Herman I. May

Herman I. May


31 August 2004

RNC 2004, part I

The 2004 Republican National Convention got underway last night. Like the Democratic National Convention of last month, this one seems largely ceremonial and designed primarily as an excuse to spend state party money on a frivolous formality. Perhaps more so in this instance, since the nominee is an uncontested incumbent. Nevertheless, I feel as though it is every voter's civic duty to watch as much of the coverage as possible in order to make an informed decision come November.

The Republican version seemed to start more with a whimper than a bang. First there was the hubristic melodrama of opening theatrics. An apparent floor reporter engaged in a faux conversation with a delegate was interrupted by a feigned control booth announcement. Following this, the reported indicated to the delegate that she understood him to have an important, special announcement. The delegate then proceeded to announce, "Live from New York, it's the Republican National Convention!" ...after which a knockoff of the SNL lead-in introduced the week's primetime speakers. It was a pitiful attempt at humor, IMO, but I suppose it was meant to both pay homage to New York City and appeal to a desirous demographic.

Perhaps it is just me, but the RNC simply seemed to lack the energy and appeal of the DNC. The Republicans got right to the meat of the matter by continuing the delegate roll call begun earlier in the day. The Democrats had all sorts of speakers, beginning early in the evening and going until around 2200 CDT. There were really only seven speakers last night. The two notables among them being John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani.

McCain was at once both the most compelling speaker of the evening and the most disappointing. Up until about six weeks ago, he had been a staunch critic of Bush and most of his policy decisions with respect to "War on Terrorism". Lately, though, he has practically been slobbering all over "W". That continued into last night where he kept going on and on about how much resolve Bush has shown in the "war". Some with whom I have spoken are of the opinion that someone made McCain an offer he could not refuse. Perhaps it is the promise of a cabinet post in the second administration; perhaps it is special consideration of an important project for his constituency. Whatever it is/was, this about-face is sickening. McCain is only one of two Republican candidates in the past ten years for whom I have considered casting my vote should they seek a higher office. The other being Colin Powell. Now, both have lost that consideration.

I guess I had never really heard Giuliani speak at length in public. A sound bite her; another there. He seemed to be trying to appeal to too many people with his speech. Eloquence is definitely not his forté. Certainly, he capable in the continuation of the evening's theme, "A Nation of Courage". However, that courage seems limited to the destruction of relatively impotent despots and the "War on Terrorism". Where is the courage to live up to our obligation for compliance with the treaties into which we have entered; the courage and conviction to abide by the decrees of the international resolutions of an NGO we helped to establish; the courage to protect the rights of the citizenry — even if that means a little less security and a little more personal responsibility?

The most ironic comment of the evening came from self-described "liberal" and actor Ron Silver. In his, thankfully, short but no less vitriolic diatribe against the "extremists" he stated:

We will never forgive. Never forget. Never excuse!

This from the party of compasionate conservatives. We will certainly not forget — at least not soon nor readily. Even though to excuse is redundant to forgiveness, to state never so emphatically is characteristically unChristian.

The convention goes on and I am trying to keep an open mind. However, the Republicans had better get off of this war theme and concentrate more mainstream issues if they have any hope of compelling my consideration! Courage exists in realms other than the destructive forces of war. They wasted their opportunity to touch upon other ideas during the first night.

25 August 2004

Swift steed

After seven years of riding what could arguably described as a low-end hybrid/commuter bike, I have finally returned to my preferred geometry — touring. Not only that, but the vehicle I chose is one that I have admired for the better part of ten years.

Last Sunday, I make the decision to replace my aging 1996 Raleigh C-40 with a 2004 Novara Randonee. For those that may be unfamiliar with the manufacturer, Novara is the house brand of bicycle sold at REI. The Randonee is the most popular of the models offered by REI as evidenced by their description stating that:

This touring bike has been a Novara® mainstay since we started building bikes—and now it's better than ever with Reynolds 520 Cro-moly tubing.

While I did not barter for a deal on the purchase of the bike itself, I did finagle some upgrades. The sales person was willing to replace the stock, platform pedals with a pair of Shimano M540s and shave $20 off of the cost of the latter. I was also able to get $10 knocked off the cost of a rack.

I figured that I would be able to appreciate an improvement in trip times with the new bike. This was assumed to be the result of both the improved geometry, higher gear range and more aero positioning. A savings of maybe five or ten minutes was theorized for the twenty mile distance of my average commute. However, the actual reduction realized was closer to twenty minutes. What had heretofore taken about 1.5 hours to travel has now been shortened to just over seventy minutes.

