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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Famous Texan -- The Simple (and Complicated) Life of a Texas Titan: Ross Perot

A Texas Titan and legend has left the great state of Texas for the last time.

H. Ross Perot, age 89, passed away Tuesday, July 9th, 2019.

This man from humble beginnings rose to great heights.
Perot started as a paperboy -- not your average on-a-bike paperboy.
No sir, this Texarkana native delivered papers from the back of his pony: Miss Bee.
He attended the U.S. Naval Academy before spending time as a midshipman;
then went on to become a self-made billionaire through the launch of his company EDS;
funded a rescue mission of two of his corporate executives;
ran for President TWICE;
supported the Arts & medical centers;
championed POWs and returning veterans;
and lived by the work ethic: hard, honest work & family.
Colorful self-made billionaire H. Ross Perot dies at 89

Ross Perot would probably have told any listener that his greatest achievement was that of his family. He was intensely dedicated to them, employing a personal jet and coordinating his schedule so he could be home 'to say grace' for dinner and spend evenings with his wife and children.

If you read the current news & magazine articles and you'd probably win Perot trivia.
Ross Perot's 1st job? Delivering newspapers in Texarkana, TX.
Ross Perot's billion dollar company? EDS, started in 1962, with a $1,000.00 loan from his wife. Boy, did she make a smart investment.
Perot's employer before starting EDS? Yep, the big, towering giant: IBM.
Perot's run for the Presidency? Twice -- 1992 & 1996.
How much personal capital did Perot invest in his campaign? A cool 63.5 million.

He was a man who wore many professional and public hats in his life: dedicated business man, entrepreneur, world traveler, world advocate for POWs, Presidential hopeful.

But is that all there is to his story?

As I read through multiple articles extolling Ross Perot's accomplishments, I had to wonder about the more important basis for his life: his family, his value, his core beliefs. It took a bit of searching, but articles such as: Remembering Ross Perot -- and the Circus Dog, Traveling Outhouse and other tales he left behind, revealed the man behind the computer brilliance.

Apparently, odd family pets (a circus dog, a sun cub bear, a fishing eagle, a kangaroo, even a camel); pranks of the most extraordinary nature (initiated by Perot and often reciprocated by his family and friends); unusual family vacations (travelling through war zones); and a man intensely dedicated to his family were the real traits of Ross Perot.

When learning of Ross Perot's death (and Lee Iaocca, who is not featured here as this is a Texas tale) my husband reminded me of the bible verse: Matthew 19:24, 'I'll say it again-it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.' It was something to consider. Many rich people get lost & disconnected from their faith. Money becomes their master. But in researching the belly of Ross Perot's life, that doesn't seem to be the case. (I will offer the same aside that I told my husband: 'None can know the true heart of another man. Only God knows what dwells inside.') And while good deeds will NOT get us into Heaven, deeds -- especially those kept private -- can often attest to the true nature of a man . . . or woman.

His longtime friends said that he was a morally-convicted man, boldly, and sometimes brashly, charting his life by his own compass. He practiced anonymous philanthropy; many in his family unaware of the extent of his quiet support for people around the world. 'Buddies to the End'

'Perot will always be remembered for his "big, bold moves,"' long-time, personal friend, Langone said, '. . . nothing mattered more to him than his family. That came ahead of faith, country and friends — all of which Perot also cherished,' Langone said.

'He was a legend ... but he was the most down-to-earth, caring individual I'd ever met,' Langone said during the service.

Additionally, those who spoke at his memorial gave notice of Ross Perot's quiet and consistent dedication to improve people's lives. Perhaps, those who run in Texas philanthropy circle have heard the Perot name bandied about. Chances are, however, it would be his foundation that received the recognition. Living my life in Texas and tuning into local news stations, there were never any 'bragging' stories about Perot's life. Apparently, he truly believed in behind the scenes. It appears H. Ross Perot believed: doing good deeds with the goal of praise and adoration meant doing them for the wrong reason.

