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Betting your life on a computer… or just another cab ride?

August 22, 2016

The misty rain combined with old tired eyes, the night sky and headlights from oncoming vehicles made driving very interesting as I passed through yet another unfamiliar highway construction area. The wipers on delay made those oncoming headlights spread to starbursts, at times obscuring visibility of the nearby concrete highway dividers. After an hour of this I called it quits and decided to look for a place to spend the night before continuing my journey to Dallas from my home in Alaska.

Over my lifetime I have driven the 4,800 miles from Alaska to Pennsylvania 9 times, with side trips from Pennsylvania to outdoor shows across the country and have done this while driving not only my truck but even a big rig for Schneider trucking company. I have done this in almost every weather condition from tornadoes in Kansas to sleet and black ice on interstate 80 in PA and that is why when I read the news article about Uber launching a self driving taxi fleet I almost fell off my chair.

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Uber announced it will be putting a fleet of driver-less taxis on the road in Pittsburgh this summer, but I must ask why on earth would anyone put their lives in the hands of a computer to drive them around? We all know what it takes to drive to work, go shopping or on a road trip with the constant interaction of other drivers who at time may not be paying attention to what they are doing, so why would we trust a computer to make the correct, life saving, decisions while driving?

The results so far derived from the few cars on the highway that are at present ‘self-driving vehicles’ like the Tesla are definitely not promising. Though only a limited number of cars now on the road have reveled numerous accidents and even a death, so can you imagine what might happen with a fleet of Uber driver-less cars weaving in and out of traffic in your city?

Arnold Schwarzenegger may trust driver-less taxi’s
like he did in ‘Total Recall’
but this is real life not a movie.

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Racism or common sense… Texas Pete’s view from under the brim…

August 19, 2016

Does it make me a racists if

I want to shut down all illegal immigration

and deport everyone who is in this country illegally?

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From 1892 to 1954 Ellis island was Americas busiest federal immigration station. During that time some 12 million people passed through its doors and today 40 percent of all current U.S. Citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island. Today however the largest number of immigrants to our nation, who want to enjoy the freedoms and benefits all Americans share, are illegal and ignore our nations immigration laws.

At Ellis island as part of the screening arrivals were asked 29 questions including name, occupation, and the amount of money they carried. It was important to the American government that the new arrivals could support themselves and have money to get started. The average the government wanted the immigrants to have was between 18 and 25 dollars ($600 in 2015 adjusted for inflation). Those with visible health problems or diseases were sent home. Some unskilled workers were rejected because they were considered “likely to become a public charge.” About 2 percent were denied admission to the U.S. and sent back to their countries of origin for reasons such as having a chronic contagious disease, criminal background, or insanity.

Today those entering our country illegally, across our border with Mexico, face no physical exam or test of financial stability and thus the potential for a bigger drain on our economy and an outbreak of diseases not currently common in America is likely. Why is it when anyone shoulders the call for tighter controls on our borders and the expulsion of those here illegally for some reason they are called a racist, instead of being seen as one who is looking out for citizens legally here…

After all for over 60 years Ellis Island proved
that those entering legally
were healthy, had the skill to work and the money to survive.

So why does one have to be a racist
if they only wants to protect what we have?

It’s common sense… at least to me

August 16, 2016

A while back I bought a new DVD player and brought it out to my cabin only to find it would not work. I am sure everyone of us have purchased something at one time or another and it did not do what we were told it would and had to return it. I am also sure you as I did were not in the best frame of mind when we brought it into the store for an exchange or refund. Quite possibly we relied on the salesperson who insisted it would do this and that but it ended up not delivering on their promises.

The point is we did return the item and just maybe let the person who sold it to us know we would not be dealing with them or that store again. Most people take there time when making purchases especially those that cost a lot of money and we rely on our research of the facts to ensure that we have made a good decision.

If we return to a certain restaurant and for some reason the meal we choose is not up to its usual standards we let the management know and if it happens repeatedly we stop eating there, no doubt resulting in the owner firing the cook or wait staff that caused the loss of customers. So why do we let people we have hired and compensate quite well with a generous salary and benefits that even we do not receive get away with constantly failing to do their job?

