“Fly Day”

A few weeks ago, the Commemorative Air Force and the Texas Flying Legends Museum parked a few of their airplanes on a quiet part of the apron at Ellington Field so curious folk could wander around, tour the airplanes, maybe buy a ride. I’m not nearly well-heeled enough to buy a ride, but I was curious.

(There’s a gallery behind Texas Raiders and the Beast. Enjoy.)

Truck Stop

So I mentioned the car show in the last episode, and in the process of processing the pictures I decided I liked a few more and wanted to share them, and since I shot them for the fun of it on nobody’s dime but my own, I get to do that…


we’ve done this before, you know the drill.

Clik the pik.

Me, I think it was worth stopping for.

How To Stop a Truck.

If you want to really get my attention while I’m driving down the road on a pretty Saturday there are two good ways that don’t involve flashing lights.

First, park something like this on the side of the road:

This is Harry Zachau’s Studebaker President 8 Sport Roadster, and a truly beautiful example of the species. It was hanging out with a bunch of other pretty iron at the Cedar Creek Bar and Grill up in the Heights, part of the Houston Skyline Rotary Club’s “Rotary Rally.” There were a bunch of nicely done Chevies and “Cobras” (pretty sure they were all continuation models; the originals cost way too much to bring out for a lowkey event), a nice rodded-out `32 Deuce Coupe, a bit of this and a few of that… Good turnout and good selection for a new event.

The OTHER way to do it is a LOT cheaper.

Post one of these.

I’ll stop for a Studebaker. I’ll make a U-turn for a book sale.

Across Traffic. (There wasn’t any, so it was okay.)

And yes, there were books.

Books. Several followed me home, and I’m gonna keep them.

29.41734 N; 98.48265 W

Another weekend walkabout, this time at the Texas Folklife Festival.


I wasn’t really chasing stories this year, more looking for connections and information. That part went well; there will be stories coming out of this for a while.

Meantime, I’ve been reading a lot of Steve McCurry lately.






Mr. McCurry remains better than I am, certainly, but the gap isn’t as big as I thought.

And now for something completely the same. But different.

After I recovered from the morning muggery (took about three quarts of water and one of powerade plus a couple hours of sitting in front of a fan doing nothing) I went out to finish my morning stroll… and found… another flower.

It’s not quite as happy as the morning cannas but it’s pretty impressive all the same.

UPDATE 06/08/2014

Spent a little bit of Saturday wandering along the Paseo del Rio in San Antonio (thanks to the folks at Megabus I can afford the trip sometimes) and ran across the other side of the coin. Well, it’s only fair that if you post FlowerPorn for one side, you should likewise post FlowerPorn for the other. That one up there ^ is the male Sago. This is the female.

29.71555 N, 95.501787 W

Went walkabout this morning, and while the heat wasn’t too bad the humidity purely kicked my ass… but before I staggered home after half my normal time, two quarts low and hanging on my walking staff, I got smiley-mugged by a few friends saying hello.







It’s good to have friends.


Was looking through a few more of the 6th Cav shots, and ran across this one. This is Hunter Miertschin, who’s portraying a Navy SeaBee radioman.

We think of the vets from WWII and they’re old men now. Gramps, great-grandpa, “Uncle” George (who’s really dad’s uncle but he hates to be treated like an old man, even when his knees don’t work and his hair’s gone and he shuffles more than walks…)

And here’s Hunter, looking for all the world like a kid caught playing with stuff he found in an old trunk in the back of the attic.

He’s a kid. And just barely a kid, at that. He ought to be curled around a book somewhere dreaming of kings and knights and explorers, or wandering the woods by a stream somewhere with a hook on a string, pestering the fish, or maybe patching a bike tube or tweaking the engine of his goosed-up little Honda. The helmet’s too big, the carbine (which is a little bitty rifle) looks like it’d knock him ass-over-backwards if he had to shoot it.

He’s 18.

Let that sink in. We’ll wait.

He’s exactly the right age. When the old man climbed over the side of a ship in the surf off Normandy, or Tarawa, or some other hell on some other sand, going to put an end to the big war started by the biggest madmen of the age (maybe of all ages) he looked like this. JUST like this.

Think about that. Think HARD.

And then if it happens that you’ve got a grampa or great grampa, or an “Uncle” George, who was there, at Normandy or Anzio or Saipan or Iwo Jima or any of the other hells, and he made it back and he’s still with us, go find him and shake his hand and say thank you… and if he’s willing, let the old man tell his tales again. (And this time take notes and maybe a recorder, if he’ll let you, because these are the guys who did one of the Great Things, and we’re losing their stories WAY too fast. And if we lose the stories, we lose the history… and if we can at the least keep the history, there’s at least some chance we won’t have to send kids like Hunter to do it again.)

Because they’re just kids.

Memorial Meandering

I spent most of yesterday afternoon hanging out at HMNS with some of the Living Historians who perform as General George Patton’s Third Army, and also with elements of the 6th Cavalry Historical Association, a group of folks dedicated, by their own admission,

to preserving the memory of our nation’s veterans and patriots who sacrificed to secure the freedom of all Americans.

General George S. Patton discusses the history of the Second World War with visitors in the front lobby at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Denny Hair has been portraying General Patton since 1984.

