Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 - Happy New Year!

                                              HAPPY NEW YEAR!
2010 was a great year for Three States Plus One and I owe it all to you! Your continued unwavering support
has made writing this blog more fun than a middle aged white guy is entitled to. Since I started this gig back in mid-June, you, the readers, have viewed it more than twelve thousand times! That's way more than I ever expected a mere six months ago. In that vein, Three States Plus One is now read in forty-eight states in the Union and fifty-nine countries around the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and all places in between. I am confident that Three States is set to have a breakout year in 2011 and that, too, I owe to you. Earlier tonight I was reading some analytics of this site and found out that on December 29, the day I wrote about Texas History, one of my posts went viral. As far as I know, that's a first for me and I am damn proud of it. But, it wasn't my brilliant writing and biting satire that propelled that post to go viral, it was you, the reader, who generously recommended it to your friends and family. I could write with the eloquence of Shakespeare and if nobody read it, this blog would go belly up pretty quick. Every time I write a post, I try like hell to make it better than the last one. I do that for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I am a proud man. If it's got my name on it, it had damn well better meet my own expectations, or it isn't fit to post. The second, more important reason, is because you give to me the gift of your time to read what I write. The very least I can do for you, is to make it worth your time to visit Three States Plus One. Please understand that I take the gift of your time very seriously and I am grateful and humbled that you give me that gift on a regular basis. I only hope that I give something back to you in return. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. Now it's on to 2011 and time to kick ass and take names!

Happy New Year and God bless,

More of the Best of 2010!

We'll continue our look back at 2010 with some "Best of..." posts today, but first I want to remind you of what you missed if didn't get a chance to read yesterday's entries about my hometown and some other of 2010's best and most popular posts, including a very emotional and powerful post on the anniversary of 9/11. Sit back with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy a recap of what you, the reader, determined to be our most popular posts of 2010.
  • The Rio Grande Starts Here - I was kind of surprised when I looked at the blog archives and noticed that this was our most- read Colorado Chronicles post of the year, but it was. 
  • Caught - This was, without a doubt, my personal favorite post of the year. It's about "going to church" with a fishin' pole at a pond way up in the Rockies. A place where God and I have a Father-Son talk amongst the majestic Rocky Mountain peaks, the brilliant sunshine and of course, a fishin' hole. To me, that's "church". Can I get an amen from the readership?
  • Tomah Joseph - Another personal favorite and you guys liked it, too. Tomah Joseph was an Indian who lived in the early 20th Century near where my wife grew up in Eastport. He was an amazing man with an amazing life story. When you click over to the story, be sure to click the links embedded within the story. it really is a great read.
The three posts I listed up there ^^^, are well worth the time to take a look at... not because of my legendary literary skills ( I just made that part up...), but because the subject matter is something that you won't find anywhere but where I found it or right here on Three States Plus One. Thanks for making these posts easy choices to be in the "Best of 2010". You done good.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best of 2010 - Irving, My Hometown

The Mustangs of Las Colinas
Back on July 28, I wrote a post about something I was very familiar with - my hometown of Irving, Texas. Although I hadn't been home in a million years, I still had memories of my childhood and high school years as fresh as the day they were made. A lot of my readers, who happened to friends as well, enjoyed the ride back in time also. I got some good feedback in the comment section of the post and a ton of feedback on Facebook with other people's memories of Irving.

Here is that post, reprinted in its entirety.