Cartoon - Congress

Our President, congressmen and senators
fail us week after week
so why
do we allow them to continue
to work for us?

Texas Pete’s view from under the brim… The secret deal between Hillary and Trump

August 14, 2016

OK my friends strap yourselves in because I am about to take you on a wild ride that will no doubt sound a bit cowboyart3insane. A long time ago when Bill Clinton left office and moved to New York and Hillary ran for Senator a few radio commentators and bloggers, myself included, saw the writing on the wall that Hillary would eventually run for President. Then over the years if one looked hard you could find the occasional stories about Hillary and her family meeting with Trump for this purpose or that. Of course they traveled in the same circles because there are only so many mega-rich living in or around New York and both of them for the most part shared the same liberal point of view.

Fast forward to the current election cycle and low and behold who should pop up as a new Republican candidate but Trump. Over the course of the primary elections he manages to defeat all the other valuable opponents to Hillary and now we are faced with the choice of him or Hillary. Of course now he is making even more absurd comments then in the primaries and continues to offend even more of his supporters practically ensuring he will never get the votes needed to win. Do you really think a man who is intelligent enough to amass a billion dollar empire does not know how to control what he is saying in public? Do you also think when he was actually ahead of Hillary in the polls and it was looking like he could win the election that he would knowingly endanger it without a reason?

The fix was in long ago
and ‘we the people’
are merely along for the ride.

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Texas Pete’s short takes… from under the brim

August 11, 2016

Yeah, yeah I know I said I was done with postings about the candidates and politics in general, but after all we are all human and some things just stick in our crawl and fester so maybe better to let them out in short bursts. cowboyart3Yesterday I was listening to the news and they had a ‘sound bite’ from Hillary’s speech that made that bur under my saddle punch right through.

Now just to be fair the Trump also is saying the same things so these comments are not exclusive to Hillary. When I heard her say that she would raise taxes on the rich and make them pay their fair share, and the crowd she was addressing went wild with cheers I almost spilled my coffee… again. Both she and the Donald have been echoing this refrain since the campaign began, so why has no one called either one of them on it? Her statement was the very definition of irony because both she and Trump are the very people she is talking about taxing! Maybe because this line gets the best response when she is in front of blue collar workers or in a poor neighborhood but don’t those Hillary/Trump fanatics see the crap they are spewing?

Hillary and Trump want to tax the rich
maybe they both are pushing for this
because
by now all their assets are in
tax free foundations or foreign countries!

The quest for ‘killer tomatoes’

August 9, 2016

The kids were sleeping soundly in the back seat as we neared the end of the drive back from our vacation at the Jersey shore, when Terry nudges me and tells me to pull in to the approaching roadside farm stand. Though wanting to complete the drive and get a weeks worth of stuff unpacked I comply, (my wife is Italian and trust me, after 28 years of marriage, I have found it is better to just accept the inevitable rather than try and talk her out of it). It ends up a surprisingly quick stop and we are back on the road in ten minutes with bags of fresh from the field produce. It was not till the next day that I would find how fortuitous that stop was when I cut into my first Jersey tomato.

This will definitely be a different posting than you have ever seen on my blog, for a number of reasons. First of course as I mentioned in my last post I am tired of writing about my observations of a corrupt political scene that tom2is full of incompetence but more importantly I have for decades, since I moved from Philly to Alaska, been searching for the ‘killer’ tomatoes that I loved to eat each summer in my old hometown. So please bear with me as I try and explain this not quite normal rambling.

For many years while I lived in Philadelphia I had a nice garden in my back yard, with its main crop being tomatoes. However since one only has so many square feet of grass when you live in a row home I could not ‘rotate’ my crop and soon the quality and quantity diminished. It happened that one summer as I and my family drove back from a vacation on the Jersey shore my wife had me stop by a ‘farm stand’, where we purchased some tomatoes and as they say the rest is history.

