Category Archives: kites

Higher Education

While this is primarily a “kite” blog, I recently ran across a bit of Texas history and thought to share.

These days the government owned school system is totally geared to push all students into a “state university”. They are repeatedly told that is the only way they will be worth anything in the future years.

History of some of our nation’s greatest leaders however proves that theory to be flawed, Abe Linclon, Ben Franklin come immediately to mind. Many of the writers of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution would’ve included.

There is currently a severe shortage of tradesmen in our economy. The following story is an example of one youngsters drive to “self educate” by virtue of reading EVERYTHING.

Read on and enjoy some Texas history.
William A. Owens was born in the Lamar County hamlet of Pin Hook about twenty miles northeast of Paris on November 2, 1905. He was the son of Charles and Jessie Ann (Chennault) Owens. His father died within a few days after Owens’s birth, and the boy spent his early years helping his mother and his older brothers scratch a living from the worn-out red soil of Lamar County.

His education was spotty in his early years, for he was never able to go to school for more than a few months at a time, and, as he tells in his first volume of autobiography, This Stubborn Soil (1966), the school at Pin Hook was only open about three months a year. Owens learned to read and write, and when he met a poorly-educated crosstie cutter who owned twenty-five books that he was willing to lend, young Bill read all the tiehacker’s books and resolved to devote his life to reading and study.

At the age of fifteen he moved to Dallas to live with an aunt and work, on rollerskates, filling catalog orders at Sears and Roebuck’s huge mail-order warehouse. Later, he found a job washing dishes for a Catholic school and saved enough money to attempt study at East Texas State Normal College in Commerce (now Texas A&M University—Commerce). Despite his lack of education, he made a high score on the entrance exam and was allowed into the college’s high school program in 1924. These early years are detailed in This Stubborn Soil. The filmmaker James Lipscomb turned some of the early material from This Stubborn Soil into a PBS television program entitled Frontier Boy.

In the second volume, A Season of Weathering (1973), Owens tells of his years teaching school at Pin Hook and other East Texas schools beginning in 1928, working in the Kress store in Paris, taking courses at Paris Junior College, and ending up at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1932 and 1933 respectively. His master’s thesis, published as Swing and Turn: Texas Play Party Games (1936), grew from all the years Owens had spent hearing and singing the old English and Scottish ballads that were a part of his East Texas heritage. “Play parties” were the dances of religious fundamentalists who forbade dancing to music unless it was without fiddles, guitars, and other instruments.

As Owens tells in his third volume of autobiography, Tell Me a Story, Sing Me a Song (1983), he spent much of the 1930s collecting folksongs, teaching at Texas A&M University, and completing his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. Working partly on his own and partly for the Extension Division of the University of Texas, he recorded songs from East Texas to the Cajun Country of the Texas Coast to the Mexican border, using a secondhand Vibromaster recorder. The records were played with bamboo or cactus needles.

Owens later worked closely with J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and Roy Bedichek. Bedichek was the director of the Extension Service’s Interscholastic League and Owens’s employer for part of his time as a collector of songs. Owens’s close relationship with “the old three” led to his publishing Three Friends (1969), a collection of letters that Dobie, Bedichek, and Webb wrote to one another. It also includes a running commentary by Owens on his relationship with the three men. A later book that grew from his folklore-collecting days was Tales from the Derrick Floor: A People’s History of the Oil Industry (1970), which he edited with Mody C. Boatright, Dobie’s successor as secretary–editor of the Texas Folklore Society.

In 1942 he joined the United States Army as a buck private and was assigned to the intelligence branch. One of his postings was to Tulsa. Owens’s job was to attend black churches in his capacity as a folklorist in order to take the temperature of African Americans about America’s war effort. Needless to say, he found no disloyalty among African Americans, and from his Oklahoma experience came his best novel, Walking on Borrowed Land (1954), the story of a black teacher from Mississippi who was hired to be principal of a segregated school in the “Little Dixie” section of Oklahoma. This book won the Texas Institute of Letters 1954 prize for best first novel by a Texas writer.

Owens served in the Philippines during World War II and wrote of his experiences there in his fourth volume of autobiography, Eye Deep in Hell (1989). He was awarded the Legion of Merit. He joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1947 and remained there until his retirement in 1974. He was professor of English and dean of the summer session there for many years.

