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From A to Zowie blog by richardzowie
Jun 30, 2010 | 2784 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Two pebbles, a handful of sand, and a piece of limestone
by richardzowie
Mar 21, 2013 | 620 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

Two pebbles, a handful of sand, and a piece of limestone

By Richard Zowie

My two youngest sons and I visited Texas in July 2011, our first visit home in over seven, very long years. It was an extremely emotional experience, to put it lightly. Never in my life was I so happy to experience 90-degree weather. While home, we stayed in Beeville with my parents but also spent time in Corpus Christi, Victoria and in Austin. In Austin, we spent the day with Chelsea Taylor, my high school classmate whom I’ve known since fifth grade. I also got to see my nephews, nieces and my sisters Sabrina and Misti, all whom I missed very much.

It was a week that went by far too quickly.

The last night before we flew back to Flint, Michigan, Chelsea asked me, “How has your vacation been, Richard?”

“Let me put it this way,” I said. “If I could, I’d tear up the return-flight tickets.”

Being back in Texas made me realize something I’ve known deep down for years: I’m a Texan. Michigan is a beautiful state, but it’s not home and never will be home. Someday soon, when the time is right, I want to return back to Texas and spend the rest of my life in the Lone Star State.

I wasn’t born in Texas, but I moved to Texas when I was eight, grew up in Texas and think of myself as an adopted Texan.

Why my fondness for Texas? It’s not just because it’s home, but…Texas is a state of mind that I’ve never experienced any other place I’ve been. I love the white-on-black farm to market road signs, I love the scenery, which ranges from the Gulf Coast to the Valley to the Hill Country and to the endless oil derricks you see out in West Texas. I also love the culture, how the independent spirit blends with the Hispanic culture. I’m not Catholic, but I smile when I see old Catholic churches; they make me think of early Texas settlements centuries ago. I love the smell of Tex-Mex food and the accordion-fueled guitar beat of Tejano music.

And, of course, I love the songs of the cicadas.

I know I’m home when I enter a store and for sale on the news stands are the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle, and in the magazine rack is Texas Monthly and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. And when you enter that store, half the conversations are in Spanish, spoken by family and friends who have spent generations in that town.

All this means I’m especially partial to South Texas.

I am a very sentimental person by nature, and during that visit I decided to collect a few items.

From the back of my parents’ property northeast of Beeville, I found a smooth black pebble.

During our trip to Corpus, we visited the U.S.S. Lexington. While there, I scooped up a handful of sand from the beach of Corpus Christi Bay.

While with my sisters, nephews and nieces for a trip to Victoria to a duck pond, I found another smooth black pebble.

Then, outside Chelsea’s home in Lakeway, I found a piece of limestone.

Someday, perhaps as soon as this summer, I plan to move back to Texas. For now, I live in Vassar, Michigan, a small community about 25 miles southeast of Saginaw. On my nightstand are two plastic containers; one contains the pebbles and limestone and the other contains the sand.

When I return, the sand will be returned to the beach at Corpus Christi Bay.

The small black pebble will be returned back to the duck pond in Victoria.

The larger black pebble will be returned to my parents’ property.

And the limestone will be returned to its home in Lakeway.

When I do those things, I will know one thing.

I am back home for good. And forever.

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and is a 1991 graduate of A.C. Jones High School. He currently lives with his sons in Vassar, Michigan. Post your comments here or e-mail Richard at fromatozowie@gmail.com. His blog is at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com.

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February 6, 2013: Richard Zowie turns 40
by richardzowie
Feb 03, 2013 | 634 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

February 6, 2013: Richard Zowie turns 40

By Richard Zowie

As I drove to work on Friday, February 1, I heard Katy Perry’s song “Wide Awake” on the radio. In the past, I thought Perry’s appeal is more in how she looks than in how or what she sings, but as I listened, the lyrics got my attention.

It gives me a lot to think about today, February 6, on my 40th birthday.

February 6, 1973 seems like a thousand years ago, and it’ll probably take a few weeks to realize that I’m not in my thirties anymore.