I know many of my friends back in Texas will relate to this post. So many of them, like me, grew up or lived in Irving long enough to call it "my hometown". I moved to Irving the summer before my 10th birthday in 1966, and the population of Irving was, if I recall correctly, about 40,000. Now over 200,000 live in the City. Wow! My little town has grown up! Irving was founded in 1903 by J.O. "Otto" Schultz and Otis Brown (who was later mayor of Irving) and is believed to be named after author Washington Irving who was a favorite of Mrs. Brown. I haven't been to Irving in at least nine years, therefore I can only guess how much it's changed during that time. However, I do remember how Irving was when I was a little boy riding my Schwinn 5-Speed Stick Shift bike (even then the chicks dug a cool set of wheels :) ) literally all over town - from near Wakefield's Grocery and Mr. Wood's Barber Shop on Shady Grove all the way to the 183 Apartments where my Dad lived. As a kid , that was as cool as riding a Harley, pure freedom. Here are some other things that come to mind when reliving the '60's in my hometown, in no particular order...
  • Cliff's Donuts (and later next door Cliff's Pizza). Mr. Shasteen was a very nice man who on occasion let a group of young men of drinking age have all night get-togethers with FREE pizza ! Almost 40 years too late...thanks, Mr. Shasteen. Oh, yeah...Cliff's Donuts were a Sunday morning tradition for Sunday School at the Baptist Church just up the street on Story Road.
  • Denny's on Hwy.183...I spent many after partying hours eating chili there with Tommy Thompson and Mark Hardesty. Tommy's now dead (RIP BROTHER) and last I heard, Mark is a long-time guest of the State.
  • The 183 Drive-In - Where The Duke his own self, John Wayne stood on top of the concession stand with rifles a-blazin' for the World Premier of True Grit, in which Wayne won an Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn.
  • Texas Stadium - not only for all the Cowboys' games I attended there with Randy Randle, but for the thousands of fellow Nimitz High graduates who walked the stage passing from schoolkid to welcome-to-the real world young people.
  • Dar Roedel and Linda Staggs - These two ladies were more than teachers or counselors, they were friends and second Moms to an untold number of kids, me included. I love them dearly and will never forget the impact they had on my life. 
  • Friends - too many to mention, because there were/are so many of you. From waaaaaay back : Keith Story and Mark Warren. I have known those guys for over 40 years and I'll never forget them. Randy Randle, Marvin, Dee Dee, Dewayne, John and Marty. They treated me like one of their family and to this day, I consider them my family. Tommy Thompson...maybe the best friend I ever had, and that's saying something. I loved Tommy like a brother and wish I could have just one more beer with him. I hope I was half the friend to him that he was to me. Mark Hardesty... Mark was, shall we say, "rough around the edges", but he was a great friend. I would say more, but I'm not sure the Statute of Limitations has run out. All the friends I have re-connected with through Facebook. I love you guys and I can only say "It was fun" or "I'm sorry". You decide which camp you are in. :)
I could carry on for hours, but that will be for another time, perhaps. What are your memories of Irving? Or your hometown? Tell us in the comments, we'd love to know

A Look Back at September's Best Posts

Things Got Rollin' in September
September found Three States Plus One really getting a solid foot hold in the blogosphere. It seemed like all of the sudden we went from being virtually unknown, which we were, to getting readers from all over the world. We started off well in Texas and Maine, but that was to be expected, because I have many friends and family members in those two states, and, just to be supportive, they'd have read the Uncertain, Texas phone book if I posted it. Silly people. But, I digress. From my point of view as a Blog Owner/Administartor, each time I looked at the Flag Counter that appears on each page of the blog and discovered a new country's flag added to the roster, I began to believe a little more in what I was doing...that people, complete strangers in most cases, actually found value in what I was writing. That said, I am not a writer. I am a more verbal kind of guy. Hell, for over 15 years I was a radio DJ. Listeners depended on my verbal skills in order to digest the information I was feeding them. If you could listen to what I write, I think it would be a lot more effective in getting across the tone and inflection of what I write. Those of you who know me understand what am talking about.

Here's a list of a few of the most popular posts from September:
  • Hungry Maine for Texas Vittles - This was our first "blockbuster" post, receiving over 100 page views. This was a big deal for me. It was validation that this blog thing might work out if I stuck with it long enough. 
  • Special Edition - 9/11 - This post was HUGE for me. It was the first time I really went off on any given subject. Dirty words and all, this was a smash. I find it a bit ironic that soon after I posted this one, I began to get a lot of attention from Muslim countries. Go figure. Asswipes.
  • An Almost Clean Getaway - I remember when I wrote this post I was in a hurry to make an appointment or something. Anyway, I found something real fast and scribbled down a post and didn't think twice about it. It was basically a space-filler at the time. But it ended up being one of the most popular posts of the month! Don't ask me why. But thanks!
That's a good start to our look back at the first six months of Three States Plus One. I'll be back in a little while with more bullshit award-worthy literary brilliance and insightful observation. :)

Our First Six Months - A Look Back

Blog Archives Stored Here
It's hard to believe that this blog is now six months old. During that time we have experienced what I suspect that any new blog, or even many more established blogs, experience. The ebb and flow, ups and downs, highs and lows... you get the picture. Since it's the end of the year, I thought it might be kind of neat to look back at some of the most popular topics we covered, as well as some of my personal favorites from the past six months.

I would also like to get your input as to what you thought were the bests posts of the last six months. Maybe you bookmarked a post or sent one to a friend (who will never forgive you for doing that) that you think should be highlighted (lowlighted?). Just drop me a note in the comment section or shoot me an email at threestatesplusone AT gmail DOT com with your suggestion and we'll definitely give it another posting.

I will now don my Hazmat suit and be off to peer into the hermetically sealed Budweiser box that houses the archives to Three States Plus One in a quest to find the worst best of 2010.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Texas History: The Civil War and Beyond

The Lone Star
The Civil War was undoubtedly one of the darkest chapters in the history of the United States. The war's effect on Texas was quite different than its effects on other states in the Confederacy and the Union. While 70,000 Texans served in the Confederate Army and participated in just about every major battle in the conflict, no major battles were fought on Texas soil. The main role of Texas at this time was as a supply state to the Confederacy. Other than manpower, beef, ammo and cotton were the most vital contributions made by the state during the war. When Union troops blockaded Galveston and other Texas ports, cotton was traded with European countries and Mexico for supplies to aid the Confederate Army in its war effort.