Owens married Ann Seaton Wood on December 23, 1946, and had two children—David, director of business systems for a large accounting firm, and Jessie Ann, dean of arts and sciences at Brandeis University. Jessie Ann Owens, a musicologist, provided the notations for her father’s collections of songs and ballads. Owens lived the last years of his life in Nyack, New York, where he died on December 8, 1990.




WITHDRAWAL–  A multi use word we see every day.  We make them from our bank accounts on an almost daily basis.  We talk about removing ourselves from a conversation as a withdrawal, or we back out of a proposed project or a business deal.  We have withdrawals if we are an  alcoholic  or substance abuser and we go to rehab to dry out.  But I am going through a different kind of “withdrawal”.   I am having withdrawal pains from lack of time flying my kites!!  KITE WITHDRAWAL FOLKS!!


Since my incarceration in hospital  in late May I have not been able to enjoy any time doing that incredible habit, hobby, sport, or  more correctly the addiction of kite flying.

Immediately following about 90 days in hospital beds, I was unable to sit up or even attempt to stand.  This meant I was transferred to a “acute care facility” or more commonly known as a nursing home.   In the last 8 months of “incarceration” here I have managed to gain back most of my mobility, although walking is still a short term endeavor and requires either a walker or as a minimum a sturdy cane to maintain balance.   Of course a majority of the time a wheelchair is the mode of transport especially to  dialysis treatments  three times a week  which are all day affairs.


Well,  you get the picture here!!   SSOOOO, I am thinking that I need to invest in an indoor glider kite!!   This building has some  nicely vaulted ceiling rooms and I have briefly flown other fliers IFlite kites and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Living on the almost always windy Gulf Coast, I really didn’t see a lot of time flying an indoor kite.  I do own a Revolution Indoor and only used it like 6 times in 18 years……..well,  you see.


So I will get over the withdrawals as soon as my  new indoor kite arrives.  I’ll  be happily doing loops and turns in the reception hall and central rotunda just “happy as a clam”, and I’m certain the folks around here will  be calling me “that crazy kite guy” again.  They  already think it, so why not give them affirmation and enjoy my incarceration the best I can until I am able to get outdoors and fly my Revolutions again??

Oh where, oh where is that UPS driver????

P.S.   Another thing or two I’m “jonesing”  for….the fresh seafood at the coast.  Some boiled shrimp, oysters on the half shell, baked flounder with a freshly made sauce of garlic butter and capers!      Just not something we are getting here in our cafeteria.

And those sunsets and sunrises on the water……..pure  joy to this photographers eye!!







Why I Dont Eat “HOT” Chili

My friend Billy sent this to me, enjoy!

I went to the Home Depot recently while not being altogether sure that
course of action was a wise one. You see, the previous evening I had prepared and consumed a massive quantity of my patented ‘you’re definitely going to s**t yourself’ roadkill chili. Tasty stuff, albeit hot to the point of being painful, which comes with a written guarantee from me that if you eat it, the next day both of your butt cheeks WILL fall off.

Here’s the thing. I had awakened that morning, and even after two cups of coffee (and all of you know what I mean) nothing happened. No ‘Watson’s Movement 2’. Despite habanera peppers swimming their way
through my intestinal tract, I was unable to create the usual morning symphony referred to by my dear wife as ‘thunder and lightning’.

Knowing that a time of reckoning HAD to come, yet not sure of just when, I bravely set off for the Depot, my quest being paint and supplies to refinish the den..

Upon entering the store at first all seemed normal. I selected a cart
and began pushing it about dropping items in for purchase. It wasn’t until I was at the opposite end of the store from the restrooms that the pain hit me.

Oh, don’t look at me like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m
referring to that ‘Uh, Oh, S**t, I gotta go’ pain that always seems to hit us at the wrong time. The thing is, this pain was different.

The habaneros in the chili from the night before were staging a revolt.
In a mad rush for freedom they bullied their way through the small
intestines, forcing their way into the large intestines, and before I
could take one step in the direction of the restrooms which would bring
sweet relief, it happened. The peppers fired a warning shot.

There I stood, alone in the paint and stain section, suddenly enveloped
in a noxious cloud the likes of which has never before been recorded. I
was afraid to move for fear that more of this vile odor might escape me.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the pressure seemed to leave the lower part of my
body, and I began to move up the aisle and out of it, just as an red
aproned clerk turned the corner and asked if I needed any help.

