Saturday, June 9, 2012

More from the Texas State Libertarian Convention

My buddy John Jay Myers won a 6-way race for U.S. Senate.  He'll be going up against Dewhurst or Cruz from the Republican camp. 

Patrick Dixon won a hard-fought race for State Chair.  Tom Glass is Vice-Chair.  Gary Johnson (not the presidential candidate) is Secretary.  Mike Burrus is Treasurer. 

Another buddy of mine, Peter Cox, is going to be on the State Legislative Executive Committee with me.  As my daughter would say, "He's good people to know." 

Big Daddy John Spivey will no longer be on SLEC.  He will miss the parliamentary wrangling, I'm sure. 

My Co-Tarrant folks, Mikey Coyne and Jeff Lippincott, wanted this playing in the background as you read this.  Enjoy. 

Geoff Neale at the Texas State Libertarian Convention

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible." - T.E. Lawrence

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. —Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Anything that works is better than everything that doesn't." - Geoff Neale

Geoff Neale is now the National Chair of the Libertarian Party

Why Texas Is Great

I'm writing this from the Libertarian Party Of Texas State Convention. 

Here's one of the many reasons why Texas is great..... 

While NYC mayor Bloomberg is wanting to ban large sodas,

While Mrs. Obama is wanting to regulate school lunches,

While England is considering a ban of sharp knives,


The Texas Department of Transportation said today a toll road being built from San Antonio to north of Austin could be the first road in the country to have a posted 85 mile per hour speed limit.

"It was designed under extremely high design parameters," said Darren McDaniel, the Speed Management Director for the department, which builds and manages all Texas highways.

The highway, called State Highway 130, is being built to take traffic loads off of the heavily overcrowded Interstate 35 between San Antonio and north of Austin, a stretch which is one of the most congested in the country. Most of the highway is built, and posted at 80 miles per hour, and the remainder is set to be opened before the end of this year.

This is why Texas rocks.  We've got places to go, people to see, things to do.  Please stay out of our passing lanes !!

Only 15 more MPH until we reach our goal. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

John Jay Myers for U.S. Senate !!!

My friend John Jay Myers is running for U.S. Senate.  There's a debate tonight at 7:00 p.m., and it's the kickoff event for our Texas State Libertarian Party Convention.  (DFW Marriott South, 4151 Centreport Blvd, Fort Worth TX)

Here's something John Jay wrote several months ago, called "An Open Letter To Democrats":

So you are feeling a little let down? You probably voted for Democrats because you were tired of the endless wars, Gitmo, torture, the Patriot Act and the bad name the Republicans were giving the United States. We are disappointed too.

But come to find out the Democrats have now escalated our current wars, and started new ones. They didn’t close Gitmo and have just approved the Patriot Act yet again.

You may have voted Democrat because you believe that corporations control our country. Well you are right, but they also control the Democrats. Unfortunately the only way to keep from having the government give out larger and larger favors to their corporate sponsors is to limit size and scope of what government can do. Libertarians believe the government should not be giving out favors to corporations. Do you want to see the lobbyists flee Washington? Limit government.

It could be you voted for Democrats because you believe that health care should be a right to all Americans. Libertarians believe health care should be much more affordable, and thus available to a much higher percentage of people. But the Democrats didn’t vote to give everyone free health care, they voted to force everyone to buy a product from their corporate sponsors. Great, the new boss is the same as the old boss.

You may have voted Democrat because you believe that some people don’t get a fair shake in life. Libertarians believe that everyone should get exactly that, a fair shake. Ayn Rand said, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” When we try to game the system for anyone we end up adversely effecting others, usually of the same group.

I have a saying that “Democrats are simply one economics lesson away from being Libertarians.” That one economics lesson can be found in the book “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt, in that book Hazlitt talks about the hidden costs of government intervention into the markets, and spells out why there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Libertarians are among the most charitable people on the planet. They just understand that if government can’t balance a budget, why would you want government in charge of your charity?

