Another TV Series……

A friend recommended the TV series “Yellowstone”, but our tastes don’t always mesh. I watch DVDs when I work out on the stationary recumbent bike and decided to give it a try. I don’t recall which cable network it airs on and we don’t have a streaming service, so I can’t advise that part. Kevin Costner is the main “name” and character – John Dutton – father of four Dutton adult children and fourth or fifth generation to own the sprawling Yellowstone Ranch. It’s actually filmed in Utah although it’s “Montana” on the TV. This is very much an adult series with complex characters, violence, some occasional nudity, and constant profanity. The cinematography is breath taking and the music is great. An advantage of watching the DVDs is the behind the story segments. The sense of authenticity brought to screen is because all the actors do go through “cowboy camp”. There are lots of horses in every episode and often cattle. Anyone who has lived in cowboy country understands the portrayal.

As for intricate plot and sub-plots, they can be difficult to keep up with. In one telling scene between the Governor and the soon-to-retire Attorney General, she says of John Dutton, “He still thinks it’s the 80’s when no one is looking over our shoulders.” A new Chairman of the Indian Tribe, a developer wanting to build, others seeking to carve away part or all of a legacy they deem as, “too much for one man to own”. The shifting of stances, the intense dysfunction within the Dutton family, the readiness to use violence to achieve a purpose and few characters who are not flawed. Layers are peeled away slowly and steps that seem to go forward take periodic turns. Like many dramas these days, this one can provoke thought and conversation. The casting, acting, writing, and production are all well executed.

Back When I Was Going To Be A Lawyer……

As I’ve previously explained, me going into the Army was supposed to have been for only two years to allow me to then use the G.I. Bill to help pay for law school. I would have then entered the family law practice with my grandfather and uncle. As I also mentioned, even though I stayed in the Army 22 years, my two cousins did carry on the family tradition. However, of all the pre-law classes I took, my actual favorite was Constitutional Law. This was back in the day before computers of course so there was a particularly difficult aspect to deal with. Aside from reading the Constitution, the class is devoted to reading and understanding the impact of Supreme Court cases. To do so, you read huge volumes of material and write a subsequent “brief” to answer specific questions about the specific case chosen during the course. I don’t know how they teach it now with the availability of the internet and computers, but at the time the brief was to be typed single space.

If you follow the blog you also know I spent what would have been my senior year of high school in France instead. Now, even though I was on the college track, I had already figured out knowing how to type would be a useful skill and I planned to take the class as a senior. Since that did not occur, here I was in Con Law – that being the time of manual typewriters – with zero typing skills. Reading through and comprehending the legal arguments, opinions – both majority and dissenting – and ultimate rulings was laborious. Typing the briefs was painful. It was, however, the most fascinating of my classes and why I have such respect for the Constitution. The changes within the Court itself is another factor that was important to understand and discussed during the semester.

The Value of Controlled Burns…..

If this is a topic you’re interested in, a longer explanation is in the article I wrote in February as Hubby had a great time taking photos.(http://www.southdadenewsleader.com/news/fire-benefits-the-parks/article_17ea9962-4913-11ea-9026-2b599f2e6e26.html)

Daddy was a forester for many years, although he didn’t start with the Louisiana Forestry Commission until I was maybe six. That particular job was running a pine tree nursery which was pretty cool to see as a kid. I don’t recall how many acres, but there were thousands – perhaps tens of  thousands of seedlings planted. They were harvested at different stages of maturity for reforestation. After that was the move to Natchitoches where we stayed from when I in the latter part of the fourth grade into college. I may have previously posted about the house we lived in. It was small, but functional and provided by the Forestry Commission as it was on the property. The head guy chose to live in a larger private house instead. Having acres of pine seedlings was one thing, having a 120-foot fire tower next to you was something different.

Anyway, the purpose of towers is of course to keep watch, especially during “fire season”. That was generally summer with dry conditions and winds. That part of Louisiana is heavily wooded, particularly with pine, and between carelessness (never mind the year of an arsonist) and lightening strikes there were always fires. The point is, during the rest of the year, there would be controlled burns planned and executed to clear out undergrowth and dead trees. The reason is straightforward. Both of those forest elements function as “tinder” when set ablaze. The greater the amount, the larger the fire which then spreads to mature trees. The “controlled” burn is exactly what it sounds like. Firefighters and equipment are set up to ignite and manage a burn in one section before moving to another. (Sectioning allows time for the forest creatures to move out of the way). There are strict rules to follow as to how large an area is to be burned at any one time and the other major factor is wind. Burns are not initiated when the wind is above a certain level. Once a burn is completed, it takes a short period for new growth to begin.

Buying a Company…..

I’m closing in on completing the initial version of, “Idyllic Islands”, the latest in the Chris Green series. This brought to mind one of the intriguing things I learned during my first post-retirement career.