In Perry’s song, these three sets of lyrics gave me much to think about…

First:

I’m wide awake/Yeah, I was in the dark/I was falling hard

Second:

And now it’s clear to me/That everything you see/Ain’t always what it seems/I’m wide awake/Yeah, I was dreaming for so long

Finally:

I wish I knew then/What I know now/Wouldn’t dive in/Wouldn’t bow down/Gravity hurts/You made it so sweet/’Til I woke up on/On the concrete

For me, the song represents the continued maturing I’ve gone through as an adult as I further lose my innocence regarding certain areas of my life. We develop an increased awareness as we gain more experiences, observe and process it all. At 18, I knew everything about life. At 40, I know I still have a lot to learn but experience flickers of wisdom. Truth might be simple, but the world is a very complicated place.

Granted, I don’t agree with my parents on everything, but I will say this: my parents both were born into poor families during the Great Depression and had high school educations and some vocational training, and they have far more wisdom than many people I’ve met who have master’s degrees. (One Army soldier I knew had an economics degree from a southern university but could neither budget nor even balance his own checkbook).

But, you live and you learn.

One certain person has always asserted to me that a person is wiser and has better insight if they have more life experiences. I don’t agree. If you don’t learn from your life experiences, then you’re not wiser. All you will be good at is in making terrible decisions. Those who learn or who consistently make good decisions are to be revered instead.

The beginning of my forties bring to mind the ending of a relationship for me. When you’re in a relationship, it is easy to view things through a heart-shaped lens of love and assume that no matter what, love will save the day. But the truth is, when things are ending, such as my marriage, you tend to look back more objectively and see mistakes on both sides. You see which mistakes of yours are fixable and then wonder: what would a relationship would be like if I fix my shortcomings but also have someone who treats me with love and respect?

What would 40-year-old Richard Zowie say if he could travel back to 1991 and talk to 18-year-old Richard Zowie?

One: Don’t be in such a hurry to get married. When you are ready, the right woman will show up. Worry about college and getting set up in a good job first. I’ve seen lots of people enter into storybook marriages…and then into nasty divorces. Besides, the twenties (particularly the early twenties) are a stage where we are still learning to be adults. Unless you have matured, know who you are and what you want and understand the responsibilities of marriage, it’s not a good time to get settled.

My mother told me once that you should date a person for at least a year before you even consider marriage. The first six months, she said, are the newness stage. After that time you and your significant other start to see each other in natural light. That’s when you each must ask: is this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with?

Two: Get a good education and a well-paying job. Getting out and doing different things can give you a clearer perspective of what you really want to do.

Three: Develop self-confidence, self-respect and assertiveness. If you lack these things, people will walk all over you in life. Trust me: I have learned the hard way. My sons appear well on their way to not going down that same route as I did, thankfully. When I was 18, I thought you had to punch somebody’s lights out if you wanted to be taken seriously. Turns out, all you really have to do is be assertive, firm, and look the person in the eye. When people sense a vibe that you are willing to stand your ground, they tend to walk away. My late Aunt Margaret, for example, was a quiet, serious lady. But, with her approach, she received lots of respect.

And, finally, these lyrics from Perry’s song:

“I’m wide awake/Not losing any sleep/I picked up every piece/And landed on my feet…Need nothing to complete myself, no…Yeah, I am born again/Out of the lion’s den/I don’t have to pretend/And it’s too late/The story’s over now, the end…”

(This column appeared in the February 6, 2013 issue of the Genesee County Herald)

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and now works as a writer in Michigan. His e-mail is fromatozowie@gmail.com, and his blog is at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com.

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Finding Beeville in Michigan, a few observations on the Fiscal Cliff
by richardzowie
Dec 12, 2012 | 628 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
From A to Zowie

Finding Beeville in Michigan, a few observations on the Fiscal Cliff

By Richard Zowie

This past summer, during Fourth of July, I had a vacation. Things didn’t work out for me to return to South Texas, so I decided on a short road trip and stayed in a motel for a few days in a different city.