Especially the Federal government. Let’s take education for example. We know that competition creates better products. So why do we have the Department of Education, an agency 1000′s of miles away from Texas telling us how to run our schools? Why would we take our money, send it to Washington, and then ask them, “Please send us some money?” We are right here. We can spend our own money on our own schools. If we heard Missouri had a program that worked we might be quick to adopt it, but if we hear California is going bankrupt we might be quick to avoid it. The Federal government is destroying education, and competition. Libertarians think that is unfair.

The Libertarian Party is a great blend of sound economics and the idea that you should be free to make your own decisions about your life. You should give us a try. We think you will like us. Lord knows we are light years ahead of the Republicans.

John Jay Myers, Libertarian for U.S. Senate !!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why Libertarians Oppose The Death Penalty

Here's something from the Coyotote Blog, taking a Tampa Bay Times writer named Robyn Blumner to task for opposing the death penalty and government intervention in lifestyle choices, while advocating for government intervention in economic matters. 
Robyn Blumner’s column highlighting the wrongful executions of Carlos DeLuna and Cameron Todd Willingham was a very compelling argument against the death penalty. I am a Republican who rarely agrees with Blumner, but in this case she was spot on. While I believe that there are individuals who certainly deserve to lose their lives for the crimes they commit (John Couey comes to mind), I simply do not trust the government to administer such a process fairly or accurately. This is because the government is run by human beings, who like the rest of us are motivated by narrow self-interest and restrained by limited knowledge. Because those in government rarely face the consequences of their decisions, they often make the wrong ones, even if their intent is pure.

Do you trust the government's mail system to deliver important documents, or do you trust FedEx or UPS?  What about hospitals?  I know that during a recent emergency, I was glad to be in St. Joseph's rather than a VA facility. 
The only thing that government does better than the private sector is blowing up strange-looking people overseas. 

What I find puzzling is how Blumner can so effectively articulate these failings of government when it comes to civil liberties in one column, and in the next champion its abilities and competence in economic matters. A criminal trial is a grueling and exacting process that seeks to administer justice in a very narrow, specific instance. If government doesn’t deserve our faith in doing that correctly, how can we trust it to control and coordinate the countless decisions that hundreds of millions of Americans make each day in our economic lives?
All of those questions are legit, but here's an even better one for Matt Curran, the guy who wrote this little gem.  In the first paragraph, Mr. Curran says . "I am a Republican who rarely agrees with Blumner..."

But Republicans voted for TARP.  They promote subsidies, bailouts, quotas, tariffs, set-asides, corporate welfare and crony capitalism of the worst possible sort.  All of that, and they want to interfere with what you can smoke, who you can sleep with, where you can gamble, and whether or not you should have to listen to some redneck witch doctor pray before a football game or city council meeting. 

Matt, why are you still a Republican? 

The Libertarian Party awaits!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury, R.I.P.

We lost Ray Bradbury this morning.  Dang it. 

Someone calling himself "Kip Russell" (a Heinlein character, I think) wrote this in the comments of a Sci-Fi appreciation site:

Somewhere in America, a boy tap-dances a on a tuned segment of discarded wooden sidewalk, calling his friends to run over the hills by moonlight...

Out on the Veldt, the animals pause for a moment, as though something unseen had passed through their midst...

Somewhere on Mars, a new silver fire is burning to welcome him...

By the river, a Book stops it's recitation for the day, to remember a fine man who wrote such fine, fine things.

Thanks be, for Ray Bradbury, who taught me that there could be poetry in prose.

I think that's the best anyone will ever say it.  If you don't know much about Bradbury's stuff, check this one out.  Best anti-censorship book ever written. 

Why Scott Walker's win is a good thing

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker handily won his recall election. 

(Note to the Brits, Canadians and Aussies who read these pages:  Republican Scott Walker campaigned for governor on a platform of reducing the state's long-term debt obligations.  When he tried to reduce the state's long-term debt obligations, the state labor unions launched a "recall" effort.  It's kinda like a vote of "no-confidence" in Parliament.) 

