Tag Archives: texas a&m university

Thank you!

Inspiration

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Alpha Phi OmegaMany decades ago I was heavily involved with Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity (APO). I had started my involvement as a junior at Texas A&M University. When friends asked me what the difference was between a service fraternity and a social fraternity, I responded,

A service fraternity spends 75% of its time doing volunteer work to help the campus, the community, and the country. The other 25% is spent drinking. A social fraternity spends 75% of its time drinking. The other 25% is spent doing volunteer work to help the campus, the community, and the country.

Always got a chuckle, if not outright laughter.

After college graduation, the extent of my involvement affected both my personal and business lives. Everything in my world came crashing down in 1982 and 1983, and that crash led to my lost decade of 1983-1993.

I quit my job because my boss was a jerk. In hindsight, he wasn’t a jerk. I simply wasn’t interested in my job in any sense other than that it paid my bills and let me play APO. He sensed that. However, I quit my job without having another job lined up.

At the same time, the rent on my apartment jumped $150 a month, to an even $1 a square foot. I had to look at either buying some property in Houston, or moving back to College Station (90 miles northwest of Houston) into property that I already owned but was renting to sorority girls from Delta Delta Delta.

I moved….

Still without having a job….

Also during this time, I was the Chairman for APO’s Section 42, which covered East Texas and comprised 15 or so chapters. It was a one-year position, so I would have to run for re-election to match my predecessors, which I wanted to do.

As I started contemplating running for re-election, students throughout the section told me that I was the best chairman they had ever seen, having shown up at their events more than any other chairman. Everyone encouraged me to run for re-election, and I did.

I lost.

I know why.

Since everyone wanted me to run, I thought they would vote for me. What I forgot to do was to ask them to vote for me and to thank them for their support. I still make the mistake of not asking for what I want or need, and not thanking people enough.

So here’s a great big

Thank you!

to all my friends, family, and business associates for being a part of my life. That includes my many blogging friends for you are a significant part of my family. I love y’all!

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Homeless during the holidays

Time, money, WordPress, and Facebook

Opinion

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Texas A&M UniversityDuring my first year in college, I lived in Moore Hall and Puryear Hall on the Texas A&M University campus. Moore Hall had four floors, and I didn’t like it. Just too big. No opportunity for a shy freshman like me to get to know anyone or get involved. I couldn’t move the alpha males out of the way.

Puryear Hall was a ramp-type dorm. Instead of floors with 100 people living on them, there were ramps, which were simply stairways. Each ramp had four floors, but there were only four rooms per floor. With two people per room, eight people per ramp floor, and 32 people per ramp, it was much easier for a shy person to fit in.

I was on floor two, ramp 4. My seven rampmates were from Seattle, Houston, Waller TX, Hempstead TX, Kingsville TX, Lake Jackson TX, and—wait for it—Lagos, Nigeria. I don’t remember the Nigerian’s name, but I’m pretty sure he’s not one of the Nigerian scammers who wants to give you millions of dollars. Thus, I’m not a contact person or a reference….

Church in downtown Long BeachHowever, the Nigerian was very outgoing, an extrovert, an alpha male. He was interested in exploring the world’s religions, and each weekend, he would get a large group together to go visit a different church. The group started off with just four of us but, over the semester, grew to 50 or 60 people each week. We visited every church we could find—Catholic, Mormon, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Church of Christ, Jew, Presbyterian. I know there was a “strange religion” in there—Muslim, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam—but I don’t remember which one.

It was during my college years that I started questioning the fundamental tenets of the Catholic and Mormon faiths in which I had been raised. My main problem then, as now, is that I could not understand how an all-knowing, all-powerful god could allow poverty, homelessness, hunger, and disease to exist among “his children.” I couldn’t understand how that all-knowing, all-powerful, invisible being would allow his children to die in car wrecks, train wrecks, airplane crashes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, heat waves, blizzards, etc. It didn’t make sense to me then and it still makes no sense to me. There is no need to try to explain it. I’m familiar with all the reasons the all-knowing, all-powerful, invisible, mystical being allows disasters and such. I’m not buying them; they are too expensive.

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s Christmas spirit, holiday spirit, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever, but this time of year always gets me thinking about these things, and this morning when I went out exploring, I found a homeless person in the middle of Balboa Park, one of San Diego’s most beautiful places:

Homeless during the holidays

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Five things in this world currently bug me, really bug me:

  1. homelessness;
  2. disease and sickness;
  3. people who are cruel to animals, including people who kill animals for sport;
  4. the current generation of idiotic Republicans. I was a lifelong Republican until last year; I just couldn’t take the likes of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman anymore; and
  5. those who blindly follow religion without questioning it, especially if they quote things out of context or haven’t even read their own religion’s holy book completely! And, yes, I have read the Bible three times, start to end. I’ve read the Quran/Qu’ran/Koran once, all of The Analects (Confucianism), the Book of Mormon many times, and several others, all while searching for my own identity in this world.

