Monday, March 29, 2010


Little Troop 5 had a wonderful campout in Aggieland this past weekend. On a personal level, I try to say as little good things about Texas A&M as possible, but this past weekend it was difficult to avoid.

Little Troop 5 camped out at Lake Somerville at Rocky Creek Park. It is a Corp of Engineer Park that the local corp district allows Scout Troops to camp for free. The details of this sweetheart deal in a moment.

This location for camping put us at 45 minutes from the Texas A&M campus. Every year the Texas A&M College of Veterinarian Medicine has an open house. Within that open house is a Boy Scout program is held that allows the boys the opportunity to earn the Veterinarian Merit Badge.

It is a four hour drive from DWG to Lake Somerville and it would take perfect timing for the troop to make it to the front gate of the park before the gates locked at 10pm on Friday night. Lucky for us, the ranger had provided us with the combination to the front gate so we did not have to be on time. Besides the moment of panic when it was discovered that there were two locks on the front gate only to learn that only one lock had to be unlocked for the gate to open, we got into the park with no problem.

The sweetheart deal is where they ranger put us. We were assigned to 8 campsites (we had 17 camping) in a closed area of the park. Again we had a lock combination that put the troop, equipment, and trailers behind a locked gate in a section of the park all by ourselves. This allowed us to be scouts without interfering with anyone else’s enjoyment of the park. Moreover, it allowed others people enjoyment of the park, in ways that non scouts enjoy the weekend, not invade the scout world of Troop 5. These sites were on the shore of Lake Somerville. Clean and beautiful.

The Troop had to get up early on Saturday morning to make it in time for the 7 am check in at the Vet School. I cannot do the tour justice in the blog, but I will make an attempt. The College of Veterinarian Medicine rolled out the red carpet to the Scouts and the rest of the public. All that you hear about aggieland and their hospitality was true that day. The professor that did the Merit Badge talk at the beginning was informative and engaged the boys. We were in a monster lecture classroom, filled to the brim, but the boys remained interested.

The Vet school assigned us two freshman pre-vet majors to be our guides. They took us to all the different parts of the vet school. The horse barns, entomology lab, the goat barn, and the small animal hospital. Everywhere we went there was an aggie student ready to connect with the boys and share.

One of the coolest was the young Corp member working with the baby goat. Not only did he share about what he was doing at the vet school, but promptly pulled out his Eagle Card to show the boys. He let them know that being an Eagle Scout was one of the most important things in his life and that each of them should not miss the opportunity to become an Eagle. As a scoutmaster, I could not have asked for anything more.

The Small Animal Hospital was all that you would expect it to be. When you are the flagship Veterinarian school of the state and probably the best in the country, I expected no less. Each part of the tour of the small animal hospital was very cool. Who knew that cats can get acupuncture?

Even when the boys found a live baby bat in the trash can, the Aggie students acted appropriately. Besides the occasional “Whoop” that got under my skin, I cannot find a complaint. I even wanted to put ASM patches on our guides, because the quickly understood the concept of Troop 5. The directed guidance to the boys and not to the adults; “This way Troop 5” they said with a smile.

The boys started to wear out as we about to head back to the campsite. I did a scoutmaster cheat and we swung by a Sonic during happy hour. So we were all charged back up full of Dr. Pepper by the time we hit the campsite.

The Scoutmastering moment for me came at about 9pm right before I walked down to the campfire with the Troop 5 brands. The boys were sitting around the campfire on the shore of the lake, the moon was close to full and they were singing a camp song. I stood about 50 feet away and enjoyed their interaction. They finished and laughed. It was very clear that they were having a grand time and the four hour drive was more than worth it. These little moments remind me of why I continue to be involved in scouts.

All and all, a wonderful trip.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This past Friday I did the Big Dave Spring Break Long Slow Distance Century Bike Ride or the BDSBLSDCR.

I actually just named the ride to make it seem more important than it is. My cycling buddy, Big Dave is a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington so he is really the only one who gets spring break. Big Dave and I have done quite a few self paced centuries on the bike to get some base miles in for the season.

One of the more famous ones was the failed attempt to ride our bikes to Houston years ago during spring break. We attempted a ride over few days over spring break. We failed, due to the head wind and rain, but we got 103 miles in one day and 70 or so the next.

Our goal this year was to ride up to Dennison and back over spring break. That also came apart on us for all sorts of reasons. We settled on doing a Century this past Friday. We convinced our friends Liz and Justin to join us.

I have been riding with Liz for many years; she is one of the most consistent riders. That proved to be very helpful on this ride.

So four souls set out on the DWG to Dallas White Rock Lake and back century on a beautiful 45 degree morning. Big Dave and I have done this route before and wanted to make one tweak to it. Little did we know how much tweaking we would end up doing.

