb voice teacher.  I've made so many startling breakthroughs vocally, with his brilliant guidance.  It's a sort of alchemy, finding the teacher who can unravel the intricacies of how you produce sound, then strip away the unnecessary and the bits that are just plain wrong.  Singing is much easier than ever before, actually, but I'm battling decades-old bad habits.  I will participate in some opera scenes in the Spring, so that should be interesting.

I have two finals to take this week, and then the semester is completed.  I expect to finish with my highest grade tally in many years, which will be a robust boost for my GPA. 

In early October, I broke my phone, and a friend generously gave me an older phone they no longer use. One reason I haven't posted as frequently-- particularly the puppy posts-- is that the new old phone does not let me post onto blogger, for some reason.  I hope to remedy this situation within the next month.

Other news: wow, the big election happened.  Frankly, I was so sick of the news cycles and the constant blaring about Trump, and most of the media's perpetual fawning over HRC.  I remember being sick of the election a full year before it even happened.  I'm still surprised at the outcome.  I haven't been a fan of Trump, but I think he will make a better president than she would have done.  It's ironic how most of the establishment politicos and media were in lockstep to oppose him-- that was probably the best thing they could have done for his campaign.  I looked at all the negative press he received, and saw their hand-fast with political leaders present and past, and I wondered how's come they can all agree to oppose Trump down to the point that they use identical criticisms for him, but they can't be bothered to do what we hire them to do and balance the budget, or something?  I wish all the best for our country, and I hope that Trump wins some people over by doing a splendid job as president.  I am impressed with some of the early news about cabinet choices, and I think his thank you tour has shown him to be a classier act than he was credited by his opponents.  He seems presidential and dignified, and I am pleased by that.

Irony moment: HRC campaign and DNC conspired to keep Bernie Sanders from getting the Dem nomination.  Bernie had a better chance of beating Trump than HRC ever did.  I hope the DNC savor the irony for a long while to come.  In the space of about 72 hours, the news cycle turned from crowing about the end of the Republican party, to a pants-soiling lament about the end of the Democratic party.  I think the takeaway from all of this is that it's hogwash, and that we need to mine the internet for news from a variety of sources, and throw out the incumbent in pretty much every election.  

As for people who say that we are a laughing stock around the world for our choice of Trump: I am unmoved, and un-intimidated.  We are Americans: people expect us to be a little wackadoodle.  Why change now?   There's a reason for the double- or triple-meaning in the name and term "Mickey Mouse."  I'll leave that there, for now.

I entered a short fiction competition this year and did quite well, though I did not make the finals.  There were about 2200 people in the competition, initially, and I made the semi-finals of 300.  I am satisfied with the final story I submitted, and the feedback I got in every round from judges was quite useful.  I learned this week that I didn't make the final of 40 writers, and I am glad that I don't have to write a story this weekend, in addition to studying for finals.

I'll try not to be so scarce around here.  I do expect the Spring semester will be hectic, but I hope it will be enjoyable, as well.  I have two classes with favorite faculty members, so I want to do well, and I know I will learn. 
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Saturday, October 22, 2016
Gonna throw out a link with some important content:
Here's a link to Old NFO's Wordless Wednesday post. 

If a high ranking pol from any political party but the DNC were videotaped laughing about the prevalence of their election fraud, do you think it would be all over the mainstream media?  It would be, but this story is not.  Further, the running-scared media are lying to their audience, saying things like it's "illegal to read wikileaks" that prove how they(major "news" companies) have acted to affect outcomes in politics, business, and and international relations.  CNN wants you to feel guilty about looking at information their anointed politicians casually tossed off from unsecure servers with no concern for security, national- or otherwise.

How is the average American to feel, other than betrayed by these news organizations who do not report without bias, just the facts.  They tap dance double-time to shield the facts in some cases, and to mis-frame issues, altogether.

No linkey love for Michael Moore, but various outlets are reporting that in his new film, he states that he hopes that Hillary Clinton DID have Vince Foster killed.  "That's bad ass," he is reported to have said. 

Think of how horrible a person it takes to kill another person who knows too much about their shady business dealings.  Think of the scale of vileness their dealings have to have reached to necessitate the murder of people who know what they are all about: how can anyone want a person of that character for the leader of our nation?  Even joking about that telegraphs a dark cynicism about values and ideals on which our nation was founded.    Not funny.  I'm not laughing.

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Name: Phlegmfatale
Location: Elsewhere, Texas, USA

I'm not whining;
I'm unburdening.

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