Two small disappointments — nothing is perfect.

The saddle post clamp is fixed; not quick-connect. That is not a serious issue as I am the only operator and it should be rare that I would need to adjust it. Nevertheless, there are several instances where this adjustment would be needed on a tour. A friction clamp would be much more convenient that searching for an Allen wrench. This is high on my list of aftermarket upgrades.

REI does not provide a dedicated owner's manual and/or model specs. Instead, they opt for a generic Novara Bike product manual, which covers various aspects of all of their bike models. Add to that the fact that the web site currently is without information on the current Randonee model and it makes for a less than satisfying experience when trying to determine the roster of components. Looking over the bike, I have come up with this list; not only for my benefit, but for any others who would like to see how the 2004 Randonee compares to comparable models from other manufacturers.

FrameReynolds 520 Cro-Moly
Head setRitchey Scuzzy Logic comp
Rear derailleurShimano Tiagra x9
Front derailleurShimano Tiagra x3
ShiftersShimano ST-R500
Brake leversShimano ST-R500
BrakesShimano BR-R550
CranksetShimano Tiagra 30/42/52
CassetteShimano Tiagra 11/28 x8
Bottom bracket/axle<unknown>
RimsMavic A319
TiresContinental Top Touring 2000 700x28
StemRitchey Pro
HandlebarRitchey BioMax
SaddleLookin Xsenium
Seat postRitchey Alloy
Weight?? lbs. (52 cm)

Though Elizabeth does not agree, the purchase of this bike was a much needed acquisition. The C-40 was reaching that point in its life where its Alivio components were approaching the point of no return. My options were to replace the components piecemeal over the course of weeks or months versus replacement with a modern, more performance oriented model. I chose the latter and regret it not a bit. :-)

20 August 2004

Where were you when ...

Most everyone is familiar with the inquiry, "where were you the day JFK was shot?" However, as time carries us to the mid-way point of the first decade of the 21st Century, more and more of us are unable to answer that question as we were not even born! Nevertheless, my generation has acquired its own set of "where were you when ..." interrogatives.

There are three such events of national significance which serve as a déjà vu mnemonic. I can remember vividly exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard or experienced the catastrophies associated with the dates 28 January 1986, 11 September 2001, and 01 February 2003. However, for me there is also an anti-memory which triggers my ability to recall the specifics of my tenth year class reunion.

Through a strange twist of fate, I will always be able to recall the exact date on which my high school graduating class celebrated its first decennial reunion: 17 June 1994. Not only am I be able to remember the date of this event, but also such particulars as the location, time of day, sights, sounds, and smells. The reason for all of the above is not due to some yearning feeling of nostalgia. Instead, it can be tied to a particular event; an event that many would prefer to forget.

It was at approximately 1925 in the evening on 17 June 1994, that I was standing in line to pick-up my family's meal at a restaurant named J.W. Finn, in Tyler, Texas, just before dusk. At that instant, a nearby television was broadcasting the infamous "slow-speed" chase of O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings along a California freeway. Everytime I am reminded of the surreal Simpson/Cowlings parade, I am immediately transported back to that Friday evening a little over ten years ago. Mind you, the reunion itself is not a bad memory, though the stimulus certainly leaves much to be desired. Yet recollection of the one is inextricably bound to remembrance of the other.

All of this was brought back to me today when, while reading through the paper, I came across a review of the recent DVD releases of Steven Speilberg's films Duel and The Sugarland Express. In the closing paragraphs of the review, the journalist makes the following statements

Where Duel is a white-knuckle ride, Sugarland Express is more of a white Bronco ride. The frequently humorous, leisurely convoy chase and the roadside crowds that turn out to cheer the couple on are eerily prescient of the O.J. and Al Cowlings show, which unfolded not too far from the terrain of Duel.

15 August 2004

Reconfiguring IM

Instant Messaging (IM) is a great tool. Much more immediate and interactive, it allows one the benefit of quick communication without the threat of interruption. Telephone calls are too invasive. On the one hand, one feels obligated to answer in the event that the caller bears emergent news. On the other, if one is otherwise preoccupied and would not have answered, then ensuing conversation may be more of a burden than a pleasure. eMail is too unpredictable. The recipient may be available or they may not; the message may be delivered in a timely manner or it may not. IM is very convenient by comparison. One may be busy, yet online and marked "away". Incoming chat requests can be gauged for relevance and importance and either immediately answered or placed on hold until a more convenient time arrives.