The route took us through Dalworthington Gardens, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Cedar Hill, Desoto, Lancaster, Wilmer, Hutchison, Dallas, University Park, and Irving.

The tweaking I did to the route truly backfired. There is a section that would have taken us down Buckner Boulevard, which is a quite busy road in Dallas. Upon review, I turned us way too early and we ended up in a rather rough area of Dallas. In fact, I turned us way too early. So we headed west again, then north and finally to downtown Dallas.

Our millage to downtown Dallas was about where we needed to be at White Rock Lake. I called Bob, a college buddy, and he directed us to White Rock Lake. (I actually had to call a second time, but we got there.)

After a visit with Bob and his children at a refueling stop at the 7-11 next to White Rock Lake, we decided to ride round White Rock Lake anyway. The goal after the stop was to follow Dallas Bike Route 270 off of the Lake Trail back to downtown Dallas, then follow the Super Bowl Ride route back home. Somewhere we lost route 270 and ended up on 280. 280 cut us through some of the most expensive homes in all of Dallas. If the economy is hurting anyone, it was not these people; there were all sorts of construction on very beautiful houses. We ended up by Dallas Love Field and Bockman Lake.

The group concluded that we would take the quickest route home. Justin, who works in Dallas, suggested a route. (I would also note that Justin kept us from getting us to lost most of the time by having us follow DART rail tracks) He took up us on some ungodly hill at mile 90 something, but got us to Fort Worth Avenue. We all did take our turns at the front, to fight the head wind home. But of course, Liz went to the front once we got on Forth Worth Avenue and kept the base steady.

We got 116 miles of really quality riding. It has to help the base for the season.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pictures from Parent's Trip.

Above are the the pictures of the bush/tree planting was at the Cu Chi Tunnels and the area where the brigade was when my Dad commanded a Headquarters Company. Thainh, the guide, bought the bush with his own money for them to plant in memory of all soldiers that died in the Vietnam War. My Dad, Thainh, and Dr. Barton Dick a combat Marine physician are pictured. The north plowed under all the graves of the soldiers from the south and there are only memorials to the north which are all showy and new. My folks made a sign for B Company and they buried it with the bush.

I know this was important to my Dad. He commanded some mighty fine men that I met at his reunion. However, I did not get to meet those courageous men that died in combat following the orders of my father and those up the military chain of command. Regardless of anyone’s position on the Vietnam War, those Americans that were left behind, where doing their job, they died so that someone could come home.

This small tree speaks for so much more.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More confusion

This is sort of in the same vein of my last post. It might explain the whole Lois Lane/Superman thing. Spandex and lyric just make you look different.

In the court house, I am known as “The Red Raider.” I wear a Texas Tech lanyard to keep track of my County ID and bus pass. I will end up getting involved in sports discussions with many people. It is a choice I make by wearing my school colors around my neck.

You stack this with the confusion of many of the defense bar that I am prosecutor, because they see me all the time, and therefore I am required to listen to them. (Please note, I am not an attorney, I have not played one on TV and I do correct anyone who asks me.) During the whole Mike Leach situation, I had a very long lecture from one defense attorney on what his opini0on on what happened, who should have been fired, and the direction of the football program.

I had to have the whole conversation all over again this past Sunday evening, albeit a tad bit more abbreviated. I was wearing my Texas Tech cycling jersey waiting for the ride to start. This same defense attorney walks out of the bike shop, does not recognize me from the court house, and launches into his Mike Leach diatribe again.

Again, I ask for such things by wearing my school colors, but it was still not very logical the second time around. I just did not have the energy to explain we had this lecture before. Needed to save that for the ride.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cycling Buddies

Cycling friends are a very interesting group. You spend hours with them, in the heat, in the cold and even beautiful days.  You have long conversations about work, family, politics, sports and other things in life, yet you never see them except on the bike.

Last evening when I was at the bike shop purchasing new tires for my commuter bike, I finally met my buddy Don off the bike. I have been riding with Don for about three years. He evolved fro "the guy that rides in the sandals"; to John, until Big Dave told me his name was Don.

Since we are always in spandex, lycra, helmets and sunglasses, he was in the shop when I walked in and did not even recognize him. Plus you look ten times thinner in street cloths. Not until I heard his voice, did I realize it was Don. He made the same observation.

I hope I looked a little thinner in my suit.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Little slow on getting this on the blog.

I am very pleased how my cycle commuting puts me in a good mood for the day. It is peaceful on the way to the bus and I spend my workday looking forward to the ride home. Even my friends on the bus enjoy trying to spot me downtown as I headed home.

Even the flat I got on Tuesday could not ruin a 72 degree afternoon with a quartering tail wind.  Above is the screw that I got lodged in my tire.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Folks in Vietnam

I have been communicating with my Mom and Dad during their visit to Vietnam. It is amazing to me that through text messages and email, I have been staying up to date with their travels. Since they are 13 hours ahead of me, I am often confused because their today is my tomorrow.