Unfortunately, I’m not rich enough to do much on my own…. a little time here, a few dollars there, and my outspokenness here and on Facebook.

Possessions of a homeless person

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Home of a homeless person

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Denny Laine

Music on Mondays — Happy birthday to Denny Laine!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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Tomorrow is the 68th birthday for Denny Laine. Happy birthday, Denny!

Denny LaineLaine is a guitarist and singer, and was a founding member of The Moody Blues. I didn’t become familiar with him until 1971 when he showed up as a member of Wings on their first album, Wild Life, released December 7, 1971. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, Wings was Paul McCartney’s band after The Beatles broke up in 1970. He was one of the three core members of Wings throughout its history, the other two being Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda.

Wings (and Paul McCartney) rocked throughout the 1970s with albums such as “Red Rose Speedway,” “Band on the Run,” “Venus and Mars,” “Wings at the Speed of Sound,” “London Town,” and “Back to the Egg.” Hit singles that made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart include “My Love,” “Band on the Run,” “Listen To What The Man Said,” “Silly Love Songs,” “With A Little Luck,” and “Coming Up.” A couple of near misses include “Live and Let Die,” peaking at #2; “Junior’s Farm,” peaking at #3; and “Let ‘Em In,” also peaking at #3.

The Summit in Houston, Texas, ca. 1994I saw Wings in concert at The Summit in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, May 4, 1976, as part of their “Wings Over America” tour. Texas A&M was in Dead Week, so I could get away with going to a concert 90 miles away on a week day.

I knew the words to all the songs and happily sang along with the rest of the crowd…. Well, almost all of the songs. There was one song that I was not familiar with. It was played as one of the encores and was titled “Go Now.” I thought it was a new, unreleased song, but after reading the reviews the next day in the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post, I found out that “Go Now” was The Moody Blues’ first hit from February 1965. The reviews also increased my musical knowledge base by informing me that Denny Laine was a founding member of The Moody Blues. Laine quit The Moody Blues in August 1966 although I could not find out why.

Wings Over AmericaI became familiar with The Moody Blues, as did most of the world, in August 1972 when “Nights in White Satin” hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Interestingly, the album “Nights in White Satin” was released in 1968, and a single, “Tuesday Afternoon,” made it to #24 on the charts. If I remember correctly, the four years between the release of an album and a single making it to the Top 10 is the longest ever.

I liked “Go Now” but could not find it in any of the record stores, not even in any of the cut-out bins (smile if you remember cut-out bins). There was no such thing as iTunes, Napster, or amazon.com at the time, so I had to do without that song until December 1976—seven months later!—when it was released on the “Wings Over America” live album.

For Denny Laine’s 68th birthday, I give you some Denny Laine.

“Go Now” by The Moody Blues
Denny Laine on guitar and lead vocals

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“Mull of Kintyre” from November 1977 is the first single in Great Britain to sell over two million copies,
and that includes all of The Beatles’ hits. It still is the #1 selling non-charity single in Great Britain. Written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine, it has Laine on backing vocals, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. Denny Laine shows up in the video at the 1:30 mark.

 

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Denny Laine’s greatest collaboration with McCartney came on 1978’s “London Town” album where he had co-songwriting credits on five of the fourteen songs. He sang lead vocal on two of them, both of them about children: “Children Children” and “Deliver Your Children.” Here’s “Children Children”:

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Happy birthday, Denny!

Happy birthday to Denny Laine

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The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays — It’s country time!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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After delving into classical music two weeks ago and then pop/rock/metal last week, I got a request for country music. Since I grew up in Texas doing the Texas two-step, line dancing, and such, I do have some country music in my vast collection.

The first one is “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash from late 1956. According to my mother, I used to sit on the floor in the back of the car and sing along any time it came on the radio.

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Next is “Take This Job And Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck from 1977. In 1982, I wanted to use this song to quit a job at Kerr Steamship Company. That’s how frustrated I was. After talking to my best friend, Richard Maulsby Scruggs (I call him Maulsby and use his full name here because I’m still friends with him and wanted to give him some Google Juice; it’s good for you), who was a consultant with Arthur Andersen, I decided to give a standard two-week notice, which I did the next day. Richard’s advice had been, “Don’t burn bridges.”

A year later I was applying for a position with Texas A&M University to do editing and copywriting for the Texas A&M University Press, the College of Science, and the Department of Chemistry. Darned if the Professor for whom I would be directly working didn’t actually call my past three employers. Darned again if my supervisor at Kerr Steamship Company didn’t give me a glowing recommendation, even stating that he would rehire me in a flash. “Just send him back down here and he’s got a job,” Mr. Supervisor said.

