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Posts published in October 2005

Airplanes & Alligators: Are you alike others?

By J.R. Bob Jamison

Of course not. This would indeed be a funny looking world if we were all alike. Women have their personal pride in dressing and acting as they might like others to do and men do as well.
Take the younger generation. The very younger ones, that is. They certainly don’t want to look like us old codgers and, quite frankly, I don’t think many of us would care to duplicate their appearance. For instance, your preacher, lawyer, doctor, etc. They might look somewhat out of place with greasy vertical spiked hairdo with stove pipe trousers that drag the sidewalk behind their shoes or me with a flame pink toupee!

Conformity or simply belonging to a certain group might have something to do with it psychologist tell us. Many lawyers wear bow ties and suspenders. Others do too but it could be a matter of association. But their ties are never the same color and some swear that they should only appear in court always wearing a blue suit.
Pick up most any agriculture magazine and you will see successful farmers being interviewed while leaning against they farm equipment wearing statement baseball caps and blue jeans.
The movie icon, John Wayne, was invited to make a commercial for that internationally known conservation organization called Ducks Unlimited. The scene was near some California marshland which was a favorite for many waterfowl. Wayne drove up in a meaningful and impressive motor home and stepped out wearing a snap billed hat, Bermuda shorts and tennis shoes. That couldn’t be John Wayne! It will ruin the whole persona!
After viewing the setup and everything was ready for the take, Mr. Wayne went back into the motor home and came out looking like he just stepped off the set of True Grit. It was a great tribute to Ducks Unlimited and the thousands of volunteers that support it.
Uniforms in school or work signify your position for learning or identification purposes. That is important in cases where discrimination is based on the way the student is dressed as a statement of wealth or even the work person who shows up in inappropriate dress. To me, it is somewhat embarrassing to ask a stocker person in a grocery store where I might find an object only to be advised they don’t work for the store. A smart little vest signifying who’s who seems to be a good idea.
My good friend, Mrs. Bingham at the Bingham Feed and Seed store in Dayton has often told me when I walked into her store on weekends (when I worked) that she would win a lot of money with me at the next carnival. “How’s that”? I asked. “They will try to guess your profession. While you sit in that glassed in office at the bank and look spick and span and in the weekend you come in here looking like the rest of us. That’ll blow their minds.”
It all goes to show, you can’t really judge a book by its cover. Some might just surprise you. One of my customers (while working as a loan officer) told me he went by the BMW auto company after playing golf most of the day. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt that had a hole in it. He took off his golf shoes and put on a pair of tennis shoes to walk into the dealer’s show room. However, he couldn’t find the other shoe so he chose one that didn’t exactly match the other.
The salesman invited him to look at their finest used cars. He did with great interest. Then he said, “could I possibly look at the one in the show room; the convertible red one?” “Yes sir and that little jewel will cost a medium five figures.” When they arrived at a price, he said, “I’ll take it. Here’s my check. Call the bank; they’ll tell you it’s good.” He did and they told him he could buy the dealership if he wanted it.
The Greatest Story Told is the person who knocked on several doors and asked to be taken in. The person in this case was Jesus.
Surely, many of us are guilty of the same face identification. In truth, most of you are certainly justified in being careful of who we might admit due to circumstances surrounding crime and opportunist of this day in time.
Is it conformity or individuality that makes us different and yet we want to be acceptably similar? Indeed, it would be a funny looking world if we were ALL exactly alike!

Bob Jamison is a freelance writer. His recent book, AIRPLANES, ALLIGATORS AND HI-FIN BLUES is available at the Gazette or