I don’t know what made me do it, but I stopped to see what his reaction
would be to the malodorous effluvium that refused to dissipate. Have you
ever been torn in two different directions emotionally? Here’s what I
mean, and I’m sure some of you at least will be able to relate.

I could’ve warned that poor clerk, but didn’t. I simply watched as he
walked into an invisible, and apparently indestructible, wall of odor so
terrible that all he could do before gathering his senses and running,
was to stand there blinking and waving his arms about his head as though
trying to ward off angry bees. This, of course, made me feel terrible,
but then made me laugh.. ……..BIG mistake!!!!!

Here’s the thing. When you laugh, it’s hard to keep things ‘clamped
down’, if you know what I mean. With each new guffaw an explosive issue
burst forth from my nether region. Some were so loud and echoing that I
was later told a few folks in other aisles had ducked, fearing that
someone was robbing the store and firing off a shotgun.

Suddenly things were no longer funny. ‘It’ was coming, and I raced off
through the store towards the restrooms, laying down a cloud the whole
way, praying that I’d make it before the grand mal assplosion took

Luck was on my side. Just in the nick of time I got to the john, began
the inevitable ‘Oh my God’, floating above the toilet seat because my
ass is burning SO BAD, purging. One poor fellow walked in while I was in
the middle of what is the true meaning of ‘Shock and Awe’ . He made a
gagging sound, and disgustedly said, ‘Sonofabitch!, did it smell that
bad when you ate it?’, then quickly left.

Once finished and I left the restroom, reacquired my partially filled
cart intending to carry on with my shopping when a store employee
approached me and said, ‘Sir, you might want to step outside for a few
minutes. It appears some prankster set off a stink bomb in the store.
The manager is going to run the vent fans on high for a minute or two
which ought to take care of the problem.’

My smirking of course set me off again, causing residual gases to escape
me. The employee took one sniff, jumped back pulling his shirt up to
cover his nose and, pointing at me in an accusing manner shouted, ‘IT’S
YOU!’, then ran off returning moments later with the manager. I was
unceremoniously escorted from the premises and asked none too kindly not
to return.

Home again without my supplies, I realized that there was nothing to eat
but leftover chili, so I consumed two more bowls. The next day I went to
shop at Lowe’s. I can’t say anymore about that because we are in court
over the whole matter.

Jerks claim they’re going to have to repaint the store.

Peeing On The Flowers…..

I had the following sent to me by a friend, it was immediately obvious it should be shared…..

A little old lady was walking down the street dragging two large plastic garbage bags behind her. One of the bags was ripped and every once in awhile a $20 bill fell out onto the sidewalk.
Noticing this, a policeman stopped her, and said, “Ma’am, there are $20 bills falling out of that bag.”
“Oh, really? Darn it!” said the little old lady. “I’d better go back and see if I can find them. Thanks for telling me, Officer.”
“Well, now, not so fast,” said the cop. ” Where did you get all that money? You didn’t steal it, did you?”
“Oh, no, no”, said the old lady. “You see, my back yard is right next to a Golf course. A lot of Golfers come and pee through a knot hole in my fence, right into my flower garden. It used to really tick me off. Kills the flowers, you know. Then I thought, ‘why not make the best of it?’ So, now, I stand behind the fence by the knot hole, real quiet, with my hedge clippers. Every time some guy sticks his thing through my fence, I surprise him, grab hold of it and say, ‘O.K., buddy! Give me $20 or off it comes!’
“Well, that seems only fair,” said the cop, laughing .”OK. Good luck! Oh, by the way, what’s in the other bag?”
“Not everybody pays.”

Eleven, eleven, eleven?

The other day we were discussing the 11,11,11 meaning and we agreed that most under the age of 30 would have NO CLUE what the significance was. In fact many young people lack knowledge of 911 other than the emergency switchboard….

So here I have the meaning of Veterans Day other than no school or banking… Enjoy!! And thank a vet regardless of what war they served in.

Glass Half Full???

A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’…

She fooled them all…. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance.

In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.

She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress.”

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.”

When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced.

So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.

Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night…
Pick them up tomorrow.

1 * Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully… It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5 * If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can’t push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

16 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

17 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

18 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.


19 *Save the earth….. It’s the only planet with chocolate!*