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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, February 26, 2021

 Today's five words are: X-ray, fire, style, fate, wire.

The teletype in the office started to chatter. Getting out from behind my WWII era heavy grey steel desk I walked over to see what the wire was spitting out.

Five alarm fire at NE corner of Broadway and Central.

As fate would have it that's my high school alma mater. Albuquerque High School. It was the oldest high school in the city built in square brick style, but the insides were wood floors and paneling. It brought back memories of Mrs. Ewing writing the themes of Lord of the Flies, The Tell Tale Heart, and reading aloud Romeo and Juliet where I was Mercutio. She was also my journalism teacher senior year.

I grabbed my trusty fedora and put on my overcoat then left the office. I only needed to walk five blocks to the blaze. I saw the flames the minute I left. 

Coach Gentry is having a heart attack. The gym and basketball court are being destroyed. How many state champion basketball trophies are being melted down at this moment?

Standing across the street from the inferno at the side of First Baptist Church a crowd was gathering. It would've been much bigger during the day, but at 2:00am it was mostly bums warming up to the flames in the sub-freezing January temperatures.

I heard a crash and two cigarettes later a couple of the firemen brought one of their brothers out. I walked over as far as I could to take a look. They had the guy's helmet off and an oxygen mask on his face. Two of the firemen carried the injured one to the gurney by the ambulance. I heard one of the firemen tell the ambulance driver, "I think he broke his leg."

The driver said, "We'll find out when it's x-rayed."

I took the opportunity to grab one of the firemen's attention. "Brett Jones of the Albuquerque Journal, any idea what started the fire?"

When he turned I recognized him. Fellow AHS alum and quarterback on the football team 1952. "Hi Brett, long time no see, but I'm busy right now. Talk to the chief, I just put 'em out."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

WC 022421 My Greatest Strength


Today's topic is: My Greatest Strength.

I've always had a near  photographic memory. The lens is a little foggy at times now, especially trying to remember if I ate a few hours ago and what I ate.

My memory has always been selective. I remember names and dates in history, memorize verses of scripture, poems, passages from books and movies, Shakespearean siliques ect.

Math is a different story. Algebra wasn't too bad, but geometry and having to memorize axioms and theorems was a real problem. I found memorizing things easy, if rather linear, but rules of an equation to get X, and working a proof was really difficult.

I've seen tv shows and movies that scoff at the importance of teaching these subjects will never be used as adults. I understand the importance of teaching these subjects now, but not at the time I was suffering trying to learn them. For the most part a hand held calculator has been all I've needed for over sixty years.

My second greatest strength is analysis. "The unexamined life is not worth living." --Socrates.

It didn't come natural, but as an avid reader and English teacher I found this the most important part of a our public school curriculum. Literature teaches students how to think. It's done by analyzing the stories.

Here's why these subjects are so important today:

Algebra teaches deductive logic. Without it people fall into the trap of inductive logic of bias and prejudice. Sherlock Holmes and most detective novels deal with this type of logic. It helps understand how a crime happened and perhaps who committed it, but doesn't provide proof. Why these books always use the trope of gathering all the suspects together and the culprit either confesses or tries to run. 

Geometry is all about proof. The different steps using axioms and theorems to prove the equation. It is the ability of using motive, method, means and opportunity, and applying this to the evidence that helps convict criminals. What makes this so important is that's what the jury needs to understand.

Literature teaches analysis. Reading and enjoying a book isn't enough. What was the plot? What was the theme (or moral) of the story. What motivated the villain, the hero, the heroine? Why is this also important to getting proof in a trial.

When I read Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, that the third component of proof became apparent. How do you prove motive? The most important part of convicting a criminal.

Bugliosi used analysis on Charles Manson. After studying his life and criminal history he concluded that he liked it inside prison more than outside it. Steven King in Shawshank Redemption called it being institutionalized. Whenever Manson was released he committed another crime to get him back into prison. Always a federal prison as they are better that state prisons. This was the key to understanding the man and what motivated him to act as he did. Also the key to his conviction.

What's wrong with those caught in a cult or in thrall to Trump? They are absent these three abilities. It is deductive logic, the ability to separate fact from fiction (proof), and to analyze themselves and what they believe. That's blind faith that leads to drinking the Kool aide and dying a horrible death at the hands of a megalomaniac.  


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Penelope's Pleasure vs Bridgerton

Berthold Gambrel wrote a review of Penelope's Pleasure. I found it intriguing and since it was unlimited and free to rent. I read it.

Wife and daughter decided that the next series to binge after L.A. Law would be Bridgerton on Stars.

Low and behold both were about the "Ton." Setting in early 19th century England where wealthy young women spend Summer or "The Season" going to balls and trolling for husbands.

My daughter has already read the first two Bridgerton books, so I bought the whole 9 books for a little over 70 bucks as e-books. Wife plans on reading them too. I read the first one that the Stars series is based on. Here's my comparison of the two books.