Until about eighteen months ago, ICQ was my preferred service. I knew many more people making use of ICQ than any other; then came iChat. With the release of MacOS 10.2.x in late summer 2003, Apple introduced their built-in instant messaging client. Christened iChat, it was basically a rebranded implementation of the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service. It was extended by the ability to make use of one's .Mac address and, in addition to the standard TCP/IP IM network, Rendezvous (a.k.a. zeroConf) communications on a LAN. Given the convenience of the built-in client and the fact that many of my ICQ "buddies" had begun to migrate to other services, I preferentially adopted the use of iChat as my technology of preference. Even so, I can occasionally be found on ICQ.

Recent events have added another client to the fray. Many years ago, I gave Yahoo! Messenger (YM) a try soon after its initial release. I did not stick with it long, as I knew too few individuals making use of it and the clients for the MacOS were cludgy hacks at best. Lacking many of the features that were present in the Wintel client, I soon abandoned it. The recent creation of the "TGK_Class_of_1984" mailing list, the discovery that several contacts who previously used ICQ had migrated to YM, and a reevaluation of the robusness of the client have convinced me to add the YM client back to my repertoire. I have already had occasion to chat with one of my former classmates as well as establishing a reliable and acceptable means of staying in contact with my mother-in-law. Rebecca has adopted YM as well. :-)

Part and parcel to this addition is the creation of the status panel at left. This will provide interested visitors with a snapshot of my IM status at the time of their initial page load. If you make use of one of the indicated clients and would like to chat, fell free to send me a message. If I am free, I will be glad to chat.

13 August 2004

Loggins vs Morris, new findings

My distant cousin and sometime research collaborator, Don Lindley, has discovered an article that was published in The Daily Constitution on 23 July 1879. The information contained within serves to lend substance to several disparate anecdotes which have been passed down through various generations of the Loggins family.

The Daily Constitution

Atlanta, GA., Wednesday Morning, July 23, 1879

Helping Themselves

Publishing a Reign of Anarchy

The State of Things Brought About by Cowardly Courts and Governors in Texas--Family Vendettas, and Appeals to the Hip-Pocket--Miss Harriker's Suicide

Hempstead, Texas, July 22—One result of the corruption of the courts and the non-execution of the criminal laws in Texas is the springing up of deadly seuds [sic] between families in some sections of Texas. One of these vendettas—and so far, a most bloody one—is just commencing in this (Waller) county. The thrilling tragedies is has already engenderen [sic] have shocked the entire state, used as its people are to scenes of blood.

In a neighborhood four or five miles west of Hempstead, and near the Brazos, in the midst of rich lands, fertile plantations and wealthy farmers, there are and have for a long time been two prominent and leading families—the Logginses and the Morrises. The former is probably the most numerous, about 150 persons belonging to the connection in different parts of the state. A number of the family have heretofore resided near Hempstead, and the same neighborhood with the Morrises. Some of them were related to the former by marriage. Both families were in fact mixed up.

Some time during 1877, Thomas Loggins, for a time, found it necessary to be absent from his residence in the midst of a large plantation. His absence was not only somewhat prolonged, but indefinite, and he suddenly returned to his home to find his cousin—one of the Morrises—in the house and in close proximity to his wife, Mrs. Loggins. The enraged husband, in true Texas style,drew his revolver, and, leveling it at the head of the Lothario, drew trigger, but the cap burst and the barrel failed to fire. Morris arose and fled through the back door into the fields and escaped. Loggins, finding he could not "get his man," shot down Morris' horse, which he found hitched at the gate. After this Morris fled the county. Loggins threatened that if ever they [sic] met the disturber of his domestic peace he must die. A short while ago Morris returned, and hearing of the threates, armed himself with a double-barreled shot-gun and proceeded to way-lay Loggins, as the latter rode out of Hempstead on his return to his home. He was accompanied by a friend, and as the two approached a large postoak tree near a fence, Morris sprang from behind it, raised his gun and shot Loggins dead. The murderer, having no fear of kangaroo courts, hastened to deliver himself up to the authorities, knowing that he would never be punished. An investigation was had and the murderer remanded to jail without bail. Some of the Loggins's connection swore vengeance at the time; and shortly afterwards Reuben Loggins, his son Henry, and a nephew Wiliford Loggins, held a consultat ion, at which it was determined to avenge the death of their kinsman. The bloody resolve was faithfully carried out. Reuben Morris, a well-to-do farmer, and excellent citizen, and justice of the peace a brother of the murderer—was riding home not long since from Hempstead. As he was passing through a long lane in the Loggins' plantation, and just as he neared the old gin house, he was suddenly confronted by "old man" Reuben Morris [sic] and the two young men mentioned, who deliberately shot him off his horse, he falling to the ground a corpse. The three murderers were arrested on the evidence of a negro, who saw the murder, and had long been in one of the contending families. They are now in jail awaiting action by the courts, and what with continuances and delays, new trials and executive clemency, are pretty sure to escape punishment. The people of the town and neighborhood are being forced to take sides with one party or th e other, and the prospects are a long and bloody vendetta of assassination and murder, which the courts are either too weak or too corrupt to nip in the bud and put down in the beginning.