Goodbye, Vassar, Michigan, hello, Lansing.

While in Lansing, I walked downtown and then later went to a baseball game. I also had to deal with an unexpected auto repair, which was fun.

Well, not really.

Then, a friend and I went to a few thrift stores. I love t-shirts, so I looked to see what they had.

At one store, in the burnt orange section of the t-shirts, I found one that had a Trojan on it.

Could this be possible? I thought. After all, Lansing is about 1,500 miles from Beeville!

Sure enough, besides the Trojan logo, the shirt read “Beeville Trojans”.

“Hey!” I said to my friend. “Look at this!”

They looked and asked me the significance.

“This is where I went to high school!”

“In Texas?” they asked.

“Yep! South Texas.”

As I bought it, I found myself wondering how on earth the shirt made the long trip from Beeville to Michigan. Maybe someone from Beeville lived in Michigan and decided to get rid of the shirt (not me, by the way).

So now, the shirt is in my drawer. Most recently from a Birch Run, Mich. thrift store, I discovered a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt. Maybe sometime I’ll discover a Texas A&M t-shirt…

…The talk of a Fiscal Cliff makes me wonder if anybody in Washington D.C. has ever had to balance a checkbook or do their own budgeting. I doubt it. In my own house, I work two jobs and am taking care of my two youngest sons. There are lots of things we could really use, but even if it’s a need and not a want, it boils down to: can I afford it?

If not, it has to wait.

I suppose if I were in Congress, I could just write a check anyway. And when my bank sends me an overdraft notice, I’d take out a loan to pay the overdraft fees. And when I miss a loan payment, I’d take out another loan to pay for that. And on, and on, and on, until Judgment Day comes and nobody will offer me a new loan and any cash I have on me is worth dime-store toilet paper.

I don’t understand what is so difficult for Congress (particularly those who want to increase taxes and who feel that money to fund various programs like PBS magically materializes from thin air) that you CANNOT spend money you don’t have. I don’t understand what’s so difficult about that concept. Instead of being so quick to raise taxes, go through and get rid of unneeded or wasteful spending.

Billionaires George Soros and Warren Buffet are for tax increases and for bringing back estate taxes. One question I’d love to ask them: Considering our government is completely irresponsible with billions of tax dollars, why on earth should we give our government even more money to spend?

I wonder if Congress will reach some sort of compromise and make tax increases apply only to those who voted for President Obama’s re-election. You know, such as most of Hollywood, rapper Jay-Z…

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and is a 1991 graduate of A.C. Jones High School. He currently lives with his sons in Vassar, Michigan. Post your comments here or e-mail Richard at fromatozowie@gmail.com. His blog is www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com.
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Dallas Cowboys owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones gets an intervention
by richardzowie
Nov 15, 2012 | 1078 views | 2 2 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

Dallas Cowboys owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones gets an intervention

By Richard Zowie

As of this writing, the Dallas Cowboys are 4-5 after having defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-23 on November 11. It has been 17 years since the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl.

As Dallas tries to reach for .500 when they play the Cleveland Browns, many problems still loom. Will the Cowboys re-sign Tony Romo in the off-season? Will the offense finally start clicking? Will Felix Jones regain his old form? Will the Cowboys make the playoffs? Will Jason Garrett keep his job, or will we see him in the unemployment line in Dallas County? Will the Cowboys replace him with Mike Holmgren or Sean Payton? Will Dez Bryant remove the pacifier from his mouth and replace it with a mouth guard?

And, will Jerry Jones finally come clean about an embarrassing problem that could wind him up in rehab?

We can only hope…

…Jerry Jones sits in his office at Cowboys Stadium. For the last half hour he has been pondering two deals: the corporate sponsorship for Cowboys Stadium (the only sponsors officially ruled out have been Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Red Man Chewing Tobacco and Green Giant vegetables) and what toppings to put on his dinner pizza from Papa John’s (he’s leaning towards pepperoni, black olives and onions).

