Friday, April 22, 2011

Toasty Cockles - Faithful friday

Longtime readers of this blog know that I have been taking classes to become a full fledged Catholic for nearly 2 years now.

I wrote a few posts about my religious upbringing and how I fell completely away from all organized religion. (that can be found here in order #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5. I intended to keep going and explain why joining the catholic church was the right thing for me, but every time I attempted that post I came across as preachy, judgmental, or self righteous. I simply could not convey my thoughts into words. A sad thing for someone who considers themselves a writer.

That is not to say I have ever wavered on my decision. in both my heart and my head I am steadfast that the path I have chosen is the correct one for me.  the process of accepting and converting is a personal one and i suspect no two faith journeys are the same.

Saturday night I will be baptized and take first communion.

For years now I have been active in both St Mary's Church and school. My wife teaches there. My boys attend and i love volunteering to help in all maters with the kids. I've coached a variety of sports, led a literacy club, and taught storytelling as well volunteering at many other activities. I know nearly every kid in the school and they know me.

And yet I never expected to be overwhelmed with the gift the 2nd grade class gave me in honor of my upcoming baptism. the kids made me a book and despite this post already being long. I'm going to share the pages of that book as well as my comments. I'm not sure what a cockle even is, but this unexpected gift sure gave me the warm fuzzies.

In most of the pictures including this one my goatee makes an appearance.

 This one is my son's page. He always goes camping over Easter weekend and since I'm a Chatecumenate and my wife is a sponsor the boys would have had to to sit with someone else for the 2 and a half hour mass so we decided to let them go camping as usual. Not the last line. The one he erased. it read "You are a good dad." When i asked him why he erased it, Zalen said he already had written enough.

My goat is REALLY big in this one. 

Note the halo people.

This girl has better handwriting than I do.

No goatee but I'm proud she said I'm good at "writeing stories."

The uber beard and sideways cap is a look I might go for soon.

Perhaps the most accurate depiction of me. And yes it will feel good to get all those sins forgiven.

I've always wanted to smell like oil.

This one is tough to read because he wrote lightly, but to paraphrase I am a great person and a funny guy.

And entertaining.

Love the spelling and message of this one but come on dude my goat looks better than that. 

No, that is not Fidel Castro with a halo. That is me thank you very much.

I'm not sure but I think I was hogtied to the baptismal font in this one.

I hope that is a candle in my hand and not a machete. A tall bearded guy like me would never cut anyone. 

Only in the eyes of a 2 graders would I be considered a great football coach for winning 2 games in two seasons.

This book is a gift which i will always cherish. Thank you Mrs Jager and the St Mary's 2nd grade class.

Y'all truly brightened this convert's heart.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Big Mo

Writing is keeping me super busy at the moment, but I'm not complaining as finally I have a bit of momentum in the decade long pursuit of making a career at what I love.

For the second year in a row I'm freelancing for a Texas based football magazine by writing profiles of the many high school teams here in the state. Friday night lights, the authentic version. Mostly I enjoy writing the profiles, especially if handed over enough info to create a decent story, but I gotta say people who chose the various school nicknames were an unimaginative bunch. There are far too many Hornets, Bulldogs, and Panthers for my liking. Where is the originality people?

For example not far south of Amarillo is the small town of Hedley, Texas. Their mascot? The Owls. Who gives a hoot? There are at least a dozen teams that claim the wise feathered one as their mascot and the words Hedley Owls doesn't even roll off the tongue all that nicely.

If I was in charge I would rename the mascot. To me they would be the Hedley Horsemen.

Tell me that logo wouldn't look great on the side of a football helmet.

In other writing news the short story collection housing my modern day pirate tale, Plundered Booty is now available on not only nook and kindle, but at smashwords as well. Smashwords has a variety of formats from html and pdf for reading on your computer to most e-readers or even palm reading devices. The story has sold steady at the comments I have received have been favorable but I'm a bit disappointed that there are only 2 reviews at amazon and none at Barnes and Noble. If you've read I and my fellow authors would be grateful if you could leave a word or two at either site.

