Sunday, February 28, 2010

When in Rome

Today, we drove back from Fort Worth only to see the USA loose on the Ice, and only to see my favorite NASCAR driver lead the whole race only to loose in the last laps. What would be the appropriate thing for a guy to do? Go to a romantic comedy, chick flick! Yes we went to see "When in Rome". This is not exactly "Hurt Locker". But if you want 2 hours of safe (no profanity, no sex), predictable but amusing entertainment, here you go!

It is just like the previews. It does throw the guys a bone though. Shaq and L.T. make cameos and one of the supporting actors is Napoleon Dynamite complete with his sidekick, Pedro!

I give it **stars.

2010 movie #9

Cop Out

"Cop Out" is the new comedy movie starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Webster defines "Cop out" as choosing NOT to do something. I would rather get a root canal than watch Tracy Morgan for over an hour. Reviews are dreadful any how.

I copped out.

The ONLY thing Tracy Morgan has ever done that I liked was his "Brian Fellows" character on Saturday Night Live which is only five minutes at a time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Things that go BOOM

We watched the "Hurt Locker" again tonight. The story is of particular interest to me because in the National Guard, I taught Battalion Level Demolitions. We taught the soldiers how to blow stuff up! We used C4, Det. Cord, shape charges, etc.

One week we were giving classes at Camp Chafee, Arkansas. We had checked out a truck load of explosives. At the end of each day we had to reload the truck take it to the ammo dump and check it in only to have to get there at 6:00 am the next morning to start again. On afternoon before last day of classes, we got the bright idea to just stay at the class site for the night and "sleep in". We just did not tell anyone that we were out there. Here were 5 soldiers with a truck load of explosives out in the wilderness and no one knew we were there. Not our Company Commanders, not the Chafee Range Officers, not anyone!

We parked the truck in the trees and set the box of electric blasting caps across the field under a lone tree. We separated the caps because they were lethal all by themselves. That box of caps could kill anyone within 200 feet.

We were having a good time eating the food we brought for the occasion, until we heard the vehicle approaching about dark. Seems we forgot that other people used the base as well. The U.S. Army 101st Airborne were playing war games with the Texas National Guard the same week. We hid and watched as a squad of Texas Guard came through the edge of our site. To our shock their commander pulled up in a Jeep about 50 feet from the caps and set their talking on his radio. One change in frequency and they get blown up!

We were sweating bullets.

After a while the group leaves and we realized the mess we are in. But no one else comes.

However, at 2:00am a thunder storm pops up and lightning is everywhere! Now we are afraid the truck will be hit. Lighting hit a tree about 300 feet from us, but we were dry and safe in a small bunker but scared to death.

Sunrise and we thank God. As the troops start arriving for class, a Range officer arrives for inspection and sees the fallen tree and half blamed us for blowing it up! Later that day we did.

When the class ended, we still had most of the demolitions left and the Ammo dump sent word that they did not want it back. We took it down range and piled it up and moved back to the hill top and detonated it. It shook the range and the radius of the explosion and shrapnel mowed the weeds for about 400 feet in every direction and sent up a nice mushroom cloud.

Our motto back then was: "The only difference between the Boy Scouts and the National Guard was that the Boy Scouts had adult leadership!"

By the way everything we did that night was a Court Marshall offense. When our commander heard the story, on our last drill before getting out, he almost fainted.

Yes, the "Hurt Locker" is meaningful to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kiva-My life as a Banker

Carol and I made another loan tonight. It was to a couple from Cambodia. She works in Silk for $1.30 a day (US) and he is a construction worker and makes $4.50 a day (US). She needed the money to raise Pigs when she is not working. Average income in Cambodia is $2,600 a year, but they are making just over $1,500.00! We joined with other lenders around the world to loan this family $500.00.

Kiva is a non-profit Micro Loan organization. We are part of the Heartland Oklahoma team which currently is the second largest group of loans of all the state groups in the USA.

This is a very gratifying project. The loans loans are in $25.00 increments and we usually loan $25 or $50. When the loans are paid off you get your money back OR you can re-lend it. In two years we have made 27 loans including tonight. So far we have loaned to people in 15 countries from the Ukraine to Palestine to Pakistan to Africa to Rwanda to Peru.

