Category Archives: Ramblings by Jack

Urban Myth

   If you wanted to find me on the 23rd day of September 2017 I was at The Parkfield Rodeo arena where the first of the season California High School Rodeo was taking place. I had just been introduced to Linda who is the mother of a new couple that decided that they would like to work their way around the United States and get a closer look at our wonderful U.S.A.Their first stop is Parkfield after driving all the way across the country from their home in Virginia.

This beautiful valley surrounded by The Diablo mountains and the wonderful people that lived here then as now is what also attracted Zee and I to this promised land 56 years ago. Ian and Paige have decided to stay on and hopefully they to, might also choose to make a life in Parkfield.

            Linda with her friend David had come to visit for a few days as they have been 5 weeks on the road discovering America. Linda, wanting to understand how all the different Rodeo events worked, was curious in the bucking events. It’s only natural that a lot of attention would center around The bucking horses and bucking bulls. Linda said “I understand that to make the bulls buck, you have to tie a rope around their BALLS then they’ll buck”. I said “this could not be farther from the truth”, but I bet I know where it got started. Organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals P.E.T.A. This organization thrives on fake news and taking things said and pictures taken out of context to advance their agenda.

I would like to paint a word picture that is fiction but demonstrates how a truth might be known.

             

“Yes operator, I would like the telephone number for the P.E.T.A. organization and would you put me through to their main office, thank you.”

“How may I help you.”

“I would like to speak with someone that has authority to send a P.E.T.A. representative to the next Professional Bull Riding event in Oklahoma to witness a bull being readied to try to buck his rider off.”

“Hello, yes we will get back to you shortly so give me your telephone number and we’ll return your call.”

“Thank you, goodbye.”

Well I thought that will be the last I hear from them. They just blew me off. Several days go by when my phone rings.

“Hello, who am I speaking to?”

“Hi, I’m the gentleman in charge of verifying things like this.We will be sending a young man by the name of Casper Milk-Toast to your event.”

“Would you say his last name again?”

“It’s spelt just like it sounds, Milk, like you drink and bread that comes out of a toaster is toast, Casper Milk-Toast.”

“I understand that your P.B.R. Bull riding is next weekend and so we will have Casper arrive about 2 hours before the performance, goodbye.”

             

The day of the event arrived.

“Welcome Mr. Milk-Toast you’re right on time. I see you have brought a nice camera with you, but I don’t know if you’re going to need it. So let’s go Casper I’ve only got 2 hours for you to master your new occupation. I’ll lead the way over to the bucking chute and we’ll load a bull for you to practice on.”

Casper looks at me with a somewhat bewildered look on his face and says “I came to watch one of your crew do it, not me!”

“Well Casper we don’t have anybody here that ties ropes around the balls of one of these bulls, so I’m depending on you to teach us how it’s done.”

Casper Milk-Toast’s face now has fear written all over it as he asks if we have a rest room available. “Yes Casper, down the hall and to your left.”

Wouldn’t you know it! That’s the last time we ever saw Casper Milk-Toast. If he had stayed for the regular performance he would’ve realized that the rope is tied around the flank area which is just in front of the back legs. This is a bulls tickle spot and helps them to do what comes naturally “bucking cowboys off”

                              See Ya

                               Jack

An image I took from the P.B.R Bull Riding which is televised live every year. Here you can clearly see the rope tied around the flank or ‘tickle spot’ of the bull

Is their utility in a Pot belly?

About 6 months ago a Pot Belly showed it’s self just above my hips. How did I notice it? It was brought to my attention when I bent over to tie my shoes, I noticed my toes were missing. Bending further they finally showed themselves. I’m really kidding, you and I both know it’s been about a year or more that my favorite belt buckle that “once upon a time” spent the day with its head held high, now spends the day holding up my pants while all the time it’s looking at my shoes.