Walker is a Republican, meaning he's in a party that is pro-drug war, pro-oil war, anti-civil liberties, kinda pro-theocracy, and pro-national debt.  In other words, he's as bad as a Democrat. 

But here are the reasons that come to mind why Walker's recall election victory is a good thing:

1) When a government official and a union boss sit down to "negotiate" a new deal, no one at the table is representing the taxpayer.  It's two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner.  I have friends who are just a few years older than I am who have already retired from government jobs with massive pensions.  They'll probably be paid for not working for more years than they were ever paid for working.  This isn't sustainable.  (And yet NPR's "Sustainability Desk" has never commented on the problem.  Strange.) 

2) Requiring people to contribute to a third party in order to hold a job is wrong.  Unions bosses have grown fat and happy off these mandatory fees.  A significant number of union employees would like to get out of the system.  1/3rd of union households voted for Walker, BTW.  Give workers a choice in joining the union vs. not joining, and look what happens.  Here's Alanna Goodman, writing in Commentary magazine:

The state’s second-largest union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, had membership fall to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, the Journal said Thursday. The organization’s Afscme Council 24, composed of state workers, fell more than two thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.

A key reason that membership dropped was because the labor law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, forbids automatic collection of union dues. Instead, workers must voluntarily say that they want to continue to continuing paying dues to remain members of the union.
Union workers have also dropped out because of high pension and healthcare costs, and others believe that the unions are no longer influential.
The last sentence is wrong.  The unions were highly influential in diverting slush to the Democrats.  And now that Sugar Teat is gone. 

3) Union fees are spent on politicians.  Politicians are then obliged to spend even more money on make-work projects to keep the unions busy.  The circle never ends.  The debt increases. 

4) The conflict was usually described by the Lamestream Media as a matter of union "rights".  Sorry folks.  There's no such thing as a "right" that infringes on the money, time, or property of someone else.  They should've used the phrase "union privileges". 

5) The only way a union can be successful is to keep out the poor s.o.b.'s who are willing to do the job for less.  Mandates that state projects use union labor guarantee that all government projects will cost more than they should.  And please don't give me any crap about union expertise.  Compare any union LTL freight carrier with their non-union counterparts.  No difference.  The woods are full of people who can out-teach a lot of the teachers' union footsoldiers.

Every time I've had to deal with the unions at Chicago or Vegas tradeshows, it's been a case study in corruption.  Without fail.  They don't even have union employees working the damn things.  They hire temps to drive the forklifts and unload the crates much of the time.  But the vendor still has to pay them the union rate.  If you challenge the extra fees they tack onto the bill, you get ominous warnings about how much difficult it'll be for you next time.  Screw the Teamsters.  All of them. 

6) Barack Obama supported the unions and the recall effort.  Yeah, Obama was widely criticized for not showing up or making more speeches in favor of the recall. 

But I repeat:  Barack Obama supported the unions in this recall effort.  When Obama supports something, it's almost always bad for the country.  Seriously. 

A compass that is 99% wrong 99% of the time is still useful for navigational purposes.  If I could take Obama to a Vegas sports book and double-down opposite his wagers, I'd be a rich, rich man. 

Hope you all have a great day.  I'm going to go to our non-union shop where we employ people without having to give a dime to James Hoffa, Jr. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

If this is the prize, what do they do to the losers????

I'd rather eat a can of Spam. 

I'd rather be tied down and forced to be an accountant in one of Nancy Pelosi's low-wage Tuna Factories.

I'd rather be strapped into one of those Clockwork Orange deprogramming chairs with my eyelids pulled open by tiny electronic arms, and made to watch the John Edwards sex tape. 

I'd rather sit through the Director's Commentary of An Inconvenient Truth

I'd rather fill a blender with frogs and....

