Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Caitlin's Graduation and the Trip to New Orleans

We just got back from a "quick" trip to and from New Orleans. For a variety of reasons, it was one of the best trips back home I have ever been on. It is funny how the interactions between people, community and us can have an impact on the quality of a trip home.

Graduation was a success, of course. It was great seeing Caitlin graduate. She has worked for over 6 years for that degree, and UNO provided its fair share of roadblocks this year to her achieving her goal. Well, it wasn't UNO's fault--it was the Louisiana State Legislature that threatened to close all public universities if they didn't receive the necessary funding to keep them afloat. Thanks Bobby Jendel for doing such a crappy job handing the states finances....

Spending time in the city, though, with Devin was priceless!

I finally got time to walk the city with Devin the way I used to do with his brothers and sisters when he was their age (10-14). I got to joke around with him in the Quarter. He's getting my sarcastic whit now that he's older. I introduced him to a bit of the history in the Quarter, and his mother and I showed him some of the kindness and generosity we feel for the street musicians and Quarter characters that make the Quarter such a special place. I think he had a wonderful time. It will add to his experience there the next time that we go down there--which, ironically, may be in a few weeks when I take Caitlin back home from her visit up here.

What also added to the quality of this trip was the "lagniappe" moments we had when we ran into various friends from our past. Seeing Blake, Kia, Debbie Davis, and others made our trip. Spending time with them was great. Being able to catch up on what is going on in New Orleans through their eyes helped me refocus quite a bit. For some, the city is going in a positive direction. For others, the city has yet to recover from Katrina in a socially and culturally healthy way and may indeed be moving in the wrong direction culturally. If the city doesn't sink into the water, though, I believe Susan and I will find our way back to the city to live out the last years of our lives. I don't believe there is anywhere else for us, honestly.

The food, of course, was great. We spent one day just doing appetizers at various restaurants. That was an incredible edible adventure! We will do that again.

All in all, a great trip back home. I miss New Orleans.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

End of Semester Blues

I can feel it...  Those end of semester blues....

My students have it, and I have it....

This has been an "interesting" semester. I thought I had a good Intro to Sociology course. Students seemed engaged (the 25% that usually are) and they even asked questions every once in a while. No doubt, I had a more-than-normal amount of stagglers and hanger-ons in this class. I am honestly disappointed when I experience students who I know are "paying" for the course but never participate or show up. They are wasting both time and money, and I don't think they know what they're in for once (if) they graduate.

My upper-level courses were equally interesting. I have learned that at a "traditional" school if you don't have an attendance policy students will not show up for class unless they have to. For upper-level work, I've never been one to administer weekly quizzes, midterms or finals. I'd rather they spend time in weekly discussions and working on research projects. I like to think this prepares them for graduate school.  But it seems that next semester I'll have to include both a midterm and final exam in the upper level courses to check and see what the students are actually learning in the class. I hate doing that, but it is what it is.

One more week! Just hang in there--you got one more week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tennessee IS Very Conservative

It's "different" than Texas, for sure. Texas has strong pockets of progressives and liberals. Austin comes to mind, but so too Houston.

Tennessee has "probably" Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis (go figure--major urban regions). But Tennessee is predominantly rural, and this solidifies its extremely conservative "christian" value base.

It's annoying to no end....

As much as I appreciate Tech, I am amazed every so often at how "conservative" my students are. I'm in the middle of grading papers on a current topic and I am saddened by how opposed they seem to be to gay marriage. It would be difficult to live here in Rural Tennessee if you were outwardly gay. Hard to believe that in 2016 America, but it seems to be the reality up here.

And it's not just gay marriage that my students seem to oppose. They seem to oppose marijuana legalization, the "soft" punishment prisoners receive, sex before marriage, and others that will come up over the next 50 papers or so. I can only imagine what goes through their minds in my classes as I challenge all of these issues.

I'm going to go back and grade my papers. I think I need a drink!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Ride (Full Analysis)

During Spring Break I set out on my "annual" long Spring ride. I am lucky in that I can take the time off to go on this ride and that Susan supports me while I'm away. I couldn't do these things without her support. I'm very lucky.

I rode over 2400 miles over the 10 day period. The worst parts of the ride were the rides in the rain. I guess hydro-planing twice at high speeds would mess with anyone's mind. Luckily, I know my bike and myself well enough to get out of those situations safely. But the thought never left my mind on what Susan would do to me if I got killed on some lonely highway way the hell out in the Texas Panhandle!