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Then there’s Garth Brooks. Some country music purists don’t consider Garth to be country music. To that I will defer to Billboard, which places him in the country music category. My favorite of his is “Friends In Low Places” from 1990. It spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country Music Singles Chart. To reinforce Garth’s countryness, “Friends In Low Places” won the 1990 Single of the Year from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.

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Then there is Glen Campbell, probably my all-time favorite country star. “Wichita Lineman” came out in November 1968. For Christmas that year I got a reel-to-reel tape recorder. I was constantly trying to record “Wichita Lineman” off the radio but the radio announcers wouldn’t shut up so I could get the beginning and the ending of the song. I hate it when radio announcers talk through the first 10 seconds of a song and then start talking again before the song ends!

Trivia: From December 1964 to March 1965, Glen Campbell was a touring member of the Beach Boys where he played bass guitar and sang falsetto harmonies. He also played guitar on the group’s Pet Sounds album.

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Lastly, I can’t leave out “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley from 1968. I was every teacher’s nightmare student and my wise old grandmother was always having to go to the PTA meetings to convince the teachers that I was a good kid.

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James Frimmer, Realtor
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Go Johnny go

Music on Mondays — S&M………. Oooops, I mean M&M

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I grew up playing the piano and violin, as well as singing. If I had it to do all over again, I think I would choose an instrument that I could play in the band — I’m kind of partial to the oboe. I always so wanted to march in a band.Texas A&M University

I’m pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to marching bands as opposed to show bands. I’m not a big fan of bands that stand on the field and play Broadway show tunes, the latest pop songs, or the latest movie soundtracks.

In that regard, my favorite band for the past 40 years has been the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band from Texas A&M University. They are the epitome of a marching band: M&M (music & marching) with precision drills. Most of the band is in the 2400-member Corps of Cadets (the largest ROTC outside of the military academies), so precision is in their DNA I do believe.

According to the Powers that Be, there are 423 members of the 2013-2014 Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, making it the largest college or university band in the nation, and the largest military marching band in the world.

In recognition of the start of the college football season, here is a video of a 2009 halftime performance of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band:

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If you like march music, check out anything by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), “The March King.” There was, and is, no one better at composing march music. Sousa wrote 136 marches, and I have them all in my music collection. Unfortunately, I have never been able to choose a favorite. Just depends on which one is next up in the music list.

The second to the last piece that the band played in the video (at the 7:20 mark) was “Semper Fidelis,” the official march of the United States Marine Corps. Here is the National March of the United States of America, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” also by the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band.

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Of course, I have to end this Music on Mondays post musically with “The Aggie War Hymn,” composed by J.V. “Pinky” Wilson, one of hundreds of Aggies who fought in World War I.

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Non-musically, I’ll end with a simple “Go, Johnny, Go.

Go Johnny go

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Ah, what the heck, if I’m going to say, “Go, Johnny, go” I might as well end this music post with Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit, “Johnny B. Goode.”

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Be good, Johnny, be good.

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James Frimmer, Realtor
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Barb of Life in the Foothills

Will YOU be next on the list?

I livew in my own little world

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I have always had a hard time meeting new people.

That was a contributing reason why I joined Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity, while I was at Texas A&M University. Since I enjoy helping others, I could do that while basically being forced to meet others through the fraternity system.

I think the main (maybe the only) reason I like Facebook is because I can meet people without having to meet people. Then, once I’m comfortable meeting them, if I go to where they are, I will try to look them up.

Blogging is the same thing. People find my blog, I find theirs, we become Internet friends, and maybe somewhere down the road we’ll meet, either at their place or mine.

Yesterday, Barb (Life in the Foothills) and her husband (Paul), came to San Diego after their Carnival cruise had docked in Long Beach. Long Beach is about 110 miles from me, so they certainly didn’t have to go out of their way to come down here instead of going directly back home to life in the foothills. I don’t know whether or not they came here specifically to see me, but they sure made me feel like they did.

Jim and I took them to the San Diego Zoo, where we spent 4½ hours traipsing around watching the animals and, of course, taking pictures:

Barb of Life in the Foothills

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After we wore ourselves out at the Zoo, we had drinks and food at On The Border.

Barb makes the fourth WordPress blogger that I have met in actual reality since I started using the WordPress platform on January 7, 2012. Here is my complete list now:

  1. Rommel (The Sophomore Slump) — Rommel and I went to the USS Midway Museum on May 27, 2012. See his pictures and my pictures.
  2. Bashar A. (2 Rivers Photos) — Bashar, Jim, and I went to the La Jolla Cove on October 17, 2012, to take pictures of a negative tide and a beautiful sunset. See his pictures and my pictures.
  3. Marsha Lee (Marsha Lee) — Marsha came down with some long-time friends of hers on January 5, 2013, just to spend some time in San Diego. She and her friends introduced Jim and me to a new restaurant here in San Diego. See her pictures and my pictures.
  4. Barb (Life in the Foothills) — Barb and Paul were on a cruise that originated in Long Beach. After their cruise, they came down to San Diego to visit Jim and me. They just got home today so keep an eye on her blog for pictures of their cruise and trip to the San Diego Zoo. I’m still cataloging the 380 pictures I took, so stay tuned here, too, and I’ll have some pictures this week.
  5. Will YOU be next on this list?