The Sixth are a great bunch of folks who model their unit after General Patton’s “Household Cavalry” unit. As you might expect, this means they work hard at getting the historical displays and impression portrayals correct. The equipment is accurate, if not pristine, and they’re constantly working to get it better.

Jack Slattery and Jimmy Brinkley brainstorm ways to improve their practice 60mm mortar rounds at the 6th Cavalry Historical Association Encampment, Houston Museum of Natural Science Memorial Day Exhibition. The mortar tube itself is a reproduction and a little bit underbored, but Brinkley doesn’t have the ability to bore it any larger. Another solution is called for.

They’re also having a blast doing this, even if it’s a lot of work.

(And sometimes when it’s not.)

“Remember when….”

And they brought a heck of a motor pool, for a small group….

1943 Dodge 3/4 ton 4×4 Weapons Carrier truck in front of a 1943 GMC 2 1/2 ton 6×6 cargo truck, more commonly known as a “deuce and a half”

1944 Willys MB 1/4 ton Jeep followed by a 1942 Ford GPW 1/4 ton Jeep, with a 1941 Dodge 1/2 Ton Weapons Carrier truck behind it.

White M3A1 Half-Track armored personnel carrier. Yes, that’s a .50 cal machine gun on the mount above the cab.

Maintaining these vehicles in this condition is no small task. There’s a lot of time, money, work, and love in this – you can’t just stroll into your neighborhood AutoZone and buy an NOS ring gear for a `44 Willys Jeep. But they pull it off, and to borrow from Yoda, “when 75 years old YOU are, look as good you will not, hmmm?”

Stephen Brinkley of Spring, Texas with the 1944 Willys MB 1/4 Ton Jeep which he and his son Jimmy have carefully restored to original specifications.

Sunday Streets

City Government’s on a bit of a fitness campaign here lately – not that that’s bad. (Dovetails pretty well with the sustainability and planning for growth projects they’re working towards as well…) One part of this is that every so often they close a segment of a major street to cars and open it for pedestrians and cyclists. Yesterday it was part of Westheimer.

Being a cycle-friendly pedestrian myself, I try to make it out to these things when I can, because if the public doesn’t support them, they’ll stop happening. That’s bad, because if we don’t get out in front of the changes that are happening and are going to continue, we’ll continue to get steamrollered by them.

Plus they’re kind of fun.

(I thought he was pretty good but the penguin didn’t seem impressed. There are more pix behind him….)

Lessons part 1

One of the wonderful things about my job is I never know quite what I’m going to learn from day to day, but almost every time I go out looking at an interesting story I learn something else odd, usually totally unrelated and almost always totally useless to me. But that’s half the fun of it. The other half is finding out, years down the road and without warning, that that strange thing I learned somewhere between idiocy and insanity is going to be worth its weight in several kinds of survival skills.

So in the middle of the San Jacinto Battle Reenactment, it turns out that today’s lesson was “how to make a baggywrinkle.”

Rachael Protas, who’s the Maritime Education / Museum Programs Coordinator for the Texas Seaport Museum (these are the Elissa folks, for them as don’t know…) demonstrates tying a “baggywrinkle.”

This lesson was quickly followed by lesson 2: “What in the name of all that’s unholy is a baggywrinkle?” and lesson 3: “Why would you want a baggywrinkle and what do you DO with it when you’ve got it?”

(Generic apology in advance: “Nautical” is a separate language from English, and it’s fiercely defended by those who speak it well. I don’t speak it at all, so when I get it wrong there’s no malice involved. If I blow it intolerably, drop me an email (or leave a note in the comments) and I’ll be more than happy to correct the post…)

Lesson 1 is the easy part. Lessons 2 and 3 aren’t much harder but they are sort of interesting, so we’ll get to them first. According to Rachael, a “baggywrinkle” is anti-chafing gear… It’s a strange fluffy thing you wrap around the mast stays (which in a ship like the Elissa are probably steel cable) where they come into contact with the face of a sail. See, if you don’t have baggywrinkles on your cable, the sail will press against the cable and vibrate, which will wear a thin spot in the fabric of the sail along the pressure line. That’s a bad thing because come a hard blow the sail might well tear or split at that weak spot. This does several things, possibly, and not one of them is good.

So, lesson 1. Rachael showed me that you make a baggywrinkle by cutting a worn line (recycling, we call this) into pieces a few inches to a foot long (Look in the box) and then splitting those down into the component strands of the rope (called “yarns”). Then you stretch two lengths of fairly thin tarred cord, or marlines, and loop a piece of yarn around and between them, and then pull it tight and snug it down against the previous yarn. And then you do this again, again, and again and again until you have a very long bit of baggywrinkle, which looks like a VERY fuzzy rope. Then, when you run your lines, when you see where the sheet will press against the line, you wrap the baggywrinkle around and around the line and pull it tight, which causes the yarns to stand out away from the line, and that makes the rub patch big and soft. That way it won’t wear on the sheet and, you hope, your sails don’t split.

It’s actually very simple to do.

Teaching isn’t too hard, either.

I did actually take the opportunity to bend a couple of yarns onto the marline because the opportunity was there… and someday I’m sure that’ll be useful knowledge.

Just don’t ask me when or what for. I don’t know that.