Just who the heck is this Man Of The People trying to appeal to here?  I'd rather win a dinner date with Hermann Goering. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Tragic Story Of Albert's Fingers

I’ve written a lot on this website about the advantages of hiring ex-convicts. By overlooking their time spent as Involuntary Guests Of The State, you can sometimes hire brilliant people, hard workers no one else is willing to take a chance on, often for half the wages that their skill levels would otherwise demand. You must be willing to tolerate Parole Officers, Probation Specialists, Drug Testers and their ilk, all calling your employees away for useless bureaucratic “counseling” sessions at odd hours. Those wanting good workers at half price will find a way to deal with the inconvenience.

If that sounds like exploitation of the unfortunate, let’s see you walk into your boss’s office with a warped colony of Registered Sex Offenders and try to get ‘em hired. Let me know how it works out for you.

About 10 years ago, my employer cooperated with a church organization called Narrow Gate Ministries, a charity which gave ex-cons a 2nd chance at jobs, housing, and society. Some of Narrow Gate’s clients were outstanding people who just happened to get caught with a nosefull of Bolivian Marching Powder. Others had a drinking problem. Narrow Gate took in thieves, smugglers of Mexican illegals, forgers, sex offenders and addicts, and tried to straighten them out. We then hired almost all of them, whether they were straightened out or as warped as the Titanic’s shuffleboard court. Lordy, it got bizarre.

One the Narrow Gate clients was a guy named Albert. (Not his real name.) Albert was a talented pianist and singer who often performed for Narrow Gate events and at the dinners for the street people that my church sponsors. The man could do gospel songs like an angel. Like many recovering addicts, he was a deeply spiritual man, a nice guy, polite and respectful to everyone he worked with, and he loved cocaine more than he loved life itself. We put him to work in the plastics shop. “I love my job, I love this opportunity, and I love this second chance The Lord has given me here,” he would say to anyone who would listen. He should have added “But most of all, I love cocaine.”

By most accounts, Albert did a good job for about 3 months. Then he vanished for two weeks of narcotic bliss, inhaling white devil dandruff. The plastics manager fired him for job abandonment.

Because he had ingratiated himself with one of the company owners, we discovered that Albert couldn’t be fired. He could only be shifted. This benevolent company owner (a great guy, friend to all) unfired Albert and had him placed at our wood shop, three miles down the road.

“I love my job, I love this opportunity, and I love this second chance The Lord has given me here,” Albert said. Some employees corrected him, and claimed that Albert was up to at least chance number three. Seventeen or eighteen if you include the rehabs, the prison stints, and the other jobs that didn’t work out. But Albert had no yesterdays, only tomorrows.

Albert worked at the wood shop for about a month and then missed five shifts because he was riding the white rails at some friend’s house on the east side. (Insert a recording of Jackson Browne’s cover of “Cocaine, running all round my brain” here.) The wood shop manager doesn’t take that kind of crap, and he fired Albert for job abandonment.

Albert’s sponsor-owner-savior unfired him some more, gave him another stern talking-to, and then transferred him to work for me at the metal shop. I had already been warned about Albert. My fellow shop managers told me that Albert was deeply religious, deeply spiritual, deeply committed to doing a good job, and even more committed to cocaine. They also told me that I would get the best two weeks of Albert’s life out of him, and that I should fire him some more when he disappeared to go a-snorting through the Bolivian Poppy Patch.

I met with Albert, and welcomed him to the metal shop.

He said “I love my job, I love this opportunity, and I love this second chance The Lord has given me here.” He went on to explain what the apostle Paul REALLY meant in the book of Romans. I don’t remember the details.

At the time, I had about 100 employees working 3 shifts. In addition to my typical homegrown sprinkling of Brothers, Homies and Rednecks, I had Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Bosnians, Serbs, and Croatians. (I’m happiest when my crews represent multiple eras of failed U.S. Foreign Policy Adventures. When the boatloads of Iraqis, Afghans and Libyans arrive on our shores to escape the devastation we’ve made of their home places, I’ll be waiting for them with job applications.)

I had two drummers, three guitarists, and one Mexican who was pretty good on harmonica.