         It’s 1/6/17 and we that have a flaw or two are going through our annual drill of making New Years resolutions to erase said flaws. I’m sad to say that many have already “fallen off the wagon” and the experts tell me that by the end of 2017 the other 98% will have followed leaving an empty wagon except for all the “good intentions” that are still firmly seated waiting for the class of 2018 to see if they can beat the odds. Proof will come by showing that their old cloths that have spent the last eon on cloths hangers or in bottom drawers now once again fit.

            I have a curiosity though. What if I find myself in the 98% that fail? Well here it is, it’s mid-October and I would have to say that I’m still among the ranks of that 98% that are failing the course on ‘Self Improvement’ as my toes are still hidden most of the time. But I think the time has come to turn failure into a good thing. I’ve got it! Yes, by gollies I’m sure I’ve got it! I’m going to look under my belt for those hidden advantages that can make a Pot belly something to be proud of and I found one today. On my most everyday hike which I’m sad to say doesn’t make “Pot bellies” disappear I had an aha moment

In our fall months here in Parkfield the temperature can rise and fall pretty fast. The other day I started my hike with coat on and finished with coat tied around my waist. What I did learn after tying my coat around my waist several times where my waist used to be but gravity kept pulling it down around my knees it struck me that if I tied my coat above my belly gravity didn’t have a chance. That’s it folks it’s the only useful reason to have a Pot Belly. Oh, and yes, you’ll need one if you ever want to play Santa Claus.

                             See Ya

                              Jack

Smoky the Bear has got it all wrong.      

At the end of June of this year a wildfire started on my neighbors ranch. After a day or so, this fire had grown to several thousand acres in size, to warrant its own name. It was called The Garza Fire. When all was said and done and the last embers were out 60,000 acres had burned. 6,000 of these acres were on our V6 ranch and what a blessing it was. For many of you that live in our cities and towns are thinking how awful. But was it? I think not. For this part of The Diablo range had no people living in harms way and there were just a handful of structures that Cal Fire carefully protected from burning. As for the wild life and livestock I believe all escaped unscathed as just an occasional Turkey Vulture was seen flying over the burned area indicating that there wasn’t much to eat.

Now let’s examine what damage the land, the grass, and trees sustained. Thanks to my iPhone this blog is coming to you with pictures “worth a thousand words” to validate my assertion that Fire is a natural and normal part of how Mother Nature manages our forests and grasslands.

This photo was taken shortly after the fire. It gives a perspective as to the type of terrain that the Garza Fire consumed.
This scene was taken on 9/28/17 notice that all the trunks of these Scrub Oak are mostly all dead but their roots are not as you can see all the new regrowth that has appeared in just a little over 2 months. This will now be excellent browsing food for our Black Tail Deer along with the many Chamise Brush bulbs that are sending out new shoots.
This picture was also taken on 9/28/17. This picture was taken in a more open grassland. Notice that the leaves got toasted but already new leaves are appearing even though these leaves will be shed come Winter
I very much like this picture as this hardy Blue Oak is saying “don’t count me out I’ve got a few hundred years of life still left in me.”

Smoky the Bear with his cry “only you can prevent forest fires” is a most destructive fraud because Lightning starts a good share of the wild fires that get started on our western ranges that “We The People” have no control over. So, let’s relegate Smoky the Bear to his proper place which is on the junk heap of fake news.

First, I recognize that my state of California is no longer a sparsely settled land but a land where 40,000,000 people dwell along with all their paraphernalia like cars, houses, and all those who can’t do without T.V.’s, which all needs protecting. However that still leaves many millions of acres of wild lands that are in real need of some thoughtful science based management to leave behind the emotionally charged decision making practices that Smokey the Bear has championed and put us into the mess we’re in today. Catastrophic fires are our reward for not dealing with the build up of an understory of very flammable dry matter which should be burned under controlled conditions or physically removed, which is very expensive. Logging with today’s new methods makes a much smaller footprint on the landscape which is both beneficial and profitable to our government and to the logging industry. So let’s all move forward together, starting with a historical notation that Smokey the Bear was laid to rest this day in his proper place alongside junk science, fake news and a few dogmatic wacko environmentalists who to this day are still leading the gullible astray.

