Andrew Klavan:

It was after a school shooting near Spokane last September that Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich addressed a clutch of reporters:

“When I was in high school, every one of those rigs in the high school parking lot had a gun in the gun rack. Why? [FickleGreen: Mine was a Ruger 10-22 with a cheap pawn shop scope – We hunted squirrels, not deer in Central Texas] We went hunting on the way home. None of those guns ever walked into a school, none of those guns ever shot anybody… Did the gun change or did you as a society change? I’ll give you odds it was you as a society. Because you started glorifying cultures of violence. You glorified the gang culture, you glorified games that actually gave you points for raping and killing people. The gun didn’t change, we changed.”

It seems clear to me the sheriff was speaking about rap music with its hateful, violent and misogynistic lyrics, and video games like Grand Theft Auto, where you can have sex with a prostitute then strangle her or pull an innocent person out of a car, beat him, then steal his vehicle.

I am a First Amendment purist and don’t want to see expression censored in any way. And I don’t argue that there’s a straight line between any specific cultural creation and bad acts. But surely, a culture in which those in authority approve of and argue for things like gangsta rap and GTA — and indeed for the use of violence to silence speech that offends them — well, such a culture becomes a machine for transforming madness into murder.

I am clearly dull-witted

We aren’t “high society” by any means…But as I showered this morning, Waylon’s “Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)”  (Youtube) came up on the playlist while washing my hair.

Epiphany.  Let me explain.

I’ve listened to that song probably thousands of times since freshman year of high school (Hey, I’m from Texas, and it was the 70’s…You either listened to C&W or KIXS on the FM dial, and the song was released that summer), just loving the tune and lyrics.  But from the perspective of a fellow who has completed one career and is fourteen years from completing another, the meaning of the lyrics one day come dreadfully to life:

There comes a point in a working person’s life when the realization that all of the weekends, late nights, and holidays sacrificed to get to the position one occupies have left one “comfortable” – But that having established the reputation of being that Type “A” personality who is shooting for Senior Vice President before retiring, there’s no halt to the sacrifices until that point is reached.

And when you reach it, then what?  My wife & I don’t fight like the Hatfield’s and McCoys, but I don’t think either of us, after thirty-one years of marriage, believe we’ve had the opportunity to spend as much time together as we like.  Me and my work, our raising three children (all now grown and gone), me and my VFW and American Legion and Homeowner’s Association Board of Directors and North Georgia Corps of Cadets Association Board of Directors and volunteer work with recently separated veterans, her and her mini-chicken farm, hobbies, and bill paying (yes, I, the only member of this household who’s ever been employed, live on an allowance, just shoot me)…Yeah, it got me where I am, with a heart attack along the way.

Wouldn’t I rather live in a small house in San Antonio or Austin, working a 9-5 job, and have all that time we’ve missed?  You bet.  But the values and discipline my father and the army bestowed on me never would have allowed that…They raised my expectations of myself so high that I’ll be reaching for the next rung on the ladder until I fall into the cremation pit.

It’s something to think on.  I’m afraid I and the army instilled the same values and discipline on my son, and I feel guilty about that.  My daughters are free spirits who are just as happy crashing on a friend’s couch for a couple of months to save money for something they want, and they are expert at lowering their expectations – A trait I’m envious of.

If I had it to do again, knowing what I know now, I think I’d live life differently.  Impossible to know, of course, but I like to think that I would.  Of course, like every other major rumination I come across, it’s too late to change things now…But perhaps a discussion on the matter with my kids, and my grandkids, is in order.

You don’t have to make first string, or cross the finish line first, you just have to make the team.  File that among the many things I wish I’d learned long ago.

A lot of worry about nothing at all – YET

Interesting set of interviews with my prospective team yesterday:


I had expected to be grilled by shooters – Men who have owned, operated, and maintained weapons their entire lives…But it turns out my interlocutors were technical folks who will be creating the algorithms and displays.  Interesting questions there, some I’d never have thought of on the range, good stuff to study up on.

I did get to speak with one shooter, and I have a pretty good idea who he is, having been in awe of him for six years or so now.  If it’s who I think it is he’s going to make me look like a fool on the range and in the classroom, and I’m going to be buying lots of beer for the development team.  I mean hell yes, I can shoot, but what this Ranger I’m talking about does is more like magic.

So, challenges begin to manifest…This is the fun part, risk evaluation, categorization, planning, and mitigation.

Sniff.  I feel at home again.

A reprieve

Nice evening with the brothers in-law last night, although as usual they stuck me with the tab (not inconsiderable, even in their 50’s those boys can drink).  I endured the usual ribbing about drinking club soda with lime…Better ribbed than a fall off the wagon and a hangover.  It’s hard to get a bad steak in Austin, but the place they took me to last night was phenomenal…Other than the Barn Door in San Antonio and the Texas Land & Cattle Company in Killeen, I don’t think I’ve had better.

I was spared “Scarface” due to technical difficulties with younger brother in-law’s cheap Internet service, and viewed the quite enjoyable “The Counselor” on DVD instead.  Favorite quote:

Counselor: Will you help me?