Additionally, Perot supported Scouting. Whether you agree with their politics, whether you are the outdoor type, even whether you think group activities are good for growing youth . . . Perot did. Ross Perot supported the scouting organizations. Starting in the 1960s, Perot pledged donations to support local and council levels. He was awarded several Scouting Awards including: Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, Silver Antelope Award, Silver Beaver Award & the Silver Buffalo Award. He not only walked the walk through his donations, but Perot's son, son-in-law and five grandsons all earned the Eagle Scout Award. And if you know anything about the Boy Scouts of America, you'll understand the convergence of this prestigious award is hard-earned.

It is with heavy hearts that Texans say good-bye to a legend, a titan, a quietly dedicated man. Texans would say that living in the Lone Star State is like a piece of Heaven on earth. ON July 9th, Ross Perot traded in his cowboy boats for wings in the hereafter. He'll be missed.

As always thanks for stopping by my porch.
Do drop in again.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Matthew McConaughey Unveiled: his deep Texas roots!

For Texans, all paths lead home. That's home to Texas. It seems that actor, Matthew McConaughey is no different. From his native roots of Uvalde, Texas (a South West Texas town of a 17,000 or so residents), then straight up I-35 for the University of Texas (where he attended the graduate program for Film Directing), the actor has traveled quite a few roads in the Lone Star State. He's rather like a Texas tumbleweed, always on the move through the state and his fans never know where he'll turn up next.

For 30 seriously lucky University of Texas film students, they could brag Matthew McConaughey, alumni class of 1993, was their assigned professor as he took the students behind the scenes of his then-current film 'The Free State of Jones'. Few budding film-makers will ever tout this honor.
Matthew McConaughey teaching filmmaking course at University of Texas.

Thanksgiving came early for a group of first-responders (firefighters, police officers, 911 operators) in October 2018 as McConaughey spread a little turkey cheer. Showing up with a catered meal at the National First Responder luncheon, McConaughey wanted to give his own version of thanks to those who'd battle against the winds and rains of Hurricane Harvey. The 'turkey' was specific to his connection with the Wild Turkey organization and McConaughey's promotional tour. Before you get your feathers ruffled that this event was just a photo-op, keep in mind that the turkey was tasty, and the thanks sincere. All who watched news and weather coverage of the devastation left from Harvey and the multitude of heroes who stepped up for the challenge know that it doesn't matter who paid for the bird. Gracious thanks should always be offered to those who serve the many.
Matthew McConaughey gives back to first responders in Texas visit.

Friday Night Football is no laughing matter to Texans, and neither is their Saturday collegiate love affair. Matthew McConaughey, graduate of University of Texas, is a somewhat common presence at his alma mater. He's been known to show up on the sidelines of UT games, the Longhorn locker room, and even during football practice -- clapping and cheering on his favorite team. Clearly, the man isn't afraid of making a UT statement. The most faithful of the 'hook em' horns' alumni will trot out their burnt orange attire, but not many can claim the suit to match the team's uniforms. Actor takes in Texas practice.

Oh, and it isn't just football that gets Matthew McConaughey's attention: Texas alum Matthew McConaughey to be 'Minister of Culture' for Longhorns' basketball arena. Currently, the actor has been dubbed Minister of Culture for Longhorn basketball. Seems as though, if the Longhorns are involved and there's a ball in play, the actor is ready to cheer on the team.

While his energy and enthusiasm for the state can't be denied, Texans are equally enamored with the film star. Matthew McConaughey Gets Honored at Texas Medal Of Arts Awards with Family By His Side! The Oscar-winning actor was also the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alum award: Tower Glows for 2014 Distinguished Alumni

And if you're still wondering if Matthew McConaughey likes Texas parts . . . well, just consider his role in the girl-squealing, power-tool-reeving, larger-than-life bad guy, 1994 remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre & the 2012 film, Bernie. The Texas tale based on an undertaker who murdered a woman in the tiny town of Carthage, Texas then stuffed her in a deep freeze so he could set out to do good for the town with the dead-old-witch's money. Yep, life is surely stranger than fiction in Texas and actor Matthew McConaughey embraced the role of the prosecutin' (that's Texas speak) attorney.