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I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

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Scott #1660, Texas state flag

History through Philately — Texas becomes the 28th State

History Through Philately stamp

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Scott #1660, Texas state flagOn this date in 1845, the Republic of Texas entered the United States of America as the 28th state.

When the United States bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, the U.S. attempted to include Texas in the Purchase. In 1819, after sixteen years of dispute, the boundary was set at the Sabine River, which is the current border of Louisiana and Texas.

Scott #776, Texas centennialFrom 1819 to 1836, Texas was part of Mexico. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico, becoming the Republic of Texas. As most declarations of independence do, this one resulted in a war between the Republic of Texas and Mexico, including the Battle of the Alamo, lost by the Texans, and the Battle of San Jacinto, which resulted in the Texans soundly defeating the Mexicans.

Scott #1043, The AlamoTexans elected Sam Houston as President of the Republic but also endorsed Texas entering the Union as a State. The likelihood of Texas joining as a slave state delayed formal action by the U.S. Congress for more than a decade. Congress agreed to annex the territory of Texas in 1844, and on December 29, 1845, Texas entered the United States as a slave state. A dispute involving the southern boundary of Texas resulted in the Mexican American War, which the United States won.

Scott #1038, Texas statehoodThe Mexican American War ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in which Mexico ceded the current lands currently comprising California, Nevada, and Utah, as well as parts of Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The southern boundary of Texas was set as the Rio Grande river.

Other interesting facts about Texas:

  1. 3738 Texas greetingsThe south Texas farming and ranching community of Kingsville welcomed me to the world on March 11, 1955. Kingsville is located in the disputed territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande.
  2. Texas is pretty much a red state, which is one of the many reasons why I don’t live there anymore. I left on April 15, 1993, and arrived in San Diego 12 days later, taking a circuitous route to Fargo, North Dakota; over to Seattle, Washington; and down to San Diego.
  3. Scott #1995, Texas mockingbird and bluebonnetTexas has a gross state product (GSP) of $1.307 trillion, second behind California’s $1.936 trillion. If Texas were an independent country, its gross domestic product (GDP) would rank as the world’s 11th largest.
  4. Texas does not have a State income tax. Its money comes from property taxes and sales taxes.
  5. Texas has a population of 26,059,203, making it the second most populous state (behind California).
  6. Texas is the second largest state (behind Alaska), with 268,820 square miles.
  7. Scott #2968, Texas statehoodTexas is headquarters for 57 Fortune 500 companies (tying for first with California).
  8. Texas has three cities ranked in the Top 10 for population: Houston at #4, San Antonio at #7, and Dallas at #9. (California also has three cities in the Top 10: Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose.)
  9. Kingsville, TexasMy hometown of Kingsville has an average high temperature of 65°F in December. However, on Christmas Even 2004, six inches of snow blanketed the city.
  10. Texas has the most farms and the highest acreage in the United States.
  11. Texas leads the nation in livestock production — cattle, sheep, and goats.
  12. Texas leads the nation in cotton production.
  13. Texas A&M UniversityMy alma mater, Texas A&M University, is the state’s first public institution of higher education and has the state’s largest enrollment at 53,337 students (fourth largest in the nation). It is the nation’s only land grand, sea grant, and space grant university. Texas A&M also has the largest main campus of any university, with 5,500 acres.
  14. Two presidential libraries are located in Texas: Lyndon B. Johnson in at the University of Texas at Austin and George Bush at Texas A&M University. A third one is in the workds, George W. Bush at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
  15. Scott #1742, Texas windmillThe Texas healthcare system is ranked third worst in the United States by the Commonwealth Fund; 25% of Texans do not have health insurance, the largest percentage in the nation.
  16. Texas emits more greenhouse gases than any other state, with Port Arthur (a heavy oil refining locale) having some of the dirtiest air in the United States.
  17. I survived many hurricanes and tropical storms while living in Texas, the most significant of which were Beulah (1967), Celia (1970), and Allen (1980).
  18. The deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people.
  19. My childhood home in Kingsville, courtesy of Google Streetview:

420 West Alice Avenue, Kingsville, Texas

I planted the two oak trees after Hurricane Celia in 1970. They were just a foot high.

Scott #2204, Battle of San Jacinto

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Scott #1242, Sam Houston

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos