Thursday, September 25, 2014


the Jim Setapen tenure seems forever ago. with his departure Kimbo Ishii-Eto was named  conductor for our ASO.  his era was one of insight and ingenuity in which we witnessed an escalation of the quality of programming and general excitement about the symphony as a whole. not that i would have liked for him to have had as many years at the baton as Jim but i would not have been disappointed had he extended his stay beyond the five years of his contract.  maybe five years of little a-town was all he could take. maybe kimbo made a mistake in leaving when he did but the fact is he is gone.

we are now into the second season with our new maestro, Jacomo Rafael Bairos.  from where I sit he has the baton well in hand.  in my mind there was no drop-off in any aspect upon his ascension to the rostrum. he continues to amaze. my enjoyment of the concerts continues to rise. i appreciate that his programming has a high degree of cohesion, that he is exposing me to American composers and other composers who have not been moldering in the grave for centuries.  not that there is anything wrong with Bach, Beethoven et al, there certainly is not, but i truly appreciate the variety of his programming.

i do not pretend to know one damn thing about classical music. i don't. what i do know is that i am keenly anticipating whatever Maestro Bairos and our ASO have for us in the coming season(s).  His energy and enthusiasm are infectious. come on people, jump on the Jacomo/ASO bandwagon, we're in for the ride of a lifetime.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014


i have two programs that i use to track visitors to kidsdonegone. bravenet shows me how many hits each day and from where they originated. it reflects the ip address of the person wandering on to the site. it's usually the same 8 or 10 family and friends but occasionally someone stumbles on to the blog using the "next blog" feature on any BlogSpot page.  bravenet also features a world map which shows where any hit is physically located.

I've been posting regularly over these last few days. last night I was checking hits when i noticed on the map feature a visitor from across the pond. referring back to the ip address list i saw one that was unusual.

curious to see where in the world the hit had originated from i entered the ip address into the tracker.  imagine my surprise when the tracker indicated the hit was from Moscow City, Moscow in the Russian Federation.  kinda neat, i've  not had many hits from outside the country.

the tracker puts a bullet point indicating the location of the hit. I about crapped my pants! are you ready for this? beneath the bp read-- "the Moscow Kremlin"! the Kremlin! as in the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation. as in where THAT guy-- what's his name?-- lives. oh yeah, that's right-- Vladimir Putin!

i don't for one second believed that Vladimir Putin viewed my blog, but wouldn't it be neat if he did!)  from all indications someone from the Kremlin stumbled across it. probably it was some mousey little secretary who was surfing the web instead of tending to business; probably didn't even read English.

then again, who knows? maybe the big red horde is tracking drivel originating in little a-town. are the Russians watching kidsdonegone? you don't suppose, do you? nah! surely not, do you think? nah!

it is intriguing to consider that someone halfway around the world laid eyes on my blog, if only for a second. now, if i could just find a few more and different followers a bit closer to home.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chris Rogerson...

to be a composer in residence at the tender young age of 25 is  amazing!  The piece he has composed in honor of ASO's 90th season is beautiful. 

if you think about it, the greatest composers of all time were all 25 at some point.  90% of an iceberg is lurking out of sight  just below the surface.  i believe that chris has only just begun to fulfill his potential, that like an iceberg we are yet see all there is to be seen, and heard, from him.

based on what? by report he has been composing since he was a youngster. and "the way through" was pretty damned good!  what wondrous pieces will he have gifted to the world in his lifetime?

it excites me that I might have been in the presence of, potentially, one of this centuries great composers.  will symphonies 200-300 years from now be playing bach, beethoven, rachmaninoff et al?  probably.  but, in my script at least, symphonies will also be playing concertos from the brilliant mind of chris rogerson as well.

i hope to live long enough to see chris realize his promise.  i can't wait to hear the next piece(s) he'll be writing for ASO.  an old fart like me has to take what he can get.


Monday, September 22, 2014

the phil and gus show... with guest star, chris rogerson

a guy just never knows where life is gonna' take him.  last monday eve I got a text from the dr. n. v telling me they were hosting two violinists for the ASO in from out of town for the week.  he related that one of the two is a runner and asked if i'd be interested in running with him. so, i'm thinking, if they can put two total strangers up in their home for a week it wouldn't hurt my sorry ass to run with the guy for an hour or so.  I answered his text asking if the guy would like to run at noon on tuesday from the flc at fbc, my usual time and place.

then my phone rang.  it was dr. v saying "hey why don't you just talk to phil".  so just like that, phil, who btw is a very young man-- at least when compared to my rapidly aging hulk, had agreed to run with me, a total stranger, the next day.  dr. v is the hardest guy to say no to as phil quickly became aware.

and thus began one of the best weeks i've had in some time. phil, being young, male, accomplished and ever so confident introduced a breath of fresh air into the ennui that has become my life since retirement.

i took him to medi-park lake.  he very graciously ran my pace, stopped to walk when my eeky-leaky heart demanded a rest and listened politely as I prated on.  never having made acquaintance of a professional violinist, i had a gazillion questions which he patiently answered without once giving the impression that i am an idiot for asking. we laughed.  the miles passed quickly and we agreed to meet again on Wednesday and again on Thursday for more of the same.  we agreed to give his bleeding ears a break from me on Friday, but we made a date to run on saturday.

at this point i still had not met gus.  that was to change when we went to dinner with the drs. v and gus before the symphony performance friday night.  he too, like phil, patiently ignored my platitudes and answered my inane questions with grace. OU is lucky two have both these young but rising stars in their program.

i met chris rogerson, aso's composer in residence, at the after party on friday night. it was a short exchange but he impressed me too-- with his willingness to look a stranger in the eye, his firm handshake, with his humility as he accepted the many honorifics for his work and without appearing   falsely modest.

the symphony has never sounded better to me.  i'll tell you why.  I've never known any of the ASO musicians, not even on a hi and a hand shake kind of level.  oh, i met maestro bairos last season when the drs. v hosted a recital from a guest violinist but having a more personal connection in the form of these out-of-towners served to increase my interest and appreciation of the concert.  this new investment served to amp up my enjoyment to the third power.  that connection is key, i think.

as it happened, on saturday dr. v took phil, gus, chris and me to the palo duro canyon state park.  it was a pleasure to show off the canyon to the three first timers.  the rains this summer has the canyon looking its best. the time spent getting to and from the canyon, the time hiking over hill and dale and sitting around at the bagel place for lunch afterwards gave us all a chance to get even better acquainted.

it was a pleasure getting to know these young men, if just a little .  i'll be able to say i knew them when.  where life will take them remains to be seen but i can't wait until it brings us together again.

until then.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

ASO--90 years young...

The 90th season for our ASO is off and running- and what a way to start!  The program on Friday night roared into life with the fantastic new piece, "The Way Through" by Chris Rogerson, which was commissioned din honor of this 90th season. The program built from there with Brahms' Variation on a Theme of Joseph Haydn, Op 56a and climaxed with the taming of the beast that is Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op 30 played so ably by our guest artist,
Garrick Ohlsson.

Maestro Bairos made note as to how having Ohlsson with the orchestra during the week lifted the orchestral players efforts to another level.  Even to my un-sophisticate, tinnitus plagued ears it was obvious to those of us in attendance on Friday night were privileged to share a very special even of music.

Ohlsson is a wonder.  I listened in awe as he wrought a tsunami of wondrous proportions from the grand piano.  Likely, said instrument was ready to wave the white flag, to concede that never had so much been asked of it, yet grateful to have done its small part in blessing those in the hall with Ohlsson's rendering of Rachmaninoff's offering. 

To my mind the orchestra stood toe to toe with this pianist of world renown.  Bravo all!

To our ASO musicians and to Maestro Bairos, thank you for rising to the occasion.  The bar is at a new high.  Enjoy this taste of success; let it build toward a glorious season.  My ears can't wait to hear what else is in store for us as we make our way through.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

"The Way Through"

It was an honor to be among the first to hear and enjoy a new piece especially commissioned for the Amarillo Symphony's 90th season.  "The Way Through", the first work for ASO by resident composer Chris Rogerson is remarkable in so many ways.  By report he had not visited the area before coming to Amarillo for the season's first concert.  Let's not talk about his being barely old enough to shave. Those things are not what matter. What matters is this piece of glory written just for little old ASO 90th birthday.  What a gift!

For me, "The Way Through" describes in music a typical panhandle summer day.  The opening limns the sun shyly inching above the eastern crust. The early rays of a new day reach toward the heavens, stretching lazily to shed the torpor of the night just gone.

As the piece progresses the tempo quickens.  The day begins in earnest- there is work to be done. The middle measures speak to the bustle, the press to get the corn, cotton or wheat planted, watered and weeded, the need to get the cows milked and turned out to pasture, the rush to get to the other end of I-40 with the latest load.

The closing notes begin to slow revealing the winding down of a day's labors; it paints the sun sliding beyond the horizon in the west, the welcoming of yet another night.  At last it's quittin' time, time to rest, to recharge and to prepare for the symphony of a new day just a sunrise away, another day, just passin' through. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014

Labor Day, 2014

...but, i like the take from a couple of strips in the funny papers today referring to today as Lazy Day.

those pundits aren't far from right.  there's not a lot of labor going on today, or any day in modern times.  take mowing the lawn for instance.  i recall mowing my aunt Celeste's lawn back in the 60's with a push mower.  now that same task can be accomplished with a mower equipped with front, or rear, wheel drive and enough power to make the guider feel as thought the machine in front is about to levitate him off the ground to flap in the wind like a neckerchief held out a car window at highway speeds.

such is the bane, or blessing, of progress and a testament to just how lazy modern man has become.  or perhaps it is a testament to man's ingenuity. fingering out how to accomplish a task with greater ease, in less time while investing less sweat equity in the process.

i grew up the son of a dry land cotton farmer.  long gone, the days of breaking ground with a one row plow pulled by a two yoke team.  i was fortunate to have a poppin' johnny four row.  that didn't stop me from casting a covetous eye across the turn row at my neighbor on his six row farmall.

it's the nature of man to seek a better way, a way that requires less time, less effort to accomplish the task at hand and for that we all should be thankful.

Happy Lazy Day, ya'll!!    

Monday, August 11, 2014

this just in... Mariah is missing!

this year little a-town earned the dubious distinction of being the windiest city in the country.  take that chi-town. 

but this summer has been exceptionally calm.  in addition to the day time highs being lower than the norm, many days this summer i've noticed old glory out hanging straight down, the leaves on the trees without a single leaf stirring.  unusual to say the least.

hear it is, the 11th day of august, twenty minutes until noon.  the temp is 71, the "winds" at nine mph.  for little a-town, the windiest city in the country, that's dead calm. don't think i'm complaining though, i'm just sayin'.  it's been a summer to remember.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

ghost kitty???

we have cats at 7420. not two, but, three cats- lucky, lucy, and ellwood. I've never thought of myself as a cat person but at this point i guess you could say i am. they each have distinct personalities.  with our kids choosing to live a world away from little a-town, i can't imagine how lonely our lives might be without our feline companions.

                                                                            Mr. Lucky

life with three cats is not without its share of problems.  there's the expense of buying food and litter, vet visits and shots, hairballs and cat fights.  the list goes on.