To close, my hope is that over time Common Sense and knowledge will save our forests and wild lands.

                             See Ya

                             Jack

Toilet Paper needs love too

Each winter my son John remodels a room in the Parkfield Inn. This year he chose the room we call The Tool Room, whose theme is of a blacksmith’s shop. While re-doing the bathroom it struck me that far and away the most important object in the bathroom is not soap, nor is it a nice soft absorbent bath towel, or hot water, which if push came to shove would all have to take a back seat to a roll of toilet paper. What other thing in a bathroom gives so much satisfaction when cleaning out different orifices of the body; can double as a Band Aid for a man that cuts himself shaving, or can be made into ear plugs to drown out music that sounds like finger nails on a chalkboard? T.P. really shows its absolute supremacy over all other objects in a bathroom when a person is perched upon the porcelain throne and when done looks for the T.P. Lo and behold, if the dispenser is empty, in the blink of an eye terror strikes this helpless person with “What do I do now?!” In the case of no soap or no towel, they’re just inconveniences, but no toilet paper, now that has to rate right up there with a heart attack.
“How do we treat this indispensable part of our lives? We simply send spent paper down the toilet with not so much as a thank you for a job well done, or a bon voyage. No, we just walk away indifferent to the plight of that paper as it journeys off to some sewer farm never to be heard from again. But because toilet paper came from a tree, just like paper that makes its way to the easel of an artist where brush strokes can make it valuable, or to a pad where something scribbled can lead to world changing events, our poor T.P., with just bad luck, got shunted into a pulp barrel labeled for toilet paper, where it will give its all with no reward.
Well I plan to change this injustice by building a proper monument to display this indispensable part of our lives in the newly remodeled bathroom of the Tool Room. It will be made of recycled parts, each having escaped the plight of my T.P. friend to be reborn again as a proud holder of body wipes. So if you would like to pay homage to our universal friend, come visit us in Parkfield, CA, Earthquake Capital Of The World, population 18, and the place where a ground swell of gratitude is gathering steam to make toilet paper ‘Top of The Heap’, ‘King of the Hill.’
See ya, Jack