All-in-all, Texans don't need to head out to Hollywood to rub elbows with famous folks. We just attend a football game or stroll down Austin streets (the actor keeps a residence in Austin -- somewhere) or wait for the next Texas movie to start filming.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Whataburger -- Tasty Travels & Tr(EATS) in Texas

Whataburger - the Tale of a Legend

Whataburger opened its first store in Corpus Christi, Texas in August of 1950.

Hamburgers sold for .35C and milk shakes were .15C.

No inside – or for that matter outside – seating.

No Drive-THRU. (Although the drive-in burger joint was already popular.)

No phone-in orders or GrubHub deliveries.

ONE walk-up window to place an order.

What gave Whataburger the edge?

Perhaps it was their innovative thinking, entrenched with family-owned traditions:

1) The 5-inch paddy that required two hands to hold. (All others at the time served a 4-inch paddy).

2) The unique A-frame orange & white striped buildings. (Entrepreneur Harmon Dobson was a pilot and he wanted the buildings to be seen from the air.)

3) A woman at the helm – ‘Lady’ Grace Dobson took up the reins of Whataburger when her husband died in 1967 and continued until 1993 when their son took over as president & CEO.

4) Offer additional products that customers loved: Taquito (remember, this is deep in Tex-Mex country), Breakfast on a Bun, and the Whatachick’n, Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich.

5) Running brilliant promotions: the Nickel Coffee Mug, a promo designed to provide .5C coffee for Whataburger customers, as long as it was served in this mug, started in 1983 and instead of running through the year -- the original forecasted plan -- the promo run until 1997.

6) Sponsoring the community: Whataburger Hometown Heroes and multiple volunteer organizations.

7) And always, always, making the burgers fresh to order.

Folks who support a Whataburger (and that spelling is correct, and not to be confused with What-A-Burger, a completely separate organization) in their state will claim – loud & clear – their dedication to the family restaurant.

If you stop by any neighborhood Whataburger, you could see:

A wedding reception:

A few faces etched with ‘maturity’ and covered with a bit of snow on the top.
Living The Bold Life

Guests from around the world – African Children’s Choir

Corpus Christi, Texas still warmly – and hungrily – remembers those Whataburger roots.

The original stand may be only a distant memory, but a created-replica sits
@ 4126 South Staples Street in Corpus Christi if you’d like to stop by a photo opportunity.

But what to eat when you dine at Whataburger?
According to, the TOP 3 items are the Whataburger Patty Melt, French Fries, and the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich. However, there is a load of Whataburger faithful who swear by the Breakfast Taquito.

(2nd ranking list @

Ever stopped off at a Whataburger?

What's your dining favorite?

Is it a MUST-DO to travel to Texas for a Whataburger?

Nope . . . but there are loads of other reasons for visiting the Lone Star State as well.
However, Whataburgers are located in at least 10 states (Southern United States) with roughly 805 locations. Whataburger locations

On a sad note (at least, Texans consider it such) . . . Life changes and sometimes folks are just ready to retire and start a new chapter in their lives. As of June 2019, the founding family sold the Whataburger organization. Family-Owned Whataburger Isn’t Family-Owned Anymore

The blessings of a 'place' that has become a legend is the individual and shared memories. So many, raised in Texas, could recount some specific story from their childhood or teen years that featured Whataburger as center stage.

I can remember my dad golfing early every Saturday morning. Instead of visiting the 19th hole, dad came to the house and collected us kids then off to Whataburger we went for lunch. It was one of the original A-frame buildings with limited seating and always a line. Waiting for the burgers to be ready was expected -- because DUH! made fresh-to-order takes time. Then there was the smell of bubbling French Fries and searing meat. It was enough to make any kiddo bounce in their seat and swing their legs, but it was always worth it. BEST ketchup ever! I don't know why it's better; it simply is. That is a sweet childhood memory -- one that existed because of Whataburger.

