Origins of Paco

I asked the OpenAI ChatGPT what is the origin of the nickname “Paco,” Thus it spake:

“The origin of the nickname Paco is not clear, but it is often considered a short form of the Spanish name Francisco. Francisco is a common Spanish name that is derived from the Latin name Franciscus, which means “Frenchman” or “free man.” The nickname Paco can also be used as a diminutive form of other Spanish names that begin with “Pac,” such as Pacho, Pacolet, or Pacorro. In some cases, Paco may also be used as a nickname for someone with the surname Paco or Pacora.”

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Everything We Got Wrong

I got my first job in the summer of 1983 programming databases for the local school district. Except I didn’t know they were called databases, or that you needed a whole plan to make them.

That didn’t stop me (or two other classmates that were hired that summer to track migrant students in the schools), and we banged out some code using TRS-80 Model IVs and played aroung with a Xenix server that no one knew what to do with.

When it was all said and done I used my paycheck to buy my first home computer, a Commodore 64. Also got to catch a few movies, including “WarGames,” my (generation’s) introduction to hacking and artificial intelligence. The machines used in the film, the phone modems, the graphics, the sounds…

I’d have to watch the film again to make a list of everything we thought we knew back then, as well as everything that turned out to be true. Yeah, that would be fun.

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The time machine

I have the habit of not changing the station, or the tape, or the CD, or the playlist that I listen to and I end up listening to the same album for months on end. Whether it be auto search, or song skip or whatever, I burn a song in my head until I get sick of it. As of late, I find that if I come across any of these songs, I’ll “feel” the time it was burned in my chemistry. It’s not always good. But it’s always interesting.

1980? We got cable, and HBO. Before MTV, the Music Breaks provided my first exposure to music videos

1982-83 Tuning the radio away from my parents’ stations

There was this time we got an FM antenna and I heard this song in stereo on the old console:

1984 Summer-school biology, with the Oz.

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Pink, pink, pink

Although my formative years took place in the 1980s, the 90s were a force to be reckoned with, once I started to pay attention. That being said, the close of the decade brought a seal to the era in an unusual way: a commercial on television, featuring a song from the 1970s.

There’s many an explanation as to why this is a defining moment in my 90s decade, but to be sure it was the boom of the internet, and how listening to an unknown song that hocked a product that I wasn’t going to purchase led to an online search that brought an (almost) immediate response.

I hope I never tire of this tune.

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And then All Things Changed

(Somehow rearranged.) And it happened driving somewhere in somebody’s car, that the radio played the M/A/R/R/S mashup “Pump Up the Volume,” and music changed forever, all at once.

NOTE TO SELF: “… and then all things changed, somehow rearranged” are the lyrics I remember from the early 1980s HBO show “Remember When.” Dick Cavett hosted the series, which took on a topic and explored it for an hour, very much in the same way modern documentaries are done today, taking one topic, then exploring all branches that lead from it. The theme song:

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An important song for me

No explanation, really. At the time — 1991, I think — I was stuck in a bus for two days. It moved forward, yes, but ever so slowly. All the time, all I had was my Sony Walkman and one single tape — “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John. Also, I only had two batteries. I also had one book, “Fear and Loathing in the Campaign Trail” by Hunter S. Thompson. The batteries ran out, I read the book twice. What a miserable time. What a wonderful moment.

OK, so there was some explanation.

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Rhiannon

Somewhere along the way, a friend of mine posted this video on Facebook, and I stopped disliking the song Rhiannon, that for whatever long-forgotten reason I disliked.

I think it was because it was featured in the TV-Guide channel of whatever cable system I had in the late 80s that kept on playing it over and over again. Welcome to the time machine.

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Let's try eating less and exercise

I remember reading this in the paper all that time ago, and thinking “Yeah, right.”

Eat less and exercise

EDIT: However, I wonder if my memory is messing with me, and I’m actually thinking of this particular strip:

Eat less and exercise

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Top of the mornin’

I don’t know, once all the construction on I-30 is done, will it be a better thing that I can get to work earlier in the morning?

The bridge at I-30

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I thought you died alone, a long, long time ago

I’m a big David Bowie fan, but not because I got into David Bowie. The first song of his that I liked was the collaboration with Queen “Under Pressure,” and even then (early to mid-80s) I associated that song more with the supergroup than I did with just Bowie. Radio hits of the 80s that followed (“Let’s Dance,” “Blue Jean”) were a welcome splash to the otherwise repetitive string of pop put out at the time.

Because pre-internet times demanded to do so, I was a member of the Columbia Records and Tapes Club, and one fine day, after failing to reject the album of the month, I received a copy of “Nirvana Unplugged in New York,” which I diligently listened to, it being the 90s and surely anything by Nirvana was worth listening to. The truth is, only one song stuck in my head, and that was “The Man Who Sold the World.” I couldn’t quite understand who Kurt Cobain credited the song to, although I was able to figure it out in not-too-long a spell (I actually had several conversations with friends and co-workers — pre-internet days, remember?).

It was during those times that I also frequented driving to the big Metropolis (Houston) to visit the big stores (Barnes & Noble) and I was able to secure my own CD copy of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World, and suddenly, maybe 20 years too late, I became a big Bowie fan. I don’t know that I can easily rattle off the names or melodies of the rest of the songs in the album, but “The Man Who Sold the World” is enough to fill a library of memories, hopes and doubts that were otherwise filled with synthesized chords and other regrets.

After my initial approach to “The Man Who Sold the World,” slowly I absorbed the rest of the Bowie library, which lives with me even without the help of Spotify or any other recorded medium.

Nirvana’s cover was a faithful rendition of the song, and I guess that any artist that attempts to do so will triumph in his or her or their own way, which is why that accidental CD delivery made up my mind once and for all that performing a cover song is indeed the most sincere form of flattery. If I had any talent at all, I would pick up an instrument and record R.E.M.’s “Find the River” and call it a life.


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Once Upon A Time

I always wanted something.

And at one time, that meant I wanted to be a writer.

I didn’t know what that meant. Not one bit.But then, there came the time when the keyboard was faster than my mind.

And it all changed.

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The Stitcher Scare

So my Sticher Radio stopped functioning this morning, and as I panicked at the lack of content, I realized that nowhere have I written down my playlist.

##The Daily Grind

  • Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day link
  • CBS What’s in the News link
  • AP Radio: Updated Hourly link
  • Fox News Radio link
  • NPR News Hourly News Summary link
  • NPR Topics: Technology link
  • APM: Marketplace Morning Report link
  • APM: Marketplace Mid-Day Report link
  • APM: Marketplace Tech link
  • TWIT Bits link
  • Geek Radio Daily link
  • TWIT Tech News Today link
  • TWIT Tech News 2Night link
  • Daily Tech News Show link
  • Current Geek link
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The Digital Calculator Blues

Ye Olde Calculator

Last night, as I was tippy-tapping on my iPad and retweeting weather updates and listening to voicemails and reviewing information about the next day I thought about how mundane the whole experience was. I was suddenly reminded of that time in 1973 or 1974 when my father showed me what was then an absurd purchase, a pocket calculator with bright green digital numbers, that could add, subtract, multiply and good grief, divide with the push of a couple of buttons.

From TV and movies I hear that the first heroin high is the best and probably the only one you’ll ever enjoy. Other than the first 10 hours of “Combat” on the 2600 and the joy of BASIC programming, I’m not sure technology will ever again excite me as much as that little box with glowing numbers.

The Story of the Race to Develop the Pocket Electronic Calculator

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Embed a video, why not?