12 August 2004

Ed Lukert, P.E.

I am posting the following as a tribute to a friend. Not a good friend; really more of an acquaintance. Nevertheless, a respectable and humble individual who gave of himself in many more ways than most could ever hope to do.

Ed and I served together on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Task Force of NCTCOG. He was always a welcome sight at the meetings. We enjoyed many conversations on various aspects of the bicycle as a legitimate alternative to motorized vehicles. It is both sobering and gratifying to learn that he died while engaging in one of his passions.

Though I learned of his death Tuesday, I have held off until today to share this news with those who may be interested and to preserve this information for posterity.

Edward Page Lukert Jr.

Decorated veteran of 3 wars
by Joe Simnacher
staff writer

Edward Page Lukert Jr. was competitive and successful.

A West Point graduate, he earned a chest full of medals for his Army service that included World War II, Korea, Vietnam and peacetime. He retired as a colonel in 1978 and moved to Texas where he had a successful 10-year business career.

An active retiree, he was a Meals on Wheels volunteer. He also rode a bicycle 5,000 miles a year and explored cycling as a transportation alternative for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Mr. Lukert, 77, died Thursday of an apparent heart attack while on his daily bike ride from his Arlington home.

Services will be at 2 p.m. today at Trinity United Methodist Church, 3321 W. Park Row Drive in Arlington. His ashes will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

"He was very competitive and was driven to excel," said his wife, Carol Lukert of Arlington.

Born in Omaha, Neb., Mr. Lukert was the son of an Army officer, Edward Lukert, who was a veteran of both world wars.

Mr. Lukert joined the Army right after high school and served at the end of World War II. After being discharged in 1946 , he attended the University of West Virginia until he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1951.

He attended Army flight school and was assigned to Korea, where he received the Bronze Star.

On his way to Korea in 1953, he stopped in San Francisco to visit a former West Point roommate who had lost a leg in combat.

"Ed checked Hank [his former roomate] out of the hospital one afternoon and they borrowed an Army airplane," his wife said. "Regulations were a whole lot more lax than they are now. For a lark, they flew under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was probably a no-no, even in those days."

After Korea, Mr. Lukert was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., before returning to the classroom to earn a master's degree in aeronautical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1961.

In April 1967, Mr. Lukert was assigned to the 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion and Headquarters in Vietnam. During his year in Vietnam, he commanded the air combat unit for six months, during which it was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. He personally received the Legion of Merit for exceptional meritorious conduct, two Distinguished Flying Crosses for distinguished heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight, a Bronze Star for distinguished heroism against the enemy and 10 Air Medals for meritorious achievement for his efforts in Vietnam.

In 1968, Mr. Lukert was transferred to the Pentagon in Washington, where he was an assistant to the Army's vice chief of staff. He retired in 1978 as a colonel.

In 1976, he received a master's degree in public administration from Shippensburg State College, now Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, in Shippensburg, Pa.

After retiring from the Army he worked for Employer's Insurance of Texas as a safety engineer. He later worked for Gearheart Industries Inc. of Fort Worth and was vice president of Kaneb Metering Inc.

He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Lukert is survived by four sons, Ed Lukert III of Annandale, Va., Dave Lukert and Paul Lukert of Poenix, and John Lukert of Irving; daughter Mary Peek of Rockwall; sister Alma Kloss of Savannah, Ga.; and six grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to Meals on Wheels Inc., 320 South Freeway, Fort Worth, Texas, 76104.

source: Dallas Morning News, 20040810

10 August 2004

Conceptual demise

Six weeks have now passed since my discovery that the concept site AdameOnline had failed. This death befell the site even before it ever had a chance to really get going. It has been my hope that the site will return. Yet, as more time passes, this seems less and less likely. Perhaps most disappointing has been the fact that the developer/admin appears to have dropped from the face of the Earth as all of my attempts to contact him have failed.