                                                                              Miss Lucy


but the biggest problem for me is vacuuming.  we have one those shark navigators.  no matter if i vacuum once a week, or every day or two, the shark sucks up what looks to be a whole 'nother kitty. 

yes, there are three of them but could there be a ghost kitty lurking about adding his hair and dander to the mix? just how many cats have passed here at 7420, you might ask.  the answer is-- only one.  our daughter's cat, gus, lived with us while k was away at tech.  maybe the hardest thing I've ever had to do was making the call to tell k i'd  found gus in the driveway.  i thought he was just being a cat-- but he was "gone".  maybe the ghost of gus is roaming the house, contributing his share to the litter box, shedding on the hardwood and area rugs.  but probably not. 

the truth is the three cats and we humans just shed-- a lot!

long live the shark.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

that was for you, Mike...

july 2, 2014

i ran 5 miles at noon today for the first time in at least 5 years and probably longer than that. it was 66 degrees at the start. a light rain was falling. I've been running 4 fairly consistently. my buds ran earlier, or not at all due to the rain, i guess.

my eeky-leaky heart was hittin' on all cylinders early.  i run by myself as a rule, either ahead or behind my buds, from the flc at first Baptist. i'm not sure what got into me but i set out to run the mister mister 5 mile course.  running along julian i got to the fork in the road that would have taken me to the 2.5 mile turnaround.  instead of bearing right i stayed left taking me on another of mike's favorite training runs, the wellington course. it's a bit over 5 miles but what the heck, in for a penny, in for a pound. the weather was perfect, what the heck.

on my 4 milers I've been really trying to push the pace, running as hard as i can for as long as i can until my system tells me "okay that's enough".  i walk just long enough for my circ system to recharge then i'm off again. the guys don't see the value in this approach.  their take is to run without stopping but at a slower pace.  who can say which is better?  i find it easier

it's ten years now since mike passed.  we often talk about what he would have to say about the state of our running these days.  yes we're older and heavier but, hey, we're still out there come rain or shine, hot or cold.  most of us are closer to 70 than 60.  come noon time, 4 days a week, we're there at the flc hitting the bricks, carrying on the tradition mike started back in the 70's. 

i think he would be proud.


Friday, June 20, 2014

cruising alaska... three weeks later

it's almost three weeks since we bid ncl's pearl goodbye.  that's hard to believe.  they say time flies when your having fun.  being back to the everyday is anything but that so where have these last days and weeks gone?

I've chronicled some of the happenings on the cruise here. there were amazing first time experiences for all of us.  i was thinking today, as neat as those things were, and are, the best thing about this cruise was spending time and sharing those adventures with family. 

our kids were still young the last time we vacationed with my sis and bud-in-law. sis and her family have always lived in the houston area so it's not like we can visit any time we want.  over the years we've done well to get together once a year; twice if luck smiles on us. having our cousin along made this time all the more special. 

this cruise was a series of firsts. first time to Alaska for the three of them,  first cruise for my sis and her hubby. for my wife and me it was our fifth cruise, the second to Alaska but it is so beautiful it could never get old. though we've been there before this time 'round we took different excursions so the things the other three were seeing for the first time were also a first for us.

truly one could take the same trip every week in a season and not see, or do, all there is to be seen and done.  on board the view is always changing. because your not driving along at 70mph there is time to see that mountain as the ship reveals its beauteous backside view, side view,
then front side.  if you happened to see that same mountain on the return trip the viewing would look totally different.

it was a week of relaxation, of catching up.  it was everything i hoped it would be.  it was alaska and best of all it was time with family.

i can't wait to do it again. how 'bout ya'll?


Thursday, June 19, 2014

cruising alaska-- sunday

sunday morning, a week later, finds us back in seattle.  our Alaskan fun is done.  living in little a-town, flights to get back home are limited.  there is an urgency to disembarkation in order to make that last flight out at 11 am.  we opted to "walk off'' instead of the usual routine of putting our bags outside the cabin the night before. it worked out fine.  we were at the curb by 8:30, called the car company for early pickup and arrived at the airport by a little after 9:00. no worries.  back to the same old, same old, but taking with us some special memories. 

on sunday morning before we sailed we took the fast train to the seattle center and wandered through the northwest folklife festival. it was there we saw a haiku drum group of teen drummers.  their drumming was perfection.  who says the youth of today is going down the wrong road?

monday was an at sea day.  not one cruisers look forward to but this day had an exciting rescue at sea by the Canadian coast guard. the rescued had appendicitis.

tuesday was Juneau and humpback and orca action with a harem of frolicking sea lions on the side. wednesday was Skagway and Haines and the float trip down the chilkat river valley.  i'll not soon forget seeing bald eagles in flight.

thursday we cruised glacier bay and witnessed the margerie  glacier calving quadruplets.  friday was Ketchikan.  the misty fjords were carved by the glaciers into rudyerd bay an ice age ago.  saturday was Victoria, BC.  i'll not soon forget the haunting sounds of 'amazing grace" from an erhu played by an Asian gentleman-- for tips.

it's sunday again, the bags are packed with dirty clothes from a week at sea, our hearts and minds filled with the sights and sounds, with the peace, of a world so different from the flat, dry plains of the texas panhandle.

so long, Alaska, until next time.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

cruising alsaka... saturday

 if it's Saturday, we must be in Canada: Victoria, BC to be more exact.'

the pearl pulled in to the pier about 6pm. our stay in Victoria was to be only 6 hours.  we took a tour of Victoria's highlights which meant being bussed around the city while the driver noted various points of interest.  it is a beautiful city with an interesting history.

we visited Victoria on our way back to seattle on our first Alaskan cruise.  this time 'round we got to see more.  our tour took us to mt. doug, the highest point in Victoria.  from up there one can see the city below at every turn. "on a clear day, you can see mt. rainier from up here" said a lady walking her tiny dog.

being in Victoria and in Juneau, Skagway, the glacier bay and in ketchikan pointed up to me how much there is on this big blue marble that passes each day quietly outside my stream of consciousness.  the world just keeps turning. people everywhere live in the moment without being aware of a greater world.

our stop in Victoria was the least exciting for me.  still there will be memories I take with me. for one, pausing a moment to listen to as an Asian gentleman played his erhu in a park across the street from the grand parliament building.

the erhu is a two stringed, Chinese, violin. like so many things, I was oblivious to such an instrument existence until it was the featured instrument of a guest artist with our ASO.  haunting is the word i'd use to best describe its sound. like the erhu, there is a world of experiences waiting to be discovered.

visions of this second cruise to alaska will linger in my memory, i'm sure.  from time to time a wispy glimpse of a whale breaching, the scream of an eagle in flight, the sound of thunder before a "calving" or a wisp of mist from the fjords will slip through, the sound of the erhu along for the ride.  sights, sounds and smells remembered will have to do until I can get back to beautiful Alaska once again.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

crusing alaska... friday

if it's Friday, it must be Ketchikan.

today is another excursion with a lot of getting to and from.  allen marine tours ( transported us to the misty fjords.  the come on suggested we would see bald eagles, whales and other furry and feathered friends in addition to being able to experience this little corner of the paradise also know as-- Alaska.

