Tag Archives: Texas

I’m Going Through Changes…

Greetings y’all!  What an incredible journey I’ve been having since the last weekend of 2018!  I will tell y’all that my life has been almost completely turned around to a new normal.  I can’t deny it, either.  It feels great.  It’s even odd enough to say that, but it does.  I think my brother (from another mother) who lives in Salt Lake City told me the best way about it too; “Well, dude, you were due for a change.  I don’t wanna sound like a dick about it, but your life had gotten pretty stagnant.  I’m happy for you, dude!”  Hmmm… maybe he’s right!  I mean, I have traveled more in the past 3 months than I have in the past 5 years, and east of all things!  I mean, before about 3 or 4 years ago I had never really been anywhere else here in Texas for any more than a quick stop or some specific thing to do.  I went to Houston 10 years ago for WWE’s WrestleMania 25 for a weekend, but we didn’t venture out much aside from going to the area where the event was being held.  I also went to the DFW area a few years ago to visit one of my band members for a weekend, then again to his new place in Bryan but it was more for a working/band trip, so I didn’t really see much then either.  Well, this year, already, I’ve gone to Houston and explored parts of that wonderful city again, and I got to drive through San Antonio for the first time in 20 years!  Just this past weekend, I was back in Bryan/College Station where I got to see a bit more of the town.  I’ve also gotten to know Interstate 10 from the state line in my hometown of Anthony, Texas all the way through to Houston, Texas.  Before this year, I hadn’t even driven it past the exit to highway 280 right after Junction, Texas that takes you into Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Austin.  My two trips (and one more scheduled coming up in two weeks) have been really eye opening to me.  I’m wondering why it is that I didn’t want to head east before.  I mean, I can tell you why really.  It’s because my favorite Major League Baseball team is the Arizona Diamondbacks (who are based in Phoenix, Arizona), and the place I visit at least annually is Las Vegas, Nevada.  Both of those places are west of me and I’ve always felt comfortable in my familiar desert climate.  Say what you will about things, but nothing beats the sunsets here in the desert southwest.  The way things are heading, I might be heading east permanently, so I gotta take in as many of these sunsets as I can while I can still remember to!

Along with my travel and my new found appreciation for what lies east of El Paso, I’ve also fully embraced my new lifestyle change.  I have kept losing pounds each passing week and I’m ramping up my confidence that I can continue to get to my goal weight, which I should hit sometime in November.  I’m really looking forward to that AND looking forward to seeing a better version of me in the mirror!  I’ve even started to eat way healthier than I was previously, and I am getting compliments at least weekly from my coworkers about how great of a job I’m doing.  It feels awesome to know that finally, for once, things are heading in the direction they should be when it comes to my health.  Speaking of my health, on Tuesday, I’m finally going to have a sleep study done to hopefully help fix my problem with sleep apnea and snoring.  Hardly anybody understands, but I am super excited about this too.  The more changes, the better I say!

Have a great weekend y’all!  Stay safe out there in this wild planet of ours!

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Entertainment to Spark the Mind

Hello y’all!  I’m back with another posting.  I rarely do these types of posts, but I feel that I cannot help myself in this case.  I don’t know how many of you saw the Super bowl over the weekend, but I did and I happened to notice the commercial for season 3 of the Hulu original, The Handmaid’s Tale.  Now, I’ve been deeply involved again in my personal Star Trek journey as I’m trying to watch the entire series (from The Original Series all the way to Star Trek Beyond) chronologically and that’s really been all I’ve been watching on TV, but seeing that commercial reignited by interest in that show.  I remember seeing trailers for it at the movie theater and various TV programs in the past about season 1 and I wanted to see it then, but it wasn’t until after the Super bowl that I finally started watching it.  If you haven’t seen it, be prepared for an INSANE ride.

The synopsis as per Google is as follows: “Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. One of these women, Offred, is determined to survive the terrifying world she lives in, and find the daughter that was taken from her.” HOLY SMOKES, right?!?!

I won’t go into much detail about it aside from this.  As what’s said in that synopsis, the now former United States of America is now a totalitarian society named Gilead.  In Gilead, women are servants to men in all aspects of life.  There are different classes of women, but none of the women are allowed to read or write.  How insane is that, right?!  The women are also forced into Plain Dress attire, and the men are kinda midway through it themselves, and the most horrible aspects of this all involved the violence in the name of religion.  And violence in all forms as you’d suspect.

Now, for those that haven’t seen the show or read the book (I still have to read the book myself), all this happens over the span of about 5 years or so where rights are taken away and people start getting brutally murdered either by gunfire or hanging.  Throughout the show, I’ve been thinking to myself, “How the HELL did the people who didn’t believe in these crazy people’s beliefs not leave?!”  Well, the way it’s shown from the episodes I’ve seen is that people fought back and tried to maintain their rights as American citizens until it was too late for them to escape and they ended up in a life of slavery due to their non-conformity.  It’s brutal.  Catholics, LGBTQs, unmarried couples, divorced and remarried people, and basically anybody else that does not believe in that particular protestant sect’s beliefs are hunted down and publicly hanged, or shot for their beliefs or lifestyles.  In a particularly hard scene for me to watch during episode 2 of season 1, two of the main characters, handmaids, are walking down a street in Cambridge, Massachusetts (where the show mainly takes place) and see St. Paul Church, a parish church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, being torn down.  One handmaid tells the other that the régime also bulldozed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan to try to “erase” the fact that it ever existed.  Seeing that happen on the show just broke my heart.  I started to wonder what I would have done in that situation.  Granted, for at least the immediate future, I’ll still be here in El Paso where if something like this happened… wait, well first off, I think Texas as a state would throw up the proverbial middle finger to this protestant sect and go independent republic like we were from 1836-1845.  Granted, the Republic of Texas existed 183-174 years ago, that independent spirit of native Texans still is strong.  Anyway, with that said, again if Texas didn’t become its own republic again and instead became part of Gilead, it would be pretty easy for people here in El Paso to cross the border into Mexico and escape.

The question is, would people who didn’t believe in radical Gilead retreat or fight?  What would I do?  That’s really the question here.  What the hell would I do?  I didn’t give it much thought, I’d flee.  Now, that’s what I’m trying to figure out about how exactly to feel about my decision.  Does that make me a coward?  Does that make me a non-believer in Jesus Christ?  That’s what I’ve been struggling with.  I mean, sure, it’s said in a few scriptures to be willing to die for the faith, but at what cost?  It’s the double edged sword of laying down one’s life for Christ, but at the same time fighting for one’s life.  An argument can be made for both sides, in my opinion.  I have always just had a very strong sense of self preservation, so I’d find a way to escape and then find a way to fight back any way I could to overthrow evil.

With that said, my next question as I’m watching the show is “Why the hell didn’t these people leave in droves to escape either north or south?!”  From what it looks like to me, it went down like this:  First off, protests took place denouncing the beginning of the removal of rights, etc.  all the while, people believed that this protestant group wasn’t going to really take over the United States and as much crap as they were doing, the country would never cease to exist.  Next, and finally, when the United States of America ceased to exist, all the people who didn’t believe it could happen and fought back instead were then trapped and forced into either slavery, or outright murdered.  I could totally see this happening too.  I mean, who in their right mind would think that something like this could happen?  Ask the German people when the Nazi party took over in 1933.  Of course people say now that something like that will never happen again, but history has a tendency to repeat itself, and that thought alone terrifies me.

So, I’m going to keep watching The Handmaid’s Tale, as I’m on episode 7 of season 1 as of this writing, and keep wondering what I’d do in this world.  I love shows like this.  Shows that make me either think about my own life or make me dream about how I hope life will turn out for humanity as a whole is what sparks my interest.

Have y’all seen this show?!  What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you question your life and the decisions you’d have to make if thrust into this situation?

Blessed be the fruit and praise be!

Witness to (hopefully) Accidental Prejudice

I’m back!!!  A little later than I wanted to be, but that’s because life has had me tightly in its grips as of late.  There’s been a lot on my mind too, actually, but due to the respect that have for other parties involved in why there’s things on my mind, I’m going to try my best to keep those to myself.  I know that part is unhealthy, actually, because writing is my outlet and my main outlet to release those pent up emotions, but I can’t disrespect other people much on here, or anywhere else for that matter, which means that I have to find another outlet when other people in my real life destabilize my emotions.  Anyway, I’m going to try and make a quick observation here on something that affected me last week that I just can’t shake.

So, this thing happened to me last Monday in Boerne, Texas as I was going to prepare for the final 513 mile trek westward back to El Paso, Texas from my trip to Houston, Texas.  In case y’all didn’t know, Texas is a gigantic state.  LOL.  Driving to and from Houston takes 10 hours each way and it’s that short now because a lot of the time, the speed limit is now 80mph and just about 75mph everywhere else.  Before, when the speed limit was 65mph, you could expect a 12 hour drive and all within this one great state.  How crazy is that, right?  Anyway, on my way back from Houston, I had strategically set up my fueling stop in Boerne because according to my calculations ( in which I did not factor extreme wind blowing eastward and thus creating more friction for my truck to move through), I’d have more than enough fuel to drive the entire 7 hour trip on that one tank.  I wasn’t hungry waking up and didn’t get hungry until about 40 minutes into my drive back home, so by the time I hit Boerne (which is on the western edge of the greater San Antonio metroplex) I was starving.  I filled my gas tank up to the maximum amount it would let me and noticed a Whataburger (a Texas staple and tradition) across the freeway.  Of course I had to go.  Not that any one of the 25+ locations in El Paso wouldn’t fill my Whataburger cravings, but why have a more national chain restaurant’s food when Texas’ own would do, right?!  So, I got over there, ordered my food, got my soda, and sat down.  Naturally, I just looked around at everybody just curious as to the crowd that hangs out at that place.  After surveying the crowd a bit, I noticed two very young teenagers, no older than 18 I’d say.  One was wearing a trucker hat with some sort of company name on it and the other had a black trucker hat with these words visible as they were printed in white; “Build Wall” I could only assume that the word “the” was in cursive and another color I couldn’t see very well in between the words “build” and “wall”, but I will tell you that it just hurt me to see that.  Now, I know some of you may have conservative views on things.  Don’t get upset, I do as well on most things, but in this instance and the reason the phrase “build the wall” is now popular, I don’t agree with at all.  It’s actually as offensive as a racial slur/term to me because in all honesty it is.  The people wearing these hats or t-shirts or shouting it out either in real life or on their social media platforms have no idea about how life really is along the border.

In case you didn’t know, El Paso, Texas (where I’ve lived the past 36 or so years) is a border city.  We’re now the 7th safest city in the United States according to Safe Wise.  Until this ranking, we’ve been 1 or 2 for the past 10 or so years.  I will tell you, from living here the majority of my life that it is a very safe city.  All of the drug violence that occurred in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on the other side of the border only affected us twice from what I can recall.  Once, a bullet hit a building on the campus of The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) as it’s directly across from a very populated area in Juarez, and the second instance involved a stray bullet that struck a woman’s leg somewhere in downtown if I’m not mistaken.  That second one really can’t be attributed directly to the drug violence in Mexico, but the assumption was that the bullet came from over there somewhere.  That’s IT for the violence in the past God knows how many years, by the way.  Now, one could say that those were two incidents too many, but in comparison to what’s being portrayed about violent crimes here, as statistics show, we average 3.9 per 1,000 people.  That’s not really a lot.  Look again at that study as well.  Guess who’s number 6 on that list?  Yup, San Diego, California.  That’s another border city with Mexico.  Their violent crime average is 3.77 per 1,000 people.  So where’s the violence from Mexico?  Where are the rapes, beatings, and murders?  They don’t happen.  What’s the word?  Fake news.  That’s what that is.  Sure, violent crime does happen here, but it’s not because of any illegal citizens.  It’s simply American –v- American crime.  I’ll grant you that there is a language barrier, especially from downtown, into central, the lower valley, and into parts of the eastside of El Paso.  If you don’t at least understand Spanish, it would be best to be with somebody who did because there are a lot of Spanish speaking only people here, but since English is not the legal language here, it’s only frowned upon to not speak it.  I’ll be honest, it bothers me too sometimes, but it is what it is.  It’s not a criminal act.  As far as drugs go, yes, a lot of them go through the ports of entry, but those are the actual legal ports of entry that they get smuggled through.  They don’t go through gaps in the border wall, which I will also tell you that have been up here in the southern New Mexico/west Texas region for a long time already.  Nothing does, actually.  Thousands of people cross daily to and from our two cities/two countries legally via foot and vehicle traffic and we live in relative harmony.

I circle back to these two teenagers who obviously have no frame of reference as to what life is really like along the international border between the United States and Mexico.  That’s what really makes it sad to me.  There’s no reason to erect a barrier when one isn’t needed.  Sure, people do cross illegally into the United States from Mexico, but the vast majority of these people aren’t violent criminals and we’re not talking about thousands at a time all day every day.  If they do decide to try and cross, they are doing it in remote locations in Arizona where honestly they are risking their lives attempting to cross through there due to the harsh conditions and terrain.  It may happen with a larger frequency than some may be comfortable with, but we have Border Patrol agents who routinely go through that area and they do apprehend and deport the individuals they catch.  Same goes for the rest of the border between our two countries.  But a need to advertise slogans like “build the wall” insinuating that people from Latin American countries are ALL criminals and we need to erect some sort of great wall of America is just sad to me.  Hispanics, like myself, aren’t criminals just for being who we are.  Before you go barking out “Build the wall!” or putting it on your next social media post, just stop and think about what exactly you’re talking about.  Do you know the whole story?  Chances are you don’t.

Love and peace, y’all!

Seeing is Believing

Hey y’all!  I hope this blog finds you well.  As for me, things are moving along as per usual.  Ups and downs.  I’m making the gym a habit now and I’m feeling really good about it, so there’s one positive.  There’s a few negatives in there, but let’s not talk about those.  I’d probably get in trouble with some people if I did mention the downs anyway.  Which reminds me of something that I did too.  A few weeks back, I decided to disconnect my twitter auto-post thing from here on WordPress.  Since Facebook stopped allowing 3rd party posts themselves last year at some point, I removed my link from my homepage on there too.  I’ve figured that I’ve got no followers from either one of those social media outlets and I don’t think anybody there cares anyway, so I might as well make this my own little community too.  The links to my posts are still there on my twitter timeline, so if anybody really cares, they can go fishing and find links to posts there.

Anyway, today’s topic that I’ve had in my mind to speak of for the past 2 days or so is road trips!  Here’s a question for y’all… What’s your preferred method of traveling?  Plane, trains, automobiles?  (sorry, too good of a joke to pass up!)  I mean, say what you will about air travel, sure it’s the fastest way to travel as of yet, but there’s no fun it in when you get right down do it, right?  I mean, first off, you’re in a line with other people just to check in your luggage, and depending on your airline, you’re having to pay for that luggage to travel with you too on top of the cost of the ticket itself which is usually crazy expensive, then you have to deal with all of the security just to get to the gate, then you sit down in sometimes cramped quarters just to maybe see a glimpse of civilization happening 30,000 feet below you, but essentially see nothing but the general outline of the planet.  There’s no discovery of things, no exploration, it’s just sanitized bland travel.  For those with pressing needs to be from one place to another at long distances away, air travel is definitely the way to go.  Let me say, however, I’m not a hater of it, but I do love to discover things when I go to new or old places and I can’t really do that when I fly.  With that said, you can imagine what I prefer to do.  YUP!  That’s take road trips to my destinations!  Sure, I can’t always drive over to the places I’ve gone due to time constraints, but whenever possible, I drive.  There’s no phobia or any mental situation I have going on like some people have (look up John Madden and why he had a bus take him to all the NFL games he called), it’s just that I the journey to the destination is filled with so much beauty everywhere I’ve been, that I feel as though if I had done nothing but flown to these destinations, I would have missed so much along the way.

Taking a look at my google timeline, and my own memory before google started tracking where I’ve been; I’ve been in or driven through 20 of the lower 48 United States.  WOW.  Took me a minute to count to make sure, but yes!  20 states!  I’ve seen everything from sand dunes to beautiful forests, to beaches and everything in between and have loved every one of them.  I’ve also visited or at least driven by a number of national parks, forests, and monuments as well that have truly taken my breath away at times.  I even have gotten to the chance to see things along the road that have inspired movies, been in movies, etc.  For example, there is a motel in Holbrook, Arizona by the name of Wigwam Motel that was the inspiration for the traffic cone motel in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars.  Instead of traffic cones, the real things are actually large concrete teepees!  How cool is that!  The even cooler thing is that a lot of the cars that were featured in the film, well their real life counterparts at least, are parked there at the motel too!  I came across the motel 2.5 years ago when I drove my friend from South Australia over to see the Grand Canyon.  We made an incredible drive from El Paso, up through a highway in New Mexico that ran through Gila National Forest and honestly some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, into Arizona and the large national forest area and Grand Canyon National Park.  It was an amazing drive and actually come to think of it, I need to do it again!

That was just one of my trips.  The drive from El Paso (where I’m at) to Oceanside, California that I did last July was amazing as well.  I had no idea there was such a big farming and dairy area along the southern portion of Arizona on Interstate 8, but sure enough there is!  And the scenery is so amazingly beautiful along the way.  Once you get to and pass Yuma Arizona/California it gets even more amazing.  Sand dunes as soon as you cross the border greet you into California, then just as quickly you enter canyons in between mountain ranges, then enter a mountain range itself and climb and descend mountains through national forests until before you know you it, you’ve reach the pacific ocean.  Words can’t describe the beauty.

I could go on and on about the places I’ve driven to and the things that I’ve seen, but you get the point.  I’ve experienced nearly half of the country I live in a mile at a time and I’ve loved every minute of it.  I’m getting the chance to blaze a new trail today and tomorrow as I will be on my way to the greater Houston area, driving it for the first time.  I’ve spent a weekend there 10 years ago for WWE’s WrestleMania 25 that was held at Reliant Stadium and got to stay at a hotel downtown and saw a few things along their light rail, but I flew in there and out.  I’ve had connecting flights through both airports in the city a few times as well, but never have I driven from here to there.  And actually, the furthest I’ve driven east along Interstate 10 is a turn off to highway 280 that takes you into Fredericksburg, Texas (which is an amazing and beautiful little town in the Texas Hill Country), then into the southern edge of the state capitol, Austin.  So, now tomorrow morning, I’m going to break that barrier and traverse I-10 in through San Antonio (where I’ve only actually been in for a day as well during a senior band drum ensemble competition trip to Austin) and into Houston.  I’m so excited to see it all.  I’ll say that I’m actually more excited about whom I’m going to see over in Houston, but the drive out there is almost up there with the destination and the reason to go as well.

I hope you all have a blessed and great weekend!  I’ll blog again soon!

Mama, I’m Staying Home

So, I was thinking the other day about just how much I love my hometown, which is also the current city I live in.  A LOT of people that grow up here hate it and as soon as humanly possible leave and never come back.  More power to ‘em, and call me a homer or whatever, but I absolutely love it here and I will proudly say that I don’t think that you can give me a good enough reason to ever leave.

I realize my love for the city every time I leave it when I go on a trip.  Most of the time I’m going west towards Phoenix and Las Vegas so the landscape and climate stay relatively the same.  There have been a handful of times, however, where I go outside of the desert and it trips me out.  Haha!  Not like I’m some kind of uneducated dude or whatever, but I just love the desert climate so much that I actually immediately begin to miss it the minute I’m away from it.  That happened just a few weeks ago, as I’ve mentioned, but the thing I didn’t mention about the trip to east-central Texas was about just how much I loved the drive back and not only because we were cracking wise and laughing hysterically in my truck to the obscene and insane jokes that we were coming up with.  I loved it because after going from flat green land, we were slowly going back into the mountainous terrain that has speckles of green, but not as much green as lower elevation and higher humidity places.  It sounds funny to say, but even seeing the outline of the Franklin Mountains is enough to put a smile on my face.  It’s even better when it’s nighttime and the star on the mountain is illuminated.  It reminds me that I’m home and all is right in the world.

What really sparked this blog entry, however, were the thoughts of friends and family about this place.  Funny and odd thing is that of all people, I think my old man hates El Paso almost the most.  I don’t understand it, but a few weeks ago when we attended a game of our AAA baseball team, the El Paso Chihuahuas, I told him that I wanted to step my game up and buy a jersey but couldn’t decide on which one, and I wanted to add to my hat collection (which currently stands at 1 for the Chihuahuas) and get the away cap that simply has a beautiful “EP” logo on it.  Right away, pops tells me “Ah man, I don’t want that one.  I don’t want anything saying anything ‘El Paso’ on it!  I hate El Paso! …”  I shrugged it off and said that I personally love my city and I was going to get that cap.  Thinking about it now and talking to a friend of mine, I’m now wondering why he didn’t stay at his last duty station in San Diego when he was in the military and did not reenlist.  Maybe I’ll ask him when he comes back into town from his crazy adventures and I get the chance to see him.

Thing about it is that he’s not alone in the circle of people in my life who feel similar.  I’d probably say at least half the people I know who live here would move away if they had the chance.  I wish I knew why.  It’s not as bad as they think it is… well in my opinion it’s not.  Sure you can argue that wages aren’t that high here, but my two responses to that is that a) neither is the cost of living. and b) if money is your main concern, you’ve got bigger problems and need to get your priorities straight anyway, dude.

So that’s about it.  I know it’s going to end up that I’m going to be the last of my friends standing here in El Paso, but you know what?  That’s cool, man.  I enjoy traveling and I enjoy seeing and spending time with my friends, so it will give me a reason to go and explore places.  I already have a long list of places on this planet that I need to go hit up as it is!  Australia, England, Scotland, Japan, and Italy come to mind internationally, and US wise, oh man… the state of New Hampshire, Maine, New York City, Boston, Charlotte (and try to not die of happiness visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hendrick Motorsports, and JR Motorsports), Daytona Beach, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to just name a few places.  So I have a lot of places to be, but I will ALWAYS come back home to El Paso and my dry climate, chill people, THE ABSOLUTE BEST Mexican food you will ever eat, and that star on that mountain that will always remind me of just how badass I have it here.

See y’all later!