AdameOnline was the brainchild of a former student of my mother-in-law, Margaret Trott. Justin Barron was a sophomore about the time I was courting my wife in the mid-80s. As with many of her students, Justin maintained an affection and respect for his former high school English teacher even as he fell out of touch with her for many years and established a life and family of his own. However, word traveled, as it is prone to do, and he discovered earlier this year that Margaret was retiring from the teaching profession of which she had been an active participant for over twenty years. As a result, Justin developed the idea of creating a fan site of sorts to commemorate Margaret's many years of contribution to the education of high school students in Tyler and provide for a place of gathering and sharing.

The site had a fitful start. Within two weeks of its creation the content disappeared. It returned days later with an explanation that the hosting provider had terminated the account early and prior to Justin's ability to migrate to a new host. There had been no backup scheme established and the project had to be recreated from scratch. Though it had existed for less than a fortnight, the site never really recovered. At the time of my discovery and joining there were about half a dozen members. Following resurrection, the previous members never returned. I queried Justin about this loss of interest and he shared the content of the feedback he had received from several people.

As with many things involving the 'net, most of the would-be members adopted the mistaken assumption that they would be prey to viruses and WORMs if they joined. Others had cited a fear of their contact information being mined; and the list went on from there. Needless to say, rational thought and logic were lacking.

It is unknown whether or not any of the above or a combination thereof were to blame for the failure of AdameOnline. For me, it marks the untimely failure of an intriguing concept. The so-called internet has so much potential for the accommodation of virtual communities such as this. Places where disparate individuals separated by place, experience and even time can come together in order to share in a common experience. This concept of a teacher fan site was particularly novel; not because it involved my mother-in-law so much as the idea that former students of a beloved teacher would coalesce in cyberSpace to share their remembrances made common by an educator.

R.I.P. AdameOnline. Perhaps yours will someday be a story akin to that of Lazarus.

09 August 2004


There is a new mailing list in town.

The summer 2004 edition of the TKG newsletter, Visions, brought with it an announcement that one of the members of the Class of '84 has established a Yahoo! Group mailing list for class alumni. This moderated, private list is avaliable only to those who are members of the aforementioned graduating class. Established by Robert Jewett in March of this year, work is currently underway to spread the word and populate the member roster.

Members of the Class of '84 are encouraged to visit the Yahoo! Groups site and become members of the list, TKG_Class_of_1984.

In other Class of '84 news, another blurb in the newsletter indicated that the twenty year reunion has been postponed a year. This milestone event will be combined with that of the second decennial celebration for the Class of '85; being held sometime in 2005.

Discovery of both of these facts is quite apropos. For last Friday evening I watched one of my favorite films, Grosse Point Blank.

03 August 2004

Poetry in Wartime

One of the sites I frequent from time to time is that of my former sister-in-law, Talene. Her web site has undergone many changes over the years. Small jewels in the form of her poetry have been sprinkled throughout all of the permutations of her web presence over the years.

Beginning life as a personal site focusing on her passion of sewing, her original cyberStead was entitled "Esoteric Links", which she established as a resource for like-minded seamstresses. Over time it expanded to include links to her causes. These ranged from her passion for women's issues to an infatuation with that arguably ineffectual iconoclast, Noam Chomsky. She also maintained a link to her "Marketplace of Political Ideas" — a bipartisan, nay agnostic, compilation of political links published through employer at the time the University of Houston Library.

Somewhere around the fall of 2002, the site simply disappeared only to be reborn about six months later as a PostNuke powered 'bLog of sorts. Beginning as a fan site for Chomsky, it slowly evolved into a forum for generalized political discussion. That is where it stands now and it is a welcome, though nascent, jewel in its own right among the more common partisan diatribes to which one is likely to be exposed.

All of this is a prelude of sorts to a recent announcement on her site. In her own modest way Talene has recently shared that both she and one of her poems will be featured in an art-house documentary due for release this fall. "Poetry in Wartime" is an independent film of approximately seventy-five minutes in length which strives to survey war through the eyes, hearts and pens of various poets. Apparently, an individual affiliated with this project came across a poem she published at Poets Against the War in early 2003 entitled "Poem for an Iraqi Child in a Forgotten News Clip".

I am looking forward to the opportunity to see the film this fall. It should be interesting to see and hear how Talene has merged her passion for politics with her art of poetry.


continue to the July 2004 archive

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last BBEdited: 2004.11.02