It took a while on the high tech catamaran, even with its twin 600 horsepower engines, to get to the fjords.  but there was free coffee, hot chocolate and snacks.  in addition there was an on board naturalist, a Tlingit storyteller and craftsman and a video presentation to help pass the time.

as it turns out we did not see an eagle or a whale, nor any other wild life with the exception of a few sea birds that nest on the sides of the cliffs.   wait, we did see harbor seals hauled up on some rocks on our return trip to Ketchikan.

the fjords are beautiful. i'll let some pictures give you an idea of what we saw.


 the punch bowl.

harbor seals
New Eddystone rock
Ketchikan, again.

that street is steep
NCL's Pearl

the misty fords excursion was not exciting but it was fun "flying at sea level" to get to Rudyerd Bay.  

time is nothing to this place.  an ice age ago the glaciers scraped the deeps from solid rock. the seas rushed in to fill the gaps. the mists appeared and the wait began for you to come to marvel in the quiet solitude, the peace; the beauty a gift to be shared with any who may seek it.

that you may not see a whale, or an eagle, is of no consequence. the mists, the 3000 foot cliffs are waiting. come!


Monday, June 16, 2014

cruising alaska... thursday

on our first cruise to Alaska with Royal Caribbean we visited the mendenhall glacier which we viewed from the visitor center.  the mendenhall did not favor us with any calving activity while we were there though we could see results of previous "calvings" in the water at its base.  as awesome as the mendenhall is the absence of "calving" was a bit disappointing.

this time around we cruised into glacier bay.  our first stop was the margerie glacier where we spent about and hour.   margerie was in a giving mood.  a "calving" is often signaled by a "thunder-like" clap  milliseconds before the "calf" plunges into the water below.  it's a real trick to recognize the sound, locate its proximity and get your camera on it before all the action is over and done with.

I managed to capture-- at least a part of-- 4 "calvings".

Again with the spinning watercraft!  not unlike Joe maneuvering our inflatable on the Chilkat the day before, the pilot of the Pearl took us for a little spin as well.  WOW!!

After we left the Margerie, the Pearl visited another of the glaciers in the bay, the Lamplugh glacier.  No calving action was to be seen this time round.  There was much smaller cruise ship positioned nearer the base of the glacier that had apparently allowed some if its passengers to exit the ship in kayaks to explore the glacier more up close and personal.  that would be so cool unless a "calving" crushed your kayak, but exploring by kayak wasn't an option offered by NCL's Pearl.

Glacier bay is graced by not only the many glaciers but vistas that must be seen to be believed. The National Park rangers who came on board for our visit to the bay were a bonus, providing us with historical and anecdotal perspective. Enjoying Alaska's splendor has a way of making time as ethereal as the mists on its mountains.

It was a beautiful day in Glacier Bay.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

cruising alaska... wednesday

wednesday morning found us in skagway.  i'd scheduled a float through a bald eagle preserve, again making arrangements through

this tour involved a lot of getting to and from.  first their was the 45 minute ferry ride from skagway to haines (and back of course).  we were met on the dock where we then took a short walk up the street to meet our guide, Joe Ordondez of Rainbow Glacier Adventures (

ava was not feeling well that morning so it was just my wife, sis, bud-in-law, myself and joe going on the float. joe provided us with rubber boots to keep our feet dry, life vests as well as a sack lunch at the end of the float.

after another 45 minute ride we were putting into the water.  after a quick safety orientation, getting in and out of the raft etc. we were off.  we floated the chilkat and chilkoot rivers through this part of beautiful Alaska.

joe kept up a running dialogue relating the particulars of the area.  but we were here to see bald eagles.  the end of may is not peak eagle viewing season in the chilkat river valley. but "there are resident eagles".  and we did see eagles; not as many as pictures i had been had led  me to expect. (those pictures were taken in november  when eagles migrate to the area)  but we did see eagles; and a black bear and various other feathered friends along this 2 hour float through some of the most beautiful country God put on this blue orb we call earth.

Below are my feeble attempts to record scenes I wish were as clear an those in my memory.


eagles mate for life.  a nest is added to year after year and can weight up to 2000 pounds.

it's hard to get the shot when you're floating by in an inflatable raft trying to take the picture with a handheld camera.

the chilkat and the chilkoot are only 2-3 inches deep in some places.    