The door opens. In walks Gene Jones, Jerry’s wife, along with his sons, Stephen and Jerry Jr., and his daughter Charlotte. Also joining them are retired Cowboy legends Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith, Tony Dorsett and Randy White. They all have grim looks on their faces, as if Chuck Norris has just lost an arm wrestling match to Iron Man.

Jerry: Um, what is going on? My birthday was LAST month.

Gene: This has nothing to do with your birthday, Jerry.

Jerry (looking at Staubach, Dorsett and White): Guys, I have apologized countless times for how I fired Tom Landry.

Roger: This has nothing to do with how you fired Coach Landry, Jerry.

Jerry: Nobody’s paycheck bounced, did it?

Stephen: No, Dad. Financially, you’re worth over $2 billion. Everybody’s getting paid.

(Jerry lets out a deep sigh of relief).

Stephen: Dad, all of us love you and respect you very much, but it’s time we made you realize what everybody in the organization and everybody in Texas already knows.

Jerry: What’s that?

Gene: Sweetie, you’re a great marketer and brilliant businessman, but as team president and general manager of the Cowboys, you, um, well, um…

Dorsett: Jerry, what your wife is trying to say is that as team president and general manager you stink worse than Limburger cheese.

Jerry: Gene, I love ya, but that’s just your opinion…wait, does EVERYBODY here feel this way?

ALL (in perfect unison): YES!!!

Jerry: What makes y’all say that? I’ve found some pretty talented guys?

Emmitt: You mean like Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Clint Stoerner and Shaunte Carter? Jerry, no other teams even had Quincy on their draft board! You took him in the second round but probably could’ve signed him as an un-drafted free agent!

Randy: And what on earth is your obsession with football players who tried to play baseball but failed, Jerry? I mean, Carter, Hutchison and Drew Henson?

Troy: Jerry, there’s no shame in admitting you’re not good at assessing talent. I mean, you drafted David Buehler because he had a strong leg--never mind if the goalposts were five miles apart, he’d STILL shank field goals wide left.

Jerry: But that doesn’t mean I’m not good at assessing talent!

Jerry Jr.: Dad, besides those players, do you also remember thinking Barry Switzer would be a great NFL coach, and not to mention removing your support from Bill Parcells and backing Terrell Owens! Let’s face it: Jimmy Johnson had great talent at picking talented players and personnel. You don’t have that talent.

Charlotte: Daddy, here’s what we’re gonna do. We will escort you to a black SUV waiting outside, then to the airport and then to the Betty Ford Clinic. They have doctors there who specialize in professional sports owners who micromanage and think they know far more about their sport than they really do…

What will happen? Time will tell? My guess is that if Jerry Jones swallows his pride and completes the program, maybe someday soon Cowboys Stadium will become Betty Ford Clinic Stadium as a symbol of gratitude.

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and is a 1991 graduate of A.C. Jones High School. He currently lives with his sons in Vassar, Michigan. Post your comments here or e-mail Richard at fromatozowie@gmail.com.

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feelark
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November 16, 2012
Wonder how the Papa John's employees feel making one of those two million free pizzas while they are being shafted out of health care? The fact is that it would cost an average of 14 cents per pizza to cover them........

Returning to writing for the B-P, Astros, Texas rivalries, birds
by richardzowie
Sep 25, 2012 | 831 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

Returning to writing for the B-P, Astros, Texas rivalries, birds

By Richard Zowie

After an extended hiatus due to a certain unexpected change in my life, I’ve decided to dust off my keyboard and continue writing “From A to Zowie” for the Bee-Pic.

Once I submit it for print, I will be posting it online at www.mysoutex.com on the website blog, and on my blog at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com.

To make a long story short, there comes a time where you have to return to your routines and get busy. Life goes on.

That being said, let’s get down to business…

…I am very excited to be a Houston Astros fan, even though the Astros have the worst major league record in what will be their final season in the National League. After about 50 years, they have a handful of division championships and only one pennant (in 2005, they went to the World Series and were swept by the Chicago White Sox).

Why am I excited? New ownership and, even more important, new uniforms.