Sticks and Stones…

You can mark it down, today is my first day to catch a hummingbird for this year. Used a butterfly net to do it but it was caught as well as released.
Opened the garage this morning and the little thing flew inside the garage.
The hummer would not fly one foot from the ceiling to go under the garage door to get out. Over a period, the hummer began to tire, that is when the butterfly net was used to scoop the bird ever so gently and take it out to be released. They are so petite.
Had to reach for extra covers this morning as the temperatures dipped to the 50’s. That is good sleeping weather down at Day Lake where it is quiet and peaceful except for the noisy crows at times. Miss that place sometimes.
Ever heard the term, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words cannot hurt you?” That is not a completely true statement as I read a sign the other day that said something like, “Words cannot break bones but they can break hearts.”
If you have ever had your heart broken, you know exactly to what I am referring.
When was the last time you had a broken heart and how long did it take to mend?
Words can cause one to get hurt so can actions and gestures.
Take for instance last week when I was at the auto shop where my neighbor works. He was talking of his family’s trip to Lufkin during the hurricane. They headed to his hometown of Lufkin. He said it took 22 hours for a normal 2-hour trip.
Said a bunch of *&##X?* would come up and bump the person in front of them and they would hold their guns out the window to get the person to move on out of the way.
What would you do in that instance? Get out of their way or stay on course?
Sounds like a gun battle could very well have erupted on US 59.
Think I would write down the license number as they passed and reported it to the DPS later.
One could also look up their license plate registration on line and maybe pay them a surprise visit after all was said and done but that would be vengeance?
Let us hope that by the next time there is an evacuation, there is a plan in place to prevent a repeat of the traffic horror of Hurricane Rita.

Completion of US90 to begin in January 2006

CHANNELVIEW – Someone may be able to get on U.S. 90 in Crosby and drive straight through to the I-H10/I-H 610 Interchange by 2008 or 2009 on access roads, according to Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT) officials at a meeting at San Jacinto College on Tuesday.
Plans are now completed to finish U.S. 90 in Harris County as originally proposed as an access facility in 1969. The first of three phases of plans begin letting contracts in January, 2006 at the I-H10/I-H 610 Interchange eastward, and in June of 2006 at Green’s Bayou eastward to the Beltway.

This first phase plan should take about two to three years to complete but will provide access from Beltway 8 to the I-H10/I-H 610 Interchange, mostly on frontage roads. The frontage roads are over bayous and obstructions. However, the freeway will eventually have three main lanes in each direction. No toll way collection (or obstruction) is planned for in the 40 year old proposal.
The tie-ins to access Interstate 10 and U.S. 90 will require a 6% elevation. This portion of the freeway intersection will be constructed of high grade steel, making this early construction by far the most expensive. Some grade separation is planned in the first phase for bayous, and Uvalde Rd. in the access roads.
The other two phases each include grade separations or overpasses for freeways. These will be stretched out over several years, as funding becomes available. They are the final steps in having a freeway all the way to the Interchange. The total $187 million dollar price tag is an estimate of the completed project based on current conditions: rising prices in steel, concrete and gasoline can only increase costs.
No alternative routes are considered feasible given previously dedicated right of ways bought in 1977. A few relatively small rights of way are being acquired for project improvements. No displacements or relocations are expected.

