*cue maniacal laughter*

During the lead-up to the little unpleasantness variously known as “Desert Storm”, “The First Gulf War”, and “Opening Moves Of The Latest Unending War” the US military instituted a mandatory anthrax vaccination program.

Right, wrong, or indifferent, that vaccine has been blamed for a lot of ills being suffered by veterans of that conflict, so — out of curiosity, you understand — I asked some Desert Storm veterans if they were planning on taking the COVID vaccine.

The replies were … unprintable. One might even say “corrosive in the extreme”. The politest response was maniacal laughter, followed by, “You’re serious? [Deleted] that, ask me again after someone else has guinea-pigged it for a couple of years.”

I haven’t seen any outreach towards those folks, or to the families and caretakers of those folks afflicted with Gulf War Syndrome, who (correctly or incorrectly) attribute that condition to the mandatory vaccine.

Nothing on the media, or from the Fed.gov.

Y’all might want to get ahead of the curve on that one.

Just saying.



Well, looks like Joe Biden is the new President of the United States.

I offer my congratulations to him, and I solemnly promise to show his Presidency the same grace and support his followers showed his predecessor.

Sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander, and all that.



Every so often I am reminded that there are massive divisions between the Southwest and the rest of this great Nation, and never so much as the Christmas Season and Drug Deal Tamales.

For those poor, un-tamaled folks outside of the Southwest, this Season heralds the appearance of Little Old Mexican Ladies — or their representatives — who bring tamales.

Now, most Health Departments have rules, regulations, and ordinances regarding the things you have to do before you are allowed to sell pre-made foodstuffs.

On the other paw, most abuelitas don’t give to hoots in hell about the regs concerning commercial food productions — nor do they have any interest in ponying up the fees and other dosh required to become sanctified by the Bureacracy.

So, a lot of these tamales are sold on the sly — depending on how tolerant the local Health Department is. They’ll be a battered pickup, or four-door car in a parking lot, you pass over cash and receive a ziplock baggie containing a brick-sized lump of tinfoil with Heaven stuffed into little cornhusk packets.

Or someone in your office knows someone, who knows someone, and will pass along your order, or take up a collection.

Yes, you can get tamales from actual, certified restaurants and suppliers, but I’ve never had tamales as good as those from a random Mexican grandmother, passed over still steaming, and wolfed down at a stop-light, or in the driveway.

These tamales — either pork or chicken — are a big part of Christmas for me, and I kind of feel sorry for those folks in other parts of the Country who have never had them.



Just saying

Folks, if you don’t know that “coyote” is a word for a person who is paid to smuggle people across the Southern border into the United States, then you don’t know enough about unlawful immigration to have an opinion on the subject. 

 That goes double for politicians. 


Tales Around The Supper Table

Well, that was faster than I thought.

Tales Around The Supper Table published today.

A snippet: 


Peace, seidrman.”

It was a whisper, barely louder than the breeze around us, and conveyed the same kind of quality you would expect if a Harlequin romance novel went emo, got a Ph.D in Literature, and spent a century or so wandering through a thesaurus trying out complicated synonyms for boredom. I took a closer look: it was a male, model-thin and pale white, with shoulder-length hair that the breeze fluttered playfully about. His face had never seen acne, nor a whisker, and came equipped with a chin you could split logs with. The chest was bare to what Texas thinks of as an autumn chill, also completely hairless and cut with a decent amount of muscles above skin-tight leather pants. I knew, just knew, that the eyes would be blue and piercing.

I gave the lady a little shove in its direction, safed and holstered the Wilson, before closing my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose and gently shaking my head. “You brought a vampire into Wichita Falls? Are you nuts?”

My ears flicked around as I noticed the sleepy annoyance radiating from the gravestones. Thing is: a vampire isn’t an undead. A vampire is a dead body that got colonized by a mostly-sentient fungus with aspirations and a really good PR team. And they tend to annoy the actual undead.

The lady waved a hand dismissively, “It’s not like we’re in Chicago, or New Orleans, or L.A., even. I think Jean-Pierre can handle Podunk easy enough.”

I was willing to bet that before his corpse got colonized by the magical equivalent of over-sexed mildew, what was standing in front of me was named Phil, or Bob, or Frank, but that’s a damned vampire for you.

This time the whisper had overtones that could be best described as attempting to muster enough Give-A-Damn to become a sneer: “I, who taught Machiavelli, who played the intricacies of the Court of Louis Catorce the way Mozart played with music. I have little to fear from these mortals.