From what I’ve read online, the Astros will be doing what many ’Stros fans have been dying for them to do: ditch the black, brick, sand railroad look and return to the blue-and-orange space look. Specifically, a modern version of the 1960s shooting star look will return. I’d love to see the star on the jersey, but I’ve also heard it might not be there.

And, if you love the blue caps with the white H superimposed atop an orange star, you’ll be excited as that is said to be returning--howbeit with a slightly different font.

People say Houston should focus on having a winning ball club before worrying about what they wear. I say, it’s bad enough that the team looks as bad as it plays: why not have a fresh look that returns the team to its roots?

Personally, I’ve never understood the logic of basing a team’s look on what used to occupy their stadium site (Minute Maid Park sits on what used to be a train depot, hence the railrood look)…

…I have a family that’s divided. My sister Sabrina’s kids are all staunch Texas A&M fans while my sister Misti’s sons are both staunch Texas fans. My sons, living in Michigan, like Michigan State but also like the Longhorns. I reminded the youngest, Robert, that he should like the Aggies since the man he was named after (my close friend from high school, Bob Jackson) is a Texas A&M graduate. Maybe I should buy Rob a maroon cap for Christmas.

Myself, I am still trying to decide where I stand. While vacationing in Texas with my sons two summers ago, I bought all three of us U.T. caps. We were in Austin visiting my high school friend, Chelsea, and finding an A&M cap there is like trying to find a Cowboys cap in a Washington D.C. sporting goods store. Once my sons are grown, I’m planning to return to school and may just declare my allegiances depending on where I go. If that’s the case, then UTSA could be my top choice. They offer programs in two things I’d like to dive into: English and Russian…

…A few years ago, I read a story in the Bee-Picayune about the feeding and social habits of mockingbirds. It fascinated me and made me think of how exciting the world of bird watching is.

Here are my recent bird watching highlights:

A couple of years ago, I saw a bald eagle in a farm field outside Frankenmuth, Michigan. Coincidentally, Frankenmuth’s school mascot is the Eagle. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a bald eagle. One avid bird watcher I recently met tells me America’s National Symbol is becoming more common in the Great Lakes State.

Our neighbor’s cat twice left a dark, speckled dead bird on my porch. I took a picture and asked on Facebook if anyone knew what kind of bird it was. After weeding through the “It’s a dead bird!” comments, I finally saw my sister, Sabrina, answered. It was a starling--apparently an invasive species of bird.

I’m guessing the cat left it as a gift for me.

More recently, I saw a bright yellow bird with black markings flying around. I took a picture and then after googling the description, saw I’d just met the American Goldfinch.

I’ve also seen orioles, robins, cardinals and other colorful birds. When I return to Texas, I plan to photograph the mockingbird. And next time I’m in Kansas and Louisiana, the western meadowlark and brown pelican, respectively…

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and is a 1991 graduate of A.C. Jones High School. He currently lives with his sons in Vassar, Michigan. Post your comments here or e-mail Richard at fromatozowie@gmail.com.

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Richard Zowie speculates about 2011
by richardzowie
Dec 31, 2010 | 713 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

Richard Zowie speculates about 2011

By Richard Zowie

In a recent survey where I work, I asked local residents what they thought 2011 held in store. What can we expect to happen in this area, in Michigan, in America and in the world?

I thought I’d take a stab at this question.

In Texas:

…Jason Garrett will remain Dallas’ head coach…

…Cowboys Stadium will finally receive corporate sponsorship. I have no idea the name, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Philadelphia Cream Cheese Stadium…

…It will be hot this summer. Duh!…

…I will long for the day in the future when I move back to Texas permanently…

In America:

…Amy Winehouse or Lindsay Lohan will die from a drug overdose. I’m not trying to be morbid, but every generation has its John Belushi (who died of a cocaine and heroin overdose in 1982 at 33). You know: a celebrity who parties hard and grossly overestimates their tolerance for controlled substances…

…America’s economy may show flickers of life. Both Democrats and Republicans will fight for credit…