Kasprzak comments on Newport Feud

To the Editor,

For the past 10 years, I have fielded questions from Newport residents about why the homeowners association does not provide nicer amenities for the people who live in the subdivision. Believe it or not, there is a segment of this community that is interested in improving services and amenities within the subdivision, even if it results in a modest increase in the maintenance fee assessments.
Over the past few years, the NPOAN has made a concerted effort to respond to these requests. Homeowners association funds have been spent to add streetlights to a significant portion of the neighborhood; significant improvements have been made to the lake and river amenities; the playground on Port-O-Call has been leased from the developer and renovated by NPOAN; and the association has undertaken a mosquito spraying program, to name just a few of the additions and improvements which have been implemented by the current Board of Directors.
This past year, we were finally presented with an opportunity to add a significant new amenity to the subdivision—the new owner of the Newport Golf Course & Conference Center approached NPOAN and submitted a proposal to open a health and fitness center for all residents of the subdivision. What did the NPOAN Board do in response to this proposal ? They did not hastily enter into any agreement with the owner of the conference center, as some would have you believe. No, the Directors of NPOAN formed a committee which conducted a feasibility study with respect to the proposed fitness center, and entered into negotiations to reduce the cost of this amenity. This is the same due diligence process that would have been undertaken for any other matter coming before this Board. As of the date of this letter, NPOAN is still pursuing this proposal, but no final agreement has been consummated.
In response to these efforts, a certain group of disgruntled former board members, all of whom either resigned from office (some more than once) or affirmatively chose to not run for reelection, have started a campaign to have me and 4 other board members removed from office ! Normally, a recall election is something that is reserved for a situation where a board member has done something immoral or illegal in the course of the performance of his duties in office. I can assure you that this is not the case with respect to the 5 directors who are the target of this recent petition campaign. The only thing these 5 directors are guilty of is supporting a project that they honestly believe to be in the best interest of the community. That is the reason we try to elect conscientious individuals to serve on our homeowners board—to utilize their judgment and discretion in the management of the affairs of the community association. The recall effort that is being prosecuted against these 5 board members (myself included) is completely inappropriate and wholly unjust.
There is now a new letter being circulated by this group, which is full of more false information and misrepresentations. They claim that the NPOAN Board has conducted secret meetings in July, August and September, and not allowed “residents to attend and voice their concern about the fitness center”. On the contrary, the author of that letter was present at the board meeting in July and August (together with a number of other residents); this group was placed on the agenda for both the August and September meetings. On each occasion, they were given between 1 and 2 hours to address the board. In point of fact, this newspaper ran two separate stories reporting on the public meeting that was attended by at least 50 residents of the subdivision. You even ran a picture of these “fifty people” on the front page of the September 22 edition of the Star-Courier. To now contend that the NPOAN Board did not allow residents to express their concerns at these meeting is patently absurd ! This is just one example of the absurd contentions being promoted by this group.
A Special Meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m. for the members of NPOAN to vote on the issues (including but not limited to the recall of 5 named directors) presented in the petitions that this group submitted at last month’s meeting. I would encourage everyone who lives in the Newport subdivision to attend this meeting and vote against the recall of these 5 directors.
It will establish a dangerous precedent if we allow this group to remove someone from office simply because they did what they were supposed to do—pursue the best interests of the people they represent. I am gravely concerned about what will happen to the neighborhood if this group is allowed to seize control of the homeowners association, which is what they seek to do.
Your continued support of the NPOAN and its Board of Directors will be greatly appreciated. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting this evening.

Dan Kasprzak
President, NPOAN

Honoring Cancer Survivors

Hundreds of Breast Cancer survivors release pink balloons at the San Jacinto Methodist Hospital Cancer Center’s 3rd Annual Balloon Launch this past Friday. The annual event is held to raise awareness about breast cancer and the benefits of early detection.

Highlands Arcade Burns

LYNCHBURG – Shortly before 2:30 a.m. Friday morning, all available nearby firefighters were called to 7725 Decker Drive to fight a structure fire in a gameroom. The blaze was discovered by a Highlands ambulance in route to San Jacinto Memorial Hospital.

The brown commercial building, which houses an 8-liner style gameroom blazed at the front panels while three people stood in the parking lot of JR’s Convenience store when Highlands crews arrived at about 2:36, according to Harvey Little, Fire Chief of Highlands Volunteer Fire Dept.
Firemen from Highlands were granted command at 2:39 a.m., as volunteers and Crosby, Channelview, Baytown and Sheldon firemen alternated pumping 1,750 gallons of water to knock down the outside blaze. Channelview firemen were first through the doors using three lines fed by volunteers.
Less than two hours later the fire was under control and was officially tapped out at 4:15 a.m., said Little.
Little indicates that there was some difficulty getting access to parts of the building. The building, he said, had undergone some additions, which made getting to the fire base problematic. Barriers include bars on the windows and a double ceiling. Firefighters had to cut holes in the roof to gain entry as well as having trouble getting in through the back door although that was accomplished. In an effort to save some of the 8-liner machines from water damage, Little said tarps were placed over them while firefighters continued to battle the blaze.
It is estimated that 52 machines were lost in the fire.
The Harris County Fire Marshal’s office says they have record of another fire call to the same building that week. The Fire Marshall’s office said they would not comment on the cause of the fire, since it is still under investigation.
Little reminds people that if they see a fire, they can use any pay phone to dial 911 without using change. Had it not been for the ambulance crew passing by when it did, the damage could have been worse.