While the overwhelming majority of Texans supported secession from the Union, there was significant opposition to such a move, spearheaded by none other than Sam Houston his own self. From Wikipeadia , "Houston was probably the premier "Unionist" in Texas. Like most of the same in the South, he strongly believed in the doctrine of states rights, and even assured his fellow Texans he would personally lead the state out of the Union should matters justify such. However, he thought secession at the moment in time was "rash action," and certain to lead to a conflict sure to favor– in the long run– the industrial and populated North. He predicted: "Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. The North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery impulsive people as we are...but once they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum of a mighty avalanche, and what I fear is that they will overwhelm the South with ignoble defeat." Houston was clairvoyant with his words.

Texas, of course, rejoined the Union.However, her rise to prominence on the national stage lay ahead of her. She had survived a war for independence, a stint as her own country, Civil War and Yankee Carpetbaggers during Reconstruction, but she would rise to meteoric heights in the future with the same dogged determination and courage her people had displayed during the toughest of times. She is, after all, "the damnedest lady you ever saw". She is Texas. Long may she live!

Texas History: The Alamo

The third nation to fly its flag over Texas was the most notorious of the six - Mexico. This is an era in Texas History that more people are familiar with than any other. The War for Texas Independence has been memorialized in books, films, TV shows, and text books. However, it is a single battle of the War that is world famous and is seen as an act of courage, patriotism and man's yearning to be free that will forever remind all generations that freedom demands constant sacrifice and vigilance, lest it be wrested away by tyranny.The battle of which I speak is the Battle of the Alamo, a military engagement that set in stone the meaning of sacrifice and a desire to be free of dictatorial rule in the face of overwhelming odds. The defenders of the Alamo numbered about 200. Their Mexican adversaries, several thousand. Yet, the men at the Alamo waged a fierce defense of their position, knowing that surely each of them would die at the hands of General Santa Ana. Perish they did, but the courage displayed by these men remains unparalleled in the history of warfare, in my opinion. From February 23, 1836 to March 6, 1836, facing insurmountable odds, they fought with the resolve that has since been a trademark characteristic of Texans throughout the last 174 years.

Some five and a half weeks later, the men at the Alamo were no less present in the hearts and minds of a ragtag Texan Army under the command of the larger than life Sam Houston, when they revenged their fellow Texans by routing the powerful Mexican Army and it's leader General Santa Ana on the bayou at San Jacinto. The Republic of Texas was born.

Texas History: The First Europeans Visit Texas

First of the Six Flags
The first Europeans to land in Texas did so in 1519, while on a voyage to find a passage from the Gulf of Mexico to Asia. Alonso Alvarez de Pineda and his men landed in Texas while on the previously mentioned mission for the Governor of Jamaica ( read Spain). Alvarez de Pineda mapped the northern Gulf Coast of Texas, thus writing the first recorded document in the history of Texas.

One of the survivors of this expedition was a man named Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. Between 1528 and 1535, Cabeza de Vaca and another survivor of the Pineda expedition spent six and a half years in Texas as slaves to local Indians and as traders. Cabeza de Vaca was the first European to explore the interior of Texas. Thus began the European exploration of Texas. Spain would then lay claim to Texas for well over a century and a half.

In 1685, France would be the second European country to declare Texas as one of its colonies. The French rule lasted only five years when Spain reclaimed Texas for the Spanish Throne. The Spanish would maintain control of Texas until 1821, when Mexico won its independence from Spain and Texas became a state of Mexico.

We know where the story goes from here, and that's what we'll look into on our next post later this afternoon as we celebrate the annexation of Texas into the United States on December 29, 1845. Hasta la vista!

Texas History: The People of Texas - Just Wired Different

Just Wired Different
 I wanted to begin our series of posts on Texas History with something that is a must read, especially for non-Texans. I bring this to your attention because many people don't understand how Texans can be so fiercely proud of their home state. Texans are extremely proud people, no doubt. It's something that is natural to us. To understand that feeling, a non-Texan must peer into the heart of a Texan and see something that is as much a part of us as is our soul. We (Texans) are just wired different than other folks, not better than or more important than, just wired different. Kind of like a PC vs. a Mac. Same kind of machine doing the same things to get to the same place, but in a different way. Just wired different.

