Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: December, 2013

Happy New Year!

Just got home from a trip you’ll hear about in stages, but the most important thing to report:

the entire trip through Immigration and Customs and all – including picking up my suitcase – took five (count ’em FIVE) minutes!  Granted I came in on a non-travel type day (Monday the 3oth) and we lucked out because our flight came in a wee bit early for our 3pm scheduled arrival time (thanks to a MONSTER storm over the north Atlantic – boy was that bumpy for a bit!) and the normal run-of-the-mill international flights in Atlanta all arrive about 5pm.  But it was way cool to zip through, hop in a taxi, and finally be HOME!

Happy New Year and best wishes to everyone!


Celebrating the Winter Solstice!

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Have a wonderful and safe holiday season.  See you after the turn of the year.

More in the Alamo Department

This is the situation at 5:30am on 6 March 1836:


And this is the situation less than 45 minutes later:


Says it all, doesn’t it.  Twelve of 186 defenders left at that point.

Colonel Almonte (one of Santa Ana’s chief officers) said “another victory like this will ruin us” within hours of the end of the battle. But nobody listened to him.

Document credit “A Time  to Stand” by Walter Lord.

More Seasonal Spirit

I took the gingerbread house – my first gingerbread house – to the studio.

after wreckage


They appear to have liked it.

In the Spirit of the Season

In the Spirit of the Season, I took a shot at making my very first gingerbread house.

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A Word on Discretion

In the past couple of months, I have (as many of you know) been doing quite a bit of traveling.  Currently, the airlines prohibit use of cell phones while the plane’s in motion and I say, thank the gods!  The last thing I want is to be trapped in a three-across row for an extended period of time with two people yapping away on their phones.  My point is not only do these folks not realize that their voices carry, forcing the rest of us to listen to conversations we really want no part of, but sometimes one hears things that one would really rather not know.  For example:

On a recent business trip, I was sitting in the gate area listening to a man, who was old enough to know better, discuss an upcoming trial in which he was representing a client.  The conversation went on in detail.  This violates the attorney-client privilege (for one thing) and could get him disbarred if it harmed his case and someone pursued this.

Another time, I was riding an elevator in an office building and was required to listen to someone discussing what really should have been termed “insider information”.  If I’d followed up on the stock he was discussing, I could have made a fortune, and he could have gone to jail.

Lastly, one night I was on the train coming home from the airport.  The car was almost empty.  At the other end sat a girl in her twenties discussing, in clear and carrying tones, her sexual encounters over the weekend – in detail.

I particularly loathe people who don’t have the manners to set aside their phones when they’re at the cash register or being waited on.  If you are that important that you can’t take two minutes to be courteous to the poor individual who is trying to wait on you, then please go somewhere else.

Pretty Special

Because I’ve featured her kiddies, thought it might be fair to showcase Special.  This is Special Event, Pam Kimmel up.


This mare could get some air over fences!

Asking for Directions

Want to know why men rarely stoop to asking for directions?  Finally found the answer! The cause is an illiterate French peasant by the name of Drouet. During the French Revolution, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette attempted to escape France in a coach – in simple disguise.  Close to the border, Louis leaned out of the coach to ask directions, and the person whom he asked happened to be Drouet.  In one of those minor actions that change the course of history, Louis tipped him a banknote.  With his picture on it.  Drouet recognized the king from his picture, ran ahead and blocked the road until revolutionary soldiers could come and fetch the escapees.

Since that time, the racial memory of the male gender has warned them that asking for directions can lead to decapitation, and no man has asked for directions since.

Remember the Alamo

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In the larger historical picture, the Alamo clearly illustrates the power of publicity.  San Antonio de Bexar sat smack across what was probably the most prime real estate in that part of Texas.  Rich grazing, easy terrain and, most importantly, lots of water.  Unless you’ve travelled the rest of Texas, you have no concept of just how important access to water is.  Which is why the Mexican republic garrisoned San Antonio early on.  And which is why the Tejanos/Texicans (long story there for another history lesson) seized and fortified the town in December 1835.

And which is why Santa Ana, in his 1000-mile march to quell the rebellion, could not leave a fortified town in his rear.  There HAD to be a battle (in fact, the famous one was the second one).

Having won the battle (again, another history lesson, another time), he gallantly allowed the women and children in the mission to be escorted to safety.  One, Mrs. Dickinson (wife of the second in command and the only English-speaking adult survivor) Santa Ana instructed to spread the word that he was coming.  She did.

This was a major mistake.  Once word of the “massacre” reached the press in New Orleans (and from there, the rest of the United States), the outrage spread and spelled the eventual end of the Mexican occupation of most of the US north of the Rio Grande (yes, it took another 10 years, but this was where the furor began).

There is, of course, a lot more to the story – considering that Texas was a province of Mexico in rebellion, and NOT a part of the United States.  Although that didn’t seem to matter much to most folks.  Anyway, it’s a fabulous place to visit and contemplate, and the FOOD in San Antonio (especially on the Riverwalk) is well worth the trip.

The Alamo

This is the original compound.  The mission is at the upper right.

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The bottom of the compound currently houses Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a t-shirt factory and a US Post Office …

Once you get a concept of the actual distances, you begin to see just how much guts it took for 186 men to hold out against upwards of 5000 battle-hardened troops (although there’s a lot of history unsaid there too).

According to the guide I toured with, picture this:  lower left is Travis’s position and where he died.  40 men total against approximately 450. Upper left 20 men against 350 (all figures are approximate).  Right wall, where Crockett and Bowie defended, maximum 45 against 500 or so.

They fall back (once overwhelmed) to the Long Barracks (larger block slightly right of center in the top of the big rectangle) and then into the mission (very top right).  At that point, numbers take over.  What is truly amazing is the fact the guide pointed out – the entire encounter (including mop-up and executions) lasted at most 45 minutes.