I’m devoting less than 1% of my thinking time to this page. Yet it’s constant.

Will this publish automatically, if at all?

And then what?

EDIT: Much better way to embed videos now… That’s the video below:

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The Intercom

300 baud modem, check. Compuserve, check. Forget that — bulletin board services!

Watched Wargames at the theater, check. Top Secret!, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Teenager in the 80s, check.

Atari 2600, TRS-80 Model III, Commodore 64, Tron. Activision — for crying out loud!

Internet Relay Chat at the Tech library basement in 1987. Mac Plus at the Carpenter Hall computer lab the same year.

Wasted youth, check.

Good grief, I’d do it all over again.

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The Texas Smokehouse Salad

This salad has it all (well, except maybe pork products)! The peppercorn dressing hit the spot, and the turkey/brisket slices were enough for lunch. Super fresh salad ingredients.

Blurry computer

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I agree with my brother

It’s one thing to have to wait for your food for a long time, but when everybody finally gets served, and you’re still waiting… and your sister doesn’t help the situation… well, it’s all a growing boy can do.

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CS193P – “Coding together”

Stanford is currently offering in iTunes U their Winter 2013 iPhone Application Development class. The course is currently five or six lectures in, but since folks not enrolled at Stanford can only audit the class, I think anyone can just jump right in.

And get lost.

The instructor runs through a list of prerequisites that included three classes offered at the university: CS106, CS107 and CS108. iTunes U may have notes from the classes, but not all the videos. The first two classes, however, have archived lectures on YouTube, however they may not be in synch with the video content. The class site mentioned in the CS1o6 course is synched with the current semester.

The CS193P class dives right into Objective C and makes all kinds of assumptions on the students, like they are familiar with programming and are already confortable coding programs.

CS106 Programming Methodology

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CS107 Programming Paradigms

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CS193P iPhone Application Development

Video on iTunes U

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Tuesday is the new Monday

… and February is the new January. And what I mean by that is that if I told you last week that I would be doing something next week, then I meant I’d get to it by Tuesday. Oh, I’d be thinking about it all Monday long, so even if when I finally get around to doing it on Tuesday, I’d have already put a lot of thought into whatever it is I was doing.

So this past January I’ve been giving a lot of thought about what needs to be done this year. And February is still as early in the year as Tuesday is in the week. And even if half the thinking process went into deciding what would be sloughed off to March, at least that decision was made.

Week of Feb. 4-8 tasks

  • Condense fall semester work on ECFinder App for https://elcentroapp.wordpress.com
  • Work on main icon reconstruction for the app
  • Fix the ul/li CSS for this site

I’ll be sure to get all this started on Tuesday.

 

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A programmer, again

app_LaunchImage_320x480It was in the summer of 1983 that I landed my first job. I was 14, and just out of junior high. The last vacation before high school, which seemed very uncertain because for the most part I didn’t do a lot of school work for most of the 8th grade. But my freshman year was still a full three months away, and my first paycheck was awaiting at the end of my two-month contract with the school district, which would be delivered when the task two classmates and I were hired to do.

We had to develop a database.

_Now _I know what to call what we put together that summer. Back then, the school district barely had a few computer terminals and a printer bigger than my mother’s car. My second job, a couple of years later, also involved writing and maintaining a database. In college I took a different turn and changed careers and never coded anything for pay. Not in BASIC nor Pascal nor any other language beyond those two.

Not until the need to do basic programming creeped up while developing web sites. Which is why I enrolled at the local community college to get some formal training on tasks I’ve long been doing and learn new skills I had skipped on for the past 20 years.

So now I’ve gone mostly full circle.

I start a new job this coming Friday. Not a full-time job, mind you. Maybe it’s not even a job. I will sign a contract for two months with El Centro College in sunny downtown Dallas, Texas, to work on an iPhone app for the college.

I’ll skip the part where I tell you what it is and what it does because I’m not sure how much I can reveal at this time (like anyone is reading).

The app is actually already built — most of it, anyway. It was built by the five students in the fall class and presented to the college as part of an assignment. They liked it and would like to see it finished. So here we are, two of the original five, to finish the product and push it to the Apple app store.

Very exciting.

Now there’s no excuse to not learn objective C, among other things.

Very exciting.

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The time machine

I have the habit of not changing the station, or the tape, or the CD, or the playlist that I listen to and I end up listening to the same album for months on end. Whether it be auto search, or song skip or whatever, I burn a song in my head until I get sick of it. As of late, I find that if I come across any of these songs, I’ll “feel” the time it was burned in my chemistry. It’s not always good. But it’s always interesting.

1982-83 Tuning the radio away from my parents’ stations

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1984 Summer-school biology, with the Oz 

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1986 Wasting time in high school

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1987 Walking the cold sidewalks to chemistry class

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1988 Driving the old Monarch, the last year it worked

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1992 So, so lost in my first apartment in Lubbock

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1995 In the fishbowl at The Victoria Advocate

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1996 Commuting after midnight at The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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1997 Saturday mornings in the second-smallest apartment in Arlington

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1999 Between here and Houston, then on the way back

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1999-2000 Working at Donruss

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2003 Riding the TRE, talking to my girlfriend (my wife) on the phone

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2013 At the time I’m writing this post

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Five ways to avoid the flu at the workplace

By which I mean, the five ways I’m avoiding getting the flu from you:

  1. Get a flu shot.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Don’t touch me.
  4. Get away from me!
  5. Are you sick? Go home.
  6. Avoid crowds.
  7. I said, don’t touch me!
  8. Rinse.
  9. Repeat.

Yeah, I know that’s nine, but did you wash your hands?

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No list, but resolute nonetheless

The good news is that I resolved some time ago to work on two or three things at a time and I find I get more projects completed that way. Not a new idea by any means, but it’s something that’s working well and it’s really opening up some creative channels that were a bit corroded.

So now that the pressure’s off the resolutions, it wouldn’t hurt to jot down some ideas — a cloud of keywords — that will serve as a guide for the following weeks.

The iOS programming class I took in the fall was a fun enterprise and I was fortunate enough to have a solid team of classmates that really dove into our class project. We all learned new things, among them the fact that programming for the iPhone is not a mystery.

Early on in the class I found this inspiring nugget from TED Talks:

UPDATE Another inspiring story, I’m sure there’s more to be found:

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Texas Land & Cattle — Arlington, TX

[](http://i0.wp.com/lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ToDI1KC-K0g/UONG3vpj_ZI/AAAAAAAAW0U/p34vXhdujvc/s1049/DF821D3C-DCEF-4305-96F2-F7E7F3CF1D2A.JPG?ssl=1)
The Maple-Ancho Pork Chop.

Had not been to the Arlington Texas Land and Cattle in a few months — not since it moved to its new location anyway. No longer will patrons have to fight over limited parking real estate with On the Border customers as the new location has plenty of space for itself and even overflow from neighboring El Fenix.

The restaurant is much bigger on the inside as well. The new building was built from scratch over the remains of either Shady Oaks BBW or Mexican Inn (I forget which) and adjacent to the Rangers’ Ballpark north parking lots.

The menu is still about the same as I remember it, although there were a couple of new items highlighted, one of them being the Maple-Ancho Glazed Pork Chop. I wasn’t sure what to expect about Maple-Glazed anything, unless we’re talking pancakes, and the addition of Ancho peppers to the mix sounded just bizarre enough to venture a try.

I ordered the lunch version of the plate — which is still 10 oz., same as the regular serving size, but a couple of dollars less expensive — along with a sweet potato as a side.