Penelope's Pleasure 

I enjoyed this one more than Bridgerton, it was a fun read. Penelope comes from a large family, her father is retired and her older brother has assumed head of household. The youngest brother is in financial trouble and Penelope tries to help him out as his debts are more that her older brother will pay for.

The Duke who decides to woo Penelope is also working for White Hall to catch smugglers near their land.

Penelope is an independent minded woman and in a few months will inherit a sizable sum of money and like her spinster aunt, she will be wealthy enough to not need a husband. So she resists all attempts at marriage.

The Duke and Penelope get caught in storm while racing horses and wind up in a cottage needing to get out of wet clothes. Her brothers find them in their underthings and insist they get married. Her reputation would be ruined.

You can guess the road to the alter is not easy. Penelope starts robbing people to raise money for her younger brother, the Duke tries to catch her family smuggling and she winds up being kidnapped by the real smuggler and taken to France. All in all quite a bit of conflict.

Weakness is that the strict conventions of the time are mentioned, but one event between Penelope and her brothers would never have happened. They get drunk together and go skinny dipping in the river. A little too libertine for the time period for the family of a Viscount. 

Bridgerton: The Duke and I

Much is the same here as the other book. A young lady spending the "Season" looking for a husband. There's a gossip paper that starts each chapter with details of the different courtships. This sets the stage for each chapter.

Daphne is of age to marry and is not happy with the suitors, who are mostly older men. The one man she meets and falls for has a problem, there's also problem for her older brother as head of the house. Simon a duke has taken an oath to never marry. He's also a friend of her brother and he knows Simon from their rakish days of gambling and bedding wenches.

Much happens, but Simon and Daphne are caught kissing and Simon refuses to marry her. A duel is then arranged. Daphne rides between the men to stop the duel as others had seen them too. 

Simon agrees to the wedding, but announces he can't have children, which was why he was never going to get married.

They get married and the main conflict is why Simon refuses to become a father.

This is overcome and they start a family.

Rather lame in the conflict department here compared to the other book.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Friday Five 021921


Today's words: Impound, partner, lip, knowledge, full.

It was my day to drive the tow truck and my partner was doing dispatch. The radio squelched, "You done with the delivery to Daniels Repair Shop?"

"Dropping it off now," I replied.

"Got an impound for you at the county courthouse. 4th Street and Lomas. A red Ford F-150." He read off the license plate.

Why do I always get the impounds? They're the most dangerous calls. Guys who drive pick-ups tend to get a little crazy seeing their ride on the hook. That's why on a job like this I pack a Glock 19 9mm with a ten round clip. Anyone gives me lip I put my hand on the grip. This gives them full knowledge I mean business.  If they make a move I fill them full of holes. So far I've had no takers.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

 Today's topic is: How I take care of my health.

I'm a diabetic. I see my doctor two or three times a year and I monitor my blood sugar in the morning and before I go to bed. I take a handful of pills morning and evening. I also take insulin. I'm started on a non-insulin shot that lasts a week, but three weeks before my last visit the prescription expired and had to go back to insulin. I've gained back ten pounds waiting for my other medication to be approved and its coming in the mail. I'm hoping to lose more weight. This new medication helps me do that. I'll have a full year on this 'scipt so it shouldn't run out. It's expensive for three months at a time, but without Medicare and a supplemental plan I couldn't afford it, period. One month non-plan is over $3,000 a month. WE NEED MEDICARE FOR ALL!

 Before the pandemic I was going to a gym and doing water aerobics and exercising on a sit down elliptical, an arm exerciser and treadmill. I'm just now getting back to the gym three days a week and getting muscle tone back.

I am an addict. Not booze or drugs, I'm hooked on carbohydrates. They're killing me. The diabetic nerve damage in my feet and hands remind me of it constantly.

It's not just sugar, it's bagels and bread and pasta and crackers and mashed potatoes, French fries. No matter how hard I try I can't live on meat, vegetables and water. Did you know a can of green beans contains sugar? It can't be avoided no matter how hard I try. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Friday Five 021221


First time on this challenge. The words today are: retired, bucket, sit, shout, version.

An empty bottle of Champaign was in a bucket of melted ice. The couple were entwined in an embrace, their lips locked and breathing heavily. Wordlessly Albert pulled away from Joyce and he looked towards the bedroom door. She nodded. 

He wanted to shout "Hurrah," but kept his cool. It only took him four months of dinners, movies, pic-nicks, hiking in the mountains, and finally a romantic cabin in the woods.

They retired to the bedroom and he helped her sit on the bed as he lifted her legs and took off her shoes. He kissed her toes and traveled up her legs. She ran her hands through his curly hair sending shivers up his spine.

She lifted up her blouse and let her perky, pointy breasts breathe. Hurriedly he pulled down his pants and underwear in one motion. He was ready. 

Every version of this scenario he played out over in his mind now was when he'd finally join with her in ecstacy. Pulling down her panties, lifting up her legs and taking them off, the fruit of his long labor was about to be fulfilled.

Rising up he gently kissed her lips and began to move his hips onto hers, but suddenly he was soft. For two hours he'd been hard as a rock and now a limp noodle.