As I think I’ve posted before, when I retired in July 1995, Hubby agreed I should take some time off to write the novel as he checked into his Pentagon assignment. In the months that followed I learned the disappointing truth of an unpublished author with no contacts in the industry. However, like so very many retired military, there was no shortage of government contract work. Since we were financially in a position to do so I didn’t want to work for one of the Fortune 500s and therefore went with one of the mid-range small firms whose corporate culture aligned with my own. Originally established with husband and wife and either three or five other close friends, I was like the 150th employee when I was hired. (Their ultimate selling to a Fortune 500 is another subject). So, my direct boss and I used to have lunch together almost every day. As one of the first females (okay as the first female) who was a team leader, they had their eye to groom me to move up in the hierarchy. As I explained to my boss (and the others who asked me the same question), I wasn’t suited for what they had in mind for four reasons (not important here). On the other hand, I was happy to be a sounding board for my boss and learn how the company operated.

One day he mentioned the owners were planning to buy another company. Ah, not something I was familiar with. As it turns out, it’s a fascinating process and there are lots of variables depending on the companies involved. In short, if a company, like the one I was in, decides to move into a new area of expertise, it’s sometimes more cost-effective to buy an existing company with that expertise than to develop it in-house. The processes of acquisition and transition are also interesting, but topics for another post.

Teaching The “Isms” and Other……

Another memory jogged by recent events. I’ve posted before about attending a small Louisiana university in the town where we lived. I think I also explained while I was a Prelaw major, that was dual listed as Political Science. One of the required courses for everyone, however, was a 101 course about the “Isms”, as in Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism. It was heavier on history and politics than economics since it was required for all students. An interesting aside was due to the small size of the departments, we had only three professors; one of whom was female, another was from Taiwan – back when it was Formosa. As you can imagine, the professor from Taiwan had a very personal view of how communism functions.

Anyway, the female professor was quite strict about everything. She was also a Marine Corps veteran which was highly unusual at that time. So many non-political science students tried to avoid her class if possible, the dean allegedly finally told her she could be as tough as she wanted with every class she taught except “Isms” because it was the only one required for all students. I was in fact the only female Prelaw/Political Science major at the time, so there was a connectivity. Once she heard I was taking ROTC and joining the Army, that did result in some more personal conversations that, in turn, gave some insight into her “fearsome reputation”. As so often happens, when you learn about someone’s past experiences, it impacts your perspective. She was indeed still quite demanding, but we got along well. A funny anecdote which will only be meaningful to those who are of certain age was the morning after the infamous Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, “Battle of the Sexes”, tennis match. The professor came in, settled her notes and looked around the room. “I think we’ll start today’s class talking about tennis,” was essentially what she said with a big smile. The guys did take it with appropriate good humor.

Trying Another Tech Thing……

In the closures due to COVID-19, the arts have been especially hard hit. Many “fell through the cracks” of eligibility/availability for financial assistance. There was a movement to virtual performances which has helped some. As anyone who follows this post knows, tech is not my thing. However, we were given limited grant funds for some events and we were becoming almost desperate as to how to get them done by the end of September. The Seminole Theatre did set up a Cyber Series and I reached out to their head tech guy who has his own production company. And so, we are trying something very unfamiliar for us.

A Facebook Live Event, “Highlighting Homestead Culture” will be on at 7:00 p.m. tonight, Sept 19th. That’s www.seminoletheatre.org/watchparty

This is in collaboration with Homestead Main Street and the Seminole Theatre. Part I is “The Spirit of Fiesta USA”. Part II includes the only true “live part” as a trio from the Mariachi Academy will perform, then be followed by video clips of the very popular Club Hipico horses and the Ballet Folklorico dancers. Part II will Homestead themed art images from a dozen of our artists scrolling set to music, then a segment with Dance Expressions.
In the closing remarks, everyone will be invited to come back at 7:00 p.m. Sat, Sept 26th for “MuSing On Art” which is dedicated only to music and art. That will also be through www.seminoletheatre.org/watchparty

“MuSing On Art” (Sept 26th) is a compilation of mostly classical pieces from previous MuSe events. Two images from each of our artists will scroll in a continuing loop during the music so art is displayed for most of the time music is playing (approximately 30 minutes). The images will then be displayed once more as the narrator speaks. Then there will be a short segment on Art For Good before closing. They are two wonderful women who do “Paint Parties” that they have also converted to virtual and  are very popular.

I’ll be at the Seminole Theatre from about 3:00-8:00 as I see if this will actually work.

Well, What Have We Here….

It has been quite some time since we did the remodel on the house and re-landscaping of the back yard. We had the banana plant, which had never borne fruit, in this wonderful pot. The woman who did the design and work for the yard (same one we originally used) replanted it into a corner of the side yard. She told us it would bear fruit some day. Quite frankly, it’s been so long, we haven’t even thought about it. So, a couple of days ago when I was coming downstairs, I glanced out the window and therefore saw the banana plant at a different angle. I was startled at what I thought I saw and moved to the window for a closer look. Hubby is always outside, trimming, etc., as we (well, he) tries to keep things under under control with the rapid growth of plants common in this environment. I asked him to come look. He, too, was startled as he realized there was not only a batch of green bananas, but also at least one more “pod” that should soon reveal more.