…Sarah Palin will quietly test the waters for a 2012 presidential run. I think she brings some sorely-needed moxie to the GOP, but I’m reluctant at best to support her. But then, we already have for almost two years had an inexperienced president, so why not?…

…Van Halen will release an album that will put them back into the stratosphere of the rock and roll world—David Lee Roth’s troubled vocal cords notwithstanding, Eddie Van Halen will want to kick himself for not getting clean and sober years ago…

…Oprah Winfrey will announce the latest book to join her book club: The Gospel According to Oprah. She will also star in the movie The Passion of the Oprah, a story about her struggles against her critics…

…Gas prices will continue to frustrate all of us. Some will sell kidneys on Ebay in exchange for gas money…

…Leathered, weather, boozy, pickled Rolling Stone rhythm guitarist Keith Richards will star in a remake of the 1989 film Weekend At Bernie’s. Richards, of course, will play the part of the deceased Bernie, whom everyone incredulously thinks is still alive. Mick Jagger, the Stones’ lead singer, will joke in interviews that Richards actually has been dead for five years but that the band pretended he was still alive so as to not interfere with their tour schedule.

In the world:

…There will be continued tensions in the Middle East between Israel and its friendly Islamic neighbors—but you already knew this…

…North Koreans will decide they are fed up with the Kim Jong-Il family and will have a revolution that will make the infamous 1789 French Revolution seem like child’s play…

…The price of gold will continue to climb…

…The Rolling Stones will embark on their famous “We Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Mean It This Time!” farewell tour…

 

 

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and now lives and works in Michigan. Visit his blog at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com or e-mail him at fromatozowie@gmail.com.

 

 

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Jerry Jones searches for a new coach for the Dallas Cowboys
by richardzowie
Nov 10, 2010 | 755 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

Jerry Jones searches for a new coach for the Dallas Cowboys

By Richard Zowie

Well, fellow Dallas Cowboy fans, we can stick a fork into this season of the Cowboys. I feel foolish: this pre-season I assured one of my nephews that there was nothing to worry about with Dallas getting clobbered by most its opponents this preseason. That should have been a deadly omen how bad the team looked.

And now, with Wade Phillips finally being shown the door, we have Jason Garrett as the interim coach. Is he a permanent solution? I don’t know. It will depend on how the team does the rest of the season. My guess is Garrett will become so stressed he’ll turn into a 10-pack a day chain smoker. Unfiltered, of course.

I suspect that not only is Jones looking for a new head coach, he probably has already made some calls…

Call Number One

Bill Cowher: Hello?

Jerry Jones: Bill? Jerry Jones here. How are you?

Cowher: Enjoying retirement.

Jones: Bill, what would it take for you to become the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys?

Cowher: Depends. Would you ever step down as general manager?

Jones: When pigs fly.

Now, what I need to know is this: would I ever be able to hire a proven winner like you and keep my job as general manager?

Cowher: When pigs fly…

Call Number Two

Troy Aikman: Hello?

Jones: Troy? Jerry here. How are you?

Aikman: (confused) Jerry Who? Jerry Lewis?

Jones: When have you ever known Jerry Lewis to have an Arkansas drawl?

Aikman: Jerry Rice?

Jones: No, this isn’t Jerry Rice. Let me give you a hint: you used to play football for me.

Aikman: Oh! Now I remember! Long time no hear, Jimmy!

Jones: Jimmy?!

Aikman: Yeah! You’re Jimmy Johnson, right?

Jones: (exasperated) No, Troy, I’m Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. I was going to make you a great job offer, but I think I’ll pass now. Clearly, you’ve had one concussion too many.

[Click]

Rhonda Aikman, Troy’s wife: Honey, who was that on the phone?

Aikman: (laughs) It was my old boss, Jerry Jones. He was going to ask me if I wanted to coach the Dallas Cowboys, but I figured if I pretended to still suffer the side-effects of concussions, he’d quit pestering me. Someone’s going to have to pry the general manager position from his cold, dead hands before I’d even consider being Dallas’ head coach…

Call Number Three

Jon Gruden: Hello?

Jerry Jones: Hello, Jon. Jerry Jones here. How are you--?