Our entire company (wood, metal, plastic and office) had 300 employees at the time, and only one decent piano player. Albert.

A couple of weeks after Albert joined us at the metal shop, I told Albert, the piano player, to operate the shear.

A shear is a giant pair of scissors activated with a foot pedal. Mash the pedal and the blade comes down, slicing whatever is being fed to it. If you’re cutting a lot of metal into small pieces, say, 1”x4” strips, you can get a nice rhythm going, feeding the metal into the blade while marking time with the foot pedal. Chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka feed it in, hit the pedal feed it in hit the pedal feed it in. Get a new strip of metal and feed it in. Chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka. Do it for several hours. Chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka feed it in hit the pedal feed it in hit the pedal.

Oh, and one other thing.....Keep your hands out of the blades. 

We needed some scrap sheet metal cut into 1”x4” strips that would eventually be drilled and folded into a bracket.

And I told the Albert, the piano player, to operate the shear.

By the end of his shift that day, Albert was on autopilot. Zoning out. Chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka feed it in hit the pedal feed it in hit the pedal feed it in.

You know that feeling when you’re getting out of your car and your brain tells you that the keys are still in the ignition, but your brain can’t multitask and tell your arm and hand not to slam the car door with the keys inside? Weeks later, that’s how Albert described what happened next. He knew his hand was under the blade when his foot hit the SLICE pedal. There was nothing he could do about it. Chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka chunka feed it in hit the pedal feed it in hit the pedal. But remember to get your hands out of the way before you hit the pedal, remember to get your hands out of the way before you hit the ped…..!!!

I’m not going to repeat Albert’s damn explanation in any damn detail, because I’m the one who told our only damn piano player to operate the damn shear.

I was in my upstairs office when my friend Mike ran in and out of the doorway saying “You gotta get Albert to the emergency room ! He just sliced all his fingers off in the shear !!” I followed Mike down the fire escape stairs three at a time and ran toward my truck – a red Ford Ranger. Panic was dripping across the parking lot as far as I could see. Battle-scarred welders and sheet metal specialists were gathering and ungathering in conversational knots of freak out. Brent, my co-manager, was helping Albert walk in a circle, his hand wrapped in our white emergency towels. Albert was slowly wading through the invisible panic, mumbling and praying.

After getting Albert into my Ranger, they told him that I was going to drive him to the Harris Hospital Emergency Room and that he was going to be fine. Easy for them to say, because they didn’t have to drive through all the blind freakin’ panic that was spreading from the door of the Fabrication Shop all the way to the hospital. Brent handed some stuff through the window and said something about extra towels if I needed them. I put the towels between Albert and me and stomped the accelerator. We were off.

It was 4:00 in the afternoon, the time when Interstate 30, Fort Worth’s shortest distance between the two points of Work and Hospital, moves with the starts and stops of a drunken caterpillar. It was infuriating. Didn’t these people know that I had a bleeding cokehead in my passenger seat? Albert was weaving back and forth, clutching his butchered hand and singing softly...

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me….

I can still see the bus that was moseying down the highway in front of me, doing a safe and prudent seven-point-three miles a freakin’ hour, blocking my path to the emergency room. Jesus H. Christ, what was wrong with these people?

I once was lost, but now I’m found,

Was blind but now I see.

Speaking of lost, I considered going off-interstate for a while, but that area had been under construction ever since LBJ was governor. Plus, when I get turned around I sometimes can’t find my way out of a sack.
I could imagine explaining why Albert had bled to death in my truck: “See, I thought I was still driving towards Harris Hospital, but when I finally saw a familiar landmark, I realized I was about three miles from the Branch Davidian compound in Waco….” So I stayed on the interstate, moving slightly faster than the crew who had laid the original asphalt. Albert kept singing:

“Through many dangers, toils and snares,

We have already come….

We’d gone less than half a mile from the shop, God help us. I was blowing my horn and cussing the traffic. What would happen if we both started screaming? What level of panic would I hit?