Go to to check it out. You will be blessed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mike's Picks for the Academy Awards

Tried to wait until I saw all the movies nominated but alas after 87 movies last year I still haven't seen about three of the top movies! But I still probably have seen as many as most of the "voters".

Best Picture: I saw all but two.

Should win: Avatar

My favorite: The Hurt Locker

Best Actor: I saw all but one.

Should win: Jeff Bridges

My favorite: George Clooney

Best Actress: I saw all but two.

Should win: Meryl Streep (She doesn't need it)

My favorite: Sandra Bullock

Best Supporting Actor: Only saw two

Should win and My Favorite: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actress: I saw all of them.

Should win and My favorite: Mo'nique (Precious)

Best Animated: Only saw two.

Doesn't matter it is "UP".

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger and Pat Boone

The first celebrity that I remember getting into trouble was Pat Boone. Not by the nation, but by the Churches of Christ. Pat Boone, the Mr. Nice Guy of rock who was the clean counterpart to Elvis, was a member of the Church of Christ. He started associating with charismatic churches and even wrote a book about "A New Song" and all hell broke loose. At the beginning he "went forward" and asked for forgiveness. He didn't get it. I have been thinking about that one all these years.

I watched Tiger Wood today and realized after 3 hours of people telling me what I saw. No one wants to forgive Tiger. Sports talk shows were grading his speech as a B- to B+. They said it was "robotic". The speech was written and not from the heart. I heard it all. I am not sure goes through people's minds. Our society loves to drag people through the mud (for a long time.) Its news, baby!

I'm not sure what we the perfect will settle for!

I know what would have put the whole thing behind us. If in his speech he would have admitted to being a Democrat, then all of the righteous would have said, "Well crap, that explains everything. Case closed. I bet he even likes Obama! Keep him in therapy."

shutter island! yikes!

Yes, today I saw "Shutter Island". This week I have mentioned the movie to several (including my wife) and the reaction was the same, "I don't know about this movie. I am not looking forward to this one." My response was, "Hey, It's a Scorsese Film. Its DiCaprio. It is written by the guy that wrote "Mystic River". I went by myself.

As I watched the previews the last few months, I thought that this movie was more than what they were showing us. Well, that is an under statement. There are two stories in this movie and it is your job to figure the correct story. Please! Someone needs to explain it to me.

For you that think this is a horror movie, I sort of is in the dream sequences. There are unseemly things in the movie. From the Holocaust to the death of children there are things to keep you awake. This movie is absent of humor.

DiCaprio is a great actor. Ben Kinsley is a great actor. Mark Ruffalo is a great actor. AND Martin Scorsese is a great director. I don't know if this is a great movie or not. I'm thinking.

Take a prison movie, throw in the "Shining" mix in a little World War 2, and a hurricane and there you go.

I give it somewhere between ** and *** stars. I'm thinking.

2010 Movie #8

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Old School, New School

One of my former clients is a small school in Eastern Oklahoma. My architectural firm had designed their last two projects. Last summer their school was completely destroyed by multiple fires set by an arsonist. Our firm was interviewed and felt we had a great chance of getting the job since we were the only ones with plans to the complex, surveys, etc. (The school lost theirs in the fire.) To my surprise the school had a new superintendent and new board members. They did not know us at all!

Seems that one of our competitors and a contractor went around (what the rest of us knew as) the rules and got the job. They have been working on the design for six months.

One of our current projects is another school fire project (accidental). Construction is almost complete on this elementary school and it will re-open exactly one year from the time of the fire.

The two schools have the same insurance company. This leads the the rest of the story.

The first school is no where near construction and is two million over budget. The school and their design/construction team said that it would take $6,000,000 dollars to replace the school because of "New Code requirements". The insurance company compared the prices to our project and hired our team to give it a look. Our price was $3,800,000!

The school was insured for $4,000,000 so it is do-able, right? The insurance company says that the school spent so much money for portable buildings, consultants, etc. that they now don't have enough insurance money to build! The insurance company is not happy campers!

While I would like to have a project, here is another part of the tale. This school has 100 students and there are four similar schools within five miles in all four directions that could absorb this school.