Gruden: You’re offering me the head coaching job of the Cowboys, aren’t you?

Jones: Yes! I think you’d be a great fit.

Gruden: No.

Jones: You don’t want to coach the Cowboys?

Gruden: I’d love to coach the Cowboys, but right now, it’s not a good fit.

Jones: Why not?

Gruden: Because you’re the general manager.

Jones: What’s wrong with that?

Gruden: Jerry, I’ve already worked for one clueless, meddling owner in Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders. Once was enough for me…

So, finally, Jerry gets desperate and makes a “Hail Mary” call…

Call Number Four

Jimmy Johnson: Hello?

Jerry Jones: Jimmy! Jerry. How are you?

Johnson: Not bad. Just looking at a deal to endorse hair spray.

Jones: Listen, as you know, I had to fire Wade Phillips as head coach of the Cowboys.

Johnson: Since I work on Fox’s NFL show, I sort of knew that already.

Jones: Well, as I’ve been brainstorming, I was wondering if you would be interested in coaching the Dallas Cowboys again.

[Half an hour later, after Jimmy Johnson finally quits laughing, he wipes tears away and takes a deep breath]

Johnson: Jerry, you’ll never have another Super Bowl win until you fire yourself as general manager and hire a real GM and a real coach. Working once with you as the GM was more than enough for me…

So, finally, Jones calls up NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and asks this question: “Mr. Goodell, would it be permitted by the rules for me to hire myself as the head coach?”

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and has been a Dallas Cowboys fan for more than 30 years. Post your comments here or e-mail Richard at fromatozowie@gmail.com.

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Did the Beeville Trojans change their helmet logo?
by richardzowie
Aug 29, 2010 | 945 views | 1 1 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

One website shows a "new" logo as an orange helmet with the head of a trojan superimposed over the state of Texas.

If so, it looks very nice.

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richardzowie
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September 04, 2010
Sigh...I guess I'll have to wait two weeks for the newspaper to get to my house in Michigan.

Stores with no public restrooms are a public nuisance
by richardzowie
Aug 24, 2010 | 654 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

Stores with no public restrooms are a public nuisance

By Richard Zowie

(Published in the August 25, 2010 issue of the Clio, Mich.-based Mt. Morris/Clio Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald)

If you’re traveling or shopping in northern Genesee County and southern Saginaw County and you have a weak bladder, it’s best to use the restroom before you head out and avoid drinking fluids while you’re out and about. Make note of remote, deserted roads with a few strategically-placed trees or bushes if possible. Or, perhaps, do what they did in the good ol’ days and take an empty bottle if nature calls and won’t take “Later” for an answer.

Many stores in the area, I’ve observed, have made their restrooms unavailable for public use.

Somewhere in Saginaw County a few months ago, my wife, Jennifer, and I went to a drug store to get her prescription filled. It took about half an hour. During that time, Jennifer needed to use the restroom and asked where the restroom was.

“We don’t have a public restroom,” the sales lady said.

“Not even for customers?” I asked.

“No.”

Jennifer then had to leave the store and find one nearby and hope it had a public restroom–all while having to use the restroom badly.

This, to me, was completely unacceptable and infuriating.

“I realize you probably have had people come into this store and make a mess in the restroom and maybe even vandalize it, but we are your customers,” I told the sales lady. “Do not judge us based on what others do. You know, a few miles down there is a very large big box store that also fills prescriptions. Guess what they also have? Public restrooms. You are giving us no incentive whatsoever to do repeat business here, and, as far as I’m concerned, you have just lost a customer. Please tell your manager that.”

In retrospect, I should’ve asked to speak with the manager.

This past Sunday, somewhere in northern Genesee County, my family accompanied me on a few assignments where I took pictures. While leaving one place to head to the next, we decided to stop at a convenience store to get some drinks. Just as well, since I and my wife both needed to use the restroom.

We stopped at one store and as we reached the entrance, there was a sign announcing the store had no public restroom.

“Let’s buy our drinks here and then look for a store with a public restroom,” Jennifer told me.