And then something magical happened, something I was privileged to experience. Albert, doubled over in pain, stopped in the middle of the verse. He looked at me and said “Sing it with me, Brother Allen. Sing it with me.”

There was no rage, there was no anger. There was only Albert’s acceptance of the situation as we edged down the interstate, and his invitation for me to join him.

T'was grace that brought us safe thus far,

And grace will lead us home.

All modesty aside, I can harmonize with a chainsaw. I threw a tenor part on top of his melody. Damn, we sounded good. It was getting surreal in the red Ford Ranger.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun…

Albert’s voice was that of someone who had tried his best and been defeated so many times that he saw life as something to endure rather than enjoy. Albert didn’t care if he got out of this alive. Some of us go through life with a bumpersticker that says “I Make Shit Happen”. For years and years, Albert’s bumpersticker had read “Shit Happens. To Me.” He’d carried the monkey on his back for so long, watching it grow from a cute little baby chimp - to be brought out for fun on weekends - into a full-grown hairy-assed gorilla that demanded attention and feeding and money, 24/7. Albert is the only person I’ve heard sing about heaven and sound like he looked forward to going there.

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,

Than when we’ve first begun.”

We hadn’t covered half the distance to the hospital, and the cloth on Albert’s hand was soaked red and dripping down the truck seat. Holy Jesus, holy Jesus, let me get to the hospital. Albert was almost my height but probably weighed the Opium Diet Optimum of 130. Could I possibly abandon the red Ford Ranger on the side of the road and carry Albert on my back to Harris?

Shall we gather at the river,

Where bright angel feet have trod?

With its crystal tide forever,

That flows by the throne of God?

I didn’t want to gather at the river, even if it flowed by the collective thrones of Princess Di, Princess Grace of Monaco, or the Demon Baron Of Hell (from Doom 2.0). I wanted to gather at the Henderson exit from I-30, and quickly. I sang anyway.

Yes we’ll gather at the river,

The beautiful, the beautiful river.

Gather with the saints at the river,

That flows by the throne of God.

At this time in my life, I was coming off a crisis of faith of sorts. But I had to admire Albert’s worldview. I had nothing to hang onto. Right or wrong, Albert had something that I’d lost. I was envious. Would I give up some fingers to have it again? I dunno. Albert was armed with a Defense Against The Dark Arts, and I had nothing. If I’d fed my fingers into a shear, I wouldn’t be singing about the peace in my soul.

I've got peace like a river

I've got peace like a river

I've got peace like a river in my soul

I could see the hospital in the distance, there by the river in my soul with the crystal tide forever on the far side of the toils and snares and saints and all that other crap gathered at the river where I was blind but now, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, I see. I could see the hospital.

Once I turned off the interstate we made better time. The hymn festival ceased. It was time to think, time to run stop signs and red lights, time to drive on the damn sidewalk if necessary. Albert started mumbling prayers through the red Ranger roof. How in the hell does he do this? I thought. If I cut my fingers off, I would be screaming and cussing.

Getting into the parking lot was a relief along the line of the bomb squad correctly snipping the red wire instead of the blue. Albert had sweat running down his face to a degree that, combined with the blood loss, made me worry that he would pass out and leave a pile of dust in my truck seat. I pulled into the emergency room overhang, threw the truck into park, and got out to help Albert inside. Attendants met me halfway with a wheelchair. I briefly explained the situation and they told me to park the truck and come back.

“You don’t understand,” I said. “This is Albert, and he plays the piano, and….”

“Sir, do us a favor,” the attendants said. “Go park your truck.” (I must not have looked like a normal human at this point.)

“But he plays the piano,” I said stupidly.

“Go….park….your….truck !” they snarled. This was obviously not their first rodeo. They’d obviously seen guilt-stricken metal shop managers who had chopped off their piano player’s fingers before.

I parked the truck and called our Human Resources manager. I explained that Albert was now in good hands, and that I would keep everyone updated.