Texas. It's like a whole other country, as the saying goes. Or, as John Wayne said, "Texas is the damnedest lady I ever saw." Both of those observations are bullseye accurate. Willie Nelson once told me during an interview, "I could be dead ass asleep on the bus and when we cross that Texas line, I can feel it." That Willie sure has a way with words, doesn't he? Being a Texan in a land far away, like I am, in Maine, gives me, perhaps a different perspective than many still-in-Texas Texans. Don't get me wrong, I love Maine. It's a great place to live and raise a family. The scenery here is very much like East Texas, pine trees everywhere, lots of lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers and good, down-to-Earth, proud people that talk funny. I miss Texas. A lot. It's home. It's like my Mother, a part of me that is eternal and undeniable. A piece of my soul, a blessing from God. Something that nobody can ever take away from me. Texas is me. And you. And your kids and neighbors and fellow parishiners at church. Texas is Us. Even the Yankees that call Texas  'home", they are Texas and Texans, and  like James Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and Stephen F. Austin, once foreigners, now us, Texans. You know, American by birth, Texan by the Grace of God. The following link is to a piece written by legendary Texan and football coach, Bum Phillips. Bum, like Willie, has a way with words. Take a few minutes to read it, alone if you can, think about it, then pass it on to your kids or grandkids, your friends (especially if they live in another part of the country), whomever. As Texans, when we talk about Texas, we don't brag, we do so with a deep-rooted pride and reverence. Because we are forged of a hotter fire.

Texas History - An Introduction

The Lone Star
The history of Texas is as varied and colorful as the land itself. Many people don't know that the history of Texas as we know it, began less than thirty years after Columbus landed in the New World. From the time of the first Europeans setting foot in Texas in 1519, to 1836 when Texas won its independence from Mexico through the Civil War years, the flags of six countries would fly over the Lone Star State.

Today, in a series of short posts, we will celebrate this extraordinary place called Texas. Our journey will begin in 1519 and take us through the centuries on a historical adventure that is second to none in its diverse, yet unique path through time... a journey that will explore the land, the people and events that shaped this magnificent place into what it is today, almost 500 years after the the footsteps of the first Europeans were fresh in the sand.

It was on this date in 1845 that , after nine years as the Republic of Texas, that Texas became the 28th state to join the Union, by treaty with the United States.

Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow Texans and citizens of all lands, it is with great pride that I humbly present to you..."the damnedest lady you ever saw"...


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tomorrow Is a Very Special Day - Here's a Preview

The Lone Star
I wanted to post this announcement tonight so you'd be aware of what is going to be our feature tomorrow on Three States Plus One, because tomorrow is a special day for all Texans. It was on December 29, 1845 that The Republic of Texas became the State of Texas, entering the United States as the 28th State in the Union.

I am thinking about doing several small posts, each of which would cover a specific period in Texas History, from the 16th Century to the present. That's a lot of territory to cover, but I think it will be well worth the effort when all is said and done. I promise to make each post as concise and informative as possible. This type of format will also allow you to read each entry as your time constraints dictate, without getting about half way through a single long post and being interrupted by something work.

It promises to be a lot of fun taking a look at the events and people that shaped the land that is like no other place on Earth. It's your home. It's my home. And it's like a whole other country. It is Texas.

The Blizzard of 2010: The Aftermath

When I went outside a few minutes ago, I saw something very strange. There was this big, yellow ball in the sky. I came back in and fired up my laptop and put my Google Fu to good work. After doing some exhausted research, I learned what this strange orb was. According to Wikipedia, this object is called the Sun. It's been what seems like forever since we've seen in it, I needed documentary evidence to prove what this object was. I am relieved to know that what I suspected it to be was indeed true.

While outside, I snapped a couple of more photos that show the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2010. I was able to walk around the parking lot in our section of the complex and got some close ups of the reminders of what we experienced over the course of Sunday night and all day yesterday.

The first photo shows where some of the snow was plowed off the parking lot into the courtyard. the peak of this pile is about six feet tall.

The second picture looks like snow on the ground. It is indeed snow on the ground, but the snow has filled up a big hole which acts as a drain with about six feet of snow!

The big pile in the next photo is some of the snow removed from part of the parking lot in front of our apartment. This pile of snow is at least seven feet tall!

I haven't even looked out the back door yet, so I may have more photos to post later today. My best guess of how much snow we got is between two and a half to three feet! It's difficult to tell because it was so windy that the snow didn't exactly settle like it would on a less windy day. In case you missed the live blogging I did yesterday as the blizzard hit us with all its fury, you can look it over right here.

It was quite an experience, as one weather guy put it, to witness tropical storm strength winds with snow falling at 2 or 3 inches per hour. It's still December for a few more days and winter is just getting started here in New England, and I'm confident that we'll get another big blast before it's all said and done. Damn, I miss Texas.  :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Blizzard of 2010 Howls On! (UPDATED - Scroll Down for UPDATES)

When I went to bed last night, we had about four inches of snow on the ground, with more pouring down. And pour it did. Look at the difference in these two photos.