Decisions, Decisions

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Post- Valentines Day

With a Busy Weekend we did NOT see a movie! Today was a make up day. We went to see "Valentine's Day" the new romantic comedy by Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman). It had a who's who cast of thousands that was dotted with Academy Award Winning Actors and Emmy Winning Actors and Tony Winning Actors. And crazy as it seems the one that stole the show was a recent Grammy Winner, Taylor Swift! She did a great job. This is a great date movie that guys can enjoy. It is one of those that if you liked the the previews, you will like the movie and if you didn't like the previews there are probably still some vampire movies out there. We enjoyed this story and the director did a good job of mixing about five story lines in a way that made sense.

There are outtakes during the credits and an inside joke about the movie, "Pretty Woman."

For a Romantic Comedy, I give it ***stars.

2010 Movie #7 (way behind last year!)

the mind of a wiener!

The Rock singer, John Mayer got in hot water in a recent interview as he discussed his love life. He was not politically correct when he said that his "johnson" was a "white supremacist!" Of course, this whole story was wrong on so many levels.

In a related story my son had to reprimand Grandson Addison about his bathroom peeing skills because he severely missed the stool. Addison responded, "My wiener wasn't paying attention!"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Busy Weekends

After two very stressful weeks, a busy weekend is very welcome.

Saturday was three celebrations in one. The whole family was here for Lindsey's baby shower (no I did not go!). We had our Valentines for the Grandsons and then after the shower we all went back to Tulsa and celebrated Jeremy's Birthday with great Bar-B-Que at Famous Dave's. I even worked a TV basketball game with OSU and OU in the margins.

Sunday at church, I was interviewed about the death of our daughter as part of a lesson on "Suffering" and then taught a High school class about the Holy Trinity. The class was easy because whether you are in high school or an old fart, you to can be an expert or novice on this subject at any given moment.

Now I can relax and watch the Daytona 500 for a while before Carol and I head to Fayetteville for Valentine's Day for a Delbert McClinton blues rock concert.

Yes friends, this is the opening of Spring Concert Season. Next up will be Nora Jones, then Bon Jovi and then off to Vegas for the ACM Awards.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

South of Broad, East of Broadway

I just finished Pat Conroy's new book, "South of Broad" that deals with life in Charleston, South Carolina. Part of the book centered on a high school in 1969 that was dealing with integration and all its baggage. Since I graduated in the last segregated class of my hometown in 1965, this book brought back many memories. In our town Main Street east of Broadway was the entry into the other town. Depending on your sensibilities you either called it N------ Town or Colored Town. This is how things worked. Broadway was the main drag and the Palace (movie theater0 set in the center. The "Colored" theater sat on Main Street just east of Broadway. The theaters were identical in size and owned by the same man. When I was about 12 the Palace burned to the ground late one Saturday night. The owner could not afford to rebuild and floated the idea around that the blacks and whites could alternate using the remaining theater. When that idea was soundly shouted down, he just closed the other theater and the movies left town!

I have many stories like that, but none with good endings. I want to think we have moved way past that point, but it keeps coming back from time to time.

The other day I was in Fort Worth and a guy walks into the event I was attending and said, "I was at Cabella's and it is one of my favorite places because I can go there and not see Women, Blacks and Illegals! It is a place just for my kind."

On the other side of things I went to a local high school basketball game last night. Before the game as the players were warming up, the speakers were blasting music to help the players get ready. Both teams and both cheer squads were all white, but the music was rap/hip hop with about every other sentence "Nigga" this or that. I'm setting there thinking is this a good thing or bad thing? The music is being embraced but.....

I know it may sound prejudiced of me to bring this up but this is a strange world today. If we are truthful, we all carry prejudice inside. Maybe not much. Maybe latent.

But we have a long way to go from East of Broad.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I just have to mention the front page article in Today's Tulsa World about residential water usage. Last year there were 23 homes in Tulsa that each used more 2,000,000 gallons of water in 12 months! There were 6 homes that used over 3,000,000 gallons. One home that used 4,100,000 gallons (and it didn't have a pool) on its 2.5 acres. That is 11,233 gallons a day!

That would fill my pool every day!

Could their be a leak? Or do they have so much money that they don't care!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Crazy Heart

Since Jeff Bridges was already on most of the Best Actor awards for 2009 movies, I was anxious to see "Crazy Heart". This movie is about a Country Music star who is past his prime (because of booze) and reduced to playing small bars and clubs. His character (Bad Blake) is sort of a cross between Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. That alone made me wonder, "Shouldn't Kris (who has acted) play this guy?" But- I guess that wouldn't be acting. As it is the movie was so real, it was like eavesdropping! The story has a casual pace with a few surprises. One of the major story lines is that Bad Blake's former band member is now the Super Star and Blake has to open for him. The Surprise is that the Super Star is played by COLIN FARRELL! Colin a Country singer! Who knew? He does a good job even though he is not mentioned in the credits or even the press releases. Supporting people include Robert Duval and others.