crown jewel of any bathroom

I’ve just got to get out of this place: A Memoir

Have you ever wondered what life before the day of your birth was like?
Well I experienced it once and it’s all coming back to me now. My beginning started in a cave and I was cared for by my mother who was very attentive to my every need and what comes to mind was how safe and secure I felt. My new apartment was located in my mother’s womb and at first it was very spacious except that I was tethered to her by a piece of rope which was rather annoying, as any self respecting cowboy to be knows it should have been tied around my neck with a Bowline knot. That way you can’t choke but my mother had other plans and she stuck the dammed thing to my belly which was quite humiliating for a cowboy to be. My tie rope was pretty long and from time to time I would get tangled up but with a few twists and turns I learned that I could free myself quite easily so it was a solvable problem. My real issue was fast becoming wiggle room and as each week came and went my once spacious digs got more uncomfortable and it became self evident that I would soon have to find new quarters. I was growing like a weed and by the ninth month I had used up every last inch of space and I was beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic (it’s probably why I don’t like to ride in elevators today). I told my mother that I had had enough and I was getting out of this overcrowded dump. I started kicking and that’s when I felt something break which started a lifetime of “dam it you broke my favorite vase”, “how could you be so careless you broke my 2nd favorite vase”, “you’re like a bull in a china closet” and “now you’ve really done it, my third favorite vase is gone”.  My mother sure had a lot of vases. Anyway back to that breaking noise I heard, well at the same time there appeared before me a tunnel. I didn’t see any exit sign on it and the opening looked awfully small but I was desperate to get out of this place and much to my surprise, I felt my first case of rejection as my mother told my father that she wanted me out of her house, the sooner the better. Well the next hour was pretty scary as my father was trying to go as fast on the land as the airplanes he flew in the sky. I was bumping around inside my cage like a cork on white water when my mother started to yell four letter words which I didn’t expect to come from a proper English lady. Well we made it to the San Luis Obispo, California General Hospital in time to hurry up and wait. I had grown up to be a big walloper over nine pounds and at seeing the opening in front of me I thought, “This is not possible”! But mom was determined. She wanted me out of her nest right now. So she started pushing and shoving and it seemed to me the polite thing to do was to help out. Well it was slicker than Goose Grease in here and there was no place that I could get traction so I wasn’t much help.
About that time a new guy arrived on the scene and he started yelling “push!” and my mother would push then would yell out new four letter words and I would scoot a little farther up the tunnel. Then it happened. There appeared a light from above. When I was just beginning to see the light, that fellow that kept yelling push, well he grabbed me by the head and started tugging and out I came goose grease and all.
Now that’s not the end of this story. He then proceeds to grab me by the ankles and hang me upside-down and give me a whack across my back, made me cry, well he still wasn’t satisfied that I had made him get up in the middle of night so he asked a big lady standing next to him if she had any scissors and sure enough she did. Well this guy grabs those scissors and in the blink of an eye he cut off my tie rope and then he had the nerve to doll up my dinger and didn’t even ask my permission which I thought was real rude of him. By now I was getting real tired but we still had paperwork to do. First they tagged me then they foot printed me, then more paperwork which humans can’t seem to live without. But out of it all I got a certificate that said I entered this world on September 7,1935. This is how I remember it so don’t confuse me with facts.
See Ya
Jack
P.S.
I’m back and I can’t blame my iPad for my blog site going blank. But several months ago I came down with a case of “The Best of Intentions” because my “resolve” kept getting mired in a mud puddle of laziness. Well I’ve washed off the laziness and I am now committed with a new SPIRIT to start blogging again about anything and everything. I guess what ever happens to bubble to the surface of the old brain!

Waiting for the Endorphin to Kick In

Hi all,

Happy Thanksgiving.  My thoughts today for some unknown reason are not of our late afternoon feast where we disembody a turkey so we can add girth to our bodies, but rather when will my endorphins kick in and will I know it when they really do?

On my iPhone there is an App that is called Map My Hike.  I thought I would never end up inhabiting some of the same space that  our present day Millennials do, but believe me I haven’t gone so far as to wear one of those giant watches that will tell you all you might want to know about how well the old body is functioning.  At my age I will cast my lot with the old motto  “ignorance is bliss.”

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My iPhone startles me into the here-and-now, with the order Begin Workout.  I’ve got our 6 cow dogs all exited to get going but I wonder if they are a little perplexed as to when I traded my horse Fuzz for hiking poles?  I’ve decided to leave my coat at home so I won’t have any extra weight to carry.  And also it could give me reason to “weanie out” and  cut my hike short if I might possibly feel the slightest bit of discomfort.

I have to remind myself that there are two parts to today’s hike.  One is to keep mind and body from wearing a hole in my favorite recliner chair and the other is keep up the search for those elusive endorphins.  Sally, that’s the name I have given to the iPhone lady that startles me every time I pass a mile post.  Well, I have just been startled by Sally telling me I have put 1 mile behind me.  And what a mile it was, the wind was blowing enough to let the sissy side of me say “wish I had my coat” and just maybe this is reason enough to give up my search for those elusive endorphins and settle for my recliner.

Not on your life you “wimp!”  I’ll be off this windy ridge in a few more minutes and our Pine Canyon Lake will come into view.  It’s where I can sit a spell and count the ducks that use the lake as a resting place before they journey farther on to the South.  Here I am waiting for my endorphins to kick in when the real joy is in marveling at Mother Nature’s handy work.  I wonder about all these ducks that have just flown from Canada and Alaska to our lake.  Do you suppose they found their endorphins?

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I’m just about home now and Sally rings her bell and announces that I have just passed mile post 3 and my recliner is waiting in the living room.  I not sure if a peaceful easy feeling and a comfortable smile on my face spells endorphin but it’s close.   I hear the dinner bell ringing at our daughter’s house; it’s time to take in more calories than I used to fuel my hike.