Having never been in combat, I will never know what it is like to go visit my former battlefield, but that is what my Dad is doing. I have truly studied the Vietnam War, because it has such an impact on my family. I am just as proud of my Mom and Dad’s trip back to Vietnam as I am of my Dad’s two combat tours.

Here is an excerpt from the most recent email from my Mom explaining the end of their Washington and Lee University organized tour of Vietnam.
The rest of the tour departed for Cambodia this morning together with most of the other tours in the area departing as well, we have Saigon for ourselves with 9,000,000 others of assorted nationalities. We're going to mass this morning just to do it then wander around town for the rest of the day doing those things expected of American tourists. ...  .... Yesterday morning, we visited the Cu Chi tunnels close to where Dad spent the last three months of his first tour. Our guide, Thanh, purchased a tree which we planted for W&L, Company B, and all those fallen on both sides of the conflict. It was a moving experience to say the least. Dr. Barton Dick, W&L '62 and a combat Marine physician, Thanh, our guide, and Dad planted the tree together above the tunnel complex. (Thanh described the tunnels as the terminus for the Ho Chi Minh trail.Tomorrow it's on to Tay Ninh and Dau Tieng with a new guide arranged for us by Thanh, Hung. The weather is constant, 90 plus degrees with 90 plus humidity. It's funny, but first time visitors expected something else despite Dad's telling them otherwise - Shirley Shugart 03/06/2010
I think today, but it may be tomorrow (see above) my Dad will walk the battlefield of Soui Tre where he earned his Silver Star, March 19, 1967. Based on my Mom’s email, it will be quite an emotional experience. Just like his first trip, I believe this will be a life changing experience.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Manly Day!

Saturday was quite the manly day for me. It included a 2 ½ hour bike ride, the use of the reciprocal saw, a truck, a trailer and a trip to the brush pile at the back side of the Garden’s Park.

I have been procrastinating getting rid of the broken limbs from various storms over the past few years. The winter storms over the past few months have added to my ever growing brush pile. I had committed to Carol that I would take a day off and take care of the pile so it could be hauled away with the trash.

The City of Dalworthington Gardens, in their infamous wisdom, gave the citizens this weekend to haul all their broken limbs to the back side of the park for disposal. I am not real sure what they are going to do with them, but I concluded it was not my problem.

I borrowed a flat bed trailer from a buddy and Saturday afternoon, after a very nice bike ride, went to work. Due to very poor planning, or the desire to hide the brush pile from Carol, the brush pile is on the back side of our property. While Aedan and Carol watched, I hauled to broken limbs and brush to the to the trailer. It is important to note, that Aedan figured out what was going on and would pick up broken twigs and put them on the trailer for me.

I, of course, had to make some of the limbs a more manageable size, ergo the reciprocal saw. Nothing makes you feel manlier than cutting dead wood with a powerful tool. We hauled the trailer full of branches to the park. It was very clear that the citizens of Dalworthington Gardens were taken advantage of this free dumping. The size of the pile was amazing, about a half an acre at six feet tall. After unloading our trailer I helped a man unload his, but we had to move the truck to let the two more trucks in to continue utilizing the free service.

Any day that includes a helmet and power tools is a high testosterone day!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cycle Commuting

I have a confession to make. Although I like the green-ness of cycle commuting, I really just do it for more time on the bike. This past Friday was the first time I got to cycle commute this year. My grand plan is to cycle commute as much as I can in the spring before it becomes ungodley hot and pick it back up again in the fall.

Considering the fact that I am not remotely close to my completive cycling shape, I will really need to cycle commute at least twice a week through March.

I ride from the house to the bus stop, put the bike on the bus bike rack and ride in. My parents bought me a really cool pannier for my commuting bike a few years ago. I it drapes over my rear rack, but it is garment bag. I get to work, shower, and change and at my desk in time to start my day.

I change in my office at the end of the day and ride home. It is about 16 or so miles from my work to the house, it takes me about an hour. I could tell on Friday it had been quite some time since I have ridden the commuting bike.

The only adventure on Friday was turning left into the driveway. Although I clearly signaled, looked back, made ey e contact, but an impatient driver still tried to pass me just as I was turning left. What completed the experience was that she gave me the middle finger as she went by…

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thank you voters!

I normally stay away from politics in my blog. I figure there are enough people out there with rants about this or that, that one more noisy voice in the crowd really is a waste of time.

That being said, thank you voters of Tarrant County for re-elected Joe Shannon as your Criminal District Attorney. Joe was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to replace Tim Curry, who passed away last April.

Although Joe just won the Republican Primary, there is no Democrat as an opponent in the fall, so that election is just a formality. “In the interest of Justice“ in Tarrant County will continue to be served.