It is "R" for strong profanity.

I give it ***stars. 2010 Movie#7

Mike's Theory of Public Restrooms

I have been observing Public Restrooms most of my life. As an architect I've had a hand in designing many in the last 30 years. We have made many advances in equipment, but as for the people that use the equipment, not so much. Since I go to many concerts, sports events and so forth, I also go to many restrooms. Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Not as many guys wash there hands as you think! In my experience far less than fifty per cent even look at the sink. I even remember one concert a long time ago that some of the guys used the sinks as urinals! The bigger the event the more guys ignore the sinks.

2.When in malls or large cities, use the restrooms in Borders or Barnes & Noble. People who read take better care of the restrooms AND they wash their hands. They also have reading material!

3 There is not much common sense involved with restroom design. Example 1: You go into the restroom and everything is hands free (Toilet, sink, paper towels) except the door handle of the room. The door swings in and your clean hands touch the same handle of all those who don't wash! Example 2: The owners of our office building replaced the light switches with motion sensors to save electricity (being green). However, the timer is set on less than five minutes! I have been caught in the dark twice! No magazines for me!

4. Women need way more stalls than guys. In our firm we try to double the number of women's as compared to men's. I first saw women come in the Men's Rooms back in the 80's at Jimmy Buffet concerts. Guys would bring their dates in and secure a stall. Yes, they were drunk so they didn't care. I have seen it off and on through the years, most recently at the Aerosmith show.

The craziest, though, was almost 20 years ago when I took my daughter, Lindsey, to see "New Kids on the Block" at Skelly Stadium. There was 40,000 at the show (about 120 guys). I went with Lindsey down to the restrooms and she had to stand in a block long line. I went into the Men's Restroom and I was alone!

5. Most automatic hand dryers are worthless! Stick your hands into the air then wipe them on your pants. Dyson (the vacuum cleaner company) has a new one out that you place your hands into a cravass and then slowly retract your hands. Works great! There is hope.

Friday, February 5, 2010

From Paris or Russia with Love

The first James Bond movie that I saw in High School was, "From Russia with Love". It remains my favorite early Bond movie. Tonight we went to see the newest secret agent movie, "From Paris with Love" starring John Travolta. It is a buddy action/comedy movie. You know the kind, one new guy is paired with a seasoned veteran who breaks the rules and kills everyone in sight. As a matter of fact during the previews we saw the next one. It will be Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Tonight's flick was as far a departure from Travolta's last movie, "Old Dogs" as possible. It is "R" because of his affinity for using variations of the "F-word" in as often as possible while killing everyone in sight.

I wanted a mindless movie to end the week and I got it.

I give it 2 stars, but that may be pushing it.

2010 Movie #6

Thursday, February 4, 2010

True Grit 1, True Grit 2, The Real True Grit

I don't know if you have heard, but they are about to make a new version of the movie "True Grit". I haven't heard who plays John Wayne yet, but I'm sure it will be at least as 'REAL' as the first. The original movie starts in Fort Smith, Arkansas where Judge Parker sends John Wayne into Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to get the bad guys. The movie was filmed in the Rockies and all through the movie us Okies kept glancing at the snow covered peaks in the distance as we watched Old John ride through the "Aspens". John Wayne won his only Best Actor Oscar for this flick, not because he was the best, but because they had overlooked him for years and wanted to give him one before he died! And because in the final show down scene he uttered the famous line, "Fill your hand you son-of-a-bitch!"

Anywho, tonight I went to a story telling event where the life of Bass Reeves was presented. Bass was a black U.S. Marshall who served Judge Parker in the same part of the Territory as John Wayne. Bass killed 14 guys, was know as a crack shot and really did this stuff! He was the best of his time and as an ex-slave to rise up and fill this role would make a great movie about the "Real True Grit."

I like John Wayne western movies, but "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" was my favorite. They gave him movie character names but he was always John Wayne.

Denzel would make a great Bass Reeves, though.