My hubby remembers his mom taking him to Whataburger after pee-wee football practice for a large Coke. This is the South, folks, and all carbonated drinks are known as 'Coke' no matter what's in the glass. And please don't leave me a comment about kids drinking soda after physical exercise. This was a loooong time ago, before the invention of super energy drinks and healthy sports liquids. My husband's football coaches gave the team salt-tablets during 2-a-day summer training. Believe me, lots of things were nutritionally different in the 60s & 70s. The point is that he remembers his mom waiting for him in the stands during practice then off to Whataburger where he drank his Coke and she sipped a cup of coffee and he talked a mile-a-minute recounting every play and tackle all under the orange & white striped awnings. It's a good memory, and life should be filled with those.

Do you have any Whataburger memories to share?
Feel free to leave them in the comment section.
All will be appreciated.

Do drop by my porch again.
I'll be watching the lightning bugs with a glass of sweet tea and ready to take on another Texas Travel.

Other Texas Travels:

Giddy-Up to Galveston

Best Texas Barbecue - Sonny Bryan's

And be Summer Smart in the HEAT! 6 Smart Strategies for Surviving Summer Heat

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Am I a Creature of Habit?

Grocery shopping – who can relate?

It’s not like we can ignore the need to purchase food products. Whether we shop in big box chains or the corner greengrocer, the majority of us will grocery shop.

But shoppers, like planets aligning around the sun, tend to gravitate to their normal shops.

I visited one of the local grocery stores this weekend – not an unusual occurrence for my weekends – but it wasn’t my ‘normal’ shop.
In the states, grocery chains are huge; one store seemingly much like the next.


Chains may share a common name, stock basically the same groceries, even offer like discounts, but serious grocery shoppers (I’d be in that category) can attest that differences – small & great – exist among stores within the same chain.
This particular grocery-shopping experience won’t make one of my top ten excursion experiences.
What went wrong?

1) The aisles were T-tiny. That’s Southern for waaay too small. Aisles, especially those in the South, should be wide enough to hold buggy races. And I’m talking lined up side-by-side at the starting gate and racing down the straight away. Yep, that’s the right size.

2) Item signs: those that were visible required 20-15 or maybe 20-10 vision. UNCORRECTED! It was rather like watching baby turkeys in a rainstorm. Everybody looking up, squinting, and bumping into their fellow shoppers. Small signs leads to Road Rage. No really, it’s a scientific fact known by grocery shoppers everywhere.

3) Stocking during peak hours: As a good 80% of the chains are open round the clock or into the wee hours, stocking should NOT take place when loads of hungry, cranky shoppers are crowding too small aisles, looking for products that aren’t listed on any sign. Refer to Road Rage again.

Okay, so why didn’t I just leave and wait to buy groceries later? Why didn’t I go to another, possibly different chain, on down the road? Why didn’t I drive across town to find my ‘normal’ shop?

All good questions.

How, exactly does being a Creature of Habit impact grocery shopping?

How does being a Creature of Habit impact daily life?

And why should you, a fellow Creature of Habit, care?

We are ALL creatures of habit. And those habits personally & profoundly influence our lives.
If you’re a writer, the ‘creature of habit’ rule influences your characters’ lives.

UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTUAL BASIC (don’t get lost in the lingo – keep reading).
Psychology Today has an interesting take on this behavior. Click the link if you want the entire article or let me tuck it in a nutshell for you.

1) We’re creatures. Seems obvious. But the meaning behind that tidbit is that we have certain physical needs that motivate – or push – behaviors to become automatic.

We’re hungry (NEED); we eat (BEHAVIOR).

Suffice it to say that body actions & reactions govern needs that turn into behaviors.

2) We’re, generally, social creatures. Obscure, but accurate. Most of us crave interactions.

We’re lonely or bored (NEED); we leave our shelter and seek out others like – and sometime not like – us (BEHAVIOR).

**This is simplifying needs & responses, but the point is that ‘needy’ factors govern our lives.**

First - How then do we become creatures of habit?

If every daily task required studious thought and tedious attention to the step-by-step process, we’d get little accomplished. Most would be overwhelmed by the thought of beginning one multi-step behavior after another.
Consider your morning routine.
We’ll keep it simple. Take 3 basics:

Morning bathroom ablutions
Dressing for the day
Breakfast preparations

Now, consider how many steps go into each process. If you were required to focus on each step to start your morning, how far would you get into the day? Hence, the habit or habits.

If you’re looking to change a bad habit, understand your existing habits, or work with kids’ habits, read some of these articles:

7 Steps to changing a Bad Habit
Human Beings Examined as Creatures of Habit
Back to School, Back to Routines

Second – Personally, what’s the impact?

The good news is habits keep life moving, keep individuals focused, and allow for goals to be realized.
Exercise – it’s habit. Few start an exercise program because they wake up one day and can’t think of another single thing to entertain. No, it boils down to more essential facts.
1) The doctor orders/warns/threatens (with dire consequences) you do it.
2) A spouse, family member, friend motivates you to do it.
3) A training partner dares – or challenges – you to do it.
Eat healthier – it’s habit. See you know where this is going.
Sleep more . . . study more effectively . . . take play time. WAIT! Really? Folks need to develop the habit to take play time. Yes. Every one of us could name at least one individual who falls into the ‘workaholic’ category.

The bad news is that bad habits are easy to develop. See the above articles. Just like water, folks will take the path of least resistance. That leads to procrastination, lazy behaviors, terrible eating/sleeping/exercising habits, poor work attitudes.
Self-starting, resolve to complete, ability to meet deadlines: all healthy behaviors take a degree of mental toughness and a tenacity to stick to good habits to offset bad ones.

The ugly news
is that routines and our ‘creature of habit’ tendencies put as at risk to the unscrupulous types. Broadcasting routines can lead to dangerous results.
Do you jog alone? Always along the same path?
Do you habitually park in the same spot at the grocery store?
Do you or a family member leave the garage door remote in the car at night?
Is your in-car GPS programmed with HOME?
When you leave town, do you check-in via social media while at the airport, bus, or train station?

None of this is to make you paranoid. Well, perhaps a bit. More importantly, it’s to make you aware. While cultivating our creature of habit tendencies is part of life, learning to vary those same behaviors can keep us safe.

Third & finally – as writers, attention to detail MUST be paid to a character’s habits. Understanding the motivation or reasoning behind those habits is crucial, but that discussion is for another blog post.

When developing a character schematic or diagram consider:

1) Which behaviors or habits would be obvious based on:
a. Character’s career (consider the difference between the truck driver and the attorney),
b. Character’s education (consider the difference between one who struggled to obtain a GED as to the silver-spoon ivy-leaguer),
c. Character’s life choices (single to married; activist to hermit; corporate ladder-climber to civil servant).
**Disclaimer** Please don’t leave a response to point out that these life choices may or may not be polar opposites. They weren’t designed to be. Characters’ history, back-story, education, career will all impact behaviors and habits and need to be considered – seriously – when writing.

2) If utilizing suspense, horror, or dramatic elements in a novel, then a careful and detailed analysis must be sketched for any and ALL villains. Without focusing on the layers of the suspense, writers will deprive readers of much needed motivation.

Along Came A Spider by James Paterson is one of the most keen to illustrate this point. Multiple layers of villains, each with their own agenda, and each character onion to be peeled before the ultimate crime can be solved.

3) Consider how the creature of habit behaviors can be utilized in weaving the suspense or horror element into the plot line. Don’t be afraid to consider the obvious and then tweak it to the unexpected.

Writers, if unsure how this specially plays into a plotline, please read J.D. Robb’s In Death series. As Lt. Eve Dallas, main protagonist and a homicide detective, focuses intensely on the normal routines of murder victims, she whittles down a suspect list until arrowing in on the ‘who-done-it’. Innocent In Death, my current read, refers to ‘creatures of habit’ in the opening Eve Dallas scene. Broad strokes to narrow lines, the use of everyday is vital in building and then solving suspense. If you prefer a more classic read: select Agatha Christie.

Being creatures of habit is UNAVOIDABLE and not a bad thing. Remember, that your life would move at a snail’s pace if not for scads of daily habits. But never forget to vary your routine for safety sake, and if a writer, never forget to layer in the normal to build the suspense.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

6 Steps to SURVIVING summer heat.

Here in Texas, we take our heat pretty serious.