The Maple-Ancho concoction did not disappoint, delivering a sweet flavor along with the smoky tang I’ve come to expect from TL&C. The size of the serving was just about right for lunchtime, although if you’re really hungry you might want to consider getting the dinner serving or adding a salad to your lunch order. The best way to explain it on social media sites would be to say that “the plate tastes just as good as the picture looks.”

The new place is definitely larger, with dozens of HD television sets your eyes can’t escape, although whatever space was added to accommodate bar patrons in the front might have been sacrificed in the dining booths, that seem a bit tighter than their old counterparts.

There were four people in our party and our server handled the load just fine; she was very courteous and high-spirited.

Also posted on Yelp!bit.ly/10ERA31

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Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill — Dallas

[](http://i2.wp.com/lh5.googleusercontent.com/-vleTVPPIoPY/UN-6hPxIW_I/AAAAAAAAVPI/t7J8CVJU4xE/s993/B4093002-03EB-41DB-96CD-4BB8FE531BCA.JPG?ssl=1)
The Sweet Bourbon Salmon

We’ve walked past this joint in Vegas plenty of times, actually ate at the one at Winstar Casino once (it was OK), and had about average expectations for the Dallas incarnation, which is housed within the walls of the old AMC Grand 24. We finally ventured to this locale after purchasing a Groupon some time back; we picked Saturday lunch to finally cash it in. We were seated promptly and got our drinks quickly.

My wife chose the Delmonico Steak Sandwich and I ordered the Sweet Bourbon Salmon. We were told the sandwich took a little longer, but in the end the wait wasn’t too bad — we appreciated the heads up. While we waited we were served cornbread and flavored butter. The bread wasn’t warm, but was edible. I thought it served its purpose while my wife thought it was a bit too sweet.

<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">The Delmonico Steak Sandwich</figcaption></figure>

Our first bite into our entrees was enough to discard any negative expectations we might have had about the menu. The sandwich steak was cooked to order and packed with flavor. The steak is cut into smaller parts to fill the sandwich, so watch out it doesn’t spill over the bread, which my wife also pointed out was fresh and delicious.

The salmon was grilled maybe half a minute too long, but a couple of crunchy bites didn’t damage the rest of the man-sized fillet. To my taste, salmon is best when it’s juicy and seared hot from the first bite to the last, and the Sweet Bourbon did not disappoint and was enjoyable from beginning to end.

The Delmonico Sandwich came with a generous serving of fries, the salmon comes with two sides, mixed vegetables and rice. Our server said we could switch our sides if we wanted and I substituted the rice for sweet potato tots, which I’ve never had before, but will now always order again (you know how the Sonic Tater Tots stand our over any other burger side? This is the sweet potato equivalent).

The restaurant retains the tall theater ceilings, tall walls decorated with HD TVs tuned in to every sport available at that moment. Patrons are free to explore the establishment and discover the stage, the well-stocked bar and arcade games.

We will visit Toby Keith’s again, Groupon or not. If you sign up for their VIP club, you get a free meal for your birthday… I’ll update my review then.

Also uploaded to Yelp!bit.ly/10AOmgL

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Christmas 2012, with a bonus present!

Christmas Day started with breakfast and the opening of presents at Grammy and Grandpa’s house. Everybody got some pretty cool presents — including a camera tripod for Uncle Paco, maybe now he can get in some of the pictures! Lunch followed at Grandma’s house, where we were treated to a snowfall before dessert.

Click the image to see the album, two videos follow below.

A couple of hours of snow dropped as a bonus Christmas present. Target practice? Oh sure, there’s Uncle Paco:

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Snow is cold — and wet! Who’s to blame for getting this lovely new coat wet?

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Because I’m not ready to face the world yet

(Or, how to publish sound files in WordPress.)

I signed up for Soundcloud and recorded my first message.

Truly, a voice made for print media.

IMMEDIATE REACTIONS:

  1. Might be better served recording audio on my PC using Audacity and then uploading after clean-up.
  2. I wonder if I can change the size/look of the audio player?
  3. Can I edit online?
  4. Only 2 hours worth of audio. That might be enough, really. Let’s look at alternatives.

Second test

I have no idea what’s going to happen next:

AudacityTest

OK, so I recorded an MP3 using Audacity and basically I get a link to an MP3 file. Which is what I expected.

Third test

Using a plugin with instructions in Hungarian Czech, so your guess is as good as mine:

http://paco.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/AudacityTest.mp3

Fourth test

Very nice! Downloaded and installed the Mini Audio Player plugin and installed it, and the second test link came to life! This may be the way to go…

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A break from the usual consumption

Recently subscribed to the Radiolab podcast, to fill in the hours while Howard Stern is on vacation, and it’s programming like this that makes me wish The King of All Media would just retire already, or make good on his promise to only work one day a week, so I can pay attention to something else.

Long story short, this NPR show is not easy to describe, but suffice it to say they talk about killer Argentine ants, how Bugs Bunny saved Mel Blanc and how researchers are working on programming better, smarter artificial intelligence. The latter episode is titled “Talking to Machines,” and if there’s one URL I’ll keep visiting for at least the next couple of weeks, it would be http://cleverbot.com, a result of efforts like ELIZA, a program I had all but forgotten about.

Good show.

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Twenty-thirteen

The first computer ID I was assigned was the number 2013, when I was 11 years old and enrolled in the gifted-and-talented program in my junior high school.

By gifted and talented, the school meant students should use computers to solve second-grade math problems. Luckily, the teachers in charge knew nothing about the system, and a couple of friends of mine and soon enough found the password to the system and made it our own.

I need to start preparing a list for things that need to happen in 2013. What kind of list? The answer to that will be the first bullet point.

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This is what they mean when they say think outside the box

Because even after reading the description and formulating what the song was going to sound like and how it was going to be played, I could still not register what was happening. But there it was… who you gonna call?

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And furthermore, and what was going to be the original theme of this post, however did blogs ever exist without video embedding? Yes, I know, you’d just sit down and write. Have to remember that. Although I wish I had the kind of time needed to make 80s hardware play 80s music.

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Missing my record player

Multiple record players, that is. There’s something about 45s that I miss. Not necessarily the sound, since all the clicking and popping didn’t add much to the experience. Maybe it’s just the fact that you had to commit to listen to the whole record before loading up another one.

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Listen to the mandolin rain

I have two appointments on my calendar, one for my regularly scheduled class, another for a class that just popped up that I may or not benefit from. They overlap (in time) by 15 minutes, and are 15 minutes apart (in space).

It all seemed like a good idea when I signed up for both of these thing, but now I’m thinking I don’t want to make it to either one of them. I’ll probably make it to both events, just to say I did, and feel like something got accomplished today. Or at least say I got a free lunch out of the whole thing.

The real problem lies in the classes I picked my freshman year in college.

But that’s a choice I made long ago.

[UPDATE] Listen to the banjo wind: just shuffling through LinkedIn, a friend posted about how easy it is to learn about the science of data. Read a couple of internet pages, and maybe sign up for a free coursera class (or two).

Will I ever learn? How loaded is that question?

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There’s always a new kid in town

Yesterday, without even trying, I found a story written in The Daily Toreador by the editor of that publication. The story was about the key role played by Texas Tech’s defense in the upset victory over West Virginia University, a game the Red Raiders were expected not to win. A sports story, which leads me to assume that he started his stay at the paper in the sports department, although that is just an assumption.

I already knew what I wanted to know about the game, but was curious to see the game stories presented by the campus paper. It was worth the trip, if only to find out that the current editor of The Toreador is a guy by the name of Jose Rodriguez.