Another part that I didn't like were the "last" few days "rushing" to get from point A to point B. I've done 11-hour rides before, but I believe my limit is 9 hours. Its funny how that extra two hours can really wear you out. But by the last day, the prospect of riding 6 hours home in the rain had pretty much taken out all the "fun" in riding.

But I digress....

The overall ride experience was great.

It was great to hang out for 1.5 days in New Orleans with my step-daughter Caitlin. To spend all day Saturday with her on the bike was glorious. Plus it was a picture-perfect day in New Orleans. We covered most of the city, did the things we wanted to do, ate some great food, saw mutual friends, drank some good drinks, and had a day for the memory-books. That part of the trip made me really miss New Orleans. I swear to god--I will be living back in New Orleans before I die.

Houston was wonderful. Hanging out with my daughter Cece was the highlight on that day. We don't get to spend much time together, and I cherish these times when I can talk to her on a personal level and give what little advice I can when she needs it. She has been so successful academically--she will do fine as she graduates this Spring.

Which makes me say--I'm extremely proud of both of my daughters as they graduate this Spring. Cece and Caitlin have done such a good job in school. They took different paths, but they have both made it.  Love them both.

Next stop was Killeen, with a side stop in Caldwell, TX. Stopped first to say hello to Cyndi and Jimmy Dan. They've been some rough times over the past year with all the Waco bullshit. But I got some inside scoop from Jimmy Dan on what went down. I guess I learned a bit about Waco justice too that sets it apart from the rest of the country. Waco definitely has a history of frontier justice with a system of judges and attorneys that are family related for over 100 years. Waco makes its own rules, and for the most part they have gotten away with their form of justice forever. It looks like they will get away with it again this time too.

Killeen--hard to believe I miss that place so much. I don't miss the place per-se--I miss my friends there. And the stop in Killeen was for a funeral of two friends who were killed on their bike by a careless car driver.

What the funeral did do was bring together a large group of the biker community, many of whom I call close friends and brothers, and did give me a great chance to say hello to many people I would not have had the chance to see under normal conditions.

I am now into four days on the road with about 1200 miles under my belt. I am happy for the two day respite once I land in Killeen. Once I leave Killeen for Amarillo, it's going to be nothing but long rides along beautiful but barren landscapes. Welcome to the Panhandle of Texas!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

This Hurts...

It hurts more than I can describe....

I just lost a brother and his wife today. A car crossed the road and ran them over head-on.

A cage ran over a bike...

Without knowing anything, I can only assume that the cager was either drunk or fell asleep at the wheel.

It doesn't matter. My friends are dead. And they leave behind an 8-year old daughter. 


These were two incredible people. Incredible people. They did much for the local biker community. And they are now gone....


You never know what's coming for you. 

I can't believe this....  Fuck....

Friday, February 26, 2016

Last Night's Republican "Debate" (sic)

Well, it finally happened. As some headlines note today, it took nine months, but opponents to Donald Trump have finally attacked him. Where's the substance of his policies? Where does he really stand on significant conservative issues? How does he propose to honestly fund all the things he plans to implement? How is he going to implement these proposals?

His answer: "I'll make American great again!"

And that was basically it!

NOTE: He still has full control and momentum to be the Republican Presidential nominee. But, there is no doubt, the luster and aura of his candidacy lost lots of its shine last night at the debate.

Trump can count on a solid 30-35% Republican voter support all the way to the convention. His supporters didn't hear (or don't want to hear) the things exposed about Trump last night. As commentators noted, no Republican candidate TO DATE has done a good job on opposition research on Trump. Starting to dig around now, with Super Tuesday only days away, is really too little, too late.

But he has been exposed. The emperor is wearing less clothes today than he did yesterday.

I'm chuckling at this whole process. Perhaps this is what finally destroys the Republican Party.

I can only hope!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Planning the Spring Break Ride

On a shoestring....

I'll be heading out in one week for New Orleans and then most of Texas for Spring Break. I don't believe I'll be staying in a hotel more than three days on the trip, and those rooms are covered anyway.

I'm looking forward to some New Orleans food, music, and fellowship. It will be great to see my daughter Cece in Houston. She has a wonderful place that I've not seen yet. I've got to spend some time with a Boozefighter brother who went down right before Christmas--he hasn't fully gain consciousness yet, but its important to me to show support for him when I get out there.

Heading to Killeen and Temple will be fun. It's been over a year since I've been back there. So many friends, so little time.

Then, it's on to Borger where I have to go to a court hearing about the guardianship of my cousin.

A nice bike ride. Hoping the weather will hold up for most of the trip. I know the temperatures will be wonderful. It will definitely be a great trip.