NOOOOOOOOOO, he sat up alone in his bed. Albert had his worst nightmare.   

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

 Today's topic: Most Romantic book/movie ever.

Book and movie:

Gone With the Wind: This is really a stealth romance. There's not the usual meeting, misunderstanding, getting back together, blah blah blah. The romance in the love between Ashley and Melanie Wilkes

They are cousins and as is traditional they were expected to get married and keep the family wealth in the family.

Through thick and thin, wealth, war, poverty, after their son and Melanie can't have more children--loss of consortium, the scandal of Ashley and Scarlett found in an embrace... Their love endured to the end.

Rhett and Scarlett is not about love or romance! They are self absorbed. Scarlet is in love with the idea of Ashley Wilkes, but when he is finally available realizes he didn't love her and she was a fool. Rhett is in lust with Scarlet and wants to treat her like a child. When he finally gets her love he spurns it.

All the wealth in the world didn't make them happy or provide a basis for love. All they knew was how to take, not give. They had lust, not love.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Favorite Author: Mark Dawson


You're talking a prolific writer when he puts out a book with links to all his other books. I found it helped me keep track of the books I've read and which ones I haven't.

Dawson's books are in the spy thriller category, but more like the Bourne books than James Bond.

John Milton is his ex-special forces turned black ops for MI6 antihero. He is sent to kill someone by Control and after he kills his target the man's daughter comes out and sees him. His orders are no witnesses, but he balks at killing a child and leaves her alone. He knows that Control will put a hit out on him for compromising the op. Milton goes into hiding as John Smith and his trying to stay ahead of his group and also helping out people in distress has led to so far 18 books.

I've read a number of other authors with similar premises. John Milton is different in an interesting way. He's a recovering alcoholic. While he was killing people he used booze to make him forget. When he has to run he starts going the AA meetings and sobers up. One of the steps of AA is making restitution to those you've harmed. He can't do that for those he's killed so he pays it forward by helping those in need. It gives Milton a plausible explanation for getting involved.

Some of his trying to help goes bad. The ones he helping are hurt more by his interference than if he stayed out of it. This is also different from other heroes of this genre.

These books are a fast read most of them less than 100,000 words.

Beatrix Rose is another rogue operative that has a contract out on her by MI6. She's also dying of cancer and is trying to protect her daughter while on the run. There are currently nine books in this series.

Beatrix's daughter Isabella Rose is trained as an assassin and there are now four books in this series.

If your into a quick read, also a story that captures your imagination these books are for you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

WC 020321 A Few of My Favorite Things

 Today's topic: A few of my favorite things.

1. Restaurants. The pandemic has kept us from spending a lot of money at restaurants, but that is what makes life enjoyable. I miss a good steak at Texas Roadhouse, coconut shrimp at Red Lobster, breakfast and chicken fried chicken at Cracker Barrel, chicken teriyaki and sea food tempura at Japanese Kitchen, green chile chicken enchiladas or stuffed sopapillas at Monroe's and Tomasita's. 

2. A place to write. For the past two years with my wife retiring I couldn't write at home. I settled on writing at a newly opened public library by my  house, but the pandemic stopped that. I called my lawyer friend who closed his office due to health reasons. I worked for him for six years and wrote most of my novels and short stories in his office. He's working part time now and he's letting me use the office again. I'm back to writing in a quiet space.

3. Exercise. I used to walk my dog around the neighborhood. The pandemic let the dogs loose. Where I could walk her around the park by us and the mesa behind me pretty much alone, now everyone is out walking their pit bull. For some reason that's the only breed of dog my neighbors have. The last time one of them pulled out of the owners hand and came after my miniature Jack Russel Terrier. My walking stick wasn't of much use, but the owner retrieved the leash and pulled the dog away, but I'm not walking her anymore. I've seen footage of what one of them can do when they attack. Now I'm using a gym where I can use a sit down elliptical, treadmill and an arm exerciser. I'm not sure about doing water aerobics while the pandemic is still a problem.

Travel. We used to take a road trip in the summer. Usually it was to Nebraska, now Kansas to visit wife's brother and his family and then to Oklahoma to visit my brother and his family. 

Our eldest grandson lives in Tucson and we visit him at Christmas.


Our last non-family trip was to Ruidoso, NM where we visited White Sands National Monument, and the Very Large Array outside Socorro, NM. We were planning on taking a trip to the Grand Canyon, but that's been put on hold.


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

TTT 020221

 Todays topic is books I've read that were written before I was born.

The Bible

The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer.

Trojan Women by Euripides.

Caesar's Gallic Wars by Gaius Julius Caesar.

Beowulf by Anonymous.

The Decameron by Boccaccio. 

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Numerous plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare.

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Don Quixote by Cervantes (in Spanish)

Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Didn't bother with the other two books.

The Three Musketeers, Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas.

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien.

The Narnia Chronicles, Screwtape Letters, Surprised by Joy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra by C.S. Lewis.

Foundation Trilogy and too many books to list by Isaac Asimov.

Cost of Discipleship, No Rusty Swords, Letters From Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.