Plenty of thoughts and stories and soundbites quickly crossed my mind, but that’s neither here or there.

Good for him.

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The end of the beginning

Twenty five years later, I finally understand what Huey Lewis was talking about in “I Want a New Drug.” But no, not really. I finally gave it a meaning. I finally came to the same conclusion, the way I would have gotten here even without knowing that song ever existed.

I want a new drug. One that is a panacea and a placebo all at once. One that will give me the clarity of all things in front of me while it puts them away in a closet or trash bin as needed. One that makes me forget everything I know while it keeps a record of all things I’ve seen and done.

One that doesn’t rely on science or foction or science fiction. A new drug with an old prescription.

And unlimited refills.

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[UPDATE] It has been brought to my attention that Huey Lewis and the News still exists, but that their main objective is to be the best Huey Lewis and the News tribute band they can be.

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Random videos from the 1980s

Back in the 80s, not everyone had a cell phone or handy digital camera to record every moment of our lives from multiple angles. However, I did lug around a clunky Beta cam and managed to save a few minutes for posterity.

Rio Grande City High School, or at least the Middle School that occupied the same building after the new High School was built, burned down a couple of years ago, as many schools in the district are wont to do.

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Not the Twilight Zone

Fun video for DMN Media. I’m really liking my Canon T3i SLR for shooting video, need to give the instruction manual a good read.

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“Call Me Maybe?”

Parody of “Call Me Maybe?” produced for DMN Media. The video was part of a presentation at the October sales Rally.

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Oops, I finally did it

At 4 minutes and 3 seconds, this is the most Britney Spears I’ve intaken in one session. Mezmerizing, actually. And apparently, they abound on the internet.

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UPDATE: Never mind Britney (she’s so two-thousand and late).

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The awesomeness that is Nexus 7

I’ve been an Apple user since the 80s, and have kept up with most of their products to date, including the iPhone. And as much as I also learned to love and hate PCs and other platforms, I never once tried out an Android product.

I had some money left over from Christmas, and I had begun to grow a nest fund to eventually purchase an iPad, but the strong reviews and sales of the Google Nexus 7 piqued my interest enough that I sent away for the tablet, sight unseen, and the move was not disappointing in the least.

The 7-inch screen is the ideal size for a portable device, the slick design (or lack thereof) is very reminiscent of the iPad, yes, but I don’t know how else you could make a tablet look once you take away all the unneeded parts… the back, however, is a gray rubber pad that makes it easy to grip and forgiving enough to place on a crowded desk.

The quad-core Tegra 4 processor  makes navigating the tablet quite a pleasure, and its accessibility to Google Apps gives me full access to all my online docs and apps, as well as my iTunes collection (synced with Google Music) and pretty much everything else I store in the cloud.

With a price tag of $200 for the 8 gig model, the top-notch performance of the Nexus 7 makes it a real rival for the current selection of iPads — definitely superior to any Android tablets I have seen or read about.

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The Cult of Done Manifesto

Picked up from Bre Pettis.

  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  13. Done is the engine of more.

And the poster, taken from spatulated, on Flickr:

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The Age of Marvels

I clearly remember picking out this magazine from the rack and shelling out the three bucks it cost. A bit pricey for those days (1981, 82?) but I definitely got my money’s worth. I must have read it dozens upon dozens of times:

I loaned it to friends, got it back, kept it in my locker, in my parent’s car, in the living room, in the kitchen, and literally carried it with my like a four-year-old carries a security blanket. During its first year of publication, Electronic Games magazine told and retold the history of video games (about 10-15 years worth at that time) over and over again, and soon enough I was an authority on everything in cyberentertainment.

Those were the days.

[ Electronic Games PDF ripped from archive.org ]

EDIT: This being the early days of computer geekdom, this mag had a couple of pages that could put you ahead of the curve in computer knowledge, which was basically non-existent. A little information went a long way back then, and soon enough a select group knew more about “computers” than any of the teachers in my school. Really, ANY of the teachers.

All you need to know

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So far, so good

I’ve reconstructed the site as a WordPress blog and so far I’m pleased with the results. I’m building upon an existing theme, Journalist, which I previously used in an earlier install of WordPress, and have mimicked the old site without too many complications. It helps that Journalist is a simple, elegant, bare-bones design. I was able to easily adapt the existing CSS and use the same graphic elements without any problems.

As the class continues, I hope to rebuild the theme from scratch, and then build a new original theme.

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David Bowie and Doctor Who

Introducting “Inspector Spacetime”

_Doctor Who s01e01_Quite recently and not quite by accident, I recently ran across a column titled New Music for Old People, which introduces music the 60s generation might have missed while enjoying the popular music of the day. It’s a concept that gives me hope in filling my own gaps from the 80s and 90s, and beyond… a short discussion got my coworkers and I talking about how we find new music today, and how we did so before the internet, and all the gaps it constantly fills.

My story was about Nirvana, which came to prominence while I was in college, so just at the right time for me to absorb it and file it in my head as “my music,” an entry that would shape my musical tastes thereafter. Which is why when the Columbia Records and Tapes (or BMG, I forget which) sent me the selection CD of the month, Nirvana Unplugged, I didn’t hurry to send it back; rather, I set it aside and waited for a good time to listen to it.

Nirvana didn’t get much radio play in my neck of the woods, and having lacked MTV growing up, I wasn’t drawn toward it after having it as part of my cable offerings. So I was familiar only with a few of the selections on the album, the rest unknown. One in particular, “The Man who Sold the World,” was probably my favorite track, and enjoyed it as a Nirvana song for a couple of weeks, not understanding who Kurt Cobain was crediting at the end of the performance — David Bowie.

I knew Bowie form the 80s: “Let’s Dance,” “China Girl,” “Blue Jean,” but never considered his earlier material. I visited one of those big music stores we used to have back in the day and found the CD. Not only was the title track a great find, the album quickly sent me on a journey to explore the rest of Bowie’s catalogue. Nirvana, of course, was done putting out music.

Just like Nirvana was the catalyst for my knowledge of Bowie, other homages and references have helped me “discover” new music, movies, television, etc. Recently, I finally saw American Psycho thanks to the popularity of a meme featured in Reddit.com. Just this week I finished watching all three seasons of “Community” thanks to a Facebook post. and yes, that lat one is a current phenomenon, but one of its characters, Abed Nadir, is currently left without a favorite shows when “Cougar Town” is suddenly put on hiatus. As a replacement a friend offers him “Inspector Spacetime,” a send-up of “Doctor Who” — one of those shows that half of my friends are very familiar with while the other half couldn’t be less interested — and it quickly becomes his new obsession.

And so starts my “new” update on ignored/missed pop culture, a BBC show that’s as old as The Beatles, and just as essential. I’m just now finishing part four of the first episode.

About 783 to go.

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Best. Show. Ever.

This week: Community. I’m surprised it’s survived this long and

  1. It’s not on cable
  2. It’s not a cartoon
  3. It’s not on the cartoon network

The theme song:

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The moving process begins

OK, I now have WordPress installed as my CMS on paco.org, and soon all content will more here.

If you’re looking for my portfolio, that page is still found here.

Soon I’ll incorporate a slideshow widget to handle the galleries:

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Tacos La Banqueta — Dallas, TX

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Tacos and a “Coca.”

Not much to say about the restaurant that is Tacos La Banqueta (formerly “El Güero”) in East Dallas. The menu, however, is a different story.

The taco shack is just that, a locale not much larger than your average storage unit. It seats maybe six customers in 50s-style cafeteria stools inside and there’s hardly any space left over for additional customers to come in and order. Outside there is a table, and if you’re lucky, three chairs. But watch your back, it’s in the parking lot.