As you can see, I took the "before" photo prior to receiving any snow. The "after" photo is what I woke up to this morning. The maintainence guys here at the complex were hard at work early this morning shoveling and using the snow blower and snowplows in order to make it as easy as possible for the residents to get in and out of their apartments and, if possible, into their cars. The wind has been blowing a steady 15 - 20 mph, with gusts in excess of 40 mph, so the snow is being blasted around at a pretty good clip and is not making a nice even cover on the ground or the cars. See the little silver car in the pics? Notice there's about two feet of snow on the ground next to it, but hardly any on the car itself. I estimate that we have gotten at least a foot of snow and that's fairly accurate, I'm sure. According to forecasts, it looks like we may be in for another foot or so before the snow moves out sometime tonight.

I'll certainly keep an eye on things and pass along any updates that might add to this story. I hope those of you who live in warmer climes will get as big a kick out of my coverage of this storm as I am in sharing it with you. So, stay tuned for more later!

UPDATE 10:00 AM, EST - since posting this earlier this morning, when the the sidewalks were cleared off, we have received about 3 more inches of snow. The winds have backed off a little, but it's still quite breezy and it's snowing like hell. I'll be back in a little while with more info on the Blizzard of 2010, including a new photo or two.

UPDATE 11:40 AM, EST - I miscalculated the snow fall in the previous update, I should have said we had gotten an additional six inches, not 3. Since that time we have received an aditional 3 more inches. Snow appears to be falling at a rate of two to three inches per hour. That's a lot of snow. Some drifts of 5 feet can be found around the complex. The snow that was plowed from the parking lot is being put into mounds at seven feet tall. More accumulation is a given. Back in a while with more Blizzard News!

UPDATE 12:43 PM, EST - It's still snowing like hell, but the end is supposedly in sight. In sight as in sometime tonight. I have seen many heavy snow storms here in Maine and in Colorado, high in the Rockies. This one will be noted not just for the prolific amount of snow it has and will continue to dump, but because the winds have been constantly gusting to 35 - 40 mph for the last 18 hours. It's hard to measure the amount of snow that has fallen, but I am sure that at my house we have gotten close to two feet, with some drifts up to 5 or 6 feet around the property. The maintainence crew plowed the parking lot about 3 hours ago and we've gotten several more inches since then. It's a wild scene. As I look out my back window while typing this update, I can barely see the building about 30 yards behind us. The wind is vicious and the snow is "falling" parallel to the the ground. :) See you later with more updates on the Blizzard of 2010!

Looking out across the courtyard after plowing

UPDATE 1:35 PM, EST -  I just checked in with AccuWeather and the Blizzard Warning for Augusta has been extended to 6 PM, EST. That will make it about 24 straight hours of Blizzard or Near Blizzard conditions for the area. At my house we will probably end up with near 3 feet of snow on the ground by the time all is said and done. A few minutes ago I stepped out on the front porch and snapped a few photos to share with you.
Looking across the street from my front door

See the piles of snow behind the red truck? That is snow that was plowed from the parking lot to our building. They are at least seven feet tall.

UPDATE 2:45 PM, EST - Things haven't changed over the last hour, except for the fact that we are one hour closer to the 6 PM, EST expiration of the Blizzard Warning. You can get a look at the local RADAR for Augusta at this link to AccuWeather. As you can see, we are located at the dead center of the storm so it is making little to no movement away from us. It's similar to the bull's eye on a rotating dart board. Augusta is the bull's eye of this storm.

UPDATE 6:00 PM, EST - The Blizzard Warning that has been in effect in the form of a Watch or Warning for at least 36 hours, has expired. Nothing changed over the last few hours, so I didn't even bother to add any updates. It's still windy and snowing like hell and it's gonna get REAL cold tonight with the low temperature dipping to 8 degrees. Along with a stout North-Northwest wind, chill factors could approach -15 to -20 degrees.

It's been a lot of fun Live Blogging the Blizzard of 2010 for you today and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. If anything out of the ordinary happens, I'll post it here and on Facebook. Thanks again, y'all. Adios.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Snowed In
We just got back from an overnight trip to my wife's hometown of Eastport where we visited with her family. We had a wonderful time and made out like bandits with lots of loot, including a new fishin' pole to me from my father-in-law.  :) We had plenty to eat while we were there also - chicken wings, bacon-wrapped scallops, stuffed shrimp and three kinds of pies. I am still full. It was nice to go back to Eastport because I think we will be moving there in the next few months.

We had planned to only stay last night and maybe all day today, but then this came up. This is not your basic get a foot or two of snow nor'easters, it is a full blown blizzard. Here is the technical definition of a blizzard. We are stocked up at home with plenty to eat and an ample supply of bottled water, so I think we are prepared. The only thing I am concerned about is losing power because we are at 17 degrees at 1:15 PM EST. We would definitely miss the heat if power went out. But we have each other, so it's all good. I'll try to live blog the blizzard as it happens. If you'd like to keep on top of it with me, keep an eye on the blog or Facebook or better yet, subscribe to the blog and updates will be emailed to you automatically. The sing up is in the right side bar.