They are all on a single side of the plant and were obscured by some of the larger leaves.  That and not expecting to see any such thing is why we hadn’t noticed them before. An element of irony though is of fruits I don’t care for, bananas are at the top of the list. I may have mentioned this before – I don’t even like the taste of banana. I have no idea when I came to know this as I must have eaten them as a baby/child – everyone feeds kids bananas. Hubby will enjoy them, but since we have no experience with this, we don’t know what the yield will be like. We may or may not become a banana supplier to some of the neighbors depending on how that works out.

Our first batch of bananas – Sept 2020

Birthdays and Hurricanes…..

We generally don’t make a big deal out of birthdays anymore although they can be an excuse for something like Hubby wants a new piece of dive or camera equipment and it gets claimed as a birthday present. The big Australia trip coincided with our 60th birthdays and 25th anniversary all rolled in together. (Okay, we played a bit with the timing, but they did all occur in a three-month span.) My standard birthday celebration is to dive in the morning, then go next door to Shipwrecks (wonderfully funky place) for lunch and later have a nice dinner at home. As sometimes happens, diving wasn’t feasible yesterday, so we’ll go early next week. That led to having a nice dinner out and in this case we went to Snook’s in Key Largo. They have one of the best sunset views, the food is good and it’s priced no higher than similar places.( If I’d felt like us driving another 30 minutes south we’d have gone to Chef Micheal) Anyway, it was a delicious hogfish meal with a lobster tail added in (we shared that). We also shared a chocolate peanut butter pie.

A fair amount of the day had been spent checking Facebook and a text from one cousin about the status of family and friends in Louisiana as Hurricane Laura slammed in at a Cat 4. It did drop quickly to a 3, but still lots of damage. It was a Cat 2 as it moved north. So far, other than losing power and a lot of lost sleep, everyone seems to be in pretty good shape. Actual damage assessment can start today. We’ll wait for the reports and to see who need what help in recovery. My sister in Houston said it was far enough east not to affect them.

Time for the Tooth Fairy…..

Ah, another of the firsts for granddaughter. Her tooth – bottom one was “all wiggly” and she just “pushed it and it popped out”. Which was better than her dad who used to mess with them from the moment one felt loose. He’d go at it for three or four days sometimes. Anyway, I didn’t do a follow-up to see for sure the tooth fairy visited, but the tooth was cleaned and safely placed into a pouch. I’m also not entirely clear if it was to be transferred to underneath the pillow or the swap made in the pouch. As I posted before, the whole Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy business is part of parenting and without an older sibling to burst the bubble, it can go on for a while.

Oh, and the first real haircut recently occurred too. The lovey curls are still in place; the mass is simply reduced to a more manageable state. This was apparently granddaughter’s request. When I was young I always wanted long hair, but for reasons I never understood – more likely didn’t want to understand –  my mother was absolutely opposed. We finally reached the point of letting my hair grow out with all the attendant messiness of the stages that don’t look so good. Growing up in the era of girls ironing their hair was interesting, but without so much as a hint of curl, that was never an issue for me.Having it long did also get rid of the home permanent.ordeal. With only one bathroom and five people in the house, there were quite a few shampoos accomplished in the kitchen sink. That was also in the days of the bonnet hair dryer. I’m not sure who came up with the first blow dryer, but I hope they weren’t in a company where your inventions belong to the company.

Anyway, back to the topic of first – Kindergarten is coming up soon and even though at least the first few months will be virtual, it will be a new experience.

When Things Are More Difficult Than Expected…

Many of you who follow this blog helped me out last week when “Deadly Doubloons” was up for a vote with Tale Flick, an entertainment company that provides a service of a catalogue where authors can post their books. This company has links with many movie and television producers and they run contests for people to vote on one particular book they would like to see made into a movie or television series. Deadly Doubloons was up against 39 other books last week. The winner received 7,304 votes, four times more than the previous contest winner. Even though I certainly was not in that league, Deadly Doubloons is in the catalogue. As I said in the Facebook post when I thanked everyone for their help, some producer may get the idea one day of doing a scuba adventure and there I’ll be for him/her to look at. In the process of vetting the book for the catalogue, one of the analysts compared it to, “The Deep” meets “Lara Croft, Tomb Raider”. Not quite the description I would use, but I’m not a Hollywood type.

Anyway, during some back and forth of Facebook posts, someone asked if the book was available on Audible. This question has been posed before and the sad answer is “No”. Despite what seems to be an explosion of audible books, in reality, it makes up about 20% of “readership”. Considering the millions of books, that’s still a large number. The “sad” part of the answer is the actual cost of converting a book to audible format. It runs about $3,000. If you decide to publish only on audible (as some do), that’s similar to the cost of publishing with a physical copy and e-book. The issue for me of course is I would have to convert. Hubby and I have talked about trying one to see and we still might. At the moment, however, the economic impact of COVID-19 on family, friends, local small businesses, and non-profits we support is having to take priority. We’ll see what the future brings.