Even though Texans can fry an egg on the sidewalk, pop tar bubbles with toes, and get a tan in 10 minutes, that doesn't mean folks in the Lone Star State don't take heat seriously. Real serious. 100 degree weather with 70% humidity = frighteningly high heat indexes.

When temps SOAR, who needs the most attention?

Hard-headed teens

CDC Warning Signs for Heat-Related Illnesses

So those are the medical specifics . . . but what actual steps do folks who bake in six months of heat follow?

No SKIMPING on water consumption! Room temperature is fine. My farm-boy daddy swore that when you were really hot nothing beat a glass of regular temp H2O. He didn't want his glass clinking with ice. 'No sir,' he'd say, 'just gimme me a tall glass of tap water.' Whose to argue with a man who grew up picking watermelon and corn from a field, and shooing cattle from pasture to pasture? Now, the 'crik' water? That he wanted cold.

Parenting independent-minding teens is always a challenge, but parents should make certain that teens carry water bottles when headed out for a game of pick-up basketball or an afternoon at the skate park. Refillable (makes the green crew happy) and many parks now sport the higher drinking fountains designed to refill bottles. Parents: emphasize to teens that any fast food restaurant will provide water when asked. The fries . . . they'll need to buy.

Shade, shade, and more shade! Nothing will take the place of getting out of the sun. Our youngest population can overheat quickly, and none want to sit in the shade when there are swings for swinging and ropes for skipping and little brothers or sisters to chase . . . but getting out of direct sun exposure is crucial to protecting little ones. When temps soar, make certain youngsters take a break in the shade.

Perch a hat up TOP! But remember to make it a breathable hat. Closely woven fabric doesn't allow the head to breathe. Yes, that's right breathe. Old myths prophesied that 40 to 45% of the body temp escaped through the head. Some go old-school and believe that wearing a hat makes a body hotter. NOT TRUE. 1st -- According to research from 2008, only 7 to 10% is lost through the noggin, reports Life's Little Mysteries. 2nd -- Consider walking a shady path, sitting beneath a cafe umbrella, or even a bus stop awning . . . shade that protects the surface of the head will keep body temps down. Besides, who doesn't like to pull off a nice-sized hat and fan themselves? Not you! Then you haven't been hot enough, yet.

Protecting pets! If you can't stand on the concrete--barefoot--for 5 seconds then it's too hot for your dog to walk. People generalize that because dogs come with leathery pads that the surface temperature doesn't affect their furry companion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Serious pet parents know that walking during the heat of the day is to foolishly court overheating for critters & themselves. Morning & evening are the ideal dog-walking times. Remember, too, if it's hot enough for the walker to have a bottle of water then the walking sidekick needs a drink as well.

Always . . . always . . . always check the backseat.
Have kids -- check the backseat.
Don't have kids, but kids live in the neighborhood? Check the backseat.
Don't have kids, but leave your windows down for cooling when it's parked in your drive? Check the backseat.
Getting the picture -- always, always check the backseat.

This demonstration shows 80 degrees. For those who live where summer has more of a bite and day-time temperatures can hit 95 to 100, internal car temps can reach 150 within minutes.

Check the backseat!

Finally, keep an eye on the sky. Or at least a weather APP tuned in. Spring into Summer can turn vicious: quick-building thunderstorms, flashflood warnings, and tornado watches. Don't speak weather-ese on approaching cold fronts & stationary hot troughs? Rising barometric pressure & potential wall clouds make your head spin? Then make certain to have a weather APP with alarms downloaded to your mobile device. Lakes, parks, family outings are all things meant to be enjoyed during summer months, but being cognizant of rapidly-changing weather conditions can save lives. Yours and those you love.

I'd always heard . . . if you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait a minute. It'll change.

But seems that adage applies to loads of places.
Common sense should be the best rule of thumb.
Oh, and do keep a sense of humor.

Famous Texan -- The Simple (and Complicated) Life of a Texas Titan: Ross Perot

A Texas Titan and legend has left the great state of Texas for the last time. H. Ross Perot, age 89, passed away Tuesday, July 9th, 2019. ...