A spin on the Chilkat!

take a look at the video below.  A video I ONLY WISH I HAD SHOT of the beautiful Chilkat Rivery Valley  (borrrowed from mizamook filmworks -- via the youtube)

all too soon our time with joe was done. after a quick change of footwear and lunch at the river take out, we were on the road again back to haines to meet the ferry for the ride back to skagway.  a lot of down time was  invested in getting there and back but the time on the river with joe was totally worth it.

if ever I GET a REALLY GOOD camera, and should an opportunity present itself, i'd like to go back to haines in November when the eagles flock to the open waters of the chilkat.   rainbow glacier  adventures also take folks like me on bald eagle photography outings. that would be so cool. 

joe is good people.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

cruising alaska... tuesday

as i said, after monday's excitement, we arrived at juneau at 3 pm.  we soon cleared the ship and were on our way for some whale watching.  i'd arranged this outing through . we were met at the pier and loaded on a bus for the trip to the marina.  our driver noted points of interest along the way.

we soon arrived and were introduced to Captain Scott Monroe and naturalist Luke Black of Alaska Galore Tours. ( )  In comparison to the pearl (2,394 passengers 110 crew), their boat is tiny, holding 16-18 passengers and 2 crew. this smaller capacity allows for an intimacy and access not available on the ncl arranged tours.

during the ride out to the likely viewing area, luke presented interesting facts about the humpback whale, entertained and answered questions. the time passed quickly.

we soon arrived where humpbacks had already been spotted by other boats.  that was a bit of good luck.  one might compare whale watching to fishing.  there is a difference between fishing and catching fish as there is a difference between whale watching and whale seeing. when a humpback breaches it can be 7-10 minutes, up to and hour +, before breaching again.  that's a good bit of waiting, watching and hoping between sightings. we did see several blows and a few tail displays but no pacific life moments. i failed to get any of this action on video.

watching tours have limits imposed on them for the well being of the whales.  only so close and only 30 minutes on a particular whale sighting. 30 minutes is a good amount of time but it flies. in what seemed like no time we had to pull off and head toward another possible sighting area.

as we motored toward a new sighting, Captain Monroe spotted a bull sea lion and his harem of four cows. the captain stopped engines to allow us to see and video a sea lion menage a cinq in action. nature in the raw.  not wanting to cause any sea lion coitus interruptus we soon abandoned the sea lions to their play.

after leaving the sea lions, Captain Monroe's cell phone rang.  "have a seat folks, i think we have something special for you". we quickly made our way to that something special...  ORCAs!!!  the nice thing about orcas is that they breach more often than humpies.  i was able to get some decent video of orca action.


all too soon, our time in juneau was winding down.

many thanks to captain scott monroe and naturalist luke black for a hugely exciting, entertaining and educational whale seeing tour. the sea lions were a bonus.  if i get back to juenau, id like to sail with you guys again.


Friday, June 13, 2014

cruising alaska... monday

the pearl departed for Juneau at 4pm on sunday.  monday was to be an at sea day. from seattle to juneau is 774 nautical miles.  that's 891 land miles. point is, at 22-24 knots, it takes a while to get there by ship. 

normally, an at sea day is uneventful, the time passed at leisure.  nothing exciting was expected to happen, although ava and  were sitting at breakfast, seated at a table along the windows when a humpback breached right next to the Pearl.  it was huge! 

so my bud-in-law, terry, and i spent some time on deck and had a few more sightings, but at a distance.  we could see the whales blowing but that was about it.  nothing to get worked up about.

that would change.

about 2 pm, the captain came on the ships intercom with an announcement.  "ladies and gentlemen, you may have noticed that the ship has slowed down and we have begun a turn. there has been a medical emergency on board. we will need to sail in the direction we just came from to rendezvous with emergency personnel.  not to worry, this will only delay our Juneau arrival by one hour".

completing the turn, we sailed back the way we had just come for 3 hours.  i was on deck twelve with what seemed to be half the other passengers when a plane approached the pearl flying low.        it began to circle the ship.

soon after, a helicopter approached.  the fire crews had made ready for its arrival hours before just in case things went wrong.

I/we witnessed first hand the niftiest bit of air/seamanship one could ever hope to see.  the pearl continued at speed as the copter's pilot maneuvered into position, hovering above the 13th deck while matching the pearl's forward progress. a basket and crew member were lowered to the deck to ready the patient for transport. the chopper lifted away, circling a few times before coming in again to take the patient and crew member aboard the helicopter and then the chopper was off and soon faded into the distance.

later we were told the patient had suffered an appendicitis attack, had been taken to a hospital, had undergone surgery and was recovering. certainly the events of monday afternoon were not something anyone expected as we left for Juneau.  it is good to know that ncl knows how to handle such a situation should it arise and did not hesitate to make a passengers well being a top priority.

kudos to the crew of the rescue squad and the crew of the pearl. job well done.

on a side note, as I mentioned, many people were on deck taking pictures and video of the helicopter rescue.  if you notice, the crew member in the door of the chopper (in the first video) was taking pictures, or video, of the pearl as the pilot maneuvered along side.  a rescue at sea was a first for me.  maybe it was his first rescue from a cruise ship.

after the rescue, the ship executed another turn and soon we were headed back toward juneau.  the captain put the pedal to the medal and we arrived in juneau at 3pm on tuesday, only 1 hour later than scheduled, as promised.

not your average at sea day by any means. I hope the patient continues to recover.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

cruising alaska...

we've been back from our second Alaskan cruise almost two weeks now.  after years of cajoling my sister Marilyn and b-in-law Terry, they joined us for the cruise as did our cousin Ava. my better half and i  flew in to seattle on Saturday.  we got in late, leaving only time for dinner before heading back to the hotel to rest up for our sunday departure.

the Norwegian Pearl didn't sail until 4 pm on sunday which left some time to have a look about.  we took the rapid ride from just outside our hotel to the seattle center area where the space needle is located.  the center was blur of activity with the northwest folklife festival going on.

wandering through, we saw parts of the chiluly glass and arts exhibit.

the schedule was filled with different musical acts appearing on the main outdoor stage.  we paused a moment to watch a haiku drum group made up of young teens. it was thrilling. check out the short videos below.  sorry, I didn't clock the name of the group.

after wandering through the center's gardens it was time to collect our bags from the mayflower park hotel and embark the Pearl.
bees were buzzing

time's a'wastin' !!

anchors aweigh!!