Jefe: I would urge you to see the truth of the situation you’re in, Counselor. That is my advice. It is not for me to tell you what you should have done or not done. The world in which you seek to undo the mistakes that you made is different from the world where the mistakes were made. You are now at the crossing. And you want to choose, but there is no choosing there. There’s only accepting. The choosing was done a long time ago… Are you there Counselor?

Counselor: [distraught] Yes.

Jefe: I don’t mean to offend you, but reflective men often find themselves at a place removed from the realities of life. In any case, we should all prepare a place where we can accommodate all the tragedies that sooner or later will come to our lives. But this is an economy few people care to practice.

Bears some reflecting upon, eh?

In other news, the Comfort Suites is a much nicer accommodation than my previous one, I believe it will be my new go-to when in Austin.  I don’t know what it says about me that my favorite amenity is the in-room Keurig single cup coffee machine, and I honestly don’t care, there’s a reason I carry a box of Starbuck’s Keurig Pumpkin Spice Latte cups and packets with me on the road this time of year.

Checking out in the morning and getting in the road for an enjoyable weekend in San Antonio, thanks to the miracle of Al Gore’s Intertubes, I’ve already printed all of the necessary documentation, tickets, luggage tags, and receipt for the hotel we’ll stay at the night before we leave Port Canaveral – On my home printer, no less, where my bride can collect it all and file it.  I’m all about the 6 P’s, they reduce stress considerably.

Happy Thursday, my friends.  I’m off for a jog to clear my mind for work today.

Happy Wednesday from Central Texas

It’s a good thing that I travel light, having completed my two-mile jog, showered, shaved, and dressed, packing only took about five minutes.  I shall proceed to the front desk forthwith and remove myself from this place, drive 400 meters west, then check into the Comfort Suites for tonight and tomorrow night.

I’d normally be flying home Thursday night, but I don’t get home to Texas very often these days, so the mandatory Alamo pilgrimage is mandated this weekend.  Friday and Saturday night will be spent at the River Walk Hilton in San Antonio, with the entire day Saturday reserved for reflection and walking the sacred grounds of the shrine of Texas’ liberty.  As this is a business trip, my bride is not here to call me every hour on the cell phone demanding I leave “that old place” and join her at one or another expensive steakhouse or Mexican restaurant, or worse yet, on the River Walk itself, or in La Villita, where I’d be forced to watch as she created a bill I’d be paying on for the next three months.

I love the woman to death, we’ve been together since age sixteen, raised three children who have successfully launched themselves into the world, welcomed two grandchildren into the world and proceeded to spoil them rotten, and anticipate several more grandchildren to come.  She’s put up with the army, the type “A” behavior of my youth and young adulthood, the long hours associated with mastering and practicing the trade of my second career (post-army), a good thirty years of all but alcoholism (“all but” only because I’ve always had to function for my daily work – Until June of this year, weekends were for twelve packs and shots of Patron), and, well, the general wrongheadedness common to my gender.  She deserves nothing but the best, that beautiful woman…And I do all I can to provide it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t scowl while paying the bills.

Rather than dragging my two confirmed bachelor brothers in-law (aged 57 and 56, respectively) with me to San Antonio, where I most likely wouldn’t see them all weekend anyhow, as there are nudie bars and establishments of ill repute aplenty in old Bexar, I’ll take them out for dinner tonight and perhaps watch “Scarface”, my younger brother in-law’s all-time favorite film for the nth hundred time.  I’ve already taken my mother in-law to lunch at the best German restaurant in Killeen, as I must every time I’m home, she’s tremendously good company even at age 88.  We’ve always  been thick as thieves…She also has known me since I was sixteen years old, and though she grew immediately fond of me (I could, after all, converse with her auf Deutsch, and she was witness to the entirety of my courting of my then bride to be, approving heartily of the manner in which I went about it), she’s only grown more fond of me over the years, no doubt because after college I immediately returned to Texas and married her daughter, also because my bride and I haven’t lived in Texas since 1986, so she’s only ever exposed to me briefly.

So, then.  Off to work in a few minutes, with dinner and a movie to look forward to (I have the immense good fortune of genuinely liking my brothers in-law, the youngest was one year ahead of me in high school, we actually knew each other very well before I ever met my wife, I was shocked during my second date with my bride to be when she told me who her brother was – And for his part, when she told him who she was dating, he told her “That boy’s alright”).  Early night tomorrow after my final day on-site, so that I may be well-rested for the <> four-hour drive to San Antonio, then a delightful couple of days in my favorite town in the state, and plenty of time to pay my respects and say my prayers at the Alamo.  Can’t ask for a better lead up to a 4-day, 5-night Cruise to the Bahamas followed by a week at a Panama City resort to cap off the year before jetting to Colorado for Christmas with my son, daughter in-law, and grandsons.

I’ve no doubt annoyances and aggravations will occur even during my long anticipated downtime, but at least I won’t have to deal with them alone.