It’s now Friday morning and my waistline has put on an inch or two. My phone rings and son John is on the other end. “What’s up John? Barbara and I and two of your granddaughters, Kathryn and Kayla, are going hiking want to go?”
“Where are you going to hike?” John says.  “On a part of the ranch you can only get too by walking?”
That intrigued me as I’m sure that I’ve ridden a horseback over every other acre on the V6.

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My, my , my, the views are absolutely spectacular as are my companions.  Who could ask for more?  The hike according to Sally was 3 miles again.  The value to my joyful place is immeasurable. Getting my 2nd wind sure feels good (endorphins), but plays second fiddle to a very satisfying Thanksgiving day and a radiant Friday.
See Ya
Jack

There Are Raccoons in My House

Those lovable little rascals have a way of knowing when you’re gone, leaving your house free for them to go exploring.  Well, I think our government is much like a pack of raccoons that are always into mischief.  While our friend the raccoon is busy looking in the refrigerator, opening all the cupboards, finding and snacking on whatever he can.  The end result is similar to a bull in a China closet.

Now, enter our government.  They have a different way of opening my front door and inviting themselves in.  They do it with our U.S. census that the constitution says that all the government need do is to get a head count.  The I.R.S. not only  wants your dollars, but there’s much to be learned in the way our tax forms are constructed. Then come all your regulatory agencies each with their own kind of information to collect.

We’re down to: “How is Uncle Sam going to save me from all the poor choices I’ve made?”  First of all, you have to have a problem. That means we need an agency full of bureaucrats to define the problem then do what they were hired to do, which is write regulations that may help and may not.

My favorite problem that Uncle Sam says he will fix for me is all that pesky rain that falls from the sky.  They quite correctly determined after many studies and conferences that it was unlikely that they could control the flow of rainfall from a storm cloud.  But, after it hit the ground, a rain drop is fair game to be regulated, to be charged a fee for crossing a state line and taxed if Mr. Drop finds himself stopped in a government  reservoir.

The government agency that was lucky enough to win this very sought after boondoggle was the Environmental Protection Agency. I’m sure that all the top bureaucrats in government wished they could have been the chosen one as the potential for legions of workers at all levels to put Mr. Drop where he belongs for the greater good.  So, as long as rain still falls from clouds and regulators maintain their zeal to regulate, this agency can have eternal life. Wouldn’t you know that the EPA has picked a name that nobody can be against: The Clean Water Act.  This act dictates that the waters of our country be restored and maintained and their chemical, physical and biological properties be upheld.  Again, who could be against cool clear water?  So how far do you carry a mandate like this?  After attending one of EPA’s hearings and reading extensively about the act, I’ve come to the conclusion that the EPA feels that everybody of water from the smallest puddle to every blue line stream on a topographical map is included in the Act.

What troubles me the most about government at all levels today is the total lack of trust that land owners could possibly also want to do what’s right.  I can’t stand this idea that regulations, to be just, must paint all stewards of the land with the same brush that we paint the bad apple with.  What we should be doing is rewarding those that are “slowing down water” as Mother Nature does.

A reward system would have a budget to operate with for pennies on the dollar compared to bureaucrats in Washington D.C.
“TRUST ME,” I say and we will all win.  Do I think that this is a realistic solution?  Yes.  Do I think this approach could be adopted?  I think it would be marked dead on arrival at the EPA.
See Ya
Jack

The First Step is Always the Hardest

Hank Williams was a famous singer/song-writer back in the 1940s and ’50s.  If the lyrics of one particular song fit your lifestyle then this blog is probably not for you.   One of the the stanzas goes like this: “live hard, die young and have a beautiful memory.”

I translate this to mean in today’s world: “get a beer, dive (the dangerous part) for the couch, turn on the TV with the remote, and watch a football game.”  For you ladies, the drill is much the same, only you might want to watch The Ellen Show.  Now, at the end of the day whatever hour that is, if you can sit upright on your couch and smugly say “what a great day, who could want for more,” then this very lopsided view of mine on how to have a beautiful day is most assuredly not for you.