I posted the picture above in Facebook and a friend asked where I would rate them on a scale from 1 to 10. Nine, I responded. Seven if someone brought them to the office and I missed out on the experience.

The offerings are your standard Mexican fare: Bistec, Al Pastor, Lengua, Chorizos, Tripa, Cabeza, Suadero and, as of recent, “Chicken.” If you’re new to street tacos, stick to Bistec (steak) and Al Pastor (pork). If you’ve walked joints like this before, don’t miss out on the Tripa (small intestine) and Suadero (Google it) delights. Down it all down with a Mexican Coca-Cola.

The default wraps are corn, although flour tortillas are available for an additional fee.

Tortas (sandwiches) and alambres (shish-kabobs) are also served, but I haven’t tried them yet.

Also posted on Yelp!: bit.ly/Vukps9

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No place like home

Beef and Chicken Kabobs

Chicken and beef skirt kabobs, or dinner+leftovers as we like to call them at home.

I’m not much of a cook, and the few things that I venture to try to prepare on my own I grill.

For the price of a single outing to a restaurant, a trip to the grocery store provides up to six meals that can help us save some dough… to maybe go out for dinner this weekend?

Saving money by cooking at home is certainly no innovation, but it seems that every time I do, I scratch my head and ask myself, “why aren’t we doing this more often?”

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Ralph & Kacoo’s — Bossier City, LA

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Red Fish with Jumbo Shrimp on Dirty Rice

My wife and frequented the Ralph & Kacoo’s in Allen (Texas), but that closed in the last year, which is too bad because it was one of our favorite seafood places in the Metroplex. On a recent visit to Shreveport, we opted to dine at this Ralph & Kacoos.

Service was prompt at the get-go, and fairly efficient throughout, although my wife noticed other parties were served a bit slower. There was a surprise party at a separate dining area just next to us, and the closed door didn’t allow us to see how much staff was working the party.

We were used to freshly baked bread at the other location, but we got four hush puppies instead. We only ate two of them, but could have easily scarfed all of them and asked for seconds. But they were a meal all their own, and we didn’t want to spoil our appetite.

We’re familiar with the menu, and I was about to order the Mahi-Mahi when our waiter told us about the specials, and I quickly changed my selection to the grilled Red Fish with the jumbo shrimp served over dirty rice. My wife ordered a more familiar dish, the Crawfish Special, which is fried crawfish tails and crawfish etouffee over rice.

My selection was the catch of the day, so the price was more than $20. I got a generous serving and every bit of the fish was delicious. The shrimp could have been a meal all their own. The rice was tasty, and a good complement to the meal. My wife’s dish was as she remembered it from our previous visits to the old Allen location. Had we been there for lunch, we might have made four meals out of the two plates.

While the location is at a strip mall, it’s not a trashy hole in the wall. The place is fairly large and houses a gift shop as well as the restaurant. Our only complaint is that after dark, it was a bit confusing to find the restaurant because of conflicting signs and poorly lit streets.

We’ll definitely stop again the next time we’re in town.

Also uploaded to Yelp!bit.ly/UC94cP

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Shoo, duck! (feeding the ducks)

Ben and Uncle Paco took a quick trip to the Irving pond to feed some ducks, and it was all fine, tossing bread and making new friends. At least one of them, however, got too close for comfort!

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Doc Martin’s Restaurant — Taos, NM

We visited Taos for the first time in 2010 looking for a quick meal and bypassed the steak entrees, maybe because of the higher price tag and opted to try the Elk Burgers. That meal was one of the food highlights of the trip.

We returned to Doc Martin’s this year and looked forward to the Elk Burgers, and they did not dissapoint.

We walked a couple of blocks to reach the restaurant and got there about 15 minutes before it opened. Doc Martin’s is inside the Taos Inn and adjacent to the inn’s bar, which was packed this day because there was a huge crowd waiting to get into the Taos Solar Music Festival.

Once the place opened, we were seated and served promptly. The window panes dividing the restaurant from the bar area isolated us from any barroom discussions and we enjoyed our Elk Burgers with gusto.

Props to our waitress, who didn’t know much about the beer they served on tap. She talked to the bartender and was able to tell me more about their selection and made an educated choice, which also did not disappoint.

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Elk Horn Cafe — Chama, NM

We were driving from Durango to Taos and had no clue where we were going to stop. The lone Yelp review was our only guide… and it turned out to be a great find.

Driving through, there’s not much to look at in Chama, and the Elk Horn Cafe was no exception, as the outside has as much charm as a dusty unpaved parking lot can give a place.

The interior, however, was a different story. It had a nice, clean layout and the wait staff was cordial and helpful. I ordered the Green Chile Cheeseburger, which according to the menu won some kind of regional award. Very tasty burger although the chile was a bit hot. Picked some of it out, no problem.

I don’t recall if they serve beer, but it would have been a better complement to the tasty chile served on the burger.

The fries were good and the refills plentiful. Give this oasis as try when crossing through the desert.

Also posted on Yelp!bit.ly/RpbNFV

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The Range — Bernalillo, NM

Who knew there was a town called Bernalillo, NM, by the side of the road on the way to Albuquerque? Not me! Thank you, Yelp, for suggesting this restaurant.

We mapped our way to the restaurant for lunch and soaked up the wild decor of the place. They have an extensive menu and it all looks good… having had one too many burgers during this trip, I ordered the Steak Sandwich Tampiqueña (which nobody in the US can decide on a  standard way to prepare it), which consists of a 7 oz grilled NY Steak strips topped with grilled poblano, red bell pepper and onions with green chile, sliced avocado and melted white cheddar (description from their menu).

My wife had the Chimayo Chicken Sandwich (my second choice), which is described as a grilled chicken breast brushed with Range Cafe hot sauce, topped with bacon, avocado and Swiss.

If you are a true fan of hot green chile, get the Chimayo sandwich. My wife’s palate is a bit more sensitive to heat than mine, so we exchanged the second half of our sandwiches with each other. I think they do a bit more than just brush the chicken with the sauce… it’s green chile goodness is soaked to its very being.

The steak sandwich was a complete meal on a toasted bun. I recommend you plan to eat half of the sandwich at the shop and take the other one home or for the road. Lots of food, all good.

But because we ate the whole thing, we only got to look at the desserts. Try one and let me know what you think!

Also posted on Yelp!bit.ly/ZNjw5r

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Sophie’s 3rd Birthday Party

Wow, Sophie’s three years old! The theme was “Strawberry Shortcake” and the mood was definitely festive. Burgers and hot dogs and opening presents made for a great time at the party.

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Whose birthday is it, anyway?, starring Sophie and Ben:

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Christmas 2009

Rescued images from a Flickr album. Also, some video. Click on image to see album:

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¡Feliz Navidad!

Sophie participates in her Christmas program at The Oaks Church, where she attends “Mother’s Day Out.” Feliz Navidad:

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Jingle Bells:

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The rest of our Pacific Northwest vacation, 2009

Fourth Day of our Pacific Northwest vacation, 2009

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Fifth Day of our Pacific Northwest vacation, 2009

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Sixth Day of our Pacific Northwest vacation, 2009

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Third Day of our Pacific Northwest vacation

Washington deer

The third day began at the Kirk House, with breakfast at the place. We remembered that last year it was fairly yummy although this time around it seemed to be more on the exotic side. The breakfast parfait was still good — although not everybody got granola, in which case it just plain sucked (plain yogurt just plain sucks, I don’t know if anyone would care to disagree?).