Friday, May 23, 2014

Praise Tlaloc...

last evening, the skies favored us at 7420 with another 0.3 inches of rain.  as i went tp bed the radar indicated new development to the south moving in this direction.  i got up to answer my bladder's call around 4:30.  i could hear the sound of sprinkles hitting the lens of the tube light.

there's no better sleeping than with the sound of rain on the roof. being the son of a dry land cotton farmer, the first thing i did this morning was check the gauge.  another 0.5 inch!

throughout the morning the rain has continued to fall, the gauge is inching its' way toward 1.0 since i emptied it last.  almost 2 inches total in these last days.

glorious! but not anywhere near to drought busting.  a report in the news indicates it would take 18-30 inches over the next 6 months to break it.  doubtful, at best.  but with the generosity of tlaloc and with a little help from el nino, maybe we can put a dent in the mean old drought anyway.

it continues to rain.  gentle, soaking, life giving.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Praise Tlaloc...

it's been so dry, for so long around here, folks in these parts have just about forgotten what rain looks like. for days the local weather gurus have brayed, "rain is coming". not just a chance of rain on one day but good chances for rain every day through labor day.  it's been so dry  for so long I, for one, have been afraid to even hope.

yesterday afternoon, I watched the radar showing good rain showers coming up from the south but passing to the west and to the east of little a-town.  here we go again. it has seemed over time that promising radar returns appear to be taking dead aim at the city only to split apart, skirting around and reuniting on the other side. but last night the clouds continued streaming up from the south, and wonder of wonders, they held together blessing us here at 7420 with 1/2 an inch.  not a downpour, not a drought breaker, just a gentle shower over several hours.

the wondrous smell of petrichor was a bonus.

here's praying for more rain in the area today and in the days to come. being almost 40 inches behind the norm over the past 3 years the parched earth can use any rain we can get and all that mother nature will give.


New York, NY... postscript.

after a week of agonizing about losing/having my cell phone stolen, Monday brought a resolution. I'd heard back from the port authority-- "'your phone hasn't been turned in to us". with that news, I decided to bite the bullet and investigate how much replacing my cell was going to hurt.

wonder of wonders, i  was in for a rather pleasant surprise.  amber, at the att store on I-40, was able to upgrade me to an iPhone 5s, no surprise there i guess, but in the process of reviewing our account was able to lower our monthly bill by $53/mo. that included the monthly installment for the new phone and without signing a new 2 year contract in the deal.

dumfounded, flabbergasted, stunned-- you choose the descriptive word, but i walked out with a new iPhone 5s, a lower monthly bill and big shit eating grin on my face.  the wife was pretty happy about this particular turn of events as well.

sometimes good can come from a bad thing. for once in my life, i fell into a pile of dung and came out smelling like a rose.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

new york, ny... it's a helluva town 7!

we last visited the big apple a year or so before 9/11.  during that visit we took in the view from atop the world trade center. the skyline has changed, the city seems to be under renovation at every turn.

it is even busier, louder, if that's possible. there are still hordes of people rushing to get somewhere at any time of day and into the late evening. but there's a different feel.  on our first visit all one saw was a sea of black and gray.  things have loosened up sartorially, here and there a splash of color pops up.  there is still the blank stare of concentration on passersby in a hurry to get there. but there's a much friendlier feel to the place, an excuse me from one bumped into.  before i thought most of the people to be rude. this trip, most everyone encountered was friendly and helpful. experiencing a 9/11 can make a people realize that we only have today, maybe.  one can never know what that next tick of the clock might bring.

they were probably there on our last visit, we just didn't see them, but there are parks everywhere. islands of beauty amongst the towers stretching to reach the sky. tulips were in bloom, the tallest i've ever seen. people passed through or paused to sit and reflect, to take a moment to ease the tension of the day.

another thing struck me, that is the relative dearth of overweight people.  perhaps it's from all the walking entailed in living in this city.   I don't know but fatties were few and far between. no walmart beauties allowed.

speaking of walmart, not a one in sight.

this trip we dined from a food truck most every day. gyros, hot dogs, sandwiches, smoothies, you name it-- all made up on the spot, not basking under a heat lamp for hours before serving. tasty, affordable, i recommend you try one if you ever make it to the city.

so much to do, so little time. NYC, i promise i'll try to get back before another decade passes by. you're a helluva town!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

new york, ny... it's a helluva town 6!

the only downer in the almost 5 days in the big apple came on the day we left, in the very last moments of our time there.  it happened as i was getting out of the cab at LaGuardia. either my iPhone dropped to the floor of the cab or fell to the ground as i was exiting. 

i was just clearing the security screening process when the awful realization that i didn't have my cell phone dawned on me.  oh what a sick feeling.  by this time we had already checked in at the gate, checked bags and processed through security screening, so the cab was long gone.  there was no chance to rush out to try to stop the driver.  and of course, the phone is pass code protected so that if anyone had found it there was no way for them to answer my  frantic calls or texts.  i had "find my phone" installed but that does a helluva lot of good when it's not activated and/or turned on. for now it is out of service with my provider.

I've spent the days since beating myself up for being so careless.  the phone had already survived being dropped into a curbside rain puddle and now this. what to do now? i could have called 311 while i was still in NY but was unaware of the option.

once i got back home i started grasping at straws in an effort to get the phone back.  i paid $49.95 to list my phone as lost in hopes of getting it back.  I'm fairly certain this is a scam aimed at desperate saps like myself.  the fee is for the listing, which i would guess, legally, the site has done what it said it would do, i.e. allow me to file an item as lost. i can't seem to access the list for info contained within. how can anyone having found a black iPhone 4 in a red otter box case access my info? nor can i access a list of found items.  I have little hope this effort will lead to recovery of my phone. $49.95, down the drain!

I've filed a service request online with 311 NYC giving the particulars (for free).  as advised, i called the numbers listed, yesterday.   a very helpful officer at the 17th precinct checked for my phone then gave me two numbers for precincts in queens (LaGuardia is in queens).  i spoke with officers? at the 107th and 155th precincts as well but my phone has yet to turn up there.  I left a message with the LaGuardia lost and found clerk and filed a report at

whether any of this will be of any avail? i have my doubts.   hope is dimming that i'll ever see my iPhone 4 again.  it's insured but there's no telling how much replacement will cost.  there's a price to be paid for being an inattentive dumbass.  anguish in spades so far and another hit to the old pocketbook coming.