I went into the emergency room and the desk guardians allowed me to go into the back room where they were working on Albert. Albert was staring at his ruined hand and telling every passing doctor and nurse “No morphine. No morphine. No morphine.” Can you imagine the willpower that took? Hell, if you’re a recovering addict and cut your fingers off, don’t you get a free pass for just one day and get a little shot of something to equalize all the bad karma?

I called Mike and Brent back at the metal shop, and told them that I’d made it to the hospital and that they were working on Albert’s hand.

“Are they going to be able to re-attach them?” Mike said.

“Re-attach what?” I said.

“His fingers.”

“How can they attach his fingers,” I said.

“Allen, they can do surgeries where they re-attach fingers.”

“What do you mean, re-attach his fingers? I said for the last time. Mike was obviously speaking an Ebonics dialect of Choctaw, while I could only speak in the informal Pig Latin variant of Sanskrit.

“We gave you his fingers, didn’t we?

“When in the shitting damn hell did you give me Albert’s shit damn hell fingers?”

“Dude, when we gave you all those towels, some of those had Albert’s fingers in them.”

There were three seconds of silence on the phone. Then the sheer (I typed that the first time as “shear”, as in the slicing machine. Freudian slip.) , the sheer godawfulness of the moment overwhelmed me. I hung up without saying a word.

I ran out of the E.R. and into the parking lot. Where did I park, where did I park???

Then I saw it, my beloved red Ford Ranger. It was sitting there, throbbing, with Albert’s fingers somewhere inside. You know those movie scenes where the camera zooms in and zooms out several times, just to increase tension? My truck wasn’t doing that at all. My truck just sat there, pregnant with fingers that I was going to have to deliver.

I unlocked the truck. I reached in for the remaining unused towels in the middle of the seat. The top one didn’t have any fingers in it. Nor did the second one.

The third one was full of fingers. Yep. The fingers were wrapped in towel number three.

I picked up the towel, which was warm and squishy, and trotted back into the emergency room with it. Marched right through there and into the treatment center. They’d given Albert something (not morphine-based) for the pain, and he was in a fingerless blissful state.

I found a doctor and handed him the towel full of fingers.

“Here. Y’all might need these.” I said, and got out of there.


The doctors weren’t able to re-attach Albert’s fingers. It turns out that he only sliced off the tips of some of them, less than a knuckle’s worth on any of them. The stuff that Brent and Mike had given me in the towels was just some mangled finger meat of a type that I never want to handle again.

Albert eventually collected a handsome Workers Comp check. He was still able to play the piano. We lost touch with him years ago.

I’ve thought a lot about that intense, horrible, wonderful ride down Interstate 30 towards the hospital, singing those old hymns and gospel songs with Albert. I thought a lot about how Albert seemed to have something that I’ve lost. He had something to get him through the bad times.

Whatever it was that Albert had, I’ll never own it again. I can’t go back there to that childlike faith.

You see, I’m the man who allowed Albert to slice off his fingers, and then lost the fingers.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A sincere question about the Fort Worth Federal Aviation Administration Headquarters

My largest warehouse is on Meacham Boulevard in Fort Worth, just down the street from Fort Worth's massive Federal Aviation Administration building. 

They're supposedly in charge of keeping all the planes in the sky for as long as they're scheduled to be in the sky, with landings equalling takeoffs.  They have the most sophisticated security system on our street.  Gated parking with guards, cameras everywhere, and all the other things required to keep terrorists from shutting down our air traffic. 

They do some inspections, write some regulations, and approve some designs. 

They are supposedly vital.  To hear some people (see: Fort Worth Star-Telegram) tell it, we would have chaos if we were to privatize this government agency.  (see: Canada)

The FAA has a massive Washington headquarters, plus Central, New England, Great Lakes, Northwest Mountain, Alaskan, Southern, and Western-Pacific branches in addition to the Southwestern branch, the one just down the street from where I am writing this. 

I have one question. 

If they're so vital and important, why aren't they working on Sunday? 

Hope you're all having a good weekend !!