We hit the road and made our way to the English Camp. Driving anywhere in the island is akin to perusing through a set of really cool postcards, and the drive to the camp was no exception. As we got close to the parking area we encountered deer grazing on grass by the camp site. Last year we visited the American Camp, which is the larger of the two. The English counterpart didn’t have all the historical markers the American camp has. While the American camp was full of how life hard was and how the soldiers and staff there had a miserable time, the British camp was all about trees and gardens.We walked about a bit and and saw most of it, but cut the trip short and got back on the road.

We made our way back to Lime Kiln Point Park. We had stopped there last year and actually got to see several killer whales from the coast. We didn’t expect to see any that day, and we didn’t. It was still a nice stop — we walked down a trail and visited the Lime Kiln lighthouse. We would later drive down the coast and got close to the other lighthouse on the island, but just like last year we couldn’t find out how to get to it. We spent some time catching the breeze on the rocks by the beach, and made our way back to town. We took the long way around on a less-traveled road and spotted some more deer and foxes.

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Approaching the English camp and getting greeted by one of the natives:

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Second day of our Pacific Northwest vacation

pancakesOn the second day our body clocks were still tuned in to Central time so we took an early stroll in downtown Anacortes. We found our way to the Calico Cupboard Café, where we had eaten breakfast once last year during our overnight stay in the town. We remembered the awesome hot cakes they served, but forgot about their incredibly slow pace. It took a while to get our orders placed and delivered, but it was worth it once breakfast was served. Last year I got the Breakfast Sampler, which is served with only one flapjack, so this year we opted for the tall stack of hot cakes. I uploaded a Blackberry shot and a comment about this plate when I was first served it, which led my friend Tommy to comment: “That’s one of the most beautiful sentences you’ve ever crafted: ‘The sausage is as big as the flapjacks.’ ” And well, you can see for yourself.

We strolled downtown to walk off breakfast — which neither of us could finish — and noted what had changed since last year. Not much really, although it seemed as if a couple of shops had closed and maybe a couple more had opened. Traffic was slow but we weren’t in a hurry.

We checked out of the Fidalgo Country Inn and started thinking about heading to the ferry that would take us to Anacortes. We had some pizza at Village Pizza and made our way to the ferry dock entrance, where you have to park to get a place to load into the vessel. More than an hour later we boarded the ferry, and almost an hour later we were in Friday Harbor.

We checked in at the Kirk House, the same Bed and Breakfast where we stayed last year, and then made our way to the San Juan Island’s Museum of Art and Sculpture Park, where local artists display their pieces on what is basically a big yard. On the way over we stopped on the highway to watch a group of bald eagles competing with crows and a fox over some food. Or maybe the eagles were hunting the fox. Other motorists had stopped and in the end we couldn’t decide what the scene was. We continued to the park and got there in a few minutes. Last year we didn’t see all of the sculptures, so we thought we’d take a stroll to see what we missed. We found something new: mosquitos, which cut our visit short. We also spotted yet another fox carrying what might have been dinner.

We made our way back to Friday Harbor and to the Kirk House

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A single bald eagle takes flight across a highway on San Juan Island:

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A few Eagles criss-crossed over a highway on San Juan Island, competing with crows and a fox on the ground for food:

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One of many foxes we saw on San Juan Island. This one was running across the Museum of Art and Sculpture Park, apparently carrying lunch:

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First day of our Pacific Northwest vacation

signageWe flew into Sea-Tac, picked up our rental car and drove north, bound for Anacortes. We’d been up since early in the morning, so we stopped in Everett and found a Dairy Queen to eat lunch (no Belt-Busters or Hunger-Busters outside of Texas). When we told the Bed and Breakfast keeper in Anacortes that we ate at Dairy Queen she commented, “Hmmmm… Dairy Queen…” We’re so used to the ubiquitous fast food joints that we not only take them for granted, we really look down on them; not so in San Juan Island, where they still have to make a special Ferry trip to find such delicacies.

We continued our trip northward and stopped at LaConner and looked around the historic downtown area. Very charming and picturesque. This would be our first taste of the cool Pacific breeze that kept us wearing jackets in the middle of June and that would provide us with “happy thoughts” once we returned to the hellish Texas heat. That first night in Anacortes we stayed at the Fidalgo Country Inn.

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Christmas 2008

Christmas was at our house and Sophie and Ben and their parents, as well as “Gi-Pa” came over to open some presents and have lunch. Lots of toys and clothes and other good stuff were to be had, and shared — OK, maybe not always — but it was a great time.

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100 years (+2 days)

The second party for Grandma Lewis’ first century party took place at the First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Mich., for Coffee Hour on December 14. Grandma was featured in the church’s newsletter in an article (after the photos) that notes that almost every one of the more than 100 infants baptized at the church since late 2002 has received a white baby afghan crocheted by her. Some of those babies were present at the party (we saw at least one whose mother brought the afghan) and lots of well-wishers stopped by to say hello and add to her growing stack of birthday cards — some of them colored right on the spot!

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Happy 100th, Eula!

On December 12, Eula Lewis will celebrate her 100th birthday! Come celebrate with Eula on  Sun., Dec. 14 after  the 10 a.m. worship service during the coffee hour.

Since Sept. of 2002, almost every one of the 100+ infants baptized at FPC has received a gift:  a white crocheted baby afghan.  Each afghan has been crocheted by Eula Lewis, who moved to Michigan that fall. She has made over 100 baby quilts and has crocheted so many baby afghans that she has lost count.

Eula’s fourth grade teacher taught her to crochet in a one-room school in rural Missouri about the time of World War I.  Her teacher taught all of the girls in the school to sew, embroider, and crochet as a part of their 4H program.  Eula used her sewing skills to  make clothing, embroider pillowcases and  in a favorite hobby of making hand-made quilts.

Eula was always busy at Van Brunt Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, MO, where she became a member in 1942.  She taught Sunday School and then she taught second grade for many more years.  She was president of the Women’s Association and was became an Honorary Member in 1964.  In later years she participated in the Sunshine Stitchers, a group that hand-quilted quilts and donated the proceeds to the church. While at FPC she has participated in PW and the Rummage Sale.

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100 years (+1 day)

It was freezing outside, but everyone warmed up at lunch as the second day of celebration continued in otherwise sunny, warm-breezy Michigan.

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Halloween 2008

Sophie and Ben brought over Mom and Dad and Grandma to visit Aunt Shelley and Uncle Paco. The action was only interrupted by other trick-or-treaters stopping by to get candy and the occasional piano break.

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In the kitchen with “Little Mickey”

Sophie and Ben played with blocks and other toys with Grammy and Aunt Shelley, then moved on to the kitchen to read Sophie’s favorite book about Mickey and Goofy.

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Some other videos Uncle Paco took while playing with the camera settings:

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Piano fun with Ben and Sophie

Sophie and Ben visited Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco and spent some time belting out a couple of tunes and playing with cars and stuffed animals.

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Ben’s third birthday

Ben was joined by his grandparents, aunt and uncle, and sister Sophie for pizza at Double Dave’s in Arlington.

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Seventh Day pictures

We only got to see some of the mountains from the plane… here’s the bonus pics from the last day of vacation. Click on image to see album:

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Sixth Day of our vacation in Washington State, 2008

Day 6 of our vacation in the Pacific Northwest. We weren’t exactly in Seattle, it was more like in between Seattle and Tacoma, by the airport, in a city called Seatac, which probably sprang out of the airport. We drove to the city and learned to appreciate the kinder, gentler traffic jams we have back home (think Houston traffic) and made our way to Pike Place Market. You could spend days exploring it, but we only had one, and we probably walked at least a couple of miles from end to end to end over level and level. Maybe not that much, but then again, maybe more.