Monday, May 19, 2014

New York, NY... it's a helluva town 5!

and on sunday we saw 2 shows.

the second was "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", an irreverent rock musical featuring Neil Patrick Harris as a trans-vestite/sexual cabaret singer from Hitler's Germany.  The angry inch is the name of the band but also refers to now missing anatomy.

I was a little nervous about how our friends the Drs. V would receive the show but they at least professed to like it.

NPH was phenomenal in the role.  I had seen him in several interviews coming up to the performance in which he intimated that he/Hedwig would interact with the audience in an often biting bit of repartee.  All in character of course, as (s)he was when (s)he called out a couple coming in late to their seats in the front row.  "have trouble getting here? I was on time-- and I came all the way from Germany". cue the raucous laughter.

A great evening of musical theater.  I've not seen the other nominated musicals but I'll be surprised if he doesn't win for best (s)he-male in a leading role.

If you get the chance, put aside your puritan pride and treat yourself to Hedwig.   a fun, fun evening.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

New York, NY... it's a helluva town 4!

again on sunday, we saw two shows.

the first was "Sistas", a musical with a loose story line staged in the attic of the character's recently deceased grandmother.  it celebrates the prominent women of color in music over the years--
althea gibson, mahalia jackson,  dianah ross, aretha franklin, dionne warwick, gladys knight, ella fitzgerald and others. 

very entertaining! perhaps surprisingly, it was written by dorothy marcic who is white.

not surprisingly, black theater goers made up the bulk of this audience as well. white or black, we all were blessed with a talented cast of women putting on a helluva show.


Friday, May 16, 2014

New York, NY... it's a helluva town--3!!

on saturday we took in two shows.

the second was "of mice and men" with James Franco and Chris O'Dowd.

I don't recall having ever read "of mice and men" so the story was new to me. James Franco was good but it was easy to see why Chris O'Dowd received a tony nomination. Not being familiar with the story I had no idea where it was headed but spent the last moments of the play saying "oh, no! George (JF) is gonna shoot Lennie (CO).  And he did, but I guess that was in the script.

A powerful production, humorous at times, evoking ever more empathy for Lennie as the play went along.

glad I saw it.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

New York, NY.. it's a helluva town-- 2!!

on Saturday we took in two shows.

the first was "Raisin in the Sun" with Denzel Washington.  I've never seen a production of the play but I read it on the plane to NY. The read did not prepare me for what I saw on stage.  Any written word is open to interpretation.  Whether this was a directorial decision or an actor's choice, what read as a somewhat somber piece came off as laugh out loud funny but still moved me to tears at the end.

i'm a give me a musical any day over a drama kind of guy but this production was oh so enjoyable. sure there was Denzel, and he was good, but the heart of the play is the female characters.  I laughed and I cried.  It was great!

on a side note, the producers may have stumbled on a recipe for getting the black audience out in numbers-- that is Denzel + Raisin. The audience, at least for this performance, was 90% black.  And they had a magical Broadway experience, as did I.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New York, NY... it's a helluva town!!

got back last night from a long weekend in the big apple.

Friday night we took in the NY Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. If you've never been there, the main floor seating section is probably football field sized with three tiers of seating along the sidelines and the end zone opposite the stage. Basically the symphony plays in a 3 storied box but with better acoustics. AFH is, in a word, cavernous. Our seats were in the second tier at the 5 yard line. Not the best sight line, not sure how that impacted our hearing the program.  I do know what it did for my neck. It gave me a crick.

I was excited to hear the Philharmonic play, to hear the guest violinist. I wanted to garner an idea of how our ASO and the Globe News Center for the Performing Arts measure up against this world renowned symphony and hall.

I won't say that I wasn't in awe of both but somehow I was left wanting.  Maybe it is the size of AFH  or our seat location.  Maybe it is because we are ASO season ticket holders or  maybe it's the intimacy of the GNC.  Maybe I was just tired after a long day of travel. Maybe I'm just more invested in our ASO.  Whatever the reason, I prefer our little band of players and our hall.  Maybe that's just me buying local.


Monday, April 28, 2014

89th season finale....

any of you who have a fondness for Gershwin would have enjoyed Saturday night's toe tapping finale of the ASO's 89th season. it was in a word-- fun.  and, did i mention, damned good fun.

Joseph Young, associate conductor of the Atlanta symphony took the baton for Maestro Jacomo Bairos in his absence.  Thanks are due to Jacomo and the symphony staff for bringing this marvelous talent to little a-town.  what a conductor!  he had our little band of players in top form. he is well spoken and continued in the educative vein Jacomo has shared with symphony audiences. Bravissimo, all!

in years past, the symphony season has ended with the choirs from AC and WT performing  major works along with the symphony.  the hallelujah chorus comes to mind.  fine singers all but i have an intense dislike for one individual from among the groups thus i've found myself staring daggers at that person and not enjoying the performance as much as i might.  totally my problem, but...

this season's finale was unique not only in that we had the guest conductor but we had not one, but two guest artists.

i've found myself in trouble in the past for commenting here about a particular soprano's voice; and more to the point, about the dress she was wearing. (she should've considered the source or have forgone reading comments posted to an amateur blog)

anna bergman, guest soprano, was in fine form vocally and quite witty in the bargain.  her gown was very pretty, btw.

when i envision a concert pianist, i see long, rather delicate fingers.  Kevin Cole, the guest pianist, signed cd's after the performance. i noted his fingers to be anything but long or delicate yet he wrangled an amazing performance of "rhapsody in blue" from them.  i can only imagine how many hours of practice might be involved for anyone set to the task of performing any major piece.  workmanlike fingers?  perhaps.  but it was a classic performance of rhapsody and just goes to prove one should never judge a book by its' cover. amazing, sir! 