HOT Time in the Kitchen

Broke out the old Black and Decker food processor yesterday and used the top blade to slice 58 jalapeno and 51 serrano pods of pepper along with 8 carrots and 6 half green Roma tomatoes. Reckon you could say that is preparation for canning peppers. Also found some of the high dollar sesame seed oil and used it in the concoction as well.
What the oil does is help hold the hot to whatever you lick. As I licked my lips, sure enough the pucker started to get hot too after taking a tiny sip of the juice. Do believe a little of this batch will go a long way.
Continuing in the cooking mood this morning, there is a meatloaf in the oven @ 350°. There is almost a cup of oatmeal, a can of diced tomatoes, egg, and splash of Worcestershire sauce (had to get the bottle to spell it) and half a bell pepper diced to give flavor.
Don’t do meatloaf when we go out anymore as it creates one terrible case of indigestion thereafter as if it had been cooked in coon oil. It just ain’t worth it so I’m making my own.
Saw a picture of a stuffed eggplant this past week and it did look good. That got the old gourd to thinking about making something like it but use a Butternut or Acorn squash as the bowl and stuff it with shrimp, avocado, diced tomatoes and something else. Of course anything sounds good when you are hungry, eh?
Heard the electric company had a crew come down from Ohio to work on the downed power lines and all. Said they had to go back home because they could not stand the heat. Makes sense to me because it certainly has been sho’nuff hot after the hurricane.
Harris County missed the bullet this time big time!
The cooking mood has put me in another mood now as the eggplant bowl, for what was intended has collapsed while it was being baked in the oven, so no bowl to stuff.
Did fry the strips of eggplant that were cut out and they were right tasty. Well all except the strips that contained seeds, as those pieces were very bitter and not fitting to eat.
The baked Butternut squash was delicious and eaten naturally without any seasonings.
That picture of the eggplant sure did look good though.

Whitney Bell crowned Miss Highlands 2005

HIGHLANDS—Whitney Bell beat out a field of eight competitors to win the title of Miss Highlands, at the annual pageant hosted last Saturday by the Highlands Horizons.
Traditionally, the Miss and Junior Miss Highlands Pageants are the final events of the Highlands Jamboree. However, because of an uninvited guest named Rita, it was the first event of the year.

Following a western theme, the pageant began with an opening routine to Jessica Simpson’s version “These Boots Are Made For Walking.”
The contestants were rated by a panel of three judges in the categories of sportswear presentation and interview and evening gown. The girls were also judged during the opening routine with the points being used in the event of a tie.
The highlight of the evening was an optional talent competition. Brittany Dew won the talent award.
Lauren Dew, 2004 Miss Highlands, said the interview was, for her, both the most exciting and nerve-racking part of the competition. Each girl is asked to respond to a question, which is kept secret until the pageant. The other contestants are kept back stage where they can not hear the others’ response. This year’s question was ‘If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?’. The most popular response was to donate it to charity.
Before the new Miss Highlands was named, five special awards were given.
Kathryn Dunlap, daughter of Highlands Horizons founding member Jennie Robbins, presented the Jennie Robbins Community Service award to the contestant who best embodied the idea of community service. Bell was also named recipient of this award.
Bell and Brittany Smalley won the Congeniality award. This award is considered extra special because the contestants vote on it.
Candace Smith won the award for high-ticket sales. Prior to the pageant, the contestants had their pictures taken at a mother-daughter tea. The judges reviewed the photos and Heather Roffe was named Most Photogenic.
In the voting for Miss Highlands, Holly Pogue was named first runner-up and Dew was named second runner-up.
As the new Miss Highlands, Bell’s duties will include representing Highlands at social events including the Baytown Business Expo, Highlands Christmas Tree Lighting, Baytown Christmas Parade, Rotary Club’s Chili Feast and the Pilot Club’s Community Day festival.
Earlier in the day, Kayla Neathery won the Junior Miss title. Jasmine King was first runner-up and Erin Edwards was named second runner-up.
Neathery will join Bell in representing Highlands at special events.
The addition awards were given to Allison Little for high-ticket sales; congeniality went to Lexi Edwards and Neathery won the most photogenic.
During the pageant, King performed the Vitameatavegamin skit from the “I Love Lucy” show which earned her the talent award.
During the interview portion, the girls were asked what one thing they would change at their school if principal for a day. Changing the dress code was the most popular answer, with particular attention to shirts being worn untucked.