An Usher in Houston 

Upon my official retirement in 2012, I relaxed a bit too much and sat watching television then gained weight. After forty seven years of a professional career and paying my taxes (and still paying), I needed a break from the daily grind. I guess most guys when they retire lose their previous ambitions and some just die. I tried to stay busy around the house but lost interest in a lot of things I used to enjoy such as writing music, golfing, camping, working, traveling. I was bored and my legs were starting…

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Meeting Apollo 7 Astronaut Walter Cunningham 

You never know who you'll meet at Luby's! 

My wife, Eileen and I volunteered for the 2019 Thanksgiving Day parade in downtown Houston handling a giant Dr. Seuss Lorax balloon. Since we had so much fun handling a NASA astronaut balloon in 2018, we decided to do it again. Our job was to be part of a group of around 15 people who each held a rope to wrangle the balloon up, down, sideways, or wherever needed to avoid trees along the downtown route. It was a challenge fighting the wind and a blast waving…

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Overnighter to Dallas 

Camping in Texas in December can be a wonderful experience... 

Our Texas Ladybug teardrop camper was packed up and ready to go. My wife, Eileen had a couple of days off from work and told me that we should go camping somewhere. We thought about going to Fredericksburg and Johnson City to see some beautiful Christmas lights but did that magical trip several Christmases ago. It is a must see!!! We soon settled on camping in Dallas since we have never been there during the holidays. 

We left Houston around…

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NASA Roots in Quito, Ecuador 

Since the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing is upon us this year, these are my own experiences of where I was at during that incredible time.

During the early summer of 1964, the Balli family moved from the states to Quito, Ecuador. My father Calvin was enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the US Embassy for the next 3 years. Before our arrival, he briefed my brothers and me on the purpose of our stay, which was to obtain information on Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. The embassy found us…

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Army Brat in 1967-1969 Fort Hood, Texas 

(NOTE: In honor of the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS,
I am writing this story from my own experiences during that time frame.)

I was a teenage army brat living in Fort Hood,Texas, which was at the time the largest Army base in the free world. My family lived there starting in 1967.

I was a cool looking dude transplanted from Galveston, Texas who was going through the usual growing up pains so I found ways to grow closer to the world through music, fashion clothing, and girls. I also became involved in…

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Adventures in Chaco Canyon 

I began my trip to Chaco Canyon in the fall of 1986 while working as an illustrator for an oilfield company. I drove my white 1984 Jeep Laredo from Houston to Amarillo, then along Route 66 to Albuquerque. Just before Gallup on Hwy 40 I headed north on Road 371, a partially paved road of about 65 miles. The scenery was a dry desert of canyons and cattle guards. As I slowed down to drive over the rumbling guards, I was reminded of how these cows could live in this hostile country in the first place! Its dry…

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Hunting Inca Dove in the Andes 

As an army brat in 1966, my father gave my brother and me the opportunity to use his 22 Remington rifle and shotguns. He bought them from a friend and my dad would show us how to use them safely.

We lived on the slopes of Pichincha, which has an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet above Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Our house sat very near an earthquake crack that skirts down the volcano called a cabrada where we would explore. My father would often take us boys into the Eucalyptus forest across our street to…

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Busted at Andrews Airforce Base 

Of all the experiences that I have gone through in my life, this story I am about to tell is perhaps my most daring, certainly my most foolish. Now that I am retired, I have been waiting for the day when I could share this extraordinary event to my fans and friends.

In the last part of the eighties, I took a work assignment from a local Mexican construction firm in Houston, Texas and was hired to manage the inventory of hardware such as nails, power equipment, braces, etc. out of a trailer in Annapolis…

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Guitar Gods' Demise -- The End of an Era: The First Rock Stars 

As a baby boomer, I have been blessed to experience the initial sounds of the first wave of rock and rollers. I was there when Ray Charles and Elvis began their journey to the land of great music. Decca, Polydor, EMI, Chess Records, Stax and others were recording the jazz greats and guitar gods.

In my childhood homes, my father played a variety of records from all the great country guitar players to the soul of Memphis. It was like magic to my ears and my dad loved them all! Buddy Holly's ballads, Little…

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New Orleans Memories 

Mardi Gras season is once again upon us so I would like to share a few memories of New Orleans as I remember them.

I live in the south, which some consider the middle of the country, so I only have a six hour drive by car to New Orleans. The place is happening and is the very best party you can ever join in just about any time of the year. I have been going there for years and each time is memorable.

A couple of years ago, I took my wife Eileen and her mother Barbara for The Big Easy's new years eve…

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