a very entertaining evening all around while leaving me to imagine what wonders ASO's 90th season may bring.

note to self: get our season tickets renewed ASAP.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

crow, under glass...

a while back I was gently poking fun at folks here in little a-town for carping about the dust storms so prevalent this third spring of the drought.  having grown up on the south plains I have some knowledge of spring winds and the sand storms they bring on windy days like today.  often on days like the last few i've  been known to pronounce, "this is a good day NOT to be in Lubbock, tx".

this entry to kdg will serve as an apology of sorts to the folks i was gently ribbing for bemoaning the "awful dust storms" of late. 

this morning on my way to the office (donut stop) the wind was howling to 40 mph, sustained, and what did i see? the sky was brown and dust was in the air; not a sand storm as in lubbock, but the earth was most definitely on the move with eddies of little a-town dirt blowing down the pavement.

my point?  we need rain-- and it's still a good day not to be in lubbock,  tahoka. o'donnell, lamesa or any little burg down that way where a sand storm this time of year can sand blast a car.

i've been gone from that country for 40 years and I still don't have all the sand out of my craw.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

still droughting...

here we are on the downhill side of march, sliding pell-mell toward May and the 4 state region is falling deeper into the drought of the last three years. a few weeks back little a-town was some 30+ inches of rain/moisture in the hole over that time frame.

where is el nino when you need the guy? over these last weeks 7420 has seen some rainfall, still, totaling less than an inch for the year to date.

there's a 20% chance for rain today. i'll take it.  but that could mean 80% of the area will wind up with bupkis.  not the best of odds, but any chance for rain is better than no chance, any day.

praying for rain in little a-town!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

back from the motherland...

it's depressing to see the old home town continue to shrivel on the vine.  driving into town the population sign reports the census in 2010 as-- 831!!.  OMG!  a search indicates that in 1990 the population was recorded as being 1102.  it was down a smidge to 1011 in 2000.  But 831 in 2010??!! that's a loss of 271 souls in just 20 years, but it was never big, something just over 1300 souls back in 1960. down 500 over the past 50 years.  

are the pioneer families dyeing off at that rate.  it wouldn't surprise me.  for sure there is little to keep the young'uns hanging around after graduation.  even a cursory inspection shows a once thriving town in extended free fall. but that's been the state of things since, when?  like, as in forever! 

did the slide in census numbers start the day the four lane bypassing o'donnell to the west opened?  without the passing through traffic, less money found its way into local coffers.  or was the decline triggered by the advent of bigger and better farm equipment? or by the increasing use of herbicides? viva la roundup!  that advent likely signaled the beginning of the end for the bracero program which ended in 1964. the braceros pumped up the local economy with extra dollars through the summer and fall.

whatever the case, o'donnell is in a word, sad.  it looks tired and worn, a ghost of the vibrant community it once was.  i remember Saturdays as laundry and grocery shopping days, of abandoning the fields at noon to get those weekly chores done to get ready for the work week ahead. both sides of the street were lined with cars, every building had a thriving business.  now the streets are mostly empty, the vacant store fronts stare blankly, no glimmer of life from within.  such is the fate of small towns everywhere with a dwindling population and tax base. 

as for the old home town there is something of a blossoming oil and gas presence and the hope that wind energy will see the value of the constant lynn county winds.  if the oil "boom" fizzles there is still the wind, the ever present wind. if only there was access to a transmission line, things might be different.

it's not a ghost town, yet-- still, it makes me sad.


I'm not the lone ranger... or maybe I am.

Flipping through the "next blog" feature I find that I'm not the only one who fails to regularly post to one's blog site. That makes me feel some better I suppose.  It's hard to write without inspiration and with serious doubt that anyone reads the post if I do manage to "scratch out" a few words, or cares one way or the other when I do.

One day blends into the next, passes on to the next and on and on ad nauseum. Such is life in retirement.  The kids are busy with their lives in far flung places.  I seldom call for fear of interrupting.  The texts I send, with keeping them up on what's happening in little a-town in mind, are most often ignored.

Welcome to my Tuesday morning pity party.


Monday, March 31, 2014

back in the day...

I saw this picture of an Afghan boy rolling a tire on the net today.  At once I was transported back in time to my early days growing up in the middle of that dry land cotton patch.  I remember making fun with old an old tire. My sister and I were about the age of the young boy above, the two of us rolling our tire along, racing to see who could get from here to there first without losing control.  It was in the years before we were old enough to take to the fields.  A time of innocence, of love and laughter. So long ago. When you grow up 7 miles from nowhere, fun is hard to come by.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Amarillo Symphony's Visionaries concert....

Jacomo's Visionaries concert may well be my favorite of any presented during our years of attending the symphony.  This season began with promise and a hint of mystery, of curiosity for what the new maestro might bring.

Bring it he did, with excitement for the season building as it drew on.  Saturday night was a treat for the ears, heart and mind-- for the soul.

To the selection committee, compliments are due for narrowing the search to the three able candidates and for selecting Jacomo (my personal favorite) to lead our ASO into these next years.  Thank you Jacomo for an excellent season full of fresh and interesting compositions from modern and American composers, for pairing those skillfully with composers of the old school and for bringing talented guest artists to punctuate those programs.  The symphony deserves a well earned pat on their collective backs as well for responding to Jacomo's baton, a response obvious to even the ears of this dry land cotton farmer's kid. Together you've turned what were for me evenings to be tolerated into ones of pleasant enjoyment.

Renewing our seats for the 2014-15 season was a no-brainer for me.  I'm anxious for the concert coming up in April but I'm keenly anticipating what Jacomo and our ASO may have in store for us in the new season to come. Every journey begins with a single step.  Jacomo and the symphony are nearing completion of the first leg of this new journey.  Where will the next leg take us?  Stay tuned!