The next day I decided to make a tomato sandwich and instantly as I sliced into that tomato the aroma from it waifed up and my mouth began to water. Now we all have experienced this to one degree or another as a steak or roast was cooking and the delicious fragrance would have our pallet dripping with anticipation, well this was no different. From that first chance encounter with a New Jersey ‘farm stand’ tomato I was hooked on how ultimately delicious they can truly be.

Fast forward to my time in Alaska and no equal for that tomato could be found. So for the last twenty years I have been low to savor that ultimate delight. It may not have been an obsession but when the Jersey tomatoes were in season I happily would eat them morning, noon and night at every meal, and though I searched every store and Alaskan farm nothing would equal them.

Now in Texas with its longer growing season it was one of the first things I sought out when I arrived and…. I find it hard to believe but nothing available here even comes close to that Jersey tomato taste. What is even worse no matter which store I go into every tomato I find has a label marked Mexico or greenhouse on it. For Gods sake this is Texas with a hot sun blazing for more than half a year so where are the locally farmed tomato’s? I have now gone so far as to plant my own, in front of my apartment, but know even if they bear fruit and are good, there will never be enough to fill my need.

So I sit and ponder
a truly unimportant question
is there no place left that has those
killer tomatoes ?

toma1There is hope for the future

Midsummer thoughts… deep in the heart of Texas

August 7, 2016

DSCF2982My new morning routine was quickly halted when I went outside to drink my coffee and was hit with a blanket of dense hot air. The normal breeze that made drinking hot coffee when it is 88 degrees bearable, was absent and as I turned to go back inside sweat was already forming on my brow. Just another August morning in the heart of Texas.

I believe I am done writing about politics for a bit, I mean truthfully what difference will it make if I post another 300 or for that matter 3,000 words on the two unfit candidates running for President. Yes I know it is a sad state of affairs for a great nation, but nothing I write will have even the smallest of impact on anybody that reads my words.

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                             My old cabin after seven years

So I have decided to reminisce a bit about the my three months in my new home here in Little Elm, Texas. If you have been reading this blog for a while you know I have just spent the past 20 years in Alaska with the final 14 years of it in a remote cabin in the wilderness. So even though I lived for 48 years in a major East coast city, moving from the off grid life to living in a modern apartment was both pleasant and depressing.

Pleasant because of the modern conveniences that I believe everyone that reads this blog enjoys and takes for granted everyday, but for me after 14 years it was a wonderful change of lifestyle. From showering daily in ‘on demand’ hot water and a refrigerator to be able to keep food fresh to electricity whenever you need it without the hassle of maintaining a generator. But the one thing that shouts modern life the most, to those who live off-grid, is not having to walk outside in a raging snow storm at -20 to use the bathroom.

Sheldon Outhouse

Yes life is good here in Little Elm especially considering that I no longer have to travel a 120 mile round trip to get my mail or groceries, and whenever I want to I can go and enjoy my grandchildren who live a mere 14 miles away. Though as important as these things are to me, as an old Alaskan fishing guide the fact that I could look out my side window and see a 29,000 acre lake is reminiscent of my life in the wilderness.

So by now I am sure your are thinking why would there be a downside, and that is a hard one to explain to anyone who has never been in Alaska. If you have never lived there or even visited I guess it sounds silly but leaving there was/is like loosing a loved one. You literally feel like your heart has been wrenched from your chest. And even though I am sitting in air conditioned comfort with a cold glass of something in my hand if I let it creep in I feel that something important is missing from my life.

 

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   Thanks to my son, after three months its starting to feel like home.

However just like with the loss of my wife or my parents… time… only time will lesson the loss of my home in the wilderness. In the meantime I settle in more and more as the days pass and though barely begun I try and accent my new home with mementos of family, career and Alaska. Though furnishing my new apartment has been slow, I have what I need as I continue to establish my home in this new frontier.

As I have written for years
we each travel down our own life’s road
where mine started in Philadelphia and then Alaska
now it is time for me
to travel this new road in Texas.