If you'd prefer to watch things develop on Augusta RADAR, you can do so on, or Those are the three best weather websites on the internet. The info you would need to see what is happening where I live is: Augusta, Maine and the zip code is 04330. That will get you to the nitty gritty of the weather situation as it unfolds.

If I am able, I will update as I can with weather info and photos. For those of you who have never experienced a blizzard, it's quite a sight to behold. So,check back when you can and experience what's happening as it takes place here in Maine.

UPDATE: The snow just started falling at 6:37 PM, EST. The blizzard has begun!    

UPDATE 2: 8:22PM EST - The heavier snow moved in about 30 minutes ago. The wind is blowing pretty good now, too. I'll have another update when something good happens.

UPDATE 9:36PM, EST Since my last update about an hour ago, we have received about an inch more of snow. I am headed outside to take some more photos and will post them in a few minutes.

UPDATE: 9:52PM, EST - I took this shot while standing on my front porch. I am looking across the street at another building in our complex. If you look just to the left of dead center of the photo, you'll see a porch light about 100 yards away. I zoomed in to get a good look at it. Let's see if it's visible in another hour or so.

UPDATE 10:54 PM, EST - We've picked up another two inches of snow in the last hour, with about another 8 or 10 inches due overnight and still more for tomorrow. This will be my last update for the night. I should have some good photos for you tomorrow. Until then, Adios.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Classic! 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Tis the day before Christmas and all through the place,
Everyone woke with a smile on his face,
Outdoors there's snow on the ground,
Ready to welcome the Man who is round,
The children, all happy, are dancing about,
Greeting the day with a squeal and a shout,
With Yuletide chores that we still must do,
We wish you the best, Merry Christmas to you!

I just made that up. :) It serves as a prelude to the real deal. The timeless poem that has been part of the American Christmas Tradition for almost two hundred years. With that, I happily and merrily present to you, dear friend, a Christmas Classic.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.
When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
 I got this copy of the poem from Click the link and scroll past the poem to the bottom of the page and there's a nice little history of the Yuletide standard.

To all of you, I wish the Merriest of Christmases. May God bless you and your loved ones with happiness and prosperity for all your days.

Feliz Navidad,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

SPECIAL CHRISTMAS ALERT! Track Santa Live on Christmas Eve!

Keep Tabs on This Guy
This post is quite possibly the most important post of the Christmas season. Ask your children or grand kids and they'll tell you that it is so. As a public service, I am obligated by my love for children to put this information out there for public consumption. Below you will find a few web sites that step to the fore each year at this time, to track the path of Santa Claus as he makes his annual trip around the world delivering goodies to boys and girls of all lands. The people behind these web sites use all the latest technology to track Santa on his journey to the four corners of the planet. I have it on good authority that Santa Trackers on every continent will be using not only RADAR, but satellites as well to keep a bead on Santa's sleigh by way of a special Global Positioning System, or GPS, to guide the Jolly Old Elf around any turbulent weather he might encounter in order to make his trip as safe as possible.

These web sites will be following Santa as he travels the globe on Christmas Eve night:
  • NORAD - This is the site that I normally use to track Santa for my kids. They are experts in Santa Tracking with many years experience. "NORAD (the Aerospace Defense Command of North America) is the one that gives us information on the journey of Santa. They have been tracking his movements since 1955 and online they showed people Santa’s position since 1998.
    The site of NORAD says that this tradition began by accident, as a newspaper misprinted an ad. The misspelled number in the ad made kids call NORAD instead of the local store, and the operators told the kids where Santa was located with the help of their radar. Since the, each year, volunteers and staff watch for Santa’s ride and let people know where he is."
  • - When you click on the link to, you'll find many activities to keep you busy in between updates on Santa's flight. There are games, letters to Santa, Naughty and Nice Lists and you can even get a phone call from Santa himself!
  • - Another web location to keep an eye on Santa's progress. they also provided almost all of the information on NORAD (above)
  • Where's Santa Now? - These folks are located at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and they use the most modern tools to track Santa.
In my opinion, as a 50 year plus veteran of Santa Tracking, the web sites listed above offer the most detailed and latest information on the flight of Saint Nick on Christmas Eve. They are all FREE and will be available anywhere you have an internet connection, including your cell phone. I hope you'll find one or more of them useful.

Merry Christmas !!!

Twas the Night Before Christmas (Texas Style)

On Bubba and Leroy and Jim Bob and Gus
'Twas the night before Christmas, in Texas, you know.  
 Way out on the prairie, without any snow.  
 Asleep in their cabin, were Buddy and Sue,  
 A dreamin' of Christmas, like me and you.  
 Not stockings, but boots, at the foot of their bed,  
 For this was Texas, what more need be said,  
 When all of a sudden, from out of the still night,  
 There came such a ruckus, it gave me a fright.  
 And I saw 'cross the prairie, like a shot from a gun,  
 A loaded up buckboard, come on at a run,  
 The driver was "Geein" and "Hawin", with a will,  
 The horses (not reindeer) he drove with such skill.  
 "Come on there Buck, Poncho, & Prince, to the right,  
 There'll be plenty of travelin' for you all tonight."  
 The driver in Levi's and a shirt that was red,  
 Had a ten-gallon Stetson on top of his head.  
 As he stepped from the buckboard, he was really a sight,  
 With his beard and moustache, so curly and white.  
 As he burst in the cabin, the children awoke,  
 And were so astonished, that neither one spoke.  
 And he filled up their boots with such presents galore,  
 That neither could think of a single thing more.  
 When Buddy recovered the use of his jaws,  
 He asked in a whisper, "Are you really Santa Claus?"  
 "Am I the real Santa? Well, what do you think?"  
 And he smiled as he gave a mysterious wink.  
 Then he leaped in his buckboard, and called back in his drawl,  
 "To all the children in Texas, Merry Christmas, You-all"  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

Francis Pharcellus Church
With Christmas Eve just two days away, I wanted to be sure to get a couple of Christmas classics posted before The Big Day. This is as classic as it gets and is as timely today as it was over a century ago. It's a question that as children, we all faced at one time or another, "Is there a Santa Claus?" Do I believe in Santa Claus? As long as my little girls are little girls and my grand children are children, and if I'm lucky enough to live to see my great-grand children when they arrive, you damn right I believe in Santa Claus. Could billions of children around the world all be wrong? Of course not.  :)

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

This article can be found on a million websites, but I chose to get it from an excellent site called Newseum. If you enjoy reading about history and would like to see what the news coverage of an event was at the time it happened, Newseum is an absolute treasure chest of nuggets like this..

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Movies for Every Taste! (Or Lack Thereof)

Today marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Not only is it the first day of winter, but it's the shortest day of the year as well. And to top all that off, Christmas is just four days away! Watching Christmas movies with your family is a nice way to spend an evening together during this time of year. I did a little internet sleuthing and I came across this particular list that features some of the all time Christmas Classics and some of the dumbest movies ever made. Since being generous is a yuletide mandate, I'll be nice and just post the list without any of my own commentary, instead relying on the opinion of whoever reviewed them. They are all available for free online, so unaltered, here's the list:
That's a diverse list of movies, so you can watch any or all of them at your leisure. There are a few more movies on this link to that would require some extra "egg nog" to actually sit through, so use your own discretion.  :)  Merry Christmas, y'all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Maine Minutiae: A Double New Years Celebration

Two New Years in One
In this post we are going to look past Christmas into the New Year, 2011. We are also looking east as you can look and still be in the United States. We are once again heading out to the easternmost city in the country, Eastport, Maine. As many of you will recall, Eastport is my wife's hometown. We are heading there again this weekend to do the Christmas Thing with Heather's family. It will be nice to see all the in-laws again, but I wish that we could put the trip off for another week. If we head out this week, we will miss the Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop. This is an annual New Years Eve event in Eastport, with several hundred people braving what is certain to be cold and breezy weather. A few hundred folks is quite a crowd because the population of Eastport is only about 1600. the cool thing about this Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop is that the revelers get to celebrate the arrival of the new year twice! The deal is that you can look across the bay from Eastport and see Canada, which (I am just guessing here) can't be much more than a mile away. this is where the Maple Leaf Drop comes in. It's kinda like the ball in Times Square counting down to the New Year. The Maple Leaf Drop happens at midnight Atlantic Time which is 11:00PM Eastern Time. So for an hour, New Brunswick is in the New Year while Eastport is still in the old. At midnight Eastern Time, the Sardine Drop welcomes in the New Year to Maine and the Eastern Time Zone of the USA. This is just an excuse to drink more beer in welcoming in the New Year to both countries. And of course, getting an extra New Year smooch from your better half.

Here's the web site that has all the information you'll need to know if you'd like to spend the New Years Weekend observing and celebrating its arrival in two countries within one hour. It sounds like a hoot and I'd like to be there for the big shindig, but I think I'll be headed to Colorado to see my Mom and my step Dad.

Let me figure this out. If I time it just right I can welcome in the New Year to Canada and the Eastern Time Zone of the USA, catch a plane for Denver in Bangor, celebrate the New Year in the Central Time Zone in mid-flight, then land in Denver,  haul ass to my Mom's house then bring in 2011 in the Mountain Time Zone at one of the casinos down the street from Mom's place. Now that sounds like a plan. Too bad I don't know anyone in the Pacific Time Zone. I could celebrate the arrival of 2011 from East to West across the United States. Oh, well. Maybe next year.  :)

Texas Tidbits: Christmas on the Island!

Galveston as seen from the Gulf of Mexico
I have been lucky enough to have lived all over Texas at one time or another - from Big Spring to Kilgore and from Pampa to Galveston and all points in between. I'd say that that covers a good hunk of the state. Galveston has to be one of my favorite places I've lived, if for no other reason than there's water everywhere. It is an island after all.

The Sinking Sandbar as Galveston is sometimes called is rich in history and tradition. One of the newer traditions is the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights. I lived in Galveston in the mid-80's and this year is the ninth year od the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, so it's a new thing for me. fills us in, "Festival of Lights is the Gulf Coast’s largest holiday lighting event, receiving more than 85,000 visitors annually. It includes a mile-long trail of more than a million lights and 100 sound-enhanced animated displays sparkling over the beautiful Galveston Bay. Every year, Santa Claus starts the festival magic by parachuting in to Moody Gardens to flip a switch that transforms the 242-acre property into a glistening wonderland."

In addition to the Festival of Lights, which incidently are open daily through New Years Day, there's also the IMAX 3D holiday film, Ridefilm, Discovery Museum, Aquarium Pyramid, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat and outdoor ice skating rink, can be purchased for $5 each when accompanied by a Festival of Lights ticket. If you'd like to get more info, give 'em a holler at 800-582-4673.

I can tell from personal experience that Galveston is a great place to visit for everyone in your family. If you've never been to Galveston, how about taking a look at it before you decide whether you are going or not? The city has many webcams set up so you can get a sneek peek at what the place looks like. Check out the home page for more interesting places to visit while you are on the island. The Bishop's Palace is probably the best-known building in Galveston and is a stunning place to see up close. Click the link and you'll see why.

That's a thumbnail sketch of what's happening at Christmas time in Galveston. If you'll click on the links above, there's a ton of stuff to do that I didn't mention here. In particular, take the time to navigate the site. it's full of great information about the Sinkin' Sandbar.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

W C Fields Escapes Zoo!

"All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." - W.C. Fields
We welcome another Sunday with Texas news that you probably haven't heard about. Why haven't you heard about it? Because our Lame Stream Media is too busy kissing President Obama's ass to report on real news. By real news I mean Dumbass News. Now that I think about it, Dumbass News and reporting on the current occupant of the White House are one and the same. But, I digress. Since I have a nose like a blood hound for Dumbass News, and I have done some dumbass stuff that would make Dumbass News blush (again I digress), I feel compelled to share it with you, fellow citizen. It's gonna be very difficult to "out dumbass" the 52% of voters who cast their ballots for our Disaster in Chief  (more digression), but I shall give it the old college try. Please remember 52% ers, that I say that with love in my heart. So awaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy we go!

  • Dumbass News - In San Antonio, W.C. Fields has escaped! No, not this W.C. Fields, but W.C. Fields the spider monkey. It seems that Tropical Storm Hermine did some damage to the San Antonio Zoo. Some of said damage occurred at the ape exhibit at the zoo. That's where W.C. (the monkey, not the guy) comes in. The storm tore up the wire enclosure that housed the monkey and he did what all good spider monkeys do when they get a Get Out of Monkey Jail Free Card, he ran like hell! Now, back to the word "wire" in the previous sentence. Wire? For a monkey cage? Really? What dumbass thought this was a good way to secure a frakkin' monkey? Does he (or she) not realize that even the smallest of monkeys are stronger than Hulk Hogan? Wire? Honestly? Did the idea of , I dunno, say, metal bars not cross someone's mind? Or, even better, put the damn monkey INSIDE the ape house! A real building! I am nearly 100% positive that the good folks at SA Zoo had ample warning that a Tropical Storm was on the way and I'm equally certain that they could have come up with a better plan to see that monkeys, apes and  in-laws were securely housed during the onslaught of Hermine. The last I heard (I am not making this up), W.C. was still on the monkey lam and had at one point chased a lady into her garage and kept her there for over an hour. W.C. must look a lot like her ex-husband. Or my in-laws.
There is plenty more Dumbass News to report on but I don't think it's a good idea to overdose you on dumbass today. I will, however, give you a hint of more dumbassery to come : there's a shop in Santa Cruz, California that is selling ice cream, not with chocolate chips or nuts or sprinkles, but with marijuana mixed in medical purposes! This is a brilliant marketing ploy! A guy walks in the shop and orders a pot-sicle, pays and returns in about an hour and guess what? The dude has the munchies! He then proceeds to order the 31 other flavors for dessert! Boom! The Ice Cream Guy will be wealthy beyond his wildest dreams! Until the gubmint shuts him down. Or until W.C. the monkey tries one or two of the banana cream pot-sicles. At that point the Ice Cream Guy had better find a garage to hide in. But, I digress.

*Photo from National Geographic

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