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Fifth Day of our vacation in Washington State, 2008

Day 5 of our vacation in the Pacific Northwest. Five days sure do go by quickly when you’re having fun… It was time to pack up and say good-bye to the small town of Friday Harbor, its fresh air and cool summer weather, and head back to the ferry and the mainland. During the whole five days we used less than a tank of gas, since you can basically walk anywhere you want to in the island, and it’s less than 15 miles to anywhere else you may want to go.

We parked the car in line at the ferry and ate our last meal in the island. From there we were back in Anacortes and traveled back to Seattle.

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Fourth Day of our vacation in Washington State, 2008

Day 4 of our vacation in the Pacific Northwest. Days in the northwest are long this time of the year… there’s still daylight past 10 p.m., and sunrise happens before 5 a.m. Our bodies are in Central time, so we went to bed early, so sometimes we never saw night fall.

This morning we went to the Whale Museum, a few blocks away from the Kirk House. Interesting enough — we learned about the orcas that we saw the day before. They all have names and are tracked constantly.

Later we went back to Roche Harbor, since we only got close to it the day before. There’s a bunch of condos and a small shopping center.

There was a confrontation between the Americans and the British in San Juan Island that is referred to as “The Pig War.” There are two parks in the Island that conserve the original American and English camps, or at least their locations. Apparently they knew they weren’t going to be around too long so they didn’t put too much effort into building the structures. It was quite a hike to get around, but there were some breath-taking views and a bit of history never hurt anyone. We only visited the American Camp.

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Third Day of our vacation in Washington State, 2008

Day 3 of our vacation in the Pacific Northwest. Breakfast at the Kirk House is quite the treat, with a an awesome award-winning yogurt parfait. We took a whale watching tour on San Juan Safaris, although the other folks staying at the bed and breakfast told us they were disappointed on their trip and didn’t get to see any whales. After more than an hour circling the island, we met up with several other boats and our captain announced they had finally spotted a couple of orca pods. We couldn’t get very close to them, but we did get to see what might have been a couple dozen killer whales frolicking in the water. The visual will be a lot better when I upload the videos. Turns out someone in the boat lives in the town next to ours.

Later that day we drove up to Roche Harbor and saw the most peculiar art exhibit: An outdoor gallery of sorts — and I do mean outdoor, with ducks and weeds and mosquitos all around. Most of the displays were for sale (we didn’t buy anything) and the place seems to just run itself, with an honor-system admission slot at the front.

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Second day of our vacation in Washington State, 2008

Day 2 of our vacation in the Pacific Northwest. We walked around the Anacortes historic downtown area and had breakfast at the Calico Cupboard. Best. Pancakes. Ever. We took the ferry across the Guemes channel to Friday Harbor and checked in at the Kirk House. It’s a beautiful one-hour trip across the channel.

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Hangin’ out with the kids

It was a nice day out, and Sophie and Ben and Grammy and Aunt Shelly and Tio Paco went out for a walk, played a bit and just chilled out.

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Sophie’s First Birthday Party

It was Sophie’s first birthday party, and lots of presents were opened. New clothes, toys, birthday cake and lots of fun were the order of the day.

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Out for a walk, Feb 23 2008

Aunt Shelley, Tio Paco and Grammy took a walk with Ben and Baby Sophie on a sunny day. The weather was just fine for running around and sitting on the grass, or even climbing hills.

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At Los Lupes

Not the greatest days to play outside, Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco met Sophie and Ben and their parents at Los Lupes for lunch. Somebody likes rice!

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The first pictures of 2008

(On this blog, anyway.) Ben stopped over by Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco’s house to play with the piano for a bit. Some doors were opened, then closed. Then opened. You get the picture.

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And, of course, the videos:

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Christmas 2007

Christmas at Ben and Sophie’s house, where the big gift was assembled by Grandpa John in the backyard, a full-size swing set and slide! A good time was had by all, but no time was better had than the time Ben had on the slide.

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A little walk, a little play

Looks like Sophie likes it better outdoors, and after a walk on a gorgeous day, she brought a bit of the sunshine in…

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On the block, Oct. 7 2007

Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco visited the kids at their grandparents’, and while not everyone was up for blocks, several towers were built before the end of the visit.

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A short visit with the kids

Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco stopped for a quick visit. A little Baby Einstein, a little Sit-N-Spin, a little fun.

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Ben’s second birthday

It’s Ben’s second birthday party, and Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco joined Sophie and all the aunts and grandparents along with mom and dad to open presents and partake in the big cookie and cake.

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Hangin’ with Ben and Sophie

Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco swung by Sophie and Ben’s house to visit them and their mom. Ben invited the camera crew to visit his crib, where he played catch and tumbled over his chair.

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Sophie and Ben at their grandparents’

Sophie and Ben hang out at their grandparents’ while their parents are a an outing. Ben took a couple of walks with Grandpa and Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco, followed by some tumbling indoors.

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The hiccup trilogy

So much going on at the Granparents’! Sophie’s got the hiccups while Aunt Shelley holds her and Ben is dialing Tio Paco’s phone. He dials the operator, but luckily he didn’t find the “send” button.

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Sophie continues to have the hiccups, and her brother Ben may be thinking he hates it when that happens to him, although Sophie is happy despite the ordeal.

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Sophie’s had enough of the hiccups. Either that or she wants to turn over.

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The day the circus came to town

Althought he has some problems with it, Ben manages to climb on a chair. It won’t be long before he can jump clear over it.

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There’s only one thing Ben enjoys more than closing the door, and that’s getting dizzy! Of course, closing the door is pretty cool, too.

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Sophie and Ben at home

Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco visited Sophie and Ben at their home, and managed to get some divided attention…

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Taking a music break

Ben stops by at Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco’s house with his grandparents and plays around with the piano, knocks down some blocks and flexes for a bit.

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Don’t come a-knockin’

After hanging out for a while, Baby Sophie enjoys a minute of bliss (preceded and followed by many minutes more):

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Later, Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco are ready to go (not a minute too soon, if you ask Ben!). But who was that knocking at the door?

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An afternoon with Sophie

(… and Ben, too!)

Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco dropped by Baby Sophie and Ben’s house to drop off some baby clothes for the new addition. Sophie slept through most of the visit, but she did open her eyes for a little bit, then dozed off to dreamland again. We hope she’ll wake up long enough to slip into her Carter’s and OshKosh baby sleepwear — long enough to slip back to sleep that is.

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Sophia Elizabeth’s first day

Baby Sophie was born at 9 a.m. on April 25, 2007, she weighed 8 lbs., 10 oz. and reportedly has blue eyes (she slept the whole time we visited with her, so we haven’t seen them yet). Took these with the cell phone because someone forgot the camera!

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The rose bush rush

Hard to believe they came through the mail in a box… now they’re blooming and growing quickly.

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Pizza time!

Ben and his parents stopped by to eat some pizza and hang out. You can guess who was the center of attention.

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No trouble at all (baby virtuoso)

Ben stops by the house to visit Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco for too brief a visit. He played a bit with the piano and returned the big chair to its full-upright position.

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And the “lost” video:

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Goodness gracious!

Ben belts out a tune on the piano, then jumps off to look for bigger and better things.

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… and later, Ben decides it’s time to go. And he lets Grammy know he means NOW!

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Play time with Ben

Ben and his grandparents stopped by the house to visit after Ben’s return from his out-of-town trip.

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The Ghost of Christmas 2006

I guess I was too busy eating or doing something else, so I didn’t end up with as many pictures of Christmas at the house as I wanted.

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A brief interlude

Ben and Grammy stop by Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco’s for a sec — time enough to tickle the ivories.

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Thanksgiving at Ben’s

It was turkey and pie and green beans and sweet potatoes and cranberries and more turkey at Ben’s on Thanksgiving! (Ben only ate one drumstick. One-and-a-half, tops.) Later in the day, Ben visited his grandparents to see the tree decoration. Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco finished the day at home with their own tree and decorations. (OK, maybe he had both drumsticks, but only two thirds of a pie!)

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A little break with Ben

Little Ben visited his grandparents and Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco were quick to see him since he’s planning a vacation in the coming days.

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One of the great pumpkins

Baby Ben wore a pumpkin outfit for Halloween, at least until it got a little hot under the collar. A gourd time was had by all!

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No spooky music coming from the piano, although Ben thought Aunt Shelley’s playing was at times hi-larious:

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Ben inside and out

Ben spent a little bit of time playing blocks and the piano with Aunt Shelley and then went out on an unusually nice sunny day. Also, on a later day, Ben makes friends with Veronica and Alejandra at Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco’s open house.

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Tickling the ivories

Aunt Shelley tickles the ivories with Ben, who is himself tickled with them since he first heard about them. In the second video, Ben devises a plan to get the piano all to himself.

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A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Ben and Grammy stopped by to hang out with Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco. Ben played with the new blocks Aunt Shelley got for him and he belted out a few notes on the piano.

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Ben meets the Piano

Baby Ben’s fist encounter with Aunt Shelley’s piano was quite the event. This sure makes a lot more noise than your toys, doesn’t it, Ben?

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Nibbling on some Teddy Grahams

OK, these better not be the generic animal crackers from the store! Ben can be a little picky about his grahams if he doesn’t see them coming out of the box.

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The quality control process (the Teddy Grahams come from the cupboard behind him, and Ben’s already forgotten the ones Aunt Shelley is giving him came from there):

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Ben’s 1st birthday party

Is Ben blue? Yes, he is, and that’s just the icing on the cake…

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Ben and the slide

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Ben digs into his cake

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In the dark with Ben

Where is Ben, and why is it so dark? Relax, he’s wanting to get closer to the TV, apparently to check out what’s on the Disney Channel (The Wiggles had just finished).

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Ben’s block attack!

The blocks were neatly put away — until Ben had enough! He swings into action and turns over the carefully placed pieces and brings chaos back to the playground.

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Ben, the fussy eater

No chicken or fruit for Ben… peas and carrots are the order of the day. He built up an appetite playing wtih Aunt Shelley and Tio Paco, and he dined on the legumes until he had his fill. (The chicken would have ended on the floor, but Mom was there to stop the spillage.)

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Tearing Down Blocks with Ben

Maybe you didn’t know this about Ben, but not only is he good at knocking down blocks, he’s also learned to help when it comes time to put them away. One by one, he handed the blocks to Tio Paco, who then placed them inside their box. Thank you, Ben! Well done!

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Foolin’ around with Ben

Ben has fun playing with blocks! Actually he lets us play with his blocks to build pyramids, towers and buildings. But when they get too high — watch out! he’ll knock them down! (That’s the fun part.)

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The Queen Anne

Video of the house we really, really liked and really, really wanted to buy:

The Master Bedroom:

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The three bedrooms upstairs:

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The dining room, the kitchen and the living room:

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Getting silly with Ben

Aunt Shelley tries to get a laugh out of Ben, although he seems to be more interested in a toy and the fact that he is being photographed.

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Ben eats solid food, Dec. 25, 2005

Little Ben is growing so fast! For Christmas he developed quite an appetite opening up all his presents, and he was ready to eat something besides formula. The whole family watched as he enjoyed some sweet potatoes and cereal for lunch.

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Las Vegas vacation 2005

Images from our September 12-15 Las Vegas trip in 2005. It was my first time ever in Vegas. We stayed at the Bally’s Hotel and Casino on the Strip. Click on image for album:

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Christmas 2004

These photos were never blogged before. Uploaded Dec. 27, 2012. Click photo to see album:

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The Loudmouth — Vol. 4, No.1

PAGE 3: Ah yes, the Ratt Poison tour of 1987.

PAGE 5: Times I got called in to the principal’s office to discuss the publishing of The Loudmouth: 3, maybe 4. Times I got called in to the counselor’s office to discuss channeling my energy into better things, maybe talk about a career in journalism: 0. I wish they would have. They could have talked me out of it, and today I would be most thankful.

PAGE 9: What’s not mentioned about my junky car is that I gave several people rides home every day.

PAGE 10: My first car was a 1978 Ford Granada. Probably gave 8 miles to the gallon, but gas was still cheap. I would dump the change in my ashtray at the EZ-Mart and could still make it home.

PAGE 11: “Eat my shorts?” Bart Simpson didn’t say that until 1989. I wonder if I can get some of that Fox money…?

PAGE 12: The final page. When I applied for a reporter’s job at The University Daily at Texas Tech, I submitted a very short résumé: 1984-1987: The Loudmouth — Editor, reporter, photographer I got the job, eventually. I was there for almost three years. Would have been for a full three, but somewhere in the middle I was told I couldn’t work there anymore. But that’s another story.

 

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The Loudmouth — Vol. 4, No. 0

Lots of things happened the four months between Vol. 3 and Vol. 4. Lots of things. I erased the paragraphs I wrote describing them, but let’s just say I shattered my leg in a car wreck and I suddenly shifted my academic priorities. I barely remember the events described in this issue.

PAGE 3: One Act didn’t get dawgged THAT “gaaucho.” We did so much better than we ever expected and had lots of fun doing it. I feel kinda silly scratching out the names “Daw,” “Gib,” and “Coll,” which were actually the names of the characters in the play, but I again, I feel the need to protect the guilty.

PAGE 5: Oh yeah, this also happened in between Vol. 3 and Vol. 4. It was printed on red paper.

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The Loudmouth — Vol. 1, No. 8

After re-reading the “editorial” I wrote for page 6. This should have been the last issue. I blacked out the entire back page because it’s basically a copy of a store-bought sign that reads “DAMN, I’M GOOD!” with the legend “A Loudmouth Mini-Poster” attached to it. There’s plenty of material in this issue to fill 12 pages, but what did I know then?

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The Loudmouth, Vol. 1, No. 5

The cartoon on the back cover was originally sketched by an RGC teacher, who asked me to “re-do it” if I wanted to use it. This particular issue got me called to the office for what might have been the third or fourth time. Mainly because I stuffed a copy in the school newspaper’s suggestion box.

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The Loudmouth — Vol. 1, No. 4

The Loudmouth was printed on an Epson LX-80 printer, typeset using WordStar for DOS on an IBM XT and production was limited to fitting strips of 3.75″ text on half a legal size sheet. The photos were taken with Minolta Maxxum and processed at H.E.B. I forget the brand of the copier I used.

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The Loudmouth — Vol. 1, No. 1

The very first issue of The Loudmouth, originally slated to be volume 2 of the comic book series started in 1984, which turned into a four-page flyer that proved more popular than the first project, a lot more work, and fourteen times the headaches. Released on a Friday the 13th in 1985.

The Loudmouth 1.1.1

The Loudmouth 1.1.2

The Loudmouth 1.1.3

The Loudmouth 1.1.4

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Start of Days

And so it began. All the work was done on a Thursday, the final product was delivered on Friday.

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