I shook my head. Any store that refused to let us use their restroom would most certainly not get our business. We drove a few blocks and found another convenience store that did have public restrooms.

I am aware that some abuse restrooms. Some will use the restroom to smoke a cigarette. Other restrooms have graffiti while some have customers who will help themselves to supplies. And, yes, some customers make certain types of messes that can be nasty to clean up. Some stores simply don’t want to have to waste manpower to clean the restrooms on a frequent basis.

And so the solution is to punish everybody by allowing no customers to use the restroom.

A month ago, while working at home on a freelance assignment about restrooms, I discussed this with American Restroom Association program manager Robert Brubaker. He told me that if building codes start requiring stores to post signs showing where their restrooms are, they possibly will no longer be able to refuse to let customers use their restrooms. Besides, since many big-box stores readily have public restrooms, smaller stores are facing a choice: offer a restroom or lose business.

That’s something sure to bring relief to your bladder when you’re out running errands.

Richard Zowie grew up in Beeville and, as he is typing this, has no need to go to the bathroom. Visit his blog at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com or e-mail him at fromatozowie@gmail.com.

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Your Honor, I have an objection...
by richardzowie
Aug 18, 2010 | 499 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

From A to Zowie

Your Honor, I have an objection…

By Richard Zowie

(Published in the August 18, 2010 issue of the Clio,Mich.-based Mt. Morris/Clio Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald)

The time I’ve spent lately in Genesee County Circuit Court covering, for the Herald, the Michigan Association of Police’s injunction request against Genesee Township has reminded me of the other few times in my life I’ve been in court. Twice within the last decade, while living in San Antonio, Texas, I received a jury summons. The first case was a juvenile accused of bringing a gun to school while the second was a murder case.

I was eager, and still am, at the prospect of jury duty. According to the contract I had with my then-employer, I would still receive my regular salary even while on a jury.

Willingness apparently doesn’t count as I wasn’t chosen either time. The second case left me particularly bitter. There, I was Juror Number 29 in a pool of 72 potential jurors for a 12-member jury in the murder trial. So, I figured I’d have a decent shot of getting onto the jury.

Wrong. By the time the judge questioned me, it was a formality: they’d already chosen their 12 jurors.

One man tried to get out of serving because not only was he prejudiced against Hispanics (the defendant was Hispanic), he was also prejudiced against EVERYONE. Another guy said a family member had recently been killed, and he did not feel he could be impartial.

I do not remember if they were chosen to serve, but I do remember one particular juror who was chosen. He was a self-employed businessman who pleaded with the judge not to select him.

“Your Honor, I am my only employee, and I will literally lose thousands of dollars every day I’m on this jury,” he said. If I remember right, he had a thick stack of business records to show the judge to prove his hardship.

Too bad, the judge essentially said, and the businessman was selected.

In a trial that lasted about a week, the defendant was convicted of murder and received a 99-year prison sentence. I’ve often wondered if the businessman, disgusted about his lost income and the damage done to his business, simply went with the most expedient verdict so he could quickly return to his business. That’s a scary thought for an innocent defendant or for a prosecutor desperately trying to put away a cold-blooded psychopath.

I was again reminded of this recently when my brother-in-law, Joe, was selected to serve on a federal grand jury for three days. Joe is a self-employed locksmith, and my sister told me that when he returned back to his job, things were crazy as he had to quickly play catch-up to fill back orders. Again, while Joe sometimes enlists in the help of family members (including my nephews, my sister, my father and my other brother-in-law), Joe is his only employee.

For any lawyers or judges reading this, please enlighten me: if a self-employed person can prove a significant loss of income by serving on a jury, why shouldn’t jury duty be optional for them? Yes, I know there are creative excuses conjured by people who loathe sitting on a jury, but there are also people like me who’d love to sit on a jury but never receive the opportunity due the extinction of common sense.

Richard Zowie is a reporter and columnist for the Herald. Visit his blog at www.fromatozowie.wordpress.com or e-mail him at fromatozowie@gmail.com.

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