“Yeah, well, they don’t do ‘intricacy’ around here. They do dynamite and bulldozers at noon.” I attempted to poke the lady somewhere that I wouldn’t get slapped for, fail, and settled for making finger quotes, “And the next time I see you, it’ll be in a solemn press release from the Sheriff’s Office lamenting you getting your ass killed while resisting arrest.”

She cocked her head at me, trying to conceal her amusement at the thought of the rube attempting to protect her, while the vampire leaned against the side of a mausoleum, probably getting ennui all over the marble. Eww.


If you want the rest, you’ll have to buy the book.


Iron does not lie

Back in 2017 Herself and I started working out at Mark Rippetoe’s gym, and — barring illness and/or injury — we’ve been working out regularly there ever since.

It’s not exactly State-of-the-Art: There are barbells, there are the safety racks, and there are the plates; this is how you do the big, compound lifts. Get after it.

The simplicity leads to a certain Zen frame of mind. You put iron plates on the bar, and then you lift the bar. If you lift the set correctly — yay, you! And you add five or ten pounds the next week. If you fail, you back off five or ten pounds, you add an extra set, and you keep going.

The thing is that there will be a point where you’re going to fail. It’s inevitable. As you keep increasing the weight, there will come a time when you just can’t finish that last set of five. That time might be the first week, or the first six months, or the first year, but you’re going to fail.

And the iron isn’t going to listen to your excuses. It’s not going to pat you on the back and fluff up your ego.

It’s going to sit there and dare you to lift it. And when you do, it’ll be heavier the next week. And — sooner, rather than later — you’re going to fail again. And you — just you, no-one else — are going to have to reach down inside yourself and find the stuff to drive through and move that weight, because the iron isn’t going to coax you, or baby you — but it’s not going to lie to you, either.

It’s not going to make noises about “fairness”, or “opportunity”. It’s just going to wait for you to lift it. And if you don’t, it doesn’t care.

In the last three years, we’ve seen a lot of people come and go; and the majority that leave cut sling-load after that first failed lift. You’ll hear it. Usually it’s a strangled grunt, followed by the crash of the bar onto the safety pins, and they’ll leave, never to be seen again.

If you do see them again, at the store or a restaurant, they’ll murmur something about “Strength training just wasn’t right for me” and mention the Plyo-Dance Program, or Radioactive Yoga Conditioning that they’re in, and how “It’s a better fit”.

It’s not the program that’s a “better fit”, it’s the subjective benchmarks, and never failing that’s a “better fit”.

There’s 315 pounds. Deadlift it five times. You either do, or you don’t. 

Here’s 265 pounds. Squat it for three sets of five repetitions. You either get all 15 out, or you don’t.

Much like iron, the world doesn’t care about you.

People think it does. Every time you hear talk about “fairness”, or “opportunity”, that’s someone trying to tell you that the world cares, that it’s subjective, when it’s really objective.

Deadlift 405 pounds, or don’t. Get that job, or don’t.

Squat 365 pounds. Or don’t. Earn that salary. Or don’t.

Iron doesn’t care that the guy in the next safety rack is squatting 495 when you can only squat 225. Iron isn’t going to tell you that it isn’t fair; it isn’t going to make itself lighter for your self-esteem; and iron isn’t going to throw a snit-fit when you fail.

Iron isn’t going to lie to you. The world isn’t going to lie to you. It sucks, and you’re going to fail. Readjust, reacquire, and drive through. Or don’t.

People are going to lie to you. You are going to lie to you.

More folks should learn this.

More people should be lifting weights, failing to lift weights, and driving through.

That’s your Melancholy Monday ramble.  Back to writing.


Cowboy stew

Fall is around the corner — my favourite time of the year — and it’s soup season! Take:

3 – 4 pounds beef
8 red potatoes
1 large yellow onion
1 16oz bag carrot slices
3 cans of stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can Rotel
3 small cans green chilies
3 tablespoons minced garlic
32 ozs beef broth
32 ozs vegetable broth
32 ozs water
1 glug red wine
Steak seasoning

Cu your beef into cubes, sprinkle well with steak seasoning — I’m currently using Head Country Original, but use the one you like — and throw it into a pan with some oil to brown.

While the meat is browning, dice your onion, and chunk your taters. Throw them into a large stock-pot with all the canned stuff, the broth, and the water.

Once the beef is browned, toss it into the pot, and then use your red wine to deglaze the pan. Bung all those glorious bits into the stock-pot. Add everything else, except only the carrots, and simmer for an hour. Stir occasionally.

After an hour, throw in the carrots and let simmer for another half-hour.

Voila! Cowboy stew.