And of course I continue to write and promote my latest endeavor Lettuce Is The Devil which is one part cook book, one part collection of humorous essays, and one part memoir. It is perhaps the easiest thing I've ever written as it is the story of my culinary life.

Stop by either the Facebook page, the twitter feed, or the blog to get an idea of what I'm talking about. The Lettuce Is the Devil movement is catching on and soon I will have some news regarding that fact.

But for now, I wish you happy reading, productive writing, and tasty eating.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ante Up

My name is Travis, and I am a gambler.

I don't wager away my mortgage payment.

I don't take food from my kids mouths to bet.

I don't steal at work to feed my habit.

But I do love that feel, the rush of adrenaline that comes to me while gambling.

Does this make me a criminal? Am I more dangerous than the guy who likes to get his blood pumping by jumping from a perfectly functioning airplane? Is my hobby more detrimental than the guy who spends two hundred bucks on running shoes and travels all over the country running marathons? So I spend a little extra cash here and there. Truth be told, I tend to win more than I lose. Most people consider me lucky. I prefer to think I am simply a consciousness gambler who bets when the odds are more in my favor. But even with that, I said I only wager what I can afford to lose. 

I love gambling in all it's forms. Horses, sports, and yes cards. Especially cards. I am a solid poker player that has won tournaments both here in Texas and in Vegas. One of my goals is to have an extraneous ten grand to play in the World Series of Poker main event, but until that happens I play the games I can afford.

However, the FBI has now seized and shutdown the online poker sites. I can no longer simply log in and satisfy my gambling urges.

I understand there are some with a problem. But guess what, there are people with alcohol problems, sex addictions, and who can't step away from a Big Mac. I don't see the FBI shutting down McDonalds, confiscating every Penthouse in America, or closing the millions of bars and liquor stores in this country.

Yeah, this country was stupid enough to give prohibition a try back in the day and all it did was give rise the organized crime.

The FBI info says they shut down these sites not for the protection of the addicted but for illegal gaming, tax evasion, money laundering and various other crimes. I get that, but what I don't get is why playing poker is a crime, but wagering your life savings in the stock market is not. I have more faith in my card sense than I do a bunch of damn CEO's. I got two words for you that disagree.

Bailout Money!

Given the fact that we have wasted billions if not trillions on corporate America and this country has a national debt bigger than the police records of all the members of congress I say the FBI and Gov't should keep the poker sites open. If the proprietors weren't paying their taxes fine, let the Gov't run the sites. They could use the profits to whittle down the deficit.

Of course, neither party would go with that idea. The Republicans will claim gambling is a sin and in no way can they condone the further moral degradation of this country, and the Democrats will tell you gambling only makes the rich richer, or that the emissions from all those computers creates too many green house gases.

Meanwhile, I'll just be a good Catholic boy and go play my local, not-exactly-legal- but-it's-for-charity-so-we-won't arrest-you poker tournament.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Town Monday - Globe News Event Center

Should you ever find yourself in downtown Amarillo you will no doubt notice this oddly shaped building.

Opened in January of 2006, the Amarillo Globe News Center for Performing Arts hosts the Amarillo, Symphony, Amarillo Opera, The Lone Star Ballet as well as a variety of lectures, talks, and intimate concerts. The venue only seats 1300 but is specially designed acoustically to enhance the listening pleasure regardless of the event. the interior looks somewhat like SpongeBob's house or a pineapple for those of you fortunate enough to have never been exposed to the annoying yellow cartoon.

The exterior is designed to match the color and contours of nearby Palo Duro Canyon.

But this video does the building far more justice than I ever could.

Be sure and visit the My Town Monday blog to check out links from other places all over the globe, and if you have an interesting post about your town or area drop me a line here or over there and I will get you added to the mix.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Readers, writers, & pirates. Stop on by Criminal Brief today and chat with me about Deadly By The Dozen, and salvaging your booty when that ship you were sailing crashes into a reef.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ya Just Missed me

I'm not here today. Instead, I am here shedding some light ... on an all too common darkness.