I subscribe weekly to Time Magazine.  Quite often, their pages are full of words that make me grind my teeth and salivate at the absurdity of what some left wing journalists has written to solve each our individual or our country’s or the world’s problems.  I think he or she dreamed their gibberish up while diving for the couch!

But this article that made the front page of Time was about a miracle cure for what ever ails us.  First, it’s necessary to pay homage to the legal profession by stating: don’t do this at home.  Don’t pour all your drugs down the drain.  Don’t quit drinking that evening bottle of wine.  Don’t leave the couch.  So what is this miraculous cure?  It’s called EXERCISE.

What gives me the right to crow about this?  Well, I’m into the early years of my 8th decade on earth, and still standing upright on the ground.  I take comfort in likening my body to and old car.  You have to put gas in the tank.  My engine runs best on Regular.  Premium grade gives me a sugar high.  I’m not much on having my body all bright and shiny as it takes too much of my time doing something that’s only going to get dirty again.  Although, I do like a clean windshield so I can see where I’m going, in life, that is.

Now, finally, I’m going straight to the point of all these metaphors.

Take on a little nourishment, then, get off your ass, off the couch, out of the shade, into the light of day and shake your booty.  It’s called exercise.  Let it lead you to the sunny side of the street.
See Ya
Jack

Melding Reality and Perception

Is this much ado about nothing?  Well, I happen to think that the citizens of this wacko land spend way to much time in the province of perception and way to little in the land of fact.

I once wrote a blog about a school  administrator who must have perceived  that our children of tag-playing-age are so delicate that the slightest sight of a bloody nose is worthy of a trip to the local emergency room.  What about the reality that children need exercise?  They need to laugh and giggle, and they especially don’t need some administrator who is more afraid of possible criticism that he or she might sustain than the proven benefits of  playing TAG! Reality takes a hit; score one for perception.

I love horses and dogs but, like me, they are going to die one day.   Maybe those of us who have had a chance at life need to step aside and allow a new generation their chance to shine.  When is that time?  Well, for me it’s when there’s no quality left– only pain and infringing on others.  The horse or dog  will suffer the ravages of time and when their lives have been well lived, reality tells those that are truly compassionate it’s time to let them go.  This is where reality takes another hit.  In the case of the horse, by law we have closed all the abattoirs in the United States by just not funding U.S.D.A. inspectors ensuring that the harvesting of the horse is both humane and sanitary.  Instead, most old horses are sent to Mexico or Canada to meet a very uncertain end.  The people and the legislators that think they’re doing something wonderful should hang their heads in shame.  The same goes for those of us that keep others among us from passing because of our advancements in technology that allow the narcissistic people that legislate this technology to prolong our lives even when the quality of this life is reduced to a beating heart and lungs that go in and out.

Reality has to win at least one time, giving me hope that 2+2 still = 4.
See Ya
Jack

Living on the Bright Side, Just for Fun

There are so many people walking around almost stepping on their lower lip and wearing a look that says l’m not very happy.  When I get to talking to one of these sad sacks their outlook on life is pretty bleak.  For a moment, I want to give into my merciful side and give these folks an excuse.  It wasn’t their fault to be in a bad gene pool that gave them directions to the “it’s not my fault” trap.  This is where people go that have given their pursuit of happiness away to a friend, or enemy, a situation, bad luck, the weather, you-name-it. Their happiness is never in their control.  Happiness for these people is like trying to catch a falling star: not totally impossible, there is a chance.  Because of this ray of hope  I don’t believe people should be relegated to the junk heap of “it’s not my fault” with no chance to escape.  What I do believe is that no matter how difficult change may be, change is possible for each of us.  We have the right to make choices.  If you embrace the good ones and try to side step most of the bad ones, you will find yourself where hope, love and laughter,   self-esteem, and all